Sunday, December 27, 2015

Oh right, this thing exists

Hope you all had a happy stuffsgiving and whatnot.

I've got a ton of stuff to talk about but haven't had time or motivation to type it out. Having slept for approximately 4 days straight, I'm feeling a bit more energetic and will endeavor to resume rambling into my empty corner of the internet.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Motor(?) Monday: Space Vehicle Design

Nothing new happening with car shopping, drove a ford escape with a bunch of nice stuff about it that I'd probably have put money down on already if it had limited slip and a button to lock it into 4wd if desired.

ONWARDS to my actual topic: SPAAACEships.

Specifically, trying to design approximately dieselpunk spaceships for the alt history game setting I'm working on with the Moon Marines. Trying to make them mostly realistic with the caveat of the setting featuring a couple elements of superscience to allow for spacefaring shenanigans without recordkeeping to manage keeping tabs on reaction mass and such. TL;DR of the setting is it's way later in time, humanity has been pulled into the future during the Manhattan Project and given some alien tech to reverse engineer. They fix/break it, and start exploring. I'm considering giving the ships a modernized WWII kind of vibe, and having a lot of spaceships able to land on the water due to alien not-rockets permitting heavily armed and armored spaceboats. Humanity's great wealth of knowledge related to loading, crewing, and fighting aboard ships was taken advantage of, along with moderate aircraft experience and marginal space knowledge.

One of my first inspirations is the Surcouf Submarine Cruiser. It's usable as a ship, with deck space up top, and nicely sized gun turrets (enormous for a submarine). It's streamlined and has the style I want. Not the most airworthy, but that's what lifting body style tweaks and unreasonably powerful space engines, and maybe a set of stub wings that fold flat for some extra lift and to help with climbing out of atmosphere when you can't be bothered to boost into orbit on engine power alone.

Obviously it's meant to fly, at least during the transition between spaceship and regular ship. Getting around like a very well-sealed seaplane is probably faster and more effective in a vehicle powered by reactor fueled not-rockets than forcing it through/over the water. A broader body would probably be more likely, to increase space and maintain a nice airworthy wedge design.

A flying boat lifting body spaceship, you say....

There's always the old standby of sphere ships, which to maintain the style of the setting would probably be vaguely cube shaped and rounded in something of the nature of the M4 sherman. Not great for in atmosphere use, beyond takeoffs and landings.

But now, I come to my real problem
Gravity. I'm not using artificial gravity generation, but would like at least a small amount of gravity to allow some semblance of normal life (ability to cook in a pan, sit at a table for cards that don't need magnetism or somesuch, and so on). All gravity has to come from spin gravity, either for the whole ship or more likely having a section of the ship feature a separate centrifuge portion containing the habitation modules, or from using slight superscience to maintain felt acceleration gravity. Given that the ship is meant to be usable as a ship on the surface, there are some issues with both of these methods.

Gravity, on a normal aircraft or oceangoing ship, points downwards. produced via spingrav, portions of the ship will be upside down while in atmosphere if using an included centrifuge (which may be split into a habitation block and a region not used while in gravity or otherwise still usable while upside down, or trading some space for mechanisms to allow rooms to rotate). Simply spinning the ship about an axis is difficult due a probable lack of a nice round axis had by most ships able to land planetside. Still, if a ship has a center of gravity close enough to what would be the top deck while planetside, it can rotate such that the lower deck has spin gravity. It'll look weird as heck, but if it's weird but it works it's not weird. A tumbling pigeon design does not work with the requirements of interstellar travel within the setting.

Produced via acceleration, effective gravity will point towards the back of the ship. It's possible to arrange the whole ship for acceleration gravity, and have it point upwards while it's landed like a tail-landing craft, but that comes with its own set of challenges. Suddenly the entire ship is a spacefaring skyscraper that must be navigated by steps, ladders, manlifts, elevators, and fireman's poles. It's also weird during actual flight if you use aerodynamics rather than pure engine power. Alternatively, the engines could force the ship sideways through space, such that down is always down. This results in a rather large frontal area to heavily armor, but plays quite nicely with keeping an otherwise standard deckplan, allowing systems to be navigated via hallway and corridors with a few levels.

The other options are that the ship is just in 0G or microgravity all places except where it's absolutely necessary for something resembling normal function, or that I opt to include a crude gravity generator to the setting. Micrograv is weird but manageable, and through tech and proper design pretty easily handled. Artificial gravity requires just a little bit more handwaving than allowing small amounts of constant speed acceleration gravity thanks to warp drive effects and is easily compatible with a ship designed to also function in and out of gravity.

After sleeping on it, bouncing ideas, and doing some math, it seems that flying the ship in a helical flight path can generate gravity pretty darn readily. If it's stupid but it works, it isn't stupid. It requires constant thrust, but given that the ships are reactor powered and reactionlessly driven, it's the simplest solution to the 0G problem.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Sci-Fi Saturday: The World of the Moon Marines

We were the precursors. All our calculations, all our research from our pale blue dot, a spec of dust floating in a sunbeam, it all agreed. When we raised our eyes to the heavens in search of answers and received only silence, it was because we were first. So many billions of years seemed like a long time, but it was a mere fraction of the time the universe would persist.

So we reached for the stars. We spread our species throughout the system, ever hoping to hear from another race. We never received an answer, so we did what the precursors always do; We seeded the galaxy with life. We loaded our ordinance, developed for use against ourselves and honed to perfect over many lifetimes, with the basics of life. The hardiest microbes, able to survive anywhere. Cluster bombs of enormous size, atop rockets of unparalleled enormity. Were something to happen to us, our planets legacy as the cradle of life would not end. We planned to follow, in great colony ships to be built.

We never made it that far.

It's hard to say what cosmic calamity befell the Sol system, but we were no more. The cradle of life was extinguished.

Many years have passed since, and life has flourished throughout the galaxy. Some of it may even harken back to those converted weapons, launched untold millenia ago. Where one sapient species finds another, they are uplifted to the galactic community, and peace largely prevails.

But peace is fleeting. The eldest of races, the second precursors, saw the chaos looming, a chaos for which the galaxy was unprepared. Artifacts hinted at another civilization, ancient beyond measure. A civilization that had raised itself to the heavens alone, and vanished. The artifacts were dated, their trajectories compiled, and their homeworld found, a dead system with an aging star in a galactic backwater.

Humanity would be reborn, brought back from the ravages of time in hopes that their wisdom will save the galaxy. Plans were set in motion, and the Sol System was imploded, replaced with a copy from eons past, when humanity still flourished. The estimate of time was rough, and we had not yet reached to the stars, but there was time for us to develop before we were needed.

With the detonation of the Manhattan project, some members questioned our supposed precursor wisdom, but others had suspicions we were what the galaxy needed confirmed. Without explanation we were given a few pieces of technology we couldn't understand yet, and left to the tender mercies of our garden world with the secret hopes of the galaxy.

Even proof of extraterrestrial life, revealed to a few key scientists, could not sway the course of history by much. The alien devices were studied and set aside as too advanced. With every advancement the artifacts were dusted off and re-examined, as the space race was pursued with enhanced purpose. Where there was the possibility of life beyond Earth on our first foray beyond the planet was addressed, now there was proof. The Apollo program was largely unchanged for most of its development, but the knowledge that there were aliens who had seen fit to visit us would change the course of history.

By the new 1970s, the alien technology began to be understood. By the end of the 70s, we had begun to understand the technology, and were able to begin to examine it in earnest. By the end of the Cold War, we had begun to be able to copy the technology; we knew how it worked, even if we couldn't explain why. Reactionless rockets, quantum communications, and a device that seemed to raise the universal speed limit of Light Speed. Where our space program faltered, the new humanity used its boons and added purpose to charge ahead. The moon was colonized, and our military might was extended beyond the Earth. Spurred onwards by reverse engineering, ease of space-borne experiments, interplanetary resources, and the secret knowledge that there was other life to compete with, science advanced swiftly.

As our understanding grew, we began to recognize the changes, that something with the universe had changed around the Manhattan Project and a great deal of time had passed. With this information found, and the alien technology understood, the greatest news was finally broken.

We had met aliens, and were given technology. We know nothing of who, or why; Humanity had been brought forward in time, having once been at the front of the curve. We still had yet to make contact with our mysterious benefactors, but we were ready. Whatever tests lay ahead, we would not be found wanting. Whether it was hoped that we would be worthy adversaries or galactic heroes, we meant to be prepared.

At the turn of the century, as we fired up our first Stardrive and set course for the nearest system, we affirmed our purpose. We came in peace, for all mankind. We walked softly, but carried a big stick. We would get further with a kind word and a gun than a kind word alone.

First contact was made in 2010. The present year is 2015.

We were not the wise ancients the second precursors had hoped for, but we were what the galaxy needed.

GURPS Space: I just want to build stuff

I'm glad I've been paying attention to Erin and McThag on their Traveller Tuesdays, even though I'm not setting the system in the Traveller universe (that would be far too simple and make too much sense).

Got a setting I've mentioned before knocking around, that of the Moon Marines (actual military title pending, but they're space marines who's primary base is on Luna). Given that most campaign ideas revolve around the party actually playing moon marines and romping around the universe breaking things, or playing the security/away team for an exploration/free trader ship, gear's going to be a thing. In this setting, humanity is also substantially more militarized than most of the galaxy (everyone else hit the point where war became too horrible to contemplate and actually stopped, or are super honorable/gullible, or can't utilize the FTL system without crysosleep because they get incredibly nauseous and/or horny, and other such things), which means their ships need to be durable and such, and at least the basics of a space-military need to be determined. In attempting to pick out various units for this approximately TL9 setting, I made a discovery;

Ultra-Tech, which I've glanced through before, is kind of terrible if you're actually trying to use it for things with any depth. Also, approximately half of TL9 is just stuff that we have today at least as prototypes, although it was still futuristic when it was printed. Also also, basically the entire conventional guns section is errata'd, and a great deal of other stuff. It mentions that spaceships are a thing that exists, and kind of sort of gives some examples, sufficient as long as it's merely a setpiece for the party to glance past on their way elsewhere.

Spaceships has some nice depth with reasonable simplicity, but a couple things that seem off. I can't tell whether armor and weapons are balanced, or if weapons are overpowered. Damage comparison between the 100mm cannon in spaceships and ultratech are kind of weird (the warhead and projectile impact damage seem to be switched, approximately, although the damage in the table may be meant for beam weapons or just an approximation with guns using the warhead table exclusively). Decade scale makes things weird. Assuming medium or secondary batteries are "standard", it takes approximately 2 of your available 6 systems per section of the finest armor available to be able to soak an average hit, except not once warheads, armor divisors, and weapon velocity (if applicable) are factored in because those do a bajillion times more damage than it's possible to have your ship block even if every system is nothing but the finest of armor.  Hooray Errata, the entire warheads table was off by a factor of 10 or so. Something still seems vaguely off, I may boost armor in some way, simplest way seems to be to treat armor as one unit and extra stacks reduce G-force.

GURPS Traveler seems decent, other than being for a specific setting. It offers better ability to armor up a streamlined ship and such, at cost of marginal requirement for calculations.

I've even busted out GURPS Vehicles to look at that for comparison

I'll probably just wind up building the ship in every system and bashing them together until I get something I'm happy with. Then I just have to fill it with crew, because it's small enough and going to be the main setting enough that it's probably a good idea to have at least a name and basic personality for every crew member.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Motor Monday: Automotive Militia Purposes

Not militia purposes of the sort that call for combat, more the ones such as those the Organized Militia are called for, and ones that the unorganized militia are eminently capable of. Disaster recovery, aid delivery, and other such similar things. Pretty much breaks down into 3 main categories, all of which I'm looking at in my search for a new car.


Vehicle archtype: Rally Car
Examples: Focus RS, Subaru WRX, most AWD or 4wd cars with decent engine power
Function: Deliver people or supplies in a hurry over bad roads or very gentle offroading at good speeds, (mostly) regardless of conditions. Get someone to the hospital, deliver something important. Also probably able to get other cars unstuck from minor issues like snow/ice thanks to AWD, and maybe tow the smallest of trailers. Better than most cars, but mostly just fun to drive.


Vehicle archtype: SUV
Examples: Jeep Wrangler/unlimited, Suzuki Samurai/Jimny, Hummer H1
Function: Go places, move stuff. Able to climb rough stuff, it's unlikely to get stuck and good at doing such things as dragging trees out of the road, hauling vehicles from ditches or clear of where they're stuck, and moving people and things through sometimes awful terrain. Usually able to haul at least medium trailers. Some larger models overlap with trucks in places, and certain exceptionally c-capable vans may be considered in this region


Vehicle Archtype: Pickup Truck
Examples: Ford F series, Ram trucks, toyota... seriously, fullsize and larger trucks
Function: As SUV, but with less people space (usually) and a lot more hauling capacity, both internally and externally. Larger footprint is harder to manage off road, but the power is retained for such things as hauling debris out of the way and freeing trapped vehicles. Occasionally more capable examples will show up in the news following disasters doing such things as fording floodwaters and such with a load of supplies from nearby towns. Larger examples can excel in towing enormous loads, which are often used as an advertising factor. Curiously, often get better fuel economy than

Compounding the problem are not always classified vehicles;

Questionable Utility

Vehicle examples: Light Trucks, Crossovers
Problems: Both are lesser versions of above classes, smaller, sometimes cheaper, and lacking most of the actual capabilities. Crossovers tend to be functionally minivans with a facelift, while light trucks are analogous to things like the el camino and el ranchero of old, with sport versions attempting to gain the capabilities of a full truck but usually failing fairly miserably (ex, sport versions of light trucks have no fuel savings over there larger counterparts, precious little cost savings, and far less room). OTOH, there's basically no light trucks left in the states new production, if you're looking at that.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veteran's Day

Thank you to those who served and fought. (Thank you to those who served and didn't fight, too, but that's a different day).

Let's all do our part in helping to protect the rights they fought for. Now if you'll excuse me, I've a drink to buy for a veteran, among other things

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Themetweak: Still fixin' it

Made aware of people having problems with light text on a dark background. My eyes are damn sensitive and don't much care for more bright whites with black text than I already get at work/etc, but I almost never see the darktheme on my blog anyway. Might as well cater to the people who've had to deal with the remnants of my edgy teen darkness phase and change it to something not predominantly black.

Still tweaking it around, gonna see if I can find something else with a little more character, but for now this will do.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Motor Monday: Car Shoppin'

Got hired on full where I'm working, with a tidy little raise now that the contract agency isn't taking a cut out of my check. My car is, however, in the process of dissolving out from under me. It's late 80s/early 90s steel, and I'm up in Wisconsin. The two do not get along well.

This means it's time to go shopping! Car shopping. Thankfully, I can drive stick, unlike most of my generation, so I've got some fun options available that other people don't. I've got some basic criteria to narrow the field; Approximately 30 mpg highway, AWD or 4WD preferable, and above-standard performance; This can take the form of hot hatches or similar, cars with some extra zip, or smaller trucks or SUVs that offer actually capabilities such as towing and/or offroading. Max price is $30k, but less is preferable if I can get it. Unfortunately, there's an added complicating factor; I'm a pretty big guy. Tall and broad shouldered, I often either can't fit my legs into a car, or I'm wedged into the door when it's shut. I'd love to get something like the Elio, which is cheap and performs decently by virtue of light weight, except it's basically vaporware at the moment.

Below are a few I've tested out that I actually fit in.

The Subaru WRX is one of my top contenders. Good ratings for reliability, performance, and user happiness. It's got AWD, and they actually work pretty decent when taken lightly off pavement being rally cars. They're a little spendy, but it's just because they include a lot of features that are upgrade packages on other cars in the class (and that AWD adds a bit). They've got a nice roomy trunk, although the newer models that get fuel economies where I want them aren't available with a hatchback for some reason. Test driven them, and they feel mighty nice, and I FIT very comfortably. I wouldn't be going for the STI package, because more power and expense than I have a use for, but it sure looks pretty.

Next up, and the car I actually learned to drive stick for, is the Ford Focus ST. 2wd and fwd only, but darn near $10k cheaper and a lot more subtle with its extra power. Rowdy handful and great fun to drive, with decent space inside and enough room for me to fit. Unfortunately I can't go for any of the higher packages that come with more sporty seats, because I have big muscley manlegs that are wider than the seats allow for when they have the racing wings to help hold you in place.  Still, very solid contender.

Ah, ol' reliable. A truck. Big ol' truck. Probably a Ford truck. There's a formerly beat to hell Ford Ranger at the family business, if we can get a functional engine in it again, it'll be a new truck (everything ELSE has been replaced). But, it's still 15 years old, and offers... less performance in every conceivable way than the modern generation of trucks. I'd lean towards a light truck, but they've gone the way of the buffalo as fullsize trucks shrink slightly, yet retain their capability in ways light trucks never hoped to achieve. Toss on all the options I want and a shiny new one goes just a bit above my price range (and below my favored MPG), but it'll have the specs I yearn for across the board. Thankfully, decent trucks have been a thing for a while, and even going back several model years they've still got pretty fair fuel economy. A couple aftermarket extras to improve the aerodynamics and load distribution and I'll be set with a pre-owned, and still have money to spare for a nice truck gun safe. Gotta have the slightly extended cab, though, to make sure I FIT in the thing. Going to be way harder to find a place to park than my current compact car though.

In testing, I've determined beyond any shadow of a doubt that... I do not fit in Hondas. There is no car made by Honda that I can comfortably fit into, driver's side or passenger, front or back.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Tech Twednesday: better space exploration through non-newtonian propulsion

Away game crosspost.

This is very interesting. A lot of hype and wild claims have been made about this being proof of warp drives (on the last go round of these). I'm not sure I'd go that far, but this does have substantial implications and applications if it's true.
First, there's plenty we don't know yet, so I wouldn't count out finding a way to interact outside of established newtonian physics. Quantum mechanics is completely separate and similarly well established. Perhaps we've stumbled onto a quantum thruster. Perhaps there's further realms of knowledge we're just getting a first glimpse of.Second, even if it's not warp, reactionless thrust (that is, being able to push something along without pushing against something else) will be our ticket to the stars. Nuclear reactors are practically old hat by now, able to produce substantial amounts of juice for very long times without refueling. Fusion reactors are being attempted (i believe i saw some German scientists trying to get one running in the moderately near future) and will be even better, allowing refueling with the most abundant thing in the universe. If we can work out what part of this EM drive is doing it, we can scale it up, and vastly increase our space reach.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Interstellar Warfare Wednesday: Shoot For The Moon

Meant to post this one last week but I was busy.

In the process of becoming a spacefaring species, our moon is vital. As our nearest neighbor, it serves as a stepping stone to the solar system and beyond. Its size, (lack of) atmosphere, proximity, and composition make it uniquely suited for a variety of roles.

The first step in any of this, to truly utilize the moon, will require reasonably available transportation to and from. Advances across the board in space transport have made it far cheaper than previously, but this still isn't enough. For ease of access, either purpose-built orbital launchers capable of accelerating crafts to a lunar rendezvous without the use of expensive fuels or a lunar elevator will be required. A trip to the moon needs to be on par with a transoceanic flight, or at least a ride aboard a cargo ship, able to ferry people and supplies to and from Luna without a lot of fuss and bother. These options, and specific details of their design, development, and implementation, will be discussed some other Wednesday.

Now, to get one thing out of the way: As soon as lunar colonization because feasible, there will be massive hue and cry to preserve the moon, with laws and treaties and threats of war if anybody does anything visible on the near side of the moon's surface. This is less of a hindrance than it seems, owing to the fact that the other side of the moon still gets decent light, and the fact that the moon has no atmosphere for breathing or protection.

The moon will be one, or more likely a series, of arcologies. Every last cubic inch of habitable space, and a great deal of the unhabitable space, is going to have to be put there manually. Much of it will be below the surface, to shelter from the otherwise unblocked cosmic radiation and space debris. The moon is, however, incredibly dense and contains a great deal of ore, which will be used in the colonization effort.

At 1/6th of Earth's gravity, even assuming things are made otherwise habitable for regular life, the human body will require assistance to maintain itself. At its simplest, clothing will be made featuring resistance bands to make the body work as if it were subject to gravity. Depending on advancements in technology, such things as the recently developed sonic tractors may be used to increase downwards force to create artificial gravity, or even rotational artificial gravity in the manner of a graviton. Still, this is of great use for functional industries such as shipyards.

One of the primary purposes for the lunar sites is to serve as starports. Ships that wouldn't be able to escape Earth's gravity and atmospheric resistance can be built, launched, and landed on the . These ships will open reasonable transit times to the farther reaches of the solar system, even with current propulsion systems.

Another benefit of the moon is easier orbital training. With less gravity, setting training facilities, orbital shipyards for craft too big even for lunar production, and so on into orbit can be done at much nearer to the planet and safety via escape pods or similar. Specific details of orbital stations will be discussed in a separate post.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Motor Monday: Slick Steam

Nice, hands off recirculating steam engine. Quick start-up, creature comforts, and nice and zippy! Seemed particularly relevant since I'm preparing for a Deadlands game.

I'm waiting for the Cyclone steam engine to FINALLY drop for consumer use, which I suspect is going to take off in a big way because power-to-weight ratio, fuel flexibility, ease of use, and price. Direct drive, no coolant system, no oil (water lubricated), no exhaust stuff (still has exhaust, but needs no muffler or emissions things) means it's basically going to be a perfect drop in engine for people looking to create stuff without much knowledge of things like gear ratios. But that will get its own post when they finally DO SOMETHING with the damned thing worth reporting, aside from occasional reports that someone else has partnered with them.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Interstellar Warfare Wednesday: Martial Arts IN SPAAAACE

I've gone over spaceguns, and spacegear, and spacetactics, but yet to touch on martial arts. Even with the advanced technology needed to claim a place as a race capable of space combat, martial arts will still be required. No matter how far technology advances, spacecraft are cramped, and every possible inch of space is packed with vital equipment. In addition, ships not reinforced for combat may be susceptible to arms intended to pierce other space combat suits.

Which brings us back to The Old Fashioned Way. Grapples, strikes, and melee weapons, wielded by and against people likely clad in suits able to withstand the horrors of space. Obviously, things can't be done just as usual, because all you'd get is people uselessly thumping each others armor until one of them got tired or overheated; much like how modern soldiers are trained with an emphasis on grapples rather than simply breaking themselves on armored opponents.

Further complicating things is that pesky lack of gravity, either completely, or merely reduced during planet-side operations or in artificial partial G environments. A substantial amount of effort will likely need to go to further refinement of techniques that function in such conditions.

Grapples, without gravity, will be problematic. Certain techniques such as the armbar may still continue to function as they use a combination of the victim's and aggressor's bodies as the surface against which the arm is wrenched, but without some manner of magnet boots or similar technology to allow for bracing, throws and such will tend to just leave both combatants drifting apart. For unarmored/unsuited combatants, a grapple fight will turn into a very floaty series of attempts to perform chokes or wrenches and resist same.

Similarly, lacking grav boots, striking becomes near useless without something to push off of. Almost all power in a strike comes ultimately from the ground, and blows thrown with only muscle power tend to be lacking. With sufficiently rigid surfaces inside of the ship, combatants may be able to kick off walls to launch themselves into attacks, which is flashy, difficult, and risky. One would be reminded of kids in a bouncy castle attempting to fight. Any combat suits would by necessity have at least concentrating strikers, like those of a glass breaking hammer, and an emphasis on blows to the chinks in the armor and breakable vital components such as the faceplate or pack.

The last chance is the melee weapon. Humanity has augmented his might with tools ever since the first stick was lifted as a bludgeon, and there's no reason we should stop now. That said, we may need to put in some further development to tools that have largely stagnated due to alternate technologies. Like the knights of old, piercing power and ability to target weak spots will be key, but further development may be needed. Exotic materials that we're on the brink of unlocking, such as blades with a boron carbide coated superfine edge, will keep the humble bit of steel relevant; still, further exotics may be required. Vibro weapons are presently mere science fiction, but supposedly boast superb damage and armor penetration if they work anything like we imagine they might. Weapons able to generate some manner of superheated edge are more feasible at present day, as plasma cutters and such are known quantities if we can miniaturize the functional bits, at the cost of greedily burning oxygen even if they only fire during contact and penetration. Such weapons are also viciously effective if they can penetrate to the inside of a pure oxygen suit, but unusable on pure oxygen vessels. Another known quantity already well on its way to miniaturization is powered weapons, such as the chainsword and buzz axe so favored by certain sci-fi licenses. Power tools are well known entities, and while dedicated tools may be wielded against the haplessly unarmed, for use as true weapons further refinement is required; we must bring them in line with the myriad of arms humanity has developed to work with our form factor, and adjust them to suit the rigors of battle. Still, even with suitable weapons to permit damage to be done, fighting with weaponry will require some combination of grappling and striking, with the same difficulties as are mentioned in their respective sections

Ultimately finding what works will require a great deal of testing, and as always, will only be undertaken by the most forward-thinking of military thinkers, with the rest playing catch-up after they discover they are no longer fighting the last war. Still, physical combat and melee prowess shouldn't be discounted, even as we extend our reach to the stars. With sword in hand, we shall rise to the heavens.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Contentious Topics

Guns have always been one. I'm presently penning a substantial entry that will be crossposted both here and on social media, in response to a number of those I share said media with. I may well lose some friends, but when they're demanding I be forcibly stripped of my possessions for the behavior of another, and armed men with guns sent to kill me if I refuse (The implicit conclusion to calls for confiscation), are they really my friends?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Motor Monday: Model A modernization project

Basically everybody I've ever met digs the old classics. 20s, 30s, maybe even up through the 50s or so, they've just got a bit of style about them. Performance of course is another thing entirely. That they don't have. But what if you could get a bit of both?

I'm not the first to think of this. There's the PT Cruiser, which made a fairly decent attempt at it, but there's just something subtly off about it. The lines aren't quite right, the style's not there, and most I know just view it as a pale imitation. The brush of bland, samey streamlining was hefted in its direction just a bit too enthusiastically. Gave it a little too much 'minivan', particularly the whole-body slope. Still, I appreciate the effort, and it's far from the worst attempt I've seen at such things. It's like a C+ or maybe a B-. Above whatever nebulous average, but still not the slam dunk, but quite nice for something you could justify as a daily driver. It's also about 5 years out of production now, although reviews say it was decent enough and kicked off some other new versions of classics that have turned out rather nice. 

Another crack at it from the other direction, pure performance with a bit of classic class, is the Factory Five '33 Hot Rod. It's a kit car, a custom race frame with a slick reproduction 30s style body. Performance-wise it holds up its end of the bargain, and the pricing's even not terrible considering it's meant to be a track car at just under $20k. Problem is, it's a kit car; you have to assemble it, and source a bunch of parts yourself off a donor car. This means you have to have have time and space to assemble it, no stylish rides for the mechanically impaired. And it gets worse: nothing in the way of amenities, such as things like, oh, I dunno, windows. Stock, you get a stripped out shell like many of the most determinedly focused sports cars, although if you've talent, time, and resources there's nothing to say you couldn't add stuff yourself. Still, worth a look if you want to turn some heads at the track In the looks department it's got it all down pat, but it's too heavy on the hot rod side of things to be anything but a toy without substantial extra work.

The Cheverolet SSR (Super Sport Roadster) is yet another attempt at classic styling, this time in approximately a truck. And still, there's something just a bit off. Even more than the PT Cruiser, perhaps, it's just TOO heavily rounded. It's based a bit more on a 50s custom truck, but it fits mostly with the theme. 
But there IS hope. From a major, mainstream company, no less (there are still things like Morgan that make things with classic style and immense price points to match). What could it be? Why, it's something that's even better than the original, in my eyes. The New Beetle, from Volkswagon. They took the classic styling, and streamlined it, made it sleeker and more capable. I've seen a few, they look good enough to turn heads. Gone is the cutesy look, in favor of a touch more aggressive styling. A sports car it is not, but it retains the rounded styling of years passed.

But this is not a project, you may be thinking. You'd be right, if for some reason you find me interesting enough to read this far. What IS a project is my thoughts to get some prototyping foam, or spend some time in any of the multitude of modeling softwares with which I am so accustomed. While I technically have the skills required to use modern engineering practices to design a car from scratch, there's little need for all that. Adjusting the frames and suspension and such is a task better left to those with far stronger software than I, simulation packages and the like to determine crash performance and whathaveyou. Thus far all attempts succeed handily in being functional on a modern level, but many fail in the style department, if ever so slightly. If I succeed, mayhap we'll all benefit from a modern take on the classics. If I fail? Well, I've tried and created something, and kept carefully tailored skills from decaying further

Friday, September 18, 2015

Capitalism: Giving you the means of production

Found on the interwebs. Take that, Marx!

Fantasy Friday: Transcribe Your Tomes

It had never made any sense. Why did everyone spend so many hours copying scrolls and spells into their books? I mean, sure, there's the extra bit of memory that comes from manually transcribing things, but he was a strong enough, fast enough reader to just cast right off the page. Breezed through his wizardy classes, always the first done on magical tests involving new spells, no problem.

Now it all made sense. A last minute proofread, a check to make sure everything is legible. All his classes, the professors had nice clean handwriting. This old scroll, a deal at the shop, looked like it contained rituals of untold power. It.... turns out it did not.

At least it was cheap.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Motor Monday addendum: A Scenic Drive through Hell

Found actual car related things, kind of. Driving, at least, so it's marginally more post-worthy. A video of the escape from that valley fire after it seems to have snuck past some folks.

Motor Monday: Opportunity Missed and Motorcycle Musings

On a business trip with my company to see applications of our products (volumetric fillers). We had some time to kill today, so we stopped at a classic car dealership with a side of museum to it right on the way to the hotel. As we were heading out the door I realized I should have taken pictures, but taking pictures isn't usually a thing I do. Oh well. 30s era cars continue to be gorgeous and we all agreed that something with modernized hardware and that kind of styling would be pretty great and we'd all want one if it was reasonable. We all lamented the PT Cruiser as an attempt that did it wrong but at least got a little credit for trying.

So, I've had my bike a few months now, barely put 200 miles on it because I won't ride unless I'm physically sound and mentally present, and I'm often very tired and have a moderate length commute. Went with a new bike because dodging issues and surprises associated with buying used... only to get a recall notice in the mail. Bah. Nothing major, mine didn't have the issue and it didn't cost me anything, so whatever.

Still having trouble figuring out leg armor that plays nice with a gun on the hip. Beginning to suspect I might either have to find a shoulder holster I like (vertical gun position instead of horizontal), belly band, or anything else that moves said gun off my hip, or just suck it up and strap motorcycle pants or chaps or whatever on over the top of it. I guess I can IWB my OWB by wearing a pair of armorpants.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Murderhoboing along

Things Players Do that Real People Never Would

I've run into other players that behaved in a manner that made me curious how they functioned in the real world, they were so poorly able to function in a simulated/imaginary one.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The day the world changed

I had something lighthearted and fun for a Fantasy Friday this week, until I remembered what day it was. Maybe next week.

I've seen a great many people discuss where they were when the towers fell. A lot of people describe it as a huge shift, a change in the world and perceptions about it, to say nothing of the awful things that followed under the guise of "public safety". I was 11, in a social studies or history class of some kind. I remember it because I had a red binder, and I think I remember it being one of my few male teachers and not the one I had for science classes. There wasn't a big announcement, as I recall it was something whispered to him by the assistant principal. All we were told was that something terrible had happened, but there wasn't much to be done and we should try to keep our minds off it because we'd be hearing about it soon enough. I think that a kid who had family in NYC got pulled aside and filled in separately from everyone.

As for the changes in the world? Post 9/11 is all I've ever really known. I was depressed when I was a twerp, and the only memories that stayed with me were the unpleasant ones on a continuous loop. So I cut them loose. I have vague memories of trips to Disney World, with the security being less stupid to fly. The gropings weren't quite so extensive, and we hadn't decided that irradiating people in the name of public safety was a fantastic plan. you could even bring more liquids than would fit in a snack size plastic bag, even though you can buy triple extra jumbo double deluxe sizes inside the security cordon, and it's just a means to try and get you to buy overpriced shit. I remember that back in the day, suggesting adding public gropings to any/all public places in the name of public safety would get you laughed out of office, now people are suggesting the secret special no-fly list be applied to all forms of public transportation, and every venue that has realized they can get away with it will dig through your bags in search of contraband "for safety" so they can force you to buy their crap at 10x price.

Spare a thought for those who lost their lives, and those who perished rushing to their aid. Spare a much angrier thought for those responsible, and those who capitalized on the fallen for personal gain.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Internet Argument Referee

More at the link. These seem like they'd be rather handy when arguing with the anti-gun forces if not for all that reasoned discourse they're fond of.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Tech Thursday: hands on with VR

I've discussed VR and AR devices and predictions of their applications in the future several times. Now I've got a brief hands-on with it to review, specifically the Samsung Gear VR.

Other than not quite being able to get it in perfect focus, it was pretty fantastic. There was no visual lag to be noticed, and most of the images were nicely crisp and reasonably 3d. Headset was easy to wear and comfy, and the whole rig caused no headache, vertigo, or disorientation (note: I'm mostly immune to these, your experience may differ).

The interface needs a bit of work, but various controllers and similar are in the works, and even the included touch interface would work just fine were it a personal model I could adjust the settings on. I'd like a bit wider field of view, but dedicated vr sets like the occulus rift will no doubt handle that. It also kind of requires you sit in a spinning chair, at least for the games I used.

VR and AR are technologies that are going places. A bit more streamlining and development and I'd bet they'll be as revolutionary a step as the smartphone was. Presently vr is stuck in a loop of not much development for it because nobody has it yet because nobody develops for it. I'm used to being a late adopter for tech, but i think this is one that's worth it to get in on.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Motor Monday: Tactical Hotrod

Been a while since I had stuff for one of these. Been meaning to do this one a while.

A thing that rolled across my dash on the Book of Faces.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

GURPS Macheteswords, further further musings

It's much easier to work out how to stat something when you have it in hand to test and dick around with. And, as usual when doing things in GURPS, I over-complicated things. McThag said it was pretty much just Cheap, which I agreed with on the lost damage (utility edge isn't as sharp as regular, etc), but wasn't sure about the increased odds of breakage seeming wrong. Naturally I went to trying to make a new rule, as opposed to the better option of "Machetes just bend a bit rather than snapping", resulting in penalties to use but an otherwise easily fixed and still functional blade.

I also mis-remembered the mass-produced modifier given as being 75% instead of 60%, so no change to that, although I will rule that the powers of modern mass production can allow it to be applied to most modern factory-made swords (there are plenty of handmade swords still to be found for comparison, and the price difference is just about right).

And, because why not, some stats

CS Cutlass Machete: Splits the difference between cavalry saber and cutlass due to borderline size, with elements of falchion due to balance; mass produced, cheap quality (machete). Given time and equipment, may be sharpened to a good edge, at the cost of shorter edge longevity (stats given are for good quality, which requires time to sharpen).

Sword (Broadsword or Shortsword)
TL     Weapon               Damage        Reach   Parry    Cost    Weight   ST     Notes
 8    Cutlass Machete    SW+1 cut         1           0        $36        2 lb     10      Hilt Punch
                                      THR imp         1            0          -                      10
Handguard provides DR4 against crushing, DR2 vs everything else

CS Bowie Machete
Mass produced (60% cost), high tech good quality (40%) Long Knife.

Cold Steel Macheteswords Review

I LIVE! Well, kind of. Anyway, here's a slightly-past-first impressions review.

First up: CS Cutlass Machete, $30 on amazon

Like all CS machetes, it comes in a really basic plastic sleeve and a cordura sheath. Out of the box, the edge was possibly the worst edge I've ever seen. It also was not a machete edge at all, much narrower of angle, more like a knife's edge. Cleaning up the edge of the blade was reasonably quick, and left a decent knife's edge on it. The blade itself balances a nice 6-8" out from the grip, giving it a hearty chopping weight not dissimilar to a light hatchet. EDIT TO ADD: The balance point of the cutlass machete is identical to that of an SOG Tactical Tomahawk relative to grip. The molded polymer handguard, while not particularly standard for a machete, is nicely placed to prevent crushing your hand should you screw up a swing. The blade is simple stamped steel, covered rather crudely with an anti-rust finish except for the very edge. The blade is sturdy enough, and can withstand a not insignificant amount of bending and snap back straight, and any bend too extreme is easily straightened with little difficulty. The guard itself is molded directly to the blade.

Here's where things diverge from what you'd expect of a machete. First off is the blade length; at 24", it sits right at the intersection between shortsword and broadsword in length. Despite being nominally a machete, it has a rather nice point for thrusting. I may add a false edge to the back, to really step it up to a proper thrusting blade. I've been using it to practice for broadsword fencing, using a free broadsword manual available on kindle (Broadsword and singlestick, with chapters on quarterstaff and bayonet). Other than requiring forearms of might to keep the blade under control and enact swift direction changes, it works quite excellently for it. The blade and grip feel quite nice in hand, the blade size perfectly registering as "Sword", neither too short nor too long, able to be used for shortsword and shield style thrusting just as well as broadsword style cuts and thrusts. The polymer grip and guard, while pleasant in the hand, are just polypropylene and though durable against bludgeoning, polypropylene is easy to shave off or cut through.

-Versatile size
-Reasonable weight
-Good for chopping
-Cheap enough to use and abuse

-MUST be sharpened after purchase
-Balance requires substantial forearm strength for anything but the most basic of use
-Molded grip, while passable, is molded on rather than screwed/pinned in, and cannot be easily swapped for a grip to adjust the balance or gain actual protection for the hand.

Overall Rating/Value for Money:
B+, would be A- if the grip were screwed/pinned on and could be swapped by those so desirous. Still, a superb sword for the low cost.

Next: CS Bowie Machete, $18 on amazon

Similarly to the cutlass, packaged plainly and comes with a simple cordura sheath. Had a similarly terrible and even LESS machete-like edge than the cutlass. The balance is also hardly machete-like, and is nearly identical to their simple fighting knife, the GI Tanto. The bowie machete is quite light, as well, despite being such a massive blade it weighs about the same as the nearly half length knife. It has the same molded-on grip as all the other CS machetes, and is comfy enough if odd and lacking in anything resembling a grip.

-Handy size
-Light weight
-Nicely balanced

-Poorly weighted for chopping
-No handguard between grip and blade
-Grip cannot be easily replaced.

Overall Rating/Value for Money:
B, B+ with replaceable grip. It's basically just a cheap, abusable bowie knife.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Not dead yet, have some art.

Just busy and lacking time and motivation to ramble into my empty corner of the internet. Got a few things knocking around in the noggin, such as a GURPS conversion from Dark Heresy/WH40k in general (other people have done it sort of, but the Did It Wrong in places), along with eleventy bajillion things of saved and forgotten tech tuesday links, and a few more entries on the Diary of a Va'Kree Spacer.

GURPS Metro finally got going mostly in earnest, and I'm spending a lot of time trying to build really fancy detailed maps for everything with the crappy tokens and backgrounds Roll20 has available for free, and starting to draw up my own monsters and things because their selection is so poor (even among potentially purchasable things). In a related matter, if ever you require character portraits, monster drawings or whathaveyou, you need only wave a buck or two and a description at me and I'll be happy to oblige, particularly if I'm permitted to torment my players with said monsters.

Meet a character I whipped up for an upcoming Dark Heresy game, veteran NCO Sergeant Titus, of the Forge World Fabryka. Loyal member of the Imperial Cult, he translates his zeal into very useful pragmatism, because dead men can't serve the Omnissiah. His laspistol does most of the work, but he's quite handy with that sword; he's also quite capable with issuing orders, and more than happy to simply lob grenades into emplacements or blow open walls rather than try to lead glorious charges against the enemy. He also has a fear of open spaces after being forced to lead a charge across open ground to break an advancing enemy formation, losing nearly all of his men and almost being killed himself in the process.

Foreshortening and angle on the legs are a bit off, but I like how this turned out. Drew it up in the northwoods with no internet or refs, so I'd say it didn't turn out too badly.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Sci-Fi Friday: Diary of a Va-Kree Spacer, Entry 2

It is an interesting thing to be aboard a ship full of the creatures used to frighten unruly children. It is also quite informative. Initial posturing aside, the Earthers and Coqnur seem to get along terrifyingly well. Woe betide any foe that inspires them to ally together.

They have been swapping stories of ancient conflicts, trading tales of battles that ended scores of lives as casually as we might discuss the weather. It is unnerving to listen to, but tells much of their races and the fearsome reputation they have earned.

They had shared countless tales of their great wars, largest battles and greatest defeats. Finally, the topic I dreaded arose; the first contact and combat between the Terrans and Coqnur. I feared a great conflict would arise, one I would have no escape from in the close confines! But instead it was met with great curiosity, as neither species seemed to know much of the other's motivations in the battle. Indeed, all that is known throughout most of the galaxy is that the human victory was absolutely crushing.

As you well know, it all began when a Human settlement was established on a world claimed by the Coqnur at the fringe of their space. It was a loose claim, but the planet held little most of the galaxy deemed of value (including the Coqnur themselves) and to my knowledge there was no formal claim to denote its ownership. Some even theorize that having heard of the Terran's habit of planting at least an outpost on every unclaimed world with a vaguely stable orbit, that the Coqnur claim was planned to gain an excuse to attack, and perhaps reclaim their former glory as the terror of the galaxy. However it came to pass, the galaxy watched in horror as a Coqnur battlefleet mobilized against the fledgling spacefarers. It was feared that a conflict, if it truly arose, would engulf and destroy all of known space, such were the reputations of both species.

No strangers to warfare, the Coqnur used the humans impressively advanced, though somewhat questionable in content, datanet to perform research. Where the civilized inhabitants of the galaxy would avert their eyes in horror lest they imagine the terrors the Humans had inflicted upon themselves, the warriors of the galaxy read with keen interest. But it seems that in their haste and eagerness to prove their dominance, errors were made in their analysis. 

The Terrans were nothing if not efficient at establishing a colony; the encampment was already well emplaced when the Coqnur fleet fell upon it like a meteor shower. Armed and armored, the Reapers of Battle are a terrible force, and the humans fell before them as had been expected. The young Coqnur, known to the humans as Randall due to their inability to properly ennunciate several of the sounds of his true name, explained that initial reports of the battle led the generals to believe they had already won. Even as the commanders prepared to toast their victory over the supposed might of the Terran Military, the tide of battle began to turn. The token resistance faced in the intial wave stiffened, and the Coqnur advance slowed to a crawl. Still, it was thought that with so dominant a position, the humans would surrender or collapse under the strain of battle, trapped as they were in their fortifications. How wrong they had been...

Randall relayed the sense of horror shared by the Coqnur forces as the Might of Terra joined the battle in earnest. These humans, descendents not of mighty predators, but of mere omnivores, even herbivores did not collapse, did not surrender. When the Reapers were poised to capture a structure, the inhabitants would sacrifice themselves and destroy it to defeat their foe; Such structures were taken at no small cost to the invaders, only for their gains to be stripped away amidst thunderous blasts and rending fragments. At every turn, every advance, horrific traps were sprung. The top planners had predicted that unconditional surrender or complete annihilation would be reached within an hour; by the third hour of the engagement the weary forces of the Coqnur were beginning to be pushed back.

While most forces, such as the automaton war brigades kept by most civilized races, would deem a battle lost, the Coqnur did no such thing. Driven by pride and a sense of sure superiority, they were determined to cow the uppity usurpers to their throne as terror of the galaxy. As it would turn out, they never stood a chance.

By the end of the first day, the Terrans had taken the offensive. By the third, the Reapers were facing tremendous losses not to battle, but to fatigue; despite their best efforts at maintaining reinforcements, the troops were falling dead of the strain. Yet, the humans advanced, through day and night, without tire. Even the automaton brigades, a favorite foe of the Coqnur for their ability to provide a proper battle, fought nothing like these monsters. The finest war machines would falter, or stop to run combat analysis, but the humans advanced without fail. Only the greatest of damage seemed to slay them, and still they came. As the fourth day broke, even the most stubborn of generals admitted that the battle was lost to them and attempted retreat; the humans prevented any escape, seeming determined to delay or destroy their attackers.

It was at this point that the large human who had thrown the knife at the bar took the narrative. John, his name is, explained that the humans had seen the fleet coming. Indeed, the Coqnur made little attempt to hide their initial approach, and such measure are questionable at best against the backdrop of the void regardless. Unbeknownst to the Reapers, Humans are masters of defense, and think little of refusing to join in glorious open combat. They knew little of the enemy, and were prepared to fight to the last man, woman, and child with every trick at their disposal.

Then, the true turning point happened; On the fifth day, the Terran military arrived. The forces that had faced the mightiest military then known to the universe to a standstill and forced a retreat were mere militia, a term unknown to both the Coqnur and I until John explained. The militia is a force, composed not of any warrior caste, but merely any human willing to take up arms. John continued to raise a fair point; The humans had evolved as persuit predators, a terrifying concept to discover. Armed with mere sticks, they had hunted many of the greatest beasts of their homeworld to extinction not by might of arms, force of numbers, or sheer power, but simply by dogged determination. They simply tracked their prey until it died of exhaustion in its attempts to fight or flee, just as the Coqnur had. Even their first ally on their world seemed to be selected as the only creature to somewhat keep pace. Most of the great predators of their world were like the Coqnur, mighty and peerless in battle, but unable to sustain the effort beyond a brief and furious initial clash.

Randall spoke, revealing the terrible flaw behind the whole confrontation. When planning, the Coqnur had indeed found many of the measures of human battles. What they failed to comprehend was the sheer scale; the differing measures of time led months and years to be taken as their equivalent of days and weeks, a common length for great wars among the Coqnur. John explained that wars lasting for generations were not only not unheard of, but not even uncommon throughout Terran history. Even Randall was cowed, to hear it so casually explained that humans thought very little of wars lasting longer than the adulthood periods of many galactic inhabitants!

What manner of terrible world would produce such a horrific creature, and how could it survive to spread into the great void? Then again, having heard even this much about them, how could such monsters not thrive? Though they are amiable enough once known, they are not to be crossed if it is possible to avoid. Still, they seem willing enough to risk themselves in defense of galactic denizens, and swap stories of facing uncontrolled war machines in defense of their creatores with the same casualness we might apply to a simple jaunt to one of our moons from the planet.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Interstellar Warfare Wednesday: Building A Better Gyroc

The Guns Of The Future show up in many settings, but are usually one of three categories; lasers, gyrocs, or gauss guns. Guass guns are someone else's problem, and lasguns are fantastic and I have some musings that will require I brush up on electrical engineering a bit to start assembling a thing. This discussion is about TINY ROCKETS. A favored weapon in WH40k, along with lasers, which is amusing because the setting always drastically oversells the difficulty and complexity of a gyroc weapons system,

Of the three classes, gyrocs are ahead of the curve in terms of realism; the Gyrojet Pistol (sort of) worked, in the 1960s! Rocket motors have improved substantially in power since then, much like all other things with propellants, and the means to design with. With ammunition that didn't cost an arm and a leg ($7.50 per round or so to purchase at time of introduction, according to GURPS High Tech, so there might be a bit of error in there due to conversion factors to GURPS Dollars), combined with a gun that wasn't stupid, it might be darn viable.

First up, things wrong with the Gyrojet pistol; designed to be recoilless. That's all well and good, but if it makes your gun essentially nonfunctional out to 20 feet but is designed to be used as a defensive weapon? All the power in the world "eventually" doesn't help much if it does nothing "now" which is where you need it. Just sealing the barrel and permitting the rocket exhaust to pressurize it like a standard gun would probably step the power up substantially at the muzzle, as would using a relatively weak firing charge to ignite the round and get it up to speed while the rocket motors were still kicking in. Boosting muzzle velocity also helps accuracy, because the round leaving the gun at no speed means wind plays hell with your accuracy. Modern propellants may permit the gun to remain recoilless or semi-recoilless, if they can accelerate to a useful degree even at short ranges.

Several other issues with the most commonly known version of Gyrojet were solved by later models, when it was realized that designing things to be New and Different for its own sake was stupid, because a lot of how things worked was because that's what WORKED. As such, I won't discuss those particular changes and will merely state that a new production gyroc must have the features and capabilities one would expect of a modern firearm (detachable magazine, ability to clear jams should they occur, etc).

Next up, the ammo needs to be redesigned. Gyrojet rounds use angled vents to spin the round as it flies. Any problems in manufacturing those vents and the round turns into a crazy rocket, which isn't very useful. They also require fairly good tolerances be held, and it's not a particularly easy design to make conveniently. Instead, switch to a 2-3 part construction: the warhead is simply a bullet of the same caliber as the gyroc that press/crimp fits into the gyroc-to-be, the body of the round is simple tube metal that is formed to produce the rocket vent and fit to the final piece, a stamped metal fin. Stamp fin, roll-form main body, press/weld fin and body together, insert rocket motor, insert warhead. Gotta jam a primer and possibly the booster charge in there at some stage of that, but it wouldn't be at all hard to automate the heck out of that like any other modern ammo production system, to achieve competitive prices to same. Alternatively, using a sealed barrel and/or booster charge, you could use rifling to achieve the stabilizing spin with the rocket solely focused to driving the projectile.

The final question; what's the point? Does a gyroc improve over good old fashioned lead in any particular way? The answer is that it depends. A gyroc accelerates up to the max speed it can manage and stays there until it runs out of fuel, meaning it stays at full power for a good long while. Larger caliber gyrocs would essentially be improved slugs, and comparable to the use of shotguns in tactical situations: Very capable but limited by sheer size and weight of ammunition. Much like a shotgun for military use, they'd be likely used as what they are: a tiny rocket launcher (the slug or 12ga grenade filled shotgun being a tiny smoothbore cannon), delivering minigrenades with accuracy and range, possibly mounted to a carrier firearm. Depending on the effectiveness of the gyroc, the function of the gun to fire it, and comparisons to standard ammunition (price, weight, size) small caliber gyrocs could well take the place of the traditional round as the standard. That said, traditional rounds will never go away (I'd hardly be surprised if 9mm lasts as long as the species and possibly beyond)

Music: A Space Miner's Lament

Haven't even played the game yet, but the soundtrack's darn good. I dig the feel of this song (hah). That's one of my favorite things about the Terrans of Starcraft, they're Space Rednecks; they'll take on anything, and it gives much of the world/system/galaxy/whatever a real nice adventurous frontier feel.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

GURPS CheatSheet: 4e Basic Set in 5 pages or less

In my quest to make GURPS a bit more playable for people who aren't crazy and read its copious amounts of rules, and to supplement my own GM screen, I went through and collected most of the major rules of GURPS into a handy little compendium. By getting just the rules, it collects the actual stuff needed to play into about 5 pages (skipping all the character generation stuff and rules attached to that, with the expectation that a player will make their own reference sheet for things that effect them).

Still tweaking, formatting, and adding to it, but there's the sheet as it presently is
Page 1 is basics of play: odds of 3d6 based success, the different types of tests, and when to roll.
Page 2 is combat basics, the turn order, and so on
Page 3 is rules for injury and recovery
Page 4 and 5 are further special situations, including rules for shooting things in cover, size/range/speed tables, rate of fire bonuses, and hit locations.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

GURPS High Tech Low Tech; Mass Production and Improvised Weapons

GURPS, for all its efforts to have rules for everything ever, leaves a number of things unmentioned and without rules. Some of them are minor and only likely to impact anything if you really are trying to dig in depth, others are a bit more jarring if you try to use them.

First up, mass production at higher tech levels of blades and similar. Low Tech has the Cutlass at $400, and mentions that the one listed in basic set for $300 is a mass produced version. This gives us a functioning mass production modifier of .75x. Thing is, that's at TL4, age of sail, when even mass produced they still had to be built Ye Olde Fashioned Way. What happens at high tech, when a properly set production line can churn out good or fine quality blades by the hundreds or thousands? Corners can be cut (or not, if it's cheaper) in ways never before possible to allow for ease of production, at the cost of appearance, even if the blade quality itself is unaffected. Many modern blades use the standard rules for the free upgrade to fine quality, or 60% price break to purchase good. These mass production musings are for such things as blades made of quality modern steel, with hardly any effort put into actually sharpening the edge and such things as ugly molded plastic grips. An example would be some things such as the Cold Steel machetes, made of pretty good steel and weighted exactly as they should be (most fall under the classification of Falchions or Small Falchions for rules), but with every corner available to cut without ruining the blade. They also come with a nearly blunt machete/utility edge, even if they're made of the same steel as the finer blades; for example, both the 1917 Bowie knife and the Bowie Machete are made of 1055 Carbon steel. As most blades are machine tempered these days as an automated process, it's unlikely that other than the anti-rust coating on the machete (which is meant to be abused) and generally simpler geometry the blades differ any. The true bowie has an MSRP of $200, online retail of $117. The bowie machete has an MSRP of $30, and an online retail of $25. Alternatively, cheap quality (20% price of usual) would explain the difference perfectly, with the difference being in the quality of the edge as purchased, provided that it is permitted to raise the quality by sharpening and refinement (assuming that mass production, rather than necessarily using poor quality steel that cannot be improved, merely doesn't bother with a fine or even good edge, and other such niceties that can be remedied with sufficient time and skill in the required areas such as blade sharpening, woodworking, even if the skill or equipment to craft a good or fine blade from scratch is not possessed). Otherwise, I may house-rule that a modern mass produced blade is treated as an opposite version of a display weapon, valued at the next step down (A good quality blade becomes cheap price, and receives reaction penalties from those who know or appreciate weapons equal what a display weapon would gain in reaction bonuses)

Other questions with GURPS are the treatment of improvised weapons; many things receive fairly sizeable penalties to use as weapons without the Improvised Weapon Master perk; Among these is the Sledgehammer, treated as a maul at -2 to skill, despite all historical examples of war maul I can find being essentially just sledgehammers. So far the main difference I've been able to come up with was possibly the use of a metal haft, or at least metal clad, but this doesn't explain the penalty to skill when they are identical save for weight and price (Sledgehammer is listed at 15 lbs, maul at 12. Of course, sledgehammers are commonly available in different weights, would a smaller sledgehammer simply be a maul at 1/8th price? The splitting maul, essentially a lightweight but sharpened sledgehammer, gets a -3 to skill to use with two handed axe/mace skill. As someone who's spent much of his life swinging axes, sledgehammers, and so on, this seems somewhat questionable. Still, not particularly hard to ignore those penalties and just treat it as using base skill.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Motor Music Monday

Found this because it was the theme for a promo for Wasteland Weekend, which is basically live action Fallout/Mad Max/Metro 2033/etc, and is a big post-apocalyptic immersion party in the deserts of Vegas. Apocalypsed cars and costume are mandatory for the weekend. One of these years I may swing on by representing the Nuclear Winter covered Northlands, with our preserved fine brewing techniques despite the fall of civilization. I think I'll go more Metro 2033 apocalyptic pseudo-military style rather than Warboy/Raider/etc.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Interstellar Warfare Wednesday: Banner for the Stars

So apparently some Swede drew up a flag that's supposed to represent all of Earth, and it's taken off like mad because it pushes all kinds of hope'n'change peace and togetherness motifs.
Bullshit. Representing humanity with a flag preaching togetherness? Blatant misrepresentation of the species. We're warlike assholes, and without a good bit of genetic engineering or a LOT of time, that's not going to change. As we advance unto the stars, we can at least be honest about our nature. Any interactions with humanity if we can get to the stars on a reliable basis will give up the ruse anyway, might as well be up front about it. "Hey, we're kinda jerks, but we've managed to work together enough to get THIS far, so, uh, just be aware alright? We're trying, but we're kind of evolved angry apes, so there's only so far we can go with it..."

Thankfully, there are plenty of examples I've seen that serve much better as a representation of humanity.
The Halo series provides the space command branch logo of a future UN that's actually halfway useful.

The Terran Dominion, while rather dystopian on founding as with most of the governments of  Humanity, both on earth or in the Coprulu Sector, has a sweet logo that leaves no questions about the species militaristic nature.
The United Earth Directorate is the Starcraft world's current gov of Earth. Rather dystopian, but the flag is remarkably similar to that of the UNSC
And finally, the Aquila of the Imperium of Man. Makes the dystopias of other settings look darn Utopian.
The only thing they're missing is the Pale Blue Dot. A friendquantaince mentioned that he thought the Mexican flag would serve as a reasonable base for a space-flag. I'd say something like the Flag of Mozambique would also serve adequately as a basis.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial day

A day for honoring the fallen. I'm blessed to say that despite knowing an immense number of people who are serving or have served, all of them save a few who passed peacefully after a long, good life are still with me. Many aren't so lucky.

To those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, you are not forgotten. Thank you for your service; your sacrifice will be remembered.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Motor Monday: Planes have motors too

Hey look, I'm not dead! I've just been busy and a bit under the weather.

This seems a much more cost effective way for most people to get the view from inside a P-51D, even if it's not quite the same experience. Imagine what it'd be like with an Oculus/etc, though.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Motor Monday: Finally Gave In

Bought a bike.

Honda NC700X, in red, the exact one I said I'd buy if I bought one.

Here's a picture of the bike but not mine, I got a few from right after I bought it but I was missing gloves and it's really glaring and annoying (I rode back across the street to the shop and bought some really sweet gloves that are almost armored enough to potentially be brass knuckles), so I'll have some of those after I've finished collecting the last of my heavy duty armor suit that I'll use when I actually do more than tool around in the apartment complex to remember how to use one of these things.

Things to do/get yet:
Knee Braces, which are traditionally motocross armor, but I like the look and the improved protection (I like my knees to only bend in the one direction they're supposed to).
Hip/butt armor that works with concealed carry. So far all i've found that doesn't have issues with that is motorcycle pants or various types of armored underwear that's way pricy if I want to ride on anything resembling a regular basis.
New boots. My boots are heavy duty leather enough to ride with anyway, but they're old and worn and starting to fall apart and due for replacement regardless of bike-havingness. I'll see if I can't find some nice steel toe combat boot style ones.

Yes, yes, this thread is worthless without pics, I know, I'll remedy it when I have some decent ones. It's like shooting pics without proper safety stuff or weapons handling, just cringeworthy, which is why you don't get to see.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

GURPS: Stabnshoot

GURPS has rules for melee combat. That's mostly simple, other than a few quibbles I've mentioned earlier (such as questionable scaling for high strengths with melee weaponry). It has rules for shooting, even contact shooting (+4 to hit, +2 to target's dodge; telegraphic attack with a gun/crossbow/etc).

What they do not have rules for is jamming a gun into someone and pulling the trigger. Weapons with bayonets, hearty revolvers that don't have problems functioning when you violently jam them into the unfortunate in a punchy pistolwhip, etc.

Should it be treated as a Dual weapon attack/combination? One attack as a melee weapon, then a second followup attack with the gun?
Does it count as the telegraphic attack, if it's linked in with the melee smack? If so, is the second attack at no penalty due to the +4 and -4 cancelling, with the defender getting a +1 to parry after the -1 from two attacks on the same target?
My inclination is to treat it as an all out attack (double) or dual weapon attack combo, without the bonuses and penalties for telegraphic attack as it happens "simultaneously" with the melee strike.

It's likely to come up in any setting where there are big beasties or angry people that want to get all up in your business, even moreso in a setting such as the Metro or Monster Hunter campaigns where CQB and enemies disregarding your personal space are the norm, rather than the exception.

Well Done Wisconsin

No more 48 hour waiting period for pistols.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Motor Monday; Want

I do believe that if I decide to purchase a bike, I've selected the one.

Pictured is the 2013, I'll go for the 2015 NC700x DCT ABS. A bit of alphabet soup, but it's an adventure bike (looks like a sport bike, rides like a standard), known for having superb fuel economy despite a moderately large engine, integral storage space (enough for a full size, full head helmet, or groceries on the way home while said helmet is worn. Bet I can fit a pistol safe in there too). The ones I've seen with add on storage gear, be it tank bags, trunks, or saddlebags, all look pretty nice. The model I want costs a touch more, but has antilock brakes and a dual clutch transmission, so I can set it in auto if I feel lazy (Probably use the Sport setting of auto, then just shift manually unless something goes wrong and I must focus on getting the hell out of dodge). Add on accessories for it include extra fairings and reinforcing for them, and more lights because lights=visibility, even during the day. It's even got a hint of that streetfighter look I dig so much. Technically classed as an adventure bike, it's got a bit more ground clearance and can pull offroad duty.

It's missing the airbag off the goldwing. Good news? that whole thing is one easy assembly, with all the electronics and sensors all in a nice neat little package that will be mighty easy to add. Might add on some sport style freeway/crash bars, because as light and easy to heft around as the thing is (local bike shop has one), I'd still rather it didn't fall on me.

2015 model

Otherwise, the new NM4, which shares all the features I'd want off the NC700x, pushes all kinds of the right style buttons, but costs several thousand more and apparently has less useful storage space than the adventure bike, despite coming with saddle bags AND front fairing storage. I also can't find one to sit on, and at 6'3" before any riding boots, making sure I fit is kind of a big deal, especially for a bike at the absolute top end of what I'd consider spending.