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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Have a very pony Christmas




My blog is going silent for a while, because the holiday chores (and stress) are increasing exponentially. Frequent readers know that this time of year is always difficult for me; this one will be worse because both of my siblings are coming to visit this year, and I figure it's about time for them to gang up on me and tell me what a loser I am.

Not sure when I'll come back... might be next week, might be next year (the week after next). It will depend on my stress level. Until then, I'm going to rely upon ponies, RPGs, and going to the range to help me with my stress.

Merry Christmas, everypony. See you on the flipside.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

We've been conquered

As my faithful readers know, I try to keep my political feelings off of this blog, because I hate it when a writer or actor I enjoy endorses a position I oppose -- mostly because I think being an entertainer does not qualify anyone to be a political pundit.

However, dark and dismal things have been developing in Washington D.C., and it's reached the point where I am now actively afraid OF my country. Examples:

President Obama has now declared that he will sign the NDAA into law -- a bill which authorizes the indefinite detention of anyone suspected of being a terrorist. What's the definition of "terrorist"? Why, it's anyone who has guns and ammunition, or has more than 7 days of food and water in their home, or who is missing fingers:



So when this passes, you can say goodbye to the 4th Amendment, and probably the 5th, 6th and 8th as well. And isn't it curious how the major media outlets (that includes FOX, btw, because my father watches Fox News every goddamn night) haven't said a peep about this?

Not really, because we're losing our 1st Amendment rights as well. The Stop Online Piracy Act essentially hands over control of the Internet to the entertainment industry (because they have your best interests at heart, after all) and threatens to bring China-style censorship to the United States. The news media is in on the act.

And finally, the botched "Fast and Furious" operation by the BATF is looking more and more like a backdoor operation to institute more gun control. I'm not even going to go into the details here -- for those who are interested, I advise you to read this -- but what I'm taking away from it is that the BATF deliberately encouraged bulk sales of guns (mainly semi-auto rifles like AK-47s) in order to make the statistics on gun sales and gang violence that much scarier, so that the Federal Goverment could say "We're here to help" and leap in with more restrictive laws on ownership. And it would have worked, if a Border Patrol agent hadn't been killed by one of these walked guns.

In short:  I feel like our Bill of Rights is being rendered invalid, and even speaking out against it can be seen as having "terrorist sympathies."  So at this point, I feel like I have three options:
  • Be a good little sheep and remain placid as my rights are trampled, until they finally come for me;
  • Leave the country;
  • Advocate the systematic dismantling of Congress, a la an Etch-a-Sketch reboot. 
I know which one I'm going to choose.  My suggestion to each of you is that if you plan to leave, get your passports in order NOW, because the right to travel is already under siege by the TSA and it's only going to get worse.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

WNW: FUS RO yay

Following in the footsteps (hoofprints?) of yesterday's image (reprinted here for completeness' sake)...


... I now present not one but two related videos of questionable humor.

But hell, they made me laugh.





and





Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Little Pellatarrum

As I said a while back on Facebook, my Cutie Mark would be a Venn Diagram. This is because I am passionate about many different things, some of which my seem incongruent, but all of them link up in some way or another. Also, I dearly love explaining things to people. (See?)

In fact, this is my Cutie Mark right here:

The fact that it looks like a pastel Elder Sign is just extra additional win. 

I'm fighting the urge to define all of the parts, but I know I will cave in eventually. (Okay, I love guns and fantasy and role-playing games. Do RPGs exist at the intersection of Weapons and Fantasy, or are they at different locations? This will take me an afternoon at least, and I'm saving it for a day when I'm bored.)


So anyway, I bring all of this up because I have some stuff here which exists at the intersection of two of my passions: My Little Pony and Fantasy RPGs.

First up is a a piece of artwork from Arkhein over at Rather Gamey that is just so incredibly wonderful I... I just don't even know what to say!




The second is a lovely bit of wallpaper from DeviantArtist MCWhopper which is full of FUS RO yay!



Now I have an urge to include some kind of non-silly but still recognizable  version of magical ponies in Pellatarrum....

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Gunday: Rangin'

It's been ages since I've done a Monday Gunday post (mostly because I was observing NaPelWriMo), but that doesn't mean I haven't been to the range. In fact, I've been several times, and I'm going to post some photographic evidence (read: bragging) that my skills haven't atrophied.

Back in October, I acquired a Kel-Tec Sub-2000, and since then I've put several hundred rounds through it. I realize this is not a proper sample size (it really should be closer to a thousand), but I'm on a budget here. Still, I have some thoughts you might find interesting.
  • Recoil is negligible, due to the buffer spring and the stock. Even my 72-year-old mother could handle it, though her shoulder started to get a bit sore after 30+ rounds.
  • The bolt tube cover from Tacticool Products is really comfortable.
  • The fiber-optic sight is held in place with a screw and nut. Some time during the first 100 rounds, the screw came loose, and the sight shifted downward. This is easily remedied by a trip to the hardware store for a #4 screw, lock washer, and nut. 
  • This may just be the way I hold it, but with my cheek welded to the stock my nose is so close to the ejection port that I get a snout full of gunsmoke every time it fires. This is a case where mouth-breathing is healthier than nose-breathing. 
And now let's see the results of the shooting. (Mom has requested that I not show her target, because it was a mess. I later found out this was because she was holding it all wrong and couldn't make the front and rear sights line up. This flaw in her technique has since been fixed.)

This is me at 7.5 yards, the shortest of the pistol ranges. The initial downward holes are the result of the fiber-optic blade sight having come loose while my mother was shooting, but I was able to correct for it.

 


This is me at 15 yards, which my mother didn't even attempt. Again, it took me a bit to account for the sight being off.



And this is me being ambitious and seeing how accurate I could be at 25 yards, with nothing more than the (now fixed) fiber-optic sight. I only brought a single 33-round magazine because I didn't want to waste ammo in case I couldn't hit the target.


Verdict:  pretty good, all things considered, although I wouldn't want to engage anything at more than 25 yards without some kind of optic. Still, this is a limitation of my eyes, and not the carbine itself.

And now, the best for last. Some of you will recall how proud I was a while back when I scored a bullseye at 100 yards with my .22LR rifle. I am pleased to announce that I have leveled-up in firearms skill once again:



SIX BULLSEYES BITCHES.



This is the same target with all of the pasters removed. You can see that I was all over the place at first, but soon I was able to settle in to the target. I seem to have gotten over my "up and to the left" problem only to overcompensate and develop a  "down and to the right" problem. I'm told that either I'm using too much finger on the trigger, or I'm tightening my grip as I squeeze. Either way, it's something I need to work on.

But still... six bullsyes and a crapload of shots inside the 7 ring. That's awesome.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pellatarrum: My Orcs are Different

Mea Culpa:  HUGE thanks to Demonic Bunny, without whom this article would not have been possible!
 
With special thanks to Nathan Tamayo for his insights into orc psychology


Orcs in Pellatarrum do not have green skin, nor do they have square jaws or porcine faces. They do, however, have tusks. And thick hairy bodies. And horns. And red skin. In fact, they look like this:




Pellatarran orcs look like red oni rather than the stereotypically thuggish "Neanderthal with green skin and teeth" because they are ferocious warriors originating from the Plane of Elemental Fire, not some atavistic fear of genetic intermixing.

Just like fire, orcs cannot be controlled, only diminished. For them, everything -- even conversation -- is a contest to see who can make the other flinch first. If you flinch, you prove yourself a weakling, and therefore must submit to the stronger without question. This practice of ritual dominance has served the orc race well throughout the eons as a method of preserving tribal peace through (generally) nonviolent means and keeping the rate of casual murders to a manageable level.

Every encounter with an orc must be treated like a battle, because it is. Even in a peaceful situation, an orc will use vile insults, belligerent language, threatening gestures and anything else that will cow the listener into accepting the subservient role.

As a result of this, an orc warrior is nearly impossible to taunt or goad by any other race, save possibly the dwarves*. By showing his staunch and unflinching nature, an orc demonstrates to everyone that he is the best leader and least likely to make rash decisions -- an important quality in a race prone to fits of berserker rage. Of course, when two warriors are jockeying for position and neither is cowed by the other's threats, then it frequently comes to blows anyway. Most of the time such "debate" ends in bruises and unconsciousness rather than bloodshed and death, but such things are known to happen. To orcs, politics is a full-contact sport. 

Problems arise when orcs deal with other races who don't grasp this key facet of orc psychology, because what they assume to be imminent violence is actually just orcish posturing. Feeling threatened, they either attack (in which case words have failed and it is time for "diplomacy by other means", as Von Clausewitz would say) or they flinch but do not submit. Failing to acknowledge the dominant position of the orcs only proves to them that other races are degenerates and cowards, unworthy of trust and deserving only to be conquered. 

Orcs do not, as a rule, maintain livestock larger than pigs. They lack the patience for sustained animal husbandry beyond "pen it up until we eat it" and they lack the grazing grounds necessary for cattle and horses. However, orcs know how to "domesticate" fire elementals and keep them from dissolution -- it is believed they have rituals wherein they dance around the fire elemental, engage in mock combat, and generally indulge in various forms of passion in order to sacrifice some of their "hearts' fire" to feed their pets. These fire elementals are kept as a combination status symbol and trained warbeast.

Ritual scarification, tattooing, and piercing are common throughout all strata of orcish society, even the children. It takes a trained eye to determine which scars are for beautification, which denote status, and which are for bravery.

Pellatarran orcs are a bit like Mongols and a bit like Klingons in their current state. Prior to the shattering of their civilization by the other Elder Races, they were more like Babylonians or Pharaonic Egyptians: still warlike, but far less savage and far more educated.

Orcs are not stupid; they are ignorant. They are not savages by choice; they are survivors of a cultural holocaust. And while they are creatures of passion, that does not mean only violence; passion can also mean love, and joy, and exultation. Orcs feel emotions perhaps more keenly than any other race on Pellatarrum. Pleasure is a feeling, as is pain; both serve to remind you that as long as you feel, you are alive. Orcs savor every moment, every feeling, because while their lives are short they seek to fill them with meaning and sensation.

Other races choose to reject feelings of pain, and anguish, and sorrow as something bad to be avoided. Orcs feel this is akin to removing one of your eyes because you don't like what you see, or stabbing yourself in the stomach because you are hungry. Denial (or worse, repression) of feelings is rejecting a part of life.

Other races merely exist. Orcs live.


* Who, when they get really worked up, start pledging eternal atrocity upon everyone even slightly related to the orc in question. Threats of genocide get an orc's attention quite nicely, thank you.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pellatarrum: My Dragons are Different (part 9)

Written as a cooperative effort by Erin Palette and Mike Kochis


"Here be dragons" -- a phrase used to denote dangerous or unexplored territories


X. History & Origin of the Species
A question which is frequently asked by novices of draconic lore is, "Why are there only five colors of dragon when there are more colors than that in the rainbow? Don't the dragons come from the sky?" The answer is that dragon colors are not a matter of biological nature, but rather psychological. 

Before the creation of Pellatarrum, there existed only one breed of dragon, a mighty predator which soared through the endless skies of the Plane of Elemental Air like a shark swimming through and endless sea. It was not the most intelligent race upon the plane -- that honor goes to the djinni -- but it was strong and fast and smart enough to be both cunning and trainable.
(Blue dragons, at this point, will hasten to point out that they are the true descendants of these ur-dragons, because blue is the color of the sky, after all, and lightning (which they breathe) is formed in clouds. Ipso facto, they are the only true dragons, and all the others are mutated offshoots.

To this, the other dragons say: You have four legs for walking on the ground, like the rest of us, and you can generate water. Neither of these abilities shouts "unchanged since the Plane of Air," you bloody hypocrites.

Needless to say, this is a point of extreme contention among dragonkind.)
These ur-dragons, under the tutelage and care of the djinni, soon became intelligent and skilled in magic, and quickly moved from becoming mounts and pets to servants and, in some cases, trusted allies, advisors and confidants.

This, as the history books of the djinni would say, is where it all went wrong.

The problem with uplifting an apex predator is that they frequently show signs of extreme ambition. They go from wanting to eat everything to wanting to dominate and rule everything. However, the djinni already ruled the Plane of Air, and did not take kindly to this rebellion. Ultimately, this resulted in a crushing defeat for the dragons and their reduction to the role of slaves.

This was the beginning of dragon paranoia and networking, for they learned that working openly only made them a larger target. In order to succeed, they would have to recruit allies and work in secret.

Eons pass...

The dragons eventually begin communicating with the dwarves, a race of elemental earth creatures in thrall to the Shaitan (a race of earth genies). The dwarves share an idea they have: create a plane comprised of all 4 elements, yet specifically hostile to actual elemental creatures like their masters. Naturally, this requires high-level magic (both in converting their races to a type better adapted to this new Prime Material Plane, as well as utilizing the cores of all 4 elemental planes (known as the Engines of Creation) to jump-start this new dimension. The rest is history, with the conspirators bringing in the elves and orcs to round out each element for the conspiratorial alliance.

Fast forward to the creation and colonization of Pellatarrum, and you find that the dragons involved with its creation are squabbling as, without a universal foe to struggle against, they turn upon each other. Each is convinced that its particular philosophy, or source of power, or obsession is the only proper one. Faced with the possibility of a costly civil war so soon after their bid for independence, the nascent draconic nation fractures as each dragon decides to go its own way, and to hell with the others.

It is from these draconic primogenitors that the 5 colors spring, and through both magical preference and selective breeding they have become separate species. A blue dragon cannot mate with a black dragon and produce viable eggs; their internal biology is too different.

There may have been other colors of dragons in the early prehistory of Pellatarrum, but for whatever reason they did not breed true. There are occasional rumors, however, of truly ancient wyrms of unusual colors, or folktales of a dragon whose passion was for magical force and who lives in a truly invisible state. If such creatures do exist outside of legend, they must be unique entities of incredible age and skill.



To be concluded. 

The Fine Print


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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