Saturday, February 29, 2020

V5: Gargoyles & Other stuff

A few things that I've been working on for the past couple of weeks.

First, here's the V5 version of the Gargoyle bloodline. I feel like most bloodlines in Vampire: the Masquerade are dumb, but I like the Rockheads because they are unique and have a logical place in the canon history. My V5 GM Adrian Rook and I made this cooperatively, although I admit I lifted the background flavor text straight from V20 because this is a conversion.

What's cool about this symbol is that it's the alchemical symbol for "earth" superimposed over
the sigil of House Tremere, and the gargoyles are rocky being made by the Tremere. 

Now some of you may be wondering what this "affiliated discipline" thing is, and it's just an idea that I'm fiddling around with. Sometimes it makes sense for a clan to have access to a discipline that that suits it thematically but is not one of its core three. This is known as an Affiliated Discipline, and members of that clan can purchase it (and only it) as if they were Caitiff. Not every clan needs an Affiliated Discipline, and a clan with one should have only one.

So for example, if you feel that Nosferatu in your game really ought to have Auspex, but you don't want to upend things by re-writing the entire clan readout, you can just say that Auspex is an affiliated discipline for the Nosferatu and give them a break on its XP cost. 

Finally, I’ve never understood why, in this increasingly complicated and paperwork-driven world, the Bureaucracy skill was stripped from Vampire in 3rd edition whereas the much more limited Finance skill continues to hold on in V5. If you ask me, Finance should be a specialization of Bureaucracy.

This skill represents a character’s understanding of “the system” and their ability to navigate and abuse it. It is useful for bypassing (or creating) red tape, ensuring important things are “misfiled”, and simplifying ordinary life -- for example, bureaucracy will help you get in and out of the DMV at record speeds

•      You have good organizational ability and can file your own taxes. 
••     You understand power structures, specifically who is really in control. Your permits are always approved and on time.
•••    You can perform stalling tactics indefinitely and could be a professional bureaucrat. 
••••   Very little gets done without your approval. 
•••••  The Bureaucracy is a tool, and you are its master.

Specialties: Approvals, Business Management, Coverups, Denials, Finance, Forensic Accounting, Government, Information Requests, Hiding Paper Trails, Law, Money Laundering, Skirting Regulations, Speedy Resolution, Thwarting Others

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Libertarian Party of Florida Convention 2020

I unfortunately do not have any photographs from my time at LTUE this year, nor do I have any videos of my panels; either they had a manpower shortage or a budget shortage, and while certain panels were recorded none of mine were.

Which is a pity, because they were pretty awesome.

However, I was able to get lots of photographs of the booth I ran at the Libertarian Party of Florida's state level convention, which was made possible by the LP of Orange County, who sponsored our table. Our presence there was not an endorsement of the Libertarian Party or any of its candidates, because OBS is a 501c3 and to do so would get us in trouble with the IRS; rather, there are people within the LP who believe in me and my mission, and wanted OBS to get more exposure.

 Our table. Rather fabulous, don't you think?

This young lady is "The Pholosopher". She had a booth in vendor room (she's made a comic book with her husband titled Voluntaryist and was selling it and other swag. She came over to say hello, express her support for our and our goals, and then asked for a photograph with me. What a sweetheart!

Speaking of people coming by, I met Vermin Supreme, who also posed for a picture.

Yes, that's a My Little Pony bag. Apparently Vermin is very pro-pony and counts bronies among his most faithful supporters.

So because he's pro-gun and pro-pony, I had to get a picture with him and my gunpony OC Powder Flash. He's a really lovely fellow, somewhere between kindly grandfather and kooky uncle.

 For people who are curious about this, the rules were created by my friend Adrian Rook aka NS4A2, who printed up a special batch just for me. If you'd like a copy, either PDF or signed paper, I can hook you up.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Blooper Reel No 36: The Blooper Reel with a Little Bit for Everybody

Weer'd was out of town last week and so we didn't record an episode. However, we didn't want to leave our listeners without anything to do, so we made one of our usual Patron-only episodes available to everyone. NSFW! Contains swearing and adult topics.

Also, be advised that Weer'd screwed up and repeated a segment. He's not likely to change it because he thinks the notion of "a blooper within a blooper reel" is funny.

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.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Vampire 5: Non-Obtenebration Lasombra

It's amazing what a week away from home does for my creativity, as something which had been bothering me for a long time finally resolved into a solution in my mind. I now present to you a clan which I couldn't quite grok, so I cut pieces off it and stitched on others from different sources until I was happy.

Author’s Note: Why are there no shadow powers?
I found them annoying and reductive.

Who are the Lasombra according to canon? Prior to V5, they were basically the Sabbat’s version of the Ventrue who had shadow powers. Now that V5 has had the Lasombra quit the Sabbat and join the Camarilla for… reasons…  they’ve lost even that evil mirror aspect and are just another highbrow clan. V5 doesn’t do a great job of explaining how they differ from the Ventrue, just that they do.

Perhaps the differences were made more clear in 2e and 3e’s clanbooks, but it’s literally been decades since I read those and, to be honest, most clanbooks were crap. I recall the Lasombra being overshadowed (hah!) by the Tzimisce, who could be summarized with the fascinating concept of “monstrous, transhumanist Draculas” and who therefore occupied their own distinct space within the game.

I was also bothered by the literalness of the name. They are literally named “The Shadow” and they have shadow powers? It was just too much for me, far too blatant a show of power and capability. Then V5 came along and turned Obtenebration into Oblivion, which was then linked with Necromancy, and I said “NO. Hard no.” If the Lasombra had access to Necromancy then not only would they exploit the hell out of it, they’d find a way to control or destroy the Cappadocians / Giovanni / Hecata / whatever they’re called these days. That seemed like a lot of work to me, and I felt it was easier just to keep them separate.

Then a heretical thought occurred to me:  What if I made a shadowy clan who didn’t have access to shadow powers? Then their name would take on a whole new meaning, highly symbolic instead of literal, and that felt exciting to me. But how would I re-invent them?

My Storyteller, Adrian Rook, came up with a great concept for them regarding control. It didn’t completely suit my purposes (mainly because they still had shadow powers), but I could respect where he was going with it and I knew I could live with it in his game. However, it didn’t satisfy me and I kept thinking about ways to change them to make me happy. His influence can be seen here in both the clan compulsion and in various aspects of their personality.

It wasn’t until I read the V20 book Lore of the Clans that the concept of  the Lasombra being cancerous corruptors who blackmail people and hollow out organizations to wear as a suit fully blossomed. Maybe that concept has always been there and I never realized it, or maybe this was a new interpretation on the clan, but I found it different and unusual and it shifted my concept of the Lasombra from “like the Ventrue, only with more asshole” to “powers behind the throne”. As I considered this, things started to make a lot more sense: they’d tunneled inside the Church and twisted it to their own ends, and then when the Inquisition started they did the same with the Anarch movement, suborning it into the Sabbat. The Tzimisce became their enforcers and figureheads while the Lasombra ruled it like viziers, the Cardinal Richelieu to the Tzimisce’s King Louis.

I also realized that this concept was stealing a lot of thunder from the Followers of Set, and frankly I was okay with that. The Setites annoy me for a lot of reasons, mainly because their concept seems to be “We are evil corruptors because we are evil and we like to corrupt, tra-la-la.” Evil for the sake of being evil bores me, as does corrupting others because it’s your religion. But corruption in the service of personal power? Now that’s interesting, and it fit perfectly within the concept of shadowy control freaks accumulating power through taking control of organizations because in order to do that, first you need to control the people within them. Also, if you’re a clan named “The Shadow” (and especially if you have shadow powers) you really need to have a weakness to sunlight. Since I was stealing from the Setites, I figured I’d steal that too.

So yes, the Setites are on the trash pile with this concept. I’ll try to replace them with a more interesting group of evil bastards when I have time. Meanwhile, the new Lasombra have a more interesting mix of disciplines which are well-suited for their role: Animalism to sense the desires of the Beast and to quash it, Auspex to get leverage, and Presence to make people like them, trust them, and/or fear them.

Ultimately it comes down to this: I like this new version of the Keepers, and that’s what is important. If you don’t, that’s fine; you don’t have to use them.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 089: Erin is Contagious

In This Episode:
  • Weer'd tells a story of automotive woe that he apparently caught from Erin;
  • Oddball talks about the many uses of a Raspberry Pi;
  • David explains how ammunition cartridges are made;
  • and Weer'd fisks Virginia Delegate Mark Levine and his love of "assault weapon" bans.

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

Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:
Weer’d Audio Fisk:

Wednesday, February 12, 2020


You're probably sick of me saying this but I'm currently at the 38th Life, The Universe and Everything symposium and I won't be home until Monday. This means that I will likely be too busy to write much of anything, so don't worry if you don't hear from me for the rest of week, I'm just busy.

If you're in the area please look me up!

Monday, February 10, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 088: The Liar's Ball

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d talk about a hilariously inaccurate tweet by David Hogg and what happened next, then give an update on the Operation Blazing Sword "Spread the Love" Fundraiser;
  • Oddball recommend knives for young children;
  • Weer'd brings us part two of his fisk of Dick's Sporting Goods' CEO starring some special guests;
  • and one of those guests is Michael Bloomberg, whose Super Bowl ad deserves a topic all its own.

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

First Topic:

Oddball's Corner Pocket:

Weer’d Audio Fisk:

Second Topic:

Sunday, February 9, 2020

State of the Sword 2020

It is my honor and privilege to apprise you all of the current status of Operation Blazing Sword - Pink Pistols and what we have accomplished in the past year. I am pleased to inform you that 2019 was our best year yet.

We taught at least 50 students in the basics of safe firearm handling and operation, which is twice as many as were taught in 2018. I say "at least" because as a matter of policy we do not require those we help to out themselves as gun owners or having received training, as there are many within the queer community who wish to stay "within the gun closet" and we respect their wishes. Of those taught, several were confirmed to have bought firearms after instruction; in addition, an unknown number of students already owned guns and wanted training in their use.

We experienced a 19% reduction in the number of our volunteer instructors due to our transition from a public Google map to a privately owned database over the summer as duplicate entries and instructors with no contact information were removed. While this is looks like a setback from a raw numbers perspective, private control over data is an important factor in today's increasingly un-private world. Furthermore, new instructors join our database weekly, and so I have every confidence we will soon meet and then exceed our pre-transition numbers.

In 2018 we incorporated Pink Pistols into the Operation Blazing Sword corporate structure after a year-long merger, and the following year saw a lot of integration between the two branches. While we have had our share of growing pains as does every merger, those have since been worked out and I am proud that both divisions are running smoothly and integrating with each other.

We also expanded our Board of Directors from 3 members to 5 following the departure of founding Board member Nikki Stallard. Joining me alongside Gwen Patton are Matthew House, an IT specialist who oversaw our database transition; Dexter Guptill, leader of the Northern Virginia Pink Pistols chapter and one of the original Pink Pistols; and of course Top Shot Chris Cheng who needs no introduction. This Board is composed of skilled and experienced pro-queer firearm activists, and I am excited by what we can accomplish.

Finally, we raised over $8,000 in 2019, primarily through fundraisers and private donations. Even though this is more than what we raised in 2018 and double what we raised in 2017, I acknowledge that for a national charity this is a small amount. However, what makes this number noteworthy is that it was all done without the backing of big corporations or a New York billionaire. Instead, it was done by ordinary people like you and me, proving that Operation Blazing Sword is truly a grassroots effort that appeals to regular Americans regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. For a pro-gun, queer-friendly niche charity, this level of achievement is astounding.

Even though 2019 was our best year yet, I look forward to shattering all of our records in 2020. We will spread the word, through personal appearances and Pride booths and by funding classes, that the Second Amendment is for all Americans. By teaching people the basics of responsible firearms ownership and operation, we decrease the chances that they will be victims of crime and violence and increase their chances of emerging from a life-threatening situation victorious.

Through this instruction, we see each other through new eyes and tear down old boundaries. Gun owners gain an understanding of what it is to be queer, and queer people discover that gun owners do not hate them. Once you see someone as a human being, it is difficult to relegate them to the category of "the other".

As J.R.R Tolkien said, “I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”  Likewise, I do not love Operation Blazing Sword for its accomplishments; rather, I love those people whom it has taught protection. In 2020, let us come together as one people and declare that the lives of gay people and straight people, of transgender people and cisgender people, of those on the right and those on left all have value and are all worth defending, because they are human beings and we love them. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Not Just Wrong, But Fractally Wrong

No doubt many of you have seen my article which appeared in The Federalist. The original title was more punchy, and the editors eliminated a lot of my introduction and bona fides. In both cases I can understand why, but I love my words and hate to see them altered. Therefore, I present my original draft for those who are interested in seeing what was changed.

Not Just Wrong, But Fractally Wrong
By Erin Palette with research done by W. E. Beard

My name is Erin Palette, and I am the Founder and President of Operation Blazing Sword, a national charity founded in the wake of the Pulse Terror Attack to teach the basics of firearm operation to queer people who want to learn how to use a gun for self-defense but do not feel safe going to a gun store or shooting range for training. We have over 1300 volunteers across the country, in every state and in every major metropolitan area, as well as in Canada and Europe.

I am also the National Coordinator for the Pink Pistols, a nationwide shooting group that was founded in 2000 under the principle “Armed queers don’t get bashed.” There are currently over 50 Pink Pistols chapters across the country and in Canada.

Both organizations teach anyone, but especially queer people, how to shoot and then we tell others that we have done so. This makes me the leader of the largest pro-gun queer group — or, if you prefer, the largest pro-queer gun group — in the country if not the world.

With these qualifications, I was asked to give my opinion on David Hogg’s tweet of January 26, where he said the following:
While I was asked for rebuttal, I instead offer refutation. Unlike Mr. Hogg, I shall cite sources for my statements. Not only will this prove his statement is wrong, but also completely careless in its inaccuracy, and therefore callous to the injustice done to those people whom he is claiming to champion.

To begin, Mr. Hogg speaks of “centuries of gun violence prevention”. I have no idea how he arrived at this number, and I doubt anyone else does, either. If there is a history book that tells the story of how non-white queer women and transwomen started a gun control movement in 1820 then I would very much like to read it.

I specify the year 1820 because Mr. Hogg’s use of the plural for century indicates a minimum of two hundred years, and the United States will be only 244 years old this July 4th. In the 44 year period between 1776 and 1820 our country was nearly always at war, including but not limited to the Revolutionary War, the Franco-American Naval War, the Barbary Wars, the War of 1812, and the Creek War, and during that time our nation still relied upon militias composed of volunteers with privately-owned rifles and pistols. [1] Restricting arms only to those citizens who belonged to a standing army would not only have severely hampered a fledgling America’s struggle for existence both on home soil and abroad, but gun control as we know it today would have been an alien concept to American colonists and early citizens.

At that time, the British East India Company — which was a private company answerable to stockholders and not an organ of the British government — had the largest armed force in the world, consisting of multiple armies with cavalry and artillery assets, as well as fleets of heavily-armed merchantmen supplemented with warships. [2] Furthermore, the Constitution of the United States has written into it a framework for Congress to write letters of marque and reprisal, which granted private citizens the ability to hunt ships of hostile nations for the good of the country. These private citizens did this with privately held warships armed with naval-scale cannons. [3]

Given just these two examples, it is clear that the highest levels of military hardware were available to private owners, and that small arms — including those suitable for military use — were therefore ubiquitous. So ubiquitous were they that states and municipalities would fine able bodied men for not having weapons or participating in militia musters. There were even laws where you would be fined for traveling or attending church unarmed. [4]

However, while the colonists and early citizens of the United States were well-armed and saw virtually no restrictions on what arms they could own or when they could carry or use them in a peaceful manner, this was not true for all inhabitants of the land. Many people of color were brought to this country as slaves, and as property, they had no rights. Furthermore, free persons of color and Native Americans were often prevented by law from owning firearms. [5] Such gun control as Mr. Hogg champions would have hurt those fighting against slavery. Abolitionists were highly unpopular and threatened with violence or worse; the Reverend Elijah Parish Lovejoy, publisher of the abolitionist newspaper The Saint Louis Observer, was murdered by a pro-slavery mob who shot him before destroying his new printing press. [6] Members of the Underground Railroad needed to protect themselves from law enforcement and bounty hunters enforcing fugitive slave laws, and so were often armed. The most famous example of these is Harriet Tubman, who carried a pistol for self defense while escorting runaway slaves to freedom. [7]

While the 14th Amendment eliminated some of this discrimination, many additional laws were passed to keep people of color, the poor, and other “undesirables” from owning or carrying arms as part of the many Jim Crow laws of the time. Some of these statutes have survived to the present day, such as the North Carolina Pistol Purchase Permit which requires that an applicant be of “good moral character” despite the fact that, and I quote, “The term ‘good moral character’ is not defined in our statutes nor is there a case specifically on point as to what constitutes good moral character for purposes of a pistol purchase permit.” [8] Needless to say, being a person of color was ample reason to deny a permit under these circumstances. Most famously, in 1950 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, applied for an Alabama concealed weapon permit after receiving death threats. He was, of course, denied. [9] In the 1960s, California’s Mulford Act banned the open carry of firearms as a direct reaction to members of the Black Panthers patrolling minority neighborhoods while visibly armed. [10]

More recently, 19 states maintained sodomy laws which, until their overturn by the Supreme Court in 2003, could arrest and prosecute people for “unethical sex acts” i.e. consensual sex between queer people, the punishment for which would often be severe enough to make the convicted a person prohibited from owning firearms. [11] Even today there is nothing to stop racist, sexist, or homophobic/transphobic police chiefs from denying people permits because of their race, religion, gender presentation or sexuality in jurisdictions with may-issue gun laws.

In conclusion, not only have I disproved Mr. Hogg’s ridiculous claim, I have proved that all gun control disproportionately affects queer people and people of color.

Or, put another way, Mr. Hogg isn't just wrong, he's fractally wrong: not merely wrong, but wrong on every scale, with pockets of small wrongness concealed within larger wrongness; wrong from any analytical viewpoint, with each piece self-similarly wrong.


[1] Metesh, T. Logan. (2/2/2020) Arms historian, Conversation with Erin Palette.

[2] Bryant, Gerald (1978). "Officers of the East India Company's army in the days of Clive and Hastings". The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History,

[3] "The Constitution of the United States", Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11.

[4] Cramer, Clayton E. (2016) “Colonial Firearms Regulation”.

[5] Cramer, Clayton E. (Winter 1995) “The Racist Roots of Gun Control”, 4 Kan. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 17, 20

[6] “Elijah Parish Lovejoy Was Killed By a Pro-slavery Mob". Library of Congress.

[7] Clinton, Catherine (2004). “Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom”. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-14492-4.

[8] North Carolina Sheriff’s Association (2016). “Most Common Firearms Law Questions”.

[9] Winkler, Adam (2011). “MLK and His Guns”. The Huffington Post.

[10] Simonson, Jocelyn (August 2015). “Copwatching”. California Law Review.

[11] "Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)". Justia Law.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 087: From Hate, Spread Love!

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d talk about the importance of checking your spare tires;  an Operation Blazing Sword fundraiser born from hate that is spreading love;  and an anti-gun doctor who was the "victim" of a suspiciously fake-looking "hate-crime";
  • David brings us part two on his series about magazines, where he explains their history and manufacture;
  • and Weer'd brings us the first part of a fisk (not a fist!) on Dick's Sporting Goods and their bad-for-business embrace of gun control.

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
Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:
Weer’d Audio Fiks:

The Fine Print

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

Creative Commons License

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