Cawnpore and Perseus are available in the Createspace eStore and on Amazon.com where, if you order a physical copy of the books, you get the ebook for free. They are also available as ebooks on every ereader out there.

Coming soon: Hercules, the follow-up to Perseus.

Before we get all butthurt about the rest of the piece: 1) About the only people I discriminate against a folks with bad tattoos…you obviously make bad decisions, but hey! that’ll look great at 65! 2) I live in a state with a RFRA and that didn’t lead to flaming pyres with homosexuals roasting upon them. 3) As a libertarian (or “real liberal”) I don’t care what you do, so long as you don’t scare the horse, and everyone’s on board with it. So check the pro- or anti-gay bullshit at the door if you choose to comment.

Oh, you might need this…

butthurt-form

Indiana joined the ranks of 19 other states, and the federal government, that have some version of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (or “riff-ra”) last week and the interwebz melted down with deliriously outrageous outrage. Apparently, the passage of this bill will lead to some manner of Auschwitz-style oppression of homosexuals in the state. You’d be well forgiven for thinking this if you’ve been getting your news Facefuck Facebook or some other mainstream media outlet (except Fox…then civilization is imperiled by the protests.) However, unless you are protesting and boycotting the other states on the map below, you’re a fucking hypocrite…or just really uninformed. You choose:

imrs

So doing what I know not a single one of the people complaining on Facebook has done, I RTFM (military folks know what this means, for the rest of you…) I read the damned bill before I opined. Novel, I know. Here’s a quick comparison of RFRA for those of you who can’t click here and read it.

What RFRA does, in this case, is — as in all of the other instances of this sort of law — establish that the state cannot “burden an individual’s exercise of religion unless the burden is of a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. Here are some examples of what that means:

  1. The government’s compelling someone to do something that violates his religious beliefs, or prohibiting someone from doing something that is mandated by his religious beliefs.
  2. The government’s denying someone a tax exemption or unemployment compensation unless he does something that violates his religious beliefs, or refrains from something that is mandated by his religious beliefs.
  3. As to state and federal constitutional regimes, it’s not clear whether the above also applies when the objector’s conduct is merely motivated by his religious beliefs (e.g., the objector thinks it’s a religiously valuable thing for him to stay home on the Sabbath, rather than a religious commandment) and not actually mandated by those beliefs. The federal RFRA, many state RFRAs, and RLUIPA expressly apply to “any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by … a system of religious belief.”
  4. The beliefs need not be longstanding, central to the claimant’s religious beliefs, internally consistent, consistent with any written scripture, or reasonable from the judge’s perspective. They need only be sincere.

RFRA laws got their start in 1993, mostly due to the 1990 Employment Division v. Smith decision (Google it — research is good for you…) with a federal law that “statutory presumptive entitlement to exemption from generally applicable laws.” This doesn’t not abnegate other civil rights or legal obligations, but places the burden — rightfully — on the government not the plaintiff and states the State cannot compel you to do something against your conscience. You know, that conscience that people respect until it doesn’t align with their conscience.. RFRA, as The Washington Post tells us, are “…about accommodating religious belief, not authorizing discrimination…” no matter what Tim Cook’s (or your Facebook friend from England or France or Germany, or wherever they are whinging from) opinion on the matter might be.

“But, Scott,” someone is currently wheezing through their vapors, “It will be used to discriminate against gay people!” 1) Happy people are cool and shouldn’t be discriminated against, no matter their sexual orientation, but in case you mean homosexual, then 2) no it fucking won’t. How do I know? Let’s look at a few cases where RFRA laws were involved in legal cases concerning discrimination by businesses against homosexuals.

New Mexico has a RFRA. We’re also a recent cynosure for religious vs. homosexual personal rights. Here’s some ways this has played out.

1) In 2006, a New Mexico church was using hoasca tea in their ceremonies…because it gets you high, if we’re going to be honest, but let’s assume that it is vital to their communications with whatever Almighty they worship. The federal government used the Controlled Substances Act to seize their hoasca and harass the membership. In a rare moment of protecting the interests of the people, the Supreme Court found against the government, thanks to RFRA.

2) Last year, a Elaine Photography was found to have violated the civil rights of a homosexual couple when they refused to provide services for their wedding. So right there is your precedent for why the Indiana law won’t discriminate against gays. It’s settled law.

But that’s just New Mexico, you say? I read in The Atlantic that it’s different in significant ways! Nope. But it says that religious protections exist even when the government isn’t involved in the case…well, that’s the pesky First Amendment for you; you can’t discriminate against me because I’m Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, an agnostic, or a Scientologist. Well…Scientologist…

It also establishes that companies, not just non-profits have the right to religious protections, similar to the Texas RFRA. This is due to the recent Burwel v Hobby Lobby decision. And what about Burwell v Hobby Lobby you ask? Even the creepily progressive rag Slate couldn’t find fault here –even Sam Alito, not a favorite of the Progressives, said the ruling was not a “…shield [for]…religious practice to escape legal sanction…” So that’s, again, precedence set by the Supreme Court of the nation. Nowhere, over the two decades of RFRA, has it been used successfully to discriminate against homosexuals.

You are, simply, wrong.

So why is everyone so fired up about this law? Here’s the truth: Progressives are trying to get in front of the 2016 election, in which Indiana governor Mike Pence was seen as a strong contender for the Republicans. They only wish this was happening in Wisconsin so they could go after Scott Walker. It’s political theater produced to make people who read headlines like they were the full story have a visceral, emotional reaction that goes viral on FaceTwitSpace.

You have, simply, been used.

Now, if after all that, you still want to boycott GenCon, here’s some good reasons — the prices for airfare,  admission, hotels, and food are too bloody high and Indianapolis should pay the price for their perfidy. Or so I read someplace.

 

Blaxploitation time!

Napoleon Jones

Concept Aspect: Undercover Brother; Omega Aspect: I Ain’t No Sell Out!

MODES: Martial Artist +3: Athletics, Combat, Notice +5, Physique, Stealth: +4, Will +3; Aspect: Bad-Ass Mutha f@#$er

Action +2: Provoke +3; Aspect: When you need me, I’ll be there…

Intrigue +1; Brother can’t be too sure…

STUNTS: Dragon Style: +1 combat in hand-to-hand, Weapon 1; Jive Talkin': Use Will for Deceive or Rapport when “being bad.”; Lightning Reflexes: Go first in combat; Pain Ain’t Nothin': 1/scene, check two physical stress and add, soak that value of physical harm; Ten-Oxen Punch: Fate point to break inanimate object

STRESSES: Physical: 4, Mental 5

Harry Milquetoast

Concept Aspect: Gentleman Spy; Aspect: Queen and Country

MODES: Banter +3: Contacts, Deceive, Provoke, Will +4; Aspect: Manners Maketh the Man

Action +2: Notice, Vehicles +3; Aspect: Judo Expert

Secret Agent +2; Aspect: This Requires the Greatest Discretion

STUNTS: Black Umbrella: +2 Combat using ‘brawley; Could You Help Me?: Use Deceive for Combat to attack unsuspecting opponent; Judo Black Belt: When defending with Combat, a success with style give a three shift hit to opponent; Signature Aspect: Britain’s Top Agent; Tech Sent This…: 1/volume can spend a Fate point to have a Mega-Stunt gadget limited to Contacts rating.

STRESSES: Physical: 3, Mental: 4

…and his sidekick…

“Coco Pebbles” Post

Concept Aspect: Breakin’ Barriers; Omega Aspect: I Ain’t Nobobdy’s Squeeze!

MODES: Banter +3: Contacts, Deceive, Provoke +4; Aspect: I Know a Guy…

Secret Agent +2: Notice, Vehicles +3; Aspect: I’m kinda new at this…

Action +1; Aspect: Kung-Fu Mama

STUNTS: ‘fro Pick: +1 combat, Weapon 1; Funky Kung-Fu: When defending with Combat, a success w/ style give opponent a 3 shift physical hit; I Don’t always Get Captured: A fate point allows her to concede after a defense; Impeccable Timing: Fate point to go next in combat;

MEGA-STUNT: Where’d You Hide That?: +2 to defend against search when in tight or revealing clothing; a Fate point allows her to have either 1) a small gadget to add +1 to a skill to overcome/create and advantage 1/scene OR, 2) have a Weapon 1 for 1 scene.

STRESSES: Physical: 2, Mental: 4

 

Here’s a few characters to fit in the early Cold War:

Artemis Campbell

Concept Aspect: Smuggler Queen; Omega Aspect: The Med is Mine

MODES: Master Criminal +3: Notice +5, Combat, Contacts, Deceive, Stealth, Vehicles+4; Cold Warrior for Capitalism

Action +2: Provoke +3; Aspect: Former Greek Partisan Fighter

Intrigue +1; Big Swiss Bank Account

STUNTS: Deep Cover: Use Deceive for Provoke/Rapport when in disguise; Die Another Day: Fate point to concede after defense; Little Black Book: When in a new town, etc. Contacts v. +4 to gain contact-based aspect with free invoke, can trade invoke for second aspect;

MEGA-STUNT (1940s): Pikros (MAS-205); Function: Fast Torpedo Boat; Flaw: Seen Better Days; Fast Boat — +2 to overcome with vehicles in chase; Smuggling Hold — +2 to defend against searches.

MAScamo

MEGA-STUNT (1950s): Ariel, Function: 60′ Yacht; Flaw: Wind-Powered; Smuggler’s Hold — +2 to defend against searches; A Beautiful Boat — +2 to create social aspect with Rapport when Ariel is involved.

sylphe under spi 1

STRESSES: Physical: 3, Mental: 3

Major John Nolan, USAR, OSI

This is a post-war version of Nolan, now working for the new Office of Scientific Intelligence.

Concept Aspect: Cold Warrior; Omega Aspect: Same war, different tactics…

MODES: Secret Agent +3: Contacts +5, Deceive, Notice, Vehicles +4; Aspect: Protecting the free world.

Soldier +2: Will +3; Aspect: Things were simpler during the war…

Banter +1; Aspect: The truth is complicated…

STUNTS: Cover Story: Use Deceive to defend against interrogation; Mega-Stunt Gear: 1/volume, can spend a point to have high tech gear with a rating no higher than his Contacts; Got It Off a Nazi Officer…: +1 to combat with a Weapon 1 (Walther P-38 9mm); Signature Aspect: Our Best Man…; Shake It Off: 1/scene, can check two physical stress boxes & add values, then soak that number of physical shifts.

STRESSES: Physical: 3, Mental: 3

Nigel Rainey

Concept Aspect: Cat Burglar Turned Spy; Omega Aspect: Better than prison…

MODES — Intrigue +3: Notice +5, Athletics, Burglary, Contacts, Deceive, Stealth +4; Aspect: I thought you were in jail…

Secret Agent +2: Vehicles +3; Aspect: Jet-Setter

Actions +1; Aspect: Combat means you screwed up.

STUNTS: Come Alone: +2 to overcome w/ contacts when alone & meeting contact; Deep Cover: Use Deceive for Rapport or Provoke when under cover; Didn’t See Me Coming: Use Stealth for Combat when your target is unaware of you; Master Plan: Allies can invoke an aspect you’ve made at +3; Second Story job: +2 Athletics for climbing.

STRESSES: Physical: 4, Mental: 2

 Richard Crichton

Concept Aspect: The Wheelman; Omega Aspect: Adventure is Calling!

MODES: Wheelman +3: Notice, Vehicles+5, Contacts, Mechanic +4; Aspect: If it’ll start, I can drive it.

Action +2: Athletics +3; Aspect: Race care driver

Intrigue +1; Aspect: High Profile is my cover

STUNTS: Bar Room Brawler: +2 Combat using fists; Just a Good Ol’ Boy: +2 with Vehicles to create aspect with stunt maneuver; Peddle to the Metal: +2 vehicle to overcome in a chase; Quick! Turn Here!: In a chase, use Vehicle for Stealth to hide from pursuer; Rev’ It: Use Vehicle for Provoke to intimidate with a vehicle.

STRESSES: Physical: 3, Mental: 2

Some of the characters done up for the WWII flashbacks for the upcoming campaign…

Captain John Nolan, USAR

Nolan commands a small team of “action scientists” in Echo Company, of the Strategic Science Division of the US Army Corps of Engineers. Much of E Co.’s work had been in Europe, but with the Germans out of the fight, they find themselves facing the notorious Japanese Unit 723 and their Division X!

Concept Aspect: Combat Engineer; Omega Aspect: When all this is over…

MODES — Soldier +3: Notice +5, Athletics, Combat, Physique, Tactics, Vehicles, Will +4; Aspect: Violence First, Science Later

Science! +2: Civil Engineer, Mechanical Engineer +3; Aspect: Been on some big projects…

Action +1; Aspect: From a Tough Neighborhood

STUNTS: Battlefield Commander: Any of his team that can hear his order gain +2 when put in harm’s way; Remember your Training: Get +3 when invoking enemy’s aspect or complications; This is My Rifle: +2 to combat with military weapons; This is my Gun (Thompson .45): Weapon 2; Shake It Off!: 1/scene, check two physical stress boxes and add values; soak this number of shifts physical harm.

STRESSES: Physical: 4, Mental: 3

Lieutenant Sebastian Koch, USAR

Concept Aspect: Enthusiastic New Guy; Omega Aspect: Is that a German Accent?

MODES — Science! +3: Biology, Will +5, Chemistry, Notice, Zoology +4; Aspect: ABD, Scrips Institute

Action +2: Athletics, Provoke +3; Aspect Family Escaped the Nazis in ’38

Banter +1; Well-Educated

STUNTS: Charismatic: Use Will for a Banter skill to overcome in social conflict; Chicago Typewriter: +1 combat with the weapon, Weapon 1; Grew Up Around Boats: +2 Vehicle to create/overcome aspect with boats in a chase; Publish or Perish: Gains +3 when using a brainstorm aspect he created; Widely Read: Fate point to use Will for a science skill for one scene.

STRESSES: Physical: 3, Mental: 3

Lieutenant Reed Smith, USN

The young and handsome commander of a PT boat put at the SSD’s disposal.

Concept Aspect: PT Boat Commander; Omega Aspect: First Heroics, Then Politics!

MODES — Officer +3: Athletics, Combat, Contacts, Notice, Physique, Vehicles, Will +4; Aspect: Sailed the America’s Cup

Banter +2: Provoke +3; Aspect: Rhode Island Royalty

Action +1; Played Football for Yale

STUNTS: Just a Little Chop: +2 Vehicles to overcome in bad weather; Passionate Orator: Use Will for Banter skill when addressing a large group; She’ll Hold together: Any vehicle he pilots gains an Armor 2; Skull & Bones: When in a new place, Contacts v. +4 to create a contact-based aspect. Can trade a free invoke for a second aspect;

MEGA-STUNT — PT-111 (“Trip Aces”): Function: PT Boat; Flaw; Limited Range; Aspects: Torpedo Boat — Weapon 4; Weapon 5 at a cost; Fast B*@#$: +2 to overcome with a vehicle in a chase.

STRESSES:  Physical: 4, Mental: 4

AMM3 Leslie Rook, WAVES

Concept Aspect: Ms. Fix-It; Omega Aspect: Just as good as a man!

MODES — Gearhead +3: Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering +5, Electrical Engineering, Vehicles, Will +4; Aspect: Machines are Easy, People are Hard!

Banter +2: Provoke +3; Sugar & Spice, and Everything Documented

Action +1; Mean Right Hook.

STUNTS: Chewing Gum & Bailing Wire: Fate point reduces vehicle consequence 1 step for  one scene, but consequence increases two steps after until recovery; Improvisational Genius: 1 free benie on create/modify an invention or vehicle; Girls Talk: When in a new post, Contacts v. +4 to have a contact-based aspect, can trade free invoke for a second aspect; She’ll Hold Together: Any vehicle she worked or works on has an Armor 2; Tool Kit: +1 to create/overcome with engineering.

STRESSES: Physical: 2, Mental: 3

So I’ve been prepping up an Atomic Robo game over the last few months, but really threw myself into it a few weeks ago when it was obvious that our Battlestar Galactica campaign was coming to a close. I wanted to emulate the flashbacks-tied-to-modern-story flavor of the comic…but without using Robo, so I decided to do up characters for each of the decades between the 1930s and today. The modern group is working for the following faction:

Office of Scientific Intelligence, a DoD operation that was spun out of a superscience group under the US Army Corps of Engineers during WWII.

Mission Statement: On the forefront of science!   Mode: Fair (+2); Resources (Intel +4, R&D+3)

The team leader:

Agent Craig Scott

Concept Aspect: Smooth Operator; Omega Aspect: Getting too old for this…

MODES: Secret Agent +3 — Contacts, Deceive +5, Burglary, Notice, Stealth, Vehicles +4; Aspect: Keeping the World Safe…Quietly.

Banter +2 — Rapport, Will +3; Aspect: I can talk myself into trouble, then out in a sentence…

Intrigue +1; Aspect: I used to be good at this…

STUNTS: (1 open)

Cover Story: Use deceive to defend against mental attacks during interrogation.; Director’s Personal Number: When in a new city/country/etc., Contacts v. +4 to gain an aspect from the contact with a free invoke. Can trade the free invoke for a 2nd aspect.; Service Weapon (SIG-Sauer P228): +1 combat with the weapon, Weapon 1.; Trained Assassin: Use stealth for physical combat when the target is unaware of you.

Stresses — Physical: 2, Mental: 5

Dr. Rafael “Rafe” Marquez

Concept Aspect: Hunky Doctor; Omega Aspect: Knowledge is its own reward.

MODES: Science! +3 — Genetics, Medicine +5, Notice, Will: +4; Aspect: Johns Hopkins…’nuf said.

Action +2 — Athletics +3; Aspect: Weekend Fitness Nut

Banter +1; Aspect: I do okay…

STUNTS: 1 open

Feel the Burn: 1/issue, take a consequence to add that value to a physical test; Medical Bag: +1 to step back a consequence with Medicine skill; One Raised Eyebrow: +2 empathy to defeat lies; Publish or Perish: Can invoke a brainstorm he created at +3

STRESSES — Physical: 3, Mental: 4

Dr. Paul Koch

Concept Aspect: Underestimated Genius; Omega Aspect: Truth is stranger than we know.

MODES: Science! +3 — Biochemistry, Cryptobiology, Notice +5; Aspect: Thin Line between science fact and science fiction

Action +2; Aspect: Being a hero is tough…

Intrigue +1; Aspect: Secrets are hard…

STUNTS: 1 open

Red Eye Radio: When gaining an aspect from a contact, invoke is free or can exchange a free invoke for an extra aspect.; Shake It Off: 1/scene, can check to physical stress boxes and add the values, then absorb that many shifts of damage; Synergy: with a Fate Point, use Notice for any science skill for 1 scene; Publish or Perish: When invoking a brainstorm aspect he created, get +3.

Agent James Crille

Concept Aspect; Action Engineering!; Omega Aspect: In it for the fun.

MODES: Martial Artist +3 — Notice +5, Athletics, Combat, Physique, Will +4; Aspect: At one with the violence.

Science! +2 — Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering +4; Aspect: Right tool for the right job.

Action +1; Aspect: Parkour, bitches!

STUNTS:

Feel the Burn: 1/issue, take a consequence to add that value to a physical test; Multi-tool: +1 to create/overcome with engineering; Numbers Cruncher: With a Fate Point, use Will for a cience skill for 1 scene; Parkour: +1 to create/overcome aspect with Athletics; Shake It Off: 1/scene, check two physical stress boxes and add values then absorb that number of shifts of damage.

STRESSES — Physical: 4, Mental: 3

Agent Mala Kapoor

Concept Aspect: Tech Industry Refugee; Omega Aspect: My gender shouldn’t matter!

MODES: Science! +3 — Cybernetics, Robotics +5, Notice, Will +4; Sufficiently Advanced Technology

Intrigue +2 — Contacts, Deceive +3; Aspect: I survived tech sector politics.

Banter +1 — Rapport +2; Forgiveness is easier than permission.

STUNTS:

I’m In!: 1 fate point to use computer science instead of burglary for one scene; Laptop of Doom!: +1 create/overcome aspect with computer science; Numbers Cruncher: 1 fate point to use Will for a science skill for one scene; Publish or Perish: When using a brainstorm asepct she created, gain +3; The Girls’ Club: In a new city, country, etc. Contacts v. +4 to gain a contact-based aspect with free invoke. Can trade free invoke for a second aspect.

STRESSES — Physical: 3, Mental: 4

I had been looking to upgrade the Lilliputian drive space on my Late 2010 MacBook Air — it has the 128GB SSD and is very fast and effective, but has always made storage an issue. From the jump, I got a 64GB SD card for the machine as overflow for pictures and the others things that quickly gum up a computer’s memory. I tied it to a wireless 2TB drive…but that doesn’t come with me outside of the house, and the 64GB…well half that gets eaten up in pictures, the other in music.

I was on the cusp of a $170 SSD upgrade to a 256GB stick, then realized, I could just as easily drop a similar-sized SDXC card in the side of the machine for half the price. I settled on the PNY SDXC card with 256GB — effectively trebling my “hard drive” space.

Installation was simple: put it in the side of the Air, bring up Disk Utility and “erase” the card, setting it up for OS X Extended (Journaled). This took about two minutes. The PNY runs at at advertised 90MB/s, and that seems about right.

It took about a third the time to load the 50GB or so of material from the old SD card, plus my 35GB of music from the iTunes drive. So far, reading and writing is about as fast as hitting the laptop’s SSD. The only time there’s a lag is when you first hit the SD card after a bit of a wait or sleeping the computer. Once you start using it, no noticeable issues.

Total cost $80 to treble the “hard drive” space, and it allows you to pull the card and any important or sensitive information if you are traveling with the laptop. Bonus when going through airport security. There’s also the plus that you can use it on any other laptop (if you leave it in FAT format.) As for longevity: the first SD card is still going strong after 6 years — fist in an old Dell machine, then 4 years in the MacBook…so at least as long as the average laptop’s service time. The only real issue is that the card sticks out of the side of the laptop, and could be at risk for preakage, but it hasn’t happened in the time I’ve had it, and I’m not the kindest person to his laptop when traveling.

If you’ve got a MacBook Air 13″ with the 128GB SSD, this is a no-brainer for upgrading the machine on the cheap.

This weekend we finally got around to playing Wild Talents, a superhero game that uses the “One Roll Engine” and here’s the basic impressions I came away with:

1) The intention seems to be to make the mechanics very quick and streamlined…it can play that way, but I think you have to have played it a few times before you are really comfortable with it. In moments of play where the player has to make a test, you roll a number of #d10 equal to your skill and attribute, or your power’s rating. You then look for matches — say three 7s (or 3×7) is a pretty good result. You want to beat the highest set of matches or highest number the opponent rolls. In play, it slows things a bit trying to figure out what matches you have, but it was nowhere as bad as the rules read or I expected.

2) Powers — we built characters for a low-level campaign (250 pts, if you need to know) and even then, my mentalist was powerful. Twice in the session, I used my mental blast and sent both targets to Hades with a thought. I had planned on him being strong, but not that strong. His ability to mold people’s thoughts — he main ability — was 7d10. At no point did he had much trouble with the opposition. Physical powers, however, do not appear to be quite as deadly, but we still accounted for a half dozen bad guys without too much trouble.

This seems to fit with my initial assessment that the purpose of the game was a “dark” supers environment where “shit gets fucked up quick.”

3) Character generation: I took a crack at this, gave up, and sloughed it off on the GM. It’s far too complex to be fun making a character. It reminds me of old Champions…but more annoying.

So at this point, I think I’m going thumbs down on Wild Talents, although if you get an enthusiastic GM who knows the system, it might be worth it.

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