Wednesday, September 30, 2020

My Thoughts on Sarah McBride

I have been asked what I think of Sarah McBride winning the primary for a Delaware state Senate seat. People want my opinion on this because on the one hand she's transgender, and on the other hand she's a firearm prohibitionist.

My honest answer is that I'm simultaneously thrilled and disappointed. Like most things in life, the situation is complex.

Gun rights are necessary, both for Americans in general and for queer people in specific. We are disproportionately affected by violent crime (1 in 4 of us will be victims), and like the motto of the Pink Pistols says, "Armed queers don't get bashed."

However, queer rights are also important to me. In this specific regard, it is a cause for celebration when someone who is obviously queer is able to represent us in government. Just as gun owners rightly deride people who try to pass gun control laws without knowing anything about guns (see Carolyn McCarthy's statement of "I don't actually know what a barrel shroud is. I believe it's a shoulder thing that goes up."), and women rightly deride men who try to pass reproductive laws without knowing anything about gynecology, so too do queer people resent and deride people passing laws that affect us (marriage rights, transitioning, employment protection, etc.) without knowing anything about us.

Ideally, I would prefer that Ms. McBride be pro-gun. However, Second Amendment rights are usually a plank of the Republican party, and queer people tend to avoid the Republican party like the plague (for reasons which are another explanation entirely). Furthermore, let's be blunt: openly queer candidates are less likely to be elected by the typical Republican voter. This is changing, of course; 20 years ago it would have been unthinkable to be openly gay and Republican, and now we have openly queer people supporting Republican values in the media, so perhaps in another 10-20 years there won't be this huge disconnect. Unfortunately, right now if you're queer and running for office, your best chance at election is running as a Democrat... and again unfortunately, the Democrat platform is one of firearm prohibition rather than one of firearm rights.

So who do queer people vote for? Too often, we have to choose between "pro-gun and anti-queer" or "pro-queer and anti-gun". That's an intensely personal choice, and I don't have the right to tell people how to choose in situations like this. I just wish that both my right to live as I wish (queer rights) and my right keep and bear arms (Second Amendment rights) weren't treated as a resource to be exploited on election day.

The Second Amendment is for all Americans. Queer rights are human rights, and human rights are for all Americans.

Politicians, please stop being partisan with our lives.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Erin in the Washington Free Beacon

I'm quoted in this article, but what I really want to do is show you the email exchange because there's a lot of good information here that you might not know and could serve you well when discussing firearms, specifically the reported rates of purchase. 

I received the following email:

My name is Stephen Gutowski and I'm a reporter with the Washington Free Beacon. I'm working on a story about gun sales spiking in Pennsylvania, particularly in June. Our analysis shows that, relative to previous years, June's gun sales spike was even larger than March's. Las Dalseide from the NRA gave me your contact information and said you might be able to provide some good insight about what's happening on the ground. 

What have you been seeing? What do you think has lead to the spike in sales?

Have you noticed any increase in activism by new gun owners? Do you think the spike in sales will impact the upcoming elections?

My reply:

First of all, gun sales haven't been spiking just in Pennsylvania; they've been spiking EVERYWHERE. As you can see from this FBI document which tracks NICS queries*, gun sales have been going gangbusters since December 2019, with even larger spikes in March and June. Not coincidentally, March is when we entered lockdown for COVID-19 and police departments in big cities told civilians that their responses to 9-1-1 would be delayed or even nonexistent due to the virus, and June was the first full month of rioting after the death of George Floyd.

 * I don't know how much you know about gun purchases, so please allow me to explain how they work. If you already know, I apologize.
  1. When you go to buy a gun, you fill out ATF Form 4473. This information is then used for the instant background check system (ICS).
  2. ... unless you live in a state which has its own ICS**. In that case, one of two things happens:
    1. If you don't have a concealed carry permit with that state, your background is checked by the state level ICS. This is important because, to my knowledge, this information is not shared with the FBI and is therefore not included in the national metric. 
    2. If you do have a concealed carry permit with the state, you just fill out your form 4473 and take your gun home. This is because a concealed weapon permit is effectively the state saying "We have already checked this person's background exhaustively and there is no reason for them to wait as we do a sloppier version of it with the ICS." This is also why people with carry permits do not need to wait the mandated 3-day "cooling off period" for handgun purchases. 
  3. Also, fun fact: the IC is done per purchase, not per gun. So if someone without a permit bought 3 guns at once, that would still be only one background check. 
  4. So all of this is a very complicated way of explaining "As big as the FBI numbers are, they aren't a complete picture of how many people are buying guns or how many guns are being bought."
** Those states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia. There are also "Partial Point of Contact" states which do checks for handguns but not long guns; those states are Maryland, New Hampshire, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Now on to the rest of your questions!

What have you been seeing? 

Increased demand in both firearms and ammunition. My local gun shop in my rural county is completely sold out of guns. This is a store which used to have display cabinets full of pistols and a wall full of rifles and shotguns, and now they are stripped bare of guns. When I talked to the guy at the counter the other day, he said "We just got in a Glock 40 today. I'm about to put it up on our Facebook page. I expect it'll be gone by the end of the day."  It was about 1pm when I spoke to him.

Ammunition is similarly hard to find. Most handgun ammo is simply GONE, and those which can be found (usually premium self-defense ammo) is selling for outrageous prices -- at least double what it used to cost, maybe more. Rifle ammunition is not as scarce, but it's getting there. About the only thing which isn't hard to find is12 gauge shotgun ammo... but I'd say that's just a matter of time, so stock up now.

What do you think has led to the spike in sales?

Uncertainty about the future, loss of faith in infrastructure elements such as the police, and concern about political and social unrest. Essentially, COVID-19 led to people wondering if the police would be able to respond to crimes, so they bought guns; then the extended lockdown made a lot of people restless and "stir crazy"; then George Floyd died, and outrage combined with cabin fever exploded into social unrest, protests, and rioting; and now with the election looming, a lot of people are wondering what will happen come November 4th.

Have you noticed any increase in activism by new gun owners? 

Sorry, I'm going to need clarification on this. What kind of activism do you mean?

I'm mainly wondering if you've seen evidence of new gun owners beginning to become involved in gun-rights activism. 

Not that I've seen... but give it time. I've long said that gun owners become gun voters, especially when the government decides to take away rightly held property. Given the major civil and political unrest is so significant that both parties are denouncing it, and given that the influx of new gun owner is so large that even Bloomberg's The Trace ran an article on gun safety, I think it's safe to say that both parties know that even mentioning gun control is the political third rail of this campaign. No, I'd say that the true evidence will be during the midterm elections... assuming, of course, that the unrest has settled down by then and we've returned to normal.

Do you think the spike in sales will impact the upcoming elections?

Absolutely. Again, these mass purchases of guns for self-defense indicates an unprecedented level of distrust by the average American of the government's ability to keep them safe. Even the Biden campaign is speaking out against the riots, which tells me that both parties see that the majority of voters want a return to law and order.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 120: the Notorious Round Table Ginsberg


In This Episode
The gang decided to get together and discuss the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who her replacement might be, and what it means for the future.

Erin says:

So sit back and enjoy another ACP round table episode.

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Show Notes

Monday, September 21, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 119: The Fisk That Erin Likes!


In This Episode
  • Erin and Weer’d are tired, so they dive right into the segments without a main topic.
  • Steve tells us about how he's going to handle supply chain issues when he opens his gun shop;
  • Weer'd brings us a GREAT audio fisk on why Giffords' stance on Stand Your Ground laws is nothing but garbage rhetoric;
  • and Sean talks about the contentious Netflix movie Cuties and how it relates to the gun control debate.

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:

Weer’d Audio Fisk:

Sean on Cuties:

Sunday, September 20, 2020

My GRPC 2020 Address

Hello, everyone. My name is Erin Palette, and the day after the 2016 Pulse Massacre I founded Operation Blazing Sword, a nationwide charity designed to connect gun-curious queer people with friendly and non-judgmental gun owners who would teach them the basics of safe firearm operation and responsible gun ownership. In 2018, the Pink Pistols – America’s oldest LGBTQ firearms organization – incorporated into Operation Blazing Sword, making me the head of the largest pro-gun, pro-queer group in the country.

As you can imagine, this puts me in a very interesting place both culturally and politically: the far right loves my support of the Second Amendment but hates that I’m gay and transgender, and the far left loves my queerness but hates that I’m pro-gun. I catch a lot of flak from both sides for not supporting their version of freedom when, quite ironically, the position I have – “I haven’t hurt anyone and my lifestyle doesn’t affect you, so please leave me alone and let me be a queer gun owner in peace without passing laws against that” – is, to my mind, the most freedom-centered position of them all.

This year’s theme is “Elect Freedom.” To be completely honest, I feel like I already covered this topic last GRPC when I told you that the best way to grow gun rights was to abandon your partisanship and become a single-issue activist, with that activism being the preservation of the Second Amendment and the expansion of firearms rights. If you haven’t watched it yet, I hope that you will.

For my speech this year I’m going to do something slightly different and talk to you about how to Retain Freedom. Our country is currently experiencing unrest on a level not seen in my lifetime, and from my perspective here in late August 2020 it seems obvious that in a month the unrest will have increased and the division escalated. I sincerely hope that by the time you see this, peace and common sense will have prevailed and we will no longer be shooting each other in the streets, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for that.

2020 has also heralded a veritable explosion of new gun owners. More guns have been bought in the past 8 months than in any other time since the FBI has kept track, with the biggest spikes happening in March and June. Not coincidentally, March is when we entered lockdown for COVID-19 and police departments in big cities told civilians that their responses to 9-1-1 would be delayed or even nonexistent due to the virus, and June was the first full month of rioting after the death of George Floyd.

I can assure you that these purchases were not all made by firearm owners, for exactly the same reason that those of us who specialize in emergency preparedness were not the ones buying toilet paper by the pallet: we already had ours. No, the vast majority of the new purchases were made by people who previously did not own a gun but, when faced with mounting evidence that they could soon be on their own and have to defend themselves, went out and bought a firearm for self-defense. These seven million additional purchases were so remarkable that even Michael Bloomberg’s The Trace was forced to write an article on firearm safety for its readers… although I imagine it was published with Bloomberg’s nose wrinkled in disgust.

And now, in the midst of this unprecedented uncertainty and these unprecedented firearms purchases, we have before us an unprecedented opportunity to do what I urged you to do last year: reach out to these new gun owners and, instead of mocking them, welcome them into our ranks. As gun owners, they now have “skin in the game” when it comes to firearm prohibition, and I assure you that many if not most of them will be reluctant to turn in their guns to a government which has so visibly failed to protect them and so visibly failed to ensure domestic tranquility.

These new gun owners didn't buy seven million new firearms out of some newfound desire to exercise a previously neglected aspect of freedom;  they bought those guns because they saw an imminent need for protection, and that inability to protect themselves and their family scared them. This is why I say that once someone is a gun owner, they are likely to become a gun voter.

Firearms exist at a peculiar nexus of cheap enough for anyone to buy, and yet expensive enough that we fight tooth and nail to keep them; they are bound irrevocably into our history and our struggle for freedom, and yet are so controversial that we must have a Constitutional Amendment to protect them; and even then, governments large and small – city and county, state and federal – gnaw at that protection like termites at the foundation of our nation’s house.

You wish to Retain Freedom? Then retain these new gun owners as your comrades in literal arms. Welcome them into our community, include them in your activities, and teach them what they have to lose if our right to keep and bear arms is taken from us.

This Is The Way. Will you show them?

Friday, September 18, 2020

Virtual GRPC 2020

Virtual GRPC 2020 starts tomorrow at 11 am Eastern. Here is the schedule; I should go live around 3:26 pm on Sunday.

The videos will be shown on YouTube and on Facebook

Monday, September 14, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 118: People Making Poor Life Choices

In This Episode
  • Erin and Weer’d discuss two developing stories: first the "NRA Whistleblower" aka Josh Powell, and then the fatal confrontation between an Antifa Protester and the US Marshals in Washington state;
  • David brings us a few horror stories from the Armorer's Bench;
  • the Trunk Monkey tells us about the process of starting his own Gun Monkey shop;
  • and Weer'd brings us an audio fisk of the gun control positions of Vice-Presidential nominee Kamala Harris.

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Show Notes

Main Topic:

Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:

Weer’d Audio Fisk:

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Erin Palette in the Media (Again)

If you're a fan of my appearances in the media, then have I got two treats for you!

First of all, I was quoted in a USCCA article titled The Changing Face of Gun Ownership, written by none other than my good friend Beth Alcazar! It's free for everyone to read so I encourage you all to follow the link to see what she (and I) have to say.

"Erin's story", as mentioned in the article, is just a transcription of my speech at GRPC 2019, which you can read here.

Speaking of the Gun Rights Policy Conference, I hope that you will join me and many other pro-gun speakers next weekend (Sept 19-20) for the first (and hopefully last) Virtual GRPC!

Please go the SAF website to register. It's free! And if you can't watch it live, don't worry; I have it on good authority that it will be uploaded to YouTube and Facebook so you can watch it later.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 117: Weer'd and Sean Argue So You Don't Have To

In This Episode
  • Erin and Weer’d recap two previous topics: statistical analysis and the Gangster Capitalism podcast's season about the NRA;
  • then Sean Sorrentino joins Weer'd (who is playing devil's advocate) to analyze the Kenosha, Wisconsin shooting;
  • and finally, Steve brings us some great news in Tales from the Trunk.

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:
Devil’s Advocate with Sean:

Sunday, September 6, 2020

In Nomine: Celeste, Archangel of the Aether

Because Toastrider spoke favorably about my Archangel of Souls, here's another Archangel I made for my In Nomine campaign. 

Yes, I like Kyriotate Archangels. There should be more of them. 

A Google Docs version of this post can be found here


Kyriotate Archangel of the Aether

The World is closer than you think.

Celeste is a new Archangel (circa 1990) but is a moderately old angel, having existed in Jean’s service for the past millennium. As a Reliever in the Halls of Progress she showed a fascination with the properties of photons and electromagnetic radiation and their transmission through various media, and so it was expected that she would become an Ofanite. When she fledged as a Kyriotate, it came as a surprise to most Jeanites until they realized that her fascination was not with movement itself but rather with wanting to be everywhere at once.

Celeste requested the Word of Aether during the late 18th century. Most of the Seraphim Council thought her mad, as the theory of “luminiferous aether” was known by Heaven to be incorrect, but Jean himself sponsored her for the Word. It was not until the invention of radio, and later the telephone and the internet, that her ambition bore fruit and the concept of Aether began to move from “a material we can’t understand” to “a metaphor of a place where things go to disappear.”

While the concepts underlying her Word have existed for centuries (perspective and illusion have been an essential component of art since its conception), it is only recently that human advancements in mathematics and science have matured sufficiently that her Word finally became thematically congruent with “The distance that is not” or, more prosaically, “Where you are when you're on the telephone.”

Her Cathedral, the Orrery of Aether, is a confusing mass of rotating objects that, at best, resembles a cross between a radio telescope array and a macro-scale model of an electron cloud. It is currently adjunct to Jean’s Halls of Progress, although it appears to be inching away from them.

It is Dissonant for angels of the Aether to choose to be unreachable or unfindable. Celeste represents the breakdown of barriers, both physical and social; to isolate oneself is anathema to an Aetherite. They do not hide; instead they stay one step ahead of their enemies, frequently taunting them to keep up.

Choir Attunements
All of Celeste's servitor attunements are restricted. She says this is so that her angels work together as a family rather than trying to do everything themselves.

Seraphim (restricted)
Capable of seeing the Truth through infinite dimensions, Seraphim of the Aether can see through (or, more accurately, "around") objects, effectively giving them x-ray vision. Only the Song Celestial Shields is proof against such observation. (Other songs or attunements may be immune to this, at the GM's discretion.) Range of sight is unchanged (but see Line of Sight, below).

Cherubim (restricted)
Celeste's Guardians have a unique method of protecting their charges: the Cherub may either instantly step to their side or pull the attuned to him. This requires a successful Resonance check and causes Disturbance equal to the Corporeal Forces of whomever is moved, who appears within CD feet of the other. The Songs of Ethereal Shields and Celestial Seals prevent this effect.

Ofanim (restricted)
Wheels of the Aether love their jobs. With a successful Resonance check, they may move instantly to any spot they can perceive (memories or photographic reproductions will not work, although real-time images do) without having to cross the intervening space!

This line-of-sight teleport costs 1 Essence per use. Any song which prevents Celestial Motion is proof against this attunement.

Elohim (restricted)
Elohim of the Aether are aware, more than most, that their viewpoint is not the only viewpoint. For 1 Essence, an Elohite serving Celeste can "piggyback" on the perspective of someone that they can sense (through hearing, touch, sight, or scent), experiencing life through that person's senses for a number of minutes equal to the Elohite's Celestial Forces. This gives the Elohite no control whatsoever, and while this attunement is active they receive no sensory input from their own vessel: they simply gain a new perspective for a while. This effect can be ended prematurely just by concentrating, or it can be extended by spending another Essence and hopping to another person that the host can sense. An Elohite of the Aether can continue to switch between perspectives until he runs out of Essence; whenever he lets the duration lapse, runs out of Essence, or consciously ends the attunement, he returns to his body immediately, with no sense of disorientation.

Malakim (restricted)
Virtues of Celeste are not daunted by such paltry tactics as "wearing armor" or "taking cover". Their attacks, both close and ranged, bypass armor and/or protection; only Songs of Shields are impenetrable to these warriors. (This does not damage the armor; the Malakite is, in effect, targeting where the armor isn't. The Song of Shields is a special case because it, like all Songs which utilize the universal Symphony, is assumed to be n-dimensional.)

Sample Malakite Attunements
I will:
  • Always announce my presence before I first attack.
  • Always keep my allies informed of my whereabouts.
  • Not allow the forces of hell to raise an alarm when it is my choice.
  • Always accept as my responsibility any mortal that I save.
  • Faithfully deliver any message I am charged with.
  • Respond to any call for help I hear.
  • Always answer my phone and reply to all messages.
  • Never allow myself to be out of contact.
  • Always tell the appropriate authorities what I know.
  • Always act to mediate a dispute between family. [Note: this includes angels as Celeste sees Heaven as one large family unit]

Kyriotates (restricted)
Aether's Thrones may manifest the link that binds their consciousness across hosts and allow others to traverse it like a Tether. For 1 Essence, the Kyriotate creates a pseudo-Tether between any two of its hosts which lasts for 1 round and can transport a number of Forces equal to its own (additional Essence must be expended to maintain this portal for multiple rounds). This generates a Disturbance equal to the Corporeal Forces of those transiting if corporeal, or total Forces if in Celestial form.

Mercurians (restricted)
Celeste's Mercurians are adept at exploring the web of relationships which bind everyone. After successfully Resonating upon an individual, the Mercurian may then Resonate on those individuals who were perceived as related to that individual, and so forth. These subsequent rolls may not have a CD in excess of that first, primary roll; a CD of 1 disallows further linking. No one likes playing the "Kevin Bacon" game with these angels.

Servitor Attunements
Celeste has not been an Archangel long enough to develop more servitor attunements than these two.

Line of Sight
The angel with this attunement can fine-tune his vision. He can zoom in on anything within his field of vision, to an almost microscopic degree, simply by concentrating; a macroscopic view is more difficult, and requires a successful Perception roll to give the angel a panoramic view.

Use of this attunement to zoom in grants a bonus to any roll made to search an area by the user's Celestial Forces, but penalizes any attempt to use Perception on a general scan of an area; using the attunement to zoom out has the opposite effect. (Essentially, zooming in grants a bonus of Celestial Forces to Search checks but subtracts that same amount to Spot checks, while zooming out reverses the bonus.)

There’s No Place Like Home
An angel with this attunement can designate a location as "home". At any time thereafter, the angel can return "home" by spending 1 Essence; no disturbance is caused except that the Disturbance sounds in both the departed location and "home". The angel must be on the same plane as his "home" location in order to use this attunement, but may have one "home" on each plane. The angel may designate a new "home" at the cost of the old with a successful Perception roll.


Vassal of The Aether
Knowing that the Symphony encompasses all dimensions, the angel halves all range penalties for combat and Resonance.

Friend of Transformation
Aether's Friends realize that going Celestial is not a state change, but simply a transition to a higher dimensional state. Once they understand this, they may assume Celestial form for no Essence cost (though a Will roll is still required).

Master of Co-location
These angels are capable of being in multiple places at once, for is not the Symphony everywhere and nowhere simultaneously? They do not suffer range penalties for anything; everything is 'point blank' for them, including melee combat and touch-based abilities.

Basic Rites
(and their underlying rationale)
  • Call someone long-distance (ignore the actual distance between people)
  • Lose yourself in starshine (the far-away suddenly become close)
  • Cross a border (traversing a relevant distance with ease)

Chance of Invocation: 4

Invocation Modifiers

+1  A telephone or telescope
+2  An M.C. Escher drawing
+3  Recite, from memory and without error, the transporter sequence from the            Star Trek: the Next Generation Technical Manual
+4  An optical illusion regarding perspective (real, not drawn or photographed)
+5  An n-dimensional mathematical proof
+6  A tesseract

Celeste can charitably be described as an ebullient pollyanna with enough enthusiasm to rival an Ofanite’s energy. She truly hates no one, and her sole wish is for everyone in Heaven to get along, i.e. to be closer emotionally even if they are far apart politically. Some of this is the influence of her Word, but longtime servitors of Jean can tell you that she was always like this to a degree.

She is more Peace Faction than War, although her votes on the Council tend toward whatever will bring the most healing to Heaven or to preserve whatever unity remains.

Allied: Christopher, Dominic, Jean, Laurence, Litheroy, Zadkiel (Christopher, Eli, Jean, Litheroy, and Zadkiel are Allied to Celeste)

Associated: Blandine, Janus, Yves (Blandine, Dominic, Janus, Laurence, Marc, and Yves are Associated with Celeste)

Neutral: David, Eli, Gabriel, Jordi, Khalid, Marc, Michael, Novalis, Sauriel
               (David, Jordi, Khalid, Novalis and Sauriel are Neutral to Celeste)

Hostile: None (Gabriel and Michael are Hostile to Celeste)

Superior Opinions

Blandine: "Well, then. It's not that I don't appreciate her attempts to cheer me up, and on those occasions when I relent and do something with her, not only do I enjoy myself, but I frequently have a new perspective on something that's troubling me. But... girls' night out? Double dates? I'm an Archangel; I don't do things like that."

Dreams are about free-association, and the breakdown of mental barriers erected by the psyche to hide something unpleasant from oneself. In other words, humans only really communicate, are only really truthful with themselves, when they dream. That's sad, and I think that's one reason why Blandine is so sad. I wish she didn't think she has to fight this war by herself. We all love her, every last one of us. Even Michael would die defending her, because she's family.

Celeste (she's a Kyriotate, of course she can have an opinion about herself!):
"Marshall McLuhan once said 'The medium is the message.' But what if the message is the medium, instead?"

Sometimes I weird myself out. But then I tell myself I'm just being closed-minded, and need to be more accepting of different viewpoints. That usually straightens me out.

Christopher: "Jesus once said, 'Suffer the little children to come unto Me.' Everyone who's been to Sunday School knows that. But how many people remember, 'Unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven'? Celeste is a child, in many ways: guileless, open, friendly, energetic, loving. We should seek to emulate these traits, that we may become closer to God."

Christopher is my hero. He listens to me like an indulgent parent; even when he doesn't understand why I'm telling him something, he pays attention anyway because he knows it's important to me to tell him. I try my best not to waste his time. Besides, he's the only entity in creation I can play hide-and-seek with and not be Dissonant. That's SO cool.

David: "Prattle. Whimsy. Incessant motion. These are not the way of Stone."

Don't freak the mundanes, dear. They don't understand our kind, and have no desire to.

Dominic: "Those who assume I would be offended by her have clearly not been in her presence. She is one of the most open, forthcoming individuals I have ever met. Admittedly, at times her candor is... relentless... but the fact that I neither have to search for her, nor pry information from her, is refreshing."

He gets a bad rap. Really, all he wants is for the Host to talk to each other. Is that a bad thing? No, it's not! We're all supposed to be a family here, and families talk to each other. Fortunately, people like talking to my Servitors, so I make sure he gets caught up with everything I know whenever I see him. Oh look, there he goes now…

Eli: "Ever looked at a Picasso? I mean, really looked? It's like he was trying to show every aspect of a person's face, from every perspective, all at once. She's like that. She's all about math and dimension, but she gets art like nobody else up there."

Eli, Eli, why hast thou forsaken us? Why haven't you told us where you' re going, or what you're up to? Angels just don't leave Heaven, Eli. Don't be distant like that. It hurts. Tell me where you are. Tell me you're okay. I miss you. I miss our talks about art.

Gabriel: "Of course distance is an illusion. Anyone who's had to share their Word for TWENTY THOUSAND YEARS could tell you that. Now she thinks she's qualified to take over my duties as divine messenger? Well, one slip-up with Dominic should show her the error of her ways. Oh, wait, that's not going to happen, is it? He practically dotes on the little snitch. Listen, if she wants to be helpful, how about she increase the distance between the Forces of a certain TRAITOROUS BACKSTABBING EX-SERVITOR!!!"

(singing) "Reach out, reach out and torch someone." Okay. Here's what I don't get about Gabriel: She clearly needs help. Sometimes she even asks for it. But every time it's offered, she slaps it away! I can only conclude she enjoys wallowing in the pain. Maybe because it's familiar and she doesn't want to lose it; maybe because she knows that, when Belial dies, so dies her last chance at getting an old friend back. It's like when humans get divorced. sometimes it takes the death of the ex-partner to fully realize the relationship ended years ago.

Janus: "You know, taking shortcuts doesn't prove you're faster. It just means you know how to cheat better than the other guy." (He smiles.) "I like that about her."

Janus understands that the object of motion is to get from point A to point B; unlike me, he prizes the motion itself, ignoring the fact that point A is point B. While I represent the endpoints, he represents the space in between, and between the two of us we make a nifty vector.

Jean: "One of mine took an inaccurate, scientifically flawed concept and turned it into Word of great beauty and service to Heaven. That in itself shows great dedication, mental flexibility, and aplomb. It is only appropriate that I respect such achievement by being proud of her."

Ah, Pop. It's always the quiet ones that surprise you, y'know? He only comes across as a fuddy-duddy. He's really very... no, not passionate... ah! Insistent!... when it comes to matters of Heaven's unity. Of course, he'll couch it in terms like 'Effective communication results in increased productivity' and 'A unified front reduces opportunities for infernal sabotage,' but at heart, he's a big softie. No, I don't care if you don't believe me.

Jordi: "Another Word that is meaningless to us. Still, it is good to have another one of us on the Council, and their attempts at comprehension are welcome."

Riddle me this, Batman: how can one of the most humane Archangels be the most inhuman to humanity? I don't understand Jordi any better for being choirmates. Man desperately wants to understand his animal brethren, but he lacks the perspective. Jordi could help with that, but he doesn't do near as much as he should.

Khalid: "All hearts are open to Allah the all-seeing; all places are accessible to Allah the all-being. This one does His will, as do all who have a humble and contrite spirit."

Khalid worries me sometimes: he very objectively believes in very subjective things. Sometimes those things are contradictory, and he is able to come to terms with those contradictions without resorting to rationalization. No, I'm not worried he's going to Fall; I'm worried he's going to turn into a Kyriotate one day! I like him being a conundrum. I wish he wasn't so spooky good at it, though.

Laurence: "She listens. His Name be praised, she listens to me. I have never felt such undivided attention as she gives my words when I speak at Council meetings! She earnestly desires to be a good servant and do my bidding. However... 'It is the job of the servant to aid the master', she says, and takes a great many tasks upon herself. Tasks which she is ill-suited to undertake. Tasks better suited to another's Word. Yet she has not failed, for each time she has sought council and guidance from those with greater experience."

The General. It's his job to give orders, and the job of every angel in Heaven to obey them. Why, then, do people try to find ways around his commands? Why do they grumble at his nobility when it is clearly the reason God chose him for this task? If the elders cannot countenance taking orders from 'such a callow youth', then this callow youth will shame them all. I will pick up the slack and do what needs be done. I will be an able servant. And if anyone has a problem with this, I can manifest plenty of asses for them to kiss.

Litheroy: (sheepishly) "Dominic and Laurence glare at me every time I talk to her. But she's so effective at disseminating information! Why, one time I told her something, and the next day practically everyone in Heaven knew about it!" (pause) "Do you suppose that's why they glare at me so?"

Ooh, he's fun. He's so open, and enjoys talking about... well, just talking, really. There's hardly any agenda with him. I feel he's genuinely interested in anything I have to say, and of course that makes me want to listen to what he has to share. We've talked for days sometimes. I wish Dominic wouldn't worry so. I have discretion, after all.

Marc: "She gets us talking. Frequently, we end up exasperatedly talking about her, but the fact that she provides common ground is no small accomplishment. Not quite all things to all people, she nevertheless has an earnest innocence which endears her to the Peace camp and a stark effectiveness which prevents the War camp from dismissing her out of hand. A true moderate, and Lord knows we need more of those."

Trade brings people together, and that's good. But it often brings them together for the purpose of making money or exchanging services. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but shouldn't people come together because it's good for them to be together? I think I understand why David doesn't like Marc. I don't agree, but I understand.

Michael: "She's good at what she does; I respect that. She likes who she is and makes no apologies for it, even if it pisses people off; I admire that. She's the hyena's snitch; I have no tolerance for that."

Am I the only one in Heaven who has no patience for Micheal's prima donna attitude? I say we bang his and Dominic's heads together until they come to an understanding. No, wait. his head's so hard, it'd just violate the Pax Dei. (sigh) Mike's the exasperating older brother of the family. I love him dearly, but I wish he'd let go of it and forgive.

Novalis: "She's vibrant. There's an infectious energy about her, and it's bright and invigorating. Some of the more aggressive people up here who are put off by me are willing to listen to her opinions. My job is to make sure the seeds of her idealism reach fertile soil. If that means distancing myself from her politically so that the boys will take her seriously, so be it."

Everyone calls her 'mom', but I think she's more like Heaven's great-aunt. Like the lady in 'Warning' who says, "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple/ With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me." She knows who she is and owns it. How can you not respect that? Sometimes, though, she can be just as insufferable as Michael, but from the other direction.

Sauriel"She is a young, vibrant soul in a position ruled by the static and the dour. Change is inevitable for all souls, but I wonder: will the position change her, or will she change the position?"

Eeesh. Well, I don’t not like her, but she’s not the easiest to talk with. Or talk to. Or be seen by. Or… you get my drift. She’s here, but she’s also not here, in a way that makes my Word feel all ooky. I’d like to get to know her better but I don’t know if that’s possible.

Yves: " 'I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.' - Ralph Waldo Emerson."

He thinks like I do. No, wait... he's deeper. I've never met anyone who spoke with such complexity, with such dimension, as Yves. Sometimes it takes me years to fully decipher what he means. Sometimes I'll suddenly realize another aspect of a conversation I had with him long ago. Each time it happens, it's like opening a present. I love that about him.

Zadkiel: "She's an expert at getting into places. I'm an expert at making places impregnable. You'd think there'd be rivalry between us, but there isn't. There's no better person to have with you on a search-and-rescue than an Aetherite, and with her advice I can make my defenses better. If she tells me a place is secured, I believe her."

Of all the relationships I have with the other Archangels, the one I have with Zadkiel is the most professional. It's not that I like her more than, say, Christopher or Dominic; we just complement each other in a very pleasing manner. Or as dad would say, we 'synergize effectively'. Me, I like the word 'gestalt'. It means 'a structure so integrated as to constitute a functional unit with properties not derivable by summation of its parts.' And it's a fun word to say. Gestalt!

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

About that IN/VtM Crossover...

Like I mentioned in my recent State of the Erin Report, I'm working on converting In Nomine to V5 mechanics. This rather necessitates some changes in the setting as, for example, both settings have vampires and the existence of Lilith (Adam's first wife, according to Jewish tradition) but there's disagreement on how they interact: in In Nomine, Lilith is a powerful Princess of Hell who creates demons (the Lilim) for other Princes, and vampires are soldiers of Hell who sacrifice their souls via a dark ritual for immortality and power here on Earth; meanwhile in Vampire:the Masquerade, vampirism is the blood curse God lay upon Caine for murdering Abel, and all other vampires descend from him... except there's some lore which claims that no, actually Lilith may have been the first vampire, and she turned Caine into one and taught him how to use those powers, only to have him betray her in a turn of cosmic irony.

(Honestly, if you think all this is complicated, do not -- I repeat, DO NOT -- research angelology. You will find so many contradictions that it will drive you mad.)

So I wanted a way to tie In Nomine into Vampire: the Masquerade, and doing all that requires a lot of work and I'm nowhere near done with it. However, in the interim I can give you a taste of something related.

This is one of the things which I wrote for my very first IN-hacked-to-VtM campaign as a way to tie the two games together thematically. I wrote this over 20 years ago (!), and it shows. I hadn't been writing for very long at that point, and... well... I had good intentions, but lacked the skill. It's not as shuddersome as a journal full of teenage poetry, but I look at it now and go "Oh, I should have done this, and this, and this. I could have done it so much better."

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it, even though it likely won't make total sense to anyone who doesn't know both games.

The Third Thing

She traveled east across the barren wastes. he was hungry, but she did not cry out. She was thirsty, but her pace did not waver. She was cold in her nakedness, but did not shiver. For to do these things would be to admit weakness, and she was a prideful and vain creature.

She was Lilith, the first woman, and she was dying.

Not from exposure, or from hunger, or even from thirst, but from the emptiness of her soul; a great, aching emptiness that tore at her spirit like the rocks at her feet. Paradise had been hers, and she had left it on principle, simultaneously abandoning it and God. It was that abandonment which ate at her, made doubly painful by the knowledge that, if given the choice, she would do it again. Her pride demanded no less.

And so, she hated. It was an easy enough thing to do, a cold comfort of the mind to accompany the cold winds of the eastern wastes. She hated Adam for his superiority; hated Eve for being her replacement. But greatest of all was the hate she harbored for God: for allowing Adam to treat her so, for acquiescing to his demands for a new mate, and worst of all, for not stopping her from leaving.

She hated herself, too, but would not admit it. And that was why she was dying.

"Lilith." The voice seemed to both surround her and tickle her ear with its warm breath. She looked to see who had addressed her, naked and alone in the cold wastes of Nod. She tried to speak, but her mouth was dry and her throat was parched, and no sound could escape her cracked lips.

"Lilith." The voice came again, this time from a point in front of her. And as she watched, an angel of the Lord appeared before her in all its glory: his hair black and luxurious, his eyes as blue as the rivers that ran through Eden, garbed in a shimmering robe of a green more vibrant than the foliage of the Garden. He was barefoot, and where he walked grass grew, the earth turning fertile in each footprint. His wings sparkled like morning dew, and droplets fell from the tips of his feathers into small pools of the purest water. He smiled at her, and in that smile Lilith saw a radiance that rivaled the sun itself. He held out his hands to her, and cupped them, and they were filled with cool water. "Drink," he asked of her.

She hesitated. "Drink," he said again, "that I might speak with you." And so she drank from his hands, and the water cooled her throat and eased her thirst, and did not diminish from his hands until she had drunk her fill.

"What is your name?" she demanded.

"I am but a servant of my Lord, and so, you may call me Eli." the angel responded. "I am here because the Lord has not forgotten you, nor has He rejected you. I have come to bring you succor and peace." And Eli gestured about him, for a fertile oasis had blossomed from his feet.

Lilith shook her head fiercely. "I do not need your mercy, Eli. Neither do I need God’s, for He saw fit to cast me out of Eden when I chose not to be a slave to my husband."

Eli clucked softly. "Lilith, Lilith… you left of your own accord. The Lord did not cast you out, nor did He require such an act on your part. He simply allowed you to leave. The two are not synonymous." He shook his head and turned to regard the lake that was forming behind him. "That is something you will learn, given time." He turned back to her. "And I am here to make sure that you have that time, Lilith. It is a very important lesson. You could say it’s the most important lesson in the world." Eli smiled at her then, and within that smile was both joy and pain. "And when you have learned it, you will teach it to another."

Lilith blinked at him, uncomprehending. "But that is a matter for another time," the angel continued. "For now, your survival is most important. Behold, I have created a home for you: food to eat, water to drink, shelter from the elements. Your life will not be as easy as it was in the Garden, but it will be long and full. You will need to learn many things if you are to survive. Three of them I teach to you now."

"First, you need clothing if you are to keep warm." With that, Eli removed his robe and placed it upon Lilith. The green clothing shimmered, and shifted, and wrapped about her so perfectly that she could no longer tell where she ended and the clothing began. "Second, know that you are never without the Grace of God. If you were, you would have died here today." Then he fell silent.

"And what is the third thing?" she demanded, her voice bitter, her eyes defiant. "I did not ask for your charity or for your counsel. Tell me this, angel, that I might be done with you and left in peace again!"

"The third thing," Eli said, smiling as he faded away, "is that you owe me a… we shall call it a favor for all this. And one day, I will come to collect it in full. So be not proud and cast away what I have given you, for you will one day repay my service, measure for measure." He winked at her. "So you might as well make use of it."

And Lilith pondered this, by the shores of the newly-made sea.

The Fine Print

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