Monday, February 28, 2011

The Game's the Thing: Thee Campaigns, Part Three: Summation

Keep it Gay
Roleplaying games do very well when they can be flexible. Humor is good for this because, hey, it is just a game after all. The goal isn't to gain experience, achieve a vicarious sense of accomplishment, or even to add numbers to more numbers to have the best numbers. No, the goal is to spend time with friends and have fun. Yes, a serious campaign of seriousness is a good idea, but it takes not only a prepared storyteller, but a cooperative set of players as well. I think because humor is the basis of a flexible campaign and because everyone is there to have fun, poking fun at the incongruities and laughing at the flaws are something that everyone's used to. It's like quoting Family Guy: it's an easy, safe way to get a laugh, but you have to get past it to get to that next level. Unlike Family Guy, getting into a serious campaign requires the dedication of an entire group, but promises greater rewards. On the part of the players, it requires a level of interaction greater than ignoring incongruities, but less than outright lampooning them. For the storyteller it requires distinct, consistent characters, easily readable tone, clearly explained plot points and devices, enough events to compel players to return, and a story sound enough to hold up to the scrutiny of characters (not players, necessarily).

Friday, February 25, 2011

It's the Magic: Stacked

This Week’s Best Thing Ever
I don't know if it was Warp bouncing a Terastodon and bouncing three 3/3 Elephant creature tokens to death...

Destroy 3 of your lands for 3/3 elephants. What could go wrong?

...Platoon's 21 to -11 takedown of Kor Avalance for KA's only loss of the bracket, Warp's opening hand of Island, Island, Swamp, Traumatize, Traumatize, Mind Funeral, Evacuation(and the subsequent win)...

/2/2-12-all your creatures

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Blog in Exactly 1000 Words: Trying for 'misogynist' more than 'offensive'

You guys know I try not to bring up my beliefs so often. I generally respect religious people and their beliefs. However, if, in the middle of a religious conversation, someone totally burns a chick, I will post it on my blog for LOLs.

The "me" in the photo is Mike Mitchell is tumblr is filled with Amazing Things(incidentally, the source of the original picture).

Timewalking Archive Trap: Gepanzerte Welle (Part 2 of 3)

Battletech is a universe set in the 31st century where giant robots called Battlemechs are kings of the battlefield and feudal realms fight for planets devastated by years of warfare. A few years ago, I tried to convince my friends to participate in a Battletech email-based roleplaying game. It didn't work out, but I am quite proud of much of the work I did on it, even on a peripheral write-up I did for a mercenary unit. It should be noted that as with most Battletech products, it's written from an in-universe perspective; that is, it represents a document published by one of the characters in the setting, which makes it subject to bias and omissions from characters who simply do not have perfect knowledge. This document itself is a compilation of two different sets of documents; a series of personal memoirs and a more standard unit report.

Green Box entry on Battletech is linked here, and Part 1 is here.
"She mentioned Courchevel once. Far less than Ray[mond Starling] and the others did. It was the last battle before I began riding in the Karnov during ops, and it always held the value of something that I had just missed; a mission where a thousand little things happened that seemed to define the company for me in those days. I never noticed all of the events I witnessed that had just as much effect, or the changes that the Armored Wave had undergone between Stemwerde and Ashlain. She glossed over just how her Orion got floored by a Star of Clanners and the fate of the rest of her lance (even now, I remain ignorant of the names of the three mechwarriors who accompanied her to the field that day.), stopping just long enough to establish the character of Star Commander Andery. As she lay there, her Orion with its ammo stores dramatically spent and missing a leg, Andery accuses her of fighting dishonorably, talks about the superiority of the Clans, and generally says all of the half-witted things Clanners in holovids monologue about while the hero prepares his cunning escape. And just as he's talking about how she might make a good bondsman for other purposes--moving ever so closer for the killing shot--she asks him for bondsref; an honorable mercy-killing by the Clans.

He could still kill her of course, no problem. After all, technically, she was never a bondsman, she had no honor, and his starmates probably wouldn't take issue with it. But, somehow, it would have seemed wrong to him. She had requested, illogically, bondsref, and pulling that trigger would only give her an honorable death. Predictably, her fast thinking and knowledge of Clan warfare saves her life and the Karnov picked her up an hour later, in just enough time for her to regroup and stage a fighting withdraw for the unit. Two years later, she was dead and I was an orphan ward of Clan Ghost Bear.

Tavan Londeri, Memoirs of My Mother, unpublished private collection [annotated], c.3083

[While Ashlain is written here, it isn't supported as the world where the GW met its final defeat. No planet does, and it suggests that Tavan Londeri and the Ghost Bears have kept the facts well-obfuscated for a reason.]

Unit History

3058: After a few years and a handful of deployments in support and harassment missions against the Smoke Jaguars and Jade Falcons, Gepanzerte Welle was given the opportunity to have a free hand against a Clan during The Coventry Invasion. During the early stages of the Jade Falcon incursion into Lyran space, they were deployed along the border. Their contract included a rarely-used clause allowing them to raid Clan targets as the opportunity arose. With a bulk of the Jade Falcon touman deployed on Coventry, Blair Londeri and her troops struck lightly defended Jade Falcon targets and scored two nominal victories before being lured into a trap and mauled by Jade Falcon garrison and salhoma troops. Clantech salvage traded to the Lyrans and regular pay helped the unit survive to finish their contract, and even upgrade and replace a handful of units lost.

The unit's first heavy contact with the Clans resulted in the loss of much of their support staff and the acquisition of a handful of upgrade packages. With a proven inimical attitude towards the Clans and decided antipathy towards ComStar, the desperate unit has miraculously found a cadre of technicians recently disaffected by ComStar's decidedly secular bent. Highly-motivated and battle-hardened from Tukayyid, they served to solidify the fanaticism of a unit whose more moderate elements had been chipped away by their first missions.
[We now believe these former ComGuard techs were either Blakist plants, or later became sympathetic towards The Word.]
3060: After Coventry, the unit saw little action, of note. Unsurprisingly, they were hired on by The Star League to fill gaps left by more experienced units due to the success of Operation Bulldog, selected from the lower ranks of mercenaries for their proven (if not spotless) track record against the Clans. Their habitual 'clan-hunting' clause was stricken from their contract and they have thus far participated in a number of raiding actions between The Ghost Bears and The Combine.

3062: According to rumors, Blair Londeri was considering retirement from the unit (perhaps even joining the new Star League Defense Forces). While actions against the Clans had been helpful for the morale of her ever-more-rabidly anti-Clan unit, reports indicate that they had not been as satisfying for her. Whatever the case, little has been said about it since the outbreak of the Combine/Bear War. The Gepanzerte Welle 'exercised' their now non-existent attack clause and has been operating at the edges of the larger conflict. In the span of a few months, their contract has been amenably canceled and they have begun operating somewhere between bounty hunter for the Combine and rogue unit, turning in Clan salvage and intelligence reports on worlds raided in exchange for repairs and munitions. While rumors of rogue actions aren't enough to cause a suspension of their MRBC inclusion, we should be ready to do so at a moment's notice.

3063: At the cessation of the war, the Gepanzerte Welle were nowhere to be found. Possibly destroyed behind Ghost Bear lines.

3064: Unit blacklisted by MRBC due to unhired raids against Draconis Combine, Nova Cat, and Ghost Bear bases. Initial reports indicated two battered lances of battlmechs with an irregular compliment of infantry and vehicle. Intelligence was confirmed during another strike in the Combine when sources also reported that the new Gepanzerte Welle is largely comprised of Combine citizens outraged by the outcome of the war. Early raids on The Combine and Nova Cats have been successful, netting them additional materials and intelligence on Ghost Bear deployments. The survival of Colonel Londeri is still uncertain, though an Orion model identical to hers has been confirmed at the raids.

July 3064: This file has been shared with The Draconis Combine embassy.

December 3064: According to a communique by Clan Ghost Bear, a unit with the insignia of The Gepanzerte Welle struck a Ghost Bear world during the construction of a new factory complex and ore processing center. The unit consisted of a full 'mech company with vehicular and infantry support. Collected intelligence by the Bears indicated that they expected to find a Cluster of Ghost Bear troops they could manipulate using the Bears' honor and conservative leanings. They confirmed Blair Londeri's body was recovered from a battle site.Our intelligence suggests that the Bear's Omega Galaxy might have been recently garrisoned on a construction project. If that information is correct, then Omega Galaxy, as it its practice, wouldn't have held to traditional Clan practices. The Gepanzerte Welle would have been swallowed up by superior tactics, superior warriors, and superior machines.

Part I
Part II
Part III

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Ciaren Campaign: Cartography

The DnD game I've been running that I may have mentioned a time or two has thus far been without a (published) map.

This is that map.

Each square is more than a month's travel time.

Ta'ae(far right) is where the first adventure took place; the characters assaulted the city, fought its defenders, and watched its citizens flee even as their own army was destroyed in the battle.

Lot-U is the subterranean city the players arrive at halfway through the second adventure. It is where, in all liklihood, the characters took a little trip and left a bunch of cavedwelling hippies with a sack of baby Kobolds. It is virtually right under Ta'ae (as in "beneath it"), but is depicted in its own square for the sake of visual clarity.

Caul d'cath (mispelled on the map) is a quiet crossroads town that's only gotten quieter since the start of the war and the drop-off in adventurer traffic. There, the adventurers likely left a mysterious woman with her wolves in the woods around the unsuspecting town. But they totally drove off those Marauders.

Sevel is a trading post/fortress in the wilderness that serves as a source of protection and supplies for the wizards who study and maintain the ancient Gate. It's about two weeks travel from The Gate, but is depicted in its own square for the sake of visual clarity.

The Gate is the destination for the players. While the wizards who tend the gate were tricked into letting the Droves Army through the Gate by the Ciaren commander Behqueru (who died at the end of the first adventure), they aren't exactly Ta'ae citizens and tried to remain neutral in the conflict. That means they may not be too angry since Ciaren still exists and Ta'ae doesn't, but who really knows? I guarantee you right now that the characters' passage through The Gate won't be dependant on completing some redemptive fetch-quest.

Ciaren, the characters' homeland, is, relative to this map, in the nearest bathroom.

The Game's the Thing: The Core of Roleplay

I mentioned to Josh that we could simultaneously do a Novel Writing Month challenge as a way for him to get back in to writing and for me to continue writing. He countered with a ludicrous (sorry dude) idea that we make a roleplaying game together. In the spirit of challenging myself I gave us thirty days to come up with a system. With that in mind, I've started considering the very essentials of roleplaying.

Most roleplayers have their own reasons for playing, but the reasons are common enough for most players. Many players crave virtualism; they want to act in a world where the normal restrictions don’t apply. Whether that restriction is their inability to shoot fire from their fingertips to burn down an orphanage or their inability to express how they feel or an inability to communicate to others their creativity. When players seek exploration, they want to learn about a setting, a place, or a person. Some players explore through the setting, some do it by advancing the story to see what comes next, while others create a character and explore their response to situations as that character encounters them. Much like virtualism, people who play to escape want to be in a fantastic setting, not so much for the setting or the people, but because it gives them an escape to focus on something else for a change, something straightforward that can usually be solved by punching instead of whatever their real life problems are. The fourth major reason people play roleplaying games is because it’s a social activity. Their friends are doing it, so they do it to interact with their friends. Taken to extremes, they don’t really care if the party lives or dies because, hey, at least they’re meeting people.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 09

Every Tuesday, I post excerpts from my best-selling at not-selling super blog, Playing Favorites

So, I don’t care about a single thing about Cable up to the point that he quit whatever X team he was on at the time and starting paling around with Deadpool. That at some point, he said, “All this fighting and shit…what if we just…stop that?” And started to use the fact that he’s from the future to try to make the world a better place. And the world hated him for it. Yeah. Fuck yeah. Sure, it’s not going to work, because even if Marvel Comics was going under tomorrow, they certainly wouldn’t end the Marvel Universe with Cable bringing about world peace. Kang the Conqueror would come riding in from a time swirl on the shoulders of Galactus talking about The Great Menace of the Future, which is actually a super-Hulk made from the bodies of six smaller Hulks. Now, I’m not saying that super-Hulk would punch something hard enough to break time-

-because that would be dumb-

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Game's the Thing: Three Campaigns, Part Two: The Father

The Ciaren Campaign

My first DnD game and the only game I'm currently running (technically). While I've only run three full adventures over eleven sessions or so, I think it's been a success. I attribute much of that to two factors: frequent play and minimalism.

Frequent play does a lot to keep momentum up. Players remember facts and characters. They stay energized and anticipate playing. I picked up a regular schedule (mostly), which keeps me pushing forward on stories and gives players time to get their own affairs in order for play. Especially for me, learning a new system, it keeps the rules fresh in my mind and running the same adventure over and over again helps. Even better, I'm running on a six adventure timer. I don't have to worry about Adventure 7 or 10; I don't have time. If I there's villain in Adventure 2, he's going to have to show up again by Adventure 6 or not at all. There's aren't--and can't be--a lot of interwoven plot threads where X affects Y because it's just six sessions and I don't have time for that bullshit. Sure, there are vague ideas about the second arc, assuming the first ends well, but I'm simply refusing to think of it until I'm done with this one. I'm focusing on, maximum, six stories at a time, usually self-contained. I've found it very liberating, which brings me to my next point.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Maybe Soapbox Sunday Wasn't the Right Day to Start Following People

Being right on the heels of two other dry posts on roleplaying games doesn't help.

Too bad.

I followed most of these people because they also listed Magic: the Gathering as one of their interests and they had pretty cool blogs. Most of them seem to do Magic more consistently than my weekly It's the Magic feature, but ItM hasn't really been my biggest draw, so it's no big.

Sunday Morning Soapbox: Temo Party

I don't like the Tea Party. I don't think there's too much to like about them. I think they're naive, self-centered whiners who want to act like everything that's going wrong in this country is the fault of elected representatives in Washington. Basically, I hate them more than the Democrats and Republicans because they have the audacity to be naive.

Howevercomma I do like the fact that their naivete is pushing them towards cutting the budget. Drastically.

Yes, there are cuts to things I'm uncomfortable seeing cut, but I'm less comfortable with a system where we're consistently promised smaller government and less spending, but we're consistently running a deficit for something of allegedly vital importance. This Huffington Post article mentions the (unsurprising) fact that most Americans generally want the government to spend less, but hesitate to enumerate exactly where less money should be spent. Education? Medicare? Department of Homeland Security? Those are all good things, and no one wants to have less of good things.

I think that the biggest problem here is that everything called something remotely like "Department of Kicking Sick Puppies" has already been axed; cutting in the middle of what's left only opens politicians up to looking like the villain, while cutting at the extremes (or else making a big show of the same) at least makes you popular with your constituency. But if you're going to debate the buget at all, your actions have to be significant and they have to be taken with the knowledge that we just can't pay for everything we want. Even if you can pay for Planned Parenthood for the next five years or so, what about the ten after that? The twenty? Same question about Social Security. Health Care. Look, Planned Parenthood, Social Security, and Health Care are all good things; they save and improve lives, but if the government won't answer the hard questions about how to pay for them, not just this next year, but in perpetuity, then they have to accept that these programs won't survive when the US quits paying for things on our credit card. Our government will have to resign itself to either spending its money more wisely, or doing less with less. It's called, 'living within your means,' and I guess that for a lot of people who have the money and resources to get elected, it's strange to have so little means in relation to your wants.

I don't believe, as the article I linked says, that Americans secretly like big government. I mean, everyone likes getting money, but that's a subject for another blog entirely. I also don't think that this is a Republican vendetta against women. I think that it's more common for women to need social services, so when Republicans--as they are wont to do--cut social services, women suffer. It's not part of a malign plan against the sex cursed with the lack of a Y-chromosme, it's just that the people with the greatest needs are the first to suffer when the government quits supporting those in need.

Yet, this news article says some things that dovetail better with my own reckoning(add grains of salt to taste); the sound and fury new house (roadhouse) will pass any ridiculously partisan bill that they want to jack off their constituents, blame the senate for not going along, and please their fan base without ever worrying about upsetting the status quo. The senate democrats shouldn't shoot this bill down; they should amend it to ridiculously cut spending for pro-conservative programs and raise taxes on organizations they don't like. Responsible, irresponsible spending cuts might very well do a lot to balance the budget. If our elected officals fought as hard to save money as they did to spend it, we wouldn't be facing a massive national debt (we'd probably be facing a wide variety of other threats too numerous and varied to fully explore here, but I digress). Simply refusing to pass a budget and/or failing to cut spending won't solve anything and either side playing an absolutist game doesn't serve anyone's interest.

It seems that regardless of the outcome, a sweeping, conservative-backed bill presents a win-win for the right. If it fails and the economy doesn't get back on track, then the conservatives can pass any legislation they want come 2013. If it succeeds, then regardless of the passage by Democrats and The President, it's hailed as a victory for the right. If it's passed and fails--either fiscally, in the public eye, or both--then the Democrats get the blame for allowing it to happen. The only real winning scenario for the left is if it's shot down, Washington keeps spending, and the economy picks up so that by 2012 no one's talking about deficit spending anymore.

In all fairness, some Democrats are trying to cut spending. Some have suggested tax increases and cuts to other programs; I'm supportive of this, though dubious about anyone paying more taxes, even the easily-vilified "rich" (although, let's face it, considering the income gap, I'm not that dubious) until the government learns to spend more responsibly. Representative McCollum (D-MN) suggested that the millions of dollars spent by the military on advertising on NASCAR vehicles could be spent somewhere else, the response to which was an incoherent fax which defies any other description with mere words:

I've actually run out of "what the fucks" for these sorts of things. I am "what the fuck"ed out. I had a whole bag of "what"s, "the"s, and "fuck"s to pull phrases out of, and all that's left in there is an IOU from my country's political discourse, which only gets me about a quarter of the way through "fuck."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Doom Effect-Telekinesis/Telepathy

Level: 3
Quantum Minimum: 4
Dice Pool: Manipulation + Telekinesis
Range: (Quantum + Power Rating) x 10m
Area: N/A
Duration: Maintenance
Effect: The character moves things with thier mind.
Action: Full Action
Description: This power allows a nova to move objects and even living beings with their mind.

This is a technique power. For each dot the nova has in this power, they choose one technique which they may use. Novas may use techniques they haven’t chosen, but doing so incurs a +1 difficulty and costs and extra quantum point.

With the exception of Flight, Telekinesis does not have any action/reaction forces associated with it, a character cannot be pulled or lifted by pushing off of something larger than they are or by holding something they are pushing.

You may not have more successes on a Telepathy roll than twice your Telepathy Power Rating.

Blast/Crush: The nova can use their Telekinesis to crush bones and inflict other wounds on a target. Does [Quantum x 2] levels + (Power Rating x 3) dice of bashing damage. It can be dodged normally.

Guide: The nova can guide a physical attack, adding dice equal to their Power Rating to its damage and/or attack. The nova divides up to his Power Rating in dice amongst the attack dice pool or damage dice pool of a physical attack. This is usually a held action triggered by a friendly attack.

Example: Pull-Man has Telekinesis 3 and Guide. He uses Guide to help with the attack of his ally, The Green Samurai. He spends three quantum points adds 2 dice to The Green Samurai’s attack, and 1 dice to his damage dice pool before The Green Samurai attacks.

Levitation: The nova can lift themselves into the air and fly. They can fly (Power Rating x 2) + 20 meters per action, or (40 x Power Rating) km/hr out of combat.

Lift: The nova can 25 * 2^Successes kg. And move it Power Rating x 5 meters as a minor action.
The nova may also use their Telekinesis against a living target as a Hold attack (pg 244), which is sustained as a minor action, as long as it is successful.

Telepresence: The nova can manipulate objects within their Telekinesis range as if they were there. For any roll requiring manipulation of physical objects, the nova may as if they were performing that action. The nova is limited by the smaller of their dice pool relevant to the action or their Telekinesis dice pool, in addition for any other penalties for not being present (being unable to see screens or readouts, not being able to hear warning signs, etc., etc..).

Inherent in Telepresence is the character’s ability to ‘feel’ the weight and resistance of certain objects within their Telekinesis range by ‘frisking’ them. This allows the nova to use their Perception in areas they can’t physically be in, again limited by their Telekinesis dice pool. Note that they can only tell rough masses/resistances of things. If an object resists a telekinetic probe, it could either be very heavy or well secured. A successful Perception roll by a suspicious party can reveal a Telekinetic frisking of a room, though a botched roll can reveal it just as well.

Level: 3
Quantum Minimum: 3
Dice Pool: Manipulation + Telepathy
Range: Variable
Area: N/A
Duration: Variable
Action: Full Action
Description: A technique power focusing on reading minds (if you can believe it). To use Telepathy, roll Manipulation + Telepathy against the target’s Willpower (unless the target is willing), then choose a power to use.

Like other technique powers, you choose one technique that you're trained in for each dot you have in Telepathy. You may use 'untrained' techniques at a +1 penalty and the cost of 1 additional quantum point. Unlike other uses of Telepathy, you must declare what untrained technique you're using before you roll. 

You cannot have more successes on a roll than twice your dots in Telepathy.

Alter Memory
Range: Line of Sight
Duration: Maintenance
Prerequisite: Read Minds & Speak
The nova may alter the subject’s memories. Successes on the roll determine how extreme those changes can be. One success can change trivial memories, two successes can change minor memories such as birthdays and anniversaries. Three successes can pull up important memories like vital personal information and embarrassing secrets. Four successes can change anything; national security codes, dark secrets, and traumas too deeply-seated to even be consciously thought about.

The altered memories only last until the power wears off, though they may be made permanent by spending a dot of permanent willpower. Like Read Mind, the subject is aware of the nova invading their mind and can stall the changes for a turn with the expenditure of a point of Willpower.

Range: Line of Sight
Duration: Maintenance
Successes on the Telepathy roll act as automatic successes versus any attempts for the target to detect the nova. If the target doesn’t suspect the nova is around, then they cannot even roll to detect them.

The use of enhanced senses does not reveal the nova because this effect is mental in nature. However, Psychic Shield dice may be added to the subject’s roll.

Every attack against the target by the nova reduces the nova’s automatic successes by one, until the nova reuses their Fool or becomes visible.

If the target succeeds, the nova is fully visible. If they fail, but are still aware of another presence, they may attack the nova as if blinded.

This power only works against one target at a time, and only protects the nova.

Range: Line of Sight
The character may roll Telepathy versus the target’s Willpower. Successes deal bashing damage to the target.

Read Minds
Range: Line of Sight
Duration: Maintenance
The nova can read the mind of someone. They can’t necessarily talk with them, but the person knows that someone can read their mind. They know who the reader is immediately; if they know the nova, they can put a name to the face. If they don’t, they’ll recognize the nova instantly should they ever meet.
This allows the nova to read that person’s surface thoughts, as well as to find one simple fact per success per full action. More private or complicated facts may require additional successes, and the target may spend Willpower to prevent the release of any facts for a turn.

Range: Line of Sight
Duration: Maintenance
The nova speaks to the target. The target may respond in kind or simply attempt to ignore the nova. A nova may speak with up to their Telepathy Rating other characters, and maintain that connection (either on ‘separate lines’ or on a ‘conference call’) indefinitely, even if the characters are no longer within line of sight.

Other characters with Telepathy may Channel powers through this connection or use Read Mind to break into it with a successful opposed Telepathy roll. Other characters with Telepathy (whether they have Speak or not) do not count towards the maximum characters a nova may support. In fact, multiple telepathic novas may ‘network’ in this way to support a larger set of characters.

May use other Mental powers and Telepathy techniques through Detect Mind, bypassing Line of Sight ranges on many Telepathy techniques. Non-Telepathy powers used this way have a dice pool limited by the character’s Telepathy dice pool.

Detect Minds
The character has Sense (Sentient Minds). The character can also seek a specific mind within the area of their Sense(250 meters per dot of Telepathy). If they seek someone they know, they only suffer a +1 penalty. If they have only a vague idea of who/what they’re looking for (like “hot dog vendor” or “whores”), they suffer a +2 penalty. If they’re looking for a specific person with very little information about them (“the hobo I almost hit while running at Mach 5 last Thursday”), it’s a +3 penalty. One success on the roll gives a general sense of the target's location and direction. Five successes will tell you exactly where they are.

The Doom Effect-Enhancement Powers

Enhancement Powers
Enhancement Powers are Quantum Powers based on Mega-Attribute enhancements. They do not have an associated Mega-Attribute associated with them, and if you later get that Mega-Attribute, you will not be able to use them together. Enhancement Powers should only be taken if you want an enhancement, but the associated Mega-Attribute will not be something your character would ever need.
Enhancement Powers are all Level 1 with a Quantum Minimum of 2. Their effects and durations are all identical to those of their associated enhancements, with the exception that any use of their associated Mega-Attribute (either from a die roll or static rating) is replaced with their Power Rating. They are technically called Enhancement Name + “Power.” The quantum point cost for using these powers is a base of 1 unless the enhancement lists a higher cost, and increases by 1 for each extra the power has (with the exception of the Reduced Quantum Cost extra, of course).
Only enhancements whose abilities are tied to their Mega-Attribute enhancements can be taken this way.
Example: Terran wants a movement power that represents the Earth tossing him through the air and  softly gently receiving him several miles away. He doesn’t want flight and never plans to have any Mega-Strength, but he looks at Mega-Strength’s Quantum Leap enhancement and decides to take Quantum Leap Power. This allows Terran to make a jump roll with a horizontal distance of two kilometers per success multiplied by his dots in Quantum Leap Power. It also allows him to make normal Dodge rolls against area and explosive attacks.
Example: Tam controls sound to make his punches extraordinarily tough and strong. He also wants to move more quietly, but he never really intends to get Mega-Dexterity. He wants to get Catfooted Power, but he can’t because the Catfooted enhancement’s effect isn’t based on the user’s Mega-Dexterity score. The same would apply for Accuracy, Physical Prodigy, and Fast Tasks. Tam chooses to take two dots of Enhanced Movement Power instead, multiplying his walk, run, and sprinting speeds by three (1 + dots in Enhanced Movement Power) whenever he pays 1 Quantum Point.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Penny Reviews: The Disappoint

A side feature that I update whenever possible, Penny Reviews tells you all about a comic in 100 words or less.

Invincible Iron Man #33 - I'm not up to speed on the current Iron Man arc, but organic recaps made that a non-issue. The story centers around physical conflict, but was more than punching something until it was broken. It balances a glut of distinct, unlikable villains with Tony and his supporting cast. Yea: The natural supervillain reveal. Nay: Supervillain team up teaser. If C is what average superhero book should be, Invincible Iron Man #33 was a C. However, Good Morning Tony, the feature story at the back, was a solid B (maybe B+) and my real reason for picking up this month’s issue.

Thor, the Mighty Avenger #8 - Thor's recap isn't that smooth, but you get the point: a magic god of ancient lore is pitted against computers and government in an excellent contrast that nudges the main plot forward. His team-up this week is--who cares? It's the characterization and art that make Thor: The Mighty Avenger fun to read. Thor manages to juggle haughtiness and innocence expertly in a beautiful book. There's even a classic pre-team-up fight, but no one mentions what a cliche it is, subverting the subversion of the cliche, which in-and-of-itself has become a cliche. Overall, looking forward to next month's issue.

Action Comics: Lex Luthor # 896 - Just pointless. Fans of the Luthor-as-protagonist Action Comics will probably like the villains-as-protagonist concept of Sinister Six, but I hate crossovers and can’t get Sinister Six, so it's aggressively pointless. It even features the one line motivation of "makes as much sense as anything we do," which is just so. weak. It’s loud, thoughtless filler that keeps the Mr. Mind/Loisbot subplot slowly boiling in the background so you don't notice it. Loisbot dies, but she'll be back because she's part of the main plot. Maybe they're actually writing a book that people who are and aren't paying attention will enjoy.

It's the Magic: Besiegement

New Hotness
Although Mirrodin Beseiged came out two weeks ago, it's not quite old news yet. I just played my first draft with it this week (A Scars-Scars-Beseiged draft with three friends who hadn't been keeping up with the spoilers and previews), and I learned a few things:

Infect is still potent. I don't mean that in that it's a strong offensive tool. It is (I was consistently threatening two of the other three players on the board with my Infect/Proliferate deck), but what I mean by that is that there are certain cards which radically change the way the game is played; bombs. Bombs demand an answer and quickly, pushing players into a strong attack (in this context meaning a counter spell or removal) or into a hunkering defense while they try to draw an answer. Once a player hits seven poison (give or take) anything with infect is, essentially, a bomb. That makes a forty-card deck of three-drop infect rats and proliferate something that demands more than a few answers; it demands you simply kill the source. That's why I died first. Okay, indiscriminate poison counter allocation is why I died first, but the underlying cause is the same; poison changes a game significantly.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blog in Exactly 1000 Words: Stewie Jaguar

It's gonna be another day or so until I'm back in my proper form here. Enjoy Stewie as a member of Clan Smoke Jaguar.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blog in Exactly 1000 Words: Bananaphone

Sorry it's late. Trip to Texas set things back a bit.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 08

Every Tuesday, I post excerpts from my best-selling at not-selling super blog, Playing Favorites.

Once upon a time the Hulk destroyed a small town and then some punk kid superjerks called The New Warriors fought a guy called Nitro and a school blew up. Two seconds later, the government passed a bill to make superpeople register with the government, but in a way that wasn’t the same as the Mutant Registration Bill which has been kicking its way around congress since some time around the early seventies. In order to make these super-folks accountable for their actions, they were trained in ethics, physical fitness, public relations, and (of course) combat for their inevitable roles as super-soldiers and super-heroes. The prime training facility was in Camp Hammond (named after the original, android Human Torch who fought alongside Captain America in World War II) as part of a program called The Initiative. ‘The Initiative’ as a comic book was about young, new superkids learning their powers and drama-ing it up in a pseudo-bootcamp run by world champion loser Hank Pym, Marvel’s answer to the insane, paranoid racist telepath Maxwell Lord in Henry Peter Gyrich, and a Nazi in a wheelchair (the only guy to have an honest description because he was a literal Nazi in a literal wheelchair).

Believe it or not, this series was the bomb. B-list characters, C-list characters, and Hank Pym (and this is probably the nicest way I’ve ever referred to him) populated the cast, which let it have good stories with consequences and actions that have effects. The main cast (consisting of the second batch of cadets to arrive at the school), weren’t at ease in the world of super-heroics and most of them were bitter or at the very least reluctant about being forced to join up. There were plenty of mistakes made by both the trainers and the students and most of them (this still being comics) had irrationally harsh consequences. Before the end, you do even feel a little bad for the Nazi in a wheelchair (okay, it happens once).

But as much as I like the narrative quality afforded by being at the periphery of massive crossover events (“World War Hulk” and “Secret Invasion,” not to mention being birthed by “Civil War”) with largely unimportant peripheral characters, The Initiative had one character with a good arc that showed development and depth, and a lot of characters who were fun to watch interact with one another and whose further improvement would (unbelievably) be best explored with exposure to the mainstream Marvel Universe. Don’t get me wrong, Hardball will probably become a wishy-washy Hyrda double-agent. Komodo can get some Spider-Man team-ups and angst points versus The New and Improved (TM) Lizard. I think everyone else did go mainstream and joined up with the New Warriors, so fuck those guys.

Except Crusader. He’s dead. Crusader might actually get one of these spots. Now, I haven’t read the comic that he’s introduced in, so all I know is his brief, albeit memorable, appearances in ‘The Initiative’ just before and during “Secret Invasion.” I do nitpick that he should have been a veteran of more than a few Skrull Invasions to flesh out his background and ‘grizzled veteran’ status, but for a Skrull warrior who was sent undercover to Earth to infiltrate the Avengers just before they were destroyed even though The Skrull Queen herself was doing that very same thing and no one bothered to follow up with him so he ended up learning everything he could about The Avengers and becoming a fanboy until he eventually met Freedom Ring and trained him and Freedom Ring died and he took the ring that was a fragment of a cosmic cube and joined The Initiative as part of his (very recent) lifelong dream to become an Avenger only to get his wish and find himself pitted against his own people in their last grasp at their destiny before becoming a people with no home lost amongst the cosmos because of something that happened in some cosmic miniseries that I didn’t read because, c’mon, I tried that “Emperor Vulcan” thing where a Summer’s spawn ends up running the Shi’ar and fucking everything in space up forever, which I feel that I can only blame on the overall terribleness of recent X-books…

So Crusader chooses Earth (spoiler alert) and fights for his new home, red licorice, and Nick Fury (because who wouldn’t fight for Nick Fury, except for the soldiers hungry for the kind of leadership only a Nick Fury made of red licorice can provide.) and the Earthmen win the day and the Skrulls…well, I guess they’re boned, but no one is much focusing on it and Crusader’s dead, so fuck that too.

Ultimately, Crusader has tried, failed, and then redeemed himself and found focus in his life. He’s given up a lot for something he believes in (I’d like to think it was more than Avengers cartoons, red vines, dudes with one eye, and the prospect of boning not a single, amorphous Skrull sex, but boning humans with their amazing two sets of genitals to choose from. Maybe there was something off screen that really compelled him to stick it out with Team Homo Sapiens.). However shaky his motivations, his (admittedly short) story packs a punch and does a good job of showing how he hardens from an unsure traitor to a confident loyalist.

Tentatively, Crusader’s up.

It should be mentioned here that the Dark Avengers, from Victoria Hand to Bullseye-as-Hawkeye was an awesome read that took ‘dysfunctional team’ to new levels. It was a pity that it was short-lived, but then the series would’ve started looking pretty toothless when all eight deadly assholes kept living after pissing off the other seven assholes on the team. No matter how great a series it was, the only remotely heroic character was Victoria Hand, who was making some moral compromises because she believed in Norman Osborne. Even in the end, she was smart enough to realize that she’d backed the wrong horse. That she’s a good person who’s trying to get something done instead of repeating the asinine, run-in-place games of Nick Fury and the Avengers makes her a damned compelling hero, but until she gets superpowers and puts on a mask, she and her Hot-Topic dye job and lipstick lesbianism fall far short of superheroism.

I guess that covers all of the teams. Unless I somehow mistakenly left you with the impression that any of the X-Men were serious contenders for this list because I just want to assure that that was never even remotely close to the case.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

The Game's the Thing: Three Campaigns, Part One: The Ghost

With the renaissance my friends and I have experienced in roleplaying games lately, I thought that it might be wise for me to reflect on some of our recent campaigns before I start my new campaign, The Doom Effect.

New Port City was originally Terry's campaign. When he lost interest, I was eager to pick it up; I'd had some luck with superhero games in the past, and as a comics fan, it's something I'm always interested. The most legendary games I ever ran were started by Terry before I picked them up, and I was hoping that with a versatile power system and some good inspiration, I could make that magic happen again. You've seen Runaway Bride, right?

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's the Magic: The End of TL;DR Week

I’ve been at work all week, so I haven’t gotten around to drafting Mirrodin Besieged yet, much less making decks with it. I should have a chance this week to do some of that and next Friday should have an “It’s the Magic” that gives my first response to it. I won’t bother telling you to stay tuned; if you were going to leave, you would have by now.

Better Know a Tier
This week’s tier is Delta Tier. It’s the very end of Tiers that are sorted by my approximation of their quality, and it has a number of old and new decks in it (I know I’ve skipped Charlie. Don’t worry, by the time I get around to it, it will have changed enough that it will probably contain some cards from the tiers I’ve already gone over; it’s like you already know it.

Warp-Bizarre distortions of reality like the one that nearly destroyed Dominaria aren’t as rare as most would like. Careless planeswalkers from earlier eons would uncommonly create such problems and with little difficulty largely solve them once they came to their attention. In recent times, they are rarer, but don’t escape notice as quickly and pose a serious threat to their progenitors. The Warped One is the planewalker from which most of this knowledge is gleaned. A shameless manipulator of time and moments, he has no problem erasing most of his problems from the landscape in front of him. His best guess is that in his reckless youth, he opened such a rift against magics too powerful for them to affect. The result was a tear that sundered both his body and his mind. Still imbued with a spark, he seeks to find his other half. Still wise and experienced, he is prone to fits of cold, amoral rage and often suffers fugues where he may find himself miles (or planes) away from where he started.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Timewalking Archive Trap: Gepanzerte Welle (Part 1 of 3)

Battletech is a universe set in the 31st century where giant robots called Battlemechs are kings of the battlefield and feudal realms fight for planets devastated by years of warfare. I'm also putting up a 'Green Box' entry with background for Battletech in general, and this write-up in particular. It's linked here, or it's just below if you're using an RSS feed.

A few years ago, I tried to convince my friends to participate in a Battletech email-based roleplaying game where each of them would play the ruler of one of these realms and play politics and manage war in one of the best universes for it. They didn't not decline, but participation was marginal and the fiction I had for the setting got shelved as I focused my work on storytelling and original settings.

However, I am quite proud of much of the work I did on it, even on a peripheral write-up I did for a mercenary unit connected with one of the 'NPC' factions, revised and presented below. It should be noted that as with most Battletech products, it's written from an in-universe perspective; that is, it represents a document published by one of the characters in the setting, which makes it subject to bias and omissions from characters who simply do not have perfect knowledge. This document itself is a compilation of two different sets of documents; a series of personal memoirs and a more standard unit report. The memoirs also serve to break up a massive document that's the centerpiece of TL;DR Week, which I am never doing again ever.

Gepanzerte Welle

"After her time as a bondswoman, my mother came to hate The Clans in a way I never could. Had I lived with her into adolescence, I think I would've taken to the Clans as a part of a teenage rebellious period. Looking back, every time she told me about winning a battle against them, or even recounted about how the company had lost in terms of victory or manpower, she'd always remark on how many of them she'd killed. I think to her, each one of them was my father."
Tavan Londeri, Memoirs of My Mother, unpublished private collection, c.3083

[This final section covers our least relevant data, but is included for completeness. It includes information from the old MRBC files as well as updates and pertinent pieces of the Ghost Bear information packet we received after the Entente Alliance raid on New Terra.]

Unit Type: Mercenary
Inception Date: 3054
Current Status: Terminated
Last Updated: 3064

Mercenary Review and Bonding Commission Membership Review Document, 3054
Colonel Blair Londeri-An unremarkable, loyal member of the Kungsarme, she was captured by the Ghost Bears during the initial phases of the Clan Invasion. She emerged over a year later, saved from bondship as a Smoke Jaguar tech during the battle for Luthien. She--and her newborn son--made her way back to the remains of the Free Rasalhague Republic where she continued to serve in the Kungsarme until earlier this year. Frustrated--like many of her acquaintances--with the Inner Sphere's dedication to playing defense against The Clans after The Treaty of Tukayyid, she departed with equipment and personnel on the Midnight Sally, a dropship with a captain and crew sympathetic to her cause. After a short swing through the Lyon's Thumb to pick up Xao Ollendorf and his followers(see below), they made their way towards Outreach, to form Gepanzerte Welle.
Year of Birth: 3023
Battlemech: Orion ON1
First Company, First Lance

Lt. Colonel Xao Ollendorf -A retired Armed Forces of the Federated Commonwealth (AFFC) General, he met Londeri during her first time at the KungsArme Warrior University where he was teaching. They became good friends, and kept in touch regularly both before her capture and after her emancipation. Sympathizing with the young warrior, he's allegedly come out of retirement to temper her enthusiasm and occasional recklessness. A father of three loyal AFFC mechwarriors, he also provides regular parenting advice for the first-time mother. He’s accompanied by a handful of survivor Commonwealth mechwarriors with no unit and deep a sense of betrayal over the Steiner family's inaction over the Clan threat.
Year of Birth: 2998
Battlemech: Zeus ZEU-6S
Second Company, First Lance

Major Adam Minisadler-Initially, Adam Minisadler was charged with helping Blair Londeri reintegrate into normal command after her capture. By all reports, the relationship between the two was antagonistic from the start. Minisadler gravitated towards administration and management rather than prowess in a 'mech (despite an apparent lifetime of training to the contrary), and Londeri preferred to take to the field over the requisitions and politicking of even the lowest Free Rasalhague Republic commands. Minisadler discovered her plan to desert and alerted their superiors, forcing her hasty departure from the KungsArme. He successfully jockeyed for the right to be the one to hunt her down. He requisitioned the 2nd Air Wing, the same one that hesitated to stop the departure of the Midnight Sally, and a handful of infantry and 'mechs to bring the errant officer to heel. Showing greater investigative skill than most had given him credit for, he was waiting planetside when Londeri arrived to gather her Lyran allies. Much to everyone's surprise, he, the 2nd Air Wing (now the 110th), and an up-and-coming mechwarrior named Quigley joined her fledgling mercenary unit. To fights the Clans wherever and whenever others would not. The 110th now deploys in support of the Gepanzerte Welle 1st Company.
Year of Birth: 3019
Battlemech: Spider SDR-5V
First Company, Second Lance

Captain Raymond Starling-A prodigy in the sciences and behind a 'mech, Raymond Starling was a celebrated entrant to the KungsArme Warrior University. There, he was mentored by Blair Londeri, before was redeployed to the periphery border for routine field training. Undisciplined and selfish, he washed out of the KAWU and fell in with the mercenary unit Deg's Black-Heart Warriors. When their command structure was shattered in late 3054, the almost-whole unit fell apart. Charismatic, if only moderately experienced, Starling led elements of their aerospace, vehicular, and 'mech forces to the banner of his old teacher. Both hope to develop both his leadership and warrior skills more fully. In the aftermath of The Clan Invasion, he's had to strike the old name of his Trebuchet, once named "Daishi." He has not yet thought of a new moniker for it.
Year of Birth: 3030
Battlemech: Trebuchet  TBT-5N
Second Company, Second Lance

The Gepanzerte Welle intends to take contracts against the Clans, remembering their rather low upgrade status. Their roots make it unlikely they will be hired by FRR and ComStar employers and it's doubtful they'll take contracts against the FRR.

Gepanzerte Welle consists of two active field companies consisting of two battlemech lances and a wing of fighter support. First company also boasts a lance of vehicles while Second company has a motorized infantry unit. Their third 'company' consists of a collection of vehicles, fighters, and infantry who usually serve on base defense and emergency reserve forces.

Because of their relatively light equipment and low upgrade status, The Gepanzerte Welle is looking for work in light raiding, fire support, and scouting missions. Colonel Londeri's tactics in the Dragoon simulators feature on-the-ground scouting with intense aerial attacks from a distance. Ground combat contingencies feature the larger, 'anchor' mechs and standoff vehicles of a company holding a center while lighter units seek to encircle and harass.

According to reports, they are searching for contracts that lean towards upgrade kits and salvaged technology over C-Bills.

Part I
Part II
Part III

The Green Box: Gepanzerte Welle, aka Battletech, Pt 1

If you don't know much about the Battletech universe, this brief write-up contains much of what you need to know for the Gepanzerte Welle write-up(linked here, or posted above if you're using an RSS feed.).

Most of Battletech history centers around five nation-states in a sphere around Terra (Earth) called The Inner Sphere:
Pictured: Instant status quo, just add twenty-five years and a few expendable NPCs.

The inhabitants of the Inner Sphere had beaten each other into a state of near barbarism, culminating in the fourth in a series of massive wars. In this last war, a sixth state was created to act as a buffer between two of the other states. This place was called The Free Rasalhague Republic, a(relatively) tiny collection of worlds created by political convenience:
Pictured: Added NPCs.

In 3050, a coalition of long-lost colonies arrived in the Inner Sphere, determined to take over everything. They called themselves The Clans, and they had spent all of the years that The Inner Sphere had used grinding their best technology into dust to make deadly machines of war piloted by 'Trueborn' genetic super-soldiers.

Sadly, the nacent Free Rasalhague Republic was in their path. Millions were killed, and millions more were taken as 'Freeborn' fen to add to the citizenry of their new gene-tweaked overlords. Some Inner Sphere warriors, including those of the FRR army (or Kungsarme) were taken into Clans as Bondsmen; honored slaves just a cut above the masses.

Important turning points of the war were Luthien, the capitol of a neighboring state (the Draconis Combine) and Tukayyid, an unassuming agrarial world in the Free Rasalhague Republic. Tukayyid marked a treaty point in The Clan Invasion where the Inner Sphere manipulated the Clan honor code, which focused on bravado and dealmaking to prove a warrior's mettle. A cease fire of fifteen years was granted by the Clans.
 Pictured, in order from Top to Bottom: Fearsome Invaders, Scrappy Underdogs

The Treaty of Tukayyid gave the collective states of The Inner Sphere time to prepare their armies as best they could and bootstrap their technology up to the level of their enemies. Most doubted that they would be ready, even at the resumption of hostilities in fifteen years. However, some, motivated by revenge and losses suffered through the initial invasion, thought that an immediate attack against The Clans was the correct response.

Lyon's Thumb is a cluster of systems with habitable planets found in the Free Rasalhague's other neighbor, the Federated Commonwealth, led by the Steiner-Davion royal family.

Outreach(not pictured) is the home of most mercenary business in The Inner Sphere. It's overseen by the most reknown mercenary unit, The Wolf's Dragoons. The Wolves perform accredation of mercenary units, offer repair and training services, serve as hiring brokers, gather relevant intelligence on such units, and hold mercenary units accountable for the comission of war crimes, breaches of contract, or other infractions which might reflect poorly on the mercenary business as a whole. The mercenary industry is usually booming in the Inner Sphere, as large governments with slow methods of interstellar travel and relatively small armies often need professional military forces in the right place at the right time. The Clans do not hire mercenaries and their culture holds them in the very lowest of regards.

During 3058, the Jade Falcons, within the confines set by the Treaty of Tukayyid, launched a surprise assault on several worlds in the Federated Commonweath, cutting a swath through the FC that terminated on Coventry. It was a show of force that left their other posessions in the Inner Sphere poorly defended by reserves and salhoma troops, those deemed too old to be effective warriors.

Comstar was an interstellar communications agency made into an independent organization so that it could serve a neutral arbiter between Successor States and allow communications between planets to continue even through a series of destructive wars. This neutrality allowed Comstar to maintain quite a bit of technology that the Successor States did not, and it did so rather quietly for a variety of reasons. Comstar forces were the ones who negotiated, fought, and won the Treaty at Tukayyid.

When Comstar later liberalized and began sharing thier technology in an attempt to help the rest of The Inner Sphere fight The Clans, factions within it which had turned their secrecy into a rote religion separated from Comstar and named themselves after the organization's creator, Jerome Blake. The Word of Blake would later use Comstar secrets to engage in all manner of fanatical, political acts over the next fifteen years before radically redefining baselines for 'fanatical,' 'political,' and 'acts.'

Around 3060, amongst a handful of political criseses that cast doubt on the firmness of The Treaty of Tukayyid, the Inner Sphere did decide to go on the offensive against a Clan. They officially united under the banner of the then-and-now-defunct Star League and chose a target: The Smoke Jaguars. Operation Bulldog was put into effect, slamming waves of elite, Inner Sphere troops into the unprepared Clan forces. The Operation was an unexpected success, and The Star League Defense Forces resolved to follow the Smoke Jaguar forces all the way back to their holdings in The Clan Homeworlds.
Pictured: Yes, the five bigger blobs annihilating the smaller blue blob (not pictured) was a really big deal. Somehow, the dead guys are considered the jerks in this scenario.

A few years later, Clan Ghost Bear, now sharing a border with The Draconis Combine in the wake of the Jaguars' removal, became embroiled in a war. While the war was started by rogue forces, both sides were drawn in by codes of honor that could only be satisifed with more bloodshed. The conflict ended in a quick, but very tenuous peace that allowed both parties to save face. Raids by rogue units jeopardized this peace and both sides worked fervently to quell their own problems before another costly war could start.

Also see the Battletech Mini-Glossary.

Pictures courtesy of

The Green Box-Battletech Glossary

Enjoy this glossary of terms from the Battletech Universe. It features a number of helpful terms for the initiated and uninitiated alike.

Newly added terms are in bold and should be dated.

Battletech Mini-Glossary

Aerospace Fighter-A close second to the battlemech in terms of battlefield effectiveness, aerospace fighters are similar to standard fighters with the exception that they can effectively operate in space and in planetary atmospheres. Like battlemechs, aerospace fighters have a model name and often have a personal name granted by their pilot.

Assault-The heaviest weight class (see Weight Classes). Also a modifier for several weapons systems.

Battlemech-The central war machine of the setting. Tanks on legs, they are kings of the battlefield, largely more effective in most cases than infantry, vehicles, and aerospace fighters. Battlemechs come in a series of identifiable names. Most 'mechs of the same model have different variants, but hold a similar battlefield role. That said, given the common practice of field-modifying 'mechs and the proliferation of factory variants, this isn't always the case. In addition, many 'mech pilots, or mechwarriors, tend to give a name to their personal 'mech.

Binary-A Clan formation of two stars.

Cluster-A Clan formation of four to five binaries or trinaries.

Company-A company usually consists of three lances.

Coolant-Highly toxic fluid used to cool the massive heat generated by various machinery, in this context, Battlemechs. Fumes are harmless, but distinct.

Dropships-Dropships carry goods and supplies from Interstellar Jumpships to planets and facilities in a solar system and vice versa.

Exterminator - A technological marvel before the decline of technology, it's a heavy 'mech designed for light engagement and headhunting missions behind enemy lines. The most notable attribute of the Exterminator is the extensive stealth and detection avoidance systems. The use of these systems is considered dishonorable to Clan sensibilities, and they are not utilized by the Clan warriors unfortunate enough to be assigned these machines.

Fiat-Confirmation that everything you're reading is written by a guy who's far more credulous about this story than you are. (19-Feb)

Galaxy-A Clan formation of three to five clusters.

Ghost Bears-A Clan.

Great Cost-Offhand remarks made to pad out heroic wins. Usually measured in peripheral characters killed and greviousness of predictions about the unit's future combat ability. (19-Feb)
Heavy-The second-heaviest weight class (see Weight Classes). Also a modifier for several weapons systems.

Heroic Wins-See Fiat. (19-Feb)

Holovid-Space TV. Often viewed as a pulp format and more often viewed by Battletech novelists as a venue for self-depricating, self-aware humor (or attempts thereof).

Jade Falcons-A Clan.

Jumping-Some battlemechs possess the ability to superheat air and expell it in such a way that they can generate thrust. Enough thrust to propel a 20, 50, for even 100 ton war machine into the air and over (or into) all manner of obstacles and enemy units.

Jumpship-Interstellar craft capable of transporting goods between stars, but not within star systems.

Lance-A lance usually consists of four battlemechs or vehicles.

Light-The lightest weight class (see Weight Classes). Also a modifier for several weapons systems (Light Autocannon, Light PPC, etc.).

Mad Cat-See Timberwolf

Mechwarrior-A common term for someone who pilots a battlemech. Also, the lowest rank of Clan mechwarriors.

Medium-The second-lowest weight class (see Weight Classes). Also a modifier for several weapons systems.

Not-Named Clan-Initially named, it's actions earned it the universal scorn of its peers and had its name striken from the records (Mongooses. Admittedly, it's a good team name.)

Nova Cats-A Clan that turned against the Smoke Jaguars and started working with the Inner Sphere.

Omega Galaxy-A Clan Ghost Bear unit not held to usual Clan traditions of warfare. They often use tactics akin to those of the Inner Sphere, and often more effectively.

Omnimech-A type of battlemech (usually Clan), which uses modular weapons pods for easy mission specialization and dramatically reduced repair times.

Omni-Short for 'omnimech'

Protomech-Tiny battlemechs with all of the drawbacks of Battlemechs, plus a few extra for being smaller. They utilize mental commands of tiny pilots curled up inside of their tiny cockpits. Scientists being as indisposed towards cruelty as they are, they are designed so pilots go mad long before the claustrophobia sets in. (19-Feb)

Smoke Jaguars-A Clan, one of the two that invaded Luthien, only to be repulsed by the inferior forces present (see 'Great Cost'). (19-Feb)

Star Commander-A Clan rank suitable for someone who commands a star.

Star League-The Star League was an organizational body that exemplifies the pre-decline civilization of The Inner Sphere. When it was undone by treachery and (wait for it) warfare, its pacifying influence was lost and the Succession Wars began, destroying the civilization it had served to create. The Star League is analgous to Camelot in the minds of many in the Battletech setting, both in The Clans and the Inner Sphere. In the minds of many players, it's the fascist oppressor whose ruthless government merely kept one ethnic group from cleansing another.

Star-A Clan battlemech formation that consists of five battlemechs (or omnimechs).

Tauman-A Clan's collective military forces. Distinct from hippes telling you about the best snipers in Warhammer 40k. (19-Feb)

Timberwolf - Also known as a Mad Cat, the Timberwolf is the cutting edge of Clan technology. Tough, potent, and quick it's an iconic 'mech of the setting, and with good damned reason.

Trials-A more formal way to kill one another than warfare. Trials come in a handful of types, including Greviance(I hate you), Posession(I'm taking your shit), Absorption(I 'm taking your shit and you'll like it), and Annihilation(I'm killing you and no one will miss you when you're gone). (19-Feb)

Trinary-A Clan formation of three stars.

Weight Classes-A rough categorization of units by their weight. Heavier units are usually slower, better armed, and better armored, while lighter units are faster, less potent, and easier to destroy (if hit). Light, Medium, Heavy, and Assault are the standard weight classes, with Superheavy being a speculative addition to the higher end.

Zellbrigen-A sort of formal challenge within The Clans where two guys specifically shoot at each other and no one else. This varies from Clan to Clan, as some will modify this to include more than two guys, sometimes shooting at others as well. (19-Feb)

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Strikes in Egypt Ratchet Up Tensions, Evade Attempts at Humor

"Thousands of workers went on strike Wednesday across Egypt, adding a new dimension to the uprising as public rage turned to the vast wealth President Hosni Mubarak's family..."

Aw, man, I thought this shit was cooling off, despite the release of Google Spartacus.

"Strikes erupted in a breadth of sectors — among railway and bus workers, state electricity staff and service technicians at the Suez Canal, in factories manufacturing textiles, steel and beverages and at least one hospital."

This is pretty big. If only there was a hilarious number I could attach to it to comedically emphasize how big of a deal this is.

"Some 5,000 workers at various state companies..."


Well, there's got to be more numbers in this article.

 "In one of the flashpoints of unrest Wednesday, some 8,000 protesters, mainly farmers..."


Egypt. Listen up: If you're going to protest, try to do it in numbers from 9,001 to 9,999, preferably closer to the lower end (but never under!). Those of us in America would like it if the rest of the world would be a little more compliant in how much your very real struggles against oppression, violence, and corruption were made into easy fodder for our entertainment. You're not only oppressed and living on the poverty line despite your leader's obscene wealth, but you're being a little insensitive with these tiny protests.

"In Tahrir Square about 10,000 massed again on Wednesday..."
Close enough guys, close enough.

Quotes from Yahoo News, which in turn is from the Associated Press.

Field Manual Kris: The Talk Circuit

Interior, Oval Office. President Barak Obama sits at the president's desk with full suit and tie. One of the classic white couches has been moved to The President's left, facing outward.
Pictured: George W. Bush trying his hand at theater in a production of "Return to Oz."

PBO: "Welcome back to the White House everyone, today we have a very special guest. Well...Joe, is he important?"
*Cut to Joe Biden behind a set of drums, his jacket draped over the back of his chair and sleeves rolled up. He smiles and laughs with an 'I don't know' gesture.*

PBO: "Well, he is a voter. Everyone, welcome Kris."

There is no applause.

Kris: *Sits on the middle of the couch.* "This is...really uncomfortable."

PBO: "C'mon. It's a great couch. Hilary was just sitting there this afternoon."

Kris: "...less...comfortable."

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 07

Every Tuesday, I post excerpts from my best-selling at not-selling super blog, Playing Favorites.

My other blogs are Giant-Sized this week, and so is Playing Favorites. Enjoy.

Full disclosure; I’ve only read, like a half-dozen individual Black Panther comics. That’s not even ‘Black Panther’ comics where his name was on the title. Half of those were ‘Fantastic Four’ issues where Reed and Sue were on vacation after Civil War and newlyweds Black Panther and Storm were filling in. I honestly only picked those up because they ended up dimension-hopping to the Marvel Zombies Universe. I got one from after that arc where they were on racist retard Skrull planet (just like in the classic Star Trek episode, “A Piece of the Action”), but that…had to be an accident; I don’t think that comic came out while I was still drinking heavily.

Anyway, I like Black Panther because he’s the trifecta; the technology, magic, and national support of Doctor Doom, the drive, abilities, and wealth of Batman, and the something something of someone else who isn’t memorable because they aren’t Doctor Doom or Batman(maybe ‘integrity’ and ‘Captain America’). But really, aren’t Batman and Doctor Doom enough to make a trifecta? Possibly more? Is the sum of two and two three? No, it would be foolish to say such is so, but it would not be so foolish to say that two and two is greater than three.

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Game's the Thing: Experience in Multiple Techniques

For players, experience is a very simple thing; it's a bridge from the baby's first badass of their new character to the final boss battle badass that always seems inevitable just a few sessions before the campaign falls apart. It's a measure of progress and a return on their investment on having fun. What's the reward for playing your Batman-themed player character? Playing a better Batman-themed player character. For the min/maxers, it's bragging rights. For serious roleplayers, it's their character's mastery over things which have previously alluded them. For smartass snarkers, it's a license to snark to slightly more dangerous NPCs. For social roleplayers, it's...actually kind of a hassle.