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Friday, August 30, 2013

DriveThruRPG Labor Day Sale!

Assault the walls and tear down the doors, Arduin goes on sale for Labor Day!

Head over to DrivethruRPG and ransack the treasure chests for savings!

Get the entire Arduin digital collection for a measly 49.99!!!  That's 14 of Arduin's greats, ranging from the Arduin Grimoire Trilogy to a selection of countries and monsters that we've converted to digital format.

Don't wait too long or you'll miss out since it only lasts until the last minute on Monday night!

Even if that doesn't interest you, the Arduin Grimoire Trilogy is on sale for $17.99!  That's over 500 pages of Arduin !!!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Arduin Bloody Arduin Combat

Hello Arduin Fans,

      We have been working on the combat system for the Arduin Bloody Arduin system. It is a mixture of the old school elements of Arduin, some new streamlined charts and concepts. Some old Arduin favorites such as CF counts for initiative, fumbles and criticals will be in there! In addition, a new expanded combat chart and a new chart for grappling/knockdowns is in the works. We will be finishing up combat in the next week or so and then move on Magic.

Thank You,
George De Rosa
Emperors Choice Games & Miniatures Corp.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Initiative Notes

When discussing initiative earlier I forgot a nice rule on "reach" that was mentioned in the Arduin Adventure. When a weapon has length or "reach" advantage over its opponent (for instance, a 2-handed sword versus a broadsword) it always attacks first if the opposing DEXs are the same. If the person with the longer weapon has a slower DEX (1-4 points) the attacks would occur simultaneous. If the disparity is greater than 4, then the longer weapon attacks first. Now, of course, this is structured around using DEX as initiative. If you are using CF, it changes slightly since you use CF instead of DEX.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Arduin Bloody Arduin

Hello Arduin Fans,

      I wanted to let everyone know that Arduin OSR was a working name to let fans know that we were going to take Arduin back to an old style RPG. After some discussions and fan input, Arduin Bloody Arduin, is the most liked name for the new line of Arduin products. It is a name that was used by Dave Hargrave and seems most appropriate for the old school Arduin. We will continue to give updates as the process moves forward on Arduin Bloody Arduin!

Thank You,
George De Rosa
Emperors Choice Games & Miniatures Corp.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Initiative, Arduin-style

The concept of figuring out who goes first and when took a turn away from using a d6 real early in Arduin's history. The roots of that turnabout are seen from the very beginning in 1977 when Arduin Grimoire I (AG 1) hit the streets. Even before that, though, it was obvious that the machinery in David Hargrave's (DH) mind were spinning. While Arduin took into account and was linked tightly with existing game literature out at the time, it was already moving a different direction. You can see it in the addition of Agility (Agil) and Ego to the attributes section. Only Agility is important to the discussion today so I'll save Ego for another day. Here is where you see DH veer away from a pure dice roll for initiative generation.

Now anyone familiar with Arduin knows about CF or Coordination Factor. That came later. Officially it came out in 1984. Here, however, we are in the 1970's and the when I want to introduce you to is the early 1970's – 1971 to 1974. It didn't take DH long to discard using the d6 for resoluton. Or any other dice for that matter. While the d10 provide a more satisfactory range it just didn't make the grade. He wanted something better, something more reflective of his Vietnam experiences and those of other veterans he knew and talked with about the topic. Here is where the split from Dexterity (Dex) happened. Like strength (STR) it was a crucial stat. Not only did it provide a provide a defensive bonus, but it gave an aim bonus with missiles (and some melee weapons), and a bump to initiative. It was part of the troika (STR, DEX, and CON) and was on his radar to bust up.

Agility was his answer. Dividing the gains across two stats reduced its impact and distributed the benefits more equitably. Agility gained the defensive bonus, Dex kept the aim bonus. It also kept the bump to initiative but in a different way. Here is where you see begin to see the use of Dex as a means of deciding who went first.

It wasn't perfect. First he used it as a means of deciding who went first, i.e. highest Dex got to go followed by the next and the next and so on. That worked, especially when modified by a strike rank (from your weapon) but had its own problems. What about creatures with more than one attack? Not to mention he had players who found ways to get multiple attacks. And brawling/unarmed combat? That needed some tweaking as well. Dex needed a broadening on the topic and he quickly added the concept of actions occurring on a sequence of Dex. The shiny beginning of CF that would come later. In the first incarnation, and the one that would be in effect in 1977 when AG 1 hit the streets was to divide Dex  to determine the number of actions you could use. I'll let him give to you in his own words from AG 1:

In combat it is the person with the fastest dexterity that attacks first if the weaponry is close to equal. It is possible to get more than one attak in a melee turn, but it also depends on superiod speed or dexterity. For example, an Orc with a dexterity 7 and an Elf dexterity 17. The Elf attacks first at 17 and ordinarily the Orc would attack next at 7, but because the Elf is more than twice as fast, his second attack comes in at 8.5 (half of 17), so in effect he attacks twice before the poor Orc can even can even attack once. Another examplek, an Amazon with Dex 18 and carrying a rapier enages a pirate carrying spear with Dex 9. The pirate by virtue of having a longer weapon will attack first but the Amazon by virtue of a faster dexterity can elect to parry instead of using her “first” attack, and then counter attack with her “second” attack. You will note the pattern of these combats. If a person has at least twice the dexterity of his opponent, then he will get two or more attacks in a turn if you are that much faster than your opponent. The timing of those attacks is ascertained by dividing the number of attacks into the dexterity.

Creatures were not forgotten either. DH layed out how to figure multiple monster attacks here too. He roughly divided the number of attacks a creature had and separated them accordingly by the division, i.e., a creature of Dex 16 with three attacks, struck at 16, 11 and 6; every 5 Dex as broken out by dividing 16 by 3 to get 5 (rounded down of course).

Weapons played a part of course. In AG 1, DH clearly spelled out his thought longer weapons always struck first, regardless of opposing Dex, at least in the initial engagement. After that, in close combat, the benefit was lost.

Some races got ito the mix as well. Full Elves, as noted in AG I, gained the abilty to attack twice regardless of Dex differences. Not that it helped them go first, just that they got the double attack if they wanted. They weren't alone – Throons benefited from the same ability as did Deodanths, Khai Shang, and Phraints.

Before I go into talking about CF let me make a couple of comments. A lot of variation also occurred that's worth discussing. Anther variation of the Dex based initiative was just to divide Dex by 10 without regard to the opponent you faced to figure out your actions.  In the D10 days, it was played up and down, meaning a high roll was considered first, with a 0 – 9 range and Dex providing a bonus. Then it went the other way, 0 – 9 but the aim was to get low and the Dex bonus subtracted. Both worked but not to satisfaction and the movement was starting to move away from descending into negative values. A phases system was debated and played a short time though I know little about it outside of discussion and rumor. It sounded interesting but didn't stand the test of game play.

In getting back on topic, coming out of this earlier experimentation is the beginning of CF as we know it. Come 1984 – bam! CF comes tromping through the door at DunDraCon in California. Here CF is officially presented for the first time to fans. Its different: no dice rolls for initiative but streamlined to make game play smoother and sensible – to an Arduin fan, that is! CF put the cycle of battle in a melee round on a 30 step count, where you took actions based your score. Your CF was derived from adding your Dex and Agility together and then averaging. Your actions occurred on a descending cycle: at 30, the max, you acted on 30, 24, 18 ,12, and 6, a nice even declension. It got uglier after that. DH used fractions in the initial CF release so if you had a 23.5 CF, you would go on 23.5, 18.8, 14.1, 9.4 and 4.7. A lot of resistance existed against the fractions and things were smoothed out a little later to even numbers. Depending on the GM, you just rounded up or down. Tha made things a little nicer and the system presented in the Compleat Arduin (CA) reflected that nicely. 30 saw no change but 23 rounded out nicely to 23, 19, 14, 9 and 5, a little easier to work with. I can do more on CF and its charts and how it works with movement and so on if interested. Just leave a comment at the end so I know.

That system stayed in play until Arduin Eternal (AE). The structure of the system didn't change much – it governed the same things – but the range was alter to run from 40 to 1 to reflect attribute and melee combat changes and declined on an even every 7 rule. 40, for instance, would run from 40, 33, 26, 19, 12, and 5. Smaller values, like 23, ran 23, 16, 9 and 2. It formed a nice cube which was represented on the AE character sheet and easier to reference.

As far as Arduin OSR may be concerned, its safe to say CF is likely to stay. Dex-based initiative may be presented as an alternative. We'll have to wait and see together.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Arduin Bloody Arduin news

So last night I had a wonderful conversation with George De Rosa, the other person helping develop Arduin Bloody Arduin, an OSR styled version of Arduin. I'm proud so say we went through another round of the combat system, putting it through hell to make sure its up to snuff. Both of us kept our original versions of the AGs close at hand as well as a few other inspiration books. I think the toughest part of everything is keeping true to the heart of original Arduin without attempting to modernize it in some fashion.

I shared everything posted to date in the community and as comments on the blog. George did the same with the play group we have in New York and the groups at the game club in Buffalo. Its through this means we make sure we focus on keeping this system aligned with the ideas we put in place. If I could ask one thing it would be to keep the comments coming.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

An ageless warrior and The Magic Carpet Ride

An ageless warrior and The Magic Carpet Ride

A quick story of ones mans account as told by another.

It was July 28, 2013 when the story was told to me and I felt it was worth sharing.  I hope you enjoy it if you spend the time to read it.

A recreational vehicle suffered some damage to the awning on its side.  The driver and his wife pulled over to tie up the damage so as to continue on with their journey.  This is when I stumbled upon them.  I offered some assistance but was politely rebuked because they had all of the tools and know how to get their house in order though they were quite appreciative.

I then noticed the ball cap the driver was wearing; it said WWII Veteran CV19 USS Hancock.  I asked if he served in WWII and he said yes that he was on Aircraft Carrier CV19 the USS Hancock.  I told him that I served on Aircraft Carrier CV66 the USS America, and so the conversation continued.

At this point I asked if his ship served primarily in the Pacific and he said yes that was where his ship served.  He proceeded to tell me a story about how his ship got hit by a kamikaze strike.

It happened off the coast of Okinawa, presumably 7 April 1945, after the kamikaze strike, damage control obviously took precedence, American damage control was of course the finest in the world at that time and still is at least when I last served.  The ship shook, noise was everywhere and the aftermath…death and destruction.

He recanted the group burials at sea, seven at a time.  He said the first group got the priests blessing, one blessing for all seven, not individual blessings.  The eighteen year old or so priest had enraged another member of the crew who was there for the burials (or was he part of the burial detail – I don’t recall).  Anyway the enraged youth, another eighteen year old, went up to the young priest.  It got heated.  The exchange ended and the next burial at sea proceeded but this time the priest gave every sailor his due - a blessing each.  And so the bodies went to their final watery grave having done their time and always on duty from this point forth. 

Having witnessed several burials at sea, all of which were of cremated remains, it was quite touching hearing this get recanted especially since it came out of combat operations and they were full bodies of the dead or least what was left of them being sent to their final resting place.  It doesn’t change, near impossible not to shed a tear.

Having been hit by the kamikaze he thought the war was over for him and the ship.  CV19 limped back to Hawaii.  He said when he got there he couldn’t believe it; workers came out of the woodwork by the hundreds!  He said within a few short weeks they put back out to sea to get back into the fight – Can-Do attitude at its finest!  From thinking the war was over to getting back into the fight in a few weeks was ok with him, no problem!

He didn’t linger long about the fight.  His due today was the telling of the good stuff that happened in life at that time or otherwise.  He told me stories of people that he knew; I think they were at the VFW post in Hobe Sound Florida where he hailed from these days.  They were about a young woman (I think she was a nurse) and about a young man (whom again I believe was a priest) and the SS and the Wehrmacht in France and Belgium and of course he mainly spoke of the dead and a little bit of their story in those European country sides, all stories that were shared with him.  And he finally spoke of a time when he went home.

Still tying up the awning that was torn form his RV he tied it into a knot – an old sailors knot – I forgot which one, an old hitch knot perhaps or at least I think it was.  Knots were taught in boot camp – though I can honestly say I usually skipped that part thought I did sketch them out for future reference.  He then used some wire to give it hat extra ump so as not to fall off of the side of the RV.  It would have been too much work to remove the entire awning.  We (there were three of us there at this point, Jimmy, Dana and myself) helped him load up the awning parts and in the RV and had some more dialog.

His wife was there talking about the old days also and that her husband would always prefer to do it himself, that Can-Do attitude – from both of them.  A generation apart from most these days – simply awesome to talk to!  If I had more hours it wouldn’t have been enough.

He proceeded to tell us about a woman whom I think he said joined the service at age 16 to be a nurse.  Perhaps she lied about her age – I really don’t recall this part too well as I had some things to do.  She ended up in Brisbane Australia.  At one point they said she was to attend a dance function – for the service men (I am paraphrasing here).  She stated she didn’t have anything to wear to such a function.  The person in charge said not to worry that he would take care of that.  He came around with some silk from parachutes – remade into dresses or just the silk fabric I do not recall.  I do recall him stating that could you imagine, here you are a female with 3000 guys to dance with so far away from home  – must have been a dream come true for her!  I really do not recall her name.

He then told us about another individual whose name I also sadly do not recall.  I think he said he was a priest on a Cruiser.  This was no ordinary Cruiser, though he did not give the name of the ship I presume it was CA-71 the USS Quincy (also presumably originally named the St. Paul, which was changed after the battle of Savo Island).  This was the ship that took then United States President Roosevelt to the Yalta conference.  It was during this movement that the next paragraph refers to.

He recanted the story that Mr. Roosevelt attempted to talk to the priest in a casual manner and the priest was tongue tied.  He said in the story that the young man was then asked by President Roosevelt that if he were his son could he speak to him and the tongue tied issue pretty much continued.  It was a different time indeed.

The two guys I was with that day when we spoke were Jimmy and Dana.  Both had family members that were in World War II.  In September later this year, Jimmy will be in Normandy France.  He plans on retracing the steps of his wifes (?) uncle from when he landed on June 7 at Omaha beach to Brest and in between where he was killed in action at some point with the Second Division.  Jimmy’s story is an interesting one also as he met a lady from France that knew the area well where this man had fallen and offered to take him around on a personal tour s she lives near there.  She stated that her son goes to school in a town very close to a memorial dedicated to the dead for those units that fought there.  She recognized the patch that his unit bore and said it was at a certain memorial in that town.

And so the dialog went from kamikaze attacks in the Pacific, to a nurse in Brisbane Australia, to a Cruiser with everyday sailors and some of the most important persons in the world even to this date to now another story about the European battlefields of Normandy. 

He recalled stories about those battlefields.  The dialog was about the SS killings of POW’s into mass graves along the side of any given road or area, just about anywhere – unmarked, unknown, not everyone getting his due burial.  Some buried alive, most not.  A chord was struck.

I had to leave for a few moments at this point so I didn’t get the entire story on where it went from there.  So I surmise that another person at the VFW in Hobe Sound was one of the unfortunate sons that got shot by the SS at that time in order to retell the sordid tale of being left alive after such a mass killing by the SS and their quick pullout due to combat conditions that enabled him to survive and not be buried alive.  Perhaps it was a story that was told to him from another day as he served in the Pacific not Europe.  Next time I see Jimmy Ill try to remember to ask or perhaps our mystery man might make a post to let us know.

The sorrow, the lost souls that were never brought home disturbed him as it should disturb any.  Not everyone getting found, families not knowing where or how their sons died just felt wrong to him and we all agreed.

Jimmy mentioned that it was the Can do attitude of people from that time that made things happen and that this man and his wife were icons of that can do attitude.  They lived it.  They breathed it.  They practiced it.  They are can do persons.  They were astonished by the statement claiming it was the ships motto as well as a motto of the USA, or at least I believe I was told this by Jimmy later that day as I was not there at that moment in time.

The dialog went to a time at peace.  Out of the military and the government offered up to 52 weeks of recovery with a payday of $20 every week (or so that is the number I seem to recall him telling me).  Maybe it was every month – that seems to make more sense.  It was not to be after one or two weeks his father told him that he wasn’t going to be some lazy guy collecting money and off to work he went, and I don’t think he ever really stopped.

I then recalled an earlier conversation that day that Dana, Jimmy and I had.  It was about a retirement ceremony that I was recently at.  That retirement ceremony was for Monty St John of who currently writes Arduin material.  Monty just retired out of the Air Force and had served 10 years in the Navy as well.  George from Emperors Choice, my mother, father and I as well as the company had a Challenge Coin crafted for his retirement.  A Challenge coin is frequently used in the military, if you don’t know what it is about – look it up! It is interesting and certainly wouldn’t take much of your time up.  Very few of these coins were made for the retirement.  There were 101 made.  They were all given to Monty to do as he saw fit.  I was given a coin or two.

So the story went.  Previously I showed everyone the coin that I was given and explained the meaning of certain things on it.  Specifically I explained the front which showed 10 years to the US Air Force, 10 years to the US Navy.  Molon Labe – or come and take in Greek was emblazoned on the front center of the coin in between the military ranks, unit symbols and military branch symbols.  On the reverse of course was the Emperors Choice logo, the Arduin Eternal logo for all the dedication to Arduin and the Jow Ga Kung Fu logo a passion held by Monty and the final items: An outline of the country of Vietnam colorized in its national colors with the US POW logo stamped on top; why the POW logo and Vietnam country outline?  Well Monty was responsible for the recovery of the remains of 41 or was it 47 missing troops in Vietnam.  Trawling through the countryside to make this happen is certainly a testament to veterans everywhere, especially to the dead, never forget.  Hero to this ordeal as well is Monty’s wife Josie, who at the time in the military helped support these operations and was therefore a key cog as well. And I might make mention as well that their daughter Neala ties it all together for them since she is mentioned as well on it.

And then it happened, all the talk of the dead and not getting their just do, it struck me hard.  The “Passing of the coin.”  My hand went into my pocket and felt the weighty presence of the coin and I knew what I had to do.  I palmed the coin in a firm handshake with this man and said something like “and so I pass this coin to you as how can I not.”  I then told him and his wife of the meaning of all on the coin and Jimmy and Dana thought this battle hardened man and wife welled up a bit as you could see it in their eyes. And the coin passed hands and generations all at the same time.  It crossed oceans and time itself or so it seemed.  The recovery of the dead in Vietnam from so long ago to the dead laid to rest in the deep Pacific Ocean to the Battlefields of Normandy, and other areas of France and Belgium long ago even more.  It seemed like this encounter was meant to take place that fated day in Niagara Falls, New York.

I think he liked the coin and of the stories told.  I think he liked knowing brothers in arms were recovered from such an old war at such a later date and reunited with their families and or country for the sake of resting one final time and that they truly are never forgotten.  I think he liked it. 

And then his wife took our picture with the coin.  Perhaps one day he will send me a copy of that picture as it was an honor and a privilege to have met and talked to Fred Erickson and his wife Anna May Erickson that day.

Later, I called VFW post 10132 in Hobe Sound, Florida to get a couple of things straight.  I needed his wife’s name as regrettably I had forgotten.  I spoke with Phil the cantina manager there.  He gave me the stuff I needed.  He told me his wife’s name; he also told me how the cantina and a memorial at the post were built by Fred and what an overall great couple they were.  Phil apparently owns an aluminum and concrete business with the son of Fred and Anna May.

So ended the short dialog I had on 28 July 2013 with Fred Erickson and his wife Anna May Erickson, true to life heroes in this world pressing on as the Navy does!  I am personally thanking them for the memories shared as I have retold you here.  They are a fascinating couple and I wish them the best of luck in their ventures wherever they may be.

From Jimmy, Dana, and me we all salute you both – Thank you!

Thank you for reading & I hope you enjoyed the story of my encounter with Fred and his wife Anna May.  Perhaps I will share a few stories in the future though most not as long as this one of other encounters I have had.


Fred and Anna May Erickson
VFW Post 10132 Hobe Sound Florida
Phil the cantina manager from VFW Post 10132
Naval History and Heritage Command

VFW Post 10132:

YouTube video of CV19 on the Kamikaze attack

Pictures were graciously borrowed from:
Naval History and Heritage Command

The site states:
“All information on this site is in the public domain and may be distributed or copied unless otherwise specified. Use of appropriate byline/photo/image credits is requested.

IF interested in supporting the Naval History and Heritage Command please click the next link

first photo:
Photo #: NH 89281
USS Hancock (CV-19)
Underway on 15 December 1944, during operations in the Philippines area.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.

second photo:
Photo : 80-G-328574
USS Hancock (CV-19)
Casualties are buried at sea on 9 April 1945.  They were killed when Hancock was hit by a "Kamikaze" while operating off Okinawa on 7 April.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

third photo:
Photo#: NH 76187-KN (color)
Insignia of USS Hancock (CVA-19)
Jacket patch received in 1972.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Why Arduin Bloody Arduin is NOT a "retro-clone"

I had a lively debate about this last night via google hangout with a few friends.  It was posed that our effort to recast Arduin in its more original format meant it would join the ranks of OSRIC, Labyrinth Lords, and others.  My protest to that idea was that Arduin was not a recreation of 0E or 1E DnD but a full game in its own right.

That lead to a lot of back and forth as to whether Arduin ever stood alone as a singular game.  While I conceded that in its original state, as discussed in AG I - III, it did indeed depend on the game material out there, Arduin had morphed into a game on its own by AG III.

In the end, the game changer in my eyes was the Arduin Adventure.  That volume, Arduin truly stepped forth as an independent game without ties.  While I had some dissenters, the vote swayed my way with the caveat that up until that point, it hadn't.

I'll agree, at least in the context of the printed material.  Having availed myself to the trove of info DH left behind, it was obvious he made the switch well before he published the Arduin Adventure.

Additionally, Arduin played differently than 0E or 1E.  Not to the point of dissonance, just more like cousins than siblings.  Concepts of game balance went sailing out the window.  Just a gander at Arduin's magic list showed that, further revealed by its artifacts.  -10 AC?  hah!  I can remember scaling into the ridiculous extremes, taking on 10, 20 or more to that number.  The same for other notions like level limits or a max to the number of magic items one could have and use on one's person.

Lethality?  Oh yeah!  I can remember numerous pick up games in my youth where a requirement to be at least 4th level was needed just to even think of playing in Arduin.  That was with folks predominately DnD who had little experience in Arduin.  They rarely survived a single session since not employing thought, tactics, and tried and true adventure strategies meant a short lifetime.

Now don't get me wrong.  I'm not positing that the retroclones don't have lethality, fast, fun in-your-face awesome game play.  They do.  What I am saying is that Arduin came out shortly on the heels of the system that the retroclones are based on.  It  was a cousin and Arduin Bloody Arduin seeks to return to those good old days, just like OSRIC and Swords & Wizardry did by going back to the original DnD.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Arduin Bloody Arduin & Arduin AGs

Hey everyone its worth a few minutes to talk about how Arduin Bloody Arduin is going to be different than a cleaned up version of the original AGs.  Before I jump into that I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who looked at or played Arduin Eternal.  It was a blast to make and play.  Ultimately it didn't speak to fans and that's important to take into perspective as we talk about Arduin Bloody Arduin. People wanted something old school and they spoke loudly, sometimes very loudly about that fact.  That's why the official announcement of Arduin Bloody Arduin. 

We listened. 

So lets clear up a couple of important topics about the Arduin AGs (which you can get here as a single volume) and Arduin Bloody Arduin.

The Arduin Grimoires I - III are going to be the base for Arduin Bloody Arduin.  We are putting back in all the things that make old school gaming fun!  You are not going to see just that material though.  We think a few things would benefit from the couple of decades that have elapsed since it as published.

One thing, for example, is CF.  Just like David Hargrave we think its a beautiful thing.  Still, nothing beats rolling for initiative so we are going to provide rules for that too.  Take the one you want and have a good time!

Another is experience.  The AGs provided charts.  You see those and an option or two to other easily usable systems.

The point is to really get back to the hard core basics.

* High lethality to promote smart game play
* Transparent mechanics
* Simple and focused rules
* Leave gaps so you can be creative, a hallmark of Arduin
* Fast Character Generation, perhaps the biggest failure of AE
* Speak of characters, ones you can throw together for 1 session or 100
* Ease of play, can't emphasize that enough
* Exploration and fun as a focus

More exists but I hope you see what I'm saying.  Not to mention we are planning an Empcho first by making a "slim" and "trim" book.

If you are curious what you can do, well, keep the comments coming, talk to us a lot about what you want to see on the Arduin google community and share.