Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tech Tuesday: Technology and Traditional Gaming.

Not doing my usual Tuesday linkdump, although I'm overdue for one.

I've discussed a bit on how things like Roll20 with their character Field of View settings make a lot of interesting things possible to increase immersion and blur the line between traditional gaming and video gaming. I can't help but predict that things like the Occulus Rift, combined with easy digital modelling software like Google Sketchup, will lead to a further blurring of these lines, for GMs who are so inclined.

Just got a Logitech G35 headset as a slightly late Christmas present. One of the features it comes with is built in voice change software. Voice changing software is something I've been looking at for a while for GMing and playing characters. Why? Because there's something that bugs me about playing a woman with not-quite-James-Earl-Jones voice. Fantastic for comedy, but doesn't work so well and breaks immersion in more serious stuff. I haven't had the chance to play around with voice changers in a long time, they've come a LONG ways since where the ones I had as a kid.

Am I the only one who goes into this much depth to get my characters to be differentiated from just me talking? I can do, and maintain, an accent for a whole session as needed (or 5, or 10, if GMing. I've had several campaigns where the players couldn't remember which NPC was what, but could keep track of them based on the accents they'd had)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Galdernit

Something in intermediate caliber pistol with a wrist brace was on my list of things to buy. The ATF has figured out that if you let people have a really easily available loophole around a stupid, bullshit law, they're going to take it, and have moved said wristbraces into weird legal territory of "perfectly legal unless you do things with it in which case it becomes Super Illegal Forever" because once something gets classed as an SBR it is an SBR forever because that makes perfect sense.

Don't get me wrong, I still plan to get my .300 BLK and/or 5.45x39 pistols because along with SMGs, intermediate caliber pistols are something I have an unabashed, unreasonable love for (also, because They say you should use a pistol for home defense, right? It's technically a pistol, it counts!)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Travel bleh

Going to Florida in a bit. Florida doesn't honor WI concealed carry permits. I don't believe I can get this corrected in time. I've never traveled with a gun anyway, so I guess I can kick that can down the way a bit.

On the plus side, FL knife laws are pretty lenient, although the bit of looking I'm doing indicates my ludicrous pocket-kukri is right on the borderline of questionable (the retention shaping and sheer size make it questionable). On the other hand, the good old fashioned Ti-Lite should be pretty much perfectly legal.

Maybe I'll bring my dive knife as well, because nothing says "I'm here to have a good time but don't screw with me" like a string bikini and a dive knife. Open Carry of whatever is good to go.

Headlines; What they say vs. what really happened.

http://www.jrn.com/tmj4/news/Actor-known-as-Screech-from-Saved-by-the-Bell-arrested-in-Ozaukee-County-286876021.html

Screech from Saved by the Bell got arrested up here right near my town. The headline that shows up all around the social media says it's because of the switchblade he had.

What they DON'T mention until you actually click through for more, is the fact that he stabbed someone in a barfight and fled the scene. Quite a world of difference between assault and "You had something we said not to have".

For reference, carriage of arms without a license (anything, even a 1.75" blade pocketknife, can still be counted as a concealed weapon if the police decide they don't like you) is a misdemeanor, and I believe that so is possession of a switchblade, because WI is still stuck in the 50s where only gangsters and greasers have switchblades and banning them turns them into harmless law abiding citizens.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A very merry stuffsgiving to you all

Merry Christmas or whatever you practice. May you give and receive many heartfelt things and have a good time with family or not, as is your preference.

Be of good cheer damn you!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Motor Monday: Concept Supertires, Why American motorcycles kinda suck, and Pretty Bikes

Not quite Rollcages, but I'd happily have a go in one of those things.


Anyway, on to bikes

http://lanesplitter.jalopnik.com/why-no-one-will-sell-you-the-bike-you-want-1641411378
Motorcycles are dangerous. It's inherent to the design, asking less surface area to do more, the fact that cars can't fall over (and don't try to do so if you attempt to slow down while turning, because they aren't leaned halfway over using the lean to keep from falling completely over). But there's a fair bit of distance between the inherent danger of motorcycles and how many people manage to get killed or kill themselves with them. Why?
Because of how they've been marketed in the States. Other countries with colossal motorcycle ridership don't have anywhere near the death rate from them we do. They also don't have motorcycles where "Enough horsepower to smear your remains across FOUR COUNTIES!" is a selling point.

Another problem with the motorcycling crowd is the resistance to safety gear, or insufficient safety gear. With the right gear, life is a hell of a lot safer.
http://indefinitelywild.gizmodo.com/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-motorcycle-sa-1596858706 The things people can and have walked away from after motorcycle crashes are frankly astonishing. Combined with above (driving things back towards bikes that aren't 40 billion tons and marketed as ludicrously expensive toys that will kill you), it would seem quite reasonable to assume that a good full suit of motorcycle armor should just be factored in as part of the price of the bike.

Also, a lot of them make you look like a damn space marine. I've yet to figure out why people don't like the idea of the protective gear. I'd go around dressed like a space marine all the time if I could get away with it.


And now, a few pretty bikes. Have some Futuristic Streamliner and Art Deco.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

GURPS: Improved Character Sheet

Specifically for GURPS Metro, but I plan to make it useful for all games for people who find the standard character sheets to be lacking. In my experience with the system, I've met very few people who didn't have problems with the default sheets, or even some of the attempts by other people available online.

So, I'm taking a crack at it. It's going to be built in a spreadsheet, and offered as both spreadsheet with a lot of auto-calculating and a .pdf. I'd like some feedback from other people familiar with GURPS for further ideas. This is for 4e, specifically, although adding a slot for Passive Defense out of 3e wouldn't be too hard.

What I've got so far;


ST, Lifting ST, Striking ST, Current HP/ Max HP
DX, Arm DX, Hand DX (these are questionable, thinking I may leave them out because if I include them, I'll need to include arm ST and such)
IQ, Will, Per, Current Morale/Max Morale
HT, Current FP/Max FP, Current magic FP/Max magic FP
Other resource pools (temporary HP, resources for characters with a separate thing than HP/FP, etc)

Advantages and disadvantages, with all the stuff for point cost, level, and a brief note for how it works or reference to sheet that has it. An extra section somewhere will be provided for descriptions of things too long to fit in one line for easy reference.

Quirks, perks, and habits
Quirks and Perks are pretty standard, other than including room for notes. Habits is something that I'm adding, and functions as an extra 10 slots of minor quirks (primarily likes/dislikes). 5 are to be chosen at character generation, with a further 5 to be determined in play (example, a character is relaxing at the bar and decides to try shooting some darts. A few lucky rolls, and the player decides he takes a liking to the game of darts, and all things being equal, will play darts for relaxation over other bar games, and it goes on the list for ease of remembering in a game that may not meet for a while between sessions).

Skills, with a spot for name, skill difficulty, level, points spent, and maybe a brief notes section similar to advantages and disadvantages for skills that have special applications or rules. Techniques are listed slightly indented below the base skill they function on.

And here's where things go really different. The biggest problem I've had with GURPS is the equipment.

Character portrait, hit locations, and items carried. rather than a list, there's room for a fairly large character portrait, with a series of boxes connected to each of the body parts. Each box has that body part's stats if different from the rest, slots for individual wounds, current/max HP, and a slot for armor worn and all relevant information to that. Locations within the greater hit locations use approximately the rules from Low Tech, (example; a hit to the arm, roll 1d6. 1-2 is forearm, 3 is elbow, 4-5 is upper arm, and 6 is shoulder. The size of a given hit location determines the odds of an attack striking that round hitting other equipment carried there). Equipment such as backpacks take up the entire back slot, and include a checkbox for whether they are presently being carried or not. Holsters, slung weapons, and so on have their stats listed elsewhere, but for inventory purposes list weight, and checkboxes for if they are presently slung/holstered. The weapon stats themselves include slung/holstered, in hand, and off character. All equipment listings will have room for listing DR/HP for campaigns of the sort where it's relevant.

A second section for equipment is provided, for listing things like houses and vehicles, equipment stored in them. Depending on space, room for a tiny diagram may be provided, should it become important to know layouts/setups. My handy dandy reference to all the commonly desired-but-not-remembered rules will be included as an extra page or two, and include a few things off the GM screen, tables from the back of the book, and other such things

Sunday, December 14, 2014

I got nothin'

Spent about 12 hours of the past weekend doing free speed doodles for people to get my art to happen faster than a geological timescale, did a bit of work, and slept a lot. Also lifting things.

Art related, you have a character you want drawn, I'll totally do that because I enjoy drawing RPG characters and stuff. Send me a character sheet and a brief description and I'll see what I can do. An example of my 5e test session Dwarven fighter, who rolled up max Str, Max Height, Min Weight, and wielded a combat sledgehammer. He wore scale mail, and had a handaxe instead of a dagger/knife, a belt pouch for carrying miscellaneous things, and his trusty tankard.


 I'll post up some more examples once I've drawn up my entire crew for GURPS Metro.

Lines and pencil shading are available digital or traditional
$2 gets you a 1 hour speedsketch, another buck gets it sketchshaded
$4 gets actual high quality lines, another $2 gets it shaded (pencil or airbrushed (digital only)), and $2 gets color.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Your normally scheduled ramblings will return shortly

Brownells has a new buffer retainer in the mail to replace the one that didn't come with the kit that was supposed to. Sweet.

Now I just need some mags and ammo, since I didn't get either of those yet.

Leaning towards a stack of Magpul 40 rounders, wish they had the round count window available.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

IT IS DONE

Kind of. All the AR-15 parts are here, except for the Buffer Retainer that they missed sticking in the parts kit. The Upper has been in town a while, apparently, somewhere my apartment number got missed, and the "Hey, pick this up or we're sending it back" message didn't arrive until today, the day it was scheduled to ship out. It is safely with me now, and very, very nice. Can't wait to have that one missing pin so I can put the rest of it together (Other than that retainer, everything is together and ready for assembly. Unfortunately I live somewhere where nobody anywhere has AR-15 parts that I can just go buy, so I have to either see if I can get Brownells to send me one, or order one.)

I also got 5 posters and a hat out of all the various parts I ordered, and quite a few stickers that I have no idea where I'll put because I never use stickers.

Monday, December 8, 2014

IT BEGINS

AR-15 lower and bits have arrived. Now to figure out how to get this darn thing together. Going alright, other than a few bits that don't want to play along. Whenever the upper arrives, there will be pictures.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

GURPS Metro: Vehicles

One of the party members bought a railcart, so I had to work out stats, might as well start the post here for tracking a few standard vehicles. Metro Vehicles tend to be built of scavenged parts, such as from reclaimed subway trains. Transportation was touched on in Life in the Metro, but here I'll go into depth.

The Rails
Small outposts exist throughout the rail system. Some are simple standalone outposts, heavily reinforced to protect their few occupants, others the starting point for frontier stations. Either way, they are the manual control posts for the connections between the rail routes, and they're vital to the function of what's left of the rail system. Many larger rail routes almost never change from their standard settings, but these switching stations allow for smaller, faster traffic to get by, or to switch onto smaller routes, access tunnels, and other such things. Most rail traffic uses small radio to call in their route if they need tracks switched, because they can do so without needing to stop.

The Powertrain
Human power is common, either by pedal or handcar lever. However, the same recirculating steam engines used before the calamity can be salvaged or occasionally built new. Regardless of how you get them, the value is about the same. Very small has 50HP, Small has 100 HP, Medium ones 200HP, and large ones 300HP. Also used to make power generators, etc. All are developed using the portable steam generator as a base and scaled some, along with stats from other recirculating steam engines both present and historical.

Very Small Vehicle Steam Engine (TL 6+1) (4 hours per gallon of fuel) $250, 50 lbs

Small Vehicle Steam Engine (TL 6+1) (3 hours per gallon of fuel)  $500, 100 lbs

Medium Vehicle Steam Engine (TL 6+1) (2 hours per gallon of fuel) $1000, 200 lbs

Large Vehicle Steam Engine (TL 6+1) (1 hour per gallon of fuel) $1750, $350 lbs


Armored Train
A compact version of the armored trains used between WWI and WWII of our world, they are the only real safe way to travel. Found on major routes, they're slow and cramped. Passengers sit on benches along the center of the train, facing outwards. Sloped armored walls leave just enough room for passengers to sit, with room for one moderate sized suitcase or similar below the seat, and a small pack in their lap. A small view port runs all the way around the train between the wall armor and the roof, covered with chain link fencing and often having a small steel slab to seal it in case of determined attack (Passengers are encouraged to return fire in case of attack). There's always at least one rotating turret, usually armed with a Heavy SMG or some manner of high capacity shotgun, and
the vehicle often has spikes and such to further discourage wildlife. Usually main routes that will be patrolled by armored trains are pretty safe even for those on foot, by virtue of large amounts of armed and armored traffic, but occasional wildlife attacks aren't unheard of. Bandit attacks are usually halfhearted, for posturing purposes, as a successful attack is likely to draw the ire of a large number of people. Most armored trains have 1-2 doors per side, with a spot at the end for the driver, and the engine at the back. Trains are generally about 5 yards long, and can fit up to 20 people. Tickets are about $10/mile traveled, and gets you about 250 lbs total of stuff. Armor is 1/2" thick sloped mild steel plating on the sides (18 sq yards total), 1/4" plating on top (4 sq yds). Large vehicle engine.

Driving (Locomotive)
TL   ST/HP   Hnd/SR   HT   Move   LWt.   Load  SM   Occ.   DR   Range   Cost   Locations
6+1    50          -2/6        11   1/8        6.5      2.5    +4    1+1     42      200      $35k      8W

Drasine
A drasine is a powered vehicle, often a car with the regular wheels switched for rail-riding wheels. Armored drasines are used by Militias and the Reclaimer's Guild to keep the tracks clear and usable. Semi-common on major lines, but they'll often make a run every so often through smaller or less used lines to clear out bandit or wildlife infestations that may have cropped up. Generally made from a pickup truck or similar with a lot of armor bolted to it. Switch the wheels back to normal and it's usable without rails, although they tend to be slow due to sheer mass. Armor can be any thickness, with medium being a light armored drasine, heavy being standard, and very heavy being a railtank. Roof armor is usually but not necessarily thinner, and on occasion may be completely open/unarmored. The listed Drasine is unarmored. Powered by a medium or large engine.

Driving (Railcart)
TL   ST/HP   Hnd/SR   HT   Move   LWt.   Load  SM   Occ.   DR   Range   Cost   Locations
6+1   55      0/4     11f  3/50   2.2    .85   +3    2      5    500     20k      G4W

Railbikes and pedalcarts
One of the go-to means of conveyance for those who need to get around on their own. Traveling merchants, package runners, and railtaxis all use them. They're usually built of one or two TL6 bicycles with wheels switched for rail compatibility, but are often equipped with a small or very small engine depending on size and cargo load. Usually lightly armored, if at all. They tend to be much faster, and use speed and operator knowledge of the rails stay out of trouble. They usually have more gears than a typical TL6 bicycle to allow higher top speeds. Cargo version trades top speed for weight. Generally relatively light, between 100 and 300 lbs unloaded, and easily moved from rail to rail if needed. The bicycle parts give Enhanced Ground Move 1, .5 for cargo, and stack per seat (A pedalcart with two seats can have Enhanced Move 1.5 with two riders, or Enhanced Move 1 for a cargo variant. Use average of the Moves of the riders). Capacity is 400 for a regular single railbike, 600 for a cargo variant. Weight is 75 per bike for regular, 100 for cargo. In the order of single, single cargo, double, double cargo, in the form of acceleration/top speed; With a very small engine, speeds are 4/25, 3/20, 2/15, and 1/10; With a small engine, those climb to 6/40, 5/35, 4/30, and 3/25. Most railbikes and pedalcarts can be converted to work on the surface with a wheel swap. HnD/SR is +1/3. Locations varies based on specific cart setup, typically Exposed (E) or Open Cabin (O), with 3-4 wheels.


Vehicle Modifications

Mild Steel Armor Plating, per 10 sq feet (~1 yd)
Light (1/8" thick) DR7, HP30 55 lb/10 sq feet
Medium (1/4" thick) DR14, HP38 102 lb/10 sq feet
Heavy (1/2" thick)  DR 28, HP47 205 lb/10 sq feet
Very Heavy (1" thick) DR 56, HP60 410 lb/10 sq feet
Angled Plate x1.5 DR, x1.5 Area/Weight, 1/2 internal space.

Headlights, bells, whistles, etc are added as anything purchased separately, and simply mounted to the vehicle. A pup tent can be mounted to the vehicle to give it a soft-top.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Metro Medicine

Medical care was remarkably advanced before the Calamity. Even after, much of the knowledge has been maintained, and the major losses in medical ability are due to problems with the manufacture of things like antibiotics, availability of clean rooms, and specialty tools that cannot be produced in the Metros.

First aid remains at TL8, due to the more accelerated medical advancement gained thanks to things like magic and alchemy. Surgery and diagnosis, however, is much harder with limited magic and next to no specialized equipment. X-rays are still available, but they're very low tech, and give a much higher radiation dose per use. Sterile environments are hard to come by, blood is somewhat hard to store (usually in enough demand that those with no skills can get a decent income supplement by selling blood).

Hospitals are more or less a thing of the past, although there's generally an infirmary. Quarantine,
either for even magically incurable diseases or in the absense of magical or psychic healing being
available, is generally managed by way of a specialized bunk bed, stretched just enough to make room for a chamberpot, and big enough to allow just a little movement. Surgery is still fairly reasonable, due to the retained knowledge from before the Calamity, and wide variety of opportunities for the budding sawbones to practice. Occasionally there are still books and something approaching a formal education, but if you want a dyed in the wool doctor, you're going to need to track down one of the longer lived races.

Anyone with magery almost always learns a few basic healing spells. Even without magery, it's not uncommon for those determined to help people to learn a healing charm (1 point perk Charm, spells is at -5 for low mana area, rolls to learn the spell are also at -5 without magery). Similarly, psychic healing (and many psychic power applications) are equally in demand. Any level of magic or psychic healing can earn a living basically anywhere in the Metros (how good of one depends on abilities and variety of them).

Thankfully, a great many drugs are still available, being derived from various plants, animals, and fungi, and possibly alchemically derived or enhanced (alchemic techniques used in conjunction with regular chemistry is often referred to as mana-reactive chemistry. Quite powerful even in low mana areas, it allows the production of chemicals that otherwise require substantially greater access to specialized equipment, extreme purity ingredients, or other such components. In game effect is TL+1, with TL+2 available at extra cost for production of chemistry based things. Requires a roll of Alchemy and a roll of Chemistry)

Several specialty drugs have either been invented or gained far more widespread use in the dangerous confines of the Metros. Most are used with disposable injectors or applied via slap patches (ie, combined with DMSO, turning them into a contact agent).


Stabilizer: Stabilizer is technically two drugs in one; a single dose of a painkiller, and an alchemically derived healing concoction worth 1 point. It's used for its ability to stop all bleeding, including vital wounds that would otherwise require surgery. The painkiller is there as a courtesy to the injured, because if you need the stabilizer, you're probably hurting. $25

Fitemor: A combination of a painkiller, stimulant, and mild psychoactive, Fitemor is a workaround for lack of widespread magical healing. It's used in situations where having a fighter fall unconscious is essentially a death sentence. Early or improvised doses are unreliable, but those deliberately and
professionally prepared balance most of the downsides between the drugs, at least until they wear off. When used, it grants High Pain Threshhold, Unfazeable, +1d temporary FP, Doesn't Sleep, Overconfidence (12) (15 if experienced), and some effects of Berserk (Does not fall unconscious, no loss of move, +4 on rolls to not die). When taking it, the user makes HT-8 roll to resist, and if that fails a will roll (will+2 if experienced with the drug) to resist going into a modified berserk (usual effects of All Out Attacks, but you may make a will+3 roll to function normally for purposes of reloading, etc, still performed in an all-out fashion). The drug lasts for (60-HT minutes), and if the user is still alive at that time, loses double the FP gained by taking it and takes 2d6 of damage (a successful HT roll halves damage). There are some times when a man must walk off a battlefield with two broken legs. Further doses prolong the effect, but damage stacks multiplicatively. $25

Gofast: Gofast is an alchemical drug (based partially on alchemic Speed, Magic p. 214). Created from a psychostimulant, a regular stimulant, and a shot of adrenaline being alchemically modified, it gives +1 Basic Speed and +1 move. A second dose stacks, and additionally grants Combat Reflexes. Third dose stacks, and grants Enhanced Time Perception. A fourth dose can be taken, stacks, and grants Altered Time Rate 1. Lasts for (10-HT) minutes, minimum 1 minute. Possessing the advantages granted steps you further along the path with less doses taken. Gofast burns 1 FP per dose in effect per 30 seconds, and deals 1 HP of damage per 10 seconds of double speed used when it induces Altered Time Rate in a being not designed to perform at that level. Addictive as per regular stimulants, sometimes blended with regular stims to provide sufficient energy to make use of the boost. $35

ROIDZ: A combination of psychoactives, adrenaline, and alchemic magic. Triggers Berserk (with a successful Will-2 roll per turn, you may act normally) and +4 ST. Addictive, if you use it too often (and somehow survive). A second dose will give a further +2 to ST and -3 to Will to resist berserk, and a third will grant another +1, and -4 to will vs berserk. Lasts 30-HT/2 minutes. $15

Last Hurrah: This drug will kill you. There are essentially no exceptions. But you will sing the most beautiful of swan songs. It is a tailored combination of Fitemor, 4x doses of GoFast, and 3x doses of
ROIDZ. The combination of drugs grants Unkillable 1 (only die at -10X HP, no rolls to resist death), DR2, and Numb, in addition to the usual effects. The user makes a roll every HT minutes starting at 2X HT, at -1 per roll until failure. On failure, the user dies immediately of severe chemical overload. Should the user somehow flush the drugs from their system before it kills them, they are likely to suffer severe consequences even from the brief exposure. $225

Purge: Copious amounts of poisons, toxins, and drugs can wind up in your system in the Metros. Sometimes you need them out of said system as fast as possible, whether it's a wild party crashed by some murderous wildlife, or having to take some combat drugs to stay alive, but the fix might just kill you if you don't flush it from your system. A single dose of Purge gives a flat +2 to HT rolls vs. damn near any chemical or similar that can induce them. A second dose is likely to cause an upset stomach (roll vs. unmodified HT or begin Retching), but will deal with a single dose of each chemical in the system, and gives +5 to HT rolls vs. the rest. Three doses of Purge and you will most likely begin venting from all available ends (Roll vs. HT-5), but it will flush any and all things from your system in 3D6+6 seconds from when it kicks in. In any dosage, it takes 15 minutes if ingested, or about 30 seconds if injected or slap-patched. $40

Regen: Despite all the problems in the Metros, a few good things have come of it. Not long after the Calamity, one of the various weeds (now known as Healroot) was found to, when properly prepared, boost natural healing. It's brewed into a tea, which is distilled, aged, and then re-brewed with some fresh plant. Ready-to-brew single packets can be purchased. Using it gives +1 to HT for most purposes, and the effects of Very Rapid Healing for 24 hours, and Rapid healing that lasts for 48. Roll vs. HT when you take it, on a failure you become drowsy and lethargic. Prolonged regular use can make the +1 HT permanent, but your system becomes dependent on it to heal, -2 to HT without it. Treat as a -1 point addiction. $5/dose


Recreational drugs
The Metro tends to be somewhat lacking in subtlety of law enforcement. Minor crimes will get you beaten, flogged, or just ostracized, while major crimes get you punted out the door without equipment or maybe just a round to the back of the head. People who aren't trying to at least do SOMETHING useful aren't really put up with, but so long as you aren't committing crimes to fund the habit and aren't being a burden, you can smoke, snort, or shoot up with damn near anything you like and can find.

Most regular drugs that do not require large amounts of land to produce, or some analogue thereof, can still be found in varying quantities.

Shrooms: Some of the other drugs are made from these. Different shrooms can have different effects,
although it's unreliable. Roll a d6 to see what you get if you don't have relevant skills to make the identification and are purchasing from an unreliable source or foraging for them yourself. (1-2 gets hallucinogens, 3-4 gets stims, and 5-6 gets you the equivalent of sleeping pills).

Painkillers: Painkillers have been available since the 1800s, and are quite prevalent in the Metros thanks to the variety of ways to get hurt.

Animal derived drugs: Even trippier than before the Calamity.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

That's not a knife

THIS is a knife!

The old EDC on the left, the new on the right

Knives, really. My old EDC Ti-Lite, my new Spartan, and my GI Tanto for my proper fightin' knife. All from Cold Steel. Had good luck with everything I've gotten from them thus far, the Ti-Lite being the first and a couple Kudu's for gifts. Spartan and GI Tanto first impressions, Ti Lite longterm review.
Ti-Lite Grivory handle, Spartan, GI Tanto

So, review time.

First thoughts on the Spartan, which I've had for about a week. Thought one; Good cripes is this thing massive. I knew it was heftier than the ti-lite, but I'm pretty sure I could bludgeon an elephant to death with this thing. Even folded, it's slightly enormous.


On the plus side, the pocket catch is far superior. The ones on the ti-lite are finicky about actually deploying the blade, and have a nasty habit of attempting to shred your leg; they're SHARP. They also get in the way of several knife grips.

PROS
Big blade. This is a pocketknife you can legitimately fight with. 
Feels good in the hand, great to hang onto.
Retention, that grip keeps it where you want it, in hand. Also a con, more on this later.
Modest price. Shelled out about $60 for this on Amazon, thus far it seems to be worth it.
Curve actually makes it fit in the pocket, even the smallest pockets I have (on garments with vaguely functional pockets, anyway. It will not fit in Imitation Pockets). It even fits with the copious amount of other things I carry.
Ambidextrous, comes with a spare pocket clip so you can put one on the other side.
Razor sharp out of the box.

CONS
WI law treats ANY knife of any size as a weapon, but by and large all but the worst whimpering ninnies will buy "It's not a weapon, it's a knife, purchased because it actually fits my hand so I can use it safely because I can hold it. It's also nearly identical dimensions to a butter or steak knife." This thing? Can't possibly claim this thing isn't a weapon. On the plus side, I avoid Wimp Zones as much as I possibly can.
Weight. It's not light by any stretch of the imagination
Size. It'll fit pockets, but if you've got borderline functionality pockets, this'll fill them up pretty well.
Has a spring to keep it shut, if you aren't careful when trying to close it it'll bite you (Applicable based on difference in closing mechanism as compared to the Ti-Lite.)
Opening the thing without using the pocket catch is kind of a pain. It's SO wide, you almost can't reach with your thumb to flip it one-handed without a LOT of wrist action to provide the momentum to get past the spring.
Risky to close one-handed.
The grip things that keep it so nicely in your hand make it substantially more difficult to reverse your grip one-handed. I've practiced this with a great many blades, and can do so easy as breathing, but I have to really work at it to pull it off with the Spartan.

On to the GI Tanto
It's a cheap ($20) fighting knife. Balances real nice, because it's made to be throwable, and it's fairly light, which is good or bad depending on your needs and purposes. Came moderately sharp, needs some TLC to get a really nice edge on it. Grip is small, good for smaller hands, but if you wear size large unisex gloves, it'll probably feel too small to hold comfortably in all but a few grips. Even still, the grip is decent, it's just not the "OooOoh, that's niiiice" of a few things I've held. 

And now, the Ti-Lite
This is a fantastic value for money. The quilons allow the blade to be deployed as fast as you can pull it out of the pocket, and the lack of a (strong) spring and narrow size makes it easy to deploy one-handed. Similarly easy to close, as the quilon stops the blade from closing past 90 degrees while your thumb is in the way of the blade. I can and have pulled the blade out of pocket, opened it without using the pocket catch, made the cut I needed to, and snapped the blade shut again and back into the pocket in barely a second. Downside of the lack of spring, combined with the pocket catch, is the blade can get snapped slightly open, just enough to poke you in the hand.
The counterpoint has almost identical blade, but has the lock on the back of the knife in a similar manner to the Spartan, and a spring to keep the blade shut. It lacks the pocket catch, and the thumbknob to deploy the blade is slightly more annoying to get at (easily fixed by a few seconds with a Dremel tool)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tech tuesday: Raincheck and thoughts on technology in gaming

Ever since finding Pocket, it's been super easy to save tabs for later. I have copious amounts, enough that I might just use some (themed days) at a time to set some aside for slow weeks.

However, on the technology based theme, some thoughts I've had on tabletop gaming.

Did a one-shot of Shadowrun (Was supposed to be a full campaign, then things came up, as happens sometimes).

In this age of technology that has very nearly met up with the technology of science fiction, it makes it easier to truly utilize it. In that brief one-shot, it was perhaps the first game I've ever played, even of shadowrun, in which the technology was treated as simply a part of life, and utilized fully; in my past experiences, it has usually been "HEY, LOOOK, Looooook, crazy technology, SURE IS FUTURISTIC EH?".

For example, I was undercover (switching from my Shadowrunner identity of Biker to my Law Abiding Citizen, complete with a REAL SIN) so I could mingle at a party with friends from my old hometown in peace, and saw a bunch of gangers meeting up outside. Casually as you like, I used my trode-net Direct Neural Interface to send a text to the party (who don't know my real identity) that there was trouble brewing.

Casual as you like, the vehicle rigger pops into his car to take a look around with the sensors covertly, pops a minidrone over to take a listen and see if it's worth dealing with.


In previous games, even remembering "Wait, I have a commlink, I can just call/text/whatever people" has been a major ordeal (to be fair, in the last Shadowrun game I played, I had Gremlins 3, no skill in technology, and a default roll of 3. Basically, if I rolled a single 1, things went horribly wrong. I DID successfully argue that my Future AK was sufficiently idiotproof to be exempt from Gremlins, because freaking future AK)

Still, I have this feeling that as tech has become more integrated into our lives, and so close to what we always thing of as the future, it makes it easier to envision and casually use it in games.

Good/bad influence

Showed my dad the glock 26 and mentioned that it still might be on special. He finally got the paperwork finished for his permit and placed the order.

Now I get to help him find a holster. Joy.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Motor Monday: Gotta go fast

http://www.topgear.com/uk/car-news/infiniti-synaptiq-la-motor-show-design-challenge-2014-11-24 multipurpose race.... thing. I shall call it the Omniracer. Kind of reminds me of a Rollcage.


I swear I had more vehicle related things open. Some of them seem to have disappeared. Perhaps next time.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

GURPS Metro; Almost Done

Only Metro Medicine (nearly done, requires double checking for balance purposes), the custom character sheet, and a GURPS cheat sheet (which will be made available for all gurps players/gms, because seriously, so necessary), and GURPS Metro is ready to play. I'll need a while longer to collect everything into something publishable to be a real worldbook, and need to do some splatbook art, but now that I'm halfway in practice drawing is enjoyable and moderately fast (and doesn't delay actually playing the game).

I don't actually have an adventure planned for the party built as of yet. Usually I have some fantastic setpiece event planned for the party to introduce them to the setting and start them on an adventure. Been working so hard to get the setting built that I haven't put thought into that (the ones I DID have were assuming a substantially different party makeup than I have. Was thinking "Capable but inexperienced young adults pulling an emergency guard duty", wound up with "A murderborg, a traveling trader, a mutant gunsmith, a young sniper trying to live up to the reputation of the man who trained him, a minor magical being masquerading as a child, and a con man down on his luck" which is more capable, more varied, and slightly harder to compose a setpiece event. Same one will work, it just doesn't grow as naturally into a proper story, although I can always get things started and give some freedom and see what develops from there).

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Life in the Metro

There are a few things everything needs to live. Food and shelter are high up the list.

Shelter
The metros have a surprising amount of space in them, for those unaccustomed to subway systems. Even the smallest station is 2-3 tracks wide, with a platform the length of the train, and wide enough to safely accomodate the flow of traffic. The largest of stations include the bottom level of malls, large buildings (libraries, theaters, etc), or rival large airports in scope and scale. Still, while there's more room than one might expect, quarters are cramped at best. An entire complex for the fabulously wealthy of the Metro is still likely smaller than the bathroom of the ultra rich before the calamity.

Stations always have a few basic features, and can be grouped into several archetypes. Stations always have at least one lower level with tracks, with at least one track going either direction, and often a third "express" track. There will always be at least -a basic platform to service these tracks, and this area is typically the full length of a subway train. Above this, there's a floor with turnstiles, ticket booth, maps, and perhaps a vendor or two, which is generally but not necessarily smaller than the platform below it. Stations of substantial size may have a multiple platform levels to accomodate large volumes of traffic. From there, the stations gradually increase in size. More space on lower platforms, more rails, and the upper levels may have a few small shops built into them. From there, you get into the larger stations. Large stations fall into intermodal stations, malls, and those built into the sublevels of things like large hotels, major arenas, libraries, and other large public buildings. Intermodal stations and other stations with large, above ground parking structures or other such buildings that may serve as usable (or potentially reclaimable, for the daring stalker) space. All medium large to large stations will at least have several built in shops  and kiosks, which are generally repurposed.

Regardless of size, most city-stations will wind up with a fairly standard setup. Entrances and exits, both to the tunnels and to the surface, will be closed off with gates or doors. Most surface exits will often be sealed semi-permantenly save a few well placed, defendable gates. Exits into the rail system will be possible to open and close to permit traffic of various sorts, both on foot and by various carts made by recycling the old trains. Housing typically is built from scraps and material taken from the trains. Most houses are about the same size, and generally are shared by multiple inhabitants. Bunk beds and lofts are exceptionally common, even for those wealthy enough to afford a whole room to themselves. On average, a room is around 6-8' wide by 10-12' long, although height varies slightly. Smaller and larger rooms are sometimes found, but total space per person remains roughly consistant. Bathrooms are handle dormatory/barracks style, with shared communal spaces. Water availability varies by location, with camp showers or sponge baths being the norm. Food is also generally stored communally, with a reclaimed walk in fridge/freezer if possible, with standard metal lockers mounted inside for rental. Rooms are generally stacked at least 2 high, and up to 3 or 4 where ceiling height, materials, and builder capability allow.
Dead broke level living is squatting in a tunnel. There's shelter from the elements, and the outer tunnels near citystation are generally somewhat secure, but there's nothing resembling any amenities.
Poor level gets you an emergency bunk from the initial rush to the Metros, small enough to make Naval bunks feel incredibly spacious. You might even have a footlocker.
Struggling level gets you 1/4 of a room, generally managed by way of bunk beds, bunked lofts if the room is tall enough, or two bunked beds large enough for two. You'll generally have a footlocker and/or small dresser, and a camp stove. Usually a bench or couch, or several small (possibly folding) chairs.
Average is two to a room. Either a single set of bunks, a bed for two, or two lofts. There may be a designated kitchen area, with a freestanding kitchen assembly, and possibly even a small icebox.
Wealthy is a whole room to yourself. Lofts are still favored, but you have a LOT of room compared to most.
Very wealthy is two rooms. Setups vary, but by virtue of the design of the Metros, you generally have to either get one atop the other, or two in a row. These rooms may or may not be connected directly.
Filthy Rich and beyond are largely unavailable. Examples might be an eccentric billionaire who built a sprawling subterranean farm for no apparent reason, and now is the sole provider of high quality fruits, a savvy survivalist who saved up the skills and supplies needed to get ahead, or someone who found a tremendous stash of pre-calamity supplies and information, or even someplace that could be converted into an entire new town.

Most towns will have the usual variety of a market/bazaar, pub, some manner of town hall to handle management duties, and an area set aside for work. Those that have skylights and the like will usually have some manner of hanging garden.
Some stations are new, having been excavated to make more space, a building basement tunneled into, sealed, and reclaimed, a discovered cave, or whathaveyou. Lacking the solid concrete, these tend to have more of a frontier town kind of feel, and are less safe from attack, with more acceptance of the carriage of major arms for defense as a result. There's a great deal more freedom, often more space, and a chance at fortunes, enough for many to brave the risks.

Food
Thanks to the farming habits of several primarily subterranean races, food is slightly easier than one might expect living underground. Deep Taters, developed by several races, are similar to potatoes, but instead grow their extremely durable roots deep, hanging the tubers much in the manner of fruit on a tree, and form the staple of most diets. A number of edible mushrooms have similarly been introduced and bred. Various forms of aquatic life flourish in cavern pools that sometimes connect to the Metro system, either accidentally or deliberately made and stocked. However mutated, much of the meat of post cataclysm animals remains edible. Various types of farms exist, using light collecting skylights or upper levels of Metro stations with durable windows, along with some above ground growing and harvesting (old parking structures and some chain link fencing make a good enclosure for raising livestock and window gardens). In some places, grow lights are used, generally powered by manually cranked/pedaled generators unless good power generation is available.


Trade
Apocalypse or not, life goes on, and with it trade. Barter is common, but with the difficulties of travel and time since the fall, a new currency has been developed to make trade a bit easier. Ammunition and medicine are common barter goods that are readily transported, along with luxuries such as drugs and alcohol (high quality alcohol and things like cigarettes or equivalent). Currency is handled by the Trader's Guild, and tends to be very durable and quiet (coins have leather wraps to keep them from making noise, etc.) Money is minted at the main hall of the Merchant's Guild, or occasionally by representatives in larger stations that are determined to have their own currencies.


The Surface
In the years since the Calamity, a lot has changed on the surface. Cities crumble, wildlife mutates and moves back into the abandoned sprawl. Access to the surface runs the gamut, from irradiated mutated hellscape, to "A bit rough on the lungs without a gas mask after a while". Most stations with sufficient manpower and material will move to secure a stronghold on the surface around the station exit to permit safer travel to the surface. A few surface routes have been cleared and mostly secured, between stations that are nearby but lacking in subterrainean connections (collapsed tunnels, no connecting lines, etc). These surface paths tend to be traveled only by well armed groups, although those wishing to explore often do so from these approximately safe paths. Running into other people on the surface can be tense, but most bandits stick to the tunnels.


Occupations
When the calamity happened, the cities basically went underground, and the people took their trades with them. Some jobs that were no longer useful or possible went away, and others flourished. Farming is a fairly common occupation, as is working the manual generators needed to power grow-lights for places without access to surface sunlight. In areas with relatively safe surfaces, some semi-domesticated wildlife and various hearty crops can be cultivated. Leatherworking is common, to make up for the loss of access to many traditional space-intensive crop-based fabrics, or their specialty material intensive synthetic counterparts (although finding and/or repairing pre-calamity textiles for use is lucrative). Entertainment is important to keep morale up, and all manner of musicians, storytellers, and the like can be found. Travel is still something of an ordeal, so mail carriers, deliverypeople, traders, and anyone else who travels between stations outside of the main line tend to be brave and handy with a firearm. Most jobs related to copious regulatory compliance disappeared in the Calamity, although a few stations have decided that red tape is the key to survival.


Hobbies
Space is limited, but downtime is fairly plentiful. Reading, music, and art are all popular. Bars, pubs, and the like often will have darts, or the more common Metro equivalent of Knives (dart rules, played with throwing knives. In larger stations they'll generally be Tiny Throwing Knives ($15, -1 damage version of small throwing knife) or smaller Shuriken. Frontier stations will generally have a bit more space, and a more casual attitude towards weaponry and allow the use of Small or even Large throwing knives, or larger shuriken. Various martial arts are commonly taught and practiced, and enjoyed as spectator sports. There are several races a year performed by those who have their own carts specialized for speed (often various merchants and delivery people who have their own racecarts and know the rails), and generally attended by anyone in the stations they pass through and everyone who can travel safely to get there (safety in numbers, number of travelling spectators makes it a safer trip).


Luxuries
Luxury makes life a little more bearable when you can barely even see the sun, and feeling the breeze on your face means you are likely to breathe in a big dose of toxic crap. Alcohol is a favorite, having existed for about as long as sapient races have. In the Metro, it's usually derived from deep taters and other such crops as a distilled beverage. Alcohol is taken neat, with mixers and beverages such as beer or wine being luxuries, due to the ingredients required and space taken to store a single drink. Beverages such as Apple Pie Moonshine are greatly enjoyed, and quite lucrative, offering variety and flavor in a very strong package. Tobacco or equivalent is available, with suitable stand-ins found among plants and mushrooms. Music is common, most often played live, although recovered or new production players with pre-calamity songs are greatly prized. Recovered projectors, movies, televisions, etc. are worth a fortune, and someone able to recover one with a stash of old shows or movies able to set up a small theater quite easily.


Medicine
Medicine and medical care are a great part of modern life, and will be discussed in Metro Medicine, along with a variety of drugs and treatments.


Travel
Getting around in the Metros is something of a process. Everything in a given Metro is within easy walking distance, but getting from one to another can be a challenge. Main lines will tend to have an armored train with several cars, and ample guns and gun ports, along with a fair bit of storage. The main car is generally powered, with additional power available from a handcar lever. In addition, anyone with compact railcars (small enough to be removed from the tracks easily) may use the rails, as well as pedestrians along access paths. Main railways tend to be reasonably safe by virtue of quantity of travelers. Travel on smaller rails is a bit trickier. There might be a railbus drasine that runs a regular route, but it's nowhere near as large or well defended as the main rail's armored train(s). The smallest routes are likely to completely lack anything resembling a regular transport system. If you want to ride the rails, you have to own or hire a railcar, and find some people looking to travel to provide extra guns.
Usually delivery people will have some manner of railcar, often HEAVILY customized. Some have little to no armor, and are basically a luge designed to simply go too fast for trouble to catch, others are tiny tanks that trundle along, and anywhere in between.
Foot traffic is the old standby to get around, slow but fairly reliable. Bicycles (both regular and converted for rail compatibility) are also fairly common, particularly where they could be salvaged off the surface (they're also one of the only fairly available ways to get around on the surface at speed).
Offroad trucks and stuff exist, but they're generally old and patched together, because the manufacturing capability to build new full sized engines is mostly gone, so engines require a LOT of manual labor to produce by hand.


Wildlife
All manner of critters could be found in and around the Wastelands even before the Calamity, with rampant mutations and wider availability of horrific toxins, chemicals, and such only permitting greater variety of natural armaments. Prey animals tend to be large and powerful, and/or have powerful natural weaponry such as innate flamethrowers, sonic attacks, or launchable spines. Predators are even larger and more powerful to compensate, hunt in packs, or both. That said, a number of species split, some maintaining their present size and lifestyle, other developing into new species. A few examples are below.

Diggers: a broad category of mutated omnivores derived from ground dwelling species. Rats, moles, voles, etc. They wound up semi-upright, with even larger claws and teeth. Dangerous in large groups, some of them can be quite tame if raised by humans to be so. A lot of factors determine if they're a threat or not, but it's typically pretty apparent which you're dealing with. They tend to hang out in tunnels, basements, and low areas on the surface.

Firepigs: Somewhere between a wild boar, a goat, and a flamethrower, they've got big horns, big tusks, and often bad attitudes. One of the newer domesticated animals. Smaller breeds make fairly good pets, larger ones are generally raised around the edges of a station, or on the surface. Trained to fight and armored, they'll go tusk to tusk with anything in the Metros and hold their own pretty darn well. They produce both milk and fuel, and aid in the disposal of garbage. They generally aren't raised for slaughter due to their other uses, although wild ones are hunted on occasionally. They have no particular preference of habitat. Mostly preferring vegetation, they're still omnivores and will scavenge carcasses or eat the corpses of predators they successfully slay.

MurderBirds: Basically velociraptors with beaks. Big, mean pack hunters, with dangerous temperments and mean streaks a mile wide. Resilient and wily, they cause problems when they move in. A few breeds have learned to co-exist with the sapient races, but most are too ornery and have to be put down to ensure anything like safety. They prefer the surface, and can kind of glide if they find a high place to launch from. Tastes like a 200 lb turkey.

Friday, November 28, 2014

AR-15, it is done

Got the rest of it ordered

BCM upper with 13" monolithic rail
Bushmaster stripped lower
High Standard lower parts kit
DPMS mil-spec buffer kit
Magpul MOE mil-spec stock
MBUS sights.

Pictures will be had when it gets here

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Hope you all had tasty food and good time with family if applicable.

http://lifehacker.com/5962588/the-50-free-apps-were-most-thankful-for
Here's some apps that are superbly helpful. I'm quite partial to Pocket now that I've found it, because I'm always finding things for my various postings on my phone and having trouble getting them on my laptop so I can actually write the post in something less than a galactic cycle.

Also, took advantage of Black Rifle Friday deals. I'm now the owner of a BCM free float dissipator upper assembly with the various free stuff offered as their deals.

Now to track down a lower, since I couldn't find any to buy through them...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

GURPS: New advantage: Injury Tolerance (Resiliant Physiology)

I've had thoughts for several types of character that don't quite fall into the definition of other injury tolerances, but aren't quite as easily damaged as most living things. Here's my take on it

Injury Tolerance (Resilient Physiology). 15 points.
Designed for life-mimicking constructs, cyborgs and androids using synthetic muscle fibers and durable artificial organs, engineered supersoldiers, and things like Orks from WH40k, who are equal parts animal and fungus and substantially less susceptible to problems with holes in them than normal. Your system is durable, built and reinforced to take damage, but still approximately living. Your body is composed of more durable materials, and resists permanent cavitation, bruising,  All damage modifiers are reduced by 1/3. Hits to the vitals do only 2X damage, and if bleeding rules are in effect, can be taken care of by First Aid instead of requiring surgery. Several advantages that give improved durability (injury tolerance, resistance, etc) that are otherwise restricted are unlocked if you purchase this advantage. Combined with High Pain Threshold, you may make a will roll to retain full move if below 1/3 HP, or 1/2 Move (rather than 1) while below 0 HP if you are still conscious. Crippling injuries may be similarly resisted with High Pain Threshold with a Will-2 roll.

Enhancements: Easy patient; Due to its durability, your system is easier to repair. +2 to first aid, surgery, and physician rolls to repair physical damage. +33%

Limitations: Less Shock; First Aid after the fight assumes most of the HP lost is due to shock, which is easily recovered. Due to a more resilient system, you take less shock, so first aid to treat shock restores health at 2/3 value. -33%



Thoughts for balance tweaking, or other enhancements or limitations specific to this advantage are welcome.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tech Tuesday, a lot of AR stuff edition

http://www.iflscience.com/technology/gecko-style-climbing-pads-allow-man-climb-glass-wall
Gecko climbing. How far we've come from Adam Savage's crazy vacuum pump rig to today.

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/inside-the-lab-that-makes-the-instant-blood-stopping-ge-1660980006
Crazy ultra tech blood loss prevention, and the lab that makes it.

And now for a bunch of stuff for VR and AR.

Up first? A way to interact with it.
http://gizmodo.com/leap-motion-wants-to-bring-your-hands-into-virtual-real-1627903463
Leap Motion, while being of questionable utility with a regular computer designed to be used with a regular interface, has great possibility for VR use, or even just things like the RIG from Dead Space (what good are crazy floating holograms if you can't do stuff with them?)

http://gizmodo.com/how-magic-leap-is-secretly-creating-a-new-alternate-rea-1660441103
You've no doubt heard of Google Glass, but have you heard of Magic Leap? It's designed to be true Augmented Reality AND Virtual Reality, rather than merely a scouter from DBZ

http://gizmodo.com/project-tango-hands-on-computer-vision-is-so-much-cool-1596640923
Less groundbreaking but more conventional and likely to actually hit mainstream, is Project Tango. A high powered tablet, with the same tech as a Kinect (or Leap Motion) built in to allow it to do useful things like 3D map stuff. Also, AR.

http://gizmodo.com/the-fx-team-behind-gravity-to-explain-the-universe-usin-1661040176
And plans to actually USE AR, as opposed to "hey look, a thing we can do except it's terrible and pointless at this point!"

http://www.i-programmer.info/news/105-artificial-intelligence/7985-a-worms-mind-in-a-lego-body.html
A worm brain has been successfully wired into a robot, which reacts to all stimuli as expected. Worm got a full prosthetic body, although I imagine said body doesn't include much life support stuff.

http://gizmodo.com/5-new-details-that-show-how-apple-wants-us-to-use-its-w-1661147687
Not quite AR, but more development on integrating tech into regular use in ways that aren't obnoxious as heck.

http://gizmodo.com/quirkys-ohm-bluetooth-speaker-charges-wirelessly-so-its-1660785311
Wireless charging is getting to be more of a thing, and will likely be the way first generation cyberware runs, until we figure out a power generation system that is powered by the body in some way. Build it into a couch cushion, bedsheet, car seat, etc, and keep your 'ware topped up.

http://io9.com/this-2000-year-old-pigment-can-eliminate-the-third-dime-1661476168
A magic weird purple that does strange things to light. Probably not likely to advance SCIENCE! but interesting.

http://www.iflscience.com/technology/new-plastic-degrades-just-three-hours
This, however, IS useful. Super biodegradable and recyclable plastic, Presumably they'll be able to dial in that 3 hour time into something that won't instantly degrade if it ever goes outside.

http://www.iflscience.com/environment/human-poop-powered-bus-hits-uk-roads
Biomethane; poo-gas burns, and you can run an engine with it. Long as it doesn't make your exhaust doesn't smell like farts, might as well?

http://www.iflscience.com/brain/brain-scans-reveal-truth-puppy-love
And one last thing, Science determines that dogs do in fact love you.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Subcompact carry

Presently Cricket is riding in the holster that I've always carried Hammer in, the Glock brand Glock holster. It is, however, an OWB design. I can leave my shirts untucked for work, but it'd still be nice to have something with some actual concealment value.

Any suggestions? Accessible while seated and wearing a longcoat is preferred, leaning towards belly band or ankle holster. I know how to draw a strongside pistol in a car, but it's really hard to get a Wisconsin-capable coat out of the way, and even harder with a duster.

Motor Monday; Building a Better Bike

New alliteration topic day, in which I ramble about things that go.

An ongoing project to which I devote a moderate amount of brainpower is the development of a better motorcycle. Turns out, doing a bit more checking to see if anyone had come up with anything since I last looked, I found several attempts along the same vein.

http://www.gizmag.com/suprine-exodus-recumbent-motorcycle/28398/
My first thought was based on the Akira bike, and not dissimilar to this one. My thought was intentionally taller and wider, among other things (An open top, designed along the principle of a single-wide convertible with low or no doors in terms of openness and protection), but otherwise the principle of stretching things around to fit the rider in a bit more safety.

http://tulberg.com/motoluge.html
This one's a tad bit closer, but still not quite where I'll be shooting for when I have time and money to test things.

http://litmotors.com/
This, while substantially safer than normal, kind of looks like ass and therefore pretty much straight away fails the key test of a motorcycle, having it look good enough to actually be seen with. With some styling you could actually make something like that look VERY good, and futuristic enough to sell. This, however, is not that.

The Elio does a much better job of safety with style, but while it requires a motorcycle license to ride (and has in fact been on my "To Buy" list since I found it), it's not quite the same. It's a single wide car, with only 3 wheels. Has a regular steering wheel, doesn't lean, etc. Styling could also use just a little more streamlining, presently it's still kind of shaped like your basic economy subcompact.

http://www.gizmag.com/honda-vultus-nm4-motorcycle/31522/
This, however, gets much closer to what I have in mind. Stretch it and drop the seat just a bit further, and add some better roll protection, and you're there. Much like the much larger and heavier touring bikes, it also looks from the front like if you drop it on the side, the bike will soak the hit without pulping parts of you that get trapped under it. It's also an automatic, which makes it SUBSTANTIALLY easier and safer to use. I'm not one of those who demands it be manual because that's how it always was, a lot of automatic transmissions give better performance across the board these days. I'm also quite partial to the style.

Still, with all the thought I put into it, I couldn't get around the fact that it required a completely new bike, with a totally redesigned shape. That substantially increases difficulty in all things for development, so I set my mind to retrofit mods to do it to existing bikes after being inspired by a Buell Battle Twin
Notice how that fairing is shaped? You're practically inside the thing when you're riding, and it's freaking gorgeous to boot. The Hayabusa is similarly shaped, and substantially less rare.
That, and sitting on some touring bikes convinced me that with a little tweaking, I could make an improved fairing that would keep the rider from actually making contact with the ground. And wouldn't you know it, guess what I found?

http://thekneeslider.com/motorcycle-engine-protection-cages/
These are designed to protect that fancy bike, but the mounting and even general shape and placement are right where I was looking at. Throw a few more behind the rider as well, with a reinforced windscreen and you're golden.

Because it was demanded

Cricket and Hammer, and the holster they'll be carried in when I finish getting back in shape.

See? Glocks.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

New toy

For National Buy Ammo Day Week I decided I'd pick up a little something extra. In addition to my 100 rounds of 9mm, I grabbed a new in box Gen 3 Glock 26, with a +2 floorplate. Just brought it home today.

I'd post a picture, but it's a stock standard Glock 26, and you've probably seen one before.

I think I'll call it Cricket. Small and easily overlooked, but it can make a hell of a noise.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

GURPS Dollars

Discussion over GURPS things happened at dinner, and the idea of a GURPS Dollar featuring Steve Jackson came up. Expect to see more related to this idea once I've had a moment to play around with some art programs...

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sci Fi Friday: Something from Tumblr About Space

Oftentimes, tumblr is a den of SJWs attempting to out-victim each other to claim supreme status. Sometimes, though, it produces some good things. Found this from somewhere else, I know nothing about the rest of said tumblr's content and take no responsibility for anything therein.

gosh but like we spent hundreds of years looking up at the stars and wondering “is there anybody out there” and hoping and guessing and imagining
because we as a species were so lonely and we wanted friends so bad, we wanted to meet other species and we wanted to talk to them and we wanted to learn from them and to stop being the only people in the universe
and we started realizing that things were maybe not going so good for us— we got scared that we were going to blow each other up, we got scared that we were going to break our planet permanently, we got scared that in a hundred years we were all going to be dead and gone and even if there were other people out there, we’d never get to meet them
and then
we built robots?
and we gave them names and we gave them brains made out of silicon and we pretended they were people and we told them hey you wanna go exploring, and of course they did, because we had made them in our own image
and maybe in a hundred years we won’t be around any more, maybe yeah the planet will be a mess and we’ll all be dead, and if other people come from the stars we won’t be around to meet them and say hi! how are you! we’re people, too! you’re not alone any more!, maybe we’ll be gone
but we built robots, who have beat-up hulls and metal brains, and who have names; and if the other people come and say, who were these people? what were they like?
the robots can say, when they made us, they called us discovery; they called us curiosity; they called us explorer; they called us spirit. they must have thought that was important.
and they told us to tell you hello.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

More things off the gun list.

New job is thankfully not a no-carry zone. Smaller company, based in WI rather than with the main branch out in Massachusetts. That said, I can only do so much to conceal a Glock 17 in business casual. I've been pondering something like a pocket pistol, with either of the Kel-Tec 9mms, or the Glock 26 high up the list. Glock is less concealable, but fits in my already owned holsters, and can take my copious amounts of 9mm mags (including more than a few Glock 18 mags). Glock is also more expensive, but sturdier and more reliable, and fits a whole lot more dakka.

Much as I want my AR-15, picking up a carry pistol is probably the wiser bet. Given that I'm getting a substantial raise (to the tune of another 1/6 what I was making), and that I carry an enormous load of stuff with me anyway and have pretty successfully concealed my glock 17, I'll stick with the Glock.

Part of me wants to go for the Glock 29, and get a custom grip plug or something with a cricket on it, but for practicality's sake I'll likely go for the 26 for now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tech Tuesday, mega-edition

Woo tab clearing. Have some SCIENCE.

http://www.iflscience.com/technology/spacex-will-soon-be-launching-satellites-unfettered-low-cost-internet
I recall Google talking about something similar, but accomplished by way of balloons instead of satellites.

http://gizmodo.com/the-plan-to-turn-old-payphones-into-free-gigabit-wi-fi-1659688867
Meanwhile, a substantially more down-to-earth take on it is to convert the now largely defunct payphone network into a series of wifi hotspots.

http://gizmodo.com/this-clever-design-could-replace-ugly-qr-codes-with-lig-1659977613
Using all that freely available wifi may be a new alternative to the QR code, that's far less obtrusive to use, and doesn't require careful orientation of sensor to code.

http://gizmodo.com/networked-guns-are-a-smarter-attempt-to-keep-cops-in-ch-1658581063
On a less useful note, yet another thought on a smartgun. This one, however, is A) aimed specifically at police, and B) is purely a reporter, and in no way impacts the gun's actual function. I can think of a heck of a lot of ways to kill the thing REALLY easily, but that's par for the course for "smart"guns.

http://gizmodo.com/this-3d-welder-could-bring-metal-3d-printing-to-the-mas-1659919589
On the opposite end of the scale, in terms of guns, is a 3d metal printer that's not insane and ridiculous. Needs further development, but it's about the most realistic take on it I've seen so far for home use.

http://www.thegunyouwear.com/ Came across this thing, technology? Found via New Jovian Thunderbolt It looks freaky, but comfy, other than having heard iffy things on Taurus.

http://gizmodo.com/the-us-navys-first-laser-cannon-is-now-deployed-in-the-1659644456
LASER BEAMS. Now if we can just scale this down to be conveniently man portable...

And now for something completely different!
http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/gm-potatoes-may-benefit-health-approved-usda
Genetically modified potatoes, designed to be deliciously fried with less cancer.

http://www.iflscience.com/technology/graphene-based-supercapacitors-could-eliminate-batteries-electric-cars-within-5-years
More attempts at better batteries/supercapacitor bank things. Last time I saw these about 5 years ago they were promising within 10 years. Now it's within 5. Let's see if they actually pull this off. Then we just have to figure out how to power the things.

http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/regenerative-medicine-has-huge-potential-it-does-not-come-cheap
Astonishing, cutting edge medical techniques are expensive!

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/scientists-reveal-how-spaceflight-affects-men-and-women-1659881761
Speaking of health related things, space continues to be bad for you.

http://www.usvethub.com/videogallery/army-evaluates-darpas-futuristic-soft-exosuit/
Speaking of space, more power suit stuff.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Jerb get

One week and one weekend from my last day of work at my old job, I am once more gainfully employed, with a fairly substantial raise, and at a building without any victim disarmament signs. About the same distance away, although there's a greater risk of rush hour traffic on the way depending on when they actually have me starting.

And I've used basically none of my unemployment/new gun fund. I got me some shopping to do. But first, I shall go draw things for people for money because money and drawing.

Expect a post where I lay out exactly the parts I want for second opinions now that buying them is finally going to happen. I know a moderate deal about AR-15s, but this one IS still going to be my most heavily customized, custom built for me one. I've got plans that I might do a supercompact "pistol", a 6.5 Grendal DMR, etc, but I intend for the dissipator demon to be MINE.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Commlink

Reading up on Shadowrun and the commlink therein and now having a proper smartphone, I can't help but note just how close the two are.

The only things that the smartphone can't do that a commlink can is the VR and Sim.

Just the other day, I was able to download and print a file, directly from my phone to a never-before-used printer, with nary a trouble. It can find me directions to nearly anywhere I need to go, find me a place to buy whatever I need. With add-ons, I can play a vast number of games, including augmented reality ones. I've got a ballistic calculator on it, for all the bonuses to long range shooting. Even got a few basic things, the only digital camera I own, a flashlight, music player (presently mostly unusable due to a broken plug that needs removing, but just a question of having time to send it for repairs). I can measure my pulse, count steps, stream or watch movies/shows, read books. And of course, place calls and text chats a wide variety of ways. Heck, I can even use it to wirelessly control things like TVs with the universal remote!

We've got the prototype versions of various thought interface controllers, simple VR headsets, etc.

As I've discussed with McThag before, only interface and batteries (and public acceptance) restrict us from having implanted smartphones, and things like Google Glass are taking a modern crack at the wearable route (flawed, and pushing it in slightly the wrong way to get widespread public acceptance, but still very nearly how it'll be done when implemented properly).

Wearables like smart watches and rings give the ability to control a smartphone without the need to pull the thing out of the pocket and futz with it. Improved availability of controllers and displays like those of Glass, would put unobtrusive computing into the forefront.

It's very nearly the future, and other than a few quibbles, it's pretty sweet.


It could also be argued that we're reaching something of a dystopia with all the government and corporation spying, loss of privacy, rule trending dangerously towards nation of men rather than nation of law, etc, but that's not the focus of this post.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

System Comparisons: GURPS vs. Shadowrun

In particular, GURPS 4E vs. Shadowrun 5E.

Finally making a return to one of the first systems I ever played in (the one with the GM who had every combat as  near TPK, that I usually averted unexpectedly by way of application of dakka).

Finding lots of interesting things in how differently the same thing can be handled, such as shooting.

In GURPS 4e, the more lead you throw, the greater your chance of a hit. With a lot of weapons, it's actually not possible to score a hit with all shots (a microSMG for example generally has RoF 15 or more, but even with an effective skill of 23 and a critical roll of 3, assuming the standard recoil 2 of SMGs, you have at most 10 rounds on target). In Shadowrun, it's basically never even contemplated how many of your rounds actually connect. Higher rates of fire (Semi Auto Burst, Burst, Long Burst, or Full Auto Burst) give a varying penalty to the defense roll to get out of the way of the flying rounds. More successes assumes more rounds hit, at +1 to base damage value per each. All recoil in Shadowrun is treated pretty much equally.

GURPS and Shadowrun both have a sleeve rig holster that gives a bonus to Fast Draw/Quick Draw. In GURPS, it can only take holdout pistols, and makes them slightly bulkier as a unit (-1 to Bulk). In Shadowrun? Can take up to light pistols (standard pistols, based on stats and performance. One listed gun, the Beretta 201T, is basically a Beretta 93r with no compensator, a lot of advancement in the 100 years since the 93 came out), and makes the penalty to find them when concealed one greater. While slightly ridiculous (what kind of modern sleeves are roomy enough to fit a fullsize pistol?!), I plan to make full use of this.

Combat, and damage, are remarkably simplified in Shadowrun, both to the benefit and detriment of the system. More rolls are used, but they're basically identical to the opposed quick contests of GURPS (attack and defense rolls, rolls to absorb incoming damage, etc). Having flat damage values on guns and no wounding modifiers makes taking a hit require far less calculation to determine the actual effects.

Another place I prefer GURPS to Shadowrun, particularly for a system where your average gun does as much damage as most people have HP, is negative HP. In GURPS, you get at least -1xHP before you start rolling to not die. Shadowrun, along with D&D, Call of Cthulu, and a great many other systems, have you drop dead not far beyond the level where you fall unconscious. 9 damage may knock you on your ass, and 10 may kill you outright if you don't have much constitution. Even the most durable character normally available without added death resistance (dwarf or troll with max body of 8), gets 12 damage before they go unconscious, and 20 before they die. GURPS, meanwhile, if you make your rolls (aided by certain advantages and disadvantages), it's theoretically possible to keep breathing all the way to -5x HP for most people, or even to -10x for the unkillable!

One of the places that Shadowrun beats out GURPS is the initiative pass system. GURPS generally doesn't give you more than one action per 1 second turn, unless you purchase Altered Time rate to go faster (generally with substantial limitations in order to afford it). If you have purchased altered time rate, you get two actions on your portion of the 1 second turn. In Shadowrun, your speed is related to the initiative attribute, and divided into initiative passes. Everyone gets their action during a combat round, and then characters who are fast enough get to go again once everyone still standing has gone. This continues until nobody has enough initiative left for another initiative pass. I like the way this works enough that it's a house rule of mine, should anyone ever take Altered Time Rate; you act at your normal place based on base speed, then again when the round gets to Base Speed divided by actions (example, you go at base speed and 1/2 base speed with ATR 1, Base Speed, 2/3 Base Speed, and 1/3 Base Speed at ATR 2, etc). This accounts for it still taking time to actually perform actions, to prevent a character with exceptional speed and time rate from using their lighting speed and numerous actions to defeat any threats before they can act.

Shadowrun 4e and 5e have their own differences. Several key things required for the game are missing entirely in 5e, such as Autosofts needed for drones. The autosofts are listed, and how they work, but despite being listed as something that must be purchased and installed (as per most programs), no prices are given anywhere that my entire gaming group has been able to find. Speeds for vehicles have been converted to an arbitrary scale, which is handy for convenience in the Chase Rules, but doesn't tell you how fast you're actually going. There's essentially nothing given for vehicle customization in the 5e base book, including things that a runner is DEFINITELY going to want to try to keep the heat off their tail.

To be fair, 5e Shadowrun has been out for just over a year, in which time some updates and fixes may have come out that I haven't checked for.


At some point I need to run a GURPS Shadowrunish game.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

To the surprise of some people, history repeats itself.

https://adaptivecurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/history-as-a-cure-for-unreality/

Adaptive Curmudgeon, the wisest of wise-asses, takes a look at people failing to learn from history.

Read the whole thing, and the article he links inside it.

If I win the lottery

Everyone at one point or another likes to talk about what they'd get if they were to win the lottery or otherwise fall into vast sums of cash.

I'm a simple man, with simple needs. As with most weapon enthusiasts, I have a list of things I'd like to own several pages long. And yet, I'd be hard pressed to spend more than 15k on it (full auto, while fun, doesn't really do it for me, and the most expensive guns I'd ponder are things like a .50 BMG and an Arctic Warfare).

What I would do? Aside from the obvious, of setting aside a lot into investments and such that'd continue to pay out for forever, would be research and philanthropy.

An ongoing project of mine is the development of fantastically cheap, easily produced, reliable firearms. The biggest, cheapest, simplest one is a high quality guerrilla shotgun. Another is a stamped steel .380 or 9x18 Makarov pocket pistol (possibly available in single use blisterpack guns, per Tam's common request. I've got it all worked out, right down to the gun disabling itself so it can't be reloaded after it runs empty, which is necessary to use REALLY cheap material that'll only let the gun last safely for slightly more shots than it's designed for). Blisterpack guns would only really work without background checks (and the expense attached to them) or systems where a Permit of Good Standing (carry permit, etc) allows you to bypass said checks.

Plenty of people have articulated a belief that pretty much anyone who desires to carry a firearm for self defense and is mentally fit to do so (Note: this is not a reference to bullshit mental health requirements, and instead a reference to the fact that some people somehow manage to lack the rationality and impulse control needed to interact safely with anything sharper or more dangerous than a beachball). There are a few groups I've seen that provide guns (shotguns generally) to those faced with financial hardships in bad neighborhoods. I'd pretty much set up another such one, but specifically for the purposes of concealed carry training, certification (as needed) and firearms. Wisconsin Carry provides free CCW classes, aiding with the paperwork needed for the actual permit. That said, there's still a moderately large fee for someone living paycheck to paycheck, to say nothing of the price of even a cheap pistol.


Other projects include developing a motorcycle that combines bike levels of fun with rollcage levels of safety, a needlessly complex but awesome rotating shelving unit kinda thing (Picture the one Wall-E has in his little base thing) that'd allow usable storage space to be more effectively utilized (including having the system extend down into the cooler basement, for an easily accessed but extensively sized pantry or whatever), and a compact hybrid airship because airships. I think I can pull these off without winning the lottery (aircraft are spendy, but I live cheaply), but it'll take a whole lot longer to do.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Music in the Crossroads

Some systems have a few basic musical instruments, and give no real progression or nod to alternate development paths of music and such. I've always had a fondness for odd instruments. Figured I'd compile a few here. A variety of traditional instruments exist, often developed outside of their "normal" chronology. The ones discussed here are the unusual ones that arose within a particular culture.

I had a hard time placing which race would be most likely to make such a contraption. Ultimately, I settled on Goblins as the most likely. It's deceptively simple, yet decidedly odd. Goblin instruments tend to be those that can stand alone, with at most a single other player for accompaniment.

The wheelharp; a strange instrument with a great deal of potential in an eccentric packaging. Not dissimilar to a Hurdy Gurdy, it belongs to the Gnomes, along with the accordion and its relatives. Like Goblins, Gnomes tend not to be hard to herd into something resembling any musical group, so their instruments are solo-focused in nature, similar to that of the Goblins.

Both races appreciate music, they just (usually) tend to be very small group or solo performances.

The hang is a type of melodic percussion instrument. Quite capable as a solo instrument, many of them can be played together. They, and other metal instruments are common with the Dwarves, although the hang drum in particular is a favorite. Often played with a vocal accompaniment, depending on the event there may be only a few Dwarves playing, or any with musical talent may join in on a traditional, well known song (be it vocal or rythm work). Dwarven orchestras are widely known as being both remarkable and thoroughly immobile.

The kalimba/mbira is another metallic instrument, similarly capable alone or with accompaniment. It is, however, possible to make in far more portable versions than things like the hang drum. Still, as with most instruments, they are made in multiple sizes and ranges, up through those that are so massive they must be played with weighted hammers by a team of dwarves.
Shown is a tabletop variant. The elves have a very similar instrument, although it's uncertain who had it first. The timbre of the instruments tends to vary, and those familiar with the instrument can tell the difference between an Elvish and Dwarven one in the same key, playing the same song with the same musician. Other instruments favored by the Dwarves tend to be brass instruments, such as the trombone.

The Viola Organista is representative of what might be obtained from the collaboration of the Dwarves and Gnomes or Goblins. Less eccentric, but a bit more refined in its performance.

The glass harp in all its forms is the work of the Elves, requiring immense artistry in the creation of the instrument and fine dexterity to play it. A capable solo instrument, the haunting beauty of the glass harp truly shines when played by a group. Artists by nature, it's rare to see a performance smaller than a duet, save for virtuosos. The Elves also have a fondness for woodwind and string instruments.

The glass harp is traced to as the origin of two instruments, the first of which is the handbell. Dwarves took the standalone nature of the individual components of the glass harp and adapted it to their preference for metal instruments. Dwarves tend to play them as a large ensemble, whereas Elves will often use a far smaller group, with each member responsible for more of the song.

The second of the instruments inspired by the glass harp was the glass harmonica. Gnomes and Goblins took the concept behind the glass harp and added mechanisms, making it both more complicated and easier to play at once.

Orcish instruments tend to be simple and unadorned, trading complexity for skill required to play. Instruments such as the musical saw are fine examples, typically played solo or in small groups. Larger ensembles tend to be heavily percussion biased, with the gamut of instruments one might find in a drum line or orchestra,

The didgeridoo is another example of simple yet versatile instruments favored by the Orcs.

The tongue drum is exemplary of Orcish melodic percussion instruments, along with various melodic drums.

Whether they're known as Hobbits or Halflings, they have a fondness for string instruments, not unlike the Koto. Starting a small ensemble in Halfling lands can be as simple as sitting down and playing; you're liable to wind up performing at least a duet. Guitars, banjos, and ukeles and their relative instruments are common on the go, while things such as the Sitar, Koto, and steel guitar
tend to be used by house bands and other such groups that set up in one place. Panpipes and flutes are also common among halflings.