Saturday, November 30, 2013

End of Movember

It's the end of November/Movember, which means it's time to post mustache/beard progress
Wait, wait, wrong picture. That's from when I grew my beard out, starting amusingly enough immediately AFTER shaving after last movember (was busy in the run-up to finals, and didn't bother to shave, and decided to let it grow).

There we go, that's this November. The chin strip is standard (but needs trimming), and the horseshoe mustache is what I decided to grow this year.

So since my face is now here, allow me to re-introduce myself. You can call me Siege, it's what I usually go by in games, and it's my callsign for my paintball team. I guess I'll fill out marginally more of my blogger profile or something now.

The best gaming story I've ever read

There are some stories, born of tabletop RPGs, that show how wonderful a medium of storytelling they are.

I shall copy the entire thing here, if only to guarantee that it cannot be lost from the internet, which would be a most grievous and terrible event. The system takes place in Warhammer 40k: Dark Heresy. WH40k:DH is an INCREDIBLY lethal system. It's entirely possible for the PCs to be killed in one hit from a shot to the toe, if their bones decide to explosively sublimate and detonate like a grenade or some such.

The story is long, and will take several hours to read. It is worth every second. Continued after the jump.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Starcraft Vs. Warhammer 40k

++++ CAUTION:: The Officio Inquisitorus suspects the contents of this blog post may be heretical; Read at risk of termination by the Ordo Hereticus. ++++

Warhammer 40k preceded Starcraft, and indeed inspired it. The devs have explicitly stated that the Starcraft Marine is based on the Space Marines (even if they're much, much less capable. WH40k marines are genetically engineered fighting machines, so tough they're actually bulletproof when unarmored, wearing 3/4 of a tank. Starcraft marines are usually convicts who've been "resocialized" (brainwashed) for service, and are functionally comparable to the Imperial Guard in their use; mass waves of expendable troops). And the Zerg, Starcraft's ravenous assimilating spacebugs? Directly based on the Tyranids, the ravenous assimilating spacebugs from WH40k.

In the Imperium, technology is barely understood. Humans pray to the machine spirits of anything technological they use, and believe any enemy tech is heretical because machine spirits only serve man. There are entire worlds where the tech level is barely medieval, despite being part of an interstellar empire and having direct contact with spacecraft when making tithes to the Imperium. The few people who DO understand technology still worship it, and won't share with anyone. Almost all tech that actually works is from before the current Dark Age of Technology, and nobody can figure out how it works anymore (despite being at a level of complexity that could probably be completely reverse engineered by any competent modern day engineer). In short, "Stupid grimdark future".

On the other hand, Terran space is a rough frontier. Instead of a fanatical spacefaring cult, it's rednecks in space. Tech is well understood, but sometimes hard to come by. The government is still propaganda-tastic, and even despite brainwashing people for military service manages to be less oppressive than the Imperium. Trying to learn how something works and make an improved version won't get you purged for heresy, and might even make you loads of money, rather than just being required of you as a measure of near-slavery if you're in the right place to be allowed to do such things. Supporting a cause other than fighting for the God Emperor will not get you tortured to death for heresy. Actually, the things that are considered heretical are really pretty small in Terran space.

So yeah, I think I actually prefer Starcraft fluff, even if the human forces don't get as many laser beams. Power armor is widely available to the common man, and you can be pretty much assured that your standard of living will be at least TL8. Teaming up with friendly aliens to save everyone everywhere will not get you tortured for heresy. There are even actual good guys, instead of just people who are slightly less of an asshole by comparison to everyone else.

Wasteland Inhabitants: Sentient Races

There's a wide variety of species that have come to inhabit the Wastelands, both sentient and not. This post will provide a brief overview of some of the key races. Many of them are heavily inspired by those as portrayed in Shadowrun; very few sentient races are automatically evil as they might be in a system such as D&D.

Humans: Humans, having developed as inhabitants of the world alongside other races, tend to be fairly "average". They are competitive enough to have survived, but not so overly capable as to have wiped out the other races. Humans tend to be among the most dangerous opponents any race can have; intelligent enough to be dangerous, with short enough lives to be willing to risk a premature death, and fast enough reproduction to overwhelm through numbers. Humans tend to live in surface towns and cities, but can make their homes almost anywhere they can survive.

Dwarves: Dwarves are the master craftsmen. Hearty and long lived, the goal of most Dwarves is mastery of a chosen subject. Society is traditional, but those traditions are pragmatic. It is unusual for Dwarves to develop new products, both as a matter of a slightly hidebound worldview, and the fact that it isn't possible to attain mastery of a craft that you just invented. That said, Master Tinkerers DO exist, and specialize in reverse engineering and improving other technology, often human, gnomish, or goblin in origin. Elaborate traditions involving beards (male) and hair (female) allow a dwarf's history to be read by those who know how. Dwarven barbers and hairdressers are among the best in the world, and any noble of worth will have one on staff (both for their skill and their no-nonsense advice). Dwarves traditionally prefer to craft finely made, sturdy subterranean cities, and often rent and expand basements and sub-basements in cities of other races.

Gnomes: Small but hearty, gnomes are masters of invention. Mischievous and friendly, they prefer to live just underground but are plenty comfortable on the surface. An amiable lot, just about anyone without ill intent can get along with gnomes. Gnomish cities tend to be sprawling and shallowly below the surface.

Goblins: Goblins are small, wiry, and cunning. Like Gnomes, goblins are masters of invention. Where gnomish inventions tend towards the quirky and impractical, goblin inventions are brutal and to the point. Goblin humor tends more towards pranks than that of the Gnomes. Goblins prefer to live in underground cities.

Goblins and Gnomes see each other as rivals due to their significant similarity, but rarely come to actual blows over it. Any town with a goblin and gnomish tinker will usually find them across the street, if not sharing a building. This rivalry takes the form of a friendly competition, often involving tiny gizmos and contraptions duking it out to prove who's tech is superior. Disputes between gnomish and goblin cities will often be settled by an agreed-upon meeting of a few war contraptions, the cause of the skirmish usually forgotten by the end of the battle.

Hobgoblins: Where goblins are cunning, hobgoblins are much closer to traditional portrayals of goblins: stupid, violent, and untrustworthy. They breed like rabbits and are typically a nuisance wherever they show up.

Elves: Where dwarves are the masters of craft, elves dedicate themselves to performance. Many are masterful craftsmen, but lack the single-minded dedication of the dwarves. Mages, dancers, even warriors, elves dedicate themselves to a few arts and master them with an inhuman grace. Their lives are extremely long, bordering on immortality in the eyes of shorter lived races, but just as susceptible to premature ends as any other race. This long lifespan gives even greater resistance to cultural drift than that of the Dwarves.

Orcs: Big and muscular, orcs are masters of physical prowess. Innate brainpower is not much different from that of a human, but orcs have shorter lifespans and typically do not invest the same time to study. Impatience and impulsiveness are common characteristics. Most orc designs seem a bit rushed and haphazard, but they work relatively well.

Trolls: Trolls are a larger race, bigger even than the Orcs. Huge, tough, and naturally armored, they're intelligent but often unmotivated. They tend not to favor tasks that require high manual dexterity, but it's far from unheard of to find surgeons, watchmakers, and the like. Their lifespans are similar to those of dwarves, but significantly more relaxed.

Beastfolk: A broad category rather than a species or race, beastfolk are defined as sapient races with more animalistic characteristics. Lizardfolk, catfolk, centaur, naga, and occasional crosses between them, this category is generally not referred to as a whole because of the differences between the various species. Sizes tend to follow the animal component (smaller critters will lead to smaller humanoids), but 7' mousefolk and 4' cowfolk are far from unheard of. Species tend to be functionally similar to humans, with adaptations and preferences based upon their genetics (improved grace, skill at tracking, strength, sense of smell or hearing, flight/gliding abilities, etc).

Bayonet on a dissipator?

Alternate title: Making things more complicated for myself for the sake of aesthetics.

I'm not sure if I can put a proper bayonet on a dissipator AR-15, by virtue of the long hand guard. I've seen a few dissipator bayonets with sawn-off grips, but that's obnoxious since it's not useful when unmounted and I don't want it always mounted. Nobody makes a rail mount bayonet that isn't ridiculously tiny, which means something else I probably have to make myself because I made things more complicated by getting a dissipator (assuming I opt to get one). I think I'm going to have to develop a non Kel-Tec folding bayonet, designed to fix in place and stay there and still be able to fold. Have a bayonet like one of the various integral folding bayonets, but not tied to the gun's accuracy (Couldn't hit a damn thing with my M44 until I learned that it was zeroed with the bayonet fixed, at which point I started dinging all the gongs).

I've also decided that the SRE/SRP (Simplest Rifle Ever/Simplest Rifle Possible) will have an optional add on of a big freaking integral bayonet.

In an unrelated matter, am I the only one who wants Zerg/Tyrannid/alien death race de jour shooting targets? Screw zombies, I'll practice on ravening alien space hordes any day.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How to tell you are not a catalog's target demographic

When that magazine has 40mm grenades on sale in all non-splody types.

Got a Streicher's right next to where I work, and while it's aimed at police and military service members, it's still nice to get some hands on with gear before you buy it. Picked up my Streamlight Protach 1L there (was looking mostly for holsters, figured if I was going to start carrying a flashlight would be handy too). Signed up for their catalog while I was at it, because it's always fun to read about things you can't buy (I've always liked tactical shields and the like, never mind that they're worth more than my present car).

Other things they have you don't see for sale elsewhere: flashbangs, those collapsible road spike strip things, evidence bags, and tactical body armor.

Musings on Joining the Military

As I hurtle towards my graduation into the real world, I look towards my future and options to set myself on the right path towards it. The economy sucks, and for whatever reason I haven't the slightest luck in job hunting (other than the nice folks at Tandemkross who came across some of my work and expressed interest in my helping the company as a contract designer), and a boulder of student debt looms over my head. If I can snag a proper engineering job, I can marathon what debt I have out of existence in a year or two. But it's always good to have a plan B. For me, that plan B is presently the National Guard (or possibly one of the reserves).

All my life, people have assumed I would go into the military. Not because of any strong family tradition, although entering the service is quite common within my family and friends, but simply because of my personality and motivations. When I work out, I do so not for appearance or health benefits; I work out for the express purpose of increasing my combat performance. Fighting, in all its forms, comes to me with terrifying ease. As a small child, I went to the adult classes because the other kids posed no challenge. I fought on equal terms against the adults, even those many times my size, weight, and rank. Later in life, after a prolonged period of inactivity, I returned. Having just worked out to the extent that my legs could barely hold me (going either direction up stairs nearly caused my legs to give out with every step), out of shape, and out of practice, I fought every opponent to a clear draw despite their best efforts. Guns, knives, it matters not the form, they all come to me as naturally as any trainer could ever hope. I even have the opinions of several medical professionals that I am incredibly tough.
Should I choose to enlist, I intend to aim for special forces. I neither care for nor want any accolades or acknowledgements, it would simply be a waste of my talents and capabilities not to. Physically and mentally, I can withstand that which few others can, which in my mind makes it my duty to do so.

And yet, I hesitate. I have no fear of basic training, indeed much of the experience is something I would gladly pay to receive. I have no fear of being sent to face the enemy, for I am more at ease in combat than many social situations. What then holds me back? The problem is twofold; The first is a problem I've heard of from nearly everyone who has served in recent history, arbitrary rules set by upper brass that are at minimum stupid, if not outright dangerous. Problems like those described here. The second is the present political climate. When I swear an oath, I take it seriously, and I fear the chance of being ordered to violate my oath of enlistment should I take it. I will do my duty and refuse an order that I cannot obey without violating my oath, but I'm well aware that I am distinctly unlikely to earn myself any friends in doing so. The USA and what it stands for is well worth fighting for, but service to the government as it stands may not be the best means to do so.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

1000 year old technology

Guns are a known technology. Earliest examples date all the way back to nearly 1000 years ago. Yet some people seem to want to try to uninvent them, as shown by the whole stupid kerfluffle around 3D printed guns.

A tad bit Communism Stronk, but I can totally get behind the message of Guns for the People.

A friend of mine and I have a project, to develop the absolute simplest possible semi-auto rifle. I'm talking uzi levels of simple. She had the project initially just as an idle "to see if I can", and grumpy libertarian that I am, I decided that I wanted to develop a version of all of the major firearm types that can be produced in a garage with nothing but some tubing, C clamps, a dremel tool, and a few hand tools. A drill press, proper vice, blowtorch and stuff will be helpful, but the goal is to make them not technically necessary (just nice to have). Of course, it'd also be designed such that with a minor bit of tooling, you could crank them out for next to nothing but the cost of materials.

I've got a workable basic shotgun (built on a slam fire design, but significantly improved for a minor addition of complexity. Can be fired as fast as you could single-load a pump shotgun), the rifle is nearly all done but the making it, all that's left is to work out a design for a handgun (I'm torn between a simplified version of the Hi-Point, or a simplified version of the micro-uzi).

Essentially, I want to do it as a physical incarnation of this lovely post she penned. 
She'd rather stay on the hardware side of guns, not the politics, but sometimes her hand is forced by the powers of stupid people being wrong on the internet, and the world is a better place for it.

If When we get it/them figured out, there shall be patents, an FFL, and plans made available (I'm all for it/them being widely produced, both at home and by other companies, I'd just like the other companies to have to ask permission first, because Capitalism).

Monday, November 25, 2013

4th amendment shirt

Even comedy webcomics are taking a few shots at the .gov, styled after the EULAs that companies have that they constantly update.

Go grab one if you feel like it, it'll only print if they get enough orders.

Choose your weapon

Time now for a thought exercise in the form of a pop quiz. For the purposes of this, please leave preconceived notions at the imaginary door you came through to get here, and do not consider which is the best answer for your politics, or what have you.

In this exercise, you are all that stands between those you care for and the most gruesome end imaginable. But despite this terrible situation, you're in luck: You may have ANY weapon presently available that can be used by a single person (things requiring tripods or vehicle mounts are out). The threat shall remain mysterious, and all you can hope is that your choice of armament is sufficient to defend those who are depending on you. Your selection and its availability has no impact on what, if any, weapons you will be challenged with. Some possible opponents will be listed at the very end, don't look until you have completed the quiz.

And now the high-stakes game of "would you rather" begins

1) Given the option, would you rather:
   A) Close to melee range?
   B) Remain at a distance?

2) How much training do you want to NEED to use your implement effectively in battle
   A) Days
   B) Months
   C) Years

3) Would you prefer a weapon
   A) That gives an advantage to the larger/stronger combatant
   B) That disregards the effects of size and strength

4) Would you prefer a weapon that is
   A) Effective against a single opponent
   B) Effective against multiple opponents

5) Would you prefer a weapon that is
   A) Designed for ergonomic use
   B) Designed to be easier to make from a single piece of material

From here on, the quiz is written assuming you have elected to utilize a ranged weapon that utilizes ammunition of some variety.

6) Would you rather have:
   A) More shots before reloading
   B) Less shots before reloading

7) Would you prefer:
   A) Low recoil, low power
   B) Medium-low recoil, medium high power
   C) High to very high recoil, high power

8) Oh no, the danger is close to your friend/family/etc! Would you rather
   A) Have complete control of each projectile fired
   B) Have an uncontrollable cone of projectiles

9) Wow, you've really found yourself in quite a tough spot! Going to need a few shots to take care of this. Would you prefer
   A) Faster shots
   B) Slower shots

10) When selecting your ammo, would you prefer ammunition that will
   A) Cause more damage for the same size/weight shot
   B) Cause less damage for the same size/weight shot

11) Jeez, whatever it is is still coming and you've run empty! Would you rather
   A) Have slower reloads
   B) Have faster reloads

12) Finally, a brief respite, your weapons have driven them back to the edge of their your range. How far back would you prefer to push them? Would you prefer your range to be
   A) Longer
   B) Shorter

13) It was nice while it lasted, but now you're fighting them off from room to room. Would you rather your weapon be
   A) Larger
   B) Smaller

If you've selected well, you may have successfully fended off the threat! First we'll look at what weapon you probably wound up with if you answered honestly for the best defense of your family. Next, let's take a look at some of the possible villains, shall we? They're both after the jump (let's see if this works right, I have no idea what I'm doing).

Sunday, November 24, 2013


I had something else I was going to write about, and as is usual with me, I can't remember what it is (thought of it while driving, couldn't exactly note it down).

Instead, pants. Why is it that freaking nobody makes decent pants anymore? Scrawny legs run in part of my family, so even despite my best efforts (taekwondo, weightlifting, and running) my legs aren't particularly astonishingly muscular, yet I can't fit into "regular" cut jeans in my size. Back when I was younger, I had a bit less muscle, but I could fit pants that fit well enough that I could swing my foot over my head without fear of tearing anything, even while the ample pockets were stuffed to capacity. Nowadays it's all I can do to find pants loose enough in the thighs and seat to give me the freedom of movement to climb stairs.

Now you can't even find decent hip pockets, let alone pants it's possible to move in. One of my requirements for pants is that I be able to throw a head-level knee without adjusting things around to be sure everything is optimal. All of my older pants used to meet this requirement, but they've long since worn out (got them in high school, have only packed on muscle since then). Only my BDUs and a few rare cargo pants manage to leave me sufficient room to move. It seems that even the smallest amount of leg muscle is more than any of the various regular pants companies designed for. I've seen a lot of Johnny Bravo shaped guys, but not to such a degree that pants intended for people who actually have legs that aren't sticks should be discontinued entirely!

I'm afraid for the sake of my pocketbook that I'll only ever be able to get pants I like by shelling out for duty pants/tactical pants/specialty clothing designed for police, military, and bodyguards to be able to move in, and priced accordingly. If I need to, I will, and an upgrade of wardrobe seems appropriate after graduation from college, but still.

Has anyone else had problems with this, or am I the only person on the planet who actually cares about being able to move while wearing pants?

Saturday, November 23, 2013


A post by the Adaptive Curmudgeon on the topic of downtime set me to thinking, as many of his posts do. Read the whole thing, it's written in his usual amusing style.

My comment set me thinking, and I decided that it warranted being expanded into its own post over here for the few people who appear to stop by occasionally to read my ramblings.

Downtime is necessary but dangerous in excess (as are many things). Too much and you fall into a lethargic routine every bit as draining as overwork, which saps you of motivation and capability. I’ve found the few minutes of mind clearing meditation before martial training to be an excellent thing. Downtime should be treated similarly, and I’m quite partial to Eric’s suggestions for tasks to occupy the body and mind during this meditation.

Eric's suggestion was, for reference, with regards to using Wednesday as a day of rest
Eric Wilner says:
If you observe the Sabbath on Woden’s Day, try using some of the time for weapons practice and maintenance, and reading (optionally writing) poetry.
For the appropriateness of other activities (tending chickens, &c.), consult the Hávamál.

I like to plan my New Year's resolutions in advance. A usual one is to reach physical condition capable of meeting the entry standards of most special forces teams (always good to have goals, right? I can usually get pretty close before college gets in the way and I wind up slipping out of shape). I think this next year will include managed, purposeful downtime, as a routine part of my life after graduation.

I'm rather partial to martial meditation, so I think my day of rest will be dedicated to physical and martial training, but I can't afford to neglect my mind. A few hours of reading and/or drawing will also be useful, but I think I need something to continue training my mind. I may test out one of the various brain-training games.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fancier hearing protection

But still not quite what I want. A tip of the hat to The Firearm Blog, obviously

I want something that's almost exactly this, but is also designed to serve as a daily wear thing. Equipped to work as ear buds on top of hearing protection, and can be used as a phone headset, and other such things.

If I get my collapsible helmet figured out to an extent that's actually USEFUL, I'm going to work on a jacket/suit to go with it that's designed to integrate technology and such (connects to phone/mobile computer, has a flexible screen on the wrist, etc), and part of that will be routine wear ear buds/hearing protection, so it can talk to you without annoying everyone around you. Hopefully by that time, Google Glass will have a less stupid looking, lower profile equivalent (I'm hoping for something that's like a modern bluetooth headset, but with an eyepiece, slim enough to slip into a pocket or what have you).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Assorted high-speed gear reviews

High speed in terms of how long I'm taking on them, not how low drag they are.

I've got a big post in the works but my brain isn't working these past few days, so here's this instead while I work on it.

Up first, is the Glock Brand Glock Holster. I think it's called the sport tactical or whatever, Sport Combat Holster. It's minimalist, cheap, and works remarkably well. Reasonably good at hiding away my Glock 17 as far as I'm actually concerned (I'm probably the least subtle concealed carrier possible. My everyday coat 7 months out of the year is an oilskin canvas duster, on a 6'3 athletic guy with military-ish hair). So far the holster has had perfect retention while running, jumping rope, doing all possible forms of calisthenics. I have yet to do parkour with it or do a full refresher of Taekwondo (so many kicks), but I think it will hold up sufficiently well for me to even consider testing it. The holster costs ~$10-13 depending on where you look, and is sufficiently no-frills to bear the Glock name.

Next up, the Surefire EP4 Sonic Defenders. They're passive damping earplugs, (mostly) only block loud sounds. My car's muffler just got replaced with one that happens to be really obnoxiously loud inside the car, so I wear them while I drive long distances. I can hear my radio better with them in than without them. I've also used them for shooting, they work at least quite well with .22LR (when not sealed. They're as effective as any other ear plugs when you close up the port that makes the passive sound damping work). You can mostly carry on a conversation with people as normal with them in, but you DO still lose ~5 dB of volume from everything. They're reasonably comfortable, but they make your ears a tad sore after a few hours of being in. Definitely worth the ~$14. Manufacturer's site is here

Cold Steel Ti-Lite. This (4" Zytel version) is my EDC knife. It's pretty no frills, but works great as an EDC. Can snap it open and closed with one hand, it's tough and comes with and holds a great edge (I've shaved with it), and my only real complaint is that gunk builds up and makes folding/unfolding a bit slower. Some gunk builds up in the textured grip, but if you actually care it's easy enough to clean out with a q-tip. I still have a few actual complaints, it's a tad thick (nice in the hand, takes up space in the pocket), and the quillions for auto-deploying when drawn will shred the inside of your pocket (and can occasionally snap the knife partway open when you don't want it to, I've almost gotten a few cuts that way). Still, pretty sure it's the best knife I've ever owned (not that extensive a list, only other EDC knives were an S&W Power-Glide, which looks like a butterfly knife but opens completely differently and is cool looking, but very bulky, and I think another S&W, HRT knife). Even if I get a different knife to replace this, odds are good it will be a Cold Steel. Manufacturer's page is here

Nobody paid for this or gave me anything, or I might have actually put some effort into this.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Wasteland Tech: Gadgets

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." 
-Arthur C Clarke

In a world where magic and technology have evolved side by side, what happens when magic is sufficiently understood to be indistinguishable from technology? When you go to buy a phone, do you buy the one that works on radio signals, or an embedded Communication spell? Does your gun run on the same old powder as we're used to, or is it a magical mass driver you dumped a tube of bullets into, or maybe a combination of magic and machinery?

Wasteland tech falls into four major categories.

Technological: The old fashioned way, how it works here is how it works there. It's easy to maintain by just about anyone with the skills, and isn't dependent upon ambient magic or anything else beyond maybe the power to run it.
Base cost, base availability

Magical: Sometimes the easiest way to get things done is to throw some magic at the problem. In the Wastelands and the areas that border them, magical effects can still outpace technological ones in some fields, but such devices are harder to mass produce, harder to repair, and may have spotty reliability if the local mana fluctuates. They're easily disrupted by the magical weirdness that is so common, and anti-magic fields and dispelling effects will knock them out, if not outright destroy them. With the availability of power and power-to-magic spells, they're at least reasonably affordable (usually roughly competitive with technological devices with comparable capabilities). Work wherever there's magic (a magic cell phone may have a standby time of forever in medium to high mana, but it's harder to recharge without someone who can charge a powerstone)
1.1x base cost

Magitech (Reliable): Magitech comes from blending magic and technology, as one might expect. This blend breaks things down into easy-to-make, easy-to-use functions, each part handled by magic or technology as is most prudent. However, the ease of tech comes at the cost of susceptibility to interference. The mechanical parts may jam, AND the magic component may be interrupted. Usually used to get access to relatively affordable stuff of slightly higher TL, or give some improvements where tech or magic alone can't (such as a tv/radio with improved antenna reception).
 .9x base cost, higher-TL penalties reduced to 1.25x

Magitech (Unreliable): Similar to reliable magitech, but not as well understood. If reliable magitech is carefully engineering components to work together, unreliable magitech is dumping a box of parts on the table and beating it with magic until the device does roughly what it's supposed to. Side effects are common, as the actual workings of the device aren't particularly understood. It does what it was made to, but the actual mechanism by which this is achieved is unknown, if not unknowable. Usually used for getting access to tech equivalent to several TLs higher, it can also be used in a pinch to make (mostly) workable gear without much to work with. Achieves the same effect as other gear for a good bit cheaper than other methods of production at the same level, but has extremely common side effects (which may be determined on on item creation or per each use, as is appropriate). They commonly explode when they break (or if you try to take it apart to figure out how it works).
.6x base cost, no higher-TL cost/weight penalties (increased side effects instead)

Oh wait, you're serious? Let me laugh even harder

That is until one or a few them KIA and the suits get stolen, reverse engineered, and we'll have a field of "superheroes" fighting against "superheroes". As the movies have shown us, superhero vs superhero always ends up in mass destruction. Instead of focusing on developing more lethal and potent weapons, we should be heading towards the goal of 100% disarmament globally. Today 2:59am

From the comments on this, a topic I'm quite fond of. All the other comments immediately point out just how "well" that would actually work, with various degrees of heads in clouds. 

On the other hand, if these things hit the market, I want one. Even if I'm a couple generations behind "top of the line" by the time I can afford it. We're going to need stuff like this to be pretty common if we want to become a space-faring species. If we switch over to spacesuits that don't fight your every motion, the powered exosuit feature isn't quite as vital, although still useful for space-things.

Also have to say, I really like the quality of the animation. I'm pretty sure I've seen better made animations in that style from people just making stuff for fun (and of course plenty at about that level, since not everyone can be great at things).

Monday, November 18, 2013

Also, Movember

I'm actually sort of doing something for Movember (I typically have facial hair by default, but for movember I have more than usual). I'll post up something of it at the end of November, once I've gotten a much needed hair trim and can demonstrate my mustachioed manliness. I'll also probably decide on a name other than Unknown to switch to, since I'm showing my face to the internet.

Dissipator or Equivalent

With the wide variety of AR-15s out on the market, one particular type has caught my eye. Something about the long forend on the compact frame just appeals to me. However, it also poses a problem. See, based on my research dissipators were real popular back before there were decent red dots and such available, and not so much any more. Having something be popular before I was even born, but not popular enough to result in a large available stock of used guns, doesn't really help me any.

Why do I want one so bad? Well, as people are so fond of saying, why not? Unless you demand people justify their M4geries, I think I can get away with wanting a dissipator; if you DO demand people justify their m4geries, don't you have better things to do? Wait, no, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this.

Anyway. I like the extended sight radius, because I'm reasonably good with irons. I plan to have this be my 'work-a-day' rifle, such as it is; this'll be what I grab should a rifle be needed. I'll throw a basic red dot with laser on it (I saw one that had both and was really well reviewed, and don't remember what it was anymore), and use the longer sight radius for precision shooting the old fashioned way. Maybe throw a VFG and a light on it, a nice simple collapsible stock (teaching people to shoot is practically a hobby in and of itself), that sort of thing.

Now the modern version I see everyone talking about is the free floated barrel, but a free floated gun and a basic dissipator are usually in two completely different ballparks in terms of price

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A treat for the TSA

It's been fairly firmly established that despite all the money and rights violations, the nudity scanners and theft scandals, the TSA is basically useless.

Just a few more examples, found through varying gunblogs and such (I need to start noting where I find this stuff, hat tip to whoever. I know Saysuncle covered the latter one as well, although I saw it first on Gizmodo).

To top it all off, if they're still using those scanners, they produce harmful amounts of radiation.
So, next time I happen to fly, I have a plan. If you opt out of the scanners, you have to go through a manual pat down. So, I think I'll give them a treat and make their jobs easier at the same time. I'm a lean, fit specimen of male, physically above average to well above average across the board.
I think that I'll wear something tight and comfy, perhaps yoga pants or hotpants, as the time of year suggests (or maybe even just regular cut jeans if I'm feeling boring, which are to me what skinny jeans are to other people). Throw on a nice, tight shirt to show off the fact that unlike much of the US, I'm darn close to some nicely chiseled abs. All in all, an outfit that can't possibly hide much of ANYTHING. After all, I don't much care how comfortable they are as they violate my rights and pat me down. In fact, they should be grateful to get to lay hands on such a fine specimen! I've been told by no small number of folks that I'm quite a looker.

Of course, this being the TSA, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they filed for harassment for someone dressing to make their jobs easier. Still, if they get to violate my rights without recourse, it's only fair that I get to have some amusement at their expense, right?

A band of misfit adventurers

Someday, I want to either run or play a campaign, modeled after D&D (in GURPS), that does everything wrong. Not your usual band of misfits that is any adventuring party, a band of misfits carefully calculated to have extra misfit-ery.

Every race can be assumed to have all of the various roles, but usually 90% of half orc PC's are barbarians or fighters, gnomes and half elves are bards, halfings are rogues, etc. Humans are about the only race you ever see in every role. I want to see that party that doesn't follow the "class specialty" conventions.

Cleric? The half orc. He's a chef, fights with a war-ladle, and uses the top of his cookpot (complete with all his spices and such) as a wooden shield.
Bard? The dwarf. Plays something like bagpipes or the concertina.
Barbarian? The gnome. Works his day job as a gardener, chops the knees out from under his enemies with a sharpened shovel-axe.
Fighter? The halfling. He'll stab your shins so hard you won't know what hit you. Probably a smith or something for his day job.
Wizard? This one's a bit hard to pick out a "wrong" race without repeats. I'd go for troll, if troll PCs are available (think Shadowrun trolls). He also has a cart, and the critter that draws it is his familiar. Spends his time studying while leaving the familiar to guide the thing.
Rogue/ranger? Warforged/golem, perhaps, something big and heavy and built to be a bruiser by nature. Troll and half orc would also work.

And so on. Every race has classes that seem most likely, and classes that seem least likely, and THAT'S where I want to put them. If anyone who happens to read this can come up with other "wrong" professions, that'd be just swell.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Wasteland Tech: The Telepost

The telepost came about as a means of communicating with my players as they traveled about the Wastes, a harsh, inhospitable place not too fond of things like telegraph wires. The very first batch of players to travel the wastelands included a postman. This postman was a 150 point character, who drove an armored car (military, not bank). This choice of profession for a 150 point character made, quite honestly, perfect sense. So how do towns in someplace so inhospitable get news and packages around?

Water provides stability to the region around it, condensing out some of the mana and limiting the rampant weirdness. But what might be an hour or two by direct route may be days by rivers and water travel, depending on the terrain. If you just want to get a quick message out, how do you do it? The telepost. Essentially functioning as a rudimentary email system, those with an account can request their mail from any telepost office, and any messages they may have will be printed at the location of their current check-in, even in the TL 5+1 Wastelands.

The telepost continues to be a great utility even outside of the Wastes, as the various countries that rim the Wastelands tend to be 6+1 in tech level. Telephones are common, but the telepost infrastructure is more robust without the quantity of random monster attacks and other such weirdness to deal with. Post offices and libraries are often built along a common wall, which houses the telepost's processor unit. Librarians may be able to assist researchers in their quests for knowledge using an incredibly rudimentary internet-like system. Telepost offices in more advanced areas can include such conveniences as pictures in their messages.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Rules for Adventurers

In my few brief years as a tabletop gamer, I've found a few rules that basically always are beneficial to follow

1. Always put at least one point in swim, particularly if you can't use it untrained.
2. Always have a knife, preferably at least two.
3. Always have rope, preferably with a grappling hook.

I'm pretty set on the first two in real life. Used to be pretty great at swimming, enough to be recommended to the high school swim team, only to find that I suddenly couldn't swim worth a damn when I got there. Turns out extra ribs run in the family, and mine grew enough to severely restrict blood flow to my arms. Soon I will be back to the doctor recommended quantity of bones though. And of course, I've carried a knife pretty much always since I graduated high school (people have learned not to ask if I have my knife, just if they can borrow it).

But I still need rope. I thought about braiding my own out of paracord, but I'd need to do it with at least 5 strands to hold my weight, and suspect that I may be better off with a ~50 foot hank of actual climbing rope for size and weight. Now if only folding grappling hooks weren't basically worthless or cost more than all of my rifles do ... scratch that, some more searching found that the present military grade one is actually available for a mere ~$70, which is only less than SOME of my rifles.

An unobtrusive means of carrying said rope would also be handy.

A few other rules to live/game by off the top of my head. Some of these are more applicable to daily life than others...
-Always carry a pistol if they exist and you're allowed. If pistols are available with a compact folding stock, and those are STILL legal for you, take that. The stock makes it better.
-Even if you don't smoke, a lighter is worth the limited space it takes
-In a pinch, a tower shield and an aqueduct make for a GREAT high speed escape. Even works against dragons. Just be sure the tower shield has a layer of metal on the outside.
-A little planning goes a long way, and can very effectively derail an encounter the GM was expecting the party to blindly blunder into.
-Shield dwarves make the best point-men for any adventuring party. Kick down the door, seal it back up with a big freaking shield, and all your friends can shoot over the top of you.
-Always keep your wits about you, and keep looking around. Very rarely do bad things happen as a result of paying TOO much attention to your surroundings.
-Libraries are GREAT places to conduct research, even if they don't just serve as someplace with public internet. Don't be afraid to dig through periodicals or newspapers to see what's been going on in the world, particularly if you're new to a city or just got dumped into an unfamiliar world. A few hours of research can significantly lengthen your lifespan.
-If you're in a situation that calls for the big guns, carry ammo to spare. I've had at least one game where the world ended and all the ammo that came into the future through cryofreeze was what I had on me at the time of the apocalypse. After making generous use of short bursts with my future-AK, the GM demanded to know how much ammo I had left, and was astonished to hear that I still had 9 mags. He said he's never carried more than two in any game, because he never needed more.

Dear all bullpup shotgun makers

Can one of you please make one that DOESN'T have two tubes? A Maverick 88 with a 20" barrel can fit 10 rounds (presumably 9+1), is it so much to ask that you take that and put it in bullpup format? I want a light, compact shotgun with standard parts beyond the trigger mechanism and stock-thing.

Yes, drop in bullpup stocks exist, although it may be just the one, but that's for a Remington 870. I want something like an Ithaca shotgun, so it's ambidextrous. I'd rather have a purpose built bullpup shotgun than an add-on stock in order to have a better trigger and need less space than just wrapping a conversion around the thing.

I can't be the only one who wants one of these, can I?

If nobody makes one by the time I can afford to do such things, I'm building it myself.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Magic in the Wastelands

Alternately titled "How to make magic versatile and also incredibly obnoxious to GM".

So far I have a number of different schools of magic based on the rules, for how it all works in the Wastes.

Spell-based magic: This is the stock standard magic system for GURPS, equivalent to what's found in fiction such as the Harry Potter series. You don't learn the deeper workings of magic, you just learn directly how to do whatever it is. It isn't versatile, but it's relatively easy to learn what you want to do, and even your average non-mage in high mana areas might pick up a few simple spells to make their lives easier. Fairly easy to learn, either in a magic academy or just out of "learn magic" books.

Theory of Magic: This encompasses schools of magic that study the actual root workings of magic. Instead of learning a set order of words and motions that will result in X, you learn the ebb and flow of magic and how to manipulate it. Roughly standard rules apply for ritual magic, runic magic, and syntactic magic, all work for this particular style. Many options for achieving the same effect, manipulation of magical energies.

Wild Magic: This one's a bit tricky, and will be hard on the GM. It's based on wild magic out of a series of books, where anyone can be a wild mage. It's an intrinsic thing, and you don't really study it, you just HAVE it. It's a bargain-based system, but for minor things you can just power it yourself or off powerstones. The best example comes from early in the first book, when the protagonist goes out when he isn't supposed to and happens to lose his key. He invokes the wild magic, and agrees to the price: The wild magic takes him over, runs him halfway across town, and he meets a little servant girl who's kitten is stuck in the tree. If the kitten is found, it'll be killed and the girl will be punished. He climbs the tree, and lo and behold, there's his key in a nearby magpie's nest. Wild magic is ALWAYS good aligned, although someone with another power source (demons, etc) can convert it over into working like ritual magic (it no longer functions as Wild Magic, and they can never use the bargain system to power spells again).

Blood Magic: Not a school of magic in and of itself, blood magic uses the Sacrifice rules in Thaumatology. Pain, suffering, and death release power usable to mages, but it carries with it a taint. Prolonged torture can release as much energy as killing outright, but leaves a VERY noticeable taint of sadism. A necromancer will feel like they've been making gore angels, while a battle mage who casts from the energy available on the battlefield may just FEEL like a battlefield, while a professional assassin who kills instantly and painlessly will have a cold, clinical, sterilized feel of magical taint. A blood mage who casts from himself while specializing in blood magic will avoid the -1 penalty for casting from health, and get a significant boost of energy for each point of health used over non-blood-mages.

Dance limited magic/bending: Another instance of magic available to people without a ton of IQ. This is pretty much the elementalist knack straight out of the Avatar series. I'm still working out the kinks, but it'd be tied to a martial art, and most likely limited almost exclusively to very direct magical effects. A firebender can shoot all kinds of fireballs and flame jets from their punches and kicks, but can't summon elementals or shape fire that's around. I MIGHT make other effects (summoning, etc) available with significant extra time through extensive ritual dance, still working out the details.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Miscellaneous Ponderings

This whole "blogging" thing is kind of interesting, blogger is at least quite useful for keeping tabs on everybody I read (Until now, I've just had a favorites folder full of blogs). Still figuring out how to use it, there's a tab of comments and I'm suspicious of trying to delete the notifications lest I accidentally delete the comments themselves.

I have no idea if anyone actually reads this other than possibly occasionally Angus McThag (Hi McThag!). The view meter keeps gradually ticking up, so that's at least something.

I'm not exactly surprised, I'm not particularly interesting; haven't had any of my big insightful posts on anything to put here since I started it, and everyone else has pretty much everything I could say already covered. I think I've got one brewing though, that will probably find its way here when my brain isn't fried by midterms.


I miss playing music. Back in the day I was a fairly prolific musician, played piano, baritone, trombone, and even a bit of cello. Haven't played anything while I've been off at college, but now I'm thinking I want to get back into it. I've got access to a "learn guitar" kit we got my dad that he hasn't used, but it guitar seems pretty common. Right now I'm leaning towards picking up the concertina.


Poi spinning is interesting and can be beautiful to watch. It also stands out to me as reminding me of firebending, ala the Avatar series (animated show, not movie). I think I shall A) work out a way to have dance-limited dex-based magic in GURPS to replicate bending, and B) learn to spin poi myself, because I've always been good at spinning stuff.


Somehow, in tabletop RPGs I always wind up playing the group's face, even when I'm the low charisma dwarf surrounded by bards and sorcerers and whatnot. I'm not particularly socially adept, yet I always seem to be more able to ask the right questions, and can even roleplay it right for my character. I'm not sure if it's just that everyone else who plays games is even worse at socializing than I am (a lot of members of the gaming club are hilariously stereotypical for gamers), if it's from practice as a GM, or just that I'm a fairly capable roleplayer. Regardless, I feel like at some point I need to make a character that ISN'T a grumpy anti-socialite.

In another gaming related matter, I've played a lot of dwarves in various campaigns, yet I've never once used an axe. I'm always the cleric, saving people from horrible gruesome deaths, except when they're suicidally idiotic (and it isn't for lack of trying).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Reconfoobling the energymotron

Or whatever.

Somehow the left rear suspension seems to have fused on the 80smobile. (the wheels have since been swapped out for some nice aluminum rims and tires without ~20 years of dry rot). The wheel is barely carrying any of the cars weight, and bumps are... interesting.

As much as I love all the 80s this car has, methinks it's time to get the Ranger fixed up the last little bit. My dad and I rebuilt the thing practically from the frame up, but the engine needs new rings and valves. Once that's taken care of, it'll essentially be a new truck, and also not equal to my age or older, which is kind of nice.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

Still technically the 11th here, so it's still on the right day at least.

Thank you, to everyone who's served, now or in the past.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Paintball, training, and screwing around

People in the shooting community always seem to have incredibly mixed opinions on paintball. It is my opinion that paintball is incredibly underrated, both as a training aid and as a source of fun and bonding. The above video shows elements of both.

One of the big problems people have with paintball is the ammunition, typically handled by way of what amounts to a bucket bolted to the top of your gun. By and large, this is the most common means of feeding paint into a gun, but there are several others; low-cap hoppers hold from 10-50 rounds and barely stick up from the gun, magazine fed paintball guns have greatly increased in both reliability and availability, and there are even a few things that split the difference between them, such as the qloader. The qloader and qpods are my personal favorite, because it is reliable but functions almost identically to a high-capacity magazine.

Another problem people have is the range and accuracy, or lack thereof. This is something that has recently been remedied, at least in part. A company known as Tiberius Arms developed what amounts to a paintball rifled slug, giving doubled range and 5x the accuracy of standard paint. The costs are significant (currently $40 for 100 rounds), but they DO work exactly as advertised. The biggest downside is that most paintball ranges are heavily designed to favor CQB engagements.

The next problem people (myself included) have with paintball is the cost. It's not uncommon for paintball guns to cost as much or more than the real steel version they mimic (for the guns that aren't space guns. Tactical reproductions have drastically increased in popularity). While it's possible to spend vast sums of money on paintball equipment, it is similarly possible to spend relatively small amounts, down to ~$60 for the most basic gear possible. It helps to consider this not as wasted money that could have gone to an equivalent REAL gun, but as training fee. Paintball allows for live fire against live opponents who are doing their damnedest to take you out in turn. It's one thing to practice using cover, it's another thing entirely to learn under fire how well you can shelter behind something 6" wide if you really need to.

Another thing about paintballing is the camaraderie. I've found myself pushing myself hard for complete strangers on my team, risking exhaustion and welts to help claim victory. By the descriptions I've read of the various Gunblogger Rendezvous, I'd have to guess that the atmosphere around many of the big scenario games is quite similar, with an added helping of Brothers in Arms. A vaguely local scenario I've gone to many times routinely has 1500-2000 players total, organized by generals into squads, fighting for objectives (capture the X, deliver a payload to Y, etc).

TL;DR version: If you haven't tried paintballing with friends, do so. It's worth the time and the welts.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Subguns, and the applications thereof

My go-to rifle is a Kel-Tec Sub2k, because it's compact and easy to travel with, and I presently qualify as a poor college student. It is also the first gun I've ever had that isn't 2-3 times my age. My fondness for it brings me to consider the place of subguns in the modern world.

Despite being a good deal smaller and lighter than most intermediate caliber carbines, it lacks any of the penetrating power or end effect while possessing only marginally lower recoil. AP rounds exist in 9mm, but are banned from sale to civilians. Likewise, the long barrel improves the power of the ammunition, but this in turn puts the ammunition outside of its intended ranges, causing weird, sub-optimal behavior, at least at close ranges before the bullet slows back to usual speed.

No matter how I look at it, no matter how much I love the handling and feel of pistol carbines, there's really no two ways about it; other than sharing ammo and magazines with a sidearm (maybe), they combine many of the downsides of a rifle with the weaknesses of a pistol.

At least they're (usually) inexpensive...

Friday, November 8, 2013

You say that like it's a bad thing

People grumping about other people actually supporting freedoms, because they're freedoms that the grumpers don't like. Sorry chumps, you get to support freedom or not, you don't get to pick and choose.

Oh hey, tags are a thing that exist. I should probably use them.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fun with Eye Dominance

Based on that title, I'm sure all one of you that might read this are guessing that I have opposite eye/hand dominance. You would be incorrect. What I have is much, much more fun.

I have no dominant eye (Or is it double dominance?). Either way, those tests to determine your dominant eye? Don't work. Right hand always results in right eye dominance, left eye results in left eye dominance. When I do the "point at something with both hands, one hand will be right, the other will be wrong" test, both hands are perfectly on target. I can even switch which eye is acting as dominant, and FEEL it change.

This causes problems. My dominant eye defaults to whichever has the better view of the target. This makes focusing on the front sight with both eyes open very, very difficult, because my eye I'm NOT trying to aim with will take over as dominant, because it can see the front sight without the rear sight in the way. So far the only real way around this I've found is to focus on the target, and superimpose the sight picture into my view as one would with a red dot. It isn't perfect, but when I'm in practice with it I can shoot darn near as accurately as if I have my offhand eye closed.

Just thought I'd share this with whoever happens to read it, since I don't think I've ever heard of or met another person who entirely lacked a dominant eye.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


While I was reading through the various books trying to figure out how to balance magic for high-tech combat, I couldn't help but note that utility magic remains incredibly powerful no matter the tech level. I saw a number of things that as I read what they did, pretty much clicked as "Every person in X career will know this at least a bit if they can".

I imagine every last spacer or submariner with any magery would know the create air and purify air spells. Ships of whatever type would kill for an engineseer, who would have the repair/rebuild spells (oh, this critical part snapped in half a million miles from anything? It's better now). The blueprint skill could probably be used as a debug tool to track down breaks that can't be located by standard diagnostics. There's a spell to create fuel or directly power a machine, either as an emergency thing, or just to create the pure, super essence of fuel that's many times better than regular in every way (talk about buying premium fuel). Heck, there's even a haircut spell that can be enchanted into an object to give a certain haircut on demand (and the enchantment itself is pretty cheap).

Methinks I need to start reading GURPS: Traveller, Interstellar Wars and figure out if it's easily compatible with magic, or if I have to use it as a jumping off point. I'd still mostly save the lore as much as possible, simply because I can only figure out the details of an entire world/solar system/galaxy/universe so many times.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Humanity and The Universe

A thought on space fiction or high fantasy (copied over from my facebook synopsis of the same link):
In most fiction, humans take one of three roles. We're either boring, baseline of the universe, absolutely shit and outgunned/muscled/toughnessed/intelligenced by literally everything, or we are among the scariest things in the universe.

In a universe where the other sentient species don't drive technological advancement primarily by killing vast swaths of their populations (and creating better means of doing so leading to most other technologies as a side effect), humanity is freaking terrifying. In fiction where "murder machines" aren't the baseline of the universe, we end up either A. killing everything or B. meeting something that managed to get good enough tech to threaten us and we wind up serving as super shock troops

Self-imposed-challenge Costuming Project

Trying to whip up a folding/collapsible helmet, ala those carried by Dead Space RIGs.
Found one or two Folding bike helmets but they aren't the full-head space combat helmet that I want. I could make something with tons of parts, but of course I have to complicate things by setting the personal requirement of it being simple and sturdy. I can make a regular, non-folding helmet really easily, but I want this for conventions and such things where I'll be wearing the costume for long periods of time, so I can take the helmet off and stash it on my costume. I'm one of those weird people who's almost more comfortable wearing large amounts of clothing and/or armor and would be perfectly happy to wear my costume the whole day of whatever I'm at.

Ultimate goal for the costume is a combination of these two (the guy on the right for the second link).

Pictures will be forthcoming when I have something worth sharing.

It's also part of a personal project of trying to move humanity towards spacefaring capability; one of my beliefs for humanity as a spacefaring species is that we're going to need daily-wear spacesuits (Skinsuits, in GURPS parlance, basically space underwear. Put a helmet on it and you can go into vacuum, but it has no radiation shielding or other things you'd need for space, just enough to keep you from dying on the odd hull breach), and some manner of compact helmet to go with it. Space is a bad place to be, but we've had basic compression spacesuits since the 50s or so, so I predict it not being that much longer before we figure it out properly. The problem then remains helmets that aren't an obnoxious 1' sphere to lug around whenever you don't need it. Some kind of high strength plastic bag would probably work for EDC emergency use, but you'd want something sturdier if the odd jaunt into space is a routine possibility.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Buck Stops Where?

Just a thought on recent politics. The president and his administration keep getting into scandals, and inevitably it will be proclaimed that Barry O wasn't aware of it, so it can't be his fault.

This is incorrect. The Buck Stops Here, as they say. As the head of the executive branch, it is his JOB to know what the rest of the executive branch is doing. He is either responsible because he knew about it and didn't stop it (if not ordered it in the first place), or responsible because he failed in his duty to know what the executive branch is doing. Either way, he is at fault.

Pick one: incompetent figurehead who doesn't know anything about what his government is doing, or a petty tyrant using the force of government against anybody he doesn't care for and then lying poorly about it, or some combination thereof. It's kind of hard to see any other options.