Thursday, December 31, 2020

Monday, December 28, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 133: The Christmas Round Table Special


In This Episode
Join Erin, Weer'd, Oddball, and David as we discuss the latest kicks in the ribs by 2020,  then celebrate the Holiday Season by unpacking gifts, and finally fulfill our contract of being a Second Amendment podcast by talking a bit about the foolishness of gun laws.

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Show Notes

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Happy Holidays


It's been that kind of year, hasn't it?

May your holidays be merry and bright, and may 2021 be better than 2020 was!

(...not like that's a huge bar to clear by any means.)

Erin Palette

Monday, December 21, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 132: Next They'll Come For Our Plumbing Fixtures


In This Episode
  • Erin and Weer’d discuss the recent ATF Raid on Polymer 80, and ponder the scary implications of this action;
  • Oddball brings us a review of a... thing... that might be called a knife if you were feeling charitable;
  • Weer'd interviews Sarah Albrecht, founder of Hold My Guns;
  • and Steve tells a story about insurance fraud on a massive scale.

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

Saturday, December 19, 2020

V5: the Vampire Companion

The 5th edition of Vampire: the Masquerade debuted August 1, 2018. More than two years later, players finally get to see the 5th edition rules for the Ravnos, Salubri and Tzimisce in this free book, the Vampire Companion

Executive Summary: Well... it's free. If I had paid more than a few dollars for it, I would be quite upset at the lack of quality in this book.  

Part I: The Clans and Their Aptitudes 

Well, the good news is that they've gotten past the racist "all Ravnos are gypsies and all gypsies are thieves" clan weakness that's been around since the early days of the game. 

The bad news is that the clan's new Bane and Compulsion are tied into 1999's Week of Nightmares where the clan founder died and nearly all Ravnos went mad and killed each other and then themselves. 

So, setting apart the fact that nearly every single VtM GM that I know of has said "Sod that, the Week of Nightmares was the result of the game publisher shutting down the game line. I hate what they did and I'm going to ignore that garbage"... what if your game is set pre-1999? This is a clan that's been around for thousands of years, and yet there's no provision for pre-WoN Ravnos characters. So if you want to play a Ravnos any time before, you're either stuck with a dumb weakness or have to make your own. That's not just sloppy writing, that's an outright failure of game design.

My Ravnos writeup is superior, as it allows you to play the Ravnos in any era. 

Speaking of my writeup, I am amused by how close the "official" Discipline mix came to my writeup. The original was Animalism, Fortitude, and Chimerstry (illusion powers); I rightly assumed that Chimerstry would be an amalgam of Obfuscate and Presence. I replaced Fortitude with Celerity because I felt it fit the concept better; for some reason, the designers felt that Animalism fit them better instead. I don't care for it, but I suppose I could live with it in a game. 

As for the amalgam powers themselves, they're also pretty close to mine except for the following:
  • There are only 2 of them instead of 3. 
  • The first is a second-level Discipline, which I dislike. 
  • There is no high-level power where you convince someone the illusion actually hurt them. 
  • They use Manipulation instead of Resolve. I get why they did that -- you are after all trying to manipulate someone into believing an illusion is real -- but given the difficulty in crafting an illusion which must be believable, and to some degree persistent, falls more under Resolve in my book.

Thanks, I hate it. 

Here's a clan which, in canon, has a wholly unique power of healing, protection, and peacemaking. It's also one of the original clans. This means that more than any other, it deserves its own discipline, right?

Nope! the Companion replaces Valeran with Dominate, and you get three powers which are amalgams of Auspex/Dominate and Auspex/Fortitude. About the best thing I can say about this is that the authors thought to have a power which healed Willpower damage, and I didn't. My version is still better, though, as it gives you a lot more choices in how you want to build your character: healer, guardian, or peacemaker. 

Their weakness is similarly stupid. In previous editions they were portrayed as the most humane of all vampires, and and such if they fed upon the unwilling they literally damaged themselves. This made sense. However, their new V5 weakness is that their blood is delicious and if another vampire starts to drink, they find it very difficult to stop. 

I'll say that again: This clan, which lasted for THOUSANDS of years, somehow managed to do so with a giant "Eat Me" weakness. No. It's dumb. Go away. 

Their clan compulsion, at least, isn't terrible. But that's because it's close to what I use. 


Look, guys, this shouldn't be difficult. Nearly all of the work has been done for you over the past 20 years. Just convert them to V5 and make sure they are properly creepy, inhuman Dracula-type  vampires and you're good to go. 

Sadly, this isn't good to go. 

On the good side: They've given them the exact same discipline mix as I did (Animalism, Dominate, Protean) for exactly the same reasons. They've also made the Fiends' signature fleshcrafting abilities an amalgam of Dominate and Protean, like I suggested. This amuses me. 

As for Vicissitude, again the designers insist on making the amalgams start at level 2, which bothers me because these were signature powers in previous editions and so I feel they ought to be accessible early. That said, they have the same spread I proposed of "Change yourself, change others, turn into a monster," although some powers don't quite line up. I will go over this later in greater detail because I think there's some good meat on these bones that could be put to use in my version. I do think I covered more rule cases then they did, and so I expect errata for these powers will come out at some point. There's also a Level 5 Animalism/Protean amalgam, One With the Land, which I had not thought of and will cheerfully steal for my own use. 

On the 'meh' side: Well, I don't hate their Bane of "must sleep surrounded by something the define as theirs, be it land, a chosen kind of people, etc" and could live with it in a game. I think that it totally misses the point of a Bane, because there really isn't much of a penalty at all during play unless the adventure calls you out of town or the GM decides to screw with your haven, and it doesn't do anything with the notorious Tzimisce codes of hospitality. Again, I did it better. 

On the bad side: the clan Compulsion is stupid. "Hurr durr. We're called Dragons, and so our Compulsion is to covet and hoard shit like a stereotypical dragon on a pile of treasure." The writers are reaching too far and trying too hard to be cute. 

On the ugly side: Here are sample stats for Szlachta and Vozhd. No, there are no rules for making your own. Worse, apparently all Vozhd and some Szlachta require Blood Sorcery to make. Did I mention that Blood Sorcery is not one of the Tzimisce's disciplines?

Right. So, to make these iconic servants, they need a power which isn't native to them and there are no rules for how to build them in the first place. Fuck you, game designers. This isn't just sloppy, this is outright insulting. 

Also, there is mention of the Sabbat and the Tzimisce membership therein, but nothing specifically about this sect. I can't really call this sloppy as the Sabbat really needs its own companion volume like the Camarilla and Anarchs received, but this absence of information about what the sect is up to in the V5 era is certainly conspicuous and jarring. 

Part II: Clans and Coteries
This is about 2/3rds fluff, 1/3rd crunch. That said, it's fairly good fluff and somewhat useful crunch; the fluff is "how stereotypical clan members act in coteries (read: PC party) and treat the other members (read: player characters)," which is good information for people new to the game and a useful guideline for the GM to show problem players.

The crunch is a clan-specific merit which benefits the coterie in a direct, mechanical way. While interesting in theory, some merits are more useful than others: the two point Tzimisce "Old World Hospitality" merit grants everyone in the coterie an extra recovered Willpower point if they stay the day in the Tzimisce's haven, but the two point Ventrue "Kindred Legacies" merit means that once per session a player can as the GM to reveal a piece of relevant information about the history of a single vampire with whom they’ve come in contact. If you ask me, the former is vastly more useful than the latter, and they both cost the same. 

Oh, fun fact: Despite being introduced in this very book, there is no coterie merit for the Salubri clan. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy! There's no excuse for this. 

Part III: Mortals and Ghouls as PCs

For the most part, this is exactly what it says on the box. Character creation is simple and to the point, and I don't know why this was left out of the main book. 

I would have enjoyed a more in-depth treatment of what is involved to make mortals who are vampire hunters, but there are already books like that out there in previous editions. What we needed was a mechanical update, and we got one. 

The most interesting thing about this is that the rules specifically state that even though humans don't have to worry about their bestial hunger driving them to commit acts of predation, dominance and cruelty like vampires do, they still have a Humanity Rating and that it can go down. Some of you are saying "Well, duh" but I recall more than one hard-headed Person Who Is Wrong On The Internet making the claim that all humans have a Humanity of 10 by virtue of being human. Yes, they really are saying that serial killers have a higher Humanity score than vampires who take pains not to hurt humans. Sit on this and rotate, jerks. 

Again, why was this not in the main book? We have some good fluff about what it's like to be a ghoul, how they interact with vampire society, and so forth. Character generation is almost identical to that of mortals, so I don't understand why it was repeated. 

There are some interesting ghoul-specific rules here, which are nice to see. I was curious how ghouls would work mechanically since the "leaky gas tank" system of previous editions is gone. I personally think more thought could have gone into this, but since a lot of games treat ghouls as speed bumps or staff to handle things offscreen, I can understand why they wouldn't go into more depth. (I, however, might do so later...)

Short version:
  • Ghouls heal twice as quickly as mortals, excepting fire damage. Since they no longer have "blood points" to spend to heal, this is a nice simplification. 
  • Upon ghouling, they get a level one power in any Discipline possessed by their master. 
  • They don't actually have Disciplines, but are considered to have one dot for purposes of using the powers. 
  • They can buy more level 1 powers for 10 points each, even powers their masters don't have. 
  • They cannot buy powers in Disciplines their masters don't have.
  • If they ever have to make a Rouse Check, they take 1 point of aggravated damage instead. 
  • There is no specific ruling on what happens to those powers if their masters die or they get new ones. The Rule of Fair indicates that XP spent in such a manner should not be lost, but whether those points are refunded for reallocation or the old powers remain is left unstated.  
Finally, there are some ghoul-specific merits and flaws. 

This is by far the best and most useful section of the companion, and I feel that it should have been one of the first supplements introduced. 

Part IV: Errata and Rules Update
Why has it taken over two years for errata to have officially been released? That aside, here are the changes:
  • Blood Surge increases by one for all Blood Potency values. 
  • Bane Severity increases in the same manner. 
  • Compulsions now canonically can result from Messy Criticals as well as Bestial Failures. (I say 'canonically' because my GM and others have been using this rule for as long as I've been playing V5.)
  • Taking Half has been introduced as the V5 version of D&D's Take Ten. You count your dice pool, cut it in half, and apply that number as successes. 
  • The "Lingering Kiss" power has been rewritten. 

In Conclusion
The content that most players were waiting for was done poorly, and the good parts weren't long enough. 

It's probably good that it's free, because if people paid money for this they'd be incensed. On the other hand, if it were a paid product maybe the publishers could have afforded to hire better people to write this farce. 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 131: To Bidet, or Not to Bidet? That is the Question


To bidet, or not to bidet? That is the question —
Whether ’tis nobler in the hinder to suffer
The toilet paper's outrageous prices,
Or to put rears against a stream of water,
And, by opposing, wash them?

In This Episode

  • Erin and Weer’d discuss bidets and their utility, both in general use and also in the face of another toilet paper shortage;
  • we also cover more lies from the anti-gunners and an anti-gun Santa Claus ruining Christmas for a young boy;
  • David talks about the history and pronunciation of the M1 Carbine;
  • and the ACP House Dick Steve talks about integrity, as a private investigator in specific and as a business owner in general.

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Show Notes

Main Topic:

Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:

Monday, December 7, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 130: Shooting Bugs? or Just Shooting the Breeze?


In This Episode

  • Erin and Weer’d discuss Bloomberg's propaganda for the Thanksgiving table,  as well as the phenomenal sale of the PHLster Enigma Holster Chassis;
  • then Oddball is joined by a special guest to talk about the Bug-A-Salt insect-killing "gun";
  • and then Weer'd fisks Senator-Elect John Hickenlooper as he speaks with the Giffords Anti-Gun Lobby.

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Show Notes

Monday, November 30, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 129: Erin is Dreading Black Friday


In This Episode

  • Erin and Weer’d discuss some new events in the Kyle Rittenhouse case;
  • Connie returns with a new Washington in Plain English segment where she discusses her work with the nonprofit organization Every Legal Vote;
  • and then Weer'd sits down with Sarah and Jon Hauptman of PHLster Holsters to talk about the Enigma Holster Chassis.

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Show Notes

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Padraig O'Malley

I have wanted, for quite a long time now, to make a halfling bare-knuckles brawler in either D&D or Pathfinder. I have wanted this mainly because I think it would be hysterical to play what is essentially the embodiment of the Notre Dame mascot -- for some reason, halflings always have Irish accents in my minds -- but also because it would be a challenge to make an effective fighting character when starting from the standpoint of "penalty to strength and lacks reach."

Unfortunately, the challenge proved too great for many years. The closest I could come was do dual-class between Barbarian (for the Rage) and Monk (for the martial arts), but those had the twin problems of conflicting alignments and reduced progression in both classes. I tried it with straight Fighter, but while the extra feats were nice, the standard D&D Fighter tended to be an armored tank, not a supple pugilist. 

Then the Advanced Class Guide introduced the aptly-named Brawler class, and I knew I'd found my holy grail. A hybrid of Fighter and Monk, it gave me the best of both worlds: a good Base Attack Bonus progression, d10 hit points, and slew of class features specializing in unarmed attack (Improved Unarmed Strike at lvl 1, Flurry of Blows at level 2, etc). Then I discovered the Mutagenic Mauler archetype, whereby the Brawler would drink an alchemical elixir to make like Mr. Hyde and gain bonuses to a physical stat and natural armor. 

Then things got crazy. The campaign I was in used the World is Square rules, which does away with a lot of the annoying Feats that you have to take to get to the good stuff, like Weapon Finesse or Improved [Whatever], and that made the idea of a halfling Brawler not just viable, but downright deadly. Now I could make attacks based off Dexterity instead of Strength and being small was an advantage due to the AC bonus and the Underfoot alternate racial trait. 

But what made me laugh hysterically was the realization that my bare-knuckles brawler could also be a _wrestler_. Halflings with the Brawler favored class can get a +1 to the Combat Maneuver Bonus to Grapple... and I could take a feat at second level to make me a nasty grappler... oh, and did you realize that not only do Dan Bongs give you +2 to Grapple, but that bonus is untyped? Meaning that it stacks if you have a second dan bong in your other hand? And that all Brawlers get Two-Weapon Fighting for free at second level? And that there's no restriction on what size creatures you can grapple?

With that, I present to you Padraig O'Malley. He's currently 3rd level in our game, and if he can't punch it unconscious, he'll grapple it... and even if it's able to escape the grapple, that's a good way to tie up the enemy's actions so that your party can retreat/regroup/heal. Oh, and it's a REALLY good way to prevent spellcasters from casting spells. My ultimate goal is for him to grapple something ridiculously huge, like a dragon or the Tarrasque. He'll be the guy trying to headbutt it into submission as he clings tenaciously to its ear. 

Here's his character sheet (PDF).

Here's the image I used as inspiration:

And here's his backstory, as requested by the GM (he wanted plot hooks and why we were adventuring in a hive of scum and villainy. It's worth noting that this game is set in the World of Greyhawk

Padraig O'Malley was born in the Shireland, a halfling community in the Duchy of Tenh, to an impoverished family of farmers and sheepherders some 31 years ago. He was the oldest of three boys, and while not the strongest or the smartest of the lot, he was certainly the quickest. The rowdier boys in the Shireland did their best to pick on him, but they quickly discovered that he had a quick jab, a nasty right hook, and a wicked eye for shot placement, and he was soon left alone. 

However, his younger siblings were not as skilled as he. His middle brother Coinneach was fair of face and slender of build, and was often the target of jealous rage by the jilted suitors of the girls he was wooing. Ronan, the youngest, was small and weak but had a sharp mind, and his parents hoped that he could be apprenticed to the Church, or perhaps even to a wizard. They couldn't have seemed more like victims if they'd tried, and Padraig spent much of his early life trying to protect them both. 

One day, while driving the sheep to market, both Coinneach and Ronan were assaulted. Ronan was beaten unconscious, and  Coinneach had his face disfigured by a club. They both lived, but  Coinneach was blind in one eye and Ronan was left traumatized by the assault. 

In the words of Padraig, "This be where ah lost me fookin' temper." He went to the local tavern and... spent all the money he had on the most expensive bottle of liquor he could find. Then he went into the forest, found a faerie ring, and stepped into it. 

When he woke up the next morning, he was a different man. Older, meaner, sharper around the edges. The years spent in the faerie mound had taught him the secret fighting art of Boo-Tin as well as the knowledge of how to mix Poitín, a special liniment guaranteed to relax aching muscles and strip paint off walls (90% alcohol by volume). Padraig then went back to town, found the villagers who had assaulted his family in a nearby inn. He drank the Poitín, kicked the door open, and shouted "Me name's Padraig O'FOOKING Malley, and I'm here to kick the arses o' the blaggards what hurt me brothers!"

Padraig doesn't remember much after that. It's all a red-coated haze. He knows that he beat several of them to death, and one of them was the son of the local Sheriff, and so he regretfully went on the run. Several villages over, he settled in a part of the Shireland near the border to the Bandit Kingdoms, doing menial farm work.  He met a bonnie lass named Dægeseage (Daisy) and settled down with her. Padraig and found contentment. 

One day he came back from a hard day of work in the fields to find that the cottage he and Dægeseage lived in had been ransacked, the front door hanging open. He rushed inside, fearing the worst, only to find that the woman he loved was gone. The local constables weren't of any help, stating that it was likely a slaving party from the Bandit Kingdoms and that his wife was gone forever. 

Padraig quietly mixed a fresh batch of Poitín, locked up the cottage, tendered his resignation to his employer, and walked into the Kingdoms. He didn't know where to look, but that kind of thing never stopped him before. He'd walk until he found someone and ask them if they knew anything, and if they gave him any trouble he'd kick a mudhole in them. If he has to punch everyone inside the Bandit Kingdoms, that's fine with him; it keeps his mind off his grief. 

Why yes, I do speak with an outrageous Irish accent when playing Padraig. However did you guess?

Monday, November 23, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 128: Grumpy Old Podcasters


In This Episode

  • Erin and Weer’d discuss a new research paper that analyzes gun ownership in the Jim Crow South;
  • Xander brings us his Independent Thoughts on how gun owners are Guilty Until Proven Innocent;
  • David gives us a historical accounting on the preservative known as Cosmoline;
  • and Weer'd sits down to interview the cast of Wrighthouse Radio.

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Show Notes

Monday, November 9, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 126: Hold My Guns


In This Episode

  • Erin and Weer’d discuss the cancellation of SHOT show 2021, the passing of film legend Sir Sean Connery, and a charity called Hold My Guns that lets people store their guns at local gun shops for safe keeping;
  • then Weer'd fisks Sandy Phillips's gun prohibition Zoom presentation.

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Show Notes

Sunday, November 8, 2020

V5: the Clan of Death

In the mythology of Vampire: the Masquerade, there is a clan of vampires who did not achieve their position in the usual manner of "being a descendant of one of the 13 whom Caine embraced before the Flood." Instead, they diablerized the unsuspecting Antedeluvian of another clan, thereby becoming a clan in their own right, but this heinous act marked them as the enemies of the other kindred and to survive they needed to rely upon their magical abilities, subjugated supernatural soldiers, and their own tight-knit structure to survive. To this day they are mistrusted and seen as being only out for themselves. 

Quickly now: am I talking about the Tremere, or am I talking about the Giovanni?

Unfortunately, the answer is both. The Giovanni are just a re-skin of the Tremere, with Necromancy instead of Thaumaturgy and Potence instead of Auspex. The similarity was only reinforced in the 3rd edition (aka Revised) when Necromancy was given multiple magical paths in exactly the same manner as Thaumaturgy. I always preferred the Cappadocians, the original Clan of Death introduced in Vampire: the Dark Ages, who approached the study of the afterlife from a spiritual and scholarly aspect rather than from one of power and manipulation and whose disciplines were Auspex, Fortitude, and Necromancy. 

As it turns out, the writers for this version of VtM agree with me at least in part, because they have decided to rename the clan of death Hecata. I assume this is a reference to Hecate, the three-faced Greek goddess of magic (including necromancy) due to the fact that the Hecata are an amalgamation of the Giovanni, the surviving members of the Giovanni, and all the other death-related bloodlines like the Samedi and the Nagaraja. On the one hand, this is good because it ties up a lot of loose ends in the form of errant bloodlines tied to a meta-story. On the other, it's bad and lazy because, suddenly and magically, all of these bloodlines with their formerly disparate powers and weaknesses now all have the same disciplines (Auspex, Fortitude, Oblivion) and bane (the Giovanni weakness of dealing extra damage when feeding -- which, if used properly, can become a benefit in combat). 

What's worse is that the V5 writers have decided that the shadow powers of the Lasombra come from the same netherworldly source as the Hecata's necromancy, and now canon Lasombra have Dominate, Oblivion, and Potence. So now not only do the Lasombra resemble pre-V5 Giovanni, they also have access to necromantic powers... which rather puts the lie to the Hecata's claim as the "clan of death", doesn't it? Ugh. 

By the by, this is why I made my version of the Lasombra jettison the whole "shadow power" concept. Not only was Obtenetration reductive ("We're the clan called 'The Shadow' and we have shadow powers"), but it also opened a huge can of worms by making the Hecata no longer unique and giving the power-hungry Lasombra access to too much power. 

So, with all that said, here is my version of the Clan of Death. In terms of game heresy it's worse than my Tzimisce writeup but not as bad as my non-Obtenebration Lasombra. Much like in Cult of the Blood Gods it integrates the Giovanni and Samedi back into the mother clan but, if I may say so myself, my version does it less awkwardly by ignoring a lot of the metaplot-backstory baggage which caused all the problems in the first place. This also nicely explains how and why the Cappadocians have managed to get along without the Camarilla: they are effectively a sect in their own right, and much like the Banu Haquim of previous editions* they are too useful and too powerful to alienate but too insular and too disturbing to be kept close. 

Also, for those who are wondering about the Nagaraja, I left them out because I think they're too interesting to be a mere bloodline. I'm going to tweak their concept (and probably their disciplines) to see if I can't come up with a clan that has a distinct flavor of India and Central Asia. 

* I am NOT a fan of the Assassin Clan joining the Camarilla. I preferred them as NPCs who did awful things for payment in large quantities of vitae, not the Cam's new enforcement branch. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Interviewed at "The 19th"

It was a pleasure to be interviewed for this article. 

Hopefully 2020 will have as its silver lining the normalization of firearm ownership.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 125: Deepfake Necromantic Blood Dancing


In This Episode

  • Erin and Weer’d discuss Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation as the newest Justice to the US Supreme Court  and a story of abuse of the Red Flag laws in Canada;
  • Loveball gives us a boots-on-the-ground report of what it's like to attend first Grade in 2020;
  • and Weer'd fisks someone who has crossed the line by turning to Digital Necromancy in order to further his gun prohibition crusade.

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Show Notes

Saturday, October 31, 2020

In Nomine: Christopher, Archangel of Innocence


In the role-playing game In Nomine, Christopher is the Archangel of Children. I have a problem with that, because while the concept of "Children" is important, is it actually of Archangel-level importance? And if it is, doesn't that suggest the concepts of "Mothers" and "Fathers" should also be Archangel level?

My opinion is that "Children" is too specific, so I expanded that to "Innocence". This sounds like Innocents, which is what children are, but is also so much more than that. 

So this is, to use fan terminology, a deeply heretical version of Christopher. I've basically changed everything about this except for his name and choir to fit my vision. I'm sure a lot of hard-core In Nomine players will hate this, and I'm okay with that. If you like this, please drop me a note to let me know!

Google Docs version HERE

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

My Rally for Your 2A Rights speech

In case you weren't able to watch our Virtual Rally last Saturday, here's the video! It's cued up to where I speak, and there is a transcript of my speech below. 


Hello! My name is Erin Palette, the National Coordinator of the Pink Pistols and the founder of Operation Blazing Sword. The Pink Pistols were founded in July 2000, and its philosophy is “Armed Queers Don’t Get Bashed.” I founded Operation Blazing Sword the day after the 2016 Pulse Massacre to facilitate firearms education for gun-curious queer people who wanted a gun for self-defense but didn’t feel comfortable going to gun stores or shooting ranges. Both organizations merged in 2018, which makes us the largest pro-gun queer group in the United States, if not the world.

It may come as a surprise to some people that I am queer and support the Second Amendment. But how can I not? According to a study by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, as many as 25% of all queer people are victims of hate-based violence. In fact, 60% of all hate violence in 2017 was against queer people! If the Pulse Massacre taught us anything, it’s that we are no longer hated as individuals by those who wish to do us harm -- we’re hated as an entire demographic. We can no longer make excuses that a victim of hate violence was in the wrong place at the wrong time, or made a pass at a homophobe; instead, it is obvious that who want us dead are willing to seek us out to make that happen. 

In any emergency which affects us, we are our own first responders. I don’t carry a tourniquet because I think I’m a paramedic; I carry one because if a loved one is bleeding out, without immediate medical attention they could die in the time it takes for an ambulance to reach me. I don’t have a fire extinguisher in my kitchen because I think I’m a firefighter; I have one because it gives me the ability to respond immediately to a small fire instead of waiting helplessly while my house burns down. And I carry a gun not because I think I’m a police officer, but because if my life is threatened by someone intent upon causing me harm, I can drive them off or hold them at gunpoint, instead of being at their mercy until the police arrive… which, in the case of the Pulse Massacre, was over an hour.

In The Rights of the Colonists, Samuel Adams wrote that we have a right to life, to liberty, and to property; as well as the right to support and defend those other rights as best we can. I am here to tell you today that our right to life is meaningless if we lack the ability to defend it from those who mean to take it from us, and that’s why I support the Second Amendment. Firearms are the great equalizer which allow the weak, the disabled, the elderly, and the ill to defend themselves with an equal or greater chance of success against those predators who are larger than us, stronger than us, have a position of power over us, or who outnumber us. Guns, like fire extinguishers and tourniquets, give me the tools I need to defend my life, my home and my loved ones while waiting for the professionals to arrive. 

It is because of that I believe gun rights are human rights, just as queer rights are human rights. In fact, I believe that gun rights ARE queer rights, and the logic behind that is quite simple:

· I have the right to live.
· There are people who wish to end my life because I am queer.
· Guns allow me to defend my queer life.
∴ Therefore, guns preserve queer lives.

· Guns cannot preserve queer lives if queer people cannot carry them.
· Gun rights means that all law-abiding citizens can carry guns for self-defense.
· By carrying a gun, I can defend my queer life.
∴ Therefore, gun rights are pro-queer.

· The right to self-defense -- gun rights --  are human rights.
· Loving whomever I want -- my sexuality -- is a human right.
· Living as I wish -- my gender identity -- is a human right.
∴ Therefore, gun rights are queer rights and both are human rights.

Ultimately, I want everyone to understand that the gun community and the queer community have more in common with each other than they realize, and instead of rejecting each other over our differences ,we need to focus upon our similarities:

Both groups believe in rights, especially the right to love whomever we want, and the right to defend our lives effectively. We may disagree on which rights are more important, and we may disagree on how best to implement these rights and their associated responsibilities, but we ultimately agree that rights are paramount. 
Both groups believe that life is precious and worth protecting. Ultimately, we both want to prevent the murder of innocent people, and that is inherently noble.

And both groups believe that silence equals death. If our voices cannot be heard then we might as well not exist in the mind of the public, and that is how we become marginalized and stepped upon.

We are more alike than different! Let us unite in our belief that life is precious and worth defending, that our rights are sacred, and that we refuse to give them up no matter what the politicians say. Let us defy those who seek to divide us by welcoming those who are different and showing them that their lives matter and have value to us. And let us embody the principle that the Second Amendment Is For Everyone -- liberal and conservative, queer and straight -- by making firearms ownership as diverse as the rest of our great country. 

Thank you!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 124: Erin Votes "Present"


In This Episode

  • Erin is in no mood for banter or a main topic. Which is good, because we have a full show anyway.
  • Xander brings us his Independent Thoughts on the accuracy of firearms and how anti-gunners see them;
  • Weer'd discusses the sickening abuse of disabled former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, then fisks Robin Lloyd of the Giffords Anti-Gun Lobby;
  • and finally, Oddball has received a lot of traffic about the Omniblade, and he reviews it with much suffering.

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Show Notes

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Rally for your 2A Rights: October 24

Join me and 29 other speakers as we speak about the importance of the Second Amendment on Saturday, October 24!


The rally will be a Livestream on YouTube, and you can watch it here:

Monday, October 19, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 123: A Show of Stupids


In This Episode
  • Erin and Weer’d discuss the ATF ruling that the Honey Badger AR pistol is now an SBR for... reasons, then examine the fatal shooting of a protester by a non-licensed "security guard" in Denver;
  • Xander brings us his Independent Thoughts on keeping your shooting skills sharp in an ammo drought;
  • and finally Steve breaks down the details on the militia group who attempted to kidnap Governor Whitmer of Michigan.

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:

Tales from the Trunk


Thursday, October 15, 2020

Claiming “Sexual Preference is Offensive” is Biphobic

As of October 14, 2020, the phrase “sexual preference” is now considered offensive by certain people and already efforts are being made to scrub it from our lexicon. It looks like it falls upon me, your friendly neighborhood lesbian transwoman, to explain why this is nonsense.

First, let me explain why some (not all, some) people would take offense. Using the word “preference” over “orientation”, it is argued, presents sexuality as a matter of taste which can be overridden if necessary: “I prefer apples, but I will eat pears” is equated to “I, a gay man, prefer men but will date women if I must.” It presents sexual attraction as a choice, and that presentation is offensive to gay men, lesbians, and presumably straight people who don’t have better things to be upset about.

Dear offended people: Do you not know any bisexuals?

No, I’m not being sarcastic; I am legitimately asking if you know any, because I don’t think you do. I know several of them, and they are not all split down the middle when it comes to sexual attraction. Here’s how my unofficial poll worked out:

  • Bisexual man. Prefers women 70% of the time (numbers approximate; he rated himself a 2 on the Kinsey Scale).
  • Bisexual woman. Specifically identifies as “hetero-flexible”:  100% heterosexual one-on-one, but in a setting of three or more people “60-40 to 75-25 straight depending on group dynamic and my mood”.
  • Bisexual man. “Emotionally speaking, I prefer males to females 70:30; physically, it varies varies wildly person to person but usually males 30%  to females 70%; romantically 50/50.”
  • Bisexual woman. “I lean a bit more toward men, but it varies. 65-75% hetero, depending on how recently I saw a really cute girl and/or was at a con.”
  • Bisexual man. “Pretty close to 50/50. I get different things from different genders, so it's kinda like asking if you prefer Pepsi or Ford, you know?”
  • Bisexual woman. Attraction is 60% men, 40% women.
  • Bisexual man. “Its more a case of ‘does this person interest me?’ so 50-50 I guess?”
  • Bisexual woman. “My orientation is bisexual, but I greatly prefer women. Probably 90-95% women, 5-10% men.”
  • Bisexual man. Basically 50-50, but only comfortable expressing or receiving homosexual intimacy when in the presence of a woman.
  • Bisexual man. “Pretty much 50/50.  I'm much more inclined towards genderfluid to be honest.  physical plumbing, gender expression, and the various shades of each aren't really part of the determining factors of whether I'm attracted to someone or not.”

See all those numbers which aren’t 50-50? That’s a preference. The orientation of these people is bisexual, but they each have preferences within that bisexuality: #1 prefers women; #2 prefers men; #3 has preferences which vary according to conditions and characteristics. None of them are wrong, because it’s impossible to be wrong when talking about what kind of adult human being attracts you. Telling them that “the phrase ‘sexual preference’ is offensive” is erasing what it means to be bisexual.

Finally, the term “preference” can be a powerful social tool when properly used, a tool which I and other queer people would be much poorer for losing. It can be used to shield the feelings of others and soften the blow of rejection to a friend; “I’m sorry, I just prefer other women” suggests that despite the fact there is no chemistry, you still want them around as a friend, whereas the sharper “I’m a lesbian” too often sounds brusque and dismissive, a “how dare you!” shutdown.

In less amiable situations, such as when approached by a stranger at the bar or other social event, such rejection can lead to harsh words and even violence. For their own safety, many gay women have used the phrase “I prefer women” to give themselves breathing room to look for an opportunity to get away, as many men will see that as a challenge to be overcome with guile rather than a shutdown which could elicit anger or worse.  I have used this phrase in both situations, and it has served me well. I will not give it up without a fight.

You are free not to like the phrase “sexual preference”. You are free to be offended by it. However, demanding that it no longer be used demeans bisexual people and their choices, and it robs queer people of a powerful tool to protect friendships and ensure safety. 

You mean well, but you are hurting people by contributing to bisexual erasure and a culture of biphobia. Sexual preferences do exist, and there’s nothing wrong with them. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 122: Politics or Paranoia?

In This Episode
Erin and Weer’d have more news to talk about!
  • Erin is angry about Facebook's wrongful declaration that her Blue Collar Prepping blog is "Spam" and "Violates Community Standards";
  • Weer'd discusses James O'Keefe of Project Veritas and how he was placed on a NICS denial list, and his subsequent lawsuit against the FBI;
  • then Xander brings us his Independent Thoughts on redundancy and safety and redundancy;
  • and finally, Weer'd brings us another patented audio fisk, this time of the Brady Campaign's talking points against "Bad Apple Gun Dealers".

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:

Independent Thoughts With Xander:

Weer’d Audio Fisk:

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Unknown Armies: Hateboxing

Author's Note:  Holy crap, I can't believe I found this. I wrote it in another lifetime, and the computer where I kept it had a fatal hard drive crash [this was WELL before Google Documents existed], and the mailing list it was on went defunct. Praise be to the Internet Archive Project and the Wayback Machine! And let's all enjoy the irony of being able to recover a forgotten story which starts with the phrase "Because sometimes, you just want to forget."

Because sometimes, you just want to forget...

I've lost track of how much money I've spent trying to deal with the shit I've seen. It's been ten years since Poughkeepsie, and I still can't eat spaghetti. Sometimes I wake up screaming, the taste of blood thick in my mouth like tomato sauce.

Did I mention I'm Italian? Shit. I can't even eat Sunday dinner with my mama without having shakes.

Anyway. I see an ad in the paper one day, says Eliminate harmful dreams and memories using only common household tools, $100 for initial session and startup kit. Address is some third-floor walk-up in Queens. I figure, what the hell, worth a look, right? Considering how much I've flushed on goddamn therapy, a hundred is just another sheet of toilet paper at this rate.

So I get over there, find the brownstone's been converted to some kinda artists' commune. The entire place reeks, but its not weed, it's machine oil. They're all industrial types, making statues outta scrap metal with power tools. And this godawful German shit is playing, like they're hammering a goat on an anvil or something.

I manage to make it upstairs without getting tetanus, find apartment 33, bang on the door. This little tweedy guy opens it, and I swear to God he can't be more than twenty-five but he's dressed like my goddamn grandfather, with the suede patches on his jacket and a thick black tie and a pair of birth-control glasses like they had in the fifties. Except, of course, he's listening to the anvil-fuck chorus or whatever.

So he introduces himself as Trent, has me sit, makes me coffee. Now let me tell you, guys like this I expect to be twitchy as chihuahuas, but this bastard was relaxed. Smooth, even, like he had a 38D blonde girlfriend tied up in his bedroom.

So I drink his almond-flavored coffee and we talk for a bit. No, not about my problems, he doesn't give a shit about those. He asks to see my hands, seems pleased to see that I have callouses. He asks me if I've ever worked with machines before, and I say yeah, I tune my car's engine, change the oil, yadda yadda. He smiles this freaky-calm smile and says good, you have what it takes to build a hatebox.

About this time I think maybe, just maybe, I've stumbled into a fetish shop by mistake, and start to get up. No no, he says, I know what you're thinking, and it's not like that. He says, You know that sense of peace and satisfaction you get when you tune your car? and I say Yeah. So he says, Hateboxing is like that, but instead of working on a car, you're building a box to hold your emotions. Doesn't have to be hate, can be pain or fear or whatever, but he thinks hateboxing sounds best.

So I go, Okay, I sorta get you, but I've been working on my car for ten years, and it hasn't helped me sleep any better. He says, The trick is in the training. He points to a milk crate full of greasy parts and says, that's going to be your hatebox, and I'm going to help you build the frame.

There are rules to hateboxing, he says as he's taking off his jacket and rolling up his sleeves. The first rule, he says, is that we can't use any tools that use electricity or hydraulics, it's all gotta be hand power. It's the sweat and effort, he says.

The second rule is that it's gotta be metal and wood. No plastic.

The third rule is that when I'm hateboxing, I can't think of the box. I have to think about the memory I want to get rid of. Because we aren't really trying to build anything, it's just something for our hands to do so that our minds can fall into, get this, a meditative state.

So I say, Wait a goddamn minute. This is meditation? Like clearing the mind, chanting, all that happy horseshit?

He says, Close. Chanting is for mystics, this is for practical people like him and me. This is Transcendental Mechanization. And he gives me that freaky calm smile.

So what the hell, I think, and he and I, we start the hatebox, there on his apartment floor. I dunno how long we work at it, because the time just seems to slip away. When we're done, it's dark outside, and I've got this cubic-foot box that looks like a reject from a high school metal shop. but for the first time in my life I don't feel like there's something breathing rotten anchovies down the back of my neck.

He says, That's your hatebox. Put all your negative emotions in it. Build on it, add stuff to it, expand on it. Then he gives me a strange look and says, Got a garage?

Got a garage? I live in fuckin' Brooklyn.

You'll need one, he says. And then I get this weird idea that maybe this entire building is his hatebox. And then I really fucking want to leave right then.

Whatever, I say. So I ask how much I owe, and he says, A hundred bucks for the materials. And any time I need more, I can come see him.

So, yeah. Anyway, I'm gonna go home, and work on this fucking thing, and maybe when I'm done I'm gonna have a big bowl of spaghetti.


Game Rules
It's mechanomancy, only without the realization that something is being built. If you're a rules freak, I suppose you could say that a hateboxer is building a device that acts as a psychoanalyst and helps to remove failed notches in accordance with the madness rules. But really, the entire point of hateboxing is turning the charging structure of mechanomancy into a tool for eliminating memories.

(For some strange reason, I have an image of Dexter, from the Dexter's Lab cartoon, and his continuous tightening of the same nut-and-bolt assembly, as a kind of hateboxing.)

Trent assumes that most hateboxers will break taboo enough times to keep anything truly scary from being built. But eventually, a hateboxer will find a way to infuse his box with a major charge. The results of a Major-Effect Clockwork, infused with negative emotions, should be as spectacular as they are destructive.


Here are some follow-up notes and ideas, based off the feedback I received:

1) "I keep seeing a man working on his artificial leg. Half way through, he forgets how he lost his leg, tears apart the artificial leg, remembers, and begins to work again."

2) "What happens to the trapped memories? Can those failed notches be slapped around random if, say, the box is lobbed like a grenade? Or what happens if little Jimmy finds Grandma Pandora's little hopechest and, thinking there's pirate treasure inside, opens the lid? Does little Jimmy get a headful of bad memories and failed notches?Could be a good plot hook and trigger event."

3) "I saw the word 'hopechest' and immediately thought of a hatebox usedfor the opposite of its intended purpose.

"Imagine, say, an undercover cop. He's infiltrated a gang of real bastards, and found out he's just not enough of a bastard himself to keep his cover for long. One day when he's feeling superstitious, he remembers Trent, and remembers him saying you can store any emotion in a hatebox. So he builds one to store everything that's good and decent in him.

"It worked like a charm, and now this guy is the ultimate bastard, Hardened all the way, so extreme he manages to neatly fill the requirements for one of the nastier archetypes. And he's right in the PC's backyard, learning just enough about the Occult Underground to become a threat for everyone involved.

"Learning about the hopechest and making him into a good guy again seems like a good idea for a few adventures - it would be the best option for dealing with him, since direct combat would result in a very high body count."

4) [follow-up to #4] 

"Nice thought... when all his good memories return, he realizes how far down he's fallen, and eats his gun in grief.

"You did it."

The Fine Print

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