Space DoD

1) Stealth in space is impossible.

2) All attempts at detection are successful in the aggregate if a target is there to be found. And an attempt at detection is made against every target.

1 and 2 are equivalent statements. If some detection attempts aren’t successful, stealth in space is possible. If some targets are not the subject of detection attempts, space stealth is possible.

Therefore, there can be no problems, ever, that reduce the effectiveness of space detection to less than 100%. If so, stealth in space would be possible, but there is no stealth in space.

Space detection is handled by Space DoD, and Space DoD is amazing.

Space DoD never misses maintenance. Space DoD never skips requirement upgrades. Space DoD ships are never in deep space, away from supply lines, long enough for battle damage to impair their space detectors. Space DoD ships never half-ass maintenance. Space DoD ships never take damage in space battles, or at least space damage never impairs their detectors.

Space ships away from drydock and supply always have all personnel fully trained for all repairs. All space lieutenants are fully trained and competent. All of them.

All space lieutenants reading space directions know how to correctly repair all battle damage. They are never wrong. If you’re unsure, just ask one. Every space lieutenant who passed her space repairs qualifying exam knows exactly what to do. She will never assert rank over more competent personnel. She will correctly make the repairs with supplies on hand, no matter how long the ship has been on patrol, no matter how far they are from resupply, no matter the nature of battle damage.

If a space detector is damaged, it will be repaired to spec immediately, before the enemy attempts stealth.

Enemies will never attack in quick succession. Enemies will never allow Space DoD forces to be damaged fighting other enemies, before swooping in to prey on the weakened Space DoD.

Space DoD will never adjust op tempo. Space DoD had op tempo correct initially. Space DoD will never get into infantile power struggles between personnel. The fly-in-circles-team will never fight the calibrate-space-detector-team. FICT will never fly their ships outside the correct flight envelope. Their ships will never interfere with detector callibration. No Space General will ever fight another Space General for resources.

Space DoD is never corrupt.

Space DoD will never give a contract to a space contractor incapable, unwilling, or untrained to perform contracted work. No space contractor will ever syphon funds from a Space Detection System contract to buy yachts. No space contractor ever got a job because his cousin knows a guy. No space contractor will ever bribe a space senator.

Space DoD is omniscient.

Space DoD knows the mechanical, electrical, quantum, relativistic, and ALL future scientific properties of all detectors. Space DoD will never discover something doesn’t work after sinking thirty billion space bucks into it. Space DoD will never budget first, fix later. Space elevators will always work when being installed. Space catapults will never have unintended side effects, not work as expected, or not work at all. Space DoD will never screw-up. Space DoD will never underbudget a mission critical system later because they screwed up before.

Space DoD is on point.

Space Congress will always correctly, accurately, and successfully fund a correct, working system with no side effects.

Space congressmen never pick one program over another, a less successful program over a more successful program, because the less successful one brings good jobs to their district. . No space congressman has ever signed off on woefully wrong legislation just to do something. Space senators will never grandstand their way into incompetent decisions. Space voters will carefully and rationally weigh each and every criteria, and then ALWAYS pick space detectors as the most important field. Space detectors will never lose funding to another program because a space senator grandstanded on space TV to get space twitter likes, screaming ‘Won’t somebody please think of the space children?’

No one ever thinks of the space children.

The companies that build or maintain space detectors always work in perfect unison.

No space company gets into a patent lawsuit with another space company in such a manner that affects a space detector. No space company ever insists on an space data transfer protocol that doesn’t work in every application. No space data transfer protocol ever fails to achieve perfect upgradability. No space data transfer protocol ever worked pretty well for a while, but is incompatible with the new system, but basically impossible to switch, and so now space DoD is trying to cram a square peg into a round space hole just to make it work. This never happens.

Space Microsoft never sues Space Amazon and then refuses to work until the lawsuit is concluded. There is never a time, during the lawsuit, wherein the space detectors are impaired.

The people who work on space detectors are infinitely motivated, energized, and healthy.

Space privates never slack off. Space privates are never injured. The space corpsman that takes care of them always knows how to cure every problem. When space enemies attack and the detector operators are dragged from their posts, someone else will ALWAYS man the space detector. An ‘All Hands On Deck’ call will never interfere with space detectors.

The only space detector operator will never get killed when the space ship is deep in enemy lines, and some cook with good space ASVABs won’t be dragooned into operating the space detector.

The space detector operator will never have girl problems, boy problems, foot problems, drug problems, money problems, diet problems, discipline problems, digestive problems, or even a bad case of space gas such that the detector is not operated perfectly.

The space detector will never just stop working because F* if I know why.


I’m sure you’ve heard that inoffensive bit of advice that you shouldn’t do waking things in bed. No reading, no playing on phones, no talking. When you wake up in the morning, get out of bed immediately. The idea is that your habits can train you not to sleep when you go to bed, as bed is now a wakeful place.

If that’s so, if those habits do train you to wake up, why am I exhausted when I’m at my computer, in my kitchen, or at work? Aren’t those places that would train me to wake up even more? Why do I lay down and feel wide awake within moments if the same habits do the exact opposite elsewhere?

I call shenanigans.

Flat Earth

I tried to write a physically correct flat-Earth story. So the fantasy world is flat, and people interact upon it like they would on a flat Earth.

I ignored some things that just didn’t work or handwaved them away like gravity. It’s a magical world, so the gods made down point down.

The problem is, some things are so alien to the real world, I keep slipping. Things like seeing long distances. From a mountain, the characters can see all other mountains at least sometimes, and dawn moves all weird.

To simplify things, I tried a geocentric world, and now it takes me fifteen minutes to figure out how the phases of the Moon work.

Heavy-Weight Adventure Touring Bikes

The thing about the heavy ADVs is that they’re the best long distance cruisers when the roads are garbage.

I was talking to a guy about bikes, and I mentioned how large some of the big adventure bikes are. The BMW GS 1200 is a surprisingly large machine, as is the Multistrata and even the Africa Twin. The guy gave the usual line about how absurd it is to strap two hundred pounds of luggage to one of these machines and try to ride it through deep sand.

But I don’t want to take one through deep sand. I want to take one up mountain roads, roads that are aspirationally paved. Roads get paved to within a rounding-error: 95% is paved and the rest is washed out. I don’t need to take a machine through deep sand, but I often look at cabins or campsites in the hills, sites that the paved road comes close to. A decent paved road might stop three miles away.

But three miles is three miles. Three miles of soft gravel is a nightmare on a cruiser. One moderate gully, a three foot washout, is a non-event to an ADV, even one of the overweight ones, but not-passable to my car. On a cruiser, a three-foot washout is a matter of approach angles and lines. How dry is the dirt? What’s the weather like? Could I pick this thing up if the tires go out from under me? What if there are five more little gullies between me and camp? Do I want to press ahead to this campsite if it might rain tomorrow and I could get stuck up here?

Meanwhile, for highway cruising, I want some weight. Westbound on 285, out of Denver and into the plains that follow Kenosha Pass, the winds can get insane. I want something heavier, bulkier, more resilient with an upright seating position.


I love romanticizing the past as much as the next person, probably more, but Saruman just gave his speech about machines of war.

No one gave a speech about drinking tainted water and dying of dysentery.


The upside to deadlines is they force you to actually stop rewriting and overthinking and get something done. All of the spare mental compute cycles that normally get devoted to contemplating useless things, how exactly I describe a room, get absorbed into ‘Oh, Crap! I need to get this done!’ Since very few people properly understand the raw brilliance of my room descriptions, this is probably for the best.

The downside is that the upside is no guarantee of quality. Sometimes I slap out crap because it’s something.

The Power of Gun

I played in a D&D game a few years ago, which is rare for me because I usually GM. I also don’t play a lot of D&D. Gurps and Amber Diceless are my usual systems. However I did, and one of the other PCs said something I’ve been thinking about off and on ever since.

She said, ‘The problem with modern fantasy is that no matter the theme or genre, eventually everyone starts using the power of gun.’

I don’t remember the broad context, but the specific context was PC weaponry. Modern fantasy players eventually start shooting. No matter the magic swords or vulnerabilities, eventually everyone shifts over to gun-based weapon systems. This is annoying, because swordfights on motorcycles are cool, but if you just want to kill the bad guy, shoot him. Use silver bullets. Use wooden stakes from a 40mil launcher. In a fantasy setting recognizably close to the modern world, everyone’s going to be using guns eventually.

A few exceptions exist, but she was 90% accurate.

In movies or written fiction, the authors can make sure swords remain effective. GMs can fiat things such that melee weapons are the dominant form of combat. Without such fiats, if guns and swords are intended to be balanced, guns will always win due to range. Thus the only way to maintain swordplay is eliminate gunplay, or nerf it to the same point, and then you’re not really in a modern fantasy world, at least not for combat.

The GM or authors can attempt to set scenes and stages such that swords work better than guns sometimes. The magic to kill Evil Bob might require continuity between caster and target. The PCs could weaken Evil Bob with guns, but to finish him, they need to get close and use blades. The problem is PCs are nigh geniuses at breaking GM plans, and they’ll come up with a way to shoot Evil Bob to death. Plus most rule systems support specialization. If a player has to focus on one, and that’s usually the most efficient build, focusing on gunfighting is more efficient and net superior. Then if the GM forces them to use swords, that’s sort of annoying and not as fun. Games follow fun.

Conversely, in any game that pays lip service to realism, even fantastic realism, will rely on firearms because in the real world, that’s what people use. While exceptions exist, all major militaries use guns, missile weapons, or something similar as their main combat apparatus, and have for hundreds of years. Swords ain’t coming back. Let’s ignore the meaningless exceptions. Yes, some guy at Normandy had a sword. He was an exception. Maybe there were a few. They’re a rounding error compared to gunfighters.

People enjoy fighting in games. In the real real world, we don’t fight and it pisses us off. Someone cut me off today, just being a real jerk, and I backed off and let them go ahead. I did this because I’m a functional adult. But it pissed me off, and I wanted to hit them with my car. One of the fun things about games is the players can hit someone with their car, and a good game is set up to do this. I think this a moral good. It’s a vent system, and the other PCs all agree with you that yeah, in the game you hit the jerk with your car, because in the real world, you don’t. That sets up and reinforces the expectation that games are for shooting and stabbing, and real life is for using bad language while you brake to let the jerk in. No, I am not going to get into a car accident because the jerk was wrong. I know people like that. I don’t want to be one of them.

But with the expectation that there should be fighting in RPGs, and fighting should be fun, if the game is modern fantasy, it’s going to be gunfighting eventually.

That annoys me.

I think it might be overcomeable by giving everyone a huge amount of move, such that range ceases to matter. But I don’t know if that would be fun, because part of the fun of rpg swordfighting is moving your little dude around on a map. This was one of the great problems with Exalted. To do something new, Exalted took away moving your little dude on a map, and people like moving little dudes on maps. It helps immersion. If there’s so much movement that range ceases to be an issue, moving dudes on maps might not be fun anymore.

This is the problem with video games, and I haven’t seen many of them overcome it either.

Even if you time-gated movement, you wouldn’t have overcome firearm superiority because shooters can shoot every turn. For example gratis, imagine your character could move one hex an action for free but lots of hexes with a move action. Move and attack, many hexes and still attacking, would have significant penalties. This is the way Gurps does movement. The problem is the shooter can still shoot every action, and a shooter with absurd movement would just be better than a swordfighter with absurd movement. There’s no reason to use a sword if you can use a gun.

So you say, ‘Fine. Swords give even more super movement.’

But then you’ve nerfed guns to the point where everyone would use swords.

The problem remains you can’t balance ranged and melee weapon systems in an RPG. Not given the real world consequences of game complexity. The rules can’t be so complicated the game bogs down. Everyone should be able to quickly and intuitively grasp the mechanics.

The alternative is nigh pure narrative games, like Amber Diceless and I love Amber Diceless, but it has a host of other problems.

I don’t have a solution. If you’ve got guns and fighting, the power of gun will win the day.

I want to throw one idea out there. I have not play tested this, but it’s been in the slow cooker for almost as many years as the power of gun. Huge, long range combat might work, ala Car-Wars-style ginormous maps. With significant penalties to hit due to distraction and vibration, and openly ignoring those penalties for melee weapons, you might be able to make it work.