The Writer’s Guide to Weapons

The Writer’s Guide to Weapons is not that old (2015), and could be quite useful to a Referee, and the reality-obsessed Player.

The cover blurb:

A Practical Reference for Using Firearms and Knives in Fiction

When it comes to writing weapons, most authors shoot from the hip–and miss.
The Writer’s Guide to Weapons will help you hit your target every time.

Firearms and knives have starring roles in a wide range of genres–crime, thriller, war, mystery, Western, and more. Unfortunately, many depictions of weapons in novels and film are pure fiction. Knowing the difference between a shotshell and a slug, a pistol and a revolver, or a switchblade and a butterfly knife is essential for imbuing your story with authenticity–and gaining popularity with discerning readers.

Inside you’ll find: An in-depth look at the basics of firearms and knives: how they work, why they work, what they look like, and how to depict them accurately in your stories. The biggest weapons myths in fiction, TV, and film. A surefire guide for choosing the correct weapon for your characters, no matter their skill level, strength, or background. A review of major gun and knife laws, weapons safety tips,and common police tactics. “The Hit List,” showcasing the most popular weapons for spies, detectives, gunslingers, gangsters, military characters, and more. Examples highlighting inaccurate vs. accurate weapons depictions.

An insightful foreword by David Morrell, the award-winning creator of Rambo. Equal parts accessible, humorous, and practical, The Writer’s Guide to Weapons is the one resource you need to incorporate firearms and knives into your fiction like a seasoned professional.

Note: This digital edition includes the EPUB and MOBI (Kindle) versions of the book.

Why not get the descriptions right? It does cost $9.99 (as of June 2017), so it depends on how much you value getting it right.

I suggest that it depends on your audience: if you think your audience/game group will respect you for putting in the extra effort, I think it’s worth the ten bucks or so.

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Sidereal Confluence

If you’re really just a trader at heart — and can round up both a fair bit of cash, and  three to eight friends to play a two-hour game (the more the merrier) — you might give Sidereal Confluence a spin.

To whet your appetite, there is this really interesting interview with the game designer, TauCeti Deichmann. Maybe you still won’t buy the game, but you would have learnt a thing or two about good game design… and some interesting ideas regarding commerce…

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Laniakea: Our Home Supercluster

I’m from the Laniakea supercluster. And you?

Well, I hail from the Boötes Supercluster myself…

Any game where the location of your galactic supercluster is actually a significant data point is what I would call a high-powered Traveller game.

Thanks to the YouTube videos of Isaac Arthur, I can just grasp what a proper galaxy-spanning Imperium would be really like…

(assuming it has suitable galaxy-spanning jump drives, like those described in Allen E. Johnson’s fine GURPS JTAS article “Across the Galaxy”. You can still find & buy the article at Warehouse 23’s GURPS Traveller: The Best of JTAS, Volume 1: a preview of the books’ contents can be found here.)

…for one thing, they are going to be using an immense number of purpose-built habitats, with only a few quadrillions of sophonts living on rockball worlds.

But I don’t have a single clue how to envision a multi-galactic, galactic cluster, or supercluster-spanning Imperium.

(But I can make a decent shot at the hilariously high tech levels involved, thanks to Valiant Game’s Sufficiently Advanced, Sufficiently Advanced, Second Edition, and Chronotech)


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A Hard Game, and a Tough Destiny

From the game Myth: The Fallen Lords

The Legion has come two hundred and fifty miles in little more than two weeks. Not returning west, to safety, but headed north, to toward the melted cities of the Trow and Balor’s fortress.

Back in Forest Heart, Alric convinced our officers that the west was lost. That our small force could contribute nothing to the hopeless battles that would soon be fought around Madrigal, Willow and Tandem. These cities would fall, he said, and all their people would die, whether we sacrificed ourselves or not.

Then he told us what we could do instead.

Interesting, this is not too far from reality: in wars, the majority of the casualties often occur after the war has been definitively lost, when the desperate losing side throw massive amount of bodies trying to halt the inevitable.

Now, Myth is a fantasy game: and as is common in the genre, if you kill the big bad, the lieutenants actually lost their unity and can no longer fight as an organized force, allowing for their defeat and scattering.

That is possible in the more realistic Traveller universe (especially if you use Zhodani mind-control as a useful stand-in for evil witchcraft): but if you exclude high-powered psionics and the more rigid command’n’control protocols, it isn’t very likely. Most times, you just get a new leader with the same basic goal, and still retaining enough strength to get the job done.

So what could a battalion (or a naval task force) on the losing side do, instead of fighting and dying in a hopeless battle?

  • In Traveller, it is possible to go to a land or planet outside of the zone of conflict and rebuild.
  • It is possible to just dissolve into the civilian masses, to slowly rebuild your side’s strength and keep the memory of the Cause alive, or go guerrilla.
  • If the enemy is genocidal, you can help protect some survivors and bring them to safety. Or create hidden sanctuaries, in distant regions the enemy would find difficult to control.
  • There may be a unexpected technical solution. Perhaps an ancient weapon, that the battalion could get and use, that could destroy the enemy. Or a way to directly attack the will of the enemy to fight, instead of their hardware and muscle (which you would certainly lose to).

I can’t think of many other alternatives — the universe of Myth: The Fallen Lords universe is a hard place to live in, harder than Warhammer, harder than even my Empty Quarter.

And finally… many, even most soldiers sign up to defend and protect their nation and their people. Having your people’s enemy die as well as your nation is better than having your enemy live and your people die: but this is definitely a Pyrrhic victory at best, and can easily be seen as merely a different flavor of ashes left in your mouth.

Still… a flicker of hope is better than none.

The hard business starts at 22:50

What set me off looking for Myth: The Fallen Lords in the first place.

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Two New Sci-Fi RPGs

One, Tiny Frontiers, is a drastically simplified 2D6 game. And when I say simplified, I mean “all weapons deal the same damage” and “all members of a race have the same hit points” simplified.

On the other hand, if you just want to get a game up fast for people new to RPGs who want to get straight to the action, it’s a useful thing ruleset to have.

On the other side, there is Planet Mercenary. Based off of the Schlock Mercenary comic, it’s a game system that grounded in fun and fast action. I do like the “speak first, act first” rule, as it gets things going fast, and the mercenary cards mechanic adds a certain flavor to the role-playing.

It isn’t really suitable for me and my near-grimdark perspective on mercenaries, but its basically entertainment, and there should be a place for simple wild adventure on the battlefield.

Both games have interesting settings: Tiny Frontiers have a host of quick-n-odd settings, sketched out for a few pages, while Planet Mercenary has an elaborate detailed setting that – despite its comic origins – give more than a few nods to reality (something that I appreciate.)

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Businesswomen in Patriarchal Cultures

They can be surprisingly successful in the transport business, despite the obstacles against them.

(Double points for both being a woman in a patriarchal culture, and a profit-seeking entrepreneur in a Communist State like North Korea…)

Female donju rise to prominence in the taxi industry

An increasing number of female donju (newly-affluent middle class women) are reportedly entering the taxi industry and employing male drivers. These women are purchasing their own vehicles and becoming influential players in the private taxi industry.

Since the rise of marketization began in the early 2000s, female donju have become an emerging economic pillar in North Korean society. Symbolic of this rise is the fact that many of these women can now hire male party members who formerly wielded authority over them.

“Money over Party?”
“Yep. Money over Party.”

“Recently, the number of taxis in Pyongsong and Sunchon has increased, and becoming a taxi driver is considered a dream job with a relatively high salary. The drivers are hired through interviews conducted by the female donju who own the taxis, so their status is naturally rising,” a source in South Pyongan Province recently told Daily NK.

Status rises as the size of your wallet (or in this case, your purse) grows…

In addition, as taxi cabs that can carry 5-8 passengers have become more popular than 2-4 passenger taxi cabs, the role of the female donju has also widened. They frequently choose to manage the accounting themselves while sitting next to the driver’s seat, taking a role similar to that of a conductor.
In particular, female donju are using their personal connections built on the basis of their financial influence to solidify their authority. Even the so-called “tenth guardpost,” which directly controls the residents and the circulation of products has been unable to prevent these changes.
“If a taxi is stopped by the tenth guardpost and delayed due to a license inspection, the customers never use the taxi again. Therefore, these women pay bribes to every guardpost to ensure a reliable service for the customers,” said a source in North Pyongan Province.

“Money over the Security Guards?”
“Well, they aren’t being fed or paid well by their government, and it’s nice to eat reliably, don’t you think?”
“Hmmm. I wonder if that trick will work at starports…”
“At Imperial starports, all the guards eat well.”

“The taxi passengers are saying that the authority of these female taxi owners is so powerful that the male drivers show the same level of obedience to them as if they were Party secretaries. The drivers seem to be especially on edge because the owners can fire them for disobedience regardless of whether they are party members or not.”

Party membership ain’t what it used to be!

In North Korea, only males who are approved by the government are eligible for a driver’s license. Under this system, women are fundamentally excluded from driver’s education, so female donju who acquire savings through market businesses have started to hire male drivers, in turn changing the structure of authority between men and women.

That’s the part that reminded me of the patriarchal, Arab/East Indian dominated Empty Quarter. “Only men can man starships!”

Perhaps, in some interstellar cultures. But women can hold the purse strings… and own the ship… and decide who to fire, who to hire, and who gets a bonus this year.

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Storytime: A Great Fall, and Great Leaders

From Quora, a tale on the decline of Sparta

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