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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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 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.

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.

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.
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
Gecko climbing. How far we've come from Adam Savage's crazy vacuum pump rig to today.
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.
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?)
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
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.
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!"
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.
Not quite AR, but more development on integrating tech into regular use in ways that aren't obnoxious as heck.
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.
A magic weird purple that does strange things to light. Probably not likely to advance SCIENCE! but interesting.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
I recall Google talking about something similar, but accomplished by way of balloons instead of satellites.
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.
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.
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.
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. Came across this thing, technology? Found via New Jovian Thunderbolt It looks freaky, but comfy, other than having heard iffy things on Taurus.
LASER BEAMS. Now if we can just scale this down to be conveniently man portable...

And now for something completely different!
Genetically modified potatoes, designed to be deliciously fried with less cancer.
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.
Astonishing, cutting edge medical techniques are expensive!
Speaking of health related things, space continues to be bad for you.
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


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.

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.

Tech Tuesday

A tech Tuesday, on an actual tuesday! Don't get used to it, I've already got a second interview with the company from Monday, and if I get the job I'll probably be back to my typical halfassed blogging.
More medtech, this time another vaccine, for Hepatitis C.
While we're at it, let's see if we can fix diabetes.
And a potential genemod vaccine kinda deal (not a vaccine, because it doesn't work the same way, but same basic effect), for HIV
New and improved nuclear power generation, continuing the tradition of not being the shitty 70s Soviet tech everyone thinks of when they hear nuclear power.
Less groundbreaking, a new and possibly improved lock. Looks fancy and complicated.

Veterans Day

Thank you for your service.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Interview Excitement

Not related to the interview itself, of course. That was a fairly standard affair, the usual question and answer session.

What WAS far more exciting than I'd planned for the day was getting sideswiped hard enough to spin me off the road. Was able to control the car through the fishtail/skid (hit lifted the rear end off the ground, dropped it into a bad skid I was unable to recover from) enough to set me down gently facing the wrong way down the freeway on the right shoulder.

I'm undamaged, and other than a bit of a scrape and needing a new driver front rim, the car is just fine.

I was pondering a motorcycle commute not long before I got rammed. A cage is mighty nice when surprise bullshit inflicts itself upon you. Definitely affirms more than anything else that I'm not riding a motorcycle until I've worked out just how to put said cage on it. It ain't a hard science, it just takes more effort than the standard "none" that is usually put into it on bikes.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tech Thursday

Came down with another case of "can't be arsed" on Tuesday, so here it is now because so many tabs open.
Not quite a "read your thoughts against your will" device, this has a lot of possible positive and negative uses that I can see (although negative uses, without a substantial jump in capability, would require regular use to become fairly widespread). At present it requires the system be trained for the user's brain. The article talks about it being used to allow people unable to speak to do so, but with the capability of voice control (or good old fashioned text command line) it could probably be used as a control interface for computers.
More on the topic of communications, dog-to-human and back translator
Never had problems with that particular part of getting blood drawn (I've got veins like firehoses), still seems very useful for people that aren't insane and minmax in real life the way I do.
Tabletop particle accelerator. SCIENCE! The reason we got to where we are today on fossil fuels is because they freaking WORK. Batteries are terrible. I also approve of this because gas powered personal electronics are dieselpunk as hell, even if it doesn't have an actual engine (which I'll admit would be just a tad over the top). Just need to combine this with some work I've seen on synthesis of fossil fuels and it's extra all good.


As of this Friday, I no longer have a job. But I've  already got interviews lined up for Monday. Blogging will probably increase until I am employed again. In the meantime I plan on doing a lot of writing and drawing. And some much needed gunsmithing.

Monday, November 3, 2014

GURPS: Macheteswords

Any modern-ish day campaign in GURPS (any setting really, but GURPS even moreso) is almost guaranteed to still have that one guy who just absolutely HAS to have a sword. Doesn't matter if it's the end of the world, or Mystery Teens Club Adventure Hour, there's going to be that one guy who just has to have a sword.

Thing is, they never want to pay for it.

Inevitably it'll come up that they want something that's close enough to a sword, and uses whatever's around, but doesn't cost hundreds of dollars. A sharpened, straightened leaf spring in the apocalypse, one of the various ~$100-150 swords that perform far beyond the "cheap" price tag they should hold to get there with high tech steels.

For example, in GURPS Metro, I want the available blades to basically be Cold Steel macheteswords. The problem is pricing. Most of them retail for around $30-50, right where a good quality machete is listed in High Tech. But, the good quality machete uses kukri stats, for a slightly larger chopping knife. A small falchion starts to get up to the right area, identical swing damage to a shortsword at the cost of slightly lower thrusting damage. But, assuming you tone it down to the same good quality at the 60% off, you still only come out to an $80 price tag. Where does the price drop come from? By all accounts, these things are pretty good, all the durability, all the edge. Only real complaint I've heard is the balance historically inaccurate balance, which combined with the tendency of Cold Steel to demonstrate their things by way of ridiculous chopping rather than actual sword things, leads me to believe they may be Cheap (Poorly Balanced); at TL7+ this gives an 80% price break, dropping what amounts to a small full on sword down to a mere $40. In the Metro, because apocalypse, it would only get the regular 60% off.

Just ponderings, because it's one of those near inevitabilities "but what about X! That only costs Y, why can't I have it?" "Because I haven't figured out the stats yet"

Pondered more on the mass produced cutlass (in GURPS stats, a shortsword with a handguard) for $300 instead of , that'd apply to any of them, since they're either stamped steel, or sharpened previously mass produced bits of very similar steel. None of them that I've seen go beyond the 24" that is the top end of a shortsword. 80% off of $300 still leaves you about double what they go for, $60, to the $50 list price (which I believe is what GURPS uses), compared to the ~$30 street price on the ones that are more capable for stabby things. List price of $30 to the $40 for a similarly priced one that'd probably use small or regular falchion stats, similarly modified.

I think that's close enough to count. Higher quality blades are probably just the same blade with actual care taken to balance them properly.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

GURPS: New advantage, Luck Lite

I've seen a lot of players contemplate luck, but ultimately decide that it isn't worth the points. I had a thought for a limited version, simultaneously more and less powerful.

Fortune: Reroll a single die of a roll, once per roll, 2 pts/lvl, maximum of 5 levels.

This puts it similar to systems including a luck stat, such as the Edge from Shadowrun, giving you either rerolls or extra dice (functionally very similar, as it's a Total Successes system).

It's 1/3 the power of luck (reroll 1 dice instead of 3), but gives you a bit more fine ability to influence things. I've seen many a player die or nearly die in GURPS on a single dice on things like dodge rolls. Roll a 6, 1, 1 when trying to get below 7. A single die lost it for them. Meanwhile, Fortune can't turn a crit fail into anything better than a 12 or 13. You are likely at best to get away with changing a critical failure into a regular failure, maybe squeeking by with a success if you manage to reroll into a 1 and are substantially skilled. A full luck roll will likely get you approximately 10, due to the bell curve of 3d6, whatever you started with. But, this greater finesse gives the player a harder decision of when to use it. Do they save it to get out of a crit? To turn a failure by 1 into a just-barely-success? Reroll a 1 on a damage roll in hopes of ending the fight before they need to reroll something else to survive?

Took another look at the rules for Luck. 1/3 cost for 1/3 power made sense when I was thinking luck was once per session, a single reroll. Upon double checking, it gives you 2 rerolls, once per hour of play. I think I like the functionality of Fortune as listed, but it's cost has been reduced and more uses per day are permitted.