gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
That's "Hello to everyone, Let's talk about language" in Turkish. I wrote yesterday about how the treatment of non-humans in gaming and fiction bugged me, and here's another nit I like to pick.

I speak English, but my English is the result of 200 years of drift from the mother language in Britain. English is spoken all over the world, but is fractured by regional accents and developing dialects to the point that if you put someone from Maine in the same room as someone from Alabama, they'd barely be able to understand each other. And that' speaking the same base language.

Now add in the roughly 6,500 languages spoken on our planet. Most of which are mutually unintelligible to each other. There are many places where you can walk a half mile and find that the entire language has changed, and the people in this village don't share any common linguistic characteristics with the nice folks in the last village. Linguistic families shift, there are different alphabets, and so on.

So why would this be any different in fantasy or science fiction? Think about it, Elves, dwarfs, orcs, etc., are all separate species with wildly divergent cultures. Their languages would be in different families with almost no crossovers. Depending on your setting, human languages might have been influenced by the older races in some places, that's a pretty common trope. But still learning Elvish is going to be as hard as it is for an English speaker to learn Japanese or Russian. Orkish? Assuming you can even make the sounds, there are going to be severe cultural barriers to really understanding what you are saying.

Get out into space and things get worse. Every human language, thriving, threatened, or dead, has something in common: they evolved to take advantage of how our mouths and respiratory systems work. Even tongues with odd glottal stops and clicks can be learned with enough study. Now take an alien like my Storks. They have mouths and a jaw that looks a like an alligator snout with a long, flexible tongue. They have no lips. Stork speech has been described as sounding like a broken steam pipe scalding a turkey alive. We can't come close to speaking it, and there's no way a Stork could manage more than a few human sounds. So how do you talk when you physically can't communicate?

Oddly, the Chinese figured that out long ago. Written Chinese is ideogramic, and is universal across all spoken Chinese. It is as close to a universal language as we're ever going to get, as the written form expresses ideas rather than sounds. So you can write "Where is the Hilton Hotel?" and have it recognized everywhere the Chinese language is used.

There's a legend that when Europeans and the Chinese first met during the Age of Exploration, the Chinese suggested that we adopted their written language. Pity we didn't, it would have made things easier.

But anyway, back to my point. Languages change over time as regional accents and slang infect the mother tongue. Borrowed words and phrases creep in and become standard. Isolation increases the speed of these changes. Within a few generations - lacking a serious attempt to keep the language "pure" - you'll be getting new language forms developing and drifting away from the parent.

Which means in a setting with comparatively slow travel like the Third Imperium, there will be millions of languages. Isolated, low population planets might speak a few tongues completely unknown elsewhere. Translator technology is advanced today, but the sheer number of languages you'd need to load would be daunting. Plus, translators will largely miss context. If you're in Alabama and a woman looks at you and says "Well, bless your heart!" she's not being nice, she's calling you an idiot. Not knowing the vernacular can be dangerous.

Most settings include a "common" language. There is historical precedent. Latin and Greek were understood across most of the world during the heyday of the Roman Empire, for example, and you can usually find an Arabic speaker in an Islamic nation. French and English have both had turns as the lingua franca in trade and diplomacy. But those tend to be the languages spoken in the cities and along the trade routes. The merchants in Istanbul when we were there spoke wonder English, French, and Russian, because that was the main tourist demographic. I am certain that if we had headed out the east away from the big cities, finding English speakers would have presented a problem.

Like everything else, language is a big part of the setting, and present obstacles and aides to characters, whether they be in a game or in your stories.
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
One of my favorite parts of writing is the world building phase. I love creating strange places and the people and things (and the things that are people) that inhabit those spaces. I steal gleefully from history for setting details and odd occurrences to throw in.

But I think my favorite thing is designing aliens. I'm using the word here to define anything other than a baseline human. Elves and dwarfs are aliens, as are those hyper-intelligent shades of green from Procyon. Because building these sort of things allows for great creativity.

One of the things I hate about most alien depictions is that they end up being humans in funny hats, to steal a line from TV Tropes. Oh, they might have weird heads or be CGI critters, but we can recognize their motivations and usually speak with them. Klingon honor is indistinguishable from human codes of honor. These are aliens! They should be, well, alien!

Take my favorite alien race from Traveller, as I was just talking about that yesterday. The K'kree. A hexapodal plains-dwelling race of militant vegans. The K'kree are gregarious to the point that just the thought of privacy makes them ill, claustrophobic as hell, and totally dedicated to the extermination or conversion of all meat-eaters in the galaxy.

You see, at the dawn of the K'kree's industrial age, a slower than light asteroid ship came to their world. Aboard were the G'naack (the K'kree name, means "carnivore" more or less) a species who saw Kiriur as an all you can eat BBQ. The war lasted centuries, and when it was over the K'kree were the survivors and they had a mission that had become beyond religious.

So tell me, would the K'kree trade with human kind? Exchange diplomatic pleasantries? Do anything other than send extermination fleet after extermination fleet towards the Third Imperium? Gateway Sector, where the Third Imperium and the 2,000 Words meet, should be a scene of near constant war, with smaller meeting engagements punctuated by horrific clashes of giant fleets. The worlds should be scoured of life as the K'kree fight to erase any human presence. A thriving trade in looting these shattered fleets and doomed world would attract adventurers willing to risk being stomped to death by K'kree military types in the hopes of striking it rich.

But instead we got a watered down version of this, where if you abstained from eating meat for several days, it was totally cool because the K'kree would ignore the existence of a few trillion meat-eating humans. That always bugged me no end.

Now when I do my own aliens, I look hard at what they are to begin to understand how they act. As an example, my race of sentient blimps (called Blimps by humans, their own language is a series of colors and shapes formed on their skin) evolved as grazers in swallow swamps and river deltas. They use long tentacles to grab both mooring points and food as they stride along. I decided that rather than having sex, Blimp females drop egg sacks in still waters, and males are attracted and fertilize them. Also, Blimps have distributed brain networks. Along with a large brain near the forward eye clusters, there are neural nodes all through the body. Blimps never sleep, completely. There's always some part of the brain that's awake. Which means that Blimps are awake and dreaming at the same time.

So here we have a race with no traditional family structure, as eggs and the spawn are community assets, a worldview that sees dreams and the waking world as one, and communicates by changing the patterns and colors of their skin. They are not going to have the same thoughts and goals as humans! Indeed, even once we figure out how to talk to them, it may be that we find them infuriatingly vague and other-worldly; while they find us to to be boring and rude. Artists would love the Blimps, and who knows, the Blimps might find some value in human visual arts.

Of course, Blimps use colors for mood enhancements. Since blue is the primary color of the swamps they live in, blue is the color a Blimp uses to hide, so it is associate with fear. Meaning they'd be quite confused by Picasso's Blue Period. Also, don't wear your red power tie to the meeting, Blimps use hydrogen to float, and they are a little touchy about fire-like colors. I love these guys, I just wish I could figure out how to write a book around them.
gridlore: The Imperial Sunburst from the Traveller role-playing game (Gaming - Sunburst)
Yesterday a man I was lucky to count as a friend and mentor passed away. I only ever met Loren Wiseman in the flesh once, and that was long before we had a professional relationship. But he was one of the architects of the role-playing games that I still love to this day, and as I told my mom on the phone, he was probably one of the guys she wanted to punch in the face when I was a teenager (I was just slightly obsessed with Traveller. Slightly.)

Ah, Traveller. When Craig came home from a local game convention with that iconic little black box and told me that he wanted to run a game for me, I was thrilled. It was the early summer of 1977. I wasn't quite 11 yet, and attention from my big brother that did not involve a pummeling was a good thing. I found out years later I was allowed to game only because his regular group wasn't interested in doing a science-fiction game.

But I rolled up a merchant named Beowulf Schaffer (yes, I was reading a lot of Larry Niven) and Craig had of course figured out a 3-D starmap based on the Known Worlds. I think that game lasted three or four sessions. But there were more to come, and eventually I rolled up the character who would stay with me for years, Captain Sir Arameth Gridlore, Master of the Free Trader Driver Carries No Cash. I played Gridlore in multiple games through the years, and I'm proud to say that the old ethically-challenged merchant has made it into several official Traveller publications.

Eventually, I had my own set of the rules, and used my weekly allowance to gather more and more Traveller stuff. This is where Loren comes back into the story. GDW, the publishers of Traveller and other fine games, started a magazine to support the game. The Journal of the Travellers Aid Society (JTAS) had short adventures, new aliens and equipment, and mostly articles that expanded the growing Third Imperium setting from a vague "there's an empire out there" to a living, breathing place. Loren was editing the magazine, and I didn't know it then, but his work honed my skills as a world builder.

Loren also was a great game designer in his own right. He did a series of war games set in Republican Rome, and was lead designer on a game called Twilight:2000. The setting of the game was central Europe in the aftermath of the Third World War and a limited nuclear exchange. The characters are soldiers in the US 5th Infantry Division who get a message from divisional command: "Good luck, you're on your own."

Needless to say this game was immensely popular at Fort Benning while I was stationed there. A game where all the officers are dead and we get all the cool stuff? Awesome! I still remember the day we were playing in the rec room at Delta, 3/7th Infantry. We had found an intact M109 self propelled artillery piece, and were having an argument over how fast it could shoot. Then we all remembered that right across from our barracks was the 2/10th Field Artillery. After confusing the staff Duty NCO, we eventually got a quick lecture on the vehicle and a spare Field Manual for it. All so we could blow up imaginary river pirates on the Vistula.

Fast forward several years. It is announced that Steve Jackson Games has gotten a license to produce a version of Traveller. Loren was going to be mostly in charge. The intial projects look great, and I'm checking the "writers wanted" section of the SJG website when I see a call for a GURPS Traveller book on the Imperial Army and Marines. With great trepidation I send in a proposed outline and writing sample. And wait. And wait. Finally, I summon the nerve to call SJG and speak to Loren, who remember is one of my idols, and ask him about it. "Oh, yeah, I'm giving you the contract." He may have said more words, but I had stopping having a functional brain.

Writing Ground Forces was a challenge. I had never tackled such a project before. Luckily, I was smart enough to ask for help from my fellow members of the Traveller Mailing List, and brave enough to pepper Loren with questions. Each one of which he answered fully. Ever written for publication? You send in your first draft and it comes back covered in red ink, possibly reeking of brimstone and charred at the edges. But mine also came with a note "You write like a pro! Fix these few problems, and we're all good!" Exactly what I needed to see.

I can never express how it felt to hold that first author's copy in my hands. It was a Traveller book with my name on it. It was a good book, and I'm proud to say that it's always been highly rated by Traveller fans. And it never would have happened without Loren Wiseman's guidance and patience. He'll be missed.
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
As Valentine's Day has just passed, let me tell you about my first love. The one I spent so many hours with, had so many adventures with, and of course cost me a lot of money and eventually left me.

I am speaking of course, about my first car. What, you thought this was about a girl?

I grew up at was the end of the Golden Age of California car culture. Most of my friends had their licenses and access to a car by the time they were sixteen, and freedom was ours! Going to concerts, hitting Rocky Horror and then Denny's for fries and ranch sauce, and of course cruising the El Camino until it was time to head to the Cinema 150 for Rocky Horror.

For those of you under 40, cruising was when you and several hundred of other drivers packed their cars with friends and drive up and down El Camino Real in an endless loop while listening to to either KOME or KSJO. Certain heretics would listen to KMEL or KFJC, but we could drown them out. The key to cruising was at stoplights; where, at random, people would just switch cars. If you didn't ride in five different cars in four hours you were doing it wrong. I recall one night when I told the driver to let me off at the movie theater and only then realized that I was the only English speaker in the car.

Good times.

But I didn't get my own license until I was in the Army, and even then it was for military vehicles. Only when I came home did my father make a deal to get me a car for my own uses. It was a 1973 Datsun miniwagon. It was baby-shit yellow and had terrifying brakes (later repaired.) Of course I had to name it the Yellow Peril. Named after the yellow biplanes used by the Navy to train pilots before and during WWII. It was, in retrospect, not that great a car, but I loved it.

Because it meant freedom. I could get to Grateful Dead concerts and conventions and, yes, Rocky Horror without begging a ride. If I wanted to go to Santa Cruz and hang out at the Pacific Garden Mall for TOTALLY LEGITIMATE, LEGAL REASONS I could do so. I was only tethered by gas money and the mechanical strangeness of my car.

See, some flathead and pushed a Dodge engine into my little Japanese import and did a poor job of it. I guess he wanted a hot rod build, but in that body? The result was an overpowered engine on a under-powered transmission and drive train. It made for some strange looks from mechanics I knew.

But still, I was able to get around, and being me, the Yellow Peril's paint job soon began to vanish beneath a sea of bumper stickers. I've never been shy about expressing myself, and now I had a rolling forum for my views. Most of these views were "The Grateful Dead are awesome!", as Dead stickers were about 75% of the total surface area of stickers, but I also had funny ones and some political opinions mixed in.

Which led to one of the few times I've ever been pulled over. One of the biggest stickers was my white on bright red QUESTION AUTHORITY sticker which was centered right under the window on my back hatch. One night while driving home from a friend's place, I make the left turn onto Los Gatos-Almaden Road from Leigh and get lit up by the cop who had been following me. At first he said that I "cut the turn too sharply" (WTF?) but then begins interrogating me on my plethora of art and opinions, especially that one. I had to explain to a San Jose Police officer that questioning authority is a cornerstone of a free society, and everyone, including him, needs to be ready to stand up when an authority figure says something that sounds fishy.

In the end, I flat-out asked if I was getting a ticket. I got a verbal warning about my "overly sharp" turns and my "bad attitude" and he let me go. I was royally pissed off, as you can imagine, and decided then and there that I would double-down on my questioning of authority. Been doing so ever since.

Sadly, the Yellow Peril began showing signs of age. I had been riding her hard for a few years, and more problems were showing up than I could afford to fix. Shortly after Kirsten and I moved in together, she broke down for good. I ended up selling her for baby-shit colored scrap metal.

Now I have Darby, my Ford Ranger who I love and wouldn't trade for the world, but you never forget your first love. Even if she drank oil like it was going out of style.
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
The winter storms have eaten my spoons.

No, that isn't some password code to my fellow spies, it's a succulent description of where I am right now, and I'm not at all happy about it. For those not familiar with spoon theory, here's a brief synopsis.

Spoon theory (so called because it was first explained in a restaurant using spoons) is the idea that every action you take in a normal day has a cost in physical and mental wear, called spoons. You only have so many spoons to get through the day, and when you run out, you're done for the day in every way.

Here's how it works. Getting up and showering takes a spoon. Getting dressed takes a spoon. Acquiring food, either by making it at home or hitting the Starbuck's drive-thru, another spoon. Driving to work, spoon. And so on, with everything you do whittling away at you stash of spoons. And there's no freebies. Getting up to use the bathroom is a spoon!

Normal folks in general good health have more than enough spoons to survive to the point of going to bed. They may be tired, but they can still manage nightly rituals with minimal competence. But those of us with chronic pain and health problems, well, we start out with a major spoon deficit. I'm in constant pain, which takes away spoons at the start. My thinking is muddied by stroke damage, which makes everything cost more spoons. Most days, I'm lucky to accomplish two or three chores before hitting my spoon limit for the day. At which point I crash on the futon and watch TV, as even reading is beyond me.

What's worse is there are things that can take all my spoons for days. Unexpected stress, mood swings, or sudden changes can derail me as my brain simple overloads. Which is where I am today. I was already stressed because of the trailer project. Kirsten, Halford bless her, has taken to this like a storm. It's amazing to see her get so exciting about something, it's what she's needed for a while. But it's thrown into sharp relief just how little I can contribute to the project. So I was already on edge.

Then we have what is supposed to be happening this upcoming weekend. Last fall we got notice that our village at Burning Man, 404: Village Not Found, was going to holding a planning even in February in Reno. One weekend, at a great little Burner-owned hostel. We decided to go. Now, Kiri has never driven in snow and ice, and the last time I did it I was driving a M113A3 armored personnel carrier, which is a bit easier to handle in those conditions. The decision was made to take Amtrak's California Zephyr from Emeryville to Reno. I've taken that trip once before, when I rode up to meet Kiri after the Burn. Beautiful ride, and quite affordable.

Now most of you know that California has been in an extreme drought for the last five years. We saw no indication that would change. The January came, and with it some of the biggest storms in living memory. Lake Oroville, the dam in the news this week for the near collapse of its emergency spillway? That ale was nearly empty last August. Huge amounts of snow and rain have fallen in the past six weeks, with a few more storms on the way.

The drought left hundreds of thousands of trees dead or dying throughout Northern California, and the wild fires have been devastating. Then add record-shattering rain to the mix. What do you get? Mudslides, rock slides, and closed highways and rail lines. The train we are supposed to be boarding at 0900 on Friday is not fucking running with no estimate on when it will resume. And this has me so off balance because I live by plans these days, and we had this planned.

And when I say planned, I mean down to the path we were going to walk from the Reno train station to our hotel. The exact time schedules of both trains. What exactly to pack. Because doing it any other way would cause me to lose my spoons as I tried to adjust to a new thing.

It's very frustrating, since I can remember when I wasn't like this. I used to be able to roll with the punches and change plans as needed. I used to be a fully-functional human being. Now, I have to keep adjusting to new normals.

I swear I'll be more positive tomorrow.

But we're checking Amtrak updates and if there's no change in status in the next 48 hours, we're pulling the plug and cancelling the trip. Damnit.
gridlore: Army Infantry school shield over crossed infantry rifles (Army Infantry)
Spent the morning at our local YMCA, where we've been members for a bit over a year. I did my full time on the treadmill, 45 minutes at a brisk walk, but cut my weight training short due to a sore shoulder.

Exercise and I have a checkered past. I was a weak kid who was scared of sports and getting hurt. My idea of recess was sitting in the shade and reading a Heinlein novel. Even when enrolled in PAL soccer, I still shied away from the ball, hating every second I was on the field. I think I actually made intentional contact with the ball twice in the few years I played.

That was the pattern through my teen years. I hated physical activity, and associated working out with the jocks who made my life a living hell. As an aside, one of those jocks was Ken Caminiti, a senior at Leigh High School when I was a freshman. He would go on to be a professional ballplayer, reaching the Major Leagues with the Houston Astros in 1987 and earning the National League MVP award as a Padre in 1996. Sadly, he was on steroids, HGH, and massive amounts of cocaine. He died in 2004.

So at least I can say I was pummeled by a future MVP. Baseball street cred for the win!

In retrospect, my attitude towards working out was self-destructive considering that my iron goal in life was to enlist in the United States Army. I had no vision of attending college, despite that being the entire push of the education system, I only wanted to have a bad haircut and run around the woods with a machine gun. It seemed a good plan at the time.

And in 1983 I got my wish. My parents faced reality and allowed me to enlist under the Delayed Entry Plan. My mom made damn sure I had a high school diploma before I left (which is a story in of itself) but still I couldn't take working out seriously.

But finally I reported to Fort Benning, Ga, to begin my training as an Infantryman. Another aside, while still in Reception Station, on the very first day, right after getting uniforms and haircuts, I met General John A. Wickham, Jr., Chief of Staff, U.S. Army. The man who was was in command of all 2 million soldiers in the regulars, National Guard, and reserves. He was literally the highest ranking man possible in my service, and I didn't know how to salute yet. He was a nice guy, probably because he knew we were shell-shocked sheep.

It when I get to Alpha Company, 7th Battalion, 1st Infantry Training Brigade, that my years of sloth catch up to me. Infantry OSUT (One Station Unit Training, we do both "basic" and "advanced skill" training in one go in the same place and unit) began with the Shock Treatment. Lots of yelling, being ordered to move from place to place quickly, constant dressing downs and, wait for it, push-ups.

Looking back, I have to laugh. We were getting dropped for 5 or 10 push-ups at a time, and the Drill Sergeants were being quite liberal with the push-ups they'd allow. The days of perfect form and not having back push-ups count would come the next day.

But I knew immediately that I was in trouble. I couldn't see that others were having the same struggles, I thought I was going to fail that first day. Which is kind of the point of Shock Treatment, to break down your ideas of training and put you on edge.

The very next morning, when it was still dark and already over 80 (yay for Georgia in late summer) we started out daily PT (physical training) sessions. Push-ups, regular and eight-count; side-straddle hops; sit-ups; mountain climbers; and more, followed by a two mile run. We did this six days a week with a voluntary PT session on Sundays, which most everyone ended up doing. We would also do PT in the evenings if training ended early. Add in getting dropping either singly or in groups for minor infractions like existing, and we were being transformed.

Thing is, you don't see it happening. The difficulty kept getting ramped up, so every day was still hard. You forget that while you're doing 50 push-ups today, last week you were only doing 25. You forget that the idea of walking 15 miles with a 50lb rucksack, weapon and all your gear was unthinkable just a few short weeks ago. We changed as a team, 2nd Platoon, A-7-1, Infantry, On The Road!

We only really knew that we had changed when we got our civies back. I literally could not get the blue jeans I had reported in past my thighs. My t-shirt was about to rip at the seams. At least my shoes still fit!

I'm still not a gym rat, and even when I was healthy I still had no interest in playing sports. But I worked blue collar jobs most of my life, and those kept me in shape. Now, when I'm at the gym, I can still hear Drill Sergeants Redding, Colom, Readen, Chin, and Senior Drill Sergeant Rodney Swanson telling not to quit, not to cheat my body.

Nice to know those guys are still on my side.
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
I'm working on a setting for a science-fiction novel. Essentially I want to recreate the feel of travel in the Edwardian era. Travel taking days or weeks, constant danger, and poor communications.

The germ of this idea came from reading about the pursuit of the SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau, two ships of the Imperial German Navy sent to reinforce the Turkish fleet in the opening days of the First World War, before England entered the fight on the French side. The two ships had to run a gauntlet of Royal Navy vessels, constantly seeking to outwit the English, and dealing with damaged boilers and lack of safe harbors.

No imagine the same scene in space. A task force sent to support an ally, but having to evade an enemy force while both sides wait for the order to be given for open hostilities to commence. I figure it would have the same tense feel of a submarine/destroyer conflict, but rather than not being able to see the enemy, the suspense would be in figuring out where the enemy is going.

To create this tension, I'm setting up some base rules for how ships work.

1. Hyper-drive equipped ships can reach speeds of up to about 1,000c, or 1,000 times the speed of light. However, maintenance and fuel requirements rise sharply in drives designed for the highest speeds. Such high speeds require larger and more complex engineering spaces, reducing the effective carrying capacity of the hull. Most ships cruise at 200-250c.

2. Entering or exiting hyperspace requires a local gravity field of at least .000006g. Which in our solar system is roughly at the orbit of Saturn. Entry and exit can be pushed in high fields, but it's hard on the equipment. Ships trying to push deep past the hyper rim can be forced out of hyperspace without warning. This has been difficult for some people to get, but it's simple. Hyperspace entry and exit needs at least a minimal gravitational field to work. Theoretically, you could enter h-space from a planet's surface. However, "current" engineering limitations means that trick will end in a huge explosion. Ships therefore will enter normal space at or near the minimum gradiant, or "h-edge" to reduce stress on equipment.

3. Hyperspace is damaging. Ships and people in transit begin to suffer effects of hyperspace after several days of travel. Early symptoms of Hyperspace Adaptation Syndrome (HAS) are headaches, numbness or tingling in extremities, nausea, and vision or hearing issues. The longer a trip continues, the more severe the issues become. Extended voyages can result in permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Electronic systems on ships are also disrupted, though they can be better shielded. As a result, starships tend to have more redundancy in electrical systems and larger crews than we would expect today as they can't trust automated systems as much as we do.

4. Additionally, ships exiting hyperspace are subject to "terminus shock." This is a sudden attack of HAS, causing everyone on a ship emerging from hyperspace to be stunned or nauseated for as long as several minutes. Those already suffering from severe effects of travel can be killed by this shock. The deeper a ship goes past the hyper rim, the more severe the shock. Ship's systems already suffering from damage from h-space exposure can fail spectacularly due to terminus shock. It is customary for ships to run diagnostic tests on everything after exiting h-space.

5. Speed and distance increase the severity of negative effects of travel. The pilots of high-speed couriers tend to have short careers and amazing health care plans. Astrogators (the space travel version of a navigator) will need to plot courses that minimize their time in hyperspace by juggling speed and the distance to be traveled. Which means controlling access to certain stars will be quite lucrative as trade will funnel through them.

Now, interstellar communications. Faster than light (FTL) communications exist, but they are limited. The power and plant requirements for a true FTL sending station are massive. The systems that can afford them usually build sending stations on asteroids or moons close to the hyper rim. These stations tend to be heavily fortified against attack.

The sending system itself has limited bandwidth. Messages tend to be telegraph-short. Anything longer than a few hundred characters will take an extremely long time to send and consume vast amounts of power. Governments and big corporations tend to use codes whenever possible to reduce the sending costs.

Stations can broadcast or aim a message at another station. Directed messages will suffer some signal spread as they propagate, but the effect is minimal. Messages move at about 10,000c, so a message sent from Earth to Æsir, a planet orbiting Epsilon Eridani, 10.475 light years away, would arrive in just over nine hours. A ship traveling at 250c would make the same voyage in a bit over 15 days.

Larger ships can carry receivers. This allows them to get messages even when moving in hyperspace. Due to the limitations of the media, these tend to be three letter code groups, like used today with ballistic missile subs. Warships are issued code books (that are updated on a regular basis) used to determine what their orders are. As an example:

RQD (All 3rd Fleet Units)
YYT (War Plan Case Ocher)
SNW (Rendezvous Wolf 359)

In which case every ship of the 3rd Fleet would open their safes, pull out Case Ocher, and plot courses to Wolf 359. It's possible to issue different code books to different organizational units, so while YYT means war to 3rd Fleet, to 2nd Fleet units it means "Eat your veggies" and SNW mean "null message group."

I'll be doing more on weapons and tactics. I want to know my universe before I start writing in it.
gridlore: Gold football helmet with red 49ers logo (Football - 49ers helmet)
Another Superbowl has come and gone. Leaving us with the etenral question, is Super Bowl one word or two? I've seen it both ways, honestly, and even the official NFL material seems to be of two minds.

The game itself was amazing, featuring an astonishing comeback by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. I was rooting for Atlanta, as I always want to see a city lacking in championships earn one. That first parade is always magical. But the football gods were fickle, and Boston gets the joy.

The end of football season means that baseball, and my beloved San Francisco Giants, are just around the corner. We're already seeing photos from this year's commercial shoots, and Spring Training opens next week! Rapture! Joy! Beat L.A.!

Seriously, Beat L.A. With a stick. I hate the Dodgers.

But along with the overblown end of the NFL season came something I've come to dread on social media. People adopting elitist, dismissive attitudes about sports. Sadly, some people I consider friends to this. It annoys me no end, and I have to keep from exploding every time I see it. So I'll just explain why here in this space.

Calling all sports "sportsball" and pretending to be confused by the basic concepts of the game are insulting. Refusing to admit that sports are popular to a wide audience of all backgrounds is delusional. Whining about people spending money on watching sports is rude and controlling. If I choose to spend money on a Brandon Crawford jersey and pay to go to a game that's my business.

I have friends, some of whom have done the sportsball thing, who spend thousands of dollars every year to attend science-fiction conventions. I love conventions, but you don't think that someone somewhere isn't rolling their eyes at this? Two men I am proud to call friends have devoted thousands of hours and an equal amount of money to creating fantastic costumes and props, all for their own enjoyment. Surely there could have been a better use for that money, some would argue.

But it's what brings these people joy. So fuck off and let them enjoy it.

So why do I enjoy sports so much? I love watching skilled people do things that I could never do. A Major League pitcher can top 99mph on a fastball. The batter has less than a second to identify the speed and motion of the ball, make a swing/no swing decision, and commit to the act. Literally the slowest part of this action is the signal from the brain to the muscles to move. Yet a good batter will make contact over half the time.

A NFL quarterback has to be away of the position of 21 people at the time he gets the ball. He has to be able to track his receivers and throw the ball into a crowd and get it to the right guy. See how well you do at this when being pursued by guys who are big, fast, and strong. A few years ago my mom and I get great seats for a 49ers preseason game. We were right down by the sidelines near the end zone. We saw exactly how fast these players are, and how hard they hit.

There you go, I love sports because I love seeing amazing things unfold live.

But there's another reason why I love sports, and football in particular. 49ers football is probably my one good memory of my late father. Dad and I never got along. I often say that he wanted children and got Californians. Dad grew up in England during the Depression and WWII in a military family. He simple wasn't prepared for kids with political opinions and a sense of personal freedom. We locked horns on everything.

But on Sundays, we were a family united. I was raised a 49er Faithful. I joke that my first words were "wait 'till next year!" We lived and died by the Niners. Even when all my friends were rooting for the Steelers or Cowboys, the two dominant teams of the 1970s, I held fast to my roots.

My parents had season tickets at Candlestick Park, 45 yard line, right under the press box. Sometimes, I'd get to go to the game with Daddy. I can still remember riding up the long escalator while holding his hand, cheering as John Brodie let the Red and Gold down the field, getting to eat hot dogs and candy, and mainly just being with my dad as we followed the family religion.

Even later, at the worst of our estrangement, I would call him every Sunday during the season to talk about the game. It was the one common thread that held us together. And when he died, I think my first reaction was that I was going to miss those conversations.

In conclusion, if you don't like sports, good for you. But don't think that makes you better than anyone else, and don't be a condescending twat about it.

Oh, and Go Giants! BEAT L.A.
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
Kirsten pointed me to 750 Words. This is my first try.

Testing one, two, three... I'm starting this as an exercise in getting words on the page, so to speak. Procrastination is my biggest foe. I find excuses to do anything but write. I need to check Facebook, I've got a good game of Civilization 6 going, whatever. The point is I want to write, and I want to get published.

One of the highlights of my life was writing GURPS Traveller: Ground Forces. It was a struggle, and Having someone like Steve Jackson, a legend in the gaming industry, write "STUPID, remove this" on your draft submission was not encouraging. But I soldiered on, pushing myself to make this book, the one I was destined to write, the best book I could.

And it paid off. Ground Forces was well received and I'm shocked at how people consistently rate it as one of the best Traveller products ever. I've had people come up to me and ask for autographs. At the 2014 Burning Man, I actually met a fan of my work in the plaza at the base of the Man. It's rather strange but satisfying.

That was 17 years ago. Oh, I have my excuses. I was working as a truck driver and was too tired to write. No gaming company wanted what I was offering. I was too sick to write, or had too much to do. The simple fact is that I was putting things off because as usual, my fear of failure was pushing me to not even try. This is a problem I've dealt with all my life. Rather than attempt something and accept failure, I've avoided the possibility of being embarrassed by my failures.

But now I'm running out of excuses. I'm also running out of time. In 2013 I suffered a stroke. That, and my other copious health problems, have made me aware of my own mortality. I need to do the work so I can say "I am a published science fiction/fantasy author" before I die. Just like holding that first copy of Ground Forces in my hands was magical, I expect that seeing my name on table of contents for a magazine like Analog or Strange Horizons would be equally amazing.

A Hugo Award wouldn't hurt, either. Just saying.

So, I'm going to write daily. Much of it will be gibberish. Much of it will suck rocks through a bendy straw. No matter. The stuff I like will be shared on my Dreamwidth. The other stuff . . . well, let's just say I'm happy that 750 words is private. This will also be useful for my writing group, as I'm expected to show up at each session with something to read. This will let me keep up with my amazing friend Rafael, a 93 year old USMC veteran of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, who never fired a shot in anger in his career. The Marines found out he could type when he entered the service in 1943, and that sealed his fate. Rafael shows up every week with multiple pieces, sometimes as many as eight or nine, that he types out on an old typewriter. Surely I can keep up with him! Maybe.

What am I going to write about here? Some of it will be stuff like this, stream of consciousness thoughts and ideas. I'll be doing some world building for a setting I'm working on. I might review books and movies. Sometimes, I'll just rant about something. Most of the time I'll be trying to hone my story-telling skills. I need to work getting my words to paint a picture. I know I can do it. When Ground Forces came out there was one piece of art that made me squeal with joy. i had written a description of how prospective Imperial Marines began their combat training with spears and knives, to hone their awareness of their surroundings and build a hunter's instincts. One of the artist drew two marines pushing through thorny vines with spear, and the sheer look of exhaustion on their faces was *exactly* what I was going for. I believe I pointed at the picture and said "those are my words!"

This is the challenge I set for myself. A daily ritual of getting words out of my damaged brain through to my blazing two-fingered typing and onto the screen. I honestly don't know where this will lead. I do get badges for keeping up the work, and National Novel Writing Month is coming up again in November, so maybe this year I'll see it through.

As always, I'm thinking of it as an adventure.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
Work continues on the Free Trailer Beowulf. I'm going to straight up admit that Kirsten has been doing most of the grunt work, and she's been stunning.

One thing we learned early is that we suck at backing the trailer into parking spots. To fix that, she bought a hitch dolly. A simple ball hitch attached to a wheeled dolly. Our trailer is light enough to be easily pushed by hand, and using this puts the pivot point right at the hitch point rather than 10' forward at the truck's front wheels. We used it today to correctly position the trailer in its storage yard slot. Along with that, we got a wheel dock to hold the front jack leg in place.

My contribution today was spraying the mold Kiri found with plenty of vinegar and pulling down the contact paper that was serving as wallpaper to see if the fungi had spread. We'll probably end up staining that wood and sealing it with a spray coating. Glow in the dark stars and moons will happen. During the process I found that the previous owner had left a small camp mirror behind. One less thing for us to buy!

Next step is to hook up the trailer and take it back over to Kiri's office. The Manly Men there saw some deficiencies in the front of the A-frame, and there is welding equipment and a stock of steel at the warehouse. The wiring is also a bit of a kludge, and needs to be cleaned up a little. While that's happening, I'll be inside carefully scrubbing the dead mold off the wood and sealing the affected areas.

After we took care of things at the storage yard, we decided to go check out the new Bass Pro Shop in New Almaden. Dear Gods, that place is huge, and so much fun to wander through! A giant aquarium stocked with really big fish, huge selections in every department, and even a well-stocked firearms section. We did buy handles for our 30oz thermal mugs. Prices there were iffy, but we can compare with REI for the best deals now that we know what's there.

The plan had been to hit the grocery store after all of this, but by that point we were both tired and my legs were spiking at seven on the pain scale. I'm planning on doing the Y tomorrow (I expect it to be empty) and I'll hit to store on the way back home.
gridlore: A Roman 20 sided die, made from green stone (Gaming - Roman d20)
Today I'm boxing up all my Pathfinder RPG material for sale at Half Price Books. Because the game has become unplayable.

The problem is inflation. To keep sales up Pazio kept pushing out new books that had more races, classes, and - Gods help us - endless Feats. For those of you not up on the game, a Feat is a an ability that boosts a character in some way. Many are combat related. For example, Cleave, a fairly common low-level Feat for fighters, allows you to strike an additional foe with the same attack roll. Other magical feats allow spellcasters to customize their spell effects.

On the surface, this is a good system. It allows customizing characters to be good at their class abilities in different ways. One fighter might be a whirling dervish, slicing enemies down left and right; while his companion is a master archer, firing arrows with stunning speed and accuracy.

Where it falls apart is in the expansion books which kept adding Feats. The full list of Feats in mind-boggling. Each of these listed Feats changes the dynamics of the game, and will result in multiple dives into the rules to determine the effects, more so when the enemy is using Feats as well. This bogs down play no end.

Add in new character classes, new races, and so on, and you have a set of rules that result in more bickering around the table than actual play. So out it goes.

What Pazio forgot was that TSR's success with the D&D/AD&D line came from adventures and settings. The World of Greyhawk, Dark Sun, Spelljammer, Krynn, Hollow Earth, Mystara . . . all of these became fully realized worlds supported by well-written adventures. Each had a different flavor, so players could find the best fit for their group.

D&D5 has a much better mechanic in their branching paths for character classes. Much easier to control while still allowing for customizing characters. If Wizards of the Coast are smart, they'll produce more settings to go along with the Forgotten Realms.

I'd love to write one, actually.
gridlore: A Roman 20 sided die, made from green stone (Gaming - Roman d20)
From the CivVI game I started today. I had one scout unit that refused to autoexplore a huge undiscovered area to my west. I know this was because of a nearly impassable mountain range that bisected the continent. But in my mind, this is how it played out.

Centurion (John Cleese) "The scouts have returned, Sire."

Emperor Trajan (Graham Chapman) "Very well, send them in."

Scout 1 (Eric Idle) and Scout 2 (Terry Jones) enter.

Trajan: "Brave scouts, your discoveries will show us the paths to expanding our empire! Tell me of your travels and what riches lie waiting for our hand."

S1: "Well, to be honest . . . fish."

S2: "Oh, yes. Quite lovely fish, and quite a lot of them!"

T: "Excellent! So a new ocean lies to the west?"

S1: "Ah, no. These fish, these particular fish, are to the east. In a fish market. In Carthage."

S2: "Lovely fish, at a reasonable price!"

T: "Carthage!? I sent you out to explore unknown lands and meet new peoples, not go up the bloody trade road and eat fish in bloody Carthage! Why didn't you do what I ordered and travel west?"

S2: "Yes about that, you see . . ."

S1: "It's scary out that way."

T: "Scary? We have no idea what's there, it's why I sent to to scout it out!"

S1: "Well, look at the map, sire! Just beyond those mountains there's a giant lizard, it must be fifty miles long! And all we have are these sticks to fight with!"

S2: "And they're not even pointed sticks."

Everyone else: "Shut up!"

T: "There is no 50 mile long lizard. That's just artistic license."

S2: "I didn't know we had developed artistic license yet!"

S1: "Oh, we have that, but sewers are centuries off, they say."

C: "Odd set of priorities, if you ask me."

T: "No one asked you. And how are you a centurion when we don't have iron yet?"

C: "It's the only costume we have the identifies the scene as being in Rome."

T: (glaring at the scouts) "Now you two are going north to the passes, then west into new lands, and report on what you find. Now get!"

S2: "What about the giant lizard?"

S1: "What about pointed sticks?"

T: "GET OUT!"

Cut to Terry Gilliam animation of the scouts moving north them west towards blank area of the map. Suddenly the map art of a giant lizard comes to life and eats them.

Centurion, facing the camera. "Sadly, the developers hope that the map elements eating units bug will become a beloved feature, much like Gandhi going nuts when nukes are developed. I don't see it happening, myself." Looks up, screams, and tries to duck as a giant lizard head drops in to eat him.
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
Doing a little thought as to how to recreate the tensions of a WWI era naval pursuit in an interstellar setting. Let's start with the drive and it's effects.

1. Drives can reach up to about 500c. However, maintenance and fuel requirements rise sharply in drives designed for the highest speeds.

2. Entering or exiting hyperspace requires a local gravity field of at least .000006g. Entry and exit can be pushed in high fields, but it's hard on the equipment. Ships trying to push deep past the hyper rim can be forced out of hyperspace without warning.

3. Hyperspace is damaging. Ships and people in transit begin to suffer effects of hyperspace after several days of travel. Early symptoms are headaches, numbness or tingling in extremities, nausea, and vision or hearing issues. The longer a trip continues, the more severe the issues become. Extended voyages can result in permanent brain damage or death. Electronic systems on ships are also disrupted, though they can be better shielded.

4. Additionally, ships exiting hyperspace are subject to "terminus shock." This is a sudden attack of hyperspace sickness, causing everyone on a ship emerging from hyperspace to be stunned or nauseated for as long as several minutes. Those already suffering from severe effects of travel can be killed by this shock. The deeper a ship goes past the hyper rim, the more severe the shock.

5. Speed increases the onset of negative effects of travel. The pilots of high-speed couriers tend to have short careers and amazing health care plans.

So, we have a set up where ships will need to plot courses that minimize their time in hyperspace. Which means controlling access to certain stars will be quite lucrative as trade will funnel through them.

Now, interstellar communications. FTL comms exist, but they are limited.

1. The power and plant requirements for a true FTL sending station are massive.

2. The systems that can afford them usually build them on asteroids or moons close to the hyper rim. These stations tend to be fortified.

3. The system has limited bandwidth. Messages tend to be telegraph-short.

4. Stations can broadcast or aim a message at another station.

5. Messages move at about 10,000c

6. Larger ships can carry receivers. This allows them to get messages even when moving in hyperspace.

7. Due to limitations, these tend to be three letter code groups, like used with ballistic missile subs. As an example:

RQD (All 3rd Fleet Units)
YYT (War Plan Case Ocher)
SNW (Rendezvous Wolf 359)

In which case every ship of the 3rd Fleet would open their safes, pull out Case Ocher, and plot courses to Wolf 359.

More to come.
gridlore: The word "Done!" in bold red letters. (Done!)
Veni, vidi, nec respirare!

Finally finished my first successful game of Civilization VI. Only took about 28 hours (I logged the times.) Standard size world, Chieftain difficulty. I shared a continent with France and Brazil along with a double handful of city-states.

Getting a handle on the idea of city districts and the increased importance of trade routes took a few tries, but once I realized just how powerful trade can be, especially for the Romans, I embraced it.

I'm just amazed at the level of detail. Early on, one of my scouts discovered Crater Lake. I zoomed into to admire the view, and heard my scout's dog panting. Although the sound you get when you start building a Holy District sounds like a bagpipe being stabbed.

Fought a couple of border wars with France, taking two of her cities. As a Civ4 "Stack of Doom!" adherent, adjusting to the new ways was a bit of a struggle. I like the late game Corps and Army functions. Cities that defend themselves? Heaven! Later I finished off Brazil (who turned out to only have two cities) before ending the French Menace once for all. Over on the other continent, Victoria (who hated me), Gilgamesh (best buds 4evah!), Tomyris (who loved me as long as I was at war), and Cleopatra (make up your damn mind, lady!). Other than trade, and one ill-timed holy war declared by Victoria (during which I took one of her cities on my continent, and Adm Grace Hopper lead the Bug Fleet in sinking all English ships that dared approach!) I had little to do with that other place.

With peace in hand, and a solid technological lead, I went for a science win. The win was secure when I got Carl Sagan as a Great Scientist, and he cut my build times on the final two Mars projects down to nothing.

Going to play a few more games at Chieftain, trying different cultures and win strategies.
gridlore: A Roman 20 sided die, made from green stone (Gaming - Roman d20)
This is the background story for my latest Dungeons & Dragons character. He is a Warlock, which is a magic-using character who gets his powers from a pact with a powerful eldritch entity that isn’t a god: A powerful fairy, a Lord of Hell, or something from a far plane of reality. All places are fictional, and taken from the Forgotten Realms setting.

It's also a bit of an experiment in writing style, going from 3rd to 1st person in telling the story.

Contracts Under Pressure )

And since I'm addicted to in-jokes, the characters full name is Porte u'Marinaio. Which is Corsican for Popeye the Sailor.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
(with apologies to Jethro Tull for the title.)

Happy 2017, everyone.

I try to avoid resolutions. I find that over-promising with specific goals is self-defeating. As you slip from the goal, frustration kicks in and rather than rest for better goal, you just quit. This is a cycle I am very familiar with.

So rather than being resolute, I shall share a few plans.

- Make the YMCA a habit. After I recover from my surgery, try to make three days a week.

- Try to write every day. Except a lot more posts here. Even if it's just nonsense, write something.

- Declutter! I'm tired of living in place filled with too much stuff.

- Get published.
gridlore: Photo: Rob Halford on stage from the 1982 "Screaming for Vengeance" tour (Music - Rob Halford)
(Wikipedia) New Years Day is an American rock band formed in 2005 in Anaheim, California. After building a reputation through promotion on the social networking website MySpace, the band released their debut EP in 2006. Their debut album My Dear followed in 2007. The band's second full length effort, Victim to Villain came out nearly six years after their debut. Their third album, Malevolence was released on October 2, 2015. It peaked at #45 on the Billboard 200, the band's highest charting.

Their music is categorized as self-proclaimed "Hauntedmansioncore", a spin on The Haunted Mansion mixed with rock music. Please, enjoy New Years Day performing Kill or Be Killed.

gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
Ah, the holidays, that wonderful time of the year (which now seems to stretch from late October through to Groundhog Day) when families gather, turkeys and trees are massacred, and television schedules go to hell.

I'll freely admit that I'm a man who likes my routines. Sort of comes with everything I've been through. And those ruts include my TV viewing schedules. So with the advent of "mid-season finales" I've been a bit put out. Luckily, [personal profile] kshandra got herself a Roku box. Now that I've learned to use the damn thing, we've been binge-watching. I caught up with Daredevil months ago, so he's not being discussed.

So, what have we been watching?


  • Luke Cage One of the oddest complaints I've ever seen is that this show is "too black." That's what I like about it! Luke Cage, his allies, and his enemies are all part of Harlem's unique African-American culture and history. The creators embrace that, making a hero and plot that could not work with a white hero. Great depth of character all around.

  • The Expanse I started watching the first season on SciFi, but quickly lost the thread. Having now read the first five books, I can better follow the action. Very pretty, but not quite what my mind's eye had drawn. Still very good. One problem, Chrisjen doesn't swear nearly enough.

  • Muhteşem Yüzyıl (The Magnificent Century) A Turkish show about the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent and his harem slave-turned-wife the Hürrem Sultan. Seeing as we've visited Topkapi Palace where much of the action happens, and seen the tombs of both these people, how could we not watch? We've fallen behind because discovered . . .

  • House of Cards Yeah, I know, late to the game. But dear gods, Kevin Spacey has cemented himself as my favorite actor. Frank and Claire as such utter sociopaths, but you cheer for them! We've just reached S3, as President Underwood has just taken office.



Still on tap is The Grand Tour, the post-Top Gear show made for Clarkeson, May, and Hammond. Also need to figure out if our Amazon Prime account unlocks Game of Thrones.

So, what are all y'all watching?
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Gaming - EatRads)
Hi everyone. My is Doug, and I'm a Gearhead.

Hi Doug.

For those of you not familiar with the term in relation to role-playing games, a gearhead is some one who obsesses over designing all aspects of whatever fantastic realm the game take place in. In moderation, as with all things, gearheading can add depth to the game setting and to the enjoyment of the game. But fall into the Stygian depths of design sequences and scientific calculators, as I did, and you'll hit rock bottom.

Which, bearing a gearhead, means you've calculated the exact velocity of the fall and how much damage you'll take based on whether the rock is sedimentary or igneous.

As with so many things I blame my elder sibling. For it was that worthy who introduced me to role playing in 1977 with Traveller. As a 10-year old science-fiction addict, being able to play out the adventures was simply the best thing since the invention of the taco, as far as I was concerned. Soon after I begin playing, I had acquired my own copy of the rules and I started building my own clusters of inhabited star systems.

Now Traveller uses a one-line strong of characters to describe worlds. For example:

Arteaga B-57399A-B In )

That's what I got out of one line. But soon, people began demanding more. In Traveller's case, information on the number of gas giants and asteroid belts in the system, as well as on the local star was added. But still people wanted more detail. We began getting rules on figuring the exact length of the day and year, and how warm it was on the surface. Every one of those single-digit descriptors were expanded into their own lines of data.

And nobody cared! I've never met a single gamer who made use of all the crap these systems dumped on us. Players in any SF RPG don't want to get a BBC nature documentary. They want things that are relevant to the game at hand. A few notes on local color will get you through.

Things were worse when it came to equipment in games. The oft-mocked AD&D supplement Unearthed Arcana had pages devoted to all the different types of polearms used back when long-pointy sticks were the thing on battlefields. It was worse on the SF side.

For a time, "toolkits" were all the rage in gaming. It boiled down to companies saying "rather than paying people to design the Complete Book of Toys, were giving you the tools to do the work yourself." On the surface, a good idea.

Until you get into a book like Fire, Fusion, & Steel (FFS). This was supposed to be, in both its editions, the toolkit to end all toolkits. And like any good slavering gearhead, I dove right in. Then bounced off the math. I'm not good at math. But Texas Instruments and spreadsheet writers had my back, and reached the waking-up-in-an-alley-wearing-someone-else's-shoes nadir of my gearheading.

There was a book being written by a couple of Traveller Mailing List's stalwarts. Imperial Squadrons was the name. I was tapped to design four ships for the early Imperial Navy. I dove right in. Friends, these were not going to be easy designs. The largest of these ships, the Coronation-class Dreadnaught, was a kilometer long and had a crew of thousands. And I designed it down to the last kiloliter of space. In a ship that massed more than all the US Navy's aircraft carriers combined, I stressed over a space not much bigger than a bathroom stall.

But dear God, those designs freaking sang! I knew every inch of those ships. They were, to my mind, the ultimate expression of what you could do with FFS! Then the book came out; and my designs were gone. Oh, they kept the write ups, but the glorious details? Reduced to a useless "combat card." I was actually devastated.

But that's where I realized that all this detailing is pointless! All players care about with their ships is how they perform and what's in them in the most general sense. Why bother with details that no one is ever going to use?

The last design work I did for an RPG book was the equipment chapter in GURPS Traveller: Ground Forces. Christopher Thrash did the design chapter, as i recall, I built the stuff. And for that, close was good enough. I was more about usable in a game than trying to be a defense contractor.

Now I've gone all the way in the other direction. My preferred gaming system this dates is FATE, which is as far from gearheading as you can get.

To be clear, I'm not saying devoting time and energy to building worlds is wasted. Just know when to stop and understand what is going to be important to the story you are building.

Besides, there's always time to go back and expand a little.
gridlore: Photo: Rob Halford on stage from the 1982 "Screaming for Vengeance" tour (Music - Rob Halford)
Yeah, time to scratch the itch again. Anyone having suggestions for bands I should look into drop me a line.

But we start off HMS v2.0 with LostPray, a Ukrainian/Turkish band formed in Odessa in 2013. Really interesting stuff, it reminds me of Load-era Metallica. Which is not a bad thing. From their 2014 debut album That's why, please enjoy Alienation.

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gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
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