It’s been a LONG time since an open playtest has been run like this, and so I wanted to kick the rust off the landing gear (or maybe clean the barrel and action before firing would be more apropos).

Firstly: playtesting is fun. You get to see and influence a GURPS book that has already been written and commented on by Kromm or PK, and be part of the process that produces sourcebooks of fairly legendary quality of information. For both the Low-Tech, High-Tech, and Tactical Shooting playtests, we had testers with . . . unusual possessions and experience out in their yards in the rain or trying stuff for reality and sanity checking. Weighing museum pieces or modern combat armor for weights. Fun tidbits of research.

Secondly: yeah, the ideal candidate is a Special Forces jungle warfare instructor who has been playing and playtesting GURPS since 2004, and is taking a quick break between missions to playtest the book.

But as was once said: “Sure, the compass doesn’t point North. But we’re not trying to GO north, are we?”

Just because you’re not the perfect candidate doesn’t mean you’re not gonna make the list. Are you an enthusiastic player of a game where you’re yomping packs through a jungle in a combat zone? That’s very useful. Been a backpacker all your life, or have experience and merit badges in survival as an Eagle Scout. Way ahead of the curve. Heck, I’d argue that by virtue of living in Minnesota, I have a leg up on cold-weather survival, which we call “daily life” here (many are cold; few are frozen).

Go hunting recently? In the cold? Bring it on. Know how to dress warm (or dress cool) for extreme outdoor sports, but never held a gun? Useful.

Finally: a gaming group, enthusiasm for contributing, and an eye for detail and will to make constructive, on-point suggestions are what makes a good playtester. If you think that might sound like you, perhaps you should drop me a line? Best case you get in and change the book for the better, worst case is a polite “no thank you.”

GURPS telescopic sights work fairly simply. Each doubling of magnification gives a +1 bonus if you aim for a number of seconds equal to that bonus. So the “valid” scopes are x2, x4, x8, x16, etc. If you have a x1.5 scope, like the minor magnification on the Steyr AUG, you get nothing (+0 to Acc). If you have a x3 magnifier stacked in front of a collimating sight and use it as a telescopic sight, you get +1.

Them’s the breaks of breakpoints. Sometimes something is sub-resolution.

I was pondering based on an appropriately named thread on the SJG forums if there is a slightly different way to handle such odd powers: simply rewrite the Size and Speed/Range Table for your scope’s magnification, which is another way of saying calculate range penalties based on the effective range after accounting for magnification. Continue reading “Weak and Odd Scopes”

Thursday is GURPSDay, and may Thor make your games a bit more exiting today!

Welcome to the second year of GURPSDay, and here’s the first pull of the morning.

We’re currently drawing content from 85 blogs. Only 15 more to go until we’re pulling from 100! But we’ll need your help.

How? Two action items: post more, recruit more. It’s really that simple. More posters is more posts, and more interest in GURPS.

Below you can find the blog activity for the last week. There’s a whole lotta awesome GURPS going on. Read all 44posts as of 9pm CST.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you’re interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line. Take special note of the RSS Settings Fix if you’re on WordPress.

T Bone’s GURPS Diner (T Bone)

PK’s Game Recaps and Tidbits (PK Levine)

Dice and Discourse (Joseph Mason)

Concrete Lunch Gaming (Bob Loftin)

Shooting Dice (Hans-Christian Vortisch)

Generic Universal Eggplant (Enraged Eggplant)

Testsujin no Llama (Matt Riggsby)

Bat in the Attic (Rob Conley)

Dr. Kromm’s GURPS Livejournal (“Sean “”Dr. Kromm”” Punch”)

Ravens N’ Pennies (Christopher R. Rice)

Mailanka’s Musings (Daniel Dover)

Dungeon Fantastic (Peter Dell’Orto)

Octopus Carnival (Ubiratan Pires Alberton)

Dice and Lives (Joel Sammallahti)

Fragments of the Last War (Bryan Timms)

RogerBW’s Blog (Roger Bell-West)

MoeLane.com (Moe Lane)

GURB- The Generic Universal Roleplaying Blog (The_RyujinLP)

Gaming Ballistic (Douglas Cole)

World of Domibia (Canology)

One Yard Hex (Paul Stefko)

A bit over a week ago, I was joined by David Kenzer of Kenzer and Company. In fact, I was originally joined by Jolly Blackburn and Steve Johansson as well, but after nearly 90 minutes of great conversation, I had the horrifying discovery that I had 90 minutes of video . . . and no audio whatsoever.

Fortunately, David had the time and grace to do it again. We covered some of the same, and a lot of different topics the second time around, though Jolly and Steve were unavailable.

It was a good chat, and we covered topics ranging from the history and product portfolio of Kenzer and Company, to the production and design of Hackmaster, to the current Kickstarter for Aces and Eights Reloaded.

A transcript was added to the post May 21, 2017.

MP3 File – Kenzer and Company Interview

Text Transcript

Douglas Cole: Good evening and welcome to Gaming Ballistics’ Firing Squad.

I am joined today by David Kenzer of Kenzer and Company. We may have some other people join a little later.

This is a special event for me because David has agreed to join after we already recorded this yesterday, and we got 90 minutes of great video and 0 minutes of audio. So there is a whole lot of animated conversation, but it is literally animated with no voices.

Kenzer and Company was gracious enough to do this a second time . . . so thanks for joining me again! 

David Kenzer: [chuckles] Hi everybody and thanks for having me a second time. I don’t think . . . I know for sure Jolly is not coming, and Steve is probably not going to be able to make it either, it doesn’t look like today. Maybe I’m the only forgiving one of the group.

DC: Which is entirely fair, batting .333 is pretty good in the major leagues, and I’ll take it where I can get it.

So what I wanted to do for people who aren’t as familiar with the history of Kenzer and Company: Maybe you could briefly lay out some of the highlights: when the company started, first product, the breadth of the portfolio. I knew of Kenzer from Hackmaster and Knights of the Dinner Table, and not much necessary more than that.

But as I dug in and we conversed yesterday, you have a very broad, dynamic, interesting product portfolio. So why don’t you walk through a little of the history of the company, so people know where you are coming from as we talk about the kickstarter you’re currently running, and some of the other games you’ve done. Continue reading “GB’s Firing Squad welcomes Kenzer and Company”

Reposted from the GURPS Forums Thread: Call for Playtesters – GURPS Tactical Shooting: Extreme Conditions

Steve Jackson Games is seeking playtesters for GURPS Tactical Shooting: Extreme Conditions, by Hans-Christian Vortisch. This is a supplement to the rules in GURPS Tactical Shooting – and by extension, to the GURPS Basic Set – concerning gunfights in extreme environments such as in winter, in the desert, underground, around water, and even in space!

We are primarily looking for playtesters who have experience with real guns and/or the hazards found in these extreme environments. Preference will be given to applicants who know how to shoot (current and former military servicemen, police officers, sports shooters, enthusiasts) and/or who have experience with survival and operations in extreme environments (scuba divers, spelunkers, folks with experience in the Arctic or desert or jungle, etc.). A number of slots will be reserved for people who expressly do not have such backgrounds, to check rules and descriptions for clarity and ease of use.

You should be familiar with the rules in the GURPS Basic Set, GURPS High-Tech, and GURPS Tactical Shooting. We expect the playtest to be very active for three or four weeks, and then to remain open to hammer out details for as long as the author requires after the initial feedback period.

Prospective playtesters should email the Lead Playtester, Douglas Cole, at dhamptonc@gmail.com with [TSEC] (for “Tactical Shooting: Extreme Conditions”) in the subject line. Include your Warehouse 23 username (if you have one), your preferred email address for the closed playtest mailing list, the correct spelling of your name as it may appear in print, and a few words on why we should pick you: qualifications, experience, current gaming group(s), etc.

*** *** ***

Yeah, that’s me as Lead Playtester. I did it for High-Tech and the original Tactical Shooting, too. If you’re going to apply, please be thorough and explicit in your email to me giving your credentials, even if we know each other well! Both the playtest and the book should be tons of fun.

As always, my family hit Comic Con in Minneapolis. We have, for the last two or three years, made it kind of a thing, where we go all three days. That wasn’t in the cards this year, since my wife was in Chicago having a meet-up with an old friend, and for a while it very much looked like few folks of interest were coming.

But . . . that changed a bit, and we made plans to pick up Alina from the airport, and go directly to the con. My daughter picked an unusual hero this time – Carol Ferris/Star Sapphire, probably since she’s been watching the Green Lantern animated series, but she’s got very good breadth of knowledge for a 7yo in both Marvel and DC, so even without that, perhaps she’d have landed there.

The costume was fairly simple – purple leotard and tights, and iron-on inkjet heat transfers. I put too much heat on the first attempt at the blaze , and so my details washed out. She didn’t care. The embellishment I did for her abdomen was modeled from a champion female fitness model with great abs, used as a mask to outline a purple nebula image taken at high resolution from Hubble. With more time, I’d have put armor places on her thighs, knees, and gloves (which we had but she left at school, alas).

Go-Go’s Wonder Woman costume is off-the-shelf.

Anyway, we went, and the kids got to knock around for a few hours. They always love it, but the convention had been laid out differently this year . . . in order to (seemingly to me) hide the fact that it was freakin’ tiny. Far fewer artists and crafters there, so you could walk the floor for a half-hour or an hour, at most, and see everything. Especially since there were some repeats – three booths selling the same “sword-like object” video game replica weapons.

Anyway, while hopefully next year all four of us will have a theme for costumes, this year we went autograph hunting. Continue reading “Brief Visit to ComicCon Minneapolis (Wizard World)”

Not too much going on.

It’s ComicCon (technically Wizard World Minneapolis) this weekend, and unlike most times when we spend the entire weekend there, my family was helter-skelter this weekend, with my wife in Chicago, me needing to attend a few Viking planning sessions to build curriculum for classes, and generally playing single-dad with young kids in activities. Plus the toddler/preschooler being . . . her charming self when balked.

This phase really can’t end soon enough.

Anyway, I did see minor progress on the game building front. Venture Beyond saw some discussion, and Michael continues to work art for the covers in the background. His prelim sketch and coloring work is very much in the Dungeon Grappling style of brushing, but obviously different subject material. My feedback to him was very brief, ’cause he’s on point with nearly everything. One comment about how to hold an axe (and I need to get him a reference picture) for fighting, one more about foot position when using a viking shield, and a suggestion but not a correction on a dwarf spear-tip. One comment about overall coloration. But it’s going to look good, and I can’t wait to see how the final covers turn out.

Still waiting for writing and editing on both projects.

Otherwise, it’s about time to go swoon and blush and act like a complete fanboy in front of Charisma Carpenter, and introduce my daughter(s) to Nichelle Nichols. My wife will probably have palpitations over John Barrowman (fortunately for me, he’s not his character).

Onward!

Thursday is GURPSDay, and May the Fourth be with you today! (And for the right denomination: “And also with you.”)

Welcome to the second year of GURPSDay, and here’s the first pull of the morning.

We’re currently drawing content from 85 blogs, having picked up Matt Riggsby’s Tetsujin no Lllama. Only 15 more to go until we’re pulling from 100! But we’ll need your help.

How? Two action items: post more, recruit more. It’s really that simple. More posters is more posts, and more interest in GURPS.

Below you can find the blog activity for the last week. There’s a whole lotta awesome GURPS going on. Read all 44 posts as of 850pm CST.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you’re interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line. Take special note of the RSS Settings Fix if you’re on WordPress.
Continue reading “GURPS Day Summary Apr 28 – May 4, 2017”

A brief digression into advanced conventional gun technology in GURPS Ultra-Tech.

There are two advanced technologies for firearms in GURPS Ultra-Tech. Liquid Propellant slugthrowers improves piercing damage by +1 per die (about 28%) with the boosted velocity version, and there’s a low velocity option that cuts damage in half, but we don’t care that much about that. Electrothermal-Chemical weapons increase damage by 1.5x. There are also Electothermal-Kinetic weapons, discussed in a Designer’s Notes for Ultra-Tech, Fourth Edition article, which are even more badass, multiplying damage by 2x.

What does that mean in terms of weapon design?

The Ballistics Model

My model – and remember, all models are wrong, some are useful – takes the peak pressure and maintains it for a certain distance down the barrel. This adds Pressure x Barrel Bore Diameter x Burn Distance in energy to the bullet: a straight-up application of energy equals force times distance. After that, it assumes that the propellant is all burned, and that the chamber and barrel and bullet form a pressure vessel, with the instantaneous pressure calculated using the ideal gas law. One can then calculate the instantaneous force at a given length down the barrel, and sum the product of that force over the distance – you’re performing an integration: E = Integral of F dx.

That’s wrong.

It just is. It’s not unusable, but it’s a simplification. It neglects the non-ideal component of the pressure equation, and it really ignores the fact that as the bullet is driven down the barrel, there is an opposing force of friction acting to retard the projectile. So while in real life, there’s an optimal barrel length after which more barrel is a hindrance to velocity, my model assumes that the bullet will continue to be accelerated pretty much forever.

That it falls off over distance, though, means that you need more and more barrel to actually get a GURPS-useful boost in velocity. So in practice, while it’s “wrong,” it’s not so wrong by so much that it doesn’t provide a useful and self-consistent model. Perfect? No. Usable? Yah.

But given the way that the program works, there are really only a few ways to add energy to the projectile. Continue reading “Ultra-Tech Firearms: Liquid Propellant and ETC”

In the last installment, a few of the basic weapons from the Rifles section of GURPS Ultra-Tech were examined. The basic premise was to see if the designed stats make sense, and evaluate them against an assumed mission statement: deliver 3d-6d injury after penetrating whatever armor the target is wearing. The typical foe was assumed to be a TL8 trooper wearing roughly DR 35/10d worth of hard/soft armor combination. This might be the TL8 Assault Vest + Trauma Plates (DR 12/5 + 23) or Advanced Body Armor (the generic form of DragonSkin, assumed to be as effective as the manufacturer claims).

Last time, we covered the basic Assault Rifle, and a derived hunting rifle firing the same ammo, the gatling carbine, and the 15mm payload rifle.

Today we finish up with some oddities, large-caliber specialty weapons that are either overdesigned or mis-applied in many cases. Continue reading “Gunday Continued: Ultra-Tech Rifles (Part 2)”