Picture of the Valley Forge Cannon at Valley Forge National Historic Park, Pennsylvania
This is an older picture of mine, taken July 31, 2007 from Golden Garden Park in Seattle. The mountains are the Olympics on the other side of Puget Sound.
The Annual Business Services Scam is an mailing coming in an official looking envelope. Upon opening it a form directs the company to fill out the form to “prepare and provide corporate minutes that meet the following requirements of
They prey on newly registered LLC and DBA companies, usually people who have never run a business before and who may not know what rules they actually need to follow. While far from the only companies that look at newly registered business names to generate sales leads, their tactics are comparatively dishonest.
The people perpetuating this scam appears to be running under multiple Company names in multiple states. National Corporate Research LTD has an huge listing of variations on this scam, including the business names being used. They note that in the fine print of the documentation (below) that there is frequently a variation on “This product has not been approved or endorsed by any government agency and this offer is not being made by an agency of the government.”
Other companies with this, or similar, scams are “
The Oregon Secretary of State is well aware of this scam. They state:
“Despite its appearance, the Annual Records Solicitation Form (PDF) solicitation was not sent by the Secretary of State Corporation Division. It is neither authorized nor sanctioned in any way by the state of Oregon.
Official business correspondence from the Secretary of State Corporation Division always contains these elements:
An image of the Oregon seal.
The words “Secretary of State Corporation Division.”
Our phone number: 503-986-2200.
Corporations registered to do business in Oregon are required to maintain records and hold annual meetings of shareholders. However, they are not required to file them with the Secretary of State Corporation Division.”
Note that an updated side bar on the Oregon Secretary of State’s web page says:
“Attorneys for The Mandatory Poster Agency Inc – the company behind this mailing – have contacted the state of Oregon to maintain the solicitation is a legitimate service. The Oregon Department of Justice continues to take complaints from businesses. The Corporation Division maintains its warning that businesses should read the solicitation carefully to avoid being misled.
The attorney’s letter (PDF) states that customers who are dissatisfied with the service are guaranteed a full refund upon request. To request a refund, send your written request to:
The Mandatory Poster Agency Inc
dba Corporate Records Service
6323 W Saginaw Hwy Ste E
Lansing, MI 48917
If The Mandatory Poster Agency, dba Corporate Records Service, fails to issue a refund as requested, please contact the Oregon Department of Justice, Financial Fraud and Consumer Protection Section at 877-877-9392.”
The Better Business Bureau webpage reports that this company also “sells” (in a threatening manner,) Labor Law posters. Their literature states that the posters are mandatory and provides a handy form to order some at prices in the $300 range. These posters are free for your local state agency though. The letter looks official just like the Compliance scam above. Based on the fact that the company is using the same tactics, it’s obvious that they know they’re scamming. It’s also just as obvious that new businesses are falling for it.
One of the biggest things that GM’s overlook in their game world is transitions in time and how if affects the world around the player characters. IE, What happens to the PC’s favorite Inn or Tavern after they have been gone for a while? Maybe the PCs heard some rumors in the inn that took them on a world saving journey that lasted many years? What happened to the inn now that they’re back in town? This month’s article for the RPG Blog Carnival is all about “Transitions.”
You can likely see transitions in your own neighborhood. Old buildings have been torn down or updated. New buildings have come in. Restaurants and stores have gone out of business and new ones have opened up. For a bit of reality in a gaming world it makes sense to add such transitions. They can simply be flavor for your game world or can be important plot points for further adventure.
A good example of an extreme version of this in fantasy literature is the last chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Return of the King” simply called “The Scouring of the Shire.” When the four Hobbits return home to The Shire, they find that it’s been taken over by Men from the South led by the former wizard Saruman who is living in Bag End. The formerly peaceful Shire is full of pollution. The Hobbits as a race are effectively enslaved and generally unhappy in sharp contrast to how peaceful and serene it was when they left. The Hobbits, specifically Merry and Pippen, rally The Shire to battle. They kick the strangers out in the Battle of Bywater, also known as the last battle in the War of the Ring. Saruman, the formerly powerful wizard, is killed by his servant Wormtounge (who had been poisoning the mind of the King of Gondor,) who in turn is slain by an arrow. Afterwards the Shire goes back to it’s original happy and serene place as the Hobbit race is once again free.
In my own game world I have a building that is the Orphanage of Talric. It is a huge two story stone building. A grand stair case from the front door leads to the second floor. On the west wing of the ground floor are class rooms. The east wing is kitchen, dining area, and temple to Talric. A small storage closet serves as armory, mostly practice weapons.
The second floor is dormitories. Orphans share rooms in the west wing, while the teachers and staff each have their own room in the west wing. There are also rooms for visitors and dignitaries, or even road weary travelers who need a place to stay the night. There is also a “hidden” basement area that is mostly used for storage.
This location has served in my game for nearly ten years. During that time I have built up quite a history for it as it’s been through multiple transitions. The building was originally built 500 years ago (in game time,) as the Mayor’s house for the town. When the Black Hand armies came through 200 years ago, they took over the building and made it the regional Headquarters for their army. As part of the offense against the Black Hand by the Solar Empire, it was captured by a group of adventurers in a daring midnight raid two years later. The leader of this party was a Paladin of Talric who built a basic temple inside to worship at. The Solar Empire used it as their own forward Headquarters during this time.
The temple attracted Paladins and Clerics of Talric to the area who ended up being instrumental in turning back a last ditch attempt to break the Empire’s defensive lines. This effectively collapsed the Black Hand’s offensive, but the war lasted another three years as lost territory was reconquered. During that time the temple took in so many war orphans that is gradually took over the entire building as the front lines moved forward and it was no longer needed as headquarters.
Since then the building has housed Orphans from all over the Empire and has been a central location for many adventurers. Player Characters lived and met each other in the orphanage. Orphans have been stolen in the dead of night for nefarious purposes. The hidden basement houses supplies left over from the war, among these an powerful artifact wanted by a mysterious Cult. The former mayor’s family have fallen on hard times, but they do have one thing, the original deed to the house and they want it back. Goblin raiders driven from the mountains by an early snow storm attempted to attack the Orphanage.
The possibilities have been endless for this building because I sat down to think about it’s transition through the decades. This can be done for any building or location. Not just over hundreds of years, but even over a few months. Keep in mind that the one constant is change, and your game world should reflect this to be as believable as possible.
For those who run dungeons in their fantasy games, it’s good to think what happened to the dungeon after the players went through it. Perhaps that colony of giant bees take over the entire complex now that there are no larger creatures to hold them back? Maybe the PC’s battle through the dungeon severely damaged it and has caused a partial collapse that reveals another level or two? Or have bandits discovered the abandoned dungeon and turned it into their hideout?
If you need a little help, I created the below chart to help you think about transitions. Roll a D20 to see what event happened at the location. From there you should be able to build a back story and likely an adventure or two.
1 – cataclysm, nothing is left to even rebuild
2 – devastated, in ruins no one cares to rebuild
3 – recently suffered a disaster, main NPC’s maybe dead or missing
4 – recently suffered a disaster, but everyone is OK, rebuilding in progress
5 – famine or drought is causing people to move on
6 – sold, given away, taken over by some one else.
7 – razed to make way for a new construction project
8 – NPC has died or left unexpectedly
9 – PCs relative, patron, or friend has shown up unexpectedly
10 – increase in taxes causes a slow down in business or traffic
11 – severe weather causing flooding or other damage
12 – NPC has recently come into a huge amount of money and is making modifications or repairs
13 – Long lost relative joins the family business
14 – A party of adventurers had a fight, causing huge amount of damage
15 – Raided by evil (humans, creatures, elves, tax collectors)
16 – New Permit process affects business
17 – Nobility have discovered the location, their money and influence is pushing out the poorer folks
18 – Owner approaches the PCs to invest in their business or company
19 – Main trade route has moved causing a drop in business
20 – Nothing, all is well just as the PCs last saw it. Or is it?
Be sure to modify as needed for your game world.
Please let me know what you think of this article. I’d love to hear any comments, ideas, or suggestions!
Over the past two weeks I’ve watched all the James Bond movies in order of release. Here are a few observations and analysis of the movies.
- Sean Connery is the most authentic James Bond to the original books by Ian Fleming, at least until his wife is killed.
- Sean Connery’s movies are the least interesting when compared actor by actor.
- The Villain, Blofeld, is the most annoying one of the bunch. Merely because he was played by five different actors, Donald Pleasence, Telly Savalas, Max von Sydow, Charles Grey and Anthony Dawson. It’s hard to keep up who he is.
- Aston Martin DB5 is by far the best Bond Car still. So much so that Daniel Craig’s Bond still “owns” it.
- Poor George Lazenby didn’t get much of a chance to really work out. I would have really liked to have seen the other six movies he was signed up for.
- “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” had one of the single most important episodes in James Bond’s life, that of his romance and marriage to Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo, or Tracy Bond. Blofeld’s agents kill her, and Bond is supposedly a broken man. But this is only alluded to four times in the future.
- Roger Moore’s movies are among my least favorite. They all seem over the top for my tastes.
- The Lotus Espirit S1 is a good example of this, from automobile to submarine?
- Egypt, as portrayed in “The Spy Who Loved Me” from 1977 is my favorite location in all the movies. This movie makes me want to go there every time I watch it.
- Grace Jones as May Day in “A View to Kill,” is the worst Bond Girl of them all. The writers should have kept her as a villain, her conversion was hackneyed and unconvincing.
- Roger Moore had some of the best jokes and one lines by far.
- Some of Q’s best lines are from this time, though. As are some of the most innovative inventions displayed in the franchise. Most of the inventions used later all come back to this period.
- “The Spy Who Loved Me” was a much more interesting book then a movie. The plots of the two are nothing alike, but the book (a short story really,) would have been hard to make into a movie.
- The Villain “Jaws” used to frighten the heck out of me. Now he’s just a comical gag that adds to the cheesiness of the Moore films.
- Timothy Dalton did a great job bringing back the intensity and broodiness of James Bond. He did an excellent job of going back to the James Bond from the books.
- This leaves “The Living Daylights” one of the best films in the series.
- Dalton also failed to really bring Bond to life in “Live and Let Die.” It was merely an OK film for the time but didn’t live up to “The Living Daylights.”
- Overall Bronson’s films are among my favorite.
- Judi Dench makes an excellent “M”. She brought some great, no nonsense intensity to the franchise and I was disappointed to see “Skyfall” be her last film.
- Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin in “Tomorrow Never Dies” is the best Bond Girl simply because she is one of the few who could keep up and in some ways surpass Bond. All the other “female spy” Bond Girls still needed saving by Bond, but she could hold up her end by herself quite easily.
- Like a lot of people I resisted Casino Royale for quite some time, in my case because of the disastrous history behind that name.
- But, Daniel Craig brings back a very good intensity to the Bond character that was solely lacking. He’s brooding, efficient, and frankly has a death wish. Just like Bond from the books. Connery is the best Bond through nostalgia, Craig is the best Bond through acting.
- The movies are a break from the normal Bond film pacing. The high intensity action through the movies makes them something to sit and watch instead of leave in the back ground.
- We get to see the Aston Martin DB5 again. Not that the rest of Bond’s Aston’s aren’t great too. But that was the original and best by far.
- I’m happy that Craig is a “new” Bond, with the same name and designation and how he “grew” into the “007 role.”
- Since I saw Skyfall, I’m looking forward to seeing new Bond films.
- I have to wonder what the stories behind all the peons are in the movies. A few disgruntled terrorist types or trusted employees is understandable as shown in the later films by Bronson and Craig. But in the Roger Moore movies especially, the bad guys had vast armies of fanatics willing to die for them.
- I enjoy how all the films attempted to keep things believable to a certain point by immersing the action in real life events. From smuggling Blood Diamonds, and child soldiers, to the feel of the Cold War it’s all there adding a sense of realism to the movies.
So, what is your favorite Bond Movie? Who is your favorite Bond? Bond Girl? And most importantly, which is your Favorite Bond Car?