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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Feng Shui: Brain Shredder

(Yes, I'm running a day behind. These things happen.)

Supernatural Creature shticks arguably changed the most between versions (arguably because Arcanowave schticks largely disappeared from 2e, with the remaining few being integrated into Scroungetech).

Now, some of these changes were for the better: I can totally see why Armor (an overall Toughness buff) was broken down into Corded Musculature and Steel Hide (close combat and ranged Toughness bonuses), and Corruption is best used as a foe schtick (where it lives on as Contagion).

But some powers were just outright removed, and I don't like that. So this is me with a quick-and-dirty conversion for them; some powers have been split into different schticks.
Animal Transformation I
As Transformation (q.v.) but you transform into a single animal species instead of a human form. While in this form you can't access your other creature powers, but you do have access to its native abilities (flight, echolocation, breathing water, etc). This form is not suitable for combat.

Animal Transformation II
As per Animal Transformation I, but you can spend 1 Magic or 3 Magic to assume a new, normal-looking animal species other than your default. If you spend 1, you can never assume that species in any subsequent session. If you spend 3, you can change to that species at will for the length of the series.

Brain Shredder I
You can provoke in other intelligent beings a fear response so intense that they suffer brain damage. Your victim must be able to clearly see you and vice versa. Base damage is 7; victim uses Fortune instead of Toughness.

Brain Shredder II
As above, but base damage is 10. 

Brain Shredder III
As above, but base damage is 13. 

Damage Immunity
As the first edition version, but this schtick is only for NPCs. PCs will just have to make do with ridonkulous Toughness ratings and Regeneration.

As the Mind Control schtick from the Influence specialty of Sorcery. (Sorceror PCs may not like this, but how else are you going to model western vampires?)

Luck Stealer
After damaging any featured foe or boss with any close combat Creature Powers attack, spend 1 Magic and 1 shot as an interrupt. Gain +1 to Creature Powers and they gain -1 to their main attack until next keyframe.

Night Dweller (2e schtick)
Replace "outdoors at night" with "in darkness" to make this worth taking. Darkness does not have to be total darkness, although it can be (possessing this schtick allows you to see without needing light), but any lighting more than candle light will negate this power. 

As the Override Will schtick from the Influence specialty of Sorcery.

Mutant Powers for Supernatural Creatures
If the GM is feeling frisky, the following mutant schticks may be available to supernatural creatures: Acid Blood, Brain Bleed, Berserk Rage, Blinkshifter, Camouflage, Chanel Pain, Empathy, Eyes on the Back of Your Head, Go Cartilaginous, Pain Eater, Psychic Vampire, Push, Shared Sight, Skulky, Very Fast. Replace all references to Genome points with Magic points. 

Supernatural Powers for Mutants
Similarly, a GM may allow the following creature schticks for mutants: Amphibian, Blast, Corded Musculature, Death Resistance, Emit Smokescreen, Empathic Rage, Flight, Inevitable Comeback, Insubstantial, Natural Weapon, Night Dweller, Rage Against Machines, Regeneration, Steel Hide, Transformation, Venom Sac. Replace all references to Magic points with Genome points.

Disclaimer: I'll be honest, I don't grok what the writers were going for with mutant powers. They aren't specifically Comic Book-style powers, but neither are they Gamma World-type mutations. They're just strange. If I could figure out their flavor, I could see more of a divide between then and creature powers; but I can't, so I don't.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Monday Gunday: the UTM RBT Target Shooting Kit

I have been remiss in talking about the cool things I saw at Big 3 East Training Center's Fall Media Event, but I think I can be forgiven that based upon the whole Hurricane Matthew thing.

Anyway, this is a very cool item that I not only saw at the event, but I also won in a raffle! It's a bolt carrier group (BCG) and accessories from UTM (Ultimate Training Munitions) that converts my 5.56 AR-15 into a what is basically a "simunition" platform.

I put "simunition" in quotes because instead of one kind of projectile, it has several: silent blanks which only work the bolt, which are good for training noise-averse shooters; loud blanks which go bang but shoot nothing; civilian target ammunition (which came in the box that I won) which will penetrate paper targets but not a firm surface like plastic sheeting; and "man markers" for force-on-force training.
This is the Core Kit. It comes with a specialized bolt which cannot fire a live round (the firing pin is offset and will strike the case, not the primer, of a 5.56/.223 round); a 10-round PMAG; a squib removal tool; and a 50-round box of Civilian Target Ammunition.

The kit retails for $250.
The BCG for the UTM ammo. The blue color is visible through the ejection port, and the panel prevents the port door from being closed, so you cannot confuse the trainer for the real thing

This specialized BCG cannot fire real ammunition due to its offset firing pin:
Attempting to use the UTM BCG to fire live ammo results in a pin strike on the cartridge case, not the primer.
I really like how UTM seems to have thought of everything here. 
A close-up of the "man marker" cartridge and a spent round.
The back of the catridge is basically a large rimfire primer, which blows the bolt back; another primer propels the round forward. 
A selection of the various cartridges available. From left to right: red Man Marker Rounds; Battlefield (noisy) Blank Rounds, and Silent Blank Rounds.
A picture from a higher angle, so you can see the difference in tips. Blue man markers are on the right. 
And a close-up.
The box it came in, just in case you're curious what it looks like.

One of the many neat things about this product is that, with the proper setup, you can practice inside your home; the marker tips are easily stopped by a thick sheet of vinyl like their Target & Holder Kit. Just imagine being able to shoot in the comfort of your own house or apartment!
The biggest drawback here is that the rounds themselves are expensive: $33.74 for a box of 50. Wow! That's 30-06 cost right there.
But despite the cost, I'm looking forward to testing these... because I got them free!

Thanks, Big 3 East!  Thanks, UTM!

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #114 - Erin Puts the Title Here Or She Gets The Hose Again

Would you listen to us? I'd listen to us. I'd listen to us so hard.
  • Beth talks about teaching firearms classes for women, what she gets out of it, and why women come to her classes.
  • Sean takes a closer look at the killer in a murder-suicide at Forsyth County Medical Center.
  • Barron is back from his epic family vacation across the West. What tech tools did he use to make his trip easier?
  • In the Main Topic, Sean and Erin discuss the intersection of depression and gun ownership, and why the "No guns for the mentally ill" argument can be used against non-crazy gun owners who just need to see a doctor now and then.
  • Hurricane Tiffany is back home after a whirlwind tour of New York City and San Antonio, Texas. Strap in as she tells you of her amazing adventures being our best ambassador EVAR!
  • Are you feeling SAD? Does less light in the winter months cause you Seasonal Affective Disorder? Erin talks about what you can do to fix it.
  • It appears that Dan Savage likes getting smacked around by Weer'd. He's back for another Patented Weer'd Audio Fisk™.
  • Our plug of the week the NSSF's website
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and now on Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here

Thanks also to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Final Countdown: Who Wins, Who Loses?

Finally. We reach this, the final showdown. The last debate of the 2016 political free-for-all that's become so consistently embarrassing that it's now cliche to even call it a shit-show. So then, my thoughts?

  • Moderator Chris Matthews opening with "None of the questions have been shared with the parties." Good. Makes for a pleasant change of pace, doesn't it, DNC?
Topic: Supreme Court
  • Hillary, why are *you* against Citizens United and dark, unaccountable money? You wouldn't be standing there without it. 
  • Trump's judges will be pro-life with a clearly conservative bent. There goes his chance with disenfranchised Bernie voters. 
  • Hillary: "I support the second amendment." No, you don't. No further comment needed here.
  • Roe V Wade: I'm with Her on this one. Not on the Planned Parenthood thing, but on Roe V Wade, definitely. Planned Parenthood has documented income outside the government, nearly half of it's income, and it could survive without it. Or better yet, incorporate it into existing health care structures. 
  • Hillary on late-term abortion bans "When I voted as a senator I did not think that was the case." Did you not READ the case? 
  • Trump, If they "rip the fetus out of the womb" 3-4 days before the due date, wouldn't that just be a cesarean, unless the baby turned out nonviable and a threat to the mother's health? 

Topic: Immigration
  • Trump, there's a difference between a "path to citizenship" and amnesty. One actually involves making it easier for people to become citizens legally, the other just ignores the problem.
  • He's not wrong, despite the meme of "Bad Hombres," about having some people that have crossed borders that need to be taken back. Have you seen Breaking Bad? I live in Albuquerque. I know people like that. It's practically a documentary. 
  • Hillary: "I voted for border security in the senate." Yeah. A fence. Which acts much like a wall. 
  • The words "Twitter War" just happened during a presidential debate.
  • Trump: "Hillary Clinton wanted the wall." Called it. 
  • Hillary: "New technology to protect the border." I read that as "drone strikes on the US/Mexico border by 2018. 
  • Trump: "Obama has deported more people." Yep. He's right. ABC News even ran a story on this
  • Hillary, stop manterrupting the moderator.
  • Hillary's response to Wikileaks: "RED SCARE RED SCARE RED SCARE
  • Wait, are we still on immigration? 
  • Why *won't* anyone else say the words "radical Islamic terrorism?"
  • Trump: "If Russia gets along with the US, that'd be good." Why is this a bad thing? I don't want another Cold War. Can we *please* make some kind of peace with Russia? 
  • Hillary calling Trump a puppet is the only time I've ever seen "NO YOU" used as a valid defense.
  • Trump, stop manterrupting the moderator.
  • Both of these people want us to remain Team America World Police. Trump just wants us to get paid for it. 
Topic: Economy
  • Hillary's not doing bad here. She's mentioned trades and apprenticeships, which is good because college degrees have been devalued over the last few generations. 
  • Stop name-checking Bernie, Hillary. We haven't forgotten, and it's not making you look any better.
  • So the basic difference here is Trump wants to invest in rich business owners, trusting them to spend that money to increase jobs. Hillary wants to invest in education and the middle class, trusting them to use that to better themselves. I think Hillary's got this one. With one caveat that she's ignoring. The income from being Team America World Police.
  • I love Trump's strategy of "I've done all this shady shit, so I'm in a perfect position to identify it and remove it." He's not wrong, but god damn the balls it takes to say that. 
  • Hillary: "Donald thinks belittling and attacking women makes him feel better." Hillary, Donald belittles and attacks everyone. Didn't you watch the RNC debates? Little Marco? Lyin Ted? Low Energy Jeb? He's not discriminating here. 
  • "Make our country even greater" - Hillary Clinton, 2016
  • "Nobody has more respect for women than I do." Still don't believe you, Trump. Neither does the audience.
  • "Let's not be divisive, let's lift people up." Like you did Bernie, right, Hillary?
  • "Took money to buy a six foot portrait. Who does that?" You trying to diss Copperhead's Biggie painting? 
    • God DAMN Luke Cage was good.
  • Aaand we're back to tax returns.
  • Trump has a good point here. How do we know Hillary won't protect her donors? 
  • Trump: Media is corrupt. Media: TRUMP LITERALLY HITLER. 
  • Hillary: "Media is fine." Media: SOMEBODY SAID WIKILEAKS CUT THE FEED.
  • Trump says Hillary shouldn’t be allowed to run. So that makes two of you. 
Topic: Foreign Hotspots, or "What's a Mosul?"
  • Do we want to put troops back to replace the troops we pulled out when we finished the job the first time? Ugh. But Trump is right about one thing: You don't telegraph your movements to your enemies. The people we're after probably *are* already gone. 
  • Hillary: "You should ask Bernie Sanders who he's supporting for president" We would, but he's too busy In his third house. Which probably has a bathroom bigger than my flat.
  • "What's an Aleppo?" A catastrophe. Have you seen it? Have you? HAVE YOU? 
  • "If a Russian plane violates the no fly zone, does President Clinton shoot that plane down?" Oh boy. Here we go.
  • "Women and children" Oh right. Women are the primary victims of war, right Hillary? Right? 
  • It's swaths, Trump, not swatches. 
  • GDP vs debt: "Why are both of you ignoring this?" God DAMN Christ Matthews you are a hero. 
  • "I wonder when America really was great?" Comparatively speaking to the rest of the world? For a while now. Will both of you stop bashing the US? There's a hell of a lot of worse places to live than the US. 
Topic: Social security and Medicare
  • What does Obamacare have to do with this? 
  • In the middle of Hillary's answer Trump mutters "such a nasty woman." Oh Trump, we're gonna hear from VICE or Vox or Huffpo about that one. Or all of them. For a solid week. 
  • Hillary please stop talking about HIS plan and start talking about yours. You've spent more time talking about his plan than yours. 
  • "Emphasize wellness." Hillary, my right leg hurts. I have a nerve that misfires in my right thigh that causes pain, itching, numbness, whatever depending on its mood. I have a muscle in my hip that has me on a prescription for Valium because it tenses and squeezes another nerve. I have an ankle that was pulverized when I was 17 and still hurts, and I can't feel about 30% of my foot. Please tell me how wellness will help that, when my GP visits are 50% more expensive than they were a few years ago, and my insurance covers not even 20% of an MRI? 
I voted Obama. It's terribly conflicting when Trump says "You get four more years of Obama when you elect her" because that hope that was promised fizzled. But he's such a joke. This was surprisingly subdued for a final debate. Hillary is the ultimate culmination of generations of political breeding. She's the Apex Politician. Trump is a madman that's managed to calm down quite a bit. I still don't want either of these two. At this point, I can't help but lean more towards the mountain-climbing hippie pothead that doesn't seen to own a pair of slacks and sometimes randomly sticks his tongue out and forgets the names of cities and leaders. I feel like he'd do less harm to the country than either of these two.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to take a Valium to relax my hip muscle and a Vicodin to stop my thigh from burning and hope that whichever of these potential monsters takes over the country I can still afford them a year from now. Since this was the last debate, next week I'm going to take it easy and talk about a topic I enjoy and show you all something really neat I got. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Feng Shui: Bag Full of Guns

I acknowledge it's been a while since I've talked about the Traveller RPG. Have no fear, I'll get back to it in time -- I've just been in an odd headspace lately, what with all of the traveling (heh) I've been doing, and dealing with a hurricane, and... well.. being distracted by another shiny RPG:
For people who don't travel in the same nerd circles that I do, Feng Shui is a balls to the wall action RPG that attempts to emulate all the awesome goofy goodness of Hong Kong cinema (and, to a lesser extent, Western action movies as well). Anyone who's watched a Jackie Chan or Jet Li movie already knows what I'm talking about, but if you aren't a fan of subtitled movies, then go watch Big Trouble in Little China; it's basically a Hong Kong movie made for Americans.

I played the first version of Feng Shui back when it first came out... dear gods, twenty years ago, I feel so farking old now... and I backed the Kickstarter of FS2 last year. But while I love PDFs for looking up rules during a game, I have trouble actually getting into a game unless I can browse the dead-tree version at my leisure, and the hardcopy version of the game isn't cheap. But thanks to the glory of Amazon gift cards via the Affiliate program, I was able to afford the printed rules!

And like you'd expect from me, I immediately started going "Hm, I don't like that rule... this needs to be changed,.. wait, they left THAT out?" And so, I'm going to indulge my House Rule impulse until I get it out of my system.

This post deals with the Bag Full of Guns schtick, which is a good attempt but falls short of what it could me. Here's the stock version:
Bag Full of Guns I
Start each fight with a revolver (9/2/6). Each time  you fail an attack roll, spend 0 shots to move to the next item in this gun list: Colt 1911A (10/2/4),  Desert Eagle .357 Magnum (11/3/3), Chiappa Rhino (12/3/5), Mossberg Special Purpose (13/5/4).
Okay, that's... not terrible. The notion of escalating firepower is cool, but a level 1 schtick allowing a 0-shot weapon switch seems excessive (it normally takes 3 shots to switch weapons). But Bag Full of Guns levels II-IV have the kludgy and totally unnecessary "homemade weapons" rule which is as unnecessary as the homemade guns are overpowered.

Here's how I would do it:
Bag Full of Guns I
Start each fight with a revolver (9/2/6). Spend 2 shots to switch to the next item in this gun list: Colt 1911A (10/2/4),  Desert Eagle .357 Magnum (11/3/3), Chiappa Rhino (12/3/5), Mossberg Special Purpose (13/5/4).

Bag Full of Guns II
Start each fight with a revolver (9/2/6). Spend 1 shot to switch to the next item in this gun list: Colt 1911A (10/2/4),  Desert Eagle .357 Magnum (11/3/3), Chiappa Rhino (12/3/5), Mossberg Special Purpose (13/5/4), M16 (13/5/1).

Bag Full of Guns III
Start each fight with a revolver (9/2/6). Spend 0 shots to switch to the next item in this gun list: Colt 1911A (10/2/4),  Desert Eagle .357 Magnum (11/3/3), Chiappa Rhino (12/3/5), Mossberg Special Purpose (13/5/4),  M16 (13/5/1), Hand Grenade (23/2/-). [You have a theoretically infinite number of grenades in your bag.]

Bag Full of Guns IV
Start each fight with a revolver (9/2/6). Spend 0 shots to switch to the next item in this gun list: Colt 1911A (10/2/4),  Desert Eagle .357 Magnum (11/3/3), Chiappa Rhino (12/3/5), Mossberg Special Purpose (13/5/4),  M16 (13/5/1), Hand Grenade (23/2/-), Grenade Launcher,  Rocket Launcher, or other ridiculous form of explosive or incendiary military hardware (18/5/6). [See rules for Military-Grade Weaponry, p.130.]
With this version, each increment of the schtick decreases weapon switch and gives an increasingly impressive ultimate weapon without the ridiculous "homemade weapon" rule.

Before you ask: There are no current rules for belt-fed machine guns in Feng Shui. However, since an M249 SAW is the same caliber as an M16, the M249 basically has the same stats as the M16. Be sure to check the "Automatic Weapons" rule on p.128. The .30 caliber M60 has the same stats, except it has the "two skulls" damage of 7.62mm ammo, as opposed to the "one skull" of 5.56mm.

Other Thoughts
I didn't want to clutter the rule block with additional info, as the entire point of Feng Shui is to be shot, sweet, and deadly, but here are a few notions I wanted to append to the Bag Full of Guns concept:
  1. The FS2 core book says "you can personally carry a number of guns and clips equal to your Strength Action Value. Bring a gym bag, however, and all bets are off. Tip: bring a gym bag. Needless to say, the schtick Bag Full of Guns comes with its own gym bag." From this I decude that anyone with the BFoG schtick can carry a theoretically infinite amount of guns and ammo, subject to the good humor of the GM. 
  2. Based on this, and bolstered by the Full Metal Nutball "Ready Resupply" schtick which seems to indicate tossing a fresh gun or magazine to a teammate, it could be easily argued that any PC who wants to spend 3 shots next to a Bag Full of Guns schtick owner could get fresh ammo from the bag. 
  3. It is less easily argued that a teammate might be able to take the next gun on the list, because that could lead to abuse. On the other hand, they are spending shots doing it rather than doing fun action hero things, so at least a price is being paid. If the GM is feeling cranky, perhaps the teammates need to spend a Fortune point as well as shots in order to rearm. 
  4. "How is BFoG different from Lightning Reload?"
    • BFoG allows you switch weapons for little/no shot cost, but reloading them is not affected. It's basically the "New York Reload" schtick with escalating lethality. 
    • Lightning Reload is better used for characters who really like one kind of gun and want to keep it running. 
  5. "The rules say 'start each fight with a revolver.' What if I want to start a fight with something else?"   
    • The BFoG schtick belongs to the school of thought where quantity is better than quality. If you want to start with a specific weapon, maybe you should invest in a different schtick, such as Fast Draw. 
  6. "If I have the Signature Weapon schtick, how does it work with the Bag Full of Guns draw order?"  
    • See above. 
  7. "If BFoG is about dropping empty guns and picking up new ones, why not use the Battle Scavenge schtick?"
    • Battle Scavenge forces you to roll to rearm, but gives you a free Fortune die if you're successful. BFoG requires no roll and grants no free Fortune die. 
    • BFoG grants control over what you pick up; Battle Scavenge only lets you glean what has been dropped by dead NPCs. 
    • It's basically a question of "How do you want your Guns character flavored?"

Next time, I'm going to address the question all the fans of supernatural creatures are asking:  "What the heck happened to the Brain Shredder schtick?"

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Necessity of Solitude

If you've been wondering why I didn't post on Friday, or why today's post is so late... well, the title of my latest Blue Collar Prepping article might be a clue.

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