Ex Bibliotheca

The life and times of Zack Weinberg.

Saturday, 31 August 2002

# 8:50 PM

check your facts, mmmkay?

This is the text of the letter I just sent to the errata-reporting address for Shadowrun:

On page 128 of Target:Wastelands is the paragraph


Firearms do not function in outer space unless modified to accept an air tank connection. Modifying a weapon to accept an air tank connection increases the cost by an additional 50 percent. Explosives (including rockets and missiles) also do not function in space unless built with an integral oxidizer. Explosives built with an integral oxidizer also cost an additional 50 percent more than their normal counterparts.

This does not match reality. All explosive compounds, including gunpowder, already have "integral oxidizers" — they could not explode otherwise, even in an atmosphere. Therefore firearms, and other explosives will all work in outer space, without needing to be modified for air tanks or integral oxidizers.

I suspect you put this in for game balance. If so, consider instead that explosive-propelled weapons may work in outer space, but probably not well, unless specifically designed for that environment. Normal missiles and guns are designed with assumptions about the presence of air and gravity. For instance, a normal smart missile makes course corrections by adjusting its fins; in outer space there is no atmosphere so that won't work. The smart missile effectively becomes a dumb one. Guns are more likely to jam or fire inaccurately — it would be plausible to apply target number modifiers for each turn a gun is used in a zero gravity environment, until it is disassembled and realigned (rather like the existing rule for sniper rifles). The simpler a gun is, the less it should be affected by this.

Bombs and demolition explosives, on the other hand, should work perfectly fine in outer space.

Since outer space is such a tightly controlled environment, the market for firearms that work reliably there is going to be tiny; I would suggest applying markups of 5x to 10x list price, or even forcing the PCs to have custom design work done.

# 6:25 AM

Today I helped my sister move out of her apartment in San Francisco. We went to Joe's Cable Car Restaurant for lunch, with her boyfriend and one of her flatmates who was also moving out. Joe's could well be the most expensive hamburger joint west of the Mississippi - we spent $15 per person! - but it is also damn good.

Came home and installed a shiny new three-prong outlet in the kitchen so that I can plug in my microwave. There was nothing behind the old outlet to attach the grounding screw to... so I didn't attach it to anything. No great loss. The microwave may be marginally less safe than it should be, but if I wanted a safe electrical system I shouldn't be living in this building in the first place.

Oh, and in the nifty things department, Patrick Farley is now doing a new weekly comic strip called Barracuda: The Scotty Zaccharine Story. He describes it as "looking back at dot-com San Francisco."