Monthly Archives: February 2013

Historical Reference: Ethiopia, Part I

Historical Reference: Ethiopia, Part I

We’re going to do a short series of Historical Reference posts this month. They are intended to be essentially elevator pitches for games in Afrocentric settings.  Before going further, though, we should set some ground rule understandings.

Take “Historical” with a grain of salt or twenty. D&D is not a historically accurate representation of medieval Europe and neither will our elevator pitches here be strongly historically accurate. Until ‘very recently’ in the timescale of human existence, “history” tends to come to us through a small number of channels. These channels, being human in origin, can’t help but come from a certain perspective (some would say bias).  Thus “history” tends to be skewed in favor of some and against others.  Furthermore, history is full of really uncomfortable and inhumane things. While we do need to look at those things full in the face when managing our real world, we don’t need to bring them into our fictional worlds. We want to make a space in our games where everyone can feel safe and have fun escaping from that real world for a while. Doing so usually means leaving behind some ‘historical accuracy.’ (Yes, games like Steal Away Jordan or Dog Eat Dog are intended to address social justice issues. Those will be the exception rather than the rule.)

Another understanding is that “Ethiopia” is kind of a dodgy term. What we consider Ethiopia by current political boundaries is not what ancient writers may have deemed “Ethiopia.” For the purpose of this post, we’re considering “Ethiopia” to be the region of land surrounding the Red Sea and south of Egypt – what we would think of today as Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and some of Somalia. Disclaimers out of the way, let’s pitch some games!

Kingdom of D’mt

The Egyptians called the region we’re addressing today Punt, which is sometimes rendered Pwenet or Pwene depending on who’s translating. Within the land of Punt were several nations, most notably Kush (ancient Nubia) and Kerma. Kerma is currently the oldest known human civilization, going back to at least 2200 B.C. and maybe as far back as 3,000 B.C. Kerma had walled cities, archers and elaborate funeral ritual, the equal of classical Egypt or Mesopotamia. It was eventually conquered and subsumed into Egypt. Kush arrived on the scene somewhat later, but fared better. Kush is known to have been ruled mostly by women (called Kandakes, the base for our name Candace) when independent and by men on the many occasions when Egypt would conquer it. Kush’s military may have been primarily female and the nation may also have employed a sort of loose communism, though there is not enough evidence to state either way on those ideas definitively at the moment.  Kush even managed to conquer Egypt at one point and install its own line of Pharaohs in a manner similar to the Mongol Great Yuan Dynasty of China.

‘Ta Netjeru’, meaning  “land of (the) god,” is another name for Punt. The name has at least two roots. First, the region produced large quanitites of gold, incense, wood and ivory to be used in religious ceremony. Second, unlike Egypt, much of Punt (and the African continent in general) has an ancient tradition of monotheism mixed with ancestor worship and spirits of nature.  There is a creator god who is somehow ultimately responsible for making everything and then some number of various lesser beings serve that god. Exactly who this god is, his name, and what the servants are called vary wildly from culture to culture. It’s all very decentralized.

D’mt was a small kingdom in Punt along the coast of what we now call Eritrea just north of the Bab-al-Mendeb (strait between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden). It is not to be confused with the medieval kingdom of Damot, which is probably a revival of the old name. D’mt seems to have been founded around 1000 B.C. and is gone by 400 B.C. with no good explanation as to what happened and the names of only four of its kings. That shrouded past makes D’mt an excellent place to put a game. We can safely assume D’mt was as advanced as Kush or Kerma, but the lack of current excavations frees us from canonical history and invites speculation as to its demise.

Considering D’mt’s proximity to polytheistic Egypt and Sabaea (modern Yemen), this time and place looks absolutely ripe for a Mythender game. D’mt is being attacked by Egypt via Kush to the north. There is a corrupting influence among the spirits and Egypt is taking advantage of that corruption to spread its borders. Players assume the role of empowered mortals (priests, medicine-masters, etc) to defeat the corrupted Egyptian “deities” but must be careful lest they too fall to corruption. Resist the urge to make the game an evangelizing mission to teach the Egyptians “the right god(s)” – religious evangelism as we know it is not a pursuit that these cultures would have engaged in.  It’s a political struggle couched in mythic terms.  Players looking for local mythological references on which to base their characters might look to Holawaka or the Blemmyes. has a few dozen folktales as well that players might use as hooks. The hyena in particular is an important figure.

Black History Month, RPG Edition: Interesting Links and Posts.

Black History Month, RPG Edition: Interesting Links and Posts.

Folks have really been getting into the spirit of RPG Blogging for Black History Month.  I wanted to do a quick roundup of interesting links, knowing that there will be plenty more coming!

  • Milton Davis pointed me to an interesting piece he wrote on pre-colonial Sudan.
  • Sarah Darkmagic covered interesting personalities like Zora Neale Hurston and Edna Adan Ismai
  • Jeremy Morgan did a Fate Core version of Ryven’s SotC Ibn Battuta writeup.
  • Jeremy also did a write up for Ashanti religion. This is definitely ripe for use in a game world.
  • Daniel Solis talked about a Mansa Musa board game that I’d like to try.
  • Charles Saunders does a write up of the Ki-Khanga anthology. This anthology ties into an RPG currently in playtest mode.
  • On February 16th I will be part of the Indie+ panel “Escaping the Legacy” (Google Hangouts at 7 PM EST), which is about breaking roleplaying games away from the typical Eurocentric model. The rest of the panel is full of awesome people like Emily Care Boss, Meguey Baker, Richard Rogers (moderator), and Stacey Dellorfano.  Come check it out, and if you can’t I’m sure it will be recorded.
  • Last, I wanted to tell you about Wagadu: Home of Sword and Soul.  This a tight knit community of fans and creators of Sword & Soul.  I’ve been hanging there and the people are really awesome. It’s a nice change from many RPG forums where I’ve felt a little off, especially as a PoC.  All are welcome, not only PoC, so sign up and tell them we sent you!


Anything interesting that I’ve missed?  If so, let me know in the comments.

Contributing to Black History Month, RPG Edition

Contributing to Black History Month, RPG Edition

I have a lot of people who like what we’re doing on Thoughtcrime for Black History Month and want to contribute but don’t know how.  Here’s what I’m proposing.  Three “Challenges” (but really invitations) to do contribute in a meaningful way that aren’t too laborious or crazy -making.

A big problem I had when I started this was feeling I was going to have to “Get this right or I’ve failed all black people everywhere”.  There’s a definite pressure to get it right, but if you give in to that pressure nothing gets done and then the pressure builds.

I know that I could do better, and I will !  But I’m working with what I’ve got right now, and I encourage you to take a first step and do something if you’re interested.

One of the things I enjoy most is just using Black History Month as an excuse to learn things I didn’t know about the world.  Taking an hour this month to introduce yourself to new information is something I just can’t see being wrong.

So, maybe you are feeling the pressure to get it right, or to get it perfect.  I get that.  But don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “done”.

Here are things you can do.

First Challenge: Person, Place, Event

Pick a person, place or event from African or African American history.  Describe it a little, and then put it in the context of your favorite gaming system.

Pick something cool, and tell us how you’d put it in a game.  You’ll see that’s what we’ve been doing on the site lately.  It’s been difficult to write the posts until I stumbled across that format, and now that we have, writing posts has become much easier.

I am now putting it out to you as a challenge/invitation.  Want to do something for gaming and black history month but don’t know what?  Do this, and tell me about it.  I’d love to look at it, tell people about it, and link to it on my blog.

The Second Challenge : Mechanics

What if you don’t have anything that you are interested in, but still want to do something?  Why not help people with mechanics and hacks?  If someone is proposing hacks, you could help them build the framework for implementing their vision.

Today I described a game revolving around Mansa Musa which used a hack of Dogs in the Vineyard for it’s system.  I’d like to revisit that after February and build it, but if someone had thoughts and guidance on the hack for that, we could actually go right to playing with the hack, which is the best thing of all.

Third Challenge: Play Something

The last option is to do something related to Black History Month in your gaming, and tell us about it.  I like that because that’s the goal.  I want people playing with a richer world-pallete, broadening and deepening the experience of play.

Maybe you use ideas you are exposed to, maybe you devise your own hacks.  I propose today a way of introducing Mansa Musa as destabilizing element into whatever fantasy game you happen to be running now. This is a great example of how you don’t have to toss out everything you are doing to add more diversity to your games; it’s easier and maybe even better to make gradual moves from where you are to where you wish to go.

If you play something or plan to play something, I’d love to hear about it!  I’m hoping to organize more games myself this month.

King of Kings: Mansa Musa

King of Kings: Mansa Musa

You may or may not have heard of Mansa Musa, the king of Mali who brought it to great prominence and riches, and established Timbuktu as one of the worlds’s greatest cities. If you have not, I will hit you with a quick Wikipedia info-dump:


Musa was a devout Muslim and his pilgrimage to Mecca, a command ordained by Allah according to core teachings of Islam, made him well-known across northern Africa and the Middle East. To Musa, Islam was the foundation of the “cultured world of the Eastern Mediterranean”. He would spend much time fostering the growth of Islam in his empire.

Musa made his pilgrimage in 1324, his procession reported to include 60,000 men, 12,000 slaves who each carried 4-lb. gold bars, heralds dressed in silks who bore gold staffs, organized horses and handled bags. Musa provided all necessities for the procession, feeding the entire company of men and animals.Also in the train were 80 camels, which varying reports claim carried between 50 and 300 pounds of gold dust each. He gave away the gold to the poor he met along his route. Musa not only gave to the cities he passed on the way to Mecca, including Cairo and Medina, but also traded gold for souvenirs. Furthermore, it has been recorded that he built a mosque each and every Friday.

Musa’s journey was documented by several eyewitnesses along his route, who were in awe of his wealth and extensive procession, and records exist in a variety of sources, including journals, oral accounts and histories. Musa is known to have visited with the Mamluk sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad of Egypt in July 1324.

Musa’s generous actions, however, inadvertently devastated the economy of the region. In the cities of Cairo, Medina and Mecca, the sudden influx of gold devalued the metal for the next decade. Prices on goods and wares super inflated in an attempt to adjust to the newfound wealth that was spreading throughout local populations. To rectify the gold market, Musa borrowed all the gold he could carry from money-lenders in Cairo, at high interest. This is the only time recorded in history that one man directly controlled the price of gold in the Mediterranean.


A great little video to watch is the Crash Course World History.  Thanks to John Sheldon for the link!

So a king makes a massive pilgrimage, spreading wealth in the forms of gold, and structures (mosques).  This sounds like a great start to game for me. I love concepts that take us away from a “kill things and acquire loot!” model.  Here are a few ideas that I’d be interested in running.

Mansa Musa in the Vineyard.  Yes, a Dogs in the Vineyard hack.  DitV is one of my favorite games, for setting and also for its structures.  Where in Dogs you play people given authority to dispense law and judgement in different towns, in this hack you would play servants of Mana Musa who are given to do good deeds and dispense wealth.  Each area you arrive in will have different needs, but different challenges as well.  A town might need a new well built to supply them water, but has a very greedy ruler who will control access to the well, keeping most of the people away from it. You’d have to figure out if the well was worth building, and if so, what to do (if anything) about that leader. You’ll also be responsible for spreading Islam in each of these places, in part through inspiration but in part through your good works.

In this hack you have the wealth to do anything you want.  The question will be how you use that wealth.

He Changed Everything.  This is a reverse of the above concept.  Instead of players controlling servants of Mansa Musa, they play people in a town that he has passed through and showered with gold and good works.  At the beginning of the game you establish what Mansa Musa did, and what problems you had before.  Play proceeds as you deal with the problems of your society in the light of all these gifts you’ve been given.  Are there more problems with the wealth or less?  There are a lot of systems you could use for this.  I actually think I’d try this out with Spears of the Dawn (which I think you should check out anyways!)

Event.  The other way you can use the King of Kings is as a backdrop event in your current campaign.  The influence of his pilgrimage can cause sudden changes to assumptions in a standard campaign. What is your adventurer’s treasure worth when everyone has his/her own bar of gold? Will any rivals try to stop Mansa Musa? How do the characters feel about the new religion he spreads?

Even as a figure just passing through, Mansa is a great figure to introduce into a game.

Have any game ideas of your own?  Please share.

The Greatest Adventurer You’ve Never Met

The Greatest Adventurer You’ve Never Met

You think you’re pretty well-travelled.  You’ve seen most of the Prime Material plane, hit up the Shadowfell and the Feywild and maybe even had lunch in the Infernal city of Dis. Fancy yourself some kind of Middle Earth Magellan, do you?  That’s nice, but you’ve got nothin’ on Ibn Battuta.

As his name implies, Ibn Battuta was a 14th century Moroccan  of mixed Arab and indigneous African heritage via the Lawata people.  Over the course of his lifetime, he would travel an estimated 75,000 miles and visit what now amounts to over 44 nations. He saw Mombasa, Alexandria, Sumatra, Beijing, Constantinople, Timbuktu, Mecca, Sofia,  and Grenada among a host of others – enough to make even modern jet-setters look pretty cloistered in comparison. When he was finished, he wrote an autobiography called the Rihla which documents his incredible journeys.

Unfortunately, English translations of the Rihla are rare and expensive. English readers can look into obtaining one or more of the following books instead:

A good Internet read on Battuta can be found by clicking this link.

Rather than write out some kind of dry summary of Battuta’s life here (and because this is a gaming website!), one possibility of an Ibn Battuta statblock is given here. We’re using Spirit of the Century (using the SotC SRD) because if anyone deserves to be a SotC character in world history, it’s Battuta. Also, the writeup should be mostly compatible with current FateCore if you cut back on the number of total Aspects.  Not running a 14th century game? No problem! If there ever was an elixir of life or a time travel portal or some kind of dimension-skipping.. whatever..  Battuta could easily have found it. He was EVERYWHERE.  When you cross the Sahara on foot (or camel) and navigate through Mongol-controlled Persia, some little thing like a 600-year time jump isn’t even worth mentioning. Pah!

Click here for Ibn Battuta!


Bessie Coleman, Aviator

Bessie Coleman, Aviator

Lots of great stuff coming in from folks lately.

Bessie Coleman

From Cool Chicks From History:

Bessie Coleman (1896-1926) was the first African American woman to earn an aviator’s license.  Unable to find anyone willing to train a black woman to fly in the US, Bessie learned French so that she could learn to fly in France.  She was the first American of any race or gender to earn an international pilot’s license.

Bessie died at age 34 during a test flight for an exhibition in Jacksonville, Florida.

Doesn’t she sound like a character who belongs in Spirit of the Century?  Judd Karlman thought so too, and he sent me this PDF with Bessie Coleman .  Thanks Judd!


The fine folks at Machine Age Productions put up a great post with a crash course on some African History. I definitely suggest you check it out.

Take it easy, choombata: meeting Mike Pondsmith

Take it easy, choombata: meeting Mike Pondsmith

He looked like me!

I was at a freshmen in high school attending my first SimCon.  There was a session for a game called Cyberpunk 2020. I was mostly playing D&D those days, but hey! we had a bunch of crazy cybernetics and cool looking people. Let’s try it.

I’d never heard of Mike Pondsmith before.  I didn’t know anything about R. Talsorian, I didn’t know anything about the cyberpunk genre.

I walked into the room, and ran into my first black GM and first black game designer, who was Mike Pondsmith, the creator of the game!

Now, technically, I had inherited my gaming habit from my brother, but I didn’t get to play when I was little and by the time I started he was long retreated from the hobby.  I had a bunch of great friends who I played with, but unfortunately I was going to be the lone weird black kid in my small town who was into “those games”.

So there I was, a little surprised, a little amazed, a little taken aback.  I was always the gamemaster in my group, constantly making new adventures and rules tweaks –basically, light game design.  It had never occurred to me before this exact moment that game designer was something that I could actually be.

But Mike was there.  I didn’t know at the moment that not only was Mr. Pondsmith a game designer, he was a great game designer.  At the time, I had to content myself with a really fun game (Mike was a great GM).  I played a womanizing corp type who managed to get three numbers during the mission.  I was useless in a firefight, but no one really hires the suit for that do they?

Later, I got heavy into Cyberpunk.  I bought the book immediately after the game. All of our D&D sessions came to a screeching halt and we were playing Cyberpunk 2020 non-stop.  The players died a lot as Cyberpunk is several steps up the lethality ladder from D&D.  Not being able to force their way through problems caused players first to be more creative, then later led to more roleplaying.

Throughout this experience I was getting my mind blown open by Neuromancer and other novels.  I obsessed over Wired Magazine and fantasized about becoming a hacker one day.

Most importantly, I thought more about game design.  I start doing more game design, and when I wasn’t busy pretending to be a character out of the Sprawl, or a refugee from the Hacker Crackdown, I imagined releasing my own games.  I built some games here and there, none of which went that far.

I never would have considered it without meeting Mike. Until that game, I never knew that game design was something for me. Not only did I get a great new system to play, I got a mini-vocation.

There was a long gap between high school and adulthood where I figured things out. When I figured things out, I worked really hard, got published in several places, ran a successful and noteworthy blog, and made a lot of great friends.

Gaming is wonderful, but gaming culture can be lonely for a person of color.  If you’re deeply involved and committed it can be lonelier still. It can be very,very frustrating. Sometimes things don’t feel fair and when they don’t feel fair you don’t have any metric to know why it’s unfair.

There are many people I can thank for their support and helping me.  A lot of people.

But what I wanted to discuss was this few hour encounter with Mike Pondsmith that he won’t remember but which influenced my entire life. It imbued me with a sense of possibility, helped steer me down the road I’m currently on.  Since I’m having a lot of fun on this road, and I don’t think I could have gotten on a better one, I’ll say…

Thanks Mike.

Why I needed to discuss this meeting is because of how commonly we hear people invested in the status quo dismiss having representation in the community for people of color.  I don’t argue with those people anymore because we’re just never going to agree.  Needless to say, I feel that viewpoint is wrong.  Having role models and inspirations is important.  It’s not only how we make our culture more inclusive, it’s how we maintain industry health and growth.

I think people look at diversity as a charity program, a gaming UNICEF that they may or may not give to when they have some extra money.  I understand the prevailing attitudes that drive those thoughts, but I’ll again disagree.  I think that inclusion and increased diversity is the way in which we make the industry healthy.  I’m not going to spend a lot of time arguing it, really, because it’s then me arguing that people of color have imaginations and an interest in fantasy worlds with someone who argues that believes we should all be “color blind”, which is just another word for status quo.

It’s not worth it anymore.  I take the inspiration and creative energy I’ve got and I try to create.  I don’t know if I’ll ever meet up with Pondsmith’s accomplishments in gaming, but that is not the point. What matters is that I’m here, that you’re here, that we are all enjoying this time and this hobby and we are welcoming others into this hobby, in ways that the industry has not and will not.


Wild Seed

Wild Seed

I’m not going to do my work during Black History Month this without touching on the work of Octavia Butler several times.  Here work influences me greatly, and I’ve been thinking a lot about it and how I could make games inspired on her work.

Wild Seed, like much of Butler’s work, takes place in lands real and not-real, tackling without fear matters of race, class, and gender, in the same space as immortal shapeshifters and psychokinetics.  Wild Seed chronicles the complex relationship between Doro and Anyanwu, immortal beings with special powers. Doro can possess other people and wears human skins like cloth. He wants to build communities of others with talents, intimidating and killing if needed to force others to fill his desires. Anyanwu is a shapeshifter who has shifted through different marriages, roles, and societies.

When Doro and Anyanwu meet, it is the start of a complex relationship that spans many generations. The story follows them from Africa to the America during the slavery, and follows the two and their descendants as they attempt to build (and breed) a community of special people. It also tracks a tumultuous romance and it’s cycles of hate, love, rejection and acceptance through the centuries.

Last this is a prequel of Patternmaster, and is the first book chronologically.


Gaming with Wild Seeds

Wild Seeds would be fun to game in because it is rich in themes, and is in rich in non-fighting conflicts.  A game can cover love, community-building, exploration, family, and more. There are a couple of ways that I think you could bring this to the table top, and I’ll touch on them here. There are systems that I think could handle each concept, which I list.  Obviously you could work on it yourself but that can be a bit of a stretch.

Battling Lovers.  This is the most private and intense, a two player game where you assume the roles of Doro and Anyanwu directly. You oppose each other but also need each other, so each battle is really two battles.  On one level you need to fulfill your goals and follow your paths and instincts.  On the other hand, you have a need for this other person whose goals often conflict with yours…

This could be good for a one-shot or a several-session campaign.  Many systems you could run it in, though my first thought would be for Amarinthine.  I think it’s a perfect fit for this style of storytelling game.

Seedlings. This is for a group of players, and takes place over many generations. For one or two session, each player takes on a descendant of Doro or Anyanwu, each with a different talent and different limitations.  Each player attempts to meet the goals of their parents while dealing with outside threats and each other. Every few sessions, play shifts in time and in generation, and the players then play the children of the characters they  used previously.  You have the possibility to inherit the powers of each of your parents, so relationships and breeding (which the GM playing as Doro or Anyanwu can coerce/incentivize) influence heavily the powers and circumstances of the next generation you play.  Chris Chinn pointed me at Hero’s Banner for this style.  I haven’t played that but it looks good.  I would also think that Cortex+ with a touch of Marvel (for powers) and strong dose of Smallville (for relationships). Cortex+ is great in that it handles a lot of different conflict equally well, so you can battle with powers, words, and emotions on equal footing.

I should mention that there are still a few days left on the Cortex+ Hacker’s Guide, and that it’s totally worth your time to get in on it.

Are you a fan of Wild Seeds?  How would you run a Wild Seeds game?  If you have any hacks you like, tell me about them in the comments!

A Sword & Soul Primer

A Sword & Soul Primer


What is Sword & Soul?

Sword & Soul is a genre created by the writer Charles Saunders, which takes inspiration from Sword & Sorcery, but places African-based mythology and characters in central roles. From Milton Davis:

Robert E. Howard created many fascinating characters during his brief life but the one that stands out in most minds in Conan, the Cimmerian barbarian brought to life in movies by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Howard’s stories were filled with brutal action, monsters and magic. Howard was also one of the few writers who frequently included black characters in his stories. Despite this, he was still a product of his times. The black people of Howard’s fictional world were fierce and formidable, but they were usually led by a person of fairer complexion.

Fast forward to the early seventies. A young man by the name of Charles R. Saunders became enamored with the Conan mythos. As he read these stories an idea formed, the result being Imaro. Imaro was a hero destined to be created, the result of the cultural and political explosion affecting African Americans during the sixties and seventies. Here was a character just as strong and courageous as Conan, but he was black. His world, Nyumbani, was a fictional reflection of ancient Africa, its people based on the various kingdoms that existed on the continent prior to European intervention. It was Charles who invented the phrase Sword and Soul when asked to describe his brand of fantasy fiction.

It might seem a needless distinction and separation to  some, but utilizing common themes with different source material for culture and mythology makes Sword & Soul novels distinct and entertaining, and definitely a solid basis for gaming.

Obviously I can identify with the protagonists without worrying about problematic issues breaking me from the fiction, but there’s so much more to it!  Saunder’s Imaro novels carry a strange power at least the equal of Conan, and reading Davis’ Meji brought a great sense of wonder in it’s elegantly crafted world and tale. To think that all that’s going on is Conan with a palette-swap is to miss out on some really great work!  Here’s some material to get you started.


Charles Saunders writes with skill and with power, and his tales of the alienated Imaro coming into power and acceptance is a great read, so start with the first and keep going!

I love the Meji books by Milton Davis.  This tale of two twins separated at birth but whose destinies intertwine is a page-turner.  I will run a game in this world sometime soon.

Two great anthologies of Sword & Soul short stories.


  • Nyambe. This is the classic D&D supplement for adventuring in an African setting.  Not perfect, but definitely worth reading.
  • Spears of the Dawn. Created by the author of Stars Without Number, pretty much a near perfect match for the genre.
  • Ki-Khanga. Currently in playtest from MVmedia , but hopefully this will be out soon and we can say more about it ( I will be in the playtest, and am really excited about it!)

There’s not a lot here, and I hope this changes!  I am working on it.


Imaginary Africans.” A retread of his Dragon classic, “Out of Africa”, Saunders gives a great overview of some basic mythology and factors to consider. Must read.

Multicultural Fantasy.” Saunders on getting started writing the fiction he wanted to see an exploring all sorts of cultures in fantasy.

Marvel and Me.” Charles Saunders talks about almost being able to do a spin-off African character from Conan

Dorothy, We Ain’t In Kansas Anymore: The Building of a Non-Eurocentric Fantasy World!” Balogun Ojetade discusses the journey towards publishing his works and creating the Ki-Khanga RPG.

Why do we need Black Speculative Fiction?” Davis gives a very good answer to a frequently-asked question.