Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Best Christmas Present Ever

The weekend before Christmas I received a really nasty surprise when YouTube notified me that my sister had subscribed to my YouTube channel. This was a shock because I wasn't out to my sister and that channel is where I post my various speeches -- you know, the ones where I talk about being transgender and why I'm a queer activist. I'll spare you the long reason why I wasn't out to her; the short reason is that she's Southern Baptist and more than a little Fundamentalist, not to mention being more conservative than liberal, and I was worried she'd take certain Bible verses to heart and condemn me as a deviant sinner... and, of course, out me to the rest of my family.

I've known ever since 2016 that something like this would eventually happen, but I decided that my mission was more important than staying in the closet and so the risk was worth it. That said, I've still taken precautions, such as by blocking family members on Facebook and asking my mother to downplay my involvement in my activism when she talks to friends and family about it, such as by having her say that I "am involved with teaching queer people about guns" rather than saying that I "founded a charity and now run the largest pro-gun queer group in the country if not the world" and by most assuredly not telling them that my professional name is Erin Palette. It also helps that I look sufficiently unlike my birth face that people who weren't looking for me as a girl have walked right past me while looking for me without realizing it was me. (Hi, Gail! Love ya lots!)

Despite these precautions, I was still found out. On the one hand, it's my own fault for not thinking to block my sister from my YouTube channel; on the other hand, it's rather an impossibility to censor all such information because my videos are all over the place and I don't control all those channels (nor do I want to).

Still, it was a bit of a shock and a definite "oh crap" moment, because not only did not know how she'd react, I also didn't know if she'd out me to my family. I tried calling her but the phone went straight to voicemail, which only made me more nervous. I sent a text saying "Hey [sister], if you're awake please give me a call. Thanks!"

No reply.

OK, next step: write her an email using my birth-name account with a subject titled "We should probably talk" and with the body reading "I see you found my YouTube channel. I imagine you have questions. I'm more than happy to talk about it with you."

No reply to that, either. I spent the night planning my exit strategy and went to bed with a nasty feeling in the pit of my stomach, fearing that when I got up the next morning it would be to a house of angry, freaking out people.

Morning came... and nothing happened. No replies from her, but family seemed normal. Okay then, no news was good news.

Then, right before I stepped out the door to walk the dogs, I received this text from her:

As you can see, she agrees with my reasoning for not coming out to mom and dad. I didn't need the justification, but it's always nice to have someone else validate my decision.

Thursday evening we had a great, hour-long discussion. We talked about all sorts of things, such as how she even found me in the first place (mom told her I spoke at GRPC so she searched for it and found the speeches on YouTube. She didn't see my name so I guess she was just listening to it when she heard my voice, looked at the video and went "OH"), how I came to realize I was trans, what my plans were, etc. It was a really awesome, candid discussion and not only did it feel great to be able to tell a family member about myself but I also learned a lot more about my sister based on what she told me!

This has really expanded our relationship in a wonderful way. I didn't really have a way to relate to my sister before this because our interests and lives were so different, but it feels like we bonded over this and now we have a secret that we can share! It's so wonderfully strange... and as I told her when we said goodbye, "So hey, now you have a little brother AND a little sister! One of each!" and we both laughed.

Best Christmas present EVER!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Assorted Calibers Podcast Bonus Episode: Kerry Slone of ‘We the Female’

In This Episode:
Erin sits down with Kerry Slone of We the Female to do a long-form interview on her origin story, her confrontation of Kamala Harris, and all the wonderful things she does to support the 2nd Amendment for everyone!

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Show Notes

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Mhrry Chrhhfmif!


May the star upon your tree
Stand for friends, like you and me,
Blazing bright for all to see
Friendship's might for eternity!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 082: Weer'd Brings the Interviews

In This Episode:
  • Erin tells a story about the best Christmas present she's ever received;
  • Weer'd interviews Top Shot Chris Cheng on 2A Sanctuaries, then he and Erin discuss how this related to the events that are happening in Virginia;
  • In another Weer'd interview, Dr. Miguel Faria talks about growing up in Cuba during the revolution;
  • and David brings us a segment on firearms safety and kids.

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Show Notes

Chris Cheng Interview:

Dr. Miguel Faria Interview:

Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:

Monday, December 16, 2019

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 081: Gift Guide Round Table. Also, Terrorism

In This Episode:
This ACP Round Table is a mixed bag of topics.  Since it's the holiday season, we take time to talk about some cool gift ideas for your assorted friends, no matter what their caliber!

We also talk about a number of terrorist events that happened recently.

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Show Notes

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Assorted Calibers Podcast: December (not quite a) Bonus Episode

In This Episode:
While Weer'd was on vacation, Erin recorded this great interview with Cheryl Todd of Gun Freedom Radio,  AZ Firearms, and Pot of Gold Estate Auctions. Given that the interview ran a bit long, and because we had no regular episode to release on Monday,  Erin suggested we publish it so that our listeners wouldn't have to go a week without their Assorted Calibers fix.  So enjoy!

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Show Notes

Friday, December 6, 2019

It's Been a Week

And it shows no signs of stopping. Fortunately, I'm feeling fighty and so far I've come out on top each time. Let's play the highlight reel, shall we?

I spent a good chunk of last weekend arguing with some hard-right Christians, and by that I mean they are the type who think it's the height of discourse to shout questions at me, ignore my answers, and then post memes such as a picture of an electrified Pence with the word "REPENT" at the bottom. Remarkable, truly remarkable, gentlemen; shouting at people is clearly the best way to get them to agree with you!

I spent far too much time trying to use logic and Biblical citations for my argument, but they weren't interested in listening. Instead, with the perfect clarity of hindsight, I should have said this:
"I already told you that I accepted Christ as my savior. If you don't think that I'm saved, then your problem isn't with me; your problem is that you think my queerness is somehow more powerful that Christ's love and redemptive sacrifice. Your failure of faith does not require me to justify myself to you."
I'll keep this in my back pocket for next time, and perhaps it will bypass a lot of the BS in the future.

However, this ties into an old hobby horse of mine: people who claim that the Bible condemns all non-cishet people. I've previously dismantled the various claims which people like to trot out, but last weekend brought me to a level of rage where I lost my decorum and basically told people to nut up or shut up.
If you use the Old Testament as justification for why I and other queer people need to repent and "stop being queer", then you can be sure I'm gong to ask why you aren't following Leviticus 20:13 which calls for the death of all homosexuals.

Look, cupcake, you don't get to cherry pick the Bible like that. If you're bound by the Old Law, then you have to follow ALL OF IT. No bacon cheeseburgers, no shellfish, no mixing of fabrics, no getting tattoos, no shaving your face, no associating with menstruating women if you're a man, no wearing trousers if you're a woman, and most importantly, you've got put abominations like me to death.

What, you don't want to go to jail for murder? Well, that's certainly a dilemma. It looks like you only have three choices:
  1. Do the deed, be punished here on Earth (maybe even being put to death), but at least you'll get your eternal reward;
  2. Not follow God's Law, in which case you're sinning every day you don't put queer people to death. That won't look good for you come the Final Judgement;
  3. or maybe realize that you're no longer bound by Levitical law, either because you're a Christian and Christ abolished all that, or because you're Jewish and with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem the old nation of Israel ceased to exist and with it the laws that governed it.
Regardless of what you choose, though, I'm not going to let you beat me over the head with Lev 18:22 if you don't have the courage to follow up with Lev 20:13. And if you do have the courage... well, that's why I carry a gun for self-defense.
It's neither classy nor ladylike, but there's something so viscerally cathartic about looking at someone and saying "Do it, pussy-boy. Or don't you have the balls?"

Speaking of pussy-boys, I'd like to point out that Chris Hill hasn't fulfilled his promise to pay $100 to anyone who glitter-bombed the Nov 9 rally in Washington DC. Here's a screenshot of my comments -- three weeks ago, and today -- on his video.

For someone who makes such a big deal about integrity, he seems unlikely to honor his promise. Not being a man of your word is quite a terrible thing among three percenters (III%), and every time he makes a video I'm going to make sure that everyone knows about this.

And then there's this guy.
"I don't care what you do at home but this is too much." 

Translation: "Queer people make me intensely uncomfortable so I wish they'd just shut up and go back into the closet where I don't have to acknowledge their existence."

I'm the 'drag queen' he's talking about, by the way, despite having been told that I'm a transwoman and not a drag queen. He's upset that I spoke at the Nov. 9 Declaration of Restoration, and I know that because one of his other identities said so.

Yes, I said other identities. He has three: David Wright III, David A. Wright III, and David Allen. Presumably he has so many because he keeps catching 30-day bans?

I didn't even bother to engage this guy. Flak is always heaviest right over the target, and if I'm catching crap from the likes of him then I know I'm where I need to be. People like this you don't debate; you just sass them and show that you won't be pushed around. I'm certain that it infuriates them when I refuse to shut up or be ashamed.

Now that the far toxic right has discovered me, I can compare with them the far toxic left. As expected, the far toxic left hates me because I'm pro-gun, and the far toxic right hates me because I'm transgender. What's interesting, though, is how they express their hatred of me.

The far toxic left prefers to unperson me: they call me a traitor, say that I'm not a "true" transwoman, and either ignore me or block me. While this approach has a certain purity which I find refreshing, it does rather put the lie to their desire for a conversation about guns.

The far toxic right, on the other hand, will pretend to engage in conversation but will simply shout their beliefs over and over without listening to what I say. This is far more frustrating because I can't tell the difference between far right and far toxic right until I've already engaged in conversation, and I have a certain stubbornness where I convince myself that if I can just get this one point through to them then surely they'll see the error of their ways, when in fact I'm just playing chess with a pigeon.

The far toxic left wants my body to die because I believe in armed self-defense and they'd prefer I was disarmed so I can be victimized by criminals, all in the name of making society better.

The far toxic right wants my soul to die because they can't see past my plumbing and they'd prefer I be forced into their version of what I should be, regardless of how miserable that would make my existence, all in the name of making society better.

It's funny, though: prior to my transition, when I was a straight male, I had a hell of a time getting women interested in my genitalia. Now that I'm a trans lesbian, suddenly everybody -- men, women, gay, straight, and all the in-betweens -- is suddenly very concerned about what I may be packing under my dress, and not in a fun "You're cute, let's get naked" way.

Sugarplums, I hate to break it to you like this, but if what I have between my legs is causing you anxiety, that says way more about you than it does about me... and not in a good way. And if you want to hurt me, you've got to try harder than calling me fat and ugly. These are names that I call myself every morning...

...and then I get all glam'd up and look & feel fabulous for the rest of the the day!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 080: Hello, We Are Old

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d discuss Michael Bloomberg's official Presidential campaign, and the prospect of Constitutional Carry in Florida;
  • Oddball talks about the pros and cons with serrated knives;
  • Weer'd brings us part two of his MSNBC fisk of the Summer Recess Rally, sponsored by Michael Bloomberg;
  • and then Weer'd interviews Top Shot season 4 champion Chris Cheng.

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Show Notes

Main Topic:

Weer'd Audio Fisk:

Chris Cheng Interview:

    Saturday, November 30, 2019

    Why I Do What I Do

    I've taken some flak lately for speaking at a rally where Confederate flags and pro-Trump signs were displayed. I've been asked why I would do such a thing. Well, here are some photographs to tell a story.

    The gentleman in the first picture is Darren from Washington state. After I spoke, he came up to me and told me that even though he was a conservative, my speech had opened his eyes and changed his mind about queer people. He bought an OBS patch and gave me a hug.

    This next picture is 20 days later. That's Darren working at the Pink Pistols booth in Seattle, gathering signatures to overturn Initiative 1639, the massive WA state gun control bill which was passed into law last year.

    As you can see from this third picture, Darren is happy to be working side by side with the Pink Pistols. The lady in the purple is Sharyn Hinchcliffe, head of the Seattle chapter.

    This is why I do what I do. There's no benefit to preaching to the already converted; we don't accomplish anything by staying where we're comfortable and only talking within our own little echo chamber. Instead, we need to go out into the world and show people that we're just like them, and we deserve to have the same rights as them and receive the same courtesy as them. That's the only way to effect change, and it WORKS. We won twice that day, because we turned an opponent into a friend who now works alongside us.

    Wednesday, November 27, 2019

    The Subjectivity of Intolerance

    In his 1945 book The Open Society and Its Enemies, philosopher Karl Popper wrote about the Paradox of Tolerance. Here is a quick summation of that concept:

    I can see where Popper is coming from, and to a certain extent I agree with him. However, the problem with his position that we must be intolerant of intolerance is that there is no scientific test to determine what is or isn't intolerance. While it is easy to say that someone caught in the act of setting a synagogue on fire while wearing a swastika is committing a hate crime, things get a bit muddy if this person is just a regular, non-swastika-wearing person who maybe just likes setting fires, and things become downright troublesome if the arsonist is himself a Jew. The same applies to jokes, books, clothing, and other forms of expression.

    In other words, nearly all “intolerance” is subjective and based upon opinion rather than an objective quality which can be detected through impartial, repeatable tests.

    So while the concept of “not tolerating intolerance” is noble, in practice it ends up with whomever is the loudest being able to silence and ostracize those with whom they disagree. This results in mob rule where the strong bully and silence the weak, rather than a republic where individual rights are protected against the tyranny of the majority.

    In short, intolerance of intolerance is un-American.

    ... as much as I'd love to leave it there on that mic-drop moment, it would be intellectually dishonest of me to do so. There is a difference between intolerance of ideas and intolerance of violence, and this is where things get uncomfortably muddy even for me. As a friend of mine pointed out, "An idiot spouting Nazi ideology is just an idiot spouting Nazi ideology, and societies tolerate madmen. An influential person who gains a following that uses violence to advance their political power must be countered before they seize power." I can honestly tell you that I would feel threatened and vulnerable if someone held a rally in front of my home while shouting "Death to Erin!", and the moment the leaders started saying things like "Burn the Queer!" I would be ready to start shooting in self-defense.

    This admission makes me intensely uncomfortable, because I can't seem to delineate a point where speech ceases to be speech and becomes incitement. Even our legal system lacks an objective and repeatable system for what is and is not allowed, instead using a form of "I'll know it when I see it" called the Brandenburg Test.

    As that same friend of mine said, "We tolerate things until they become intolerable." I can't help but agree that yes, that's the way it is, but the very subjectivity of the whole thing bothers me because I like being able to justify my actions (to myself, if nothing else) in clearer terms than "Because I felt like it."

    I don't have a solution here. I wish that I did. I'm just pointing out that everything about this is highly subjective, and maybe it would do us all some good if we acknowledged for a moment that maybe what we "know" is actually just our opinion, formed by our objective mind and shaped by our biases.

    As Walt Kelly might have had Pogo say, "Ain't none of us objective here nohow."

    Monday, November 25, 2019

    Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 079: Erin Feels Ranty

    In This Episode:
    • Erin and Weer’d discuss the Supreme Court's lack of action on the lawsuit against Remington by the Sandy Hook families;
    • Weer'd blasts from the recent past with a fisk of an MSNBC segment about the summer recess protests and how they panned out;
    • David explains cartridge nomenclature;
    • and Weer'd bring back Lara Smith of the Liberal Gun Club to talk about her feelings on sexism in the 2A Community.

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    Show Notes

    Main Topic:

    Weer’d Audio Fisk: 

    Gun Lovers and Other Strangers

    Wednesday, November 20, 2019

    Two Nifty Things

    First: I uploaded my glitter gif to gify. Now you can use it in Facebook comments, embed it in your posts, whatever.

    via GIPHY

    Second, I have been accepted to speak at the 38th Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium next February! I will be panelist Thursday and Friday, and a moderator on Saturday.

    I hope to see you there. Come by and say hi, get a hug from me!

    Monday, November 18, 2019

    Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 078: We Urge Bloomberg to Run for President

    In This Episode:
    • Erin's recent appearance at the Declaration of Restoration Rally, how haters are gonna hate, and how that is nothing but bad for the Second Amendment and freedom in general;
    • That new contender for the Presidency,  the anti-gun overlord himself Michael Bloomberg, and how that is an AWESOME thing for the Second Amendment;
    • And of course, the expected (and assorted) gun nuttery.

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    Show Notes

    Thursday, November 14, 2019

    And Now, Your Moment of Zen

    My glitter toss in DC proved so popular that a friend made it into an animated GIF. Thanks, Sheryl!

    Use it to indicate fabulousness. Use it to piss off humorless transphobes. Use it in whatever irresponsible manner you like, I'm not your mom.

    Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    My Nov 9 Speech on the National Mall

    Doesn't that title sound awesome? Like I'm a big shot speaking before a crowd of thousands at a televised rally in Washington, DC?

    Unfortunately, that didn't happen. We had maybe 50 people on a cold, blustery day on the wide-open Mall, and the only people filming were people with their cell phones and Ford Fisher of News 2 Share. (Who, BTW, is an awesome person whose YouTube channel was demonetized by YT for some garbage reason. He has a Patreon, so consider throwing him a few bucks a month to help support private journalism and free speech.)

    So anyway, here's my speech.

    Here's another view of it, whereby you can appreciate my lovely outfit in its entirely including my altogether too cute shoes. It's not the whole speech, but you already listened to the whole speech, so no worries, right?

    Now for those of you who are wondering why I glitter bombed myself, here's a long and rambling tirade by Chris Hill, a man who was originally involved with the Declaration of Restoration but who quit/was kicked out early on. Not only does he say some incredibly disparaging things about me, he also makes some assumptions which even the most cursory examination would dispel -- for example, he thinks that I'm a far left liberal and anti-gun because I'm queer. Please don't go to his channel and pick a fight or curse at him because of this, though; I really do want to give him the chance to honor his promise and send me $100, which I will then donate to Operation Blazing Sword.

    Tuesday, November 12, 2019

    GRPC 2019 Official Video

    The official video of my GRPC 2019 speech, with professional level picture and audio courtesy of Polite Society podcast.

    Monday, November 11, 2019

    Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 077: The Good News Show

    In This Episode:
    • Erin and Weer’d discuss the good news regarding the growth of Constitutional Carry,  the 2A Rally in DC, and Dan Gross (formerly of the Brady Campaign) speaking out as a supporter of the Second Amendment;
    • David talks about using the right ammo in your gun, and some dangerous errors to avoid;
    • and Weer'd interviews Daniel Easterday, of Easterday vs. the Village of Deerfield, about how he defeated an "assault weapons ban" in his home town.

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    Show Notes

    Main Topic:
    Gun lovers and Other Strangers
    Daniel Easterday

    Wednesday, November 6, 2019

    WNW: My Little Swearing Ponies

    For reasons I cannot explain, I find it hysterical when people dub swears onto MLP characters. I cannot explain this because, you, I maintain that these are wholesome children's characters and that is why I hate it when they are sexualized or depicted as injured, dead, or worse. They need to be innocent... and yet, I laugh like a loon when they curse. I can't explain it.

    So with that said, let's start off with a classic which I may have posted here once before: Reggie Watts' Fuck Shit Stack dubbed over Fluttershy. Warning! Extremely NSFW Fluttercussing!

    But that's just the appetizer, my friends. Now for the main course: actual NSFW bloopers from MLP's final episode! (Which I haven't yet seen, because I'm not yet ready for the series to end.)Let me tell you, Tabitha St. Germain drops some very potent bombs in this clip, and it's hilarious how smoothly such filth trips off Rarity's cultured tongue.

    As much as I love Tabitha's "Fuck me [adjective]" lines, I am absolutely enamored of her use of the word "Ballsack!" as a vulgarity.

    And as you can see, "millennium" is still giving her problems.

    Sweet lord above, I love my fandom.

    Tuesday, November 5, 2019

    Miniature Black Holes

    I don't mean black holes that exist only in a quantum state; I'm talking about the miniature black holes that exist in every one of our homes. We all have them. Yes, even the neat freaks.

    What are they, then, if not what Hawking theorized? I'm glad you asked. MBH's are gravitic anomalies which only affect objects, never living beings. Much like regular black holes, you cannot detect them directly, but you can determine their presence based upon the persistent accumulation of clutter in an area despite your best attempts to clean or organize it. Sure, you can disperse one by removing the detritus surrounding it, but it's impossible to eliminate an MBH; you can only hope that it evaporates on its own. Of course, I suppose you could move to a new house, but that just makes the MBH someone else's problem, and you'll soon discover new MBH's in your new home.

    Here are some MBHs spotted within my home, along with my observations upon their appearance, persistence and behavior.

    This is a nascent MBH, only a few hours old. It is easily disrupted by taking the containers to the garage and dumping them into the recycling bin. However, it reappears on a weekly basis, thereby demonstrating that even baby MBHs are quite tough.

    The increased size, spread and disorganization of the clutter indicates that this is a juvenile MBH. Though not quite a hardy as an adult, it nevertheless is much harder to disperse the debris surrounding it as said detritus is too useful to just throw out, yet not valuable enough to have a place of its own. It is theorized that MBHs form when clutter accumulates past a critical mass. This serves to draw in more clutter, since the semi-useful not-trash "must be put somewhere" and "this is as good a place as any to put it". It reforms near-daily.

    Vain attempts at organization have only delayed entropy, not prevented it. Soon this clutter will collapse into a full-scale adult MBH and only violent action will remove its debris; even so, it will reform within the day. Drastic steps must be taken to remove it permanently, such as removing the table from the house. Even so, it is entirely possible that such a tenacious thing merely relocate... especially if a similar surface exists nearby or another table is brought in to replace it.

    Flat surfaces are not the only places MBHs form; they also prefer corners. Despite being in bins and placed on shelves, my preps aren't neatly as tidy as I'd like. Perhaps the disorganization provides a nurturing environment for this juvenile? We may never know.

    The rarely seen catty-corner MBH. Unlike the one on the table, these do not appear to be in a state of eminent collapse; rather, they have achieved a stable orbit around each other. This stability gives them a form of harmonic resonance, making it impossible to disrupt one without disturbing the other, and the size of the adult makes that a daunting task. Thus, the smaller MBH shelters in the lee of the larger. Perhaps this is a mother and child?

    Finally, we see the effects of a supermassive MBH. Over four feet long and at least three feet high, this beast is impossible to clean up, let alone disperse. For scale is my dog Daisy, a West Highland terrier who is my rootie-tootie cutie patootie. As you can clearly see, she is herself unaffected by the MBH and can move from it at any time.

    Further study into the creation, persistence, and dispersion of miniature black holes is desperately needed. If you have observed any forming in your houses or places of work, please submit your data for analysis.

    Monday, November 4, 2019

    Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 076: Drilling Down

    In This Episode:
    • Erin and Weer’d discuss some alleged controversial statements made by Tom King of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association;
    • Oddball discusses defensive fixed blade knives;
    • David tells us more tales from the armorer's bench;
    • and Weer'd brings us part two of his interview with Logan Metesh on the life and innovations of Dieudonné Saive.

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    Show Notes

    Main Topic:
    Oddball’s Corner Pocket:
    Gun lovers and Other Strangers:
    High Caliber History:

    Monday, October 28, 2019

    Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 075: The Good, the Bad, and the Silly

    In This Episode:
    • Erin and Weer’d discuss the very confusing story of a California man who held AR-15 build parties and was arrested for... reasons?
    • The Egghead gives us a follow up on water purification;
    • David gives us a segment on the history of bullet molds;
    • and Weer'd interviews Logan Metesh of High Caliber History on the life of Dieudonné Saive.

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    Show Notes

    Main Topic:
    General Purpose Egghead:
    Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:
    High Caliber History:

    Sunday, October 27, 2019

    My speech to the Libertarian Party of Orange County, FL

    Recorded Oct 15, 2019 in Orlando, FL.

    I apologize for the poor video quality. It was recorded over a webcam (not mine) and streamed over restaurant wifi.

    Monday, October 21, 2019

    Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 074: No One Expects the Palette Inquisition!

    In This Episode:
    This week we bring you another ACP Round Table episode, where we talk about:

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    Show Notes

    Already linked above.

    Friday, October 18, 2019

    Player Characters in Mass Combat for Pathfinder

    Battle of Grunwald by Jan Matejko (1878)

    There are many rules in Pathfinder for adjudicating battles against armies; I highly recommend Mass Combat Rules for Pathfinder by Saraiso, aka Sarah Wilson, which takes the rules from Paizo's Ultimate Campaign and melds them with cherries picked from Legendary Games' Ultimate Battle and her own ideas.

    The problem with these rules is that, although they are very good, they fail to address a critical question: How do you account for player characters in mass battle? Skirmishes, which are most fights in Pathfinder, can take several hours to play out; playing through a pitched battle on such a scale would take forever. Clearly, some manner of abstraction is needed, preferably one where the players themselves can participate in the fight and whose decisions can help shift the tide of battle.

    I eventually settled upon adapting the mass combat rules from the excellent Legend of the 5 Rings RPG, where the players could choose the level of their characters' engagement (in the Reserves, Disengaged, Engaged, or Heavily Engaged) and then by consulting a matrix of engagement level and whether their army was winning, losing, or holding steady I could determine how badly their characters were hurt, if they contributed to the success of the battle, and how glorious their deeds were.

    I playtested these rules last weekend. My PCs were engaged in a "Magnificent Seven" style battle last weekend, except on a much larger scale as they defended a community of deep gnomes against an invading drow army. For a playtest they worked well enough, although there is clearly room for improvement. It is my hope that enough experienced players and GMs will help me polish out the imperfections and deliver a more streamlined system.

    Morning of the Battle of Agincourt, 25 October 1415, by Sir John Gilbert

    Flow of Battle
    1. Consult the Battle Matrix (see below). Roll 1d6 to determine how many Heroic Opportunities there will be in a battle, then determine their placement using a d6 for X and Y coordinates. 
    2. Run the battle using Saraiso's rules. After running the Melee phase but before the Rout phase, consult these rules for the Hero phase (Phase 3.5). 
    3. Determine if the PC's army is currently winning the battle, losing the battle, or evenly matched. Generally the army which has inflicted the most damage upon the other in the Ranged and Melee phases is winning; in cases where the damage is minimal or a tie, whoever won the Tactical Initiative is winning the battle. If it's still not clear, assume the battle is Even. 
    4. Have the players place their characters in one of four categories: Reserves, Disengaged, Engaged, Heavily Engaged. 
      • Reserves are the furthest from the fighting you can be and still be considered in the battle. This is where many spellcasters choose to stand, either to heal the wounded or to cast battle-affecting spells. Siege engines and their operators are in this band as well. 
        • Feats required: Far Shot to hit the enemy with non-siege ranged weapons. (Spells are not weapons.)
      • Disengaged is where most ranged attackers are, such as archers, crossbowyers, gunslingers, javelineers, etc. as well as spellcasters who are casting combat spells. 
        •  Precise Shot to hit the enemy with ranged weapons.
      • Engaged is where the action is. Some ranged attacks are possible, but this is mainly the province of melee fighters. 
        • Feats required: Shot on the Run to hit the enemy with ranged weapons. 
        • Spellcasters must Cast Defensively or suffer +1d6 damage from Attacks of Opportunity.
      • Heavily Engaged is the tip of the spear where the fighting is at its most brutal. Only the most skilled fighters and the heavily armored can hope to last long here. 
        • Feats required: Snap Shot hit the enemy with ranged weapons. 
        • Spellcasters must Cast Defensively or suffer +1d6 damage from Attacks of Opportunity.
    5. TIP: it is recommended that you group the PCs by engagement level, starting with those Heavily Engaged and working your way to Reserves. 
    6. Each PC rolls 1d20 + AC + their best to-hit bonus. This is called the Battle Roll, and represents how well they do in combat both offensively and defensively. Compare it to the leftmost column to determine which row they are in. 
    7. Based on their level of engagement and the success of their army, find their position on the chart. Roll for damage and assign Fame. 
    8. If there is a Heroic Opportunity on that chart position, ask the player if they wish to make use of it. If so, see Heroic Opportunities, below. If not, move to the next player. 
    9. When all PCs have taken damage and earned Fame, resume the mass battle at Phase 4 - Rout.
    10. When the battle is concluded, tally up the total Fame for each PC. See Fame, below, for more information. 

    Battle Matrix
    Locations of Heroic Opportunities are in bold.

    Actions in Combat
    Player characters do more than trade blows and take damage in skirmishes, and so it is in mass battle as well. Once per turn, a PC may take ONE action:
    • Move up or down one level of engagement
    • Drink a potion
    • Use a scroll
    • Cast a spell upon himself or another PC (both must be at the same level of engagement)
    • Channel energy
    • Expend rage
    • Use Bardic or Raging song
    Using scrolls or casting spells at any level above Disengaged requires Casting Defensively.

    Battle of Neville's Cross by Jean Froissart

    Heroic Opportunities
    Because the player characters are heroes, their presence can shift the tides of battle if they are in the right place at the right time. This occurs when their Battle Rolls place them in a spot on the Matrix where a Heroic Opportunity is indicated.

    Heroic Opportunities should be individualized for the character based on his abilities and position within battle. For example, a bard might notice a unit about to rout and rouse them to victory with a use of Inspire Courage, whereas a cleric might channel energy at the right time to heal the wounded or a wizard might engage in a long-range duel with another spellcaster. The actual details are unimportant so long as they suit the PC and thrill the player.

    The mechanics of Heroic Opportunities are as follows:
    1. The player is notified of the Heroic Opportunity for his character. If he accepts, that is his Action in Combat (see above) for the round. If he declines, he can take another action but the Opportunity is lost. 
    2. Based on the situation the GM describes, have the PC roll something suitable such as Profession: Soldier, a Saving Throw, a To Hit roll, a Caster Level Check, etc. The DC should be high but not impossible; something in the range of character level + 15 or 20 should do. 
    3. If the PC succeeds, he earns double the Fame for this round and the GM applies a modifier to one of the armies this round. This is typically a +1 to OM, DV, Morale or Tactical Initiative to his army, or a -1 to OM, DV, Morale or Tactical Initiative to an opposing army. 
    4. If the PC fails, he wounds he suffered this turn are doubled. 

    Fame is used to reward player characters for their valiant deeds in battle in lieu of experience points. This way, no one is penalized for for having fewer hit points or a lower armor class than others and all PCs continue to progress along the same XP track. 

    After a battle, tally up the Fame totals for each character, then consult this table from Pathfinder Society. This represents found magical items scavenged from dead enemies, treasure looted from bodies, noblemen taken ransom, and so forth. This gold piece value can be used to upgrade existing equipment or purchase new magical items with GM permission.

    Unused Fame
    If a character has more fame than can be used (for example, she has 29 Fame, and uses 27 of it to acquire 11,750 gp of magical upgrades) then she must choose one or more of the following:
    1. Bank it for the next Mass Combat;
    2. Convert it into skill levels of Profession: Soldier (depending on circumstance, Profession: Sailor or Profession: Siege Engineer might also be appropriate);
    3. Keep it to use as a Morale bonus for all Charisma-related skills (each point of Fame so used gives a +1 to the skill check up to character level; such points are deducted from the Fame total);
    4. With GM permission, given to another character so they may reach a higher Fame tier.

    The Battle of Towton by Richard Caton Woodville Jr.

    Known Problems & Desired Fixes
    As mentioned, this is a playtest and not everything has been worked out or sufficiently balanced. It is entirely possible that some of my numbers are too high or too low and need to be adjusted. I welcome feedback on this issue. 

    Here are the problems I have:
    1. I do not know if the Battle Roll is properly balanced. My 5th level PCs scored consistently high, but that might be because of my failure with #2 below. It has been suggested that I halve the total of the Battle Roll, and possibly add 1/2 the PC's level to it as well. Math isn't my strong suit so I don't know if this would be a good fix or not. 
    2. Battle turns are measured in hours, which means that most buffing spells and class abilities will not last for the entirety of the battle. My mistake was that I thought they were measured in minutes and so allowed the buffs to carry throughout the battle. This might account for my players' remarkable success; it might have also kept them alive when in fact my numbers were too lethal. I need more playtesting on this to be sure. 
      • My players and I both agree that 1 battle turn = 1 hour is too damn long. The battle I GM'd ran for 4 turns, which seemed like a good length of time for a battle as it took most of the evening and left the PCs feeling satisfied. 
      • Following the Mass Battle rules as written, that means the battle I ran would have lasted for FOUR HOURS. This is too long for anyone to fight without experiencing severe fatigue and/or retiring to the reserves to rest. 
      • Since fatigue in battle is not a feature of Saraiso's rules, I feel it reasonable to house-rule the duration of each battle round to 10 or 15 minutes (I'm still undecided on which it should be). 
      • This makes is somewhat easier to adjudicate buffs, although I confess I still don't know what to do with buffs which last less than half a battle turn. 
      • I am aware that some medieval battles lasted for hours; Agincourt took 3 and Hasting was 8+. I don't know how to handle this because I don't know how to model exhaustion of forces in the field and how they cna be replaced by reserves. This is a problem with the Mass Battle rules, and while somewhat of a cop-out I feel the most honest answer is "This article isn't trying to fix those rules, just find a way to incorporate PCs into them."
      • That said, if people want to take a hand at fixing those problem I'd love to hear their solutions. 
    3. As PCs increase in level, they will quickly top out the matrix. I would like for the DC to vary according to their level to that the matrix can be used for all parties regardless of their level. The rows probably ought to be measured as DC [level] + [base number] but I'm not sure what each [base number] ought to be. 
    4. Is Fame too high? I don't know. I don't think it is, but as stated my players all have 5th level characters. Perhaps it's too high for lower level characters; perhaps it's insultingly low for higher level characters. 
    5. I don't know if random assignment of Heroic Opportunities is the right way to go. I do know that I want them weighted towards the harder end of the spectrum, but I also know that I want them to be available to all characters instead of just the front-line combatants. More risk ought to equal more reward, and I don't wish to hand out HO's like participation trophies, yet I also want to give wizards a chance to shine as well. This, like the Battle Roll, is probably a job for a mathematician or a statistician and not a grammar nerd like me. 
    I welcome any and all feedback on these rules. I hope you find them interesting and useful, and that they find a place within your game. 

    Monday, October 14, 2019

    Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 073: Kind of a Big Deal

    In This Episode:
    • Erin and Weer’d discuss an anti-gun town hall held at a gun club, Bernie Sanders’ health issues, and Kamala Harris’ lack of compassion;
    • Oddball talks about camping hammocks and how to use them properly;
    • and Weer’d interviews Dr. Miguel Faria about his new book, America, Guns, and Freedom.

    Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that’s $1/podcast) and you’ll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

    Show Notes

    Main Topic:
    Oddball’s Corner Pocket:
    Dr. Miguel Faria:

    The Fine Print

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

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