Friday, February 22, 2019

Article V Testimony in WA

So I watched a committee hearing on SJM8001 and SJM8002 for a call for a convention to overturn Citizens United and reform our campaign financing.
By far most were for it but some were opposed.
In watching the entire testimony I have to first compliment the Committee and participants fora great example of Democracy and civil discourse.
Second, every single person who spoke wanted money out of elections and feel corruption is a serious problem.  The only dispute was a few feared that a constitutional convention could get carried away so prefer to wait for Congress to resolve the issue.
On the one hand that is heartening, on the other its discouraging that a few allow themselves and the country to be paralyzed by fear.
We need to get examples and precedents out there to deal with that fear if were to move forward.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

GURPS Rumors!

So my playtest is up and the title of my book has been announced in the call for playtesters.
GURPS Powers: Totem and Nature Spirits will be my first book for SJG and the first time I have ever been paid on commission rather than salary or per word.
So yay for me!
I would love to give more hints but cant, hopefully you will see it in a few months.

Bernie Sanders for 2020

So Senator Sanders finally announced and most of the results are as expected.

  • Talking Heads are going crazy with "How is he going to stand out from the crowd?" The idea here is that many of the Democratic candidates have adopted some of his positions so why go for him in 2020? 
    • My thoughts are why vote for the follower or copycat when you can vote for the leader? The one who stuck his neck out for a position before it was popular is more likely to be honest and vigilant in his stance than someone who came to those ideas after they were popular?
  • Can he beat Trump?
    • Well according to the 2016 Democratic primaries he won most of the Midwest and red states over Clinton. Thats really important and indicates he was more likely to win in 2016 than she was.
    • Also hes a fighter and has stood up for his beliefs and a lot of attacks without backing down.
  • He had problems with reports of women being sexually harassed in his campaign.  Not by him of course but by some of his volunteers who reportedly made for a unhealthy working environment.
    • Anyone who has ever worked for a large company has seen that kind of thing going on. It is important how the leadership deals with it but I give him a pass here because A) He looked into it, said it definitely happened and hes sorry and has taken steps to ensure it wont happen again. That level of self accountability is something we dont see enough of in politics.  Also he ramped up fast which left infrastructure holes and minimal vetting.
  • Hes pretty old now, can young people relate to him?
    • Hes always polled really well among younger voters.
    • Watch him on stage, hes got a lot of energy and is in better shape than Trump.
    • And notice how people bring up his age but not that of Joe Biden who is only a year younger.
  • Identity Politics, or We need a "X"
    • We dont need someone who checks off the right demographic box, that's something Clinton was hoping would carry her in 2016. What we need is not a woman but someone who will fight for women. What we need is not a person of color but someone who will stand up for them. We need a candidate who supports jobs and improved economic opportunity for every American. We need a candidate who is for civil rights and willing to invest in our youth and improve the countries long term growth rather than just looking for how to win the next election.  We need to vote on policies and integrity, if the best one matching our policies is the same or a different gender, orientation, ethnic background or whatever fine, But dont vote for someone like Ben Carson because hes black, or Clinton because shes a woman.
  • Fundraising
    • Senator Sanders has already raised a lot and based on previous history most of his money will come from small donations from individuals rather than large donations from corporations, PACs, and big name donors.  Those who donate are likely to vote so thats a big starting edge and indicator right off.
  • He should run as a Democrat, or since hes not be treated as a third party and not voted for in the primary.
    • Do you want to lose?
    • Really do you?
    • People complain about Jill Stein of the Green Party splitting the vote. If Senator Sanders ran as an Independent or Third party candidate he would split the vote in the general election.  And I think its reasonable to believe he would take far more of the Democratic vote than Jill Stein ever has or could. Instead Bernie has opted to compete among Democrats and abide by the party choice as regards the general election. He stumped heavily for Clinton after he lost to her in 2016, sure those who wanted him to win were mad at and many did not vote for Clinton but thats not on him.  He stumped for her and many other Democratic candidates then and later.
    • You want Sanders to run as an Independent in 2020 than you want the Democratic party to lose in 2020. Instead, stop fighting and thank him for his help!


Personally I think Senator Sanders has the best chance of winning the general in 2020 and its between him and Senator Warren as to who I want to win. Either one will help the country move forward.
Most of the rest I dont trust their positions as they have not been consistent or shown serious efforts at fighting for them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

In Nomine Anime

This is a nifty 37 page book (including covers and ad splash page) that takes the In Nomine setting and adapts it to anime.  There are several shows that this would be appropriate for and it converts a typically more serious conspiracy type game into something light hearted and perhaps more suitable for children.
It discusses the changes to the Choirs and Bands and other mechanical aspects but the focus is mostly on style and adapting to the theme and flavor of anime.
It also includes a nice filmography.

The Supers campaign

Every campaign has a setting and its own rules and options.
However the Supers genre can be one of the hardest, here are components that need to be factored in and understood by all participants. So this post goes over the basics


The setting is the biggest and likely first decision that needs to be made. Time period, is it earth or a different world? When did super beings start appearing?  The earlier they first appear and the more powerful they are the greater the divergence and effects of those beings on history and what the world is like. Is it a realistic stting? over the top? ultra powerful, street level,conspiracy, parody/satire?  Whats the overall mood?

Power Sources

Where do powers come from?  Is their only one source for all powers or multiple sources? What are the capabilities and nature of the abilities they grant? Can they be countered? Are there unusual side effects?  GURPS Powers really describes the anatomy of a power in Chapters 1 and 2 and is worth a read, though many breeze past it and go straight to the crunchy goodness.

Special Effects/Focus

What is the concept or theme of a supers powers? Generate energy? What kind? Telepathic powers? Water manipulation? Temperature control? Super Strength?  This is not the mechanics or specific advantages used to build a super but the concept and theme.
I have always used and heard the term Special Effects but GURPS Powers uses the term Focus, described in Chapters 1 and 2.,


After figuring out the source and focus you should be able to come up with specific abilities. If the first two are chosen well then the potential abilities should be obvious, not just to the player or GM but to anyone who knows what the first two options are.  Actually building them may be more difficult and of course point totals or rules limitations may get in the way but the general type of abilities should be obvious, at least in hindsight.
In fact that last bears mentioning, some of the greatest scenes came when a superhero used their powers in a new and creative way. Not a "Gadget of the Week" but a moment when having seen the new ability used everyone immediately goes "Oh, yeah that was obvious!".
Examples: Source = Mutant; Special Effects = Weather Control; Abilities obscure senses with fog, thunder and rain, attack with wind or lightning, etc.


Why does you super do what they do and not something else?
This is important, not just for the character but also in group play for the team. You have abilities that can do things few (maybe even no one else) can do, so do you fight crime? rescue people? commit crimes? Use them to gain fame or glory?  Rule the world?

Team Capability/Niche Protection

Niche protection is often less important in a Supers campaign, though most comics teams are composed of different niches. I have played in games where everyone was a speedster and others where everyone was a brick.
With a good system you can still have a lot of variety even if everyone is the same class or type.
That means everyone can still be unique which is fun and important to the genre (and likely player satisfaction) but the group does risk being weak vs. certain foes.
In the comics you can have say Green Arrow, Batman, Superman, and the Flash on the same team and the reader can have fun. But how much fun do you think Green Arrow is having watching the Flash and Superman take everyone out before he can even knock his first arrow?
In the comics the author can control the action in a way that is not possible in a group game. A guy who can take out Superman can like;y easily wipe out the rest of the team, unless he used a special weakness (Red Sunlight, Kryptonite, Magic) and if that happens to Supes every game, well that is a problem too.
Balancing a team of supers so they can all fight together, in unique ways and such that most of the time their foes are roughly balanced against them so everyone gets a good amount of screen time is trickier in a Supers game than probably any other genre.


I think that this genre requires the most creativity and forethought in character creation but the individuality is potentially far greater than any other genre. That individuality is both the benefit and bane of supers campaigns, content paralysis is more likely with more choices and you have to try and balance with the others in the group.
However the possibilities, can be their own reward.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Did Congress Reach an Agreement?

So reports are that late Monday, Congress reached an agreement on keeping the government open. At least the committee did.
Whethet it wil survive the floor, especially the House Freedom Caucus or the President is another thing.
One thing for sure though, Trump wants a wall and the GOP backs him in holding Americans paychecks hostage to get what they want. The rel thing is if they really cared about it they would have done it in the last two years when they had control.
Now we see, do they really want it, and how badly.  Enough to Hold federal workers and farmers hostage, but do they care enough to trade anything for it? Will the GOP again be the bully in the room or will they try to actually negotiate?
Lets see....

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Does Anyone Still Think Republicans Are For The People?

  • So average tax refunds are down 8.4% meaning as predicted the GOP tax plan did not help the majority of Americans.
  • Deficit headed to record highs, interest payments mostly helping China.
  • Insurance rates are trending up, though not by huge amounts, but watch for increases in your deductibles and co-pays.
  • Due to the obstructionist tactics of the GOP Senate under Mitch McConnel there is a backlog of judicial appointments that the GOP has filled so that is a Conservative win,
  • The government was shut down for a record duration, plus several shorter ones at the cost to the taxpayers and economy of billions, still Conservatives who hate the government may call that a win.
  • Hate crimes were way up, increase in mass shootings and gun violence so many on the right call that a win, though the NRA took a political hit after it was revealed how they have been working with Russia.
  • Corporate regulation took a beating, Banks got looser regulations, workers safety went down, more food poisoning due to relaxed FDA regulations and inspections, National Parks had acreage sold off to mining and oil companies, and of course pollution increased.
  • Illegal Immigration increased due to Trumps policies, though its still lower than under President Bush. However, many of the separated children will be stranded in USA without their parents, costing taxpayers even more, plus the internment camps extravagant charges to the taxpayer of almost $700/per day per person means were spending far more than ever before. Trump took Coast Guard, FEMA, and US Military funds to help cover his increased detention costs. So our National Security and disaster preparedness is weaker.
  • Tariffs costing US consumers billions (remember we pay the cost, not other countries as they just charge us more) and hurting various industries, especially agriculture and fishing.
  • Russia, China and other countries emboldened to increase cyber attacks on USA and election meddling due to Trumps war on Intelligence agencies, and GOP refusal to improve security.
  • Weakening of NATO and USA Military and trade alliances allow Russia and China to take advantage and make better deals, this is more a long term damage effect as it will be hard to get that business back.
  • Women's, GLBT, and minority rights eroded.
I get that if your priority is Roe vs. Wade or you believe corporations are more important than citizens and national security this administration might be a win in your mind.
But honestly I dont see how any patriotic American is willing to sacrifice and hurt the USA so badly can consider this a win. If your a staunch conservative, at least minimize the damage by replacing Trump with Pence who is a real conservative, but your willing to sacrifice the country for your hatred of women and minorities shows your real priorities and is creating a backlash.

Friday, February 8, 2019

This week in Congress

So AOC had this wonderful bit
You know what was amazing there? Not just how clear she framed and showed the corruption really is but that she was so clear not one Republican dared interrupt her to try and obfuscate and hide the corruption.  Normally we see a lot of theater and grandstanding for the cameras but here she made it so obvious that no one wanted to call attention to themselves or be caught on camera defending these practices and regulations.
Make no mistake, they will fight tooth and nail to protect that corruption but in this instance at least they knew they were outmatched.

Meanwhile in another committee we had Whittaker make a fool of Congress and showed he is loyal to Trump, not the United States of America. So did several Republicans.
This was all about theater and pandering to the audience with no real answers.

Monday, February 4, 2019

MSNBC stats review

Its short and worth the viewing if you want well researched facts.

Review of In Nomine the Core Rule Book

The book is 212 pages and available on W23 for $16+
The first 24 pages are a cool story told from different perspectives that really helps you understand the mood and characters of the setting. The descriptions also explain a bit of some of the concepts.
After that it gets to explaining the setting and mechanics.
The book has a narrative style and is best read and understood from beginning to end. Attributes or characteristics are divided into three sets of Forces, Corporal, Ethereal, and Celestial and the player assigns a certain number of forces between them.
Corporal represents the physical world and covers Strength and Agility.
Ethereal represents the mind and covers Intelligence and Precision.
Celestial represents the soul of the character and covers Will and Perception.
As you increase a certain Force you get points to increase that Forces characteristics. Characteristics have a range from 1 to 12.
After that if your a Celestial you choose a Choir or Band (Kind of like race) and a Superior you follow.  You may get certain resources and special abilities based on how you spent your Forces, your Choir/Band, and even your Superior.

An interesting gimmick is most rolls are done by rolling what is called d666 whic is two matching die and one different. Sum the matching die and compare against the assigned target number (you want to roll low) and the third die is sort of a degree of success/failure die. This separates so called critical successes or failures from how difficult a task is and makes them more a matter of random luck.
Basic Target numbers are easy to determine as they are based on a characteristic and possibly a skill or ability. So for example a high strength score increases your chances of succeeding at strength checks. The GM may assign a modifier for certain tasks which is added or subtracted to the die roll.
This makes most task resolutions easy and obvious without looking things up during play.
Of special note is the rare "Intervention" which is a roll of 1,1,1 or 6,6,6 which I'll leave to your imagination!

I'll discuss special powers and more in later posts.


Overall the book and rules system feels less precise or simulationist, and more story driven where things have wiggle room for interpretation. That particular style doesnt suit my tastes but I'm an analyst by trade and personality so I like precision, heavy cross references, and things to fit in neat little boxes. If your like Vampire the Masquerade or games like that you'll probably like the book more than I did.
Like the above mentioned game,I really like the setting more than the rules.  A GURPS conversion was made, though that was a Third Edition project and I would like to see a Fourth Edition version.