Tuesday, March 31, 2015



Monday, March 30, 2015

Vacation Schedule for April

So I'm taking that vacation in April. Renting a car and driving to Kountze, Houma, then back. Might stop in Houston. If you're in those areas and want to spend some time with me while I'm down there, let me know.

STT: Revvik

Revvik is Richard's character. I really liked his concept. Then Richard quit responding to my emails and never showed up to play. Revvik's basically an NPC, now which gives me latitude when it comes to redefining his character.

I'm going to try do to these on Mondays and include links to the Obsidian Portal.

Revvik (Wiki link)
High Concept: Hotshot Vulcan Pilot

Trouble: Where did the Humans go? – Starfleet discourages investigation into why the Humans vanished. In addition, there are thousands of crackpot theories across known space about why it happened. None the less, Revvik still follows up on almost every lead he comes across when it comes to learning about them. This curiosity threatens an already shaky career, but it also makes the junior-grade lieutenant one of Starfleet’s foremost experts on the matter.

Aspect: I know what she can do – As a callow ensign fresh out of The Academy, Revvik was given a plumb assignment on board the museum ship Enterprise, NX-01. While trying an unauthorized sublight slingshot of the ship around a moon, he pushed it to its limits—and beyond. The crash had zero fatalities, but left the ship itself irreparable. The young pilot was reassigned to the ground-based Memory Alpha for the next year. However, Revvik still pushes vessels to their limits and has gained an appreciation for how far outside of specifications they can be driven.
This Aspect and Revvik’s Trouble are both combination troubles/aspects. Both can compel Revvik to do certain actions as well as being invoked by him to help him on certain rolls.

Aspect: Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations – In 2400, Revvik gathered an eclectic group of freshmen to perform an Academy tradition in outstanding fashion. Full details can be found at The 2400 Smithsonian Theft. It was the first of many times throughout his career that Revvik demonstrated the ability to find the gifts of those with different skills and backgrounds and use them effectively.

Aspect: “Here’s What Happened, Sir…” – Revvik has a history of getting into hot water with his superiors. There’s no clearer example of this than the away mission to Delta Rana IV as delta shift leader on board the USS Taiwan. There, the six members of the away party were immediately ambushed and cut off from the ship. While there are varying accounts of the subsequent events, it was lieutenant Revvik’s initial debrief of Captain Tavel that diffused concerns over the team’s actions and earned them only a slight rebuke.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

17 to 01: The Naked Time

In which everyone is bad at their jobs. They're just so bad at them.

Contains explicit language and explicit discussion of sex.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Battletech Heaps: The Big Red Die

Whether it's for nostalgia or novelty, Wednesdays are the days that I put up old Battletech house rules I created nigh on 10 years ago. For those of you who aren't familiar with the (in)famous, addictive board game of armored combat, I'll add some context, but know that you should abandon all non-courier fonts, ye who enter here.

The Big Red Die
In Battletech, most weapons just deal a big heap of damage all at once. A class 10 Autocannon (AC/10) will deal, yeah, 10 damage all in once place. That's pretty good. Other weapons, like missiles hit in clusters. 5 is the most common, but there are weapons that deal clusters of 2 or 1.

Example: You're shooting a class 20 Long Range Missile Rack (LRM 20). You roll 2d6 to see if you hit. Then you roll 2D6 and consult a Cluster Hits Table to see how many of your 20 missiles hit. You roll a '7', an average roll, and 12 of your missiles hit.

Cluster Hits Table

   2  3  4  5  6  9 10 12 15 20
2  1  1  1  1  2  3  3  4  5  6
3  1  1  2  2  2  3  3  4  5  6
4  1  1  2  2  3  4  4  5  6  9
5  1  2  2  3  3  5  6  8  9 12
6  1  2  2  3  4  5  6  8  9 12
7  1  2  3  3  4  5  6  8  9 12
8  2  2  3  3  4  5  6  8  9 12
9  2  2  3  4  5  7  8 10 12 16
10 2  3  3  4  5  7  8 10 12 16
11 2  3  4  5  6  9 10 12 15 20
12 2  3  4  5  6  9 10 12 15 20
Numbers courtesy of Sarna's "CBT Tables" page.
Sarna.net is a great resource.

You then roll 2d6 for hit location 3 times, twice for clusters of 5 damage and then once more for a cluster of 2 damage (5 + 5 + 2 = 12).

That's tedious. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Remembering Sphinx's Revelation

So Sphinx's Revelation was a top-notch card in Magic's standard scene for a while. I mean, it's a mythic rare so that should be obvious, but it also let you gain life and draw cards just...whenever.

It rotated out about six months ago, but I just found this touching video, which could honestly apply to any of the cards lost during Magic block rotations.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Star Trek: Season 1 Wrap Up

The Nap of Fate that took me Sunday afternoon marks the end of season one of Star Trek: Taiwan.

I do intend to do a write up or podcast for each of the episodes we did and get into depth on the player characters and non-player characters of the game.

It's been enjoyable for me, but I know that that isn't universal. Long ago, we articulated a few paradigms of our gaming group:

1) If the storyteller doesn't push it, it doesn't get played. We've called off campaigns that everyone liked because the person running it wasn't sure that it was going well.
2) If players don't like a game, its priority drops below other priorities in their lives. They get too busy to play.
3)  Games that run over a longer period of time tend to pick up steam. Familiarity in a game makes it more appealing. Long life leads to long life.

Logically, this means that I am not going to stop Star Trek. You are going to have to tell me to climb off of its corpse and gently whisper to me, "It's dead, Kris" before I call a time of death and run something different*.

That also means that I need to really try to make things better. At the very least I need to ease off of the metaplot. I'd like to get some "feature" episodes together that don't just have a main character, but which feature that character.

But I can't fix what I don't know about. I would like some feedback. Anonymous comments should be enabled below this post. If you would like to play Star Trek some more, but haven't for some reason, let me know what I can fix. What you'd like to look forward to whenever you play. Anything. The only things I really ask is that you mention fixes--however general--for the problems the campaign is having.

*Do not do that now  because I am in a mood to try Battletech again and none of us want that.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Old Axes: I found this while going through my old Battletech stuff

Catalyst Game Labs Projected 1st Quarter 2010 Lineup
BattleTech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set [Actual street date: February 2012]
A Time of War: The BattleTech RPG [2010]
Technical Readout: 3060 [2009?]
HexPack: Lakes and Rivers [2010]
Record Sheets: 3060 [2010]
Record Sheets: 3075 [2009]
Historicals: Operation Klondike [2010]
First Strike: BattleCorps Anthology Vol 2 [2010]
Warrior Trilogy: Anniversary Omnibus, Author's Definitive Edition [???]
A Bonfire of Worlds [e-pub 2009 / hardcopy ???]

When this list first came down, I made a joke about how 2011 was going to be a big year for Battletech. In fact, I expected this post to be a bit petty concerning missed deadlines, but credit where credit is due, most of this stuff hit on target or before that.

One exception was the physical novels, but Battletech has had so many publishing issues that I'm shocked they even promised those. The other was a massive 25th Anniversary Boxed Set which is an unequivocal fail, but a minor one considering the reliability for every other product on this list.

I'm just saying that I hate Battletech as much as I love it, but really, for what it's worth...

good job Catalyst Game Labs. BZ.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Udemy & Code School

Buying a Udemy course was a purchase that made me feel old. Not aged, but like I'd made one of those Old People on The Internet mistakes. I bought it through Stack Social, which is a pretty sketchyy site I'd never heard of, but I had heard of Stack Exchange, a much better and more trustworthy site, and I just made an Old People mistake.

I only learned I'd be taking it through a third party when I went to redeem my purchase. In firm words under the course links, Stack Social reminded me "no refunds," because that was a question I was thinking about at that point.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

17 to 01: The Enemy Within

Derek and I talk about how...wow the messed up sex things in this episode. Also, Derek asks hella questions about the multiple plotholes in this episode.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Battletech Heap: Laser Equations

Whenever I was doing the FATE inspired by Battletech stuff, I wanted to do some adaptations of some old custom mechs. Because I've changed computers a half-dozen times since I last did any Battletech stuff, it was hard to track down a lot of my records. I had some old Xanga accounts that I kept a lot of it on and I had to download and dig up some of those accounts. For some of the information. And now I have heaps--heaps!--of old Battletech designs and house rules that I'd like to have in an accessible, long-lived place...like here.

If you're the 99% of people reading who don't like Battletech, I'll be explaining stuff a bit, but I won't bullshit you; Wednesdays may not be be a good return on investment for your time so much in the near future. Sorry.

For those of you who are--for you, skiltao, you've probably seen all of this stuff before. Hell, some of this stuff may have been superseded by actual equipment. Whether it's nostalgia or novelty, I hope you enjoy it.

Standard Laser Equations
There are many way to classify Battletech weapons. "Introductory Tech" (sometimes referred to as "Level 1 Tech") is the simplest classification. They're the simplest weapons from which to make a battlemech. There are three types of stanadard laser; large, medium, and small. It's that simple.

Those lasers jump from 3 to 5 to 8 damage with a wide variety of ranges, heats, and tonnages in there. What if we reverse engineer the formulas to derive the other sizes of lasers that are still as simple as the standard lasers?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Why Deep Space Nine?

I was reading this old interview with Nana Visitor, who played Kira on DS9. It's pretty good and she mentions how disliked Deep Space Nine and how it's considered so enduring now.
Why was DS9 so unliked then and so enduring now? I accuse TNG of being soft and beigey. When Derek and I were talking about “Dagger of the Mind” for 17 to 01, I mentioned that one of the TOS core values was that a peaceful oppression was never preferable to a chaotic freedom. TOS was not afraid to break the peace in the name of justice. TNG and VOY, with the exception of well-justified, well-worn action tropes, were often able to preserve justice without sacrificing order.

And standing as a white kid in 1990′s America, that stuff seemed to hold together. Between the fall of The Berlin Wall and 9/11, existential threats were something that other countries dealt with. We’d won and felt empowered to reach down and meddle in others’ affairs to help them out. TOS’s promise that humanity could become better became a complacent belief that The United States had become better.

But DS9, simply nodded at domestic peace. walked to the edge of that and looked out. The problems were still there, just outside of paradise, and they put a Starfleet crew on the edge of The Federation and dared to show them that their bubble of progress was cut off sharply at the border. Their mandate wasn’t to militarily intervene the way we did in Somalia, Haiti, and Kosovo, but to help a society grow and even accept them, if they so chose.

Then, it turned around and divested us of that conceit of progress. I reject DS9 on a few levels because it cynically deconstructs the progress of the human race. My complaints about DS9′s affront to the principles of Star Trek are dwarfed by a much-needed, and oft-unheard criticism of post-Cold War America’s belief in our own righteousness and morality. It addressed our ability to condescend, the ugly violence beneath that peace, the blatant inequalities that were easily ignored, and even foreshadowed the obsession with security that has gripped us for the past fourteen years.

The conceit of American exceptionalism, repeated as mantra by our politicians because we demand they laud us as saints for collectively shoving others down and out pricking all other pricks to be Chief Prick of Earth was something Deep Space Nine was adamantly against. 

Why was DS9 unpopular? No one likes being reminded that it’s easy to be a saint in paradise.

Why was it enduring? Because it was right.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Old 'Mechs: Hewn Wolf


               BattleMech Technical Readout

Type/Model:    Hewn Wolf HEWW-O-1IH
Tech:          Inner Sphere / 3067

Mass:          75 tons
Chassis:       Endo Steel
Power Plant:   375 GM XL Fusion
Walking Speed: 54.0 km/h
Maximum Speed: 86.4 km/h
Jump Jets:     None
Jump Capacity: 0 meters
Armor Type:    231 pts Ferro-Fibrous
Armament:      26.5 tons of pod space

Based largely on the Timberwolf(duh), it suffers the exceptional critical-space restrictions of Inner Sphere equipment. The Hewn Wolf largely avoids imitating the Timberwolf in its weapons layout(which is how it escapes the designation of Mad Cat-O ). Only Configurations 4 and 5 take after Timberwolf loadouts(The Prime and D configs respectively), and then only marginally. The configurations overall usually require more high-weight, low-crit items, which gives an excuse to use weapons I often overlook like light ACs, Large Pulse Lasers, and the like. In addition, the .5 pod space gives me an excuse to use CASE, which I don't usually bother with when it comes to XL engines.

I know the Rakshasa does this(as well as a few hundred other home-brewed designs), but it's not an omni. There's a Config 6 that covers the Rakshasa, but it has to drop the Medium Pulse Laser for an ER Small Laser.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

17 to 01: Mudd's Women

We're talking "Mudd's Women" this week, and learn that women aren't just good for sex; they can cook and clean too! For a guy who's just been introduced to transporters, Derek asks a lot of pointed questions about them. 

Also, the show I couldn't remember the name of is Misfits.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

FATE Inspired by Battletech: Non-canon Examples

So now I'm making 'mechs that aren't canon or which were originally made with the FATE rules. It's not enough to create 'mechs from Battletech; a good system can go beyond that. At the very least, I want it to go beyond that.

Cobra IIC
This little guy is certainly made with the Battletech rules. It's from the 3087 setting I kinda half-made a while back and tried to run with the guys. The Cobra IIC is a signature of 'mech of The Federated Hellfire Territories, a mixtech chassis that sports a pair of Clan Streak LRM 15's as its central weapons.

Tech Level: 11

Skill Points: 11
Skill Maximum: 4
Equipment Points: 11
Aspects: 4

Ruggedness: 1
Maneuver: 4
Accuracy: 5*
Electronics: 1

High Concept: The Dancing Death
Trouble: Cutting Edge Design
Aspect: Long Range
Aspect: Missiles
Aspect: Jump Jets – Can invoke this aspect when trying to climb slopes or jump over obstacles.
Aspect: National Unit – A player may invoke this aspect to acquire this 'mech or related repair components if they're especially well connected with the Federated Hellfire Territories government.*

*A unit may rise above the skill cap by turning an aspect into a non-combat aspect.

Equipment Points
Ammo Points: 4
Neural Interface: 4

Sandblast: A pair of Streak LRM 15's definitely qualify.
Strong Firepower

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I'm Not Really a Ballet Guy

Honestly, it's one of those things I put in the "Yeah, it's hard to do. Good on you for doing it. No, I don't appreciate it" category.

But still, this is pretty boss.

And the original:

Monday, March 09, 2015

Houma Movie Club: Phase 13

So Horns, Burke & Hare, and The Grey were all pretty good. There wasn't enough wolf punching in any of them, to be honest so now we're going with a few classic, pre-X-Men, pre-Blade superhero movies. No videos because I forgot to write this up last night and I'm posting it from work. I'll add 'em later.

Tank Girl (1995, 104 min)

I am eager to see this movie. I read the Comics Alliance review of it a while back and that only piqued my interest. Our modern world is so full of gritty, post-apocalyptic media that it makes you unironically wish for a grit-based apocalypse (probably one precipitated by the words, "Winnie the Pooh, but it's all an LSD trip by Christopher Robin!").

Tank Girl looks like the vibrant, dumb, smiling, fun post-apocalypse I can only get from Killjoys, and that's setting the bar high for a movie that I'm pretty sure has never even been aware of the bar, much less cleared one.

Robocop (1987, 102 min)

Old Detroit has a cancer. The cancer is crime.

The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005, 99 minutes)

Okay, so technically, this thing came out after Blade (1998) and X-Men (2000), but The Crow was released in 1994 and the sequel was released in 1996. I think it counts.

Technicalities aside, this thing is the fourth Crow movie. It stars Eddie Furlong. It stars Tara fucking Reid. It has post-Buffy, pre-Bones David Boreanaz (the worst Boreanaz). It has Dennis Hopper schlepping it. The director's only other non-documentary directing credit is a movie I've never heard of called Six-String Samurai. It has Danny Trejo in it so we can't not watch it.

What I'm saying is that The Crow: Wicked Prayer is a bad movie and watching it will make you feel bad. We usually keep who choose what and who voted for what pretty secret, but I'm really proud of this evil I'm about to unleash on the world. I'm not even sorry.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

The Last Man on Earth

Man, falling in love is hard. No matter how minimalist someone acts, there are a hundred things that are required for them to open up, relax, and truly let a good thirty-minute comedy into their hearts. Community did that for me and in a move bolder than my character implies, I took the chance on Last Man On Earth.

Will Forte was a big help. I loved him on SNL and...yeah, okay, just SNL, but her was really, really good on it. I wanted to see more on him (just shy of watching MacGruber). I mean, he's another white guy at the center of a network show, but he can do the work.

17 to 01: Journey to Babel

This week we're watching "Journey to Babel" in memory of Leonard Nimoy. Derek doesn't let me dwell on it and I finally find my ur-example of Star Trek's telepathic doors. 

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Star Trek: Taiwan: The Crew

So I've been talking about The Star Trek RPG (and related endeavors) for a while now.

I've never really laid it all out here. We've actually been playing it. Interest is low, bordering on dead, but it's still happening. There is the primer I handed out to my players, but that's forty pages. (It's here.)

So, it's 2404, twenty-five years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis and twenty years since the human race vanished. It's no secret that the human race did a lot of heavy lifting in Starfleet and (for our purposes here) the rest of The Federation. The resulting power vacuum brought known space to the brink of total war and a sham Federation was propped up by the usual suspects (Klingons, Romulans, Ferengi, and Cardassians) to maintain a peace while everyone sharpens their best knives.

Monday, March 02, 2015

FATE Inspired by Battletech, Canon Examples

So I've been doing the Battletech-Inspired FATE Mecha system over the past couple of weeks and the best way to cap it off is with examples.

The interesting thing about this system is that versions of 'mechs aren't so important. What's the difference between the single-heat-sinked, SRM 6-ed Thug and the double-heat-sinked, SRM 4-ed? A small amount of firepower and some heat dissipation? Notable, but not significant.

Tech Level: 7
Skill Points: 7
Skill Maximum: 3
Equipment Points: 7
Aspects: 3

Ruggedness: 3
Maneuver: 1
Accuracy: 3
Electronics: 0 - As in FATE, a skill of 0 doesn't mean an absence of a skill, but an average level of it.

High Concept: Definitive Zombie 'Mech
Trouble: Not as scary as advertised - 
The Thug is a venerable 'mech, but it really isn't a killer. It's a tough chassis that can dish out moderate damage with a complimentary weapons array.
Aspect: Classic Design
Aspect: Medium Range
Aspect: Lasers