Category Archives: Reviews & Culture

The Good Guys Are Not Stupid Wimps

Rick Stump over at Don’t Split the Party has an excellent article:

Good Isn’t Stupid, or weak, or nice.

Paladins don’t have to be simple, weak minded, naive fools. They can have depth and edges to them that makes them both interesting and far from an easy kill.

They should be a threat to evil and a threat to anyone who stands in their way.

Just as the evil villain is a threat to the forces of good.

Any DM who allows paladins, and any player who has, is, or wants to play a paladin should read this.

Machinegun Shoot

Today was the first time I ever fired an automatic weapon. I have a 12 gauge shotgun, a bolt action rifle, the Mosin Nagant, and two 9mm pistols – a Taurus PT-99 which is a clone of the Beretta, like the pistol the military has used since 1982 when it replace the 45 cal 1911. My other pistol is a Sccy CPX-2. I have fired several other semi-automatic rifles and pistols, and revolvers. I have a Concealed Pistol License, so I know what is involved with carrying a pistol everyday. I live in Michigan, where open carry is legal and have open carried often.

Today was also the first time I ever encountered bad ammo, had stovepipes, or other major fails to feed.

I shot an AK-74, different caliber than the AK-47, an M-4 (basically same as an M-16), P-90 (Ever see Star Gate?), 1919 30 cal Browning BMG, 50 Cal BMG, 50 cal Barret sniper rifle, 9mm Uzi, 45 cal Thompson Submachine gun, 9 mm Sten Gun, and I think one other, but I am drawing a blank.

I just wish I could have got pics or video of my shooting.

None of them had the kick that I expected.

The Thompson submachine gun did climb, but it is so heavy it did not have much recoil.

The 50 cal Barret semi auto sniper rifle has less kick than a 12 gauge shotgun.

All the hand held firearms were not hard to aim if using single shot or just bursting a few rounds.

The P90 uses such a small caliber that it has no kick and there is no drift from your target on full auto.

Unfortunately, unlike the movies, a 30 round magazine is gone in seconds.

They had a full auto Glock pistol, but I did not shoot it. I did get video of someone else shooting it and of someone else shooting the Barret.

The 50 cal rounds were $5 each. The 30 cal BMG rounds were $1 each. Depending on the gun, the price for a full magazine went from $20 to $50.

I was the first to fire the 50 BMG today, and my second round did not eject and the brass got stuck in the barrel and it took about an hour to get it so I could fire my last eight rounds. I then had my 5th remaining round not eject and the 6th remaining round got jammed in it, but thankfully it was easy for the owner to remove from the chamber. Later, the case stuck in the barrel happened to another person firing it.

I plan to do this again. It was a lot of fun, but expensive.

Until today, I did not have real world experience to compare to rules I have encountered for automatic weapons. For example, Top Secret, had a rule for the 45 cal Thompson Submachinegun that it could do 5 shots a round, but each successive shot got harder to make. In reality, it is not that hard to put all 5 rounds on target if you are trained in the weapon. I figured this out after putting one 30 round magazine through one. It is a heavy weapon and does not have much kick, but it does tend to drift up. If you lean into it and know how to use it, it is not hard to get every round on target.

Machineguns on a tripod are very accurate and the bullets go where you want, provided you have it set up correctly. This just emphasized what the armies of the world learned in WWI. They are very loud and you feel the shock wave of each round when you are close enough. Basically, if you are within about 30-40 feet, you will feel the shock wave from a 50 caliber round. Smaller caliber rounds did not have this effect.

The Barret 50 cal was the semi-auto version with a ten round magazine. The owner had a suppressor, what most people call a silencer. It was a LOT more quiet and it stopped the shock wave. I could not feel it in my chest when he fired suppressed rounds. That was very cool. Unlike TV and the movies, a suppressor does not make it silent, but reduces the level of noise such that hearing protection is not needed.

I don’t think you can or should make a rule for every possible weapon or combination of weapons. If you try to model absolute reality in a tabletop RPG, you have so many rules and tables to consult that you get bogged down in the rules and play crawls or halts. There should be very few pauses in the game, ideally only for snack and bathroom breaks.

I will end with a PSA.

I know that the movies, TV shows, and the media have a lot wrong when it comes to firearms, especially gun safety. How many pictures for movie and TV promotions show the actors holding guns with their fingers on the trigger and/or the gun pointed in an unsafe direction? The way people run around on TV and in the movies with their fingers on the trigger, why aren’t they firing all the time when they don’t mean to? You don’t put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot. It would take a very heavy trigger pull to make running with your finger on the trigger not discharge.

The rules of gun safety:

  • Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
  • Do not let the muzzle cross anything you don’t want to destroy.
  • Be aware of your target and what is beyond it.
  • Do not touch the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  • Store guns and ammunition separately and inaccessible to others.

30 posts in 60 days on new campaign setting


  1. Pick a game–any old rules will do. Stick to one set though.
  2. Dream up a campaign setting–it can’t be anything you’ve previously posted, published, or talked about before. It doesn’t have to be “new” per se, just new to the rest of us.
  3. Create a new blog–yes a new URL and everything, but use your current account so we can tell it’s still yours. Name if after your campaign settting.
  4. Write 30 posts in 60 days. (C’mon, that’s less than 1 a day!) You have just that long to outline the major key elements (setting, monsters, rule modifications, classes, races, etc.). This is straight-up worldbuilding using elements you’d normally talk about on your home blog. But here, you’ve got economize and decide what the most important elements are. Here’s some general guidelines:


  • 13 on monsters or villains, one type or one specific individual per post (so “hobgoblins” is one, a “kaiju” is another, “Vader’s granny” another, etc.)
  • 4 on special treasure, a lost artifact, weapons, vehicles, etc., however you choose to parse.
  • 3 on setting, this is all aesthetic so you’ll want to focus on places, maps, NPCs, the way magic works, how the local ruling space authority, uh…rules the galaxy, etc.
  • 3 on classes with each dedicated to a separate player class.
  • 2 on house rules, specifically how your campaign either strays, modifies, or embellishes on your chosen rule set (posts can be as detailed as you like); carousing rules, etc. all apply here
  • 3 on any topics you like, these help you round out the rough edges and could be additional classes, races, setting, etc.
  • 1 intro post to set up your premise for your campaign (e.g., , declare your ruleset and acknowlege participation in the contest
  • 1 report of actual play, which should include at least one picture, be it from the campaign or actual play; you can make this your final post with a big sign off or you can use it as a playtest, but you gotta play it at least once and record it for posterity

My Take:

I don’t like the idea of a whole new blog. A category on existing blog, yes. Whole new blog to manage/maintain, but only for two months. I don’t see the value. If you have to link it to your current blog, it can’t be to hide it from players.

I’m not sure I will be blogging on this topic. I know I won’t be any time soon. I can see the value of using the topic ideas and counts on certain topics to help build a framework for a campaign fast. I may use this for ideas, but use a NoteTab outline.

What are your thoughts on this?

The Awful Green Things From Outer Space

The Awful Green Things From Outer Space is a TSR board game by Tom Wham. I have my original game. I only lost one weapon effect chit over the 30+ years I have had it. I just made one from the boarder for the card stock chits. Tip: Always keep the boarder for cardstock chits so if you lose some, you can easily make new ones that are the same thickness. All the pieces are still in the pre-ziplock sandwich bags from the 80’s. All the original five red minidice are still there too.

When looking for a Wikipedia link, I discovered that the game is back in print, thanks to Steve Jackson Games. the SJG version is here. You can find a PDF of the SJG rules online. They have added other combat options for outside the ship. I have not read the full rules, but it looks like it takes some of the devastating effects of a totally random game out of the mix and gives the crew more options.

My son, David, came over Saturday to spend the day with me, since his girlfriend is out of town for ten days. Also his dog, Picard, a pit bull, and my dog, Lucy, a lab-pit mix were both going stir crazy because of all the cold and snow. When they get together an play, they are quiet and peaceful for the next two days.

David wanted to spend the day playing boardgames. He did not want to try rolling up a new character and try solo adventuring. He did not want to try Waterloo (It is only in a list of Avalon Hill Games on Wikipedia, there is no separate article.), or Imperium. I always beat him at Risk, so he wanted to try Awful Green Things.

So while he took the dogs out to do their business and run and play, I got out the rules and read them quickly and got out the crew pieces and made placements. I would have let him change the placement of the crew for those that had alternate placement options, but David wanted to be the green things. So he separated them into adults, babies, eggs and fragments and rolled a die for starting, and he rolled a 5, then rolled a die for placement. The AGT basically cut the ship in two. One of my crew was trapped in a room with the only exit into the area with the AGT. David knows strategy pretty well and he played the AGT very well. He grew the right group of AGT into the best next category for continued expansion.

Every game is different in such a way that any advantage of the AGT starting with a lot of adults can easily be offset by weapons effects. However, the weapons effects are random for every game. There are some great area of effect weapons, but they can either have no effect or make fragments, which is another way for the AGT to spread. I had a couple crew grab rocket fuel, but I drew the “no effect” chit. At least that was better than fragments. For the Comm Beamer I drew “3 dice to kill”. Unfortunately, he only had adults in most of the areas I could get those crew to and I could never roll a 16+ on 3d6.

Since we just jumped in and started playing, and we had only played the game once together over five years ago, the last time I had played; I did not pay attention to the Electric Fence and Fire Extinguisher being available in any area. I finally noticed this towards the end of the game when the AGT had trapped the captain and three other crew in the central corridor with them totally surrounded and cut off from the means of escape. I did have the Mascot and two crew get away in saucer and the scout ship saved another crew member. I drew well for the Electric Fence and Fire Extinguisher effects. The Fire Extinguisher did “5 dice to stun”, and the Electric Fence did “4 dice to kill”, but it was about two rounds to late to make a difference.

Once the AGT had eaten the surrounded crew, I then had to roll to determine the fate of the crew that escaped. The crew in the saucer were within a year of running out of food when they contracted a fatal disease and died. The crew member in the scout ship managed to make it home.

David was amazed at how easily he beat me. He usually doesn’t beat me very quickly or easily. I pointed out that the totally random nature of the effects of weapons and number and placement of AGT’s made every instance of the game unique.

We only played the one game, but I suspect we might play it again sometime.

My brother, Robert, and I played this game non stop for dozens of games in a row. We laughed at how ridiculous it was for some of the random effects. Robert is an artist and he even made a few of his own comics about the crew and AGT. I remember one where he had all the crew amazed that something killed all the AGT, and one crew said, “Sarge farted.”, and it showed Sarge blushing. LOL good times.

Below are some pictures of the setup from Saturday’s game:



Game Board
Game Board
State Of Game Before The Effects Of Fence And Extinguisher Known
State Of Game Before The Effects Of Fence And Extinguisher Known
Weapons Effects
Weapons Effects