Tagged: science

Geekery – Battletech Fan Fiction – Shards of the Galaxy

I made a thing!

http://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=54289.0

This is actually a project I began back in 2009. (Has it really been that long?) While I love the Battletech canon universe, and the factions and battles that take place in it, I also love creating something my own.

I dreamed up four major factions – disillusioned Lyrans, remnants of Clan Smoke Jaguar on the run, ComStar Explorer Corps deserters, and Magistracy of Canopus Merchants – as well as two or three minor ones – pirates, deserters of the major factions, mercenaries – that all converge on one system in the Deep Periphery around the time of the FedCom Civil War. Each has their own goals and desires, and they will come into conflict.

I have posted about 80% of what I originally wrote. Now I have the arduous task of writing more without notes. (I have no idea where I put my notes for this project…)

It’s already received great feedback on the Battletech forums. Go check it out and let me know what you think!

Until next time!…

Advertisements

We’ll Call This Progress

So I’ve made some decent progress on getting Ship Strike ready:

20140612_214646Box full of completed tiles, and some uncompleted. CSM added for scale.

20140612_214629Level 1 crates (all 21 of them) and tiles that I’ll work on tomorrow…along with my mess.

Progress seems slow. But I have to remember I’m the only one working on this.

That said, using foam core instead of cardboard has been a great improvement over the cardboard I was trying to scrap from boxes and packages we had lying around the house. Though not pristine, edges are cleaner. I printed the tiles onto cardstock instead of using graph paper, making the tiles themselves look cleaner.

So where do I go from here? First I will finish cutting the foam core and gluing on squares. I actually have doors and stuff so I need to make those, too. Then comes the really hard part: making cut-outs of the dudes (read: miniatures).

Dudes are important for this game.

They are sorta the focus.

Hard to play a miniature wargame without your dudes/dudettes. (Disclaimer: Ship Strike is an Equal Opportunity game)

I’ve considered purchasing and painting up some cheap minis from somewhere, but I’m not sure where to look and I’d hate to pitch this to a big company and have them look down on, or even reject, my game because I’m using someone else’s – perhaps even a competitor’s – models. I’m not sure what route to go there. If anyone with real industry knowledge/experience has input on that I would greatly appreciate it.

And then more playtesting. While I’ve firmed up the rules for the most part, and the troops for each faction are pretty tight, there is always room for improvement. And you  never know when something will come up where you and your playtesters will go,”What the deuce?!”

I have also decided to post the rules on the http://www.boardgamegeek.com forums.

Many people worry about piracy and having their idea stolen, and I had this worry, too. But Adam Ferrel, creator of the game Havok and Hijinks, made an excellent point on The Cardboard Republic podcast when he was asked about it. First, Adam stated that he didn’t believe piracy really existed. If someone snagged and played his game for free, oh well. But he made a much more important observation. He stated there are three types of gamers.

First, those who would never buy the game. They would print off his rules and cards and play for free forever. And he doesn’t care. He’s just happy someone is enjoying his game.

Which leads to the second category of gamer, those who will first play it for free, and then go out and purchase it. Whether they download and print everything themselves, or are introduced to the game by a will-never-buy-friend, this individual will, theoretically, become a customer.

And finally there is the gamer that will always buy the game to support the creator and to get all the cool stuff you don’t get when you print and play.

In Adam Ferrel’s mind, all three types of gamers are good for his game. Word of mouth and PnP gaming sessions will spread news of his game and increase its popularity.

I’m inclined to agree with Adam Ferrel.

The Ship Strike rules will be posted in the next day or so after I give them a once over and ensure the majority of spelling errors are corrected, and that any changes to rules/stats are updated in the official documents and not just my notes.

It’s all coming along, and I’m getting really excited about it! Playtests this weekend. I will update with pictures and results.

My Plan for US Economic Recovery: Go To Space

So I’m jumping from one nerdish topic – bodybuilding to be a Warhammer 40k Space Marine – to another one: space exploration. My ADD is kicking in. Let’s ride this train! WOO!

Okay so hear me out.

The US is having a hell of a time getting back on its feet. Manufacturing inside the US is down, unemployment is high, we’re lagging the rest of the developed world in education.

That said, according to CNBC today, jobless claims are down and durable goods orders are up: http://www.cnbc.com/id/49549215

It’s my opinion that this slight drop in jobless claims and increase in durable goods orders will be short lived, especially if we trip off the fiscal cliff, cueing $1.2 Trillion worth of spending cuts over the next decade, and an increase in payroll taxes (http://www.cnbc.com/id/49464221/).

This is bad, m’kay?

So how do we beat this fiscal cliff? How do we cushion ourselves from our ultra-bipartisan government’s (Reactionary Right AND Radical Left all included) inability to come up with a budget?

Legalize and tax marijuana!

Wait, no, that’s not what this post is about . . . though I think, while I do not smoke weed, this would be an intelligent decision, and then the government and businesses could treat it like alcohol (don’t drive or operate heavy machinery or weapons when you’re high, no showing up to work high, etc.). Plus think of the money the government would make on taxing it!

But I digress.

Let’s go to space! Seriously!

Seriously . . .

Why space, though, you may ask? Well here is my five points of why encouraging space travel, exploration, and colonization would save the US, perhaps even the world. (But the US first. ‘Merica!)

1. Jobs

Want to create jobs? Going to space is the key! You need to design the space craft. You’ll need engineers and their staffs for that. Then you need to build the space ships. You’ll need laborers, welders, electricians, machinists, and other skilled and unskilled labor. Designing and assembling the engines for these things is a task in and of itself. You’ll need programmers and computer scientists to get the computers and systems in the ships working properly. You’ll need administrative staffs to manage all these people, their pay, and the contracts and purchases that support them. You’ll have to secure these manufacturing plants, so security personnel will need to be hired. You’re going to want to have a foothold in space, so you’ll need to build, launch, and assemble space stations – and you’ll need all the labor and support personnel for that, too.

Then you’ll need space ship and space station crews to man these ships and space stations you build. You’ll need pilots, technicians, mechanics, engineers, computer specialists, and scientists from several disciplines. They’ll need training, and you’ll need trainers to train them. They’ll need facilities to train at, and your daily operations will need facilities, which will require construction workers, facilities management personnel, IT personnel, and even janitors. If you want on-site catered meals you’ll have to hire those personnel, or contract those services out – either way, jobs are being made to fulfill this requirement.

Want to build moon habitats? Need personnel for that. Stuff to go to Mars? Even more people.

The list of positions and specialities is very broad and I’ve only barely touched on them. The point being: a lot of people are required to get all of this done. Jobs will be created.

And as people go to space, the amenities they love on Earth will be wanted in space, and so other companies will follow. I know I’d want my Starbucks in the morning before going to work on a space station or moon colony, and I’d want internet connectivity to stay up on my news (and LOLcats).

This leads me to my next point-

2. Increase in Wealth for the Middle Class

Here’s an economic plan we can truly believe in (I have zero trust in Obama and his administration; my political quip for this post).

The increase in specialized, high skill jobs will lead to greater wealth in the middle class. Going to be working around fuels and explosives? Or a nuclear power plant for the ship, station, or colony? There’s added pay for that. Just because people are in space doesn’t mean government regulations about work and pay go away.

This is where government SHOULD step in: ensure that workers are treated fairly and pay is equitable both on Earth and out in space.

And I’m sure the new space companies will pay hefty salaries and wages to those who train, certify, and qualify on all the areas these companies need to cover – certain welding certifications, training on certain equipment, experience in programming systems for air/space craft, etc.

Some companies may even pay applicants to learn a new skill and/or job. Of course, this may come with a five year contract with the company. But a five year contract, with benefits, and annual or semi-annual raises? Probably starting at or around $25 an hour? (That’s really good in Nebraska. If it’s not good where you’re from, think about an equivalent wage. $35/hour? $45/hour? More?) It sounds like a good deal to me.

I caveat this with: I don’t like unions, and the space industry should strive to keep them out of the industry, and to attract union members out of unions with better benefits, 401(K)’s, IRAs/Roth IRAs, and wages. Who needs a union or some government organization to tell us we need to take care of our people? Good sense, and maybe a single article from Harvard Business Review can do that a hundred times better.

3. Increase in STEM Education

All of these space companies are going to need well educated workers. We don’t need to go to India or China to get them. We can get them, right here, in the US. The drive to space will drive schools to make the shift to the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines we need. Where the schools fail, the space companies could make up the short-fall with their own programs.

“Corporate funded schools are evil!” you say.

Not really, says I.

This is another place where the government could do a lot of good: tax credits to companies that run STEM-focused (though not exclusively STEM, gotta get history, government, and economics in there, and what about art?) schools that are low tuition or free, and if there is a tuition then give out scholarships to students in low income/impoverished parts of the United States. Amazing! Tapping into the untapped resources that reside in our low income neighborhoods/Section 8 housing. There ARE kids in those areas that want to excell! This would give them that chance! How can Democrats and Republicans NOT agree on this? (I’m sure there’s a way . . . unfortunately.)

Companies could also work together to set up classes and courses to give quality education and certification to high school and college level students to fulfill needs. It could be extended on the job training (OJT) with pay raises and bonuses based on milestones met, or number of job areas mastered both on paper and with experience.

Just ideas. Lots of ideas.

4. Taxes: Defeating That Fiscal Cliff

And now for an area the government can truly play its part: taxes.

We wouldn’t want to tax these companies too much. They’d just be starting out, just beginning to take man to space and help rebuild the economy. And I’m all for low taxes to stimulate the economy. But taxes must be levelled, none the less.

The increase in the number of people paying payroll tax would fill the US coffers, along with the corporate taxes the organizations themselves would have to pay.

There would also be licenses. The government would be right in validating the companies that are building these things. I’m sure there are already regulations in place that determine what Space X, Armadillo Aerospace, Planetary Resources, and Bigelow Aerospace can and cannot do. This is an excellent place for government to be to ensure the safety of the workers, the general public, and the State(s)/country.

This does NOT mean the government decides it needs an influx of government workers. We’re supposed to be fighting the deficit, and by extension the fiscal cliff, not making it worse. I admit, a few, A FEW, government employees will need to be hired. It’s the nature of the beast. But not on the level that the government probably would hire.

“We need a thousand GS 12 and 13 level employees to oversee space!” They would scream.

Really? I mean . . . really!? No, no you don’t. *Rolls up a newspaper and hits the government on the nose with it.* That’s a bad government!

So the government would have to get a clue and be frugal about its hires, and allow the taxes that flow from these space companies to pile up. They would actually have to save money. They would be on an actual budget . . .

Craziness, I know.

5. Because It’s Cool and the U. S. of A. Rocks

Yes, this is really one of my legitimate points.

Going into space is awesome. Did you see the Space Jump the other day? You did? That’s awesome. Wouldn’t you like to do that? I DO! Wouldn’t you want to go to the Moon and Mars and explore places humans have never seen with their own eyes. I DO! Wouldn’t you want to see the Moon and Mars explored, colonized, and perhaps even terraformed?

I DO! I DO! I DO!

We all should. How cool would that be!? What an experience!

And we as Americans can do it. We have the ideas and innovation, the drive, and the vision to do it. We have the sheer number of people and resources to create these companies and put people into space. It is possible. It can be done. Just look at some of the companies out there: Space X, Armadillo Aerospace, Bigelow Aerospace, Planetary Resources, Virgin Galactic. I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch.

People like John Carmack, Elon Musk, and Richard Bronson took the risk to go into space and succeeded. Sure, they could have failed, but they never would have known if they could or not if they didn’t try! (Yes, Sir Richard Bronson is British, but Virgin Galactics Space Port is here in the U.S. . . . ‘Mercia!)

Jersey Shore and Honey Boo Boo aside (WHY!?), the USofA is still great. We still have potential and we can still do amazing things. But we as Americans must stand up (off the couch) and take action.

Parting Thoughts

Writing this, I know I lack what I call for. I have no mechanical background. My STEM intelligence is low.

But I have the desire and drive to learn . . . and so far I’ve spent like $200 or more on rocketry books. Like one of my idols, John Carmack, I can teach myself. 🙂 And take some basic classes at the local community college.

My parting thought is that we are never too old to learn, and constant learning is part of constant self-improvement. And though I work hard to live by this principle purely for the sake of growing as an individual, in today’s world this is pretty much a requirement.

Until next time . . .

What Does a Technocrat Look Like?

So I’ve been slaving away at the next novel THE TECHNOCRAT. I’m forcing myself to stare at the screen and smash keys to create each chapter as I craft a story that people will love, hate, and obsess over (or so is the goal).

One of the things I’ve been dying to do is reveal as much about the Olympus Mons Technocracy, and the post-Earth universe, as possible. At the beginning of the novel there will be two entries: 1) The names of all current and former Technocrat Houses, and 2) the Military Table of Organization and Equipment for House d’Helion (which is also the basic structure of most Technocrat Houses, with some deviations).

Throughout the novel there will be asterics which will reference the glossary in the back. In addition to a glossary there will be black and white pictures of all of the equipment described in the book, from the Kraken Colossus to the Titan power armor.

The glossary and pictures are still in the works (VERY in the works). But I’ve completed the Technocrat House names (100% complete) and the d’Helion House Guards TO&E (about 75% complete, still tinkering with units/numbers). I’m posting them here for your viewing pleasure.

Aren’t you lucky? 🙂

You may notice that this military is rather small at around 8,000. In my post-Earth universe humanity has just started to recover from two centuries of warfare and the fact that when Earth died there were only about thirty-million people spread between Luna, Mars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter (Ganymede and Callisto), Saturn (Titan), and the asteroid belt (this is roughly the U.S. population in the 1950s). In 2306 the d’Helion District is home to roughly 420,000 people spread over an area about the size of the State of Kentucky, and is the third most populous district in the Olympus Mons Technocracy (the first is House York, and the second is House d’Angers).

So, in the post-Earth universe, a state that can muster what we would consider a single brigade today is a force to be reckoned with.

That said, the Olympus Mons Technocracy can muster 41 such forces (each between 2-8k personnel, depending on the population size of the district, and the penchant of the district’s population to serve in the military). So The Olympus Mons Technocracy has a reason for being the dominant power in the solar system. Its only real rivals are Elysium on Mars (comprised of Elysium Mons, Hecatus Tholus, and Albor Tholus), and Lakshimi on Venus. Lakshimi tends to struggle to compete with the two Martian powers, though, despite its size and population.

Now, without further ado:

Technocrat Houses 

Founding Houses                                Earth state of descent

Cartwright                                           North American Federation (Great Britain)

D’Angers                                            North American Federation (Australia)

D’Helion                                             North American Federation (Australia)

Della-Moretta                                      North American Federation (U.S.A)

Drella                                                  North American Federation (U.S.A)

Tokugawa                                           Japan

York                                                    North American Federation (Great Britain)

 

Founding Houses no longer in            Earth state of descent

existence (Due to absorption/eradication)

Itagaki-Iwakura                                  Japan

(Eradicated, 2144; Warrior Clan Uprising)

Orrick                                                  North American Federation (Great Britain)

(Absorbed by marriage by House Carver, 2245; now House Carver-Orrick)

 

Other Houses

Adunts-Heruny                                   Commonwealth of Independent States (Armenia)    

Bagabzade                                          Commonwealth of Independent States (Azerbaijan)

Bian-Goei                                            People’s Republic of China

Carver-Orrick                                      North American Federation (U.S.A./Great Britain)

Da Silva                                              Brazil

Emankumar                                         India

Glovatsky-Zavylov                             Commonwealth of Independent States (Kazakhstan)           

Himura                                                Japan

Hsieh                                                   People’s Republic of China

Jagr-Korbel                                         Central European Pact (Czech Republic)

Labat-Teixeira                                     Brazil

Lekimeju                                             Kenya

Khrapaty                                             Commonwealth of Independent States (Kazakhstan)           

Malyeshev                                           Russian Federation

Monteith                                             North American Federation (Scotland)

Nguyen                                               Vietnam

Nimeiri                                                Sudan

Ocalan                                                 Kurdistan

O’Faelechoin                                       North American Federation (Ireland)

Pruszkowski                                        Central European Pact (Poland)

Rashidov                                             Commonwealth of Independent States (Uzbekistan)           

Rheem                                                 Korea

Rostovtzeff                                         Russian Federation

Sathyanarayana                                   India

Sarybaev                                             Commonwealth of Independent States (Kyrgyzstan)

Satar Khan                                          Afghanistan

Tetradze                                              Commonwealth of Independent States (Georgia)

Teteriuk                                               Commonwealth of Independent States (Kazakhstan)

Ts’ong                                                 People’s Republic of China

Van Wovalaer                                     Scandanavian Alliance (Denmark)

Wolfert                                                Central European Pact (Germany)

Youj                                                    Korea

Zeimoto                                               Brazil

Zoidze                                                 Commonwealth of Independent States (Georgia)

 

Other Houses no longer in existence  Earth state of decent

(Due to absorption/eradication)

Chazov-Grachev                                 Russian Federation

(Eradicated, 2210; Russ Civil War)

Gergiev                                               Russian Federation

(Eradicated, 2210; Russ Civil War)

Goldhawk                                           North American Federation (Great Britain)

(Absorbed by marriage by House d’Helion, 2298)

Von Trotha                                          Central European Pact (Germany)

(Absorbed by marriage by House Wolfert, 2280)

House d’Helion Military Ranks and Organization

Ranks

House Technocrat Lord (Technocrat Lord Rickard Justinian d’Helion, as of 2306)

Commander

Captain

Chief

Trooper

Organization

Squad/Section – 10 troopers/2Vehicles                 Flight – 2 fighters

Company – 5 Squads/Sections + Support             Wing – 5 Flights + Support

Battalion – 4 Companies + HQ                             Fighter Battalion – 5 Wings + HQ Wing

D’Helion House Guards (appx. 8,000 personnel)

Note: This number includes base support personnel for training facilities, ammunition supply point, movement control yards, etc.

Note: Approximately 1.9% of the d’Helion District population serves in the military as of 2306. 

Headquarters (207 combat personnel, 120 support personnel)

HQ – 1 Oracle Colossi (Lord Rickard d’Helion), 4 Kraken Colossi, 2 Lynx Colossi

Alpha Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Beta Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Delta Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Gama Company (Scouts/Pathfinders) – 5x Ranger power armor squads

1st Battalion (207 combat personnel, 120 support personnel)

HQ – 1 Oracle Colossi (Lady Celeste d’Helion), 4 Kraken Colossi, 2 Lynx Colossi

Alpha Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Beta Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Delta Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Gama Company (Scouts/Pathfinders) – 5x Ranger power armor squads

2nd Battalion (207 combat personnel, 120 support personnel)

HQ – 1 Oracle Colossi, 4 Kraken Colossi, 2 Lynx Colossi

Alpha Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Beta Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Delta Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Gama Company (Scouts/Pathfinders) – 5x Ranger power armor squads

 

3rd Battalion (207 combat personnel, 120 support personnel)

HQ – 1 Oracle Colossi, 4 Kraken Colossi, 2 Lynx Colossi

Alpha Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Beta Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Delta Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Gama Company (Scouts/Pathfinders) – 5x Ranger power armor squads

 

1st Armored Battalion (155 combat personnel, 100 support personnel)

HQ – 1x Oracle Colossus, 5x Mars MBT sections

Alpha Company – 1x Kraken Colossus, 5x Mars MBT sections

Beta Company – 1x Kraken Colossus, 5x Mars MBT sections

Delta Company – 1x Kraken Colossus, 5x Mars MBT sections

Gamma Company – 1x Kraken Colossus, 5x Mars MBT sections

 

1st Cavalry Battalion (135 combat personnel, 100 support personnel)

HQ – 1x Oracle Colossus, 2x Mars MBT sections, 3x Apollo Light Tank sections

Alpha Company – 1x Kraken Colossus, 2x Mars MBT sections, 3x Apollo Light Tank sections

Beta Company – 1x Kraken Colossus, 2x Mars MBT sections, 3x Apollo Light Tank sections

Delta Company – 1x Kraken Colossus, 2x Mars MBT sections, 3x Apollo Light Tank sections

Gamma Company – 1x Kraken Colossus, 2x Mars MBT sections, 3x Apollo Light Tank sections

 

1st Reserve Battalion (221 combat personnel, 120 support personnel)

HQ – 1 Oracle Colossi, 2 Spartan Colossi

Alpha Company – 3x Standard infantry squads, 2 Heavy weapon squads + 3x Auxilia IFV Sections

Beta Company – 3x Standard infantry squads, 2 Heavy weapon squads + 3x Auxilia IFV Sections

Delta Company – 3x Standard infantry squads, 2 Heavy weapon squads + 3x Auxilia IFV Sections

Gama Company (Scouts/Pathfinders) – 5x Scout squads

2nd Reserve Battalion (221 combat personnel, 120 support personnel)

HQ – 1 Oracle Colossi, 2 Spartan Colossi

Alpha Company – 3x Standard infantry squads, 2 Heavy weapon squads + 3x Auxilia IFV Sections

Beta Company – 3x Standard infantry squads, 2 Heavy weapon squads + 3x Auxilia IFV Sections

Delta Company – 3x Standard infantry squads, 2 Heavy weapon squads + 5x Auxilia IFV Sections

Gama Company (Scouts/Pathfinders) – 5x Scout squads

1st Reserve Armored Battalion (105 combat personnel, 80 support personnel)

HQ – 1x Oracle Colossus, 5x Hoplite Medium Tank sections

Alpha Company – 1x Spartan Colossus, 5x Mars Hoplite Medium Tank sections

Beta Company – 1x Spartan Colossus, 5x Mars Hoplite Medium Tank sections

Delta Company – 1x Spartan Colossus, 5x Mars Hoplite Medium Tank sections

Gamma Company – 1x Spartan Colossus, 5x Mars Hoplite Medium Tank sections

 

Navy

Leviathan Cronus (4,000 personnel)

Cronus Fighter Battalion

HQ – 5x Flights of Lysander space/atmospheric fighters

Alpha Wing – 5x Flights of Lysander space/atmospheric fighters

Beta Wing – 5x Flights of Lysander space/atmospheric fighters

Delta Wing – 5x Flights of Lysander space/atmospheric fighters

Gama Wing – 5x Flights of Chimera shuttles

Olympian-class Cruiser OMTS Hydra (150 personnel)

2x Wings Lysander space/atmospheric fighters + 2x Flights Chimera shuttles

Olympian-class Cruiser OMTS Elizabeth Judith d’Helion (150 personnel)

2x Wings Lysander space/atmospheric fighters + 2x Flights Chimera shuttles

Hellspawn-class Cruiser OMTS Wrath of d’Helion (100 personnel)

1x Wing Lysander space/atmospheric fighters + 1 Flight Chimera shuttles

Ascraeus-class Destroyer OMTS Isaac d’Helion (75 personnel)

            2x Flights Chimera shuttles

Ascraeus-class Destroyer OMTS Pride of d’Helion (75 personnel)

2x Flights Chimera shuttles

Ascraeus-class Destroyer OMTS Red Rage (75 personnel)

2x Flights Chimera shuttles

Tiger Shark-class Frigate OMTS Crimson Death (25 personnel)

Tiger Shark-class Frigate OMTS Drake (25 personnel)

Tiger Shark-class Frigate OMTS Griffin (25 personnel)

Naval Reserve (60 combat personnel, 120 support personnel)

HQ – 5x Flights of Lysander space/atmospheric fighters

Alpha Wing – 5x Flights of Lysander space/atmospheric fighters

Beta Wing – 5x Flights of Lysander space/atmospheric fighters

Delta Wing – 5x Flights of Lysander space/atmospheric fighters

Gama Wing – 5x Flights of Chimera shuttles

1st Training Battalion (20 permanent training personnel)

HQ – Command/Administration

Alpha Company – 3 Drill Instructors

Beta Company – 3 Drill Instructors

Delta Company – 3 Drill Instructors

Gamma Company – 3 Drill Instructors

2nd Training Battalion (20 permanent training personnel)

HQ – Command/Administration

Alpha Company – 3 Drill Instructors

Beta Company – 3 Drill Instructors

Delta Company – 3 Drill Instructors

Gamma Company – 3 Drill Instructors