jerril: A cartoon head with caucasian skin, brown hair, and glasses. (Default)
I have never cooked with fresh mussels before (I use smoked mussels regularly). I was lucky enough to find a couple of pounds of live mussels at the store cheap today, and decided to spoil myself tonight.

This is based on a few recipes I found online, I'm very satisfied with the results.

Yield: Serves 4 as a first course (serve with toasted bread rounds) or as a main course when served over rice. Serves two when just served with bread to mop up the last of the broth :)

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 12-15 minutes

900g live cultivated mussels, cleaned and beards removed.
1-2 tablespoons crushed garlic. One is nice, two is for garlic fiends like myself. Alternately, 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic.
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 stick unsalted room-temperature butter, cut into pieces
a drizzle of olive oil (probably 3 tablespoons?)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I used 1/2 but I love black pepper. I would have used more, but it might have oppressed the mussels.
Optional: couple of tablespoons chopped bacon or fresh bacon bits (not the crunchy dried stuff).
Optional: 1/4 teaspoon salt (definitely skip if you use salted butter, or add bacon, or are watching your salt)

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Sort through mussels, cleaning, debearding, and removing dead ones. This is a good guide, particularly on how to figure out which mussels are only "playing dead". Tip if you're suspicious about some of your "dead" mussels being fakers: make a bowl of modestly salty water (very cold) to toss the suspects into. Shake them around, then check them again.

Spread mussels in a 13- by 9-inch baking dish.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Chop parsley (~1cm), combine with remaining ingredients in middle-sized mixing bowl.
Using your hands, kneed and mash together until everything's mashed into the butter and mixed together pretty evenly.
Rub buttery parsley garlicy mess together between your hands to break up into little bits.
Sprinkle as evenly as possible over the mussels.
Cover tightly with foil and bake in middle of oven until mussels open, 12 to 15 minutes.
Serve immediately, while hot.

Notes: If you don't cover tightly with foil, the steam will escape and your mussels will be dry, rather than swimming in a lovely seafood broth.
The salt is probably unnecessary.
I have a cold house (18C), cold hands, and a chilly ceramic mixing bowl, so my butter mixture was pretty firm and therefore could be treated roughly without getting squidgy. If you have a warm house, warm hands, a plastic mixing bowl, or all three, or just don't like getting your hands messy, the alternative is to soften the butter and dump it all in a food processor and smash it to a paste.
Alternate versions use 1/2 stick of butter and no olive oil. Some people apparently are using a whole stick of butter and tons of garlic. So feel free to adjust your fats as you prefer (you can probably completely replace butter with olive oil).

Touching the Ghost

2017-Jun-21, Wednesday 10:10
jerril: A cartoon head with caucasian skin, brown hair, and glasses. (default)
This is a breakdown on getting Insubstantial characters to interact with physical things. It's ordered in roughly order of cost of the enhancement(s).

Partial Change, +20% only

You may interact physically with substantial targets, but do so by materializing parts of your body to do so. This renders you vulnerable to Parry/Block, and various kinds of counter-attack (Wait-and-Attack will probably become very popular for your targets). Does not require Affects Substantial, as you are exposing yourself. Your entire hand (or foot, or whatever) becomes substantial as part of any attack.
If you want to attack while insubstantial and be immune to counter-attack by remaining insubstantial, you should take Affects Substantial and add the +40% Affects Substantial enhancement to your ST.
You may only interact by pushing, shoving, hitting, poking, etc. You cannot lift or pull things, nor can you grapple or pin. You may not use extraordinary abilities without taking Affects Substantial - you may only interact crudely; even extraordinary abilities tied to body-parts (the Deathtouch spell, an Innate Attack with the Melee limitation defined as claws, etc) cannot be used without Affects Substantial applied to Insubstantial (and to the extraordinary ability, if appropriate).

Partial Change, +20% + Can Cary Objects, any level

As above, but you may now also lift and carry, pull, grapple, and pin (subject to your Can Cary Objects weight limit). Objects remain substantial, and the body part(s) manipulating the object are also substantial (and targetable in combat by substantial foes).

Can Cary Objects, any level

You may turn objects insubstantial by holding/wearing them when you become insubstantial. When you drop them, they become substantial. You can't throw them or swing them as weapons or use them to manipulate physical objects (unless it's a magic ghost weapon Gadget type thing, which is cheating 😁 ). You may not pick up substantial objects while insubstantial, nor may you turn substantial objects insubstantial without carrying them with you as you yourself turn insubstantial. To acquire more insubstantial objects, become substantial and then pick them up like normal people.
Despite lacking "direct" combat actions, this enhancement still has significant combat applications - pulling the pin on a hand-grenade and dropping it (so it becomes substantial and harmless to you) is only the most flashy. It also allows you to do things like drop caltrops, blow poison powders or smoke/gas issuing devices, and generally deploy environmental hazards.

Partial Change, +100% + Can Cary Objects, any level

You may now also take your equipment that became Insubstantial with you, and turn it Substantial, without dropping it. This allows, eg, a Super-Ninja to walk through the wall with his trademarked poisoned shuriken and throw them or use them to claw at guards, rather than just dropping them - which isn't very ninja-awesome. It's not specified in the quote, but it seems very much that it goes the other way as well - you can steal things and turn them insubstantial.

Affects Substantial, +100%

If you have any ability that notes it can be used while Insubstantial on substantial targets, you must take this enhancement. This includes abilities that work with a penalty when crossing states. This also includes any ability that has the Affects Substantial, +40% modifier applied to it to upgrade it - yes, you have to pay in two places. It's that expensive because it's that awesome.
Failing to take this enhancement locks out all abilities that would normally otherwise cross the substantial/insubstantial border to work only on targets in the same condition as yourself .

Affects Substantial, +40% applied to ST

As per GURPS Power Ups 4: Enhancements pp. 9-10, following the provided procedure to "Enhance" ST with Affects Substantial benefits all unarmed melee attacks, for striking only. Remember Claws, ST-Based Innate Attacks, Strikers, and Teeth will also require the enhancement if you wish to enjoy this enhancement with them.

Untouchable Deadly Assassin (Contains House Rules)

An Insubstantial character who wishes to be able to interact with the physical world as if solid, but be interacted with as if Insubstantial without any of the pesky problems of partial materialization should take the following meta-enhancement on Insubstantial:
Untouchable Deadly Assassin (+350%): Affects Substantial, +100%; Can Cary Objects: Heavy, +100%; Cosmic: Interact Physically While Completely Insubstantial, +50%; Partial Materialization, +100%.

Cosmic: Interact Physically While Completely Insubstantial

This is an application of Cosmic: Removes Restrictions. This house-rule modifier requires every other enhancement in the meta-enhancement; it is not separable. Can Cary Objects allows supporting weight; Partial Materialization gives the ability to manipulate physical objects while otherwise Insubstantial; Cosmic is required to remove the requirement to partially expose yourself to attack, and Affects Substantial is required because you now have an ability that allows you to interact physically with the environment while remaining safely insubstantial.
You will still need to apply the Affects Substantial enhancement to any extraordinary abilities that you wish to also apply to the physical world.
Note that defenders aware of your attacks will still be able to defend. You will need to add separate enhancements to your abilities to bypass this. Being an Untouchable Unstoppable Deadly Assassin is terribly expensive. Go shopping in the Malediction and Cosmic section for the usual heavy-hitters in this respect, but Respiratory, Blood-Based etc may be useful.
Note to GMs: You may wish to also require the player to buy Affects Substantial on ST as the character is now effectively enjoying the complete benefit of this enhancement.
jerril: A cartoon head with caucasian skin, brown hair, and glasses. (Default)
Precis – Two new magic items: the spiked shield Warding Horns of the Prince, and the flail Crushing Hooves of Thunder.

These are still a little rough compared to the last two. My GM uses an enchantment system that is based on advantages to go with the Sorcery magic in his game. Hloomawl, Minotaur prince, and General of the Resistance has acquired these.

Warding Horns of the Prince

This spiked shield is extremely large, made as a full-body (DB +3) shield for a SM +1 warrior; SM 0 characters are at -1 to Shield skill and to any weapon skill when using it, along with the usual -2 for being a Large class shield. It is made from black-oak planks laminated together and faced in leather, with a spiked iron shield boss. It is Fine (Balanced), like the weapon quality modifier, giving +1 to Shield skill (for attacks like slams and bashes, and for calculating blocks).
It weighs 34 pounds, has object DR 4 and has 36 HP. These are much higher than expected!
Warding Horns of the Prince lives to defend, and gives the wielder a +1 to Block.
If the wielder of Warding Horns of the Prince has Shield Wall Training, their blocks for others accumulate multiple-block penalties on a separate "track" from their own. E.G. If Hloomawl blocks for himself, and then blocks for Attivi, the block for Attivi is not at -5 for repeated Blocks. If Hloomawl then needs to block for himself a second time before his turn, he blocks at only -5. If he then needs to block for Skyler, that block will be at -5 as Hloomawl has already blocked for Attivi. Hloomawls blocks for himself don't count when calculating the penalty for shielding Skyler.

Under the Hood:

Enhanced Block +1 [5]
Warding Blocks:
Effectively this provides a second, "virtual" shield; I've put No Signature on because there's no visible second shield, but in this case it's obvious that the wielder is making "real" blocks. The Payload is to "carry" a copy of the shield without suffering encumbrance.
* Extra Arm 1 (No Signature, +20%; Only to defend others, -20%; Shield Mount, -80%) [4]
* Payload 4 (No Signature, +20%) [5]
Note that this Payload is for a ST 22 character! A less mighty character will need to buy more Payload.
New perk. Shield appears to be a "light" shield, but has the stats of a heavy shield.

Crushing Hooves of Thunder

This great Flail is easily a two-handed weapon for a normal warrior, but Hloomawl the minotaur prince wields it one-handed. It counts as Balanced and Fine quality, belying its utilitarian exterior.
Whenever the wielder of Crushing Hooves of Thunder menaces someone, he is dramatically punctuated by a grumble of distant thunder (+1 to Intimidation vs non-deaf foes; exceptions made for creatures with ties to storms/thunder e.g. storm spirits).
Whenever Crushing Hooves of Thunder knocks down or kills a foe, it emits a terrifying clash of thunder. The wielder gets to use either the Flourish perk or the Follow-Through perk.
Crushing Hooves of Thunder loves to smash in the skulls of its foes. +4 to attack the Skull hit location.
Those hit by Crushing Hooves of Thunder are forced to the ground by a bolt from above (2d cr nw dkb, delivered from above when determining direction of knockback).
Those hit by Crushing Hooves of Thunder are deafened by the bolt, and often knocked out entirely. (If damage gets past DR, make a HT roll at -1 per 2 points of penetrating damage. If the victim fails, they're deafened. If they fail by 5 or more or critfail, they're knocked Unconscious for 20-HT minutes).

Under the Hood:

+1 to a skill (Intimidation) [2]
2 Perks: Flourish, Follow-through[2] - both are specialized in whichever Flail skill you are using to wield Crushing Hooves of Thunder
Targeted Attack Technique (Swing/Skull) +4 [7] again, specialized in whichever Flail skill you are using.
Crushing Attack 2d (No Wounding, -50%; Double Knockback, +20%; Overhead, +30%; Followup Crushing Hooves of Thunder Swing, -20%) [8]
Modified ST-Based Damage 2d+4 (base points 16; Side Effect, Thunderbolt, +110%) [18]

Sidebar: Thunderbolt Side Effect, +110%

Side Effect, +50%
  • Disadvantage, Deafness, +20%
  • Unconsciousness, Secondary, +40%
jerril: A cartoon head with caucasian skin, brown hair, and glasses. (Default)
Precis – a paired set of Artifact style magic items: the javelins Shock and Awe. Includes description, a bit of history, and stats.

This was my submission to the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Magic Items contest; these definitely qualify as artifacts under the 40 Artifacts guidelines :)

Shock and Awe

This pair of Balanced, Fine, Orichalcum javelins have a mysterious provenance, rumored to be the handiwork of a great dwarven craftsman empowered by an airy spirit whoes heart he captured (by romance or by trickery, the stories do not say).

Both are fancifully decorated, counting as Ornate +3. Shock is edged in electrum and the javelin head is in the shape of a stylized lightning bolt. Awe is gilded, and the javelin head portrays the sun, with the blade formed from the suns rays being twisted together.

In combat, Shock and Awe have dazzling features. Neither can be parried or blocked, only dodged. Once either hits or misses, it disintegrates and reforms in its wielders hand on his next turn, instantly ready.

Shock transforms into a lightning bolt when hurled, coursing across the battlefield with a flash and a bang. Whatever it strikes suffers Linked 2d burning damage with the Surge, Arcing enhancement (Psionic Powers page 20), and it produces a Thunderclap (as per the spell, Magic page 171) with itself as the subject.

Awe transforms into a blast of sunlight when hurled, with the fury of a thousand desert noons. The entire line of hexes between the thrower and whatever it finally strikes are lit as per the Sunlight spell (Magic page 114) for one minute. Whatever it strikes suffers Linked 2d tight-beam burning damage, and it produces a Flash (as per the spell, Magic page 112) with itself as the "caster".

Shock and Awe together are a 13 FP Power Item. They cannot be separated for long; at the stroke of noon if they are not in the possession of the same person, both Shock and Awe vanish with a Flash and a Thunderclap.

Arctic Kangaroos

2017-Jun-16, Friday 07:22
jerril: A cartoon head with caucasian skin, brown hair, and glasses. (Default)
Precis – A statblock for a fictional arctic kangaroo. Also includes new traits: Bounder, Macropod Tail, Snow-Walker, Cellulose Eater, Seasonal Camouflage.
There's no such thing as an Arctic kangaroo. Irregardless, I dreamed that a talking arctic kangaroo was knocking at my window at 6 AM in the predawn darkness, nagging me to go running with him. In the snow. To hell with that.

My amateur dream analysis is that I'm painfully Australian/Canadian, and I need to get out and exercise more.

Care of my slightly demented dreams, have a GURPS template for a talking Arctic kangaroo. This writeup owes a debt to the GURPS Animalia website by lwcamp/Pizard, but has been significantly modified.

Talking Arctic Kangaroo, 166 points
Traits marked with an * are listed below the template.

ST +3 [30]; DX +1 [20]; IQ -1 [-20]; Will +1 [5]; Perception +3 [15]
Advantages: Blunt Claws [3]; Bounder* [57]; DR 2 (Tough Skin, -40%) [6]; Discriminatory Smell [15]; Macropod Tail * [23]; Night Vision 4 [4]; Parabolic Hearing 2 [8]; Peripheral Vision [15]; Reduced Consumption 2 (Water Only, -50%) [2]; Sharp Teeth [1]; Snow-Walker * [6]; Temperature Tolerance 2 (Cold) [2]; Ultrahearing [5].
Perks: Cellulose Eater*; Fur; Seasonal Camouflage*.
Disadvantages: Bad Grip 1 (Doesn't Affect Climbing Rolls, -20%) [-4]; Bad Sight 4 (Motion Sensitive)* [-4]; Ham-Fisted 1 [-5]; Short Arms [-10]; Social Stigma (Valuable Property) [-10].
Quirks: Panic (Flight Instinct)*.

Bounder, 57 points
You move effortlessly overland on good terrain at high speeds, and can effortlessly make huge broad jumps. Note that a character using Bounding-granted Enhanced Move still has cornering and handling issues, even if they can accelerate to top speed instantly).
Enhanced Move 1 (Ground; Cosmic, Instantaneous Acceleration, +50%) [30]; Basic Move +3 [15]; Super Jump 1.5 (Horizontal Only, -25%) [12]. I allow half levels of Super Jump based on the precedent of Enhanced Move, which is another exponential-growth based movement trait.

Macropod Tail, 23 points
Crushing Striker (Clumsy, -1 to skill, -20%; Limited Arc, -40%; Long +1, +100%) [7]; Perfect Balance [15]; Perk: Tail acts as a fifth leg when crawling.

Snow-Walker, 6 points
Alternate Ability of Terrain Adaptation (Ice) and Terrain Adaptation (Snow). You don't use them at the same time, ergo they should be an AA. This has been suggested by Kromm/PK.

Bad Sight (Motion Sensitive), -1/level up to 10 levels
As per the GURPS Animalia house rule

Cellulose Eater perk
You're an omnivore that can eat anything a human can eat, and also you can eat grasses, twigs, lichen, and tree bark. They're not terribly nutritious, but you can get nutrition out of them. Yes, I know lichen isn't cellulose.

Seasonal Camouflage perk
You get a +1 to Camouflage skill to hide yourself, and to Stealth skill in your native environment; both bonuses only apply in the appropriate seasons. As a downside, you shed dramatically in the spring and fall.

Panic (Flight Instinct) quirk
As per the GURPS Animalia house rule. This is the quirk level of Panic, obviously.

Mi Band 1 Day One

2017-Feb-28, Tuesday 00:05
jerril: A cartoon head with caucasian skin, brown hair, and glasses. (Default)
Following up on my hallucinatory athletic Kangaroos, I now have a fitness tracker. I've been calling it my UnFitBit, but it's actually a Mi Band X64 Sport. It arrived in the mail today, and the QR code for the app doesn't work any more.

For people trying to find the app for the Mi Band 1 (not the Mi Band 2!), the app is "getfit 2.0". Tethering the Mi Band to your phone via Bluetooth is difficult; it aggressively saves battery (which is good!) but this means the window for tethering after you push the "wake" button on the Mi Band is *tiny*. It's taken me an hour of jiggery pokery to get it to tether, but it has finally done so. If you're having trouble getting your Mi Band to Bluetooth tether, I have a few suggestions.

0) Preparation: Get a buddy. Fully charge the Mi Band.
1) Turn OFF your bluetooth and then restart your phone with Bluetooth off. Don't start any other apps when your phone starts.
2) Give your Mi Band to your buddy, get them to start clicking on the wake button every five or so seconds, to keep it lit up. Don't let them stop until you've got it tethered.
3) Start GetFit and when it asks to turn on Bluetooth, do so. Tether to the Mi Band, the PIN will be shown on your GetFit screen and is almost certainly 0.
4) Finish GetFit setup. Your Buddy can stop clicking on the Mi Band once the date and time updates to the correct date/time.
5) You're done!


jerril: A cartoon head with caucasian skin, brown hair, and glasses. (Default)

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