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T’was the night before matching
And I’m hyped as heck I’ll type this story before i doublecheck My Redditgifts profile for the millionth time All is want, is to ensure that I’m Through with answers, and funny too It’s time for the recap without further adou. Man those rhymes are getting worse and worse. Anyway, I'm back with another adventure calendar countdown. For anyone unfamiliar, I send my giftees on an immersive treasure/scavenger hunt every year for secret santa. I’m talking through my side of things just as a way to give you a peek behind the curtain. You can check the last three posts here, here, and here.
Wanna know what happens when an adventure doesn’t go quite as planned? Because this is what happens when an adventure doesn’t go as planned.
I give you: Constructed Adventure no. 46: The Archer Princess and the cactus pin. I was super intrigued when I learned my giftee lived in a small town outside Reno, NV. I was even more intrigued when I learned that she often did Legacy Horseback rides and was learning horseback archery. This adventure was going to be in the wilderness. After a bit of communication, I was relieved to learn that her and her husband would be fine heading into Reno. There was just so much more to work with. I landed in Reno, booked my stay at one of the cheap hotel/casinos (Note: They’re all cheap) and went scouting! I’d done the usual Yelp/Google/TripAdvisor scrape to find my best possibilities for stops and beelined to a cute little place called “Daughter’s Cafe.” This is a Restaurant built in a home. The Owner lives upstairs. She’s super cool and the food was incredible. Pretty sure I ate there every day. Anyway, unprompted, the owner told me about these wild chickadee birds that live in the mountains halfway from here to lake tahoe (about a 45 minute drive). She hand drew me a map and gave me a bag of seed and said “If you stand still, they’ll eat out of your hand” Unreal. So I drove up the mountain, rented up some snowshoes, and fed some chickadees. It was a magical experience that I HAD to send my giftee on. (note: normally I dont like having any spot have a longer travel distance than 15 minutes but occasionally I’ll make an exception). Also, since she did archery, I really wanted her to have to shoot something down. So I scouted a spot 5-10 minutes into the trail where she would shoot down a chest from a tree. After that spot, most of the other stops were pretty simple. She’d hit a few places in the Riverfront district, before stopping in at a speakeasy, then hitting an incredible hike, deciphering someone doing semaphore 100’s of feet away, and then meeting me up the mountainside under a fully decorated real christmas tree! When she got her initial package, it contained a little cactus pin. The goal was to signpost every stop with the pin. (Signposting is a technique puzzlemakers use to let players know they’re on the right track). Everywhere she went, she either found, or someone was wearing one of the pins! The day kicked off perfectly! The weather was temperate and everything looked up. My giftee and her husband hit the cafe, ate breakfast, and headed up the mountain. They picked up the snowshoes from a place midway to the spot. The guy behind the counter was kind of a jerk, but he still played along. Then they got to the spot. I actually passed them as they got out of their car! Me and a friend who I flew in (Same guy who helped me will all the other adventures) returned our shoes and then waited...and waited….and waited.... An hour passed by. Turns out there were two parallel paths with the same name! One was the correct path (Signposted with large roses along the way) and the other was the incorrect path. I made three big mistakes that led to this snafu:
I should have done more thorough scouting to notice the other path with the same name.
I should have been more detailed with directions and how long they should expect to take on the trek
I gave them my phone number at the beginning of the adventure but never got theirs. They ended up leaving the note with my number in their car.
So after snowshoeing 2-3 miles into the mountains, they decided to turn back to their car, get my number, and text me. Needless to say we were just a bit behind schedule. Once they got back to their car and messaged me, we sorted the issue and they found and shot down the chest with ease! They headed back down the mountain and continued their adventure. But we’d lost a ton of time on the day. Once i arrived at what was supposed to be the final location, it was getting dark, and it was brutally windy. I was pretty miserable up there and I can’t imagine they would want to be up there after snowshoeing such a long way! So I called it! I messaged them to stay in the speakeasy and order more drinks! I drove back to the spot, and gave them all their presents at the bar. It was so much nicer than up on a dark windy hilltop. So that’s it! Another adventure in the bag. Definitely NOT what I expected but still fun. I learn a lot of lessons after each adventure and sometimes hiccups happen! It goes without saying that if you’re ever planning a treasure/scavenger hunt for someone, don't hesitate to reach out. I’m happy to double check your plan and point out potential pitfalls you might have. Hope you enjoyed this recap. No shameless plug this time! Just a HUGE HUGE HUGE thank you to the mods and admins who run Redditgifts. Tomorrow is their day of reckoning and all i can say is
I'm not new to simulation/management games, but I seem to be missing something fundamental about SimCasino. No matter what I do, I cannot make any money, or at least enough to be able to expand. I've tried starting with £350k, £500k, building just slot machines, building slots and tables, adding a bar, adding more seating, adding decorations, researching for bigger advantage, cheap marketing, expensive marketing... nothing seems to work. I've had my casino almost empty for days and my money has barely changed. I've had my casino absolutely packed to the rafters for days and my money has barely changed. Under the Finance Hub my daily gambling is always at a net loss, despite the individual income figures massively exceeding the expense figures (like below). https://preview.redd.it/w2ax623wdw961.png?width=775&format=png&auto=webp&s=cc4e9b8ddabbf51ef0b811e2cee6fdd3d40d884f This should give a net profit of £29,651, not a loss of £86. I understand that the money in the slot machines isn't banked immediately, it's collected when they reach 50% and moved the the vault (and distributed elsewhere in the casino) and then if the vault goes over the limit I set (£20k) it will be banked every day at midnight. But even if I leave the game running for hours and come back, my bank balance has barely changed. So any ideas? How do you actually make money in this game?
"Some Simple tips for CD devs to make CP2077 feel more alive in upcoming DLCs (Please read) First off, this game was an aesthetic treat and compared to GTAV, it is indeed much more "dense" with the core areas so much more beautiful in that regard... But no game is perfect, nor is it realistic in this decade to expect a full "city simulator" for any dev or in any game, so that's not what I'm expecting out of Night City not even under the most ideal of circumstances... That said, there are plenty of room for improvement, bug fixes sure, but also beyond that I'd like to see more in the upcoming DLC's that make NightCity more alive, not even necessarily newer and larger maps, but just practical added-elements and additional functional components that would go a long way towards making the city appear more 'alive', and immersive and dynamic and all that was illuded to but never fully manifested... So in terms of most bang for buck and the low-hanging fruit (80/20 principle):
1) Bring back (or rather develope for the first time) the promised subway system... this shouldn't be that hard to do... it would add an element of connectivity of the different parts of the city... Leave fast travel as an option, for those that want to ride the train shouldn't be forced to use loading screens 2) Air taxi(s) -- in the age of Telsa self driving cars, hyperloops, drone taxis we should have plenty of automated air taxi options in the world of CP2077, basically like the taxi hailing component in GTAIV (Liberty City) except the player can hail an air taxi that lands close to where he is standing, he gets in, and then chooses any destination and it automatically flys him to the location, while allowing him to look out the windows and enjoy the night city from above / higher perspective... this is simplier than simply giving the player ability to fly hovercars/etc since an air taxi is just from point to point and its trivial to code a system that flys the player from any point in the city to any other point without crashing into any buildings... we've seen NightCity from the ground, now lets see it from the sky! 3) Rented transporation -- user pays to be able to rent jet packs, hoverboards, scooters at different locations in the city so he can use a public transportation but on a personal level... for the jet packs cap a max height so that its still basically hovering at or around slightly above ground level, giving the user the discretion of travel but not allowing him to fly or scale above buildings etc... this requires money to rent and if the equipment is damaged, lost, stolen or not returned properly the users bank account will be deducted for the amount ( see #ECONOMY)
1) Skyscrapers with observation deck -- in every major city there is a theme like this, take Seattle for example you can visit the tallest building in Seattle downtown and go up on the obs deck and see the city view from high above, I would say incorporate some options like this where user can enter some of the taller buildings in NightCity, ride up the elevator to the higher decks and see the city from that view... maybe even add a floor with fine dinning where user can take a friend/date/group to the restuarant and eat while enjoying watching the scenery of the nightcity below etc... 2) All major buildings enter-able (is that a word? lol) with at least a ground lobby.... right now most of the buildings are just fake exteriors, nice to look at from the outside but completely fake and empty with no insides... Due to system restrains its not practical to simulate every room of every floor of every building in nightcity with furnished interiors and real windows and all that... but at least make the first floor /lobby area of every large and major building enter-able so that the character can walk in and out of them... for certain buildings you may want to make a working/functional lobby elevator that leads to an underground garage and/or allows the user to ride the elevator to above ground higher floors of the building... or have the elevator only allow certain floors to be accessed and furnish these floors with realistic settings/environment and this can tie in nicely with the job/work/career paths discussed in #ECONOMY section with gives you the office space to put a number of companies in which the user can find and switch jobs and work in corporate paths etc... for example allow the user to customize and decorate his own "office/desk", and if he has a window office, then that would provide another unique view/scenery of nightcity from above ground perspective, one that can only be gotten from working at that particular company/job, and gives him an incentive to work late to see the city from nighttime while burning the midnight oil￼ 3) Multiple apartments, the user should be able to pick and choose from a vast selection and array of living arrangements and this necessities a lot of hotel/condo/apartment options which means these buildings need to have interiors and furnished and environments fully built out...
1) Ability to find and work a job, with multiple career paths and with ability to move up in the corporate world... this provides the user with a stead stream of income for which he can use to buy fancier cars, to move into newer and better apartments /condos etc.. and to buy fancier items like designer cloths and the suches... not to mention to spend on fine dinning in high end restuarants which can tie in nicely with going on datings, impressing women with luxury cars and expensive meals and "date nights out" at elaborate events.... basically there has to be a purpose and meaning to making more money, and the process of making more money has to be derived from a job or work or career of some sort as the main component... Have a real economy with unemployment, inflation, commodity prices, and all of that impact and influence and affect the user in his everyday life... for example if a major terror event or pandemic causes the Nightcity to suffer an economic depression for a few months then its possible the company that the user is working at has to lay off people and he gets canned and has to downsize to a smaller apartment, loses his girlfriend/wife, and then has to find another lower paying job and stuck in the downward cycle for a few years until he is able to win the lottery (#GAMBLING/SPECUTLATION/BETTING) or his luck somehow changes... Everything should cost money, it costs money to rent an apartement and it should also cost money to eat and drink... basically he user has to spend money to eat otherwise he will starve to death... and the user has to keep paying rent every month for whatever apartment he resides otherwise he gets evicted and could even become homeless and have to live in one of those nasty tents in tenty city or under a highway bridge etc etc Grocery stores, restuarants, movie theaters, hotels, and shopping malls... There should be at least a few convinennce stores, shopping malls, restuarants and other retail places spread throughout nightcity, this is a component and element of the economy as well as a means for the user to spend all the hard earned money he worked towards... for example if you give a homeless a few bucks he should be able to use it to spend at a store on the corner to get something to eat and then that makes him happy because he is no longer so hungry... there should be a tie in for economy, money, and the ability to exchange that for goods and services (barber, tatto artists cough cough) and associate these goods and services to emotional feelings of happiness and satisfication for both the user /player and the NPCs...
There should be a distinction between autumn/fall, spring, summer, winter etc... This gives a big cycle sense of passage of time that cannot be simulated with the current day/night cycles along... in the winter the sun should rise and set at different times/angles than the summer... In addition, I'd like to see an accurate night sky map/ stars. NightCity takes place in SoCal, its trivial to map the nightsky for the year 2077 in the SoCal area... even in the latest Flight Simulator 2020 the stars are now accurate at night... Ability to choose LIVE weather based on current user location (see Flight Simulator) so say its raining in Dallas Texas where a user is playing, then in NightCity it will match that and we raining in the game as well... also ability to customize weather on-the-fly in real-time (see Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020) and have that instantly change in the game without reloading... Along with seasons I'd like to be able to see holiday celebrations for example Christmas time espeically... I want to hear holiday music and see buildings decorated with Christmas lights and the jolly spirits of it all... Think the ambiance and environment of say Polar Express, bring that alive to Night City for Xmas...
MINI GAMES and other Microcosm
There is a "Go" board in Chinatown... but its fake... and the players aren't even attempting to play Go... See what Google Deepmind did with AlphaGo, Facebook made an OpenGo that they open sourced... there is also LeelaZero and KataGo free AI engines that have already been trained using deeplearning/machineAI to be far better than the Go masters... the same applies to Chess by the way... but I didn't see a Chess board in Night City yet... in any case all these board games the computer AI can now master... make these games playable in NightCity, so the user can watch two NPC's play a round of Go/Chess/etc (Ai vs Ai) or can join and sit down and take a seat and play against an NPC a real game of Go/Chess, (or in the future if CP gets a multiplayer than humans can play against one another etc) basically a microcosms and games-within-a-game.... Spotify/Netflix/youTube integrations... I'd like to see the user have a portable/personal mp3 player or app on his virtual smartphone that allows him to link to his personal -reallife- spotify account to listen to music while in the game... also on the TV screens at home to be able to watch netflix movies while in this virtual apartment chilling with his date/friends... and things like YouTube integration would be nice... maybe even pornhub integration.... Other simple games like darts, bowling and even toys like RC cars or DJI drones... give the use the ability to fly drones (check out DJI Simulator) or operate rc model cars etc... basically toys that he can buy at electronic stores or corner outlets that he can then use these toys in real life for any variety of enjoyments... this also ties into #ECONOMY and why its important to have a good job /career that pays good money!
Have some form of virtual casinos in the game, NightCity reminds me of Vegas, yet not one slot machine and not one means to gamble or bet? How about the ability to play the stockmarket, bitcoins, and make bets and well as go gambling, cards, poker, etc this not only provides a form of entertainment but also gives the user a way to quickly win / lose a lot of money and for the risk takers they may wish to invest their money in high risk high reward speculative stocks in the stock market instead of immediately spending it on a new apartment, new car, new tech gadget etc etc... this would also tie back to #ECONOMY since the more the user earns the more income he has to spend on gambling/stocks and the better the economy does the higher his stocks return on investment...
Should be able to court any pretty woman on the streets, to walk up to her and say hi and have a path/chance to a dialogue that leads to setting up a first date... and following that if it goes well can progress to more dates and evetnually her moving in with the user and eventually even having a kid, getting married, and the works... each female NPC should have a male preference and a threshold of compatiblity... so that for example if on the first date the guy is cheap and takes her to low end resturant, doesn't have a nice car to pick her up with, and otherwise seems like a low life then she wouldn't process/continue with him... whereas if he is already established with a multimillion apartment, supercar, takes her to most expensive restuarant in NightCity, then I could see her going back to his place on the first date and maybe even getting pregnant right then and there that night etc..."
In a previous article I looked into the practicality of building a Mage Tower for yourself. That was received fairly well, so I think I'll move onto my favorite class, the Artificer. Now, an Artificer doesn't necessarily need a tower as a base of operations, and given the somewhat more limited spell selection and 1/2 Caster nature, thought I'd focus more on the innate ability of an Artificer to be a small business owner by merits of Tool Proficiencies! Mundane and Magical Item are simple to make with all the Tool Proficiencies you are able to acquire at a relatively low level. This guide could also be quite beneficial to Forge Clerics or any Wizard, Bard or Caster that knows Fabricate. I recommend several resources to look up or familiarize yourself with before you take on this enterprising business opportunity. 1) Chapter 6 of the DMG features the Downtime Activity of Running a Business. It breaks down to 1d100+X, X being a number of downtime days that you spend running your business. If you can get above a 60 on the roll, congrats, your business makes a profit for that month. 2) Eberron: Rising from the Last War. You'll need this book if you want to play an Artificer. 3) Exploring Eberron presents two new Artificer Subclasses as well as a few new infusions I reference here, namely Healing Salve and Quiver of Energy. 4) Acquisition Incorporated is a great source for new rules to allow a business to be run while you continue to adventure, allowing a constant background stream of income to help fund future adventuring opportunities. You can use as many or as few options as you'd like, but the Hireling options to run the business in your absence are a nice touch. 5) If you don't want to use traditional Hirelings, but a more customizable NPC, you could use the Sidekick Options from the Essentials Kit and the upcoming Tasha's Cauldron of Everything. I will be recommending Sidekicks for each of the business models in the examples below. 6) Waterdeep: Dragon Heist gives basic operating costs for running a tavern and One-time and Recurring fees for Guild Memberships. Given the prominence of Guilds in Eberron and other settings, it is a good standard to use for other settings. 7) Xanathar's Guide to Everything has a fantastic breakdown of Artisan Tool uses and Skill Checks that will be immensely useful to Artificers or businessmen looking to practice a trade. The following examples will be based on the following assumptions: 1) You will be running this business on your own. 2) You have options to get hirelings or other PC help should you want/need it. 3) You are level 6. This is the first level where a lot of this becomes feasible because you gain your Tool Expertise class feature and are now the best on the block at using Artisan Tools. You also gain a nice expansion to your Infusions that you can learn and I would think that knowing the Enhanced Weapon Infusion would count as having a schematic allowing you to enchant a basic +1 weapon. 4) We can use the upcoming Tasha's Rules for Character Creation on the Sidekicks so that you can swap out one Skill Proficiency for a Tool Proficiency. Wouldn't make sense to hire someone to run a weapon smithing shop who couldn't use Blacksmith Tools. Feel free to submit your own business models using the following format:
Artificer Subclass or Subclasses best suited.
Tool Proficiencies needed.
Helpful Infusions. I include these here because I believe that having a relevant infusion should count as the required schematics necessary to create a magic item. I also think that they should definitely look different than the standard fare that traditional enchanters sell.
Primary focus of business. What you will be selling or offering to customers.
Common or Uncommon Magic Items to supplement mundane sales when you hit level 10 and can make them in 1/4 the normal time and 1/2 the price of anyone else.
Sidekicks you could use in the business.
Other Party members who could help you besides the Forge Cleric, Bards, Rogues or any Spellcaster that knows *Fabricate*. You can Assume that the above classes are inferred good business partners for any of the jobs listed below. This guide will be focusing on those with Tool Proficiencies from Class, as anyone could grab a Guild Member background and be helpful as well.
Wandsmith/Arcane Focus Maker
Artillerist. This subclass lends itself well to a Wandslinger and the level 5 class features give a lot of attention to the Wand.
Armor of Tools, Woodcarver's Tools, Jeweler's Kit, Glassblower's Kit. Woodcarving for Wands, Rods and Staves. Jeweler's for Wands, and Crystals. Glassblower's for Orbs.
Enhanced Arcane Focus, Replicate Magic Items (any common wands or staves, Wand of Magic Detection, Wand of Secrets), Homunculus Servant, Replicate Magic Item (Wand Sheath). The Enhanced Arcane Focus should lend you to easily make decent wands and even Infused Wands. Replicating Magic Items for schematics for easy to make Common Magic items to upsell to customers. Homunculus Servant for extra help around the shop.
Cart, Wagon, Boat, Shop. You could have 2-3 wands on hand in a cart, a covered wagon with carving tools set up or even a section of a ship dedicated to making and selling your wares. If applicable, you could even buy a permanent location to sell your wares, this will be your best bet for glassblowing, as your toolkit still requires you to find a suitable heat source to form liquid glass. Work your way up to being your own Gilmore's Glorious Goods, Invulnerable Vagrant, or Fantasy Costco.
At this location, Wands, Rods, Staves, Crystals and Orbs will be your meat and potatoes. Basic Spellcasting Foci for any aspiring Wizard, Sorcerer or Warlock. You could even branch out into Holy Symbols, and Druidic Foci if the demand is there. While a basic Spellcasting Focus only needs to be between 5gp and 20gp. These are easily made in a single day of downtime crafting. You could even customize more expensive version of them for Nobles or highly opinionated casters to distinguish yourself from other magic shops.
Common and Uncommon Wands and Staves. Mostly Imbued Wands or Orbs of Resistance. Wands of Magic Missile, Burning Hands, Ice Knife, Catapult would all fall under these categories. Could even make a Common Wand that requires attunement, and grants the attuned the ability to cast a single Cantrip (always at Level 1) as a Novice Wandslinging item. Scrolls could be re-flavored as single use wands.
For Sidekicks, an Expert would be great to help you churn out mundane items, while a Spellcaster would help you keep a steady stream of lower end Magic Items available.
Eldritch Knights and Tome Warlocks would make great business partners. Eldritch Knights would probably push you to sell Rubies of War Mages also, bringing in a new area of clientele and the ability to advertise through Weaponsmiths for when they have some adventurers come through.
Armor of Tools, Painter's Kits, Calligrapher's Kit, Glassblowers Kit, Woodcarver's Kit, Mason's Tools. These cover the gambit of common medium to work with.
Homunculus Servant. Most other Infusions are combat based, but a Homunculus is a nice extra set of hands(tentacles or claws?) to help pass you the right tool and to clean off your brushes.
Can work from Cart, Wagon, Boat or Shop. You might want a combo of Wagon and Shop, with a mobile studio to get different landscapes and to collect different material and a shop for a gallery from which to sell things.
Paintings, Sculptures, Wood Carvings, Reliefs and finer doo-dads will be your main stock. From carvings of monsters that you've fought, self-portraits of people you've met, landscapes of other planes, or just finely made custom Dragonchess sets with pieces that look like real people. You could even specialize in ship figureheads or shop signs for taverns or other businesses. If you can find a way to make a permanent Magical Tinkering effect of the static visual image, that's a nice storefront display right there.
Illusion enchanted paintings for a Harry Potter style feel would be good magical items, or even Dragonchess sets that can move themselves.
Experts will probably get more mileage for the tool proficiencies than the Spellcaster unless your Enchanted portraits become a real hot commodity.
Kensei Monks and Battlemaster Fighters each get proficiency in a set of Artisan's Tools as a Class Feature. Monks get Calligrapher's kit, but Battlemasters get to pick their choice, so could easily be Painter's or Woodcarver's.
Armor of Tools, Woodcarver's Tools, Tinker's Tools, Smithing Tools, Carpenter's Tools. You will be mostly working with Wood and steel. Woodcarver's Tools lets you make 20 arrows as part of a Long Rest per Xanathar's.
Repeating Shot, Quiver of Energy, Enhanced Weapon, Homunculus Servant. Enhanced Weapon for a reason to be able to make +1 crossbows. Quiver of Energy might be useful for some arrows that add a bit of elemental damage to a shot, even if only +1 fire or lightning.
You can run a smaller shop out of a cart or wagon and be mostly custom orders, or you can have a fixed shot with dozens of different styles ready for sale and enchantment services on request.
Hand, Light and Heavy crossbows as well as arrows and bolts will be your primary trade. You can also Silver arrows and bolts and filigree the crap out of some crossbows if people are interested in flaunting their status that way. Pretty straight forward with these mundane items.
Walloping Ammunition, Unbreakable Arrows, Elemental Burst Arrows and Quivers of Ehlonna will be easy sources of magical flare in your shop.
Experts will be your main shopkeepers and re-stockers. Warriors if you want someone to do demonstrations.
Rangers, Arcane Archer Fighters, Kensei Monks will make excellent business partners. The Ranger especially brings a host of appropriate spells for later game enchanting. The Kensei will probably focus on more "traditional" Bows, which can help expand your clientele.
Brewer's Kit, Alchemist Supplies, Herbalism Kit, Poisoner's Kit. It is called out in Xanathar's Guide that an Herbalism Kit is required to make Healing Potions. So that's something you're definitely invest in. Also, in Xanathar's for .5lbs and 25gp of material, you can make one Alchemist Fire as part of a Long Rest with an Alchemist Supply Kit. That's not even counting what you can make during the day as Downtime. Stock up before you leave the city and you can make yourself one firebomb a night!
Healing Salve and Homunculus Servant. Healing Salve is basically a 4 use touch range Healing Word you can make. This would be a great basis for Keoghtom's Ointment. I also feel like at this point I don't need to explain why Homunculus Servant keeps appearing on these lists.
You could run this out of a cart or wagon, but i'd be worried about all those Alchemist Fire supplies rattling around. Same with a boat, unless you're just a Riverboat. A physical Shop would be best for what you need, although a cart/wagon for traveling with already made merchandise is a nice way to spread the brand name and to gather exotic or non-local supplies.
Healing Potions! You are the local healer. You will also probably have on hand a good number of natural remedies for people who can't afford a constant stream of Healing Potions and instead use the Medicine Skill Proficiency to treat wounds. You can also make a single item of either Alchemist Fire, Acid, Antitoxin, perfume or soap as part of a Long Rest with an Alchemist's kit, so you can have a varied catalogue. makes sense to me that Sunrods (fantasy glow sticks) would be something you'd make with Alchemist's Supplies. You could even dip into Poison's, that wouldn't be advertised of course, but would include a bit of a premium on their sale for those in the need of such a thing.
As you level up you can more easily make Potions of: Greater Healing, Fire Breath, Hill Giant Strength, Resistance and Water Breathing. You can also easily make an Alchemy Jug, which can make you day to day operations even cheaper as you can simply have the jug produce some of the more mundane liquids you may sell. The Decanter of Endless Water is also a must have item and too easy of a sale to anyone adventuring near or into a desert. Keoghtom's Ointment is also a nice Emergency Medicine that you could sell to a local Hospital or Militia.
Expert's are your best bet at brewing basic potions for you and keeping the mundane supplies stocked. A Spellcaster would be able to expand your inventory with Climbing Potions, Beads of Nourishment, Beads of Refreshment, Candle's of the Deep, Perfume of Bewitching and Tankard's of Sobriety.
Druids, Eldritch Knights, Monks and Rangers would be good partners as they can easily get Nature and Medicine proficiencies for a good number of the items that you make.
Any Artificer, but strong lean to Alchemist due to class flavor.
Brewer's Kit, Carpenter's Kit, Cook's Utensils, Alchemist Supplies, Herbalism Kit, Glassblowing Kit. The Brewer's Supplies should be obvious, but outside of the business, you can Purify1 gallon of Water over a Short Rest and 6 Gallons over a Long rest, a handy skill to have if you aren't near someplace with Fresh Water, like the open ocean. The Cook's Utensils are also a given with a Tavern, but outside of combat they allow a creature to regain 1 extra HP per Hit Dice they spend on a Short Rest. That may not sound like much, but it effectively makes each Hit Dice one higher on average (1d6+1 has the same average as 1d8). The Carpenter's Tools are so that you can fix all the furniture that will break during the inevitable bar fights. The Alchemist Supplies are actually for embalming creatures you encounter so you can have that Mindflayer Taxidermized as a display item in your bar! That's a feature I don't think any other local bar will have. Herbalism Kit is for working with hops, or branching into a bit of Potion Making if you want. Glassblowing is for you to make your own signature glassware that you can serve with the expensive drinks and offer as souvenirs.
Homunculous Servant, Replicate Magic Item (Tankard of Sobriety). Tankard's of Sobriety seem like the perfect item for a bartender or bar owner. You can drink as much as you want but still stay sober. Might not be as much fun as regular drinking, but good for keeping your head about you and one hell of an advantage in a drinking contest.
You could run this out of a Cart or Wagon as a kind of portable bar for just drinks. If you got a decent sized ship you could even expand it to a casino boat. However, a physical shop is the best choice here, specially if you plan to expand it to housing several rooms. Location is also key here, so make sure you spend some downtime doing some Investigation, Insight and History checks to learn all you can about potential locations you might set up.
Beers, Wines, and Spirits of all kinds, with tasty food to boot! This is the stereotypical D&D Player business. There's an entire chapter of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist dedicated to setting up and running a tavern if you want inspiration. Feel free to include specials following your adventures of meat from creatures you've slain! Hydra-Burgers should be tasty.
Mostly Wands of Prestidigitation and Decanter's of Endless Water for cleaning the bar and Alchemy Jugs for an easier way to produce cheap beer and wine with basically no overhead costs. Dust of Dryness might be nice to have on hand for cleaning up spills as well. Oh, and don't forget to keep a Wand of Magic Missiles behind the bar for those rowdy patrons.
Spellcasters might make the best brewmasters of the sidekicks due to their increased Mental Stats. They can also help out with cleaning, and if they get to a point where they can Detect Poison and Disease, that would be a huge help come Health Inspection time. Experts will make good Brewers and can step up behind the bar to help out with their wide range of proficiencies. Warriors are good Bouncers and a way to take care of those pesky Dire Rats in the cellar.
Way of the Drunken Fist Monks will either be a godsend or a curse for you as a business partner. Other Monks and Rangers would make a good partner as their naturally high Wisdom scores would help with Insight and Perception to keep an eye on patrons and employees. And no one is better in a bare knuckle brawl than a Monk, you could even put a fighting pit in your tavern if you want that kind of atmosphere, but I'd be sure to have a place to check weapons at the door so fights don't escalate too much outside of the fighting pit. Barbarians and Fighters have the CON to put down the drinks for Taste Testing and still being able to be a Bouncer. Beastmaster's can use their companion as a novelty server or even tavern mascot. And while I said I wouldn't include them on the list, I just have to say that any Bard would go here wonderfully.
Battlesmith (It's in the name)
Smithing Kit, Alchemist Supplies, Leather Working, Jeweler's Kit, Woodcarving Kit. The Smithing Kit and Woodcarving kit should be obvious as 95% of the weapons are made from metal or wood. The Leather Working Kit is for grips and wraps on the handles of weapons. Jeweler's Kit is for making fancy versions of weapons. Alchemist Supplies is for Silvering Weapons or using chemicals to stain the metal other colors.
Homunculus Servant, Armor of Tools, Enhanced Weapon, Returning Weapon, Radiant Weapon, Replicate Magic Item (Moon-Touched Sword), Replicate Magic Item (Armblade). I think both the Radiant Weapon and Moon-Touched Sword Infusions would be good enough to count for the schematics to make Moon-Touched Swords for you. Enhanced Weapon for a basic +1 weapon.
You need a forge for these, and that means that Carts and Wagons are only good for transporting completed merchandise to sell. The sheer weight needed for your forge makes a boat out of the question. Like the tavern, a physical location is the best bet for you.
Anything that isn't a strictly ranged weapon is your stock and trade here. The most expensive mundane melee weapon is the Greatsword at 50gp. That means it will take you a full day (25gp) to make a single one. All other weapons can be made in a few hours. You'll also want to have some farming supplies and tools on hand in order to maximize your customer base. Hoes, pick axes, crowbars, buckets, barrels, Caltrops, Ball Bearings, metal religious symbols etc. Silvering Weapons and adding gold/silveelectrum/gemstone decorations to mundane items are a great way to offer wares to richer customers. Yes, Lord Grantham ir'Lupiloo has a fine rapier, but he doesn't have a rapier made of Bulette-scale Damascus steel, with a hydra skin wrapped pommel and his name engraved in gold embossed Draconic along the crossguard. That's how you make a name for yourself, because Lord Brendit ir'Flaglap is going to HAVE to have a nicer Longsword than that cur for next week's gala.
Moon-Touched Blades, Weapons of Warning, +1 Weapons and a weapon with a single minor property from the table on page 143 in the DMG will be the easiest and fastest for you to replicate.
The Expert and Warrior will be best for if you want mundane items being churned out of your forge. The Spellcaster would be a better hire if you want to focus on enchanted items. The difference in what you will be able to do will be based on your location. Rural areas will focus on mundane most likely, while cities will have more demand and client base for fancy mundane and enchanted.
Fighters, Barbarians, Monks, Paladins and Blade Pact Warlocks would do great here as partners.
Smithing Kit, Leatherworking, Weaver's Tools, Cobbler's Tools, Alchemist Supplies. SMithing and Leatherworking are straightforward. Weavers is for non-armor clothing if you want to instead open up a clothing boutique. Cobbler's tools for if you want to make shoes. Fun fact, with Cobbler's Tools you can spend a Long Rest to add in a 3" by 1" hidden compartment into a pair of shoes or boots.
Homunculus Servant, Enhanced Armor, Reflecting Shield, Boots of the Winding Path, Armor of Absorption, Armor of Tools.
You could do a clothing store, shoe repair and custom designing, make and sell leather armor, custom tailoring or a dry-cleaning business (Prestidigitation + Mending) out of a cart, wagon or boat, but for the same reasons as with a weaponsmith you need a physical location if you want to make metal armor. Make it work, people!
Congratulations, you are now you party Rogue's favorite person and source of disguises. You'll have to decide the breadth and scope of just what kind of business you want to run first. Focus on just mundane clothing for commoners to nobles, or do a combination of common clothing and simple armors. Metal armors and shields will require a forge. If you are able to build yourself up, you could eventually do everything out of a large building with a little bit of everything like your own fantasy Macy's. One storefront for expensive dresses, gowns and suits. Next door is more common or work wear, and out back is the forge with protective armors, leathers and shields. This would be a nice way to ensure that all your armor pieces match, because nothing is worse than finding a great piece of new armor that just completely clashes with your personal aesthetic. This also to me just seems like a great way to play a Garrak like character. (If you don't know who that is, please see yourself over to Netflix or CBS All Access and watch all of Deep Space 9 as soon as possible.)
Cloaks of Defense, Cloaks of Many Fashions, Cloaks of Billowing, Cloaks of Elvenkind, Cloaks of the Manta Ray, Sentinel Shields, Robes of Useful Items, Brooches of Shielding, Cast off Armor, Boots of Elvenkind, Gleaming Armor, Boots of the Winterlands, Winged Boots....there are so many thematic Common and Uncommon Magic Items for you to make here.
Experts will be your go to for mundane sewing, forging and cobbling. Spellcasters if your enchanting business takes off and can run the Dry-cleaning aspect while you're gone.
Rangers, Monks and Arcane Archers will do well here are they tend to favor DEX and WIS. Also, if you do end up going into a clothing business with a rogue and you don't name it "Cloak and Dagger" then I think you actually lose a Character Level.
Any, but Battlesmiths and Armorers might do best as they would tend to have higher STR.
Armor of Tools, Carpenter's Tools, Woodworking Tools, Smithing Tools, Navigation Tools. You're mostly going to be working with wood here, and a bit of metal also. Navigation Tools just seems like a good choice, unless you want the RP of being a master of building ships, and then being completely unable to use or navigate in them.
Homunculus Servant, Replicate Magic Items (Cap of Water Breathing, Ring of Water Walking, Cloak of the Manta Ray). The Magic Items that you can replicate allow you to fully inspect or repair any ship while it is in the water.
You're going to want a shop. Located next to a large body of water. And depending on the size of the ships you intend to build, it should also be connected to an ocean eventually. You could theoretically have this business from a boat, if you make a large enough ship that you could pull alongside other ships to repair them, but I think you're best off with a permanent location.
As a Shipwright, you make ships! Boats, galleys, rowboats and everything in between. You'll want to start off with smaller boats first to build up your money until you can invest in making a large ship. According to the DMG, a Rowboat costs 50gp to make, a Keelboat costs 3,000gp a Sailing Ship or Longship costs 10,000gp and a Galley costs 30,000gp. Other than Rowboats, which you can make in a single day, these are going to be very long projects. From 120 days for a Keelboat to about 3.3 years for a Galley if you are working by yourself without any magical aid. Even if you do hire multiple sidekicks or just general hirelings, you aren't going to get paid until the entire job is done, but they will all need to be paid while they work on the ship. Instead of making brand new ships, you could also repair existing ones, and as an Artificer, you almost certainly have the Mending cantrip which can help you.
Candle's of the Deep, Heward's Handy Spice Pouch, Orbs of Direction, Ropes of Mending, Alchemy Jugs, Caps of Water Breathing, Decanters of Endless (fresh)water, Eyes of the Eagle, Gloves of Swimming and Climbing and Wind Fans are all magic items that you could sell to shipowners and crews to help them in their travels. Ghosts of Saltmarsh also has a number of Ship Upgrades that you could offer.
Experts are going to help you the most here as they can get the most amount of kit proficiencies to help across a variety of problems. Spellcasters can help if you decide for focus more on maritime magical goods.
If you plan on building ships from scratch, then you are going to need every Forge Cleric and Fabricate Spell you can get your hands on. But be careful, if you are able to start churning out ships in a week for half the cost of the competition, then that is a LOT of people that you are putting out of business and there is sure to be repercussions. For a non-magical approach, just about every party has something that they can contribute to this project. Martial classes will DO WORK on cutting down lumber and getting that ship together. Partial Casters can help speed up certain aspects of building and augment others through buffs.
Updated for multiple spelling, grammar and formatting errors
Please Feel Free to Submit your own Business Ideas! I'll add them if they fit the stated format. Punny Shop names encouraged!
Some Simple tips for CD devs to make CP2077 feel more alive in upcoming DLCs (Please read)
First off, this game was an aesthetic treat and compared to GTAV, it is indeed much more "dense" with the core areas so much more beautiful in that regard... But no game is perfect, nor is it realistic in this decade to expect a full "city simulator" for any dev or in any game, so that's not what I'm expecting out of Night City not even under the most ideal of circumstances... That said, there are plenty of room for improvement, bug fixes sure, but also beyond that I'd like to see more in the upcoming DLC's that make NightCity more alive, not even necessarily newer and larger maps, but just practical added-elements and additional functional components that would go a long way towards making the city appear more 'alive', and immersive and dynamic and all that was illuded to but never fully manifested... So in terms of most bang for buck and the low-hanging fruit (80/20 principle): In real life there is a sense of interconnecitivity and permanance... NightCity doesn't have this and is just a disconnected Hodgepodge of static elements that have no effect on one another... for example I should be able to balance the transportation cost of getting to work versus the career path that I want and the amount of money I'm making and taking into account my net worth... it wouldn't make sense for me to accept an entry level position that requires hours of commute every morning when I'm living on the other end of town... and on the otherhand if I'm processed to a VP making bigly bucks I can afford to take the automated air taxi every morning to work in central business district and still live outside by the beautiful beachfront property etc... likewise a downturn in the economy will affect my company and I could get laid off or no bonus for the year, or if I'm working a gig job that is seasonal then come spring I wouldn't need to find a second side gig to make up for the loss of income... and all of that ties into what kind of loft I can afford, what kind of car I can buy/lease/rent and the food I can eat (tv dinner vs fine dining) and the cloths that I can put in my back which affects the sort of women on the street that I can radnomdly hit on and get intro interested into d going on a date with me etc etc etc... its all interconnected and has a continuation that affecst so much more than just mindless NPCs spawning and despawning right in front on my eyes... #TRANSPORTATION 1) Bring back (or rather develope for the first time) the promised subway system... this shouldn't be that hard to do... it would add an element of connectivity of the different parts of the city... Leave fast travel as an option, for those that want to ride the train shouldn't be forced to use loading screens 2) Air taxi(s) -- in the age of Telsa self driving cars, hyperloops, drone taxis we should have plenty of automated air taxi options in the world of CP2077, basically like the taxi hailing component in GTAIV (Liberty City) except the player can hail an air taxi that lands close to where he is standing, he gets in, and then chooses any destination and it automatically flys him to the location, while allowing him to look out the windows and enjoy the night city from above / higher perspective... this is simplier than simply giving the player ability to fly hovercars/etc since an air taxi is just from point to point and its trivial to code a system that flys the player from any point in the city to any other point without crashing into any buildings... we've seen NightCity from the ground, now lets see it from the sky! 3) Rented transporation -- user pays to be able to rent jet packs, hoverboards, scooters at different locations in the city so he can use a public transportation but on a personal level... for the jet packs cap a max height so that its still basically hovering at or around slightly above ground level, giving the user the discretion of travel but not allowing him to fly or scale above buildings etc... this requires money to rent and if the equipment is damaged, lost, stolen or not returned properly the users bank account will be deducted for the amount ( see #ECONOMY) #JOBS/CAREERS/WORK/EDUCATION/GIGs Ability to work a day job to earn steady money and climb a career ladder by taking courses or going to school at night... ability to go on the nightcity job boards or online to hunt and interview for other jobs... to change industries and do other jobs... to participate in the Gig economy... like drive around in some version of ubereats delivering food or packages to people... or a corporate desk job thats basically on the computer all day... for corporate day jobs the game should give the user the ability to fastforward just like he can go to bed and fast forward for eight hours etc.... #INTERIORS 1) Skyscrapers with observation deck -- in every major city there is a theme like this, take Seattle for example you can visit the tallest building in Seattle downtown and go up on the obs deck and see the city view from high above, I would say incorporate some options like this where user can enter some of the taller buildings in NightCity, ride up the elevator to the higher decks and see the city from that view... maybe even add a floor with fine dinning where user can take a friend/date/group to the restuarant and eat while enjoying watching the scenery of the nightcity below etc... 2) All major buildings enter-able (is that a word? lol) with at least a ground lobby.... right now most of the buildings are just fake exteriors, nice to look at from the outside but completely fake and empty with no insides... Due to system restrains its not practical to simulate every room of every floor of every building in nightcity with furnished interiors and real windows and all that... but at least make the first floor /lobby area of every large and major building enter-able so that the character can walk in and out of them... for certain buildings you may want to make a working/functional lobby elevator that leads to an underground garage and/or allows the user to ride the elevator to above ground higher floors of the building... or have the elevator only allow certain floors to be accessed and furnish these floors with realistic settings/environment and this can tie in nicely with the job/work/career paths discussed in #ECONOMY section with gives you the office space to put a number of companies in which the user can find and switch jobs and work in corporate paths etc... for example allow the user to customize and decorate his own "office/desk", and if he has a window office, then that would provide another unique view/scenery of nightcity from above ground perspective, one that can only be gotten from working at that particular company/job, and gives him an incentive to work late to see the city from nighttime while burning the midnight oil:) 3) Multiple apartments, the user should be able to pick and choose from a vast selection and array of living arrangements and this necessities a lot of hotel/condo/apartment options which means these buildings need to have interiors and furnished and environments fully built out... #ECONOMY 1) Ability to find and work a job, with multiple career paths and with ability to move up in the corporate world... this provides the user with a steady stream of income for which he can use to buy fancier cars, to move into newer and better apartments /condos etc.. and to buy fancier items like designer cloths and the suches... not to mention to spend on fine dinning in high end restuarants which can tie in nicely with going on datings, impressing women with luxury cars and expensive meals and "date nights out" at elaborate events.... basically there has to be a purpose and meaning to making more money, and the process of making more money has to be derived from a job or work or career of some sort as the main component... 2) Have a real economy with unemployment, inflation, commodity prices, and all of that impact and influence and affect the user in his everyday life... for example if a major terror event or pandemic causes the Nightcity to suffer an economic depression for a few months then its possible the company that the user is working at has to lay off people and he gets canned and has to downsize to a smaller apartment, loses his girlfriend/wife, and then has to find another lower paying job and stuck in the downward cycle for a few years until he is able to win the lottery (#GAMBLING/SPECUTLATION/BETTING) or his luck somehow changes... 3) Everything should cost money, it costs money to rent an apartement and it should also cost money to eat and drink... basically he user has to spend money to eat otherwise he will starve to death... and the user has to keep paying rent every month for whatever apartment he resides otherwise he gets evicted and could even become homeless and have to live in one of those nasty tents in tenty city or under a highway bridge etc etc 4) Grocery stores, restuarants, movie theaters, hotels, and shopping malls... There should be at least a few convinennce stores, shopping malls, restuarants and other retail places spread throughout nightcity, this is a component and element of the economy as well as a means for the user to spend all the hard earned money he worked towards... for example if you give a homeless a few bucks he should be able to use it to spend at a store on the corner to get something to eat and then that makes him happy because he is no longer so hungry... there should be a tie in for economy, money, and the ability to exchange that for goods and services (barber, tatto artists cough cough) and associate these goods and services to emotional feelings of happiness and satisfication for both the user /player and the NPCs... #SEASONS There should be a distinction between autumn/fall, spring, summer, winter etc... This gives a big cycle sense of passage of time that cannot be simulated with the current day/night cycles along... in the winter the sun should rise and set at different times/angles than the summer... In addition, I'd like to see an accurate night sky map/ stars. NightCity takes place in SoCal, its trivial to map the nightsky for the year 2077 in the SoCal area... even in the latest Flight Simulator 2020 the stars are now accurate at night... Ability to choose LIVE weather based on current user location (see Flight Simulator) so say its raining in Dallas Texas where a user is playing, then in NightCity it will match that and we raining in the game as well... also ability to customize weather on-the-fly in real-time (see Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020) and have that instantly change in the game without reloading... Along with seasons I'd like to be able to see holiday celebrations for example Christmas time espeically... I want to hear holiday music and see buildings decorated with Christmas lights and the jolly spirits of it all... Think the ambiance and environment of say Polar Express, bring that alive to Night City for Xmas... #MINI GAMES and other Microcosm There is a "Go" board in Chinatown... but its fake... and the players aren't even attempting to play Go... See what Google Deepmind did with AlphaGo, Facebook made an OpenGo that they open sourced... there is also LeelaZero and KataGo free AI engines that have already been trained using deeplearning/machineAI to be far better than the Go masters... the same applies to Chess by the way... but I didn't see a Chess board in Night City yet... in any case all these board games the computer AI can now master... make these games playable in NightCity, so the user can watch two NPC's play a round of Go/Chess/etc (Ai vs Ai) or can join and sit down and take a seat and play against an NPC a real game of Go/Chess, (or in the future if CP gets a multiplayer than humans can play against one another etc) basically a microcosms and games-within-a-game.... Spotify/Netflix/youTube integrations... I'd like to see the user have a portable/personal mp3 player or app on his virtual smartphone that allows him to link to his personal -reallife- spotify account to listen to music while in the game... also on the TV screens at home to be able to watch netflix movies while in this virtual apartment chilling with his date/friends... and things like YouTube integration would be nice... maybe even pornhub integration.... Other simple games like darts, bowling and even toys like RC cars or DJI drones... give the use the ability to fly drones (check out DJI Simulator) or operate rc model cars etc... basically toys that he can buy at electronic stores or corner outlets that he can then use these toys in real life for any variety of enjoyments... this also ties into #ECONOMY and why its important to have a good job /career that pays good money! #GAMBLING/SPECUTLATION/INVESTMENTS/BETTING Have some form of virtual casinos in the game, NightCity reminds me of Vegas, yet not one slot machine and not one means to gamble or bet? How about the ability to play the stockmarket, bitcoins, and make bets and well as go gambling, cards, poker, etc this not only provides a form of entertainment but also gives the user a way to quickly win / lose a lot of money and for the risk takers they may wish to invest their money in high risk high reward speculative stocks in the stock market instead of immediately spending it on a new apartment, new car, new tech gadget etc etc... this would also tie back to #ECONOMY since the more the user earns the more income he has to spend on gambling/stocks and the better the economy does the higher his stocks return on investment... #ROMANCE/RELATIONSHIPS Should be able to court any pretty woman on the streets, to walk up to her and say hi and have a path/chance to a dialogue that leads to setting up a first date... and following that if it goes well can progress to more dates and evetnually her moving in with the user and eventually even having a kid, getting married, and the works... each female NPC should have a male preference and a threshold of compatiblity... so that for example if on the first date the guy is cheap and takes her to low end resturant, doesn't have a nice car to pick her up with, and otherwise seems like a low life then she wouldn't process/continue with him... whereas if he is already established with a multimillion apartment, supercar, takes her to most expensive restuarant in NightCity, then I could see her going back to his place on the first date and maybe even getting pregnant right then and there that night etc...
I don't know if this is allowed as it's a bit of a minor post, but I'm looking for games for my phone. All my favorite Roblox games lag like shit and Animal Jam makes everything hard to navigate on such a small screen. I've recently tried playing both Flyff and PK XD, with the first taking up too much memory (1 gig) and the latter (as adorable as it is) being limuted, desolate, and lonely. I'm looking for games with multiple modes or minigames such as RPGs and virtual pet games. Nearly ALL of the ones I've tried in the past, despite being single player, still require wifi and it's bullshit. I fucking HATE casino games for the life of me and I often get nightmares from all the ads. I also hate cheap ass "layered" apps who often have FANTASTIC ads, like Gardenscapes and Forge of Empire. Third person camera is okay as long as I get to space out my decorations, but I'd rather have a game where I can zoom in and out. Not really interested in word searches and the like. Puzzle games are okay but I'm more of a grinding/RPG person. Any suggestions? Or do I just keep Flyff on my phone?
7 Days to Die Alpha 19 Newbie Guide (PC Version) I've seen a number of posts looking for a "how to play," or "introduction," to the game. This is my attempt to write one. At the beginning of the game, you wake up video-game naked (i.e., in your underwear) and completely ignorant. Your goal is to survive, which is made harder by a) your nude ignorance, and b) the fact that you're living in the aftermath of a combined zombie/nuclear apocalypse. Your character has four on-screen meters showing your status: food, water, health, and stamina (or call it whatever you like -- fatigue, energy, etc.). Food and water levels go down unless you eat or drink something. They go down faster if you're doing something that burns stamina (like running). They go down faster if you're too hot or too cold (which is usually only an issue in biomes like desert or snow when you're not properly dressed). They can also go down faster with certain health effects (like getting dysentery -- I'll talk about these effects in a second). Run out of food or water and you will die. (Pay attention to the status bars; in real-life survival situations, regularly getting water is more important than food, but in-game, they both matter.) (Pro tip: Food and drinks you can make yourself are better in many ways than canned goods or basic crops.) Health is just like in any other video game. It goes down when you get hit, or fall, or step on pointy things like spikes or cacti. Run out of health and you die. Eating food, using certain medical supplies, or just waiting will cause health to go back up. Again, certain health effects may nerf your health bar. Stamina shows when you're tired. If you run out of stamina, then you can't swing weapons or tools, run, jump, or do other elements of an active post-apocalyptic lifestyle. The good news is that your stamina comes back faster than health while waiting. Drinking improves stamina recovery, and eating gives a temporary boost to maximum stamina. The bad news is that you will be using stamina constantly as you go about your day. (Pro tip: Check out the various beverages in the game to find stamina benefits -- particularly red tea and coffee, also known as the mining combo.) Alpha 19 has a variety of different health effects that can hamper your food and water consumption, your health/stamina recovery, your maximum health/stamina, your speed, or your ability to use tools. Dysentry comes from eating rotting flesh or drinking unboiled water. Don't do that if at all possible. (Pro tip: You can eat animal fat and snowberries -- or yucca fruit in the desert biome -- if you run out of food in the first couple of days.) Other de-buffs come from injuries. The good news is that if you click on the icon showing the effect, it will bring up your character with info on exactly what you need to mitigate the effect, e.g., put on a splint or a cast to speed healing from a broken leg. Two particular health effects worth calling out are bleeding and infection. If you're bleeding, your screen will flash and your health will keep dropping. Use a bandage, medicated bandage, or medkit to stop it. ANYBODY can make bandages from cloth, so keep some with you. Infection refers not to gangrene, but to the dreaded zombie infection...a disease so horrifying that it helped usher in the fall of civilization. The ONLY way to cure this dangerous disease is...to eat some honey or take an over-the-counter antibiotic. Really, infection should only ever be a serious issue in the first week. (Pro tip: using an ax on tree stumps has a random chance to drop honey.) Encumbrance: You have a fixed number of inventory slots. You will note that three rows are clear at the start of the game, while the final two rows are not. Those extra rows represent encumbrance, and filling them up will significantly slow you down and increase your stamina usage. Try to avoid that outside of cleared or safe areas. You can increase the number of non-encumbered slots with clothing and armor mods, or through the Pack Mule perk. I recommend finding or making pocket mods ASAP and skipping the perk, though a single level in the early game can make things easier for newbies. (Pro tip: Some items, like most raw materials, food, drinks, medicines, etc., stack in inventory; some items like clothing, mods, and weapons do not. Smart inventory management when looting and salvaging will keep that in mind: do I really want to pick up that pair of shoes, or hold onto that dirty water that will stack if I find more?) All right, now that the basics are out of the way, how do I get better at surviving? The answer to that is two-fold. 1) Learn how to do more things. 2) Get better stuff. How do you learn more things? You get experience points (xp) from almost everything in this game. Eventually, when your xp bar fills, you will gain a level and get a perk point. You can use that to select perks, which all have various benefits. At the start, you will get a series of basic quests that serve as a mini-tutorial, and you will gain 4 perk points from finishing them (make sure you complete them!). (Pro tip: Upgrading blocks, e.g., turning flagstone walls into brick walls, is an exceedingly generous way of earning xp in Alpha 19; using a hammer on a block will tell you what material is needed to upgrade it.) Which perks should I pick first? Well...as a newbie, I recommend Lucky Looter (which improves your chance of finding good stuff), either Pummel Pete or Skull Crusher (depending on whether you want to use clubs or sledges), Sexual Tyrannosaurus (which improves your stamina usage), and something from the Fortitude recovery perks. Healing faster, using less food, or running away are all useful. Ask a different player and you will get wildly different suggestions. Eventually, you will figure out your preferred style of play and pick things accordingly. Note that perks tend to be useful to different degrees based on whether you are in early, mid, or late game. The other way to learn stuff is to find skill books and schematics. Schematics let you craft new things. Skill books give you a free perk, basically. Collect all seven of a type to get a bonus perk. Some of those are quite useful. Some of them are very circumstance-specific. Regardless, reading an unread book or schematic at least nets you bonus xp. You can tell that you've read a book by the tiny book icon (it will be open if read already). Even if you've read it, you can keep it and sell it for some cash. (Pro tip: Technically, schematics and books stack in inventory; in practice, finding multiple copies of the same one in a single POI is relatively rare.) How do I get better stuff? There are three ways to do that: 1) Loot it; 2) Make it; 3) Buy it. Looting: There are many objects that serve as containers in the game. Some objects, like cars, may or may not be a container. Just get close. If you get the option to search it, then it is a container. Not every container will have stuff. Searching containers takes time and makes noise. Locked containers need to be disassembled or have the lock picked in order to open them. Alpha 19 changed looting to be highly level- and time-dependent. You will not get top-tier loot in the early game. Even if you somehow fight your way to the roof of the Shotgun Messiah weapons plant on Day 1, you are likely to find stone spears and maybe a blunderbuss. (Pro tip: a pair of lucky goggles will increase your chance of finding better loot when opening a container for the first time.) Crafting: If you know how to build something, and you have the necessary ingredients, and you have access to the correct work area, then you can create something from scratch. Perks and schematics will tell you how to build stuff, though there are a handful of things you can build right at the start (like you saw in your tutorial quests). Ingredients can be looted, or you can salvage them by destroying items. See the next paragraph for more on this. Lastly, some items require you to be at a workbench, chemistry station, campfire, or forge to create (there will be an icon next to the item in the build list telling you which). You can build all of these work areas if you know how, buy them from traders, or use ones you find scattered around the world. Traders have one of each, though they probably won't all be functional (but the broken ones can be looted, at least). Caveat: In Alpha 19, you can build up to level 5 gear (higher level gear is usually better and has more slots for mods), but level 6 gear can be found or purchased. Level 6 gear is typically better than anything you can build of the same type. Salvage: Getting raw materials can be done in a number of ways. Use tools (axes, picks, wrenches, shovels) to extract things from blocks in the world. This is mostly fairly intuitive -- shovels work best on dirt, cement, etc., while axes are good on wooden items like tables and trees. Tools have different levels and can be modded to improve their abilities. Pay attention to the "block damage" stat of the tool to compare them. Some blocks are better sources than others. You can find mineral nodes scattered around that provide you with coal, iron, nitrate, oil shale, or lead, and those are excellent sources (Pro tip: the nodes are just the tip of the mineral iceberg; you can dig down to extract more ore.) Another way to get raw materials is to use the scrap command in inventory (personally, I found the hotkey for this a little too easy to hit accidentally, so I remapped it). This includes most useful items of gear, as well as certain decorative items like faucets and chairs that you can pick up. Note that many metal items can be put in the forge to smelt them down for more resources than you get using the scrap command, including iron tools. (Pro-tip: Smelting radiators that you get from disassembling cars, heating radiators, and AC units is a great source of brass for crafting ammo; you can also smelt Dukes...but you're usually better off using them to buy ammo from a merchant.) Buying: Merchants are scattered over the map. Setting up a base near one is a good idea. The post-apocalyptic currency in this game is the Duke, a brass coin that looks like a casino chip. (There are no bottle caps in this game!) If you don't have any money, then you can instead trade your labor for payment. Complete a quest and you'll get cash, xp, and a free prize of some kind (you get a choice -- ammo, meds, gear, etc.). Quests boil down to: retrieve a package, kill some zombies, kill some zombies AND retrieve a package, or dig up and retrieve a package. In the early game, in particular, quests can be very lucrative. (Pro tip: The Daring Adventurer perk can improve the rewards you get from quests if you decide you want to focus on that aspect of the game.) Merchants sell all sorts of things: food, raw materials, weapons, armor, vehicles, skill books, schematics. Their inventory resets daily-ish, so pop back on a regular basis. Cheesy pro-tip: When you trigger a quest location, the POI will refresh to an "unexplored" state. This automatically refills all of the loot, etc., as well as repopulating the zombies. You can clear the location, then trigger the quest and clear it again for double the rewards. Just don't leave any loot inside a container that will refresh. What about combat? Why haven't you really mentioned the z-word yet? Well, honestly, you'll probably spend a lot more time salvaging and looting than fighting (with the exception of Blood Moon horde nights, which I'll talk about below). Most zombies in the early game are slow and fairly easy to avoid. If you can avoid getting mobbed, then you will probably be all right. Animals, however, will mess you up. You will quickly start yawning when you see a single stumbling housewife zombie, but a wolf will continue to be a threat well into the mid-game. Zombie animals are also a threat. Zombie dogs are fairly easy to kill but come in packs of 3-7. Zombie bears will soak up more damage than you can easily dish out in the early game. Zombie vultures are hard to hit and are really good and causing lacerations and bleeding. I've gotten infected by zombie animals far more commonly than I have from human zombies. Zombie dogs, coyotes, wild cats, and wolves: running works until you run out of stamina, and then you're dead. The best bet in the early game is to find someplace high they can't reach and snipe them if you have enough arrows or ammo. These animals can and will sneak up on you. The good news is that they will make random noises that will let you know they're in the area. Snakes: I've seen these in the desert and wasteland biomes. Good eatin', but they are quiet and can attack without warning. Luckily, they die easily. Wild pigs: Don't bother them. Seriously, just leave them alone until you have good guns. Bears and zombie bears: The good news is that they won't chase you as easily as some other animals. They are also not as fast and you can outrun them. The bad news is that if you get cornered, they can take and dish out huge amounts of damage. Zombie vultures: These will attack you if you're injured, or are riding a vehicle. Shotguns are the easiest way to deal with them. Hitting them with melee weapons is an irritating chore that often ends with negative health effects. Possibly the most annoying creature in the game. Deer, rabbits, and chickens: They don't attack, but run if attacked. They can be a good source of meat. (Pro tip: you can get quests from slips of paper you find in loot; the ones asking you to do things like, "kill a bunch of rabbits by throwing cans of Sham at them," are never worth it unless you're desperate to try something new.) As the game advances, and as you explore some of the larger points of interest (POI), you will run across more dangerous zombies. Feral zombies have glowing eyes and always move at a full run. Crawlers will jump around like demented jackrabbits. Glowing versions of zombies regenerate health. A good rule of thumb is that if something is different about a zombie, it probably is more dangerous. (Pro tip: Quite a few POI's have alert triggers that will cause a bunch of nearby zombies to wake up at once, and stealth doesn't avoid tripping them; best to always have a clear avenue of retreat when entering a new location.) Weapon selection: As said earlier, clubs and sledgehammers are your basic melee option. Either works well for the early game or to save ammo or hit quietly in the later game. Spears, axes, and knives/machetes can also be used, but they require more practice and really NEED perks to be fully optimized. Note that knives and axes are mostly meant to be tools. Stun batons require another source of damage, either turrets or other players, to be effective, and are also perk/mod-dependent. Bows can easily kill basic zombies quietly with a headshot. Use the best bow or crossbow and the best ammunition that you can. Do away with stone arrows/bolts as soon as you can find or build the iron versions. You'll need to decide for yourself if you want to keep using bows once guns are available. I like them, but your mileage may vary. (Pro tip: There is a skill book that allows you to craft flaming and explosive arrows; sadly, there is no way to ride around in a Dodge Charger, shooting exploding arrows out the window while Dixie plays from the car horn.) Guns are easily the best option in the game...and while perks can make them more effective, they aren't necessary. Don't hesitate to pull out a shotgun just because you put all your perk points into pistols if you run out of 9mm ammo. There is a fair amount of ammo in this game, and you can make more...but I always keep a club or sledge with me just in case. Having a gun makes exploring the harsher biomes a lot easier. The trade-offs for gun selection are pretty in line with any other game that has guns. Some burn ammo quickly. Some have low ammunition capacity. Some are better at long range. (Pro tip: having several loaded blunderbusses or double-barreled shotguns in your tool belt can provide an early-game rapid-fire option for dealing with tougher opponents.) Weapon perks and skill books: Each type of weapon has an associated perk, and an associated skill book set. Maxing out both can make a fairly sizeable difference, and can have some unexpected other benefits. For example, one of the skill books gives you a 10% barter bonus if you happen to be holding a .357 while trading. Blood Moon Horde Nights: Every 7 days (by default), the sky will turn red. When night falls (hour 22 by default), a horde will spawn near the player. Every zombie in that horde will magically know exactly where you are and will rush at you to eat your delicious flesh. The devs of the game have made it clear that they want you to FIGHT the zombies, and have gone well out of their way to make turtling behind defenses less viable. Zombies will break down walls -- even ones made of brick and concrete. They will dig to reach you. They jump on top of each other to climb to get you (like in the Brad Pitt zombie flick). As the game progresses, zombies will appear that are capable of spitting acid, or that act as suicide bombers (can you call it suicide bombing if they're already dead?). (Pro tip: Bomb zombies, also known as Demolishers, can be taken down by head or leg shots; shooting them in the chest is a bad idea, despite the fact that shooting the glowing spot is normally the best move in a video game.) Having said that, building defenses and traps can be very effective at delaying or channeling zombies, and can effectively thin the horde. There are pretty much two approaches people use to deal with a horde night.
Find a POI that prevents the zombies from reaching you and then wait out the attack. Anyplace high with enough metal or stone to last for a while will work. Large stores, fire departments, skyscrapers, water towers, etc., can all work, though the smaller the location, the more quickly it will fall to the zombies eventually.
Build a fortress. This is usually a setup that includes auto-turrets, traps, spikes, and walls made of brick or concrete. Often, they're set up to lead zombies into a killing zone where you can shoot or bomb them into bits. There are many YouTube videos on different approaches, and they range from lore-friendly to extremely cheesy exploitations of the AI or physics engine.
Note that these two are not mutually exclusive. It's pretty common to use POI's at first and then try building your own, or to move back to POI's if your attempt at a custom fortress is less effective than you had hoped. (Pro-tip: Don't use your home base for horde nights...at least until you've got a LOT of experience fortifying against horde nights.) Creating a home base: Every survivor needs a place to keep their stuff. Just like with a horde base, you can either re-purpose a POI or build your own from scratch. If you use a POI, then make sure you put down your bedroll. That will keep sleeping zombies from respawning in the area. If you want to use a bedroll as a way of regularly resetting your spawn point, then you're probably better off building your own base. That said, a good POI to use as a base has height. Using a forge on the first floor is a good way to attract random zombies. It's also good to find someplace with brick or concrete walls, as they'll last longer against wandering foes. Also, keep in mind that you'll be going in and out a lot, so you don't want it to be too hard to get in and out. (Pro tip: lone zombies can't jump to ladders that are two blocks off the ground, but you can; this doesn't work so well with hordes, as they climb over each other.) By default, zombies are faster at night, so early game nights are a good time to huddle up in a base and craft things. When you run out of things to craft, READ the descriptions of your perks, skill books, and the built-in journal entries. You'll be surprised how much information is buried in there. You can also take the time to look at the map and plan out the next day's activity. (Pro tip: Find a cluster of close-together POI's on the map, and put a chest or storage box in the middle to serve as a temporary loot repository; inventory item stacking means that having a collection point can mean many fewer trips back to your base with the fruits of your effort.) Vehicles: Maps in this game are fairly large. The solution to moving about to different biomes (which have different resources and different POI's) is to make or buy a vehicle. Anybody can assemble vehicles if they have the right parts, but some of the parts are locked behind perks/schematics. Taking the first-level vehicle perk can be useful, as the bicycle isn't a bad starting vehicle and the perk unlocks wheels, which every other vehicle needs. (Pro-tip: the easiest way to get gas when out-and-about is to salvage the many derelict cars.) Zombies and wildlife are pretty harmless if you can speed past them...with the exception of vultures, which can be annoying enough to make you stop your motorcycle just to shotgun them out of the sky. Mods: There are tons of clothing, weapon, and armor mods in the game. Read the descriptions, as they can have a huge impact on effectiveness. (Alpha 19 has no vehicle mods, despite the fact that vehicles have mod slots.) If you open an item for modding, then any mods in your inventory that can be used for that item will start flashing, making it easy to see which mods go with that item. (Pro tip: There is a boot mod that reduces falling damage that is worth its weight in gold. Not only is it really easy to fall in some POI's, but the de-buff from spraining or breaking a leg when zombies are about can be utterly lethal.) Power tools: Power tools are very powerful. Augers and chainsaws harvest materials very rapidly. They also use gas and make a ton of noise. They tend to quickly attract screamers, which are zombies that scream until other zombies show up to find out what all the fuss is about. Kill them quickly to avoid hordes interrupting your mining. (Pro tip: The physics engine of the game means that mine collapses are a thing, and they can be deadly; shoring up the ceiling with wood blocks can help prevent this, but augers can mine so quickly that you can lose track of how deeply you've gone beyond your supports.) The annoying pinging noise made by augers is an Alpha 19 addition that was generally disliked by everyone. Repairing items: Many items like tools, weapons, and armor will degrade over time. Weapons and tools will let you know they need repair...typically when you need them the most. Armor never notifies you. It just stops working. Check your item status bars to figure out when to repair them. Simple tools and weapons can be fixed with wood and stone. More sophisticated items require repair kits. In Alpha 19, repair kits are a generic fix-all for any advanced item, which greatly simplifies things. They can be crafted with forged iron and duct tape. (Pro tip: forged iron can be made in any forge, but you can also salvage them from disassembling weight sets, desk and gun safes, and NON-FUNCTIONAL vending machines; salvaging them can be tedious in the early game but can be worth it to keep your precious firearms and armor functioning.) Farming: You will find seeds, or you can take a perk or find a schematic to craft seeds. It takes five cobs of corn to create one corn seed, which is odd given that the whole grain is basically made of seeds...but chalk it up to game-play balancing. To plant a seed, you need a farm plot (except for mushrooms, which can grow on any surface), which you can craft with wood, rotting flesh, clay, and nitrate. Once planted, it will grow in three stages. Harvest it at stage 3 by punching the plant, and it will revert to stage 1 and deposit the appropriate food item into your inventory. If you accidentally harvest the seed, just replant it. If you want to get physically fit, do a push up in the real world every time you accidentally punch the ground or the air instead of your crop. (Pro tip: Don't harvest with a mostly full inventory, as if your tool belt slot is the last open spot, the crop will go there, and your next attempted punch will instead eat the last one you harvested.) Electricity: Fire attracts zombies like moths. Using electric lights is a convenient way to avoid that, as zombies are Luddites and don't care for the products of industry. The most convenient way to light up your home base is with lanterns, but you need to find a certain skill book to make them. The good news is that their batteries never need recharging. You can also get flashlights, or mods that attach lights to your helmet or your weapon (press F to pay your respects...er, sorry, to turn on your light). You can also craft a variety of stand-alone electric lights, but that requires a separate energy source. Energy sources come in three varieties. Battery packs hold up to six car batteries and drain the batteries over time. You can recharge the pack by connecting it to a different energy source. Generator banks hold up to six engines (recoverable from many derelict vehicles, among other sources) that burn gasoline to provide power. Solar banks contain solar cells and generate power as long as they are in sunlight. They also cannot be crafted and are as expensive as hell. (Pro-tip: Higher-level batteries last longer; use level 1 and 2 batteries to craft vehicles, sell, or smelt for lead, and keep the better ones for the battery banks.) Use wiring tools to connect energy sources to energy consumers. There are some slightly wonky rules to how you can connect, but it isn't hard to learn with a little trial and error. Wiring doesn't cost you anything, so experiment freely. You can put various switches between the consumer and the source: toggle switches, pressure plates, and motion sensors being the most common, though there are other options. Switches require power, but less power than an active consumer. This allows you to, for example, conserve power in the daytime by turning off active defenses and lights so you don't waste battery charge or gasoline. (Pro tip: a solar bank charging a full battery bank will provide quiet, continuous power, at which point you can feel free to light up your place like a Vegas casino 24/7.) Stealth: Some players will tell you stealth is impossible in this game. That is not true. What is true is that some situations negate stealth, most particularly Blood Moon hordes. Just tell yourself that the red moon makes their senses so acute that they can smell a living human from a mile away -- if you can't rationalize it away as a game balance issue. Some POI's also have event triggers that are based on your location rather than how stealthy you are being. Chalk that up to dramatic license. This is a game where zombies are real and I can carry a motorcycle in my boot. Get over it. There are some things you need to know about stealth, though, to do it effectively. Your stealth rating is a combination of noise and visibility. Clomping around in heavy armor, waving a torch or flaming club around, or using a flashlight will make you easy to notice. Firing a gun, whacking a wrench against a metal appliance, or jumping up and down on a pile of trash will also make you easy to notice. That means using light armor, using a bow or melee weapon, and crouching are all ways to avoid being seen. There are a number of skill books, perks, armor and weapon mods, and craftable gear that can all make you more stealthy. With diligence, you can walk up behind a sleeping zombie, smack him in the head with a sledgehammer, and not disturb the other one right next to him. Will this make the game much easier? I would argue no. It certainly makes some specific situations much easier. Clearing out a mini-horde in a POI with a bow before they wake up can be much less stressful, certainly. The lack of universal effectiveness definitely makes it a playstyle choice, however, rather than an over-powered build to avoid if you want a challenge. (Pro-tip: Stealth is never a 100% guarantee, which is why you always carry stacks of wood; wood is incredibly flexible, as it lets you drop cheap spike traps in narrow passages, climb up easily to places zombies cannot reach, make bridges across open gaps, craft doors to seal off openings that foes have to make noise to get through but that you can open easily, etc.) That's about it. The most important pro tip is this: this is an open-world game where the only thing that matters is that you have fun playing it. It doesn't matter if you want to do single-player, or multi-player, or if you like crafting more than combat, or prefer spears over guns. You bought the game. Do what you like, as that is really the only goal.
I Used to go Bar-Hopping... Until I Found the Crimson Cabaret
I was eighteen when I met Reyna. I'd been at a local bar called Jerry's by myself since my friends had left me hanging. I was using a fake ID, not that I really needed it unless there were cops around. The bartender was the kind of guy who would let you have the booze if you could pay. He did have some rules, though. If you were under sixteen you'd get booted out of the bar real quick and he'd call your parents, and you weren't allowed to cause any problems with the other patrons or the same thing would happen. I was always a usual since it was the laxest place in town, but I had bar-hopped before. Most of the places just didn't click with me. I needed a good vibe in order to drink. This was a night where not a lot of people were around, but those that were there were the usual old drunks. All aside from one. I noticed her before she noticed me, and she was absolutely beautiful. Her scarlet hair practically glowed under the dim bar lights, and she was wearing a really expensive-looking dress. There was a small purse with a thin strap over her shoulder and I recognized the Louis Vuitton logo on it. I was curious about her, since the town I was living in was pretty small and not very rich. I guessed she must've been from out of town or something. She looked like she might've been nineteen or twenty, but the way she sat made her look older and more mature. I didn't realize I'd been staring at her until she looked at me point blank with an eyebrow raised and a curious smile across her face. In the next moment she slipped off of her stool and started walking towards me. Okay, don't freak out. Don't freak out. Don't freak out. Stay cool, I thought nervously. My palms were sweating and I felt a lump develop in my throat. She took the seat beside me and ordered two shots. The bartender placed the shots in front of her, and she pushed one over to me. I just stared at it for a moment before looking at her. She raised her eyebrow again, "Are you going to drink it or just stare at it all night?" I wasn't really a vodka person, but the fact that this beautiful girl had just bought me a drink rather than it being vice-versa made me feel a sense of obligation. I downed the drink and it left a burning sensation in the back of my throat. The girl smiled and downed her own shot, but it didn't look as though it had fazed her. "So... You aren't much of a vodka person, huh?" I was slightly shocked by her statement, but I guessed I must've made a face or something. Her voice had been soft like velvet. I nodded, "Yeah, I usually like whiskey or beer or sometimes gin." She shrugged, but the motion coming from her looked so graceful, "I understand. I don't much care for this brand, either." I tried to think of something smooth to say but all that came out was, "Do you come here often?" She laughed, but her smile quickly fell, "Really? That's your opening line? And here I was expecting something a little more interesting from you." I shook my head, "No, no, no... I was really curious. I haven't seen you in this bar before, and I'm one of the usual customers." Her smile returned and she nodded, "Well, then my answer is no. I've only been to this place a handful of times and you've never been here when I am. Perhaps fate has brought us together this evening. I'm Reyna." I smiled, "I'm Todd..." I sighed, "Maybe you're right. I was considering going over to Mary's but changed my mind last minute." She nodded, "I can understand why. You seem to be quite at ease here... but not completely." I frowned, "What do you mean?" She opened her purse and drew a cigarette and lighter, offering one to me, but I declined. She shrugged and lit her cigarette before continuing, "Your demeanor is calm but until I came over you were sitting very stiffly. You're worried about the cops coming in here and catching you, even if you don't realize it yourself. You'd have no cause for any concern if we were at the Crimson Cabaret." "The Crimson what now?" I asked. She shook her head, "Just my favorite bar. It's not too far from here and it's a bit of a tourist destination, but I enjoy it. See, police don't typically show up at that bar, but even when they do... Sixteen, eighteen, twenty, it doesn't matter. They don't care. You could even walk in being thirteen years old and you'd get away with drinking. Hell, they'd probably buy a round for you." I was skeptical with the way she was hyping up this bar. Sure, everyone had their favorite place to hang and drink, and you always wanted to believe your place was better than anyone else's. Still, the fact that I'd never heard of the place being the bar-hopper I was made me feel like this was sort of sketch. "Right... So why bother bringing up this place?" Reyna smiled and shrugged, "Being such an avid bar-hopper, I'd figure you'd like a place where you can be most at ease. I used to be a lot like you until I found the Cabaret. It's a really nice place, but it's also very expensive unless you go in with a member." She placed her hand on my shoulder, "I could show you." I felt a shiver run up my spine from the warmth of her hand and smiled, "Ah... Um, no, I don't think so. I... I need to go home and get some sleep. You see, I have work in the morning and--" Reyna removed her hand from my shoulder and shook her head, "It's alright. I shouldn't have been so forward with you." She frowned, "You remind me a lot of myself, honestly. I... I used to drink because of my boyfriend. You're drinking because of Cecilia, aren't you?" My heart sank at this comment. Not because she knew my girlfriend by name, but... Because she was right. Cecilia and I had been dating since Freshman year of high school and at first things had been really great, but... Eventually they weren't? I don't know why it happened or how, but it happened. And she started cheating on me. I didn't break up with her, though. Once again I don't know why. I guess it was just because we'd been together for such a long time and I couldn't imagine my life without her. No... No, that wasn't it. It was because of convenience. I was there to fulfill her needs whenever she wasn't out with other guys and she did the same for me. It wasn't healthy and it certainly wasn't because we cared about each other. We just were with one another. I never cheated on her because I was just a faithful guy. I wasn't above innocently flirting with girls now and again at parties or bars, but that was as far as I took it. I sighed and nodded, "Yeah. We, uh, we don't exactly see eye to eye with each other anymore. But at least it's a relationship." Reyna shook her head, "No, Todd, it's not a relationship. Call it a dependency, a multiple-night stand, but it's not a relationship. Not really." She put her hand back on my shoulder, but this time I wasn't so stiff at the motion. "You shouldn't have to live like this." She smiled, "Come to the Cabaret with me. Just as friends. We'll have some drinks and talk for awhile. You'll have so much fun you won't want to leave. What do you say?" Something about Reyna talking to me in that understanding sweet tone... It made me feel like I could trust her with anything. That going and getting some drinks at this bar of hers didn't sound like a bad idea. I smiled and nodded, "Alright. Let's go." I don't know why I decided to go with Reyna in her car. I guess... it was because I thought I'd had too much to drink? I don't know, but Reyna had a really nice car and it was pretty cool to be riding in it. We arrived at the bar which was quite a few miles outside of town through a thick blanket of fog, but the place looked really nice on the outside, so I figured the inside would be no different. Reyna handed off her keys to a valet and we walked up to the doors where a bouncer was waiting. Reyna pulled a strange card out of her purse that had two holographic filigree Cs on it. The bouncer glanced between the two of us for a moment before nodding and opening the doors. And from the moment we stepped inside... I was in love. The entire place was decorated in rich reds and golds, and it looked like some sort of lavish casino rather than a bar. It was two stories high and, yeah, there were slot machines and card tables galore. On a big stage were girls dancing on both the stage floor and a trapeze hung from the ceiling in glittery costumes. The place was full of people and bustling workers carrying various cocktails in some crazy colors. I looked at Reyna, who smiled at me, "What? It's a bar first and a casino second. Or do you not like gambling?" "No, I--" "Then shush and let's go," she said with a coy smile. She gently pulled me to the very long bar and we sat down at two of the padded stools. The bar was a transparent fish tank, and it had some pretty cool exotic fish in it. The bartender wasn't like Jerry in looks, being much more cheerful and smiley rather than tired and grumpy. "What can I get you?" he asked. I was about to say something, but Reyna spoke first, "Two galaxy lotuses, Benny." The guy nodded and started expertly mixing alcohols and came back with two tall glasses of alcohol that literally glowed and looked like he'd taken the stars and put them into a glass. Reyna sipped at her drink and gestured for me to do the same. I picked up my drink and sipped it. It was smooth and warm. Nice to taste, too. Sort of oaky and fruity all at the same time. "It's good, isn't it?" Reyna commented. I nodded and she smiled, "Thought so. It's one of my favorite drinks to order here. After you finish do you want to do some gambling? I play a pretty good poker hand now and again." I shrugged, "Sure, I guess so." We finished up our drinks and she took me to a poker table that was about to deal a new hand. At this point I was buzzed and starting to drift into being drunk. I'm not typically the type of guy to go and get drunk drunk a lot of the time. When I'm buzzed, I tap out. I know it's not smart to do but I do have to drive home because I can't afford to call Ubers if I'm bar-hopping all night. It'd be more trouble than it's worth, I guess. When Reyna bought even more drinks I withheld a groan. There was no way I'd be able to drive home once Reyna dropped me off to pick up my car. I'd have to sleep in my back seat until tomorrow morning. "Hey," Reyna muttered, placing her hand on my shoulder, "what's wrong?" I frowned, slightly confused and muttered, "Huh?" She frowned, "Your forehead is all scrunched up like you're thinking." She smiled and lightly pushed my chest, "Relax a little, Todd. I'm not going to leave you in that parking lot at Jerry's." I don't know if I felt scared or relieved that Reyna seemed to be able to read my thoughts yet again. I guess she was just so pretty and I was getting drunker and stupider so I decided not to be weirded out. Reyna ordered more drinks and I finished mine yet again. Now, I know I said I was only a drink till' I'm buzzed kind of person, and that's true, but once or twice I'd gotten drunk drunk. When that happened I'd get really tired and typically let one of my friends take me to their houses and I'd crash on their couches. But right now... I didn't have anywhere to sleep. "If you're tired we can go into one of the member's rooms upstairs. I don't mind you sleeping on my bed," Reyna said with a smile. I don't know why, but I just nodded and allowed her to lead me upstairs. I was leaning on her for support and she opened one of the doors to one of the rooms. She walked and I stumbled inside. She closed the door with her foot and sat me down on the bed. I immediately fell over and wanted to go to sleep, but in the next moment Reyna sat down in front of me and started taking her heels off. I sat up and through my drunken haze noticed the blisters on her ankles and how she was wincing and rubbing them. "Are you okay?" I asked concernedly. She glanced back at me and smiled reassuringly, "Um, yeah. I'm alright. These shoes are new, so I haven't exactly broken them in yet." I don't know why I did what I did next, but I pulled Reyna into a hug with her back pressed against my chest, resting my hands on her stomach. "You don't have to put on an act with me, Reyna," I muttered into her hair. "You've been so understanding and sweet all night. I think you can tell me whatever's wrong with you." Reyna smiled and placed her hands on top of mine, "Todd... I hope you know I don't just bring any man back to the Cabaret with me or let them into my room. I like you. You're thoughtful." She turned around in my arms and wrapped her arms around my neck and kissed me. Since Cecilia and I had started dating I'd never even thought of any other girls. Even after she started openly cheating on me I refused to do the same. I hadn't put my hands on another girl in a long time... But Reyna... She was so beautiful and understanding... So gentle and sweet... Everything Cecilia wasn't. I kissed her back, and then we just laid there, holding one another. It was nice. "Todd..." Reyna muttered cautiously. I kissed her forehead, "Yeah?" She smiled slightly, "Would you do anything for me?" I found the question curious, but nodded and squeezed her hand in reassurance, "Yeah. Yeah, I would." She nodded, "I know you would. I just wanted to ask." I don't know when or how I fell asleep, but when I woke up I found Reyna's side of the bed empty. I muttered a cuss under my breath and rushed out the door to her room. I caught sight of her crimson hair heading towards the exit and just managed to make it through the throng of people to catch her. She smiled as she looked back at me. Then I noticed... She looked different. She was still beautiful, but... Less so than last night. It made me wonder if my being under the influence had made her appear more gorgeous. She was also wearing some cheap street clothes which shocked me all the more. "Hello, Todd," she said. "Sleep well?" "Where are you going?" I asked, confused and pretty hurt. She smiled and gestured for me to come outside with her. I only noticed it was still night when we got out the doors. How long had I been asleep? It had been long enough to sleep off my alcohol, clearly, but... How was it still nighttime? Reyna and I sat on one of the benches outside and she lit a cigarette, taking a puff before finally speaking. "You know I said I used to bar-hop like you?" she asked. I nodded, and she continued, "That was true. Then one night... One night I met a guy at one of my local hops who was dressed so nicely and was the polar opposite of my boyfriend who I was still with. His name was Rodger. We got to talking and he just seemed to get me and what I was going through. He mentioned the Crimson Cabaret as the best bar to visit and I let him take me to it in his car. I reacted the same way as you. I drank and drank way beyond my tolerance level and he offered to let me sleep in his room. Just like I offered to you. We got in there and I started crying about my boyfriend and then Rodger started kissing me. I wanted him to kiss me. He asked me if I'd do anything for him. I said yes. "I woke up with his side of the bed being empty and just knew I needed to hurry. I found him about to leave just like you did me. He sat me down at this bench here and explained everything to me." "Everything about what?" I asked, my mind starting to race with fear. "The Cabaret." Reyna's voice was wistful and hollow, "How it works. What it does to you. I said you'd love it so much you'd never want to leave, but... You can't leave. Not anymore. At first it's great to be a member. All the free booze you can drink without the threat of a hangover, nice expensive clothing brands, a big room with all the food and entertainment you could ever want, and God if you don't wake up every single morning looking like your best self!" She sighed, "But eventually it gets mundane. You don't age. It's always nighttime. The acts on stage get repetitive until you can predict what's going to happen that night. The bartenders come off less as cheerful and kind and more so robotic and creepy. You come to hate it." I frowned and shook my head, "Why can't you leave? What is this place?" Reyna extinguished her cigarette and shook her head, "See, the thing about the Cabaret is that you have to be a member to leave, but even then you can't leave forever. You have to bring back customers. People who will be easy to manipulate into forgetting themselves and just drinking and gambling forever and ever. The only way you can ever really escape is if you find someone to replace you. A new member. A new bar-hopper to give a home. "Sometimes it's easy to find someone to replace you, but you can't pick just anyone. You'll know who can help you escape because it'll be obvious. You'll be able to see into their lives and know they want an escape. An escape... I've been looking for years to find someone who can help me. It's been about sixty, maybe seventy years. I looked and looked and looked for someone who could get me out, but I never managed to. Until I met you. I could see into your life and how much you hated it. How much you hated your girlfriend. How much you wanted anything different. And I knew. You were my salvation." I was shocked as Reyna rose to her feet, pulling something out of her pocket. It was her car keys and her member card from the Cabaret. She handed both of them to me and smiled, "I really do like you, Todd, and I hope you'll find your way out soon." She handed me one more thing. A scrap of paper with a phone number. "Keep track of the time, and call me if you get out within the next ten years." And then she took off, walking out of the parking lot and down the road. I watched as she began to disappear into the fog, her crimson hair being the last thing I saw. It's been about thirty years. I still have access to the outside world via my phone, a computer in my room, and a TV that shows all the channels. It's been about thirty years now. I have since received only one text from Reyna. A picture of her in a wedding dress looking rather sad with the words, I waited, but I'm done waiting now, in the message. I don't blame her for moving on. And now as I type this on Reddit I hope that maybe it'll reach my replacement. But if you're not... Still... Come to the Crimson Cabaret. You'll never want to leave.
Diamond Casino Heist Guide: Vault Contents & Support Crews
I haven’t really seen anybody talking about these two topics, despite them both being vital to a heist’s success. I compiled as much information as I could about them into this post. This is part of a larger guide I’m working on. This guide isn’t finished, but far as I know everything here is correct. Let me know if I made a mistake. Vault Contents: The target of your heist. The contents of the vault are randomly chosen during each heist. But they’ll always be one of four options. If you’re playing on hard mode, the value of each target will be increased by 10%, so keep that in mind.
Identical to Pacific Standard; just grab and go. You’re guaranteed to get cash as your target during your first heist. Cash is both the most common and least valuable target, so use a smaller, cheaper team to maximize your profits.
Attached to the walls of the vault. Artwork only has to be cut out of its frame, which takes 10 seconds at worst. The speed at which Artwork can be collected makes it one of the most profitable targets, since it requires a smaller team and gives you extra time to deal with the deposit boxes.
Its like cash, but heavier, and much more valuable. Your speed will decrease depending on how much gold you’re carrying, and you’ll eventually lose your ability to jump. Either disperse the gold evenly between your teammates, or have two “mules” collect all of it. This is a three man job, at least. Communicate, and give yourself extra time to escape the vault.
The rarest, easiest, and by far most valuable target at the casino. In fact, they’re so rare that they’re *only available during weekly events*, and that isn’t a guarantee. They're collected like cash, but there’s always a lot of them. Bring a large, experienced crew if this is your target, and don’t bother with drilling.
Additional Targets: The vault’s main targets should always come first, but consider these options if you have the time.
Daily Safe ($5,000-$100,000?)
A smaller vault on the upper level of the casino, holding the day’s profits. The amount of money that it holds is random. Depending on the route that you take, the daily safe may be too dangerous to access. Go for it if you have the time, preferably before you reach the vault.
Deposit Boxes ($0-$5,000 each, determinant)
Regardless of your main target, these miniature safes will always decorate the walls of the vault, taunting you with their ambiguous value. You can only open them if you complete the power drill prep, which is optional. The value of each box is random; some of them are worth up to $5,000, and some of them are empty. Regardless, they’ll always generate in clusters of four, so it’s pretty easy to go through a bunch of them. Never choose the deposit boxes over your primary target, but consider cracking a few open on your way out. They’re great for padding your score during an aggressive run.
Gunmen: These guys provide all of your firepower during the heist. Go cheap here, unless you're taking the aggressive approach.
Carlos Alexander, Billionaire, Evil Villain, and Antagonist Extraordinaire
I guess it is time to speak briefly on Carlos Alexander. His rise to fame, and subsequent infamy is due to his unique gift. He did not always have this gift though. Carolus Alexius was born in what is now Cordoba, Spain, to Roman parents living under Moorish rule. The year was 777. His parents being aristocrats, in the basest sense, he had access to the vast library there at Cordoba, and all the secrets it harbored. You see like us, the Unseen, Carlos Alexander is drawn to magical places, special people, powerful charms, purpose-made trinkets, and the like. It is in this way that people find the chests, and other cursed items. It is in this same way that we of the Orders find each other, and draw close, so they we can stand together against the dark forces that gather to do the same. There, from some ancient and dusty tome, he read aloud some perverse words, and pantomimed some obscure ritual, imbuing himself with an unnaturally extended lifespan. The means by which he achieved this is lost to us, likely he burned the instructions as soon as his ritual was compete. His terrible gift, along with his extended life, has allowed him to amass some of the most dangerous talismans we have ever seen. Through these talismans, he has gained power and dark influence all over the globe and beyond, and he holds sway over many. This influence also allowed him to gain enormous wealth. The companies which he has founded, and leads from the shadows, are industry leaders, and financial juggernauts. Through this interconnected network of companies, he is able to further his agenda, and spend his time concentrating his efforts where he is best served. Due to his high stature, Carlos Alexander must be careful not to let his secret be learned by any Profane. Even many of our Orders are not sure he exists; a powerful and ancient enigma, he had evaded every attempt at defeat or capture. He has moved many times throughout the years, and lived under a hundred different names, accordingly. Eventually he settled on a forever home, where he felt he could be intermittently safe. Located in Chile, in the coastal range foothills, near the Atacama Desert, his palatial estate is impossible to miss. A monolith of stark beauty amidst the desolate landscape. It was called Casa Culpeo, so named for a species of fox native to the area. Its construction started in the late 1780’s and employed the skill of so many skilled tradesmen; masters in stonework, carpentry, botany, fresco and mosaic, and painters. Once they all had completed their great work, Carlos Alexander slaughtered each one personally, and buried them in the remote desert. None would remain alive to tell about it, so that the sands could hold his secrets for all time. Only a few and select would be lucky enough to ever see it and to experience its wonders, and live to tell about it. The property itself was a veritable Babylon. Lush greenery, colorful fragrant blooms, tall stately trees, and robust hedges abounded. Sculptures of the finest quality stared out over flora of the rarest and most expensive varieties. Fountains, ponds, and streams accented and divided the gardens, evoking the feelings of a European estate. The main building itself, was hewn from megalithic stone, arranged in the manner of cyclopean architecture. Inside, the halls themselves were adorned with prodigious amounts of art. Alcoves housed dignified marble busts of men and women of renown, and infamy. Even a more-than-casual visitor to the property, might not guess at the secrets it hid. Palatial, and expansive in its layout, every room held a plethora of rich decoration, and ornate adornment. One particular room, the study, held more than just mundane books though. The third shelf on the west facing wall had a small brass handle near the back of the lowest shelf. Pulling down would cause the shelf to swing open, revealing a locked door. Through the doorway was a descending staircase, that stretched down into the very bedrock upon which the estate was built. At the bottom, another door, also locked. That door opened into a long hallway, stretching nearly a quarter mile. The whole length was hexed with dozens of special charms developed by Mr. Alexander for just this purpose. In the centuries since their employment, they had never failed. At the end of the hallway was a final door; unlocked. None but him had ever gotten as far, so there was no need for chains or locks. Behind that door lay Carlos’s own veritable cabinet of curiosities. In his extensive collections of dark and nefarious and items, Mr. Alexander kept many artifacts of unsavory renown. His collections, which sat undisturbed in the vault below his study, might seem entirely benign, if not a touch macabre, to the average person. Rows of rich wooden shelves lined the room, and a grand wooden table was at its center. All lined with specimen jars, archeological looking objects, resplendent trinkets, human bones, and other seemingly valuable talismans and tokens. On the shelf against the northern wall was one of Mr. Alexander’s favorite pieces. Nestled between a jar containing a preserved parasitic shrimp from another world, and a Human skull with a huge ragged hole in it, sat a single American Dollar Bill, 2000 Series minted in Philadephia. It was unremarkable save the blue smiley face stamped on it. Aside from this, it generally looked like any other gently used dollar bill in every other way. A little girl named Dolores stamped that smiley face on it when her mother wasn’t looking, sometime in 2001. Dolores was regrettably killed in a bus accident while carrying that dollar to school for lunch the very next day. It was found in her wallet and returned to the family by the coroner with her blood-stained clothes. Her mom kept it for a month or two, but it pained her too much to keep it. So one day she burned the clothes in the fireplace. She took the dollar and stuffed it in a charity box for sick children, on the counter at the liquor store she had become such a frequent customer of. That tin charity box, with pictures of sick kids pasted around it, was never meant for charity, however. The owner of that particular convenience store was as unscrupulous as he was greedy, and he emptied that money right into his safe every month. He didn’t care about those sick kids, not one lick. He didn’t care much about anybody. Like his employees either. So one night, John and Alex, the owner’s two longest serving minimum wage employees, hit their boss over the head with a bottle of cheap wine while he counted his money. They made away with about fifteen grand. Good haul for them. Though their freedom was short lived, they made sure to spend every penny of that money. They were in jail within forty-eight hours, having been the prime suspects from the moment someone found the old, miserly store owner dead in his office the next morning. A good portion of that money was spent at a little gem of a strip club, over on the local highway, less than twenty minutes away. Our dollar found its way into the G-string of a tall leggy blond, stage name Charlize. She had a reputation as an easy lay. She used the money the two robbers gave her to buy a nice bag of heroin from her pimp, I mean, boyfriend. He liked it when his girls were drugged out and complacent. What none of them knew was that it unfortunately was not even heroin. It was Fentanyl; and these amateur street cooks out there couldn’t guarantee strength or purity. Dirty street shit like that is guaranteed to have a 10% overdose ratio. Charlize’s boyfriend, Danny, rolled the dollar with the smiley face up and handed it to her with a fresh line of that smack. He left her to die in that room, dollar still in her hand, alone to suffocate in her own vomit. The police were alerted to her after the hotel manager went to collect his money for the “short stay” and found a dead stripper with a face full of drugs. And our dollar went into an evidence bag. It sat on a shelf in Warwick Police Department for ten years until a bad cop, down on his luck, rummaged through old confiscated items for anything of value he could pawn. He wiped off the dollar and stuffed it directly in his wallet, among the myriad other things he had swiped. He needed the money to pay back a big gambling debt to some shady mobsters from an illegal casino down in Atlantic City. He went to them nearly empty-handed, and they did not appreciate his offer of a payment plan. They killed him, of course. And when they were stripping his body of clothes, they found his wallet. One expired credit card, and $16 dollars in cash; a ten, a five and our one dollar bill. These made-men returned to their high stake poker tables after the hit, and happened to sit across from Carlos Alexander, and some of his more dangerous associates, at a poker match. The made-men had no idea what that dollar was. Carlos knew though. He wagered a great deal of money that night to win that dollar from them, goading them into larger and larger bets. These mobsters pulled every denomination of bill from every pocket they had, but they wouldn’t budge; all he wanted was that dollar. The dark power of it was calling to the mobster who had taken it off of the dead man, bidding him to keep it for himself. Like all the dollar’s previous owners however, he was destined to die. Carlos Alexander did get that dollar, even though he had to slaughter every mobster in the room, with some help from some of his baser acquaintances. Once it started, it didn’t take long to finish. Three minutes of pure carnage, and he had it. As his companions feasted on the flesh of the dead, he pulled a handkerchief from his pocket, and wiped the blood from his eyes, making sure not to dirty the dollar. He stared at it, the dark emanations of its power pulsing in his hand. Carlos Alexander smiled. He already had a place picked out for it, in his collection.
Here is how to make the most of a one-week Mediterranean cruise and see as much of Europe that one can possibly manage in one week. I planned our cruise to minimize any unpleasant surprises and yet leave room to be spontaneous and adventurous. This article is not about cruise ships and you do not have to be a fan of cruises as my trip was mostly on land other than the overnight cruising. I felt that at the age of 57, I had delayed Europe long enough and with my busy business schedule, the cruise was the only way to get a snapshot of three countries and six cities in 10 days total, plus two days for flying from and to Canada. My wife does not like cruises, and I was left to travel with Lucas, our seventeen-year-old! In August 2018, Lucas and I flew to Barcelona, Spain, the embarking port for the Norwegian, Epic cruise ship. It was our very first time on a cruise and our very first time to Europe except for England. I do not recommend August or July for this trip as it is high season for local tourism, and it is too hot to walk the cities (well too hot for me). However, if you have kids in school, then you understand that it must be summer, unless you choose to go without them. Our ship would mostly cruise at nighttime giving us a full day from 7 am to 6 pm in most cities. That was perfect for me because there is only so much staring at water I can enjoy, and spending time in a tiny casino or eating non-stop are not my kind of pastime. If you are a cruise fan, then Norwegian Epic is great. They have about 10 wonderful restaurants, a superbly well-organized huge buffet with great selection of international food, a nice water park on the upper deck, and even a youth club with games, music, and dance to keep your teens entertained. Every evening after our long city walk, Lucas and I enjoyed a nice meal after our shower and then watched a show or a musical performance before we hit the sack in our comfortable balcony room. I do not like closed spaces and a balcony room was well worth the small difference in price, even though we did not have much time to be on the balcony. Epic was also completely renovated in 2015, which meant it was clean and up to date on amenities. Always check the year the ship was build or was renovated before committing to a cruise. Our cruise had stops in these cities: 1- Barcelona, Spain - embarking a. visit Gothic centre, La Rambla, La Sagrada Familia church, Park Güell, 2- Naples,Italy a. Rented a car and drove to Sorrento (an hour drive) 3- Rome, Italy a. Took the train to the city centre and then the city tour-bus to Vatican City, San Angelo Castle, Piazza di Spagna – drove past Colosseum 4- Florence and Pisa tower, Italy – walking tour, site seeing 5- Cannes and Nice,France – walking tour, site seeing 6- Mallorca (Majorca), Spain - took a taxi to Palma Nova beach, swam and chilled What to pack? We traveled very light with one carryon and a backpack. The backpack was for our extra stuff and NOT for touring the city. I do not recommend walking with a backpack, even less in the summer. Other than the usual travel items, here are some essentials I had to buy. 1- Light and cool walking shoes that were comfortable for walking and cool for summer. I bought a pair of nice leather sandals with good support and solid straps for walking. Also packed a pair of dress shoes for evening dinner on the ship and exercise shoes that I never used! 2- Summer shirts. I ordered some European collared Linen shirts. They look nice, are cool, and comfortable. www.bensherman.com has a good selection of those if you live in Canada or USA. Pack lots of tees for less formal places. 3- A couple of dress pants (linen and or khaki) for the evening restaurant and shows and dress shorts for long walks. 4- Beach sandal and swimming trunk for the Beach in Mallorca which I ended up buying in Cannes 5- Your credit card, Euro currency, and travel documents of course. Leave them in the safety box in your room and only take what you need for the day. Barcelona, Spain: We arrived Barcelona three days ahead of schedule to experience one city for more than just a day. We stayed at the Boutique Hotel Violeta (http://violetaboutique.com/home/) in the centre of the city and only three blocks from the Plaza Catalunya. It was the best and most centric location in my opinion. I loved the hotel. Violeta was a small hotel that reminded me of my apartment in Buenos Aires. The hotel is in a residential apartment building where they had turned two floors into hotel rooms. The Gothic architecture offered us a giant completely renovated room with a very high ceiling. We had two queen size beds in our room, a sitting area and plenty of open space. The reception was extremely helpful with information, and being small, made check-in a breeze. Violeta Boutique also included a European coffee and pastry breakfast but if you wanted an American breakfast, there was a small cafe next door on the street level and plenty of other options within a three-block radius. Our three days in Barcelona coincided with the Fiesta de Gracia (thanksgiving!) which was a 20-minute bus ride from Plaza Catalunya. I had bought a 10-ride Metro-Bus pass (Credit card size) from the Metro (subway, underground) station at Catalunya. Fiesta de Gracia was in the Garcia neighborhood where all the streets were colourfully decorated by the residents and live bands played all night on the streets and restaurants had set outdoor patios. The music was free, the food was reasonably priced, and people were jolly. It was my second favourite part of our time in Barcelona and we went there two evenings. Barcelona Gothic city From the airport, we took a bus straight to Plaza Catalunya (Plaça de Catalunya) in 20 minutes and then walked three blocks to our hotel. I had the hotel directions Googled (searched) in advance. I am fluent in Spanish (the Argentine version) so taking public transit was natural for me. Although Barcelona is a destination for international tourism and most people in the industry seem to speak English. I bought a SIM card for my phone (which was unlocked in advance) at the airport for €30 from Vodafone (https://www.vodafone.com/) that gave me 10 Gig of mobile data covering most of Europe for up to a month. It did not include coverage on the cruise ship. La Rambla and the old Gothic city in Barcelona were 10 to 15-minute walk from our hotel or Plaza Catalunya. You want to spend half a day walking this area, watching the beautiful shops, the narrow streets of Gothic centre and try a street café or restaurant. La Sagrada Familia is a must see for its architecture alone. We took a bus there, but you must purchase tickets in advance if you plan to go inside on a specific day and skip the long lineup. This is another half-day venture unless you want to tour the outside which is fascinating enough. I found it amazing to see how much craft and detail was offered to decorate the exterior of the building. It is no wonder that the new extension brings a modern and plain contrast that just does not quite match the elegance and masterful craftsmanship of the old. https://preview.redd.it/vtg8evyjdv851.jpg?width=3024&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=777149d10c02a875134f6fab5d5ae73072cbf3b7 Park Guell is another 20-minute bus ride to the higher altitudes of Barcelona. It is a beautiful park with some very interesting structures left behind. It was a good half-day break from the city to relax and enjoy the nature. You can also see the entire city from the top. Restaurant can be pricey in the touristy Plaça de Catalunya area. I managed to venture a couple of blocks off the main streets and find some local small restaurants. We had a great satisfying meal at a fantastic price and mingled with the residents. I even found a little Italian owned pizza place! Of course, we also tried the more refined tapas restaurants. After all, we were tourists. Naples, Italy: The longest leg of our cruise was from Barcelona to Naples which took a full day at sea. That was perfect because it provided us the opportunity to navigate the ship and the amenities, learn the evening programs, browse the list of restaurants, and to start our reservations. I did not think that Naples had enough to interest me for the whole day and I hungered to see the Amalfi coast. Amalfi coast was too far for a day trip, so I decided that Sorrento and maybe Positano would be close enough. I rented a car from Hertz in advance which was a five-minute walk from the port. The car cost me about $150 Canadian, tax included! Luckily, I still remembered how to drive standard transmission (stick-shift). We made it to Sorrento on the scenic highway with no problem. Traffic did slow at some points giving the driver (me) an opportunity to enjoy the scenery. About 10 minutes before arriving, atop the hills on the narrow road that took us to Sorrento, I found a little space to park the car and breath-in the fresh view of Sorrento waterfront. We could see the sail boats floating on the Mediterranean blue water, and the colourful little houses built on the slope of the hill from the top all the way to the sea. The buildings were in so many colours as if the quaint Sorrento were architected by Michelangelo to be lived by DaVinci’s Mona Lisa. Sorrento from the road top Sorrento was so beautiful that we spent the entire day there. We parked the car in an underground parking across to Gran Hotel Europa Palace (www.europapalace.com) on the hilltop. We must have spend about 45 minutes roaming the exterior of the hotel, admiring the architecture and the impressive iron gate, and then spending time on the back patio taking a closer look at the colourful buildings on the hill rolling down to the water. There were stone walking paths from the houses to the water where a giant deck with seats and shades turned the sea into a giant public pool. Sorrento Hotel The ladies in reception were extremely helpful offering us information and allowing me to charge my mobile since I had forgotten my charger! According to one of them, the German war maps were still on the lobby walks behind the giant paintings at this fortress (now hotel). I wanted to go down to the waterfront for lunch. So, the nice lady called her friend, the owner of a restaurant on the waterfront, and they sent us a car at no charge and after lunch they drove us back. The ride to the water was through narrow winding streets of Sorrento. After lunch we took a walk along the harbour and watched the sail boats rock on calm waters. I would like to spend a week or more in Southern Italy some day. I forgot to mention that my cousin lives in Naples working on his PhD. He was our translator for the day. This was our first encounter in forty years (that is a sad tale that should not ruin this travel story). On the way back, we sat in a very nice café in Naples and had an amazing coffee and pastry before heading back to our ship. Italian pastry is the best, with my apology to mom and all the Persians. Sorrento harbour Rome, Italy: The port for Rome is in Civitavecchia, an hour drive from Rome. A tour purchased from the cruise would have been around $300 CDN per person. I like to think that I am adventurous and enjoy experimenting the local ways as much as I can. However, I understand that you may think that I am just cheap. I am fine with that. My son (Lucas) and I took a five-minute bus ride to the train station and paid €10 each to take the fast train to Rome. I love trains a lot more than buses. We could have ventured Rome with local transit; however, our time was limited and we could not afford any time asking for directions. If I recall accurately, the daily hop-on-hop-off city tour was about €20 per person. To visit Rome and only spend one day should be a crime but a snapshot to calm my itching curiosity was the deal I had taken. I would say that Rome and Vatican City would require at least a week. There are many ancient Basilicas other than St. Peter’s each offering a unique history and that alone is well worth a week for me. The bus passed by the Colosseum, check mark. We were heading to the Vatican City knowing well that we may not make it inside. After all, Vatical city is a day by itself. The bus dropped us a few blocks away in front of San Angelo Castle also known as Mausoleum of Hadrianhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castel_Sant%27Angelo. The castle was a tall cylinder-like giant stone building walled all around like a fortress. I thought we would take a quick tour of the place at €15 (it was free for minors “Lucas”). We ended up spending over two hours admiring the decorated walls and ceilings with painting that were full of stories, and the museum items there were placed in its numerous rooms. We climbed many rocky stairs all the way to the top of this tallest structure in Rome, ventured the narrow hallways and took some pictures on the roof. San Angelo Castle The entrance to Vatican City was a ten-minute walk. Before crossing the bridge over Tiber (Tevere) we sat on the patio of a river-side food booth to have a snack. We walked to Vatican City and spent an hour in St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro) observing the architecture, the elegantly attired Guards, the crowd lining up and the shops that lure the tourist. We took the tour bus back to Piazza di Espagna. This was the cleanest, most modern, and prettiest part of the city that our eyes had seen in the past few hours. The bus left us on the upper escalation of the Piazza where I took some pictures before descending the steep long set of steps into the centre of the shops and restaurants. We walked for about an hour window shopping and then found a restaurant patio in a pedestrian intersection. It was a touristy area but still reasonably priced. We certainly could give ourselves this one treat before heading back to the train station for our hour and twenty-minute ride back. Piazza di Espagna Total cost of our Rome venture including transportation, admissions, and food (for two) was €150. Lunch was the biggest expense. ** Picture Florence and Pisa, Italy: Another restaurant and show evening aboard the Norwegian Epic, and we arrived in Florence (port of Livorno) early morning. Getting to Florence by public transit was too complicated. A car ride from port of Livorno to Florence was about 90 minutes and to Pisa around 30 minutes. I was lucky to find a private mini-van taxi (a brand new eight-seater Mercedes) that needed two more passengers to get going. At €50 per person to take us to Florence and then Pisa and back, it was a great deal. This deal could have been booked online in advance for €40. A lesson learned here. The other people sharing our ride were a family of four from Montreal, and a mother-son pair from Los Angles. Everyone was very reserved and quiet. Lucas and I sat in the front with the driver and I spend the entire trip learning from our friendly driver. Florence is beautiful and quaint. However, I thought I had enough architecture in Rome and did not feel like lining up for an hour to see another church. We took a walking tour of Florence and had a meal at small sandwich joint run by two very funny and entertaining ladies. They offered a great selection of artisanal sandwiches, but almost two years later now, I cannot remember what I ate. Pisa was another little town walled all around. I can imagine the great length the leaders had to go to protect people from attacks and we so often take our freedom for granted. Of course, we must protect ourselves from partisan politics and corporate lawyers, but that is easily manageable. At this point of the trip, I had enough sight seeing. I would have been good with a video of Pisa on YouTube. Here is a picture of the magnificent but defected marble structure. Florence Residents sunbathing in Florence Pisa Canes and Nice, France: Canes, France was physically the most beautiful city on this trip, in my opinion. It was manicured clean and peaceful. Canes did not have a port for the cruise ships, hence we had to anchor in the sea and take the emergency boats to the shore. The emergency boats were giant, and each held about 200 people. We had a short time here and we were tired. I should have taken a tour bus, but my sense of adventure (or cheapness) had us walking up the steep and narrow winding street and then back down to the city centre for a bite. I found a small sandwich shop to share a ham and cheese baguette and a couple of drinks with Lucas. In my broken French, I asked the young lady behind the counter if she could cut the baguette in half for us and she gave me a stern “Non”. I am not certain whether that was a lack of courtesy or I had crossed some religious or cultural boundaries. It was simple enough to split the baguette with me hand. We should have continued our tour of the city and stayed in Canes as I had advised our friends from Quebec. However, a sudden urge came over me to take the train to Nice. We did, and Nice’s downtown and beach area were beautiful to walk; however, the injustice I did to my own principals of travelling is unforgivable. The whole day was just too rushed and consuming. Canes, City Market Mallorca (Majorca) Spain: The trip from Canes to Mallorca was the second longest leg of the cruise. We arrived Mallorca around 1 pm giving us roughly five hours on the Island. After seven days of walking the cities in the heat of August, even the young Lucas was exhausted. The port in Mallorca was not walking distance to any interesting place and Lucas wished to spend the day at a beach. Great idea, I thought. I Googled the most scenic beaches nearby and Palma Nova was the second choice but the only feasible option due to our limited time. We had a brief line up for a taxi right at the port. There was a family of five from Peru from our cruise in front of us in the lineup and they could not all fit into one taxi. I invited the grandpa of the family to come with us since they were heading to the same beach. Grandpa was a good companion and an opportunity for me to learn about Peru. We agreed on a time for going back together and then split to our ventures. Palma Nova was perfect to spend a day. The beach had the right amount of crowd and was decorated by some rocky hills on one side for us to take a walk in between swims. The water was perfectly tempered, calm, and clear blue. There were no high rises nor big tourist hotels on this beach and plenty of restaurants and shops. For lunch we crossed the street on the beach to a patio and I shared a nice pizza and drinks for €12. We paid €15 for the bamboo umbrella and two chairs to have our spot on the beach and about €35 total for the taxi ride back and forth. That brings our total to €62 for a beautiful relaxing day in Majorca. Palma Nova beach, Mallorca I would like to spend a week in Mallorca. There are many scenic quaint towns and beautiful beaches to enjoy. If you are interested to know more, you can search for Palma, Sóller, Valldemossa, and Pollença. All these are on the west side of the island and within an hour drive from Palma. I would stay in Palma and make day trips to each of these towns. If you are a tennis fan, then you will probably add Rafael Nadal’s academy (https://www.rafanadalacademy.com/en) to the list, which is about an hour drive east of Palma. Palma Nova beach, Majorca Our last night on the cruise was concluded by a beautiful three course meal and listening to a live band on the middle deck’s lobby. There was a talented singer among the passengers and a few great dancers on board who joined the performance. It was a great way to end the cruise. We arrived Barcelona early morning, well rested, with a fresh shower and a full tummy. We found a taxi and headed straight to the airport to catch our noon flight back to Toronto without rush. I suppose my project management trainings mixed with my entrepreneurial nature, made a perfect schedule for the trip. You can check out www.pmi.org if you are interested in formalizing your skills for time and budget management.
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