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traaaaaaannnnnnnnnns | Image | "Dublin Bus newsletter has a non binary gender option."

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On the trend of Arnesonian/Blackmoor-style 2d6 games

In the latest edition of the Questing Beast newsletter, Ben Milton (ludifex) wrote a bit about what I would call "Arnesonian 2D6 opposed-roll systems". These are stripped-back, old-school, Blackmoor-style games that pretty much just use one basic die mechanic of rolling against each other with the winner getting to say what happens, or scoring a hit in combat. Notable examples include Landshut and Just Halberds, although I've seen quite a few other variants. I know the OSR community has something of an attachment to tradition and a certain view of simplicity, but I can't help finding these systems kind of archaic and clumsy. I feel like the system is being spread around just because of its Arnesonian roots, and that very few people are interest in thinking about the mathematics, the odds of success, the effect of modifiers, the ability to get similar results in a more streamlined manner, etc.
(Aside: Shout out to an exception in the form of Alex Schroeder, who actually wrote a very brief booklet called Understanding 2D6 Math which deserves praise as much for the presentation of the information as the clarity of explanation—I particularly like the first table, where the axes are represented by actual die faces, which makes the matrix immediately more tangible as you can literally look up the result of any two combinations of D6 rolls in a very intuitive way. However, even this booklet doesn't actually apply the math to game design at all.)
Essentially, a lot of the stuff that we normally think about when designing our games goes out of the window in favour of doing it the way that Blackmoor did because the origins of the hobby are seen as inherently cool and/or correct. For instance, a lot of these systems have either success or failure, with no real significance afforded to high or low differences between the two opposed rolls. This means that the outcome is essentially binary. I'm not sure I see the advantage of having two people roll against each other to get an outcome that's essentially binary: couldn't you just have one person roll against a target? Wouldn't that give you the same probabilities with less effort?
I'll admit that I generally dislike opposed-roll systems anyway, so this may be something of a personal bias or bugbear, but at least some systems make the full spread of possible outcomes actually meaningfully different. I can accept the opposed rolls in Fate because there is actually an important difference between beating my opponent by 1 and beating them by 8, for instance. The full scale (potentially rolling +4 against your opponent's -4) means that both people rolling is actually important to getting the probability distribution. I'm not convinced that's the case with binary 2d6 systems, where what really matters is my odds of beating my opponent by at least 1, and the actual amount I beat them by is irrelevant.
Some versions of Landshut seem to remedy this a little, by introducing partial/mixed successes and bonus damage for high rolls. However, those aren't applied consistently across versions of the game, they're often optional, and the "bonus for high rolls" is only applied to combat damage as far as I know, so it doesn't affect huge chunks of the game at all.
The thing that really confuses and bugs me about this is that the default chance of beating your opponent in these systems is 50% if you just have to roll at least the same as them and very nearly 45% if you have to roll over them, IIRC. Compare that to a system that works like D&D's AC, where it essentially takes what should be an opposed roll and makes it into a roll vs an 'average' (10.5) result for the opponent: with the average rounded down to 10, like in D&D (which rounds fractions down by default but with a minimum of 1, in most cases), you have a 55% chance of rolling at least the same and a 50% chance of rolling over them, and with the average rounded up to 11 (which .5 would be in the absence of a general rule to round down), you have a 50% chance of rolling at least the same and a 45% chance of rolling over them.
(Aside 2: To my mind there's actually no reason we can't just use fractional averages as-is, even though I don't know of any game that does that. Maybe GURPS? Anyway, that would mean that you'd need to roll an 11 to beat an opponent by default, giving a 50% chance of success, but with the interesting side-effect that you no longer need a rule to handle "draws". Instead, any roll you didn't win would be lost. I see that as a nice bonus because I don't really care to have some specific rule just to produce an awkward third outcome 5% of the time and make the math more difficult to compute.)
So if you really want to hew to the existing probabilities as closely as possible, just round up to 11 and require the rolling player to roll over that. That gives us the 45% chance of success we want. What happens when we start applying modifiers? A +1 takes your chances of success up to 50%, a -1 takes your chances down to 40%, etc. This is all simple D20 math we know inside out by now: our chance of success increases/decreases by 5 percentage points with each +1/-1, until we hit 100%/0% (or 95%/5% in games/mechanics that specifically always allow both success and failure).
How does that compare to the 2d6 method? A +1 on that takes us from 44% to 56%, whereas a -1 takes us down to 34%. A +2 gives us 66%, while a -2 gives us 24%. These are rounded off because the actual numbers are messy. Essentially the first couple of modifiers make a difference of about 10 percentage points each (double that of the same modifier to a D20). But then it starts to get weird: while a +3 offers another ~10 percentage points on a +2, a +6 offers only another 5 percentage points on a +5, for instance. No doubt some people will see this dynamic effect of bonuses (which essentially means that if you are already pretty sure to succeed, another advantage won't make much difference, whereas if you are already pretty sure to fail another disadvantage won't make much difference) as a desirable thing in a die mechanic, while others prefer the transparent linearity of a D20.
Another issue here is granularity: a +1 bonus on a D20 is "smaller", allowing bonuses to be given out without affecting the balance of power quite as much. Of course some people will say "+1 bonuses are rare in these games", but I'm not sure that's entirely true: I've seen BlackmooLandshut-style games that give out +1 bonuses quite liberally, with some giving a +1 for each relevant profession/special ability/etc a character has, and others featuring examples that talk quite casually about +3 bonuses, etc. Again, this might be a personal preference to a point, but there are potential advantages to greater granularity.
I think doing ludological archaeology on these games is entirely fine and respectable: I have as much desire as the next person to know how the Blackmoor campaign was actually played at the time and to think about how this might inform our games and so on. But do we really want to design our own games based on these rules without any critical thought about the point and effect of these rules, and whether there are better methods available? I'd like to at least see some critical thought about the shortcomings of these systems and approximations of their dynamics and tone and practicalities that might achieve the intended goals even better. If nothing else, at least this has offered me an opportunity to consider my preferred OSR mechanics (in a way the reinforces my preferences!)...
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$TLF - Update

Tandy Leather Factory was mentioned briefly in my December newsletter or update... still working out the naming conventions and can't decide.
Anyways, TLF has until 2/17/2020 to submit quarterly reports for Q2 & Q3 or get delisted by Nasdaq. Given the short timeframe, and the fact that it hasn't happened yet, I've become concerned enough to start selling.
I recommend closing out your position if you have one. There is a perverse incentive for insiders (board members) to deliberately not file and delist. It would allow the company to purposefully tank the stock price, and then buy back shares at a depressed valuation.
It presents a binary event over the next couple days with significant downside. On the other hand, keep an eye out for potential 10Q filings from TLF. If they get squared away with Nasdaq, it's a buy.
I just don't want anyone to get caught holding this thing if/when it goes OTC.
Edit/TLDR: If TLF gets 10Qs out by 2/17 stock is going to rip. If not, it's going to tank. No options on this name are available. Get out just in case, be ready to pile in if they get 10Qs filed.
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[Megathread] XMG FUSION 15 (with Intel)


On September 6 at IFA, press released their first reports about our collaboration project with Intel: XMG FUSION 15.
Community Links:

Press Links:

Video Links:

The following key facts have already been revealed:
Prices and availability will be announced on September 17. → Countdown to xmg.gg
Teaser Trailer on YouTube: XMG FUSION 15 Laptop | A Design Collaboration with Intel
We look forward to your questions and your feedback!

XMG FUSION 15 - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

This FAQ represents Q&A's over the last few days here. Fellow redditor u/iterateandgit was so kind to help me putting this document together. Big shout out to him please! The FAQ will be further extended over the coming days and weeks. Please keep the questions coming!

Sales, Shipping, Warranty


Q: Are you going to sell this on Amazon in the EU?
A: We are working on getting the product up and running on Amazon. But our own BTO shop at www.bestware.com will always be our primary sales channel and will be the only one where you can customize and configure memory, storage, OS, extend your warranty and pick other options.

Q: Do you offer student discounts or other sales compaigns like black friday?
A: In general, we don't offer student discounts. Sales campaigns are planned just in time, depending on stock level and cannot be announced early. If you want to keep up to date about sales campaigns, please subscribe to our newsletter.

Q: Do you ship to the UK? Can I pay in GBP?
A: We ship to the UK - the pricing will be in EUR, so your bank will do the conversion. Warranty services will be available from UK, shipping to Germany. Currently, in the single markets, these resturn shipments are free for the end-user. In the worst case there might be additional customs fees for shipping.

Q: What warranty options do you offer?
A: All our laptops come with 2 year warranty. Warranty repairs in the first 6 months are promised to be done within 48 hours (+shipping). Both the "instant repair" service and the warranty itself can be extended to up to 3 years.

Q: Do you sell outside of Europe?
A: We are able to ship anywhere, but warranty for customers outside the region would always involve additional customs cost and paperwork for sending the laptop back to Germany in the rare event of an RMA. There is currently no agreement to let other Local OEMs (like Eluktronics in the US) carry the warranty for XMG customers and vice-versa. Some parts are customized (in our case the LCD lid and the keyboard) and it won't be easy to agree on how to share handling fees etc. - so I wouldn't expect a global warranty anytime soon.


Hardware, Specs, Thermals


Q: What is the difference between XMG FUSION 15 and other laptops based on Intel's reference design?
A: The hardware of the barebone will be identical. Other Local OEMs might use different parts for RAM and SSDs. Our branding and service/warranty options might be different. We apply our own set of performance profiles in the Control Center. This will rebalance the differentiation between Silent, Balanced and Enthusiast modes.

Q: What is the TGP of the NVIDIA RTX 2070 Max-Q?
A: Officially, it is 80W in Balanced profile and 90W in Enthusiast profile. You can toggle between these modes in real-time with a dedicated mode switch button. Inofficially, the TGP can go up to 115W in Enthusiast profile thanks to the Overboost mechanic, working in the background. However, those 115W may only be sustained until the system has reached thermal saturation, i.e. when the GPU is approaching the GPU Temperature Target of 75°C.

Q: Can I upgrade the storage and memory after I buy?
A: On storage: The laptop has two m.2 PCI-Express SSD slots. This will give you currently up to 4 TB of SSD storage. There is no 2.5" HDD slot available. Instead, the battery is enlarged to 93.48Wh. You can see pictures of the interior layouts here, here and here.
On memory: the laptop has two SO-DIMM DDR4 memory sockets. You can chose during BTO configuration, if you want to occupy both of them when you order the product. We recommend running the laptop in Dual Channel for high-performance usage.

Q: How easy is to upgrade and repair this laptop?
A: Here are the key facts:
We would give this a solid 8 out of 10 which is pretty high for such a thin&light design. The 2 remaining points are substracted for BGA CPU and GPU, which is unfortunately unavoidable in such a thin design.

Q: Does it support Windows Hello?
A: A Fingerprint-Reader is not available, but the HD webcam comes with Infrared and supports Windows Hello.

Q: Can I get a smaller, lighter charger for this laptop?
A: XMG FUSION 15 requires a 230W power adaptor to provide full performance. If you max out CPU and GPU with furmark and prime, the 230W adapter will be fully utilized.
There are currently two compatible 230W adapters. They have different dimensions but similar weight. Please refer to this comparison table:
XMG FUSION 15 Power Supply Comparsion Table (Google Drive)
Includes shop links. Will be updated with precise weight numbers in the next few days. I also included 120W, 150W and 180W in this table. They all share the same plug (5.5/2.5,, diameter, 12.5mm length). But 120W and 150W are only rated for 19V but the laptop expect 19.5V. Usually this will be compensated by tolerance but we haven't tested how a system would behave under long-term usage with such an adaptor.
In theory, 120W to 180W are enough for charing the laptop and for browsing/web/media. Even a full CPU stress test could easily be handled. But as soon as you use CPU and GPU together, you'll run into the bottleneck and your performance will be reduced.
Comparison pictures:
These 5 pictures show only the relevant 230W chargers.
Again, the weight is about the same.

Q: Is it possible to boot and run the laptop while the lid is kept closed?
A: Closing the lid under load is not recommended because it will limit the airflow and have a bad effect on keyboard and screen. The laptop likes to take air in from the keycaps. With lid closed, the performance might be limited due to reaching temp targets earlier.

Q: Can I get the laptop without the XMG logo? I will be using it in public presentations and I would not like any brand names visible.
A: We cannot ship without XMG logo, but you can use a dbrand skins to cover our logo. We have not yet decided if we want to invest into integrating XMG FUSION 15 into the dbrand shop. But you can already buy 100% compatible skins by using the page of the Eluktronics MAG-15 at dbrand. The chassis dimensions are exactly the same. Please be aware: you have to manually select the option "No Logo Cutout" if you want to buy these skins for your XMG FUSION 15. According to dbrand, there will be most likely no import fees when ordering from the EU as long as the order is below 100€. Check this thread for details.

Q: Will you offer thermal paste upgrades like Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut or Liquid Metal?
A: Our ODMs are using silicon-based, high-performance thermal compund from international manufacturers like Shin-Etsu (Japan) and M.G. (USA). Intel is using MG-860 in this reference design.
These products are used in the industrial sector, so they have no publicly known brand name. Nevertheless, their high thermal conductivity and guaranteed durability provide optimal and long-lasting cooling of your high-performance laptop. The thermal compounds are applied and sealed automatically by the vendor of the thermal components. They are applied in a highly controlled, standardized manner and provide the best balance of thermal performance, production tolerance and product lifetime.
We are considering offering an upgrade to Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut due to popular demand. Will keep you posted on that.

Q: Could you please provide an estimate for how much regular usage (~10 browser tabs + some IDE) battery backup would this have? Will there be any way to trade-off battery backup with performance?
A: Battery life vs. peak performance can be traded off by using the "Silent" performance profile. You can switch between profiles using a dedicated button on the machine. Your scenario (10 tabs + some IDE) sounds like mostly reading and writing. I would estimate to get at least 7 hours of solid battery life in such a scenario, maybe more. We have achieved 8 hours in 1080p Youtube streaming on WiFi with 50% screen brightness. Adblock and NoScript helps to keep your idle browser tabs in check.


I/O Ports, Peripherals


Q: Why are there not more USB-A 3.1 Gen2 or even USB 3.2 Gen2x2 ports?
A: USB-A 3.1 Gen1 is basically the same as USB 3.0. There aren't a lot of USB-A devices that support more than USB 3.0 speed. Faster devices typically use USB-C connectors and can be used on Thunderbolt 3, which is down-compatible to USB-C 3.1 Gen2. One of the USB-A ports actually supports Gen2 speed.
For the following remarks, please keep in mind that I am not an Intel rep, so everything is based on our own experience.
The mainboard design and the I/O port decisions have been made by Intel. Feedback and requests from LOEM customers have been taken into consideration. We would assume that USB 3.2. Gen2x2 (20 Gbit/s) was not considered to be important enough to safe space for 3rd party IC (integrated circuits) on the motherboard. Right now, all the USB ports and Thunderbolts are supplied by Intel's own IC, so they have full control over the hardware, firmware and driver stack and over power saving and performance control. The more IC you add, the higher your Idle power consumption will be, plus adding potential compatibility or speed issues as it often happens with 1st generation 3rd party USB implementations. I very well remember from my own experience the support stories during the first years of USB 3.0, before it was supported in the Intel chipset. On the one hand, Intel is aiming high in terms of performance and convenience, on the other hand: support and reliability still seem to be Intel's goal #1. Thus they seem to play it safe where they deem it to be reasonable.
Intel is gearing up for USB 4.0 and next-gen Thunderbolt. USB 3.2 2x2 is probably treated as little more than a roadmap accident. Peripheral vendors might see it the same way.

Q: Do you support charging over USB-C/Thunderbolt? Does it support docking stations?
A: The Thunderbolt 3 port in Intel's reference design does not support charging. As you probably know, the 100W limit would not be enough to power the whole system and it would make the mainboard more complex to combine two different ways of charging. Intel consciously opted against it and will probably do so again on future high-end gaming/studio models.
The USB-C/Thunderbolt port supports Dual-Link DisplayPort signals, directly connected to the NVIDIA Graphics. This makes proper docking station usage very convenient. The user still needs to connect the external power adaptor. Both ports (Thunderbolt and DC-in) are in the back of the laptop, making the whole setup appear very neat on the desk.

Q: How many PCIe lanes does the Thunderbolt 3 provide? Are they connected to CPU or Chipset?
A: XMG FUSION 15 supports Thunderbolt 3 with 4 lanes of PCIe 3.0. The lanes come from the chipset because all of the CPU lanes (x16) are fully occupied by the dedicated NVIDIA graphics. We are not aware of any side-effects of running Thunderbolt from the chipset. It is common practice for high-end laptops with high-end graphics. The Thunderbolt solution is of course fully validated and certified by Intel's Thunderbolt labs.

Q: Does it have a standby USB to power USB devices without turning on the laptop?
A: Yes, the USB-A port on the left side supports this feature.


LCD Screen


Q: Which LCD panel is being used? Are there plans for 1440p or 4K panels in the laptop? How about PWM flickering?
A: The panel is BOE NV156FHM-N4G. It is currently not known if the panel will change in later batches. This depends on logistics and stock. At any rate, the panel key specs will remain the same. There are currently no plans to offer resolutions above FHD in the current generation of this laptop.
There are very wide ranges on reports of Backlight Brightness PWM control on this panel in different laptops. Ranging from 200Hz to 1000Hz to no PWM at all - all on the same panel model number. Intel informs us that there are many factors (e.g. freq., display driver, BIOS settings implementation, type of dimmers & compatibility with the driver etc.) that impacts the quality of panel dimming performance. To Intel's knowledge, no kind of flickering has been reported during the validation process. Furthermore, first hands-on data from Notebookcheck indicates that no PWM occurs on this panel. With a DSLR test (multiple burst shots at 1/4000s exposure time) I can confirm that there is not a single frame of brightness dipping or black screen, not even at minimum LCD brightness. Hence, we can confirm: BOE NV156FHM-N4G in XMG FUSION 15 (with Intel) does not use PWM for backlight control.

Q: Some BTO shops, for an additional fee, manually pick out display panels with the least back-light bleed. Do you offer that? Even better, do you do that without the extra fee?
A: Intel has validated this design to avoid backlight bleed as much as possible. Currently no plans to do further binning. All dozens of MP samples we have seen so far have been exceptionally good.

Q: I'm coming from a 13" MacBook with Retina display. How am I going to fare with this 15.6" FHD screen in content creation?
A: If you got used to editing high-res visual content (photography, artwork) on your 13inch retina, things will change. On the one hand, your canvas will be larger and more convenient and ergonomic to work with. On the other hand, you will find yourself zooming in more often in order to make out fine-detail. Assuming that you have sharp 20:20 vision.
As it is, the screen resolution and specs are not planned to change within the lifetime of this product. The first realistic time-window for a refresh would be whenever Intel is releasing the next "H" series CPU generation. But even then, an upgrade on resolution will not be guaranteed.
Comparison:
Laptop Resolution Pixel per inch dot pitch
13.3" MacBook Pro Retina (late 2013) 2560x1600 226.98 PPI 0.1119mm
15.6" XMG FUSION 15 (late 2019) 1920x1080 141.21 PPI 0.1799mm
To compare: 141.21 is ~62% from 226.98. This represents the the metric difference in pixel density and peak sharpness between these two models.
If you know the diagonal size and resolution of your screen, you can make this comparison yourself with the DPI/PPI calculator.


Keyboard, Backlight, Switches, Layout


Q: What can you tell us about the mechanical keyboard of XMG FUSION 15?
A: The keyboard has already been reviewed in our XMG NEO series as being more crisp than typical membrane keyboards. Most reviewers attested it a very good score, both for gaming and for writing long texts.
The keyboard backlight can be configured per-key. Default mode is all white.
Keyboard Switch Specs:
Having no frame around the keycaps actually helps the thermals. The fans can pull in additional air from the top. This improves airflow and helps to keep the keyboard temperature at low levels during gaming. It also prevents long-term RMA issues on the keyboard. This specific keyboard switch is already in its 3rd generation and very mature by now.

Q: Is it possible to dampen the mechanical keyboard with o-rings?
A: The switch design does not lend itself to further dampening. The switch mechanic is too complex and has more moving parts than cherry. The 2mm travel distance also plays a role in not allowing more dampening.
For reference, please use this video (Youtube). We compared XMG NEO with another membrane-type keyboard. XMG NEO and FUSION share the same keyboard mechanics with the silent tactile switch and the same sound profile.

Q: Do you have LED keyboard backlight on the secondary key function, like Fn key icons?
A: Please have a look at this picture.
Btw, my working sample has blank keycaps. I took the 3 printed keycaps (F8, F9, F10) from a different sample just to demonstrate the Fn lighting for this picture.
Facts:
In my assesment, the Fn function symbols are clearly visible from the backlight in a dark room. A user should have no difficulty to recognize the icon and reach its function.

Q: Which keyboard layouts do you offer in the EU?
A: The following layouts are available, in alphabetic order: Belgium, Czech, Danish, Dvorak German, Dvorak US, Estonia, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Polish for Typists, Portuguese, Russia Latin, Slovakish, Spanish, Swedish / Finnish, Swiss, Turkish, UK, US International (ISO)All these layouts are based on the ISO matrix. See differences between ANSI vs. ISO here.


Operating System


Q: Do you support Linux and dual-boot on XMG FUSION 15?
A: We are in discussion to sell XMG FUSION 15 over Tuxedo with official Linux support. It might take 1 or 2 months to get this running.

Q: Which LAN, Audio and WiFi card vendors will be used? Asking for a friend.
A: From our HWiNFO64 report. (Google Drive link)
LAN: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8168/8111 [PCI\VEN_10EC&DEV_8168&SUBSYS_20868086&REV_15]Audio: Intel(R) Smart Sound Technology (Intel(R) SST) Audio Controller [PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_A348&SUBSYS_20868086&REV_10]WiFi: Intel(R) Wi-Fi 6 AX200 [PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_2723&SUBSYS_00848086&REV_1A], can be replaced.
For more information, please check the linked report file.


Other questions


Q: What would you say are the advantages and differences with other laptops due to the fact the laptop was designed in collaboration with Intel?
A: Disclaimer: I am \not* an Intel rep. The following remarks are based on my personal experience and opinion.*
Advantages:
  1. Very strict quality control on all levels. I can't quote numbers due to NDA, but Intel NUC has extremely low RMA rates, compared to average PC mainboards and systems. Intel is driven by strict internal regulation that strifes for perfection - this applies to the whole chassis, assembly and firmware, not only the