A Penny for Your Thoughts

Guns and Stuff
written in 2001

You know how every game in the whole wide world has a list of guns, and they all duplicate, and they all have the same stupid useless stats? I got so sick of trying to figure out what gun my character would use based on those lame stats. Accuracy Factor +3, I mean really. So here's my solution, which is my own take on that list. It includes some non-guns but don't be deceived.

You get a bonus to your roll when you use a thing for something it's good for. You get a big bonus when you use it for something it's ideal for. And you get a penalty and/or mocked if you use if for something it's lousy for.

Credits: I consulted heavily with Drew Baker, who was at the time in tight with the gun geeks on the Millennium's End mailing list. Emily Care did all the real work for the body armor. ěystein Alsaker did the drugs from morphine down, the vegetables, the real martial arts, and the superhero superpowers. Mike Holmes suggested more realistic stats for the M16.


9mm handgun
Access: By permit, gun dealership, city PD, FBI, the top shelf of dad's closet.
Ideal for: Quick draw, shooting someone at really close range, using two at once, shooting paper targets.
Good for: Shooting someone at moderate range, hiding under your clothing, mounting a silencer onto, taping a laser pointer onto.
Lousy for: Sniping, shooting through a car door.
(Glocks are additionally ideal for never ever breaking down no matter what.)

.22 caliber handgun
Access: by permit, Wal-mart, Big D's sporting goods.
Ideal for: Shooting beer bottles in your back yard, hiding in your clothes or handbag.
Good for: Killing someone dead even though it's teeny-tiny. It's still a gun, after all.
Lousy for: Killing someone dead for sure at any range other than point blank, killing someone dead for sure if they're physically large or wearing anything at all protective, shooting through anything.

10mm or .40 caliber handgun
Access: By permit, gun dealership.
Ideal for: Showing off that you're a gun geek by thinking that there's a difference.
Good for: Being somewhere between a 9mm and a .45 caliber handgun.
Lousy for: Looting the right caliber ammo for from dead thugs.

.45 caliber handgun
Access: By permit, gun dealership, city PD.
Ideal for: Penetrating slightly less and having slightly more stopping power than a 9mm handgun.
Good for: Being basically the same as a 9mm handgun.
Lousy for: Oh, come on. It's a handgun. It's lousy for removing plaque from between your teeth, but you can try it if you want.

9mm submachinegun
Access: SWAT, FBI, ATF, USSF, SEAL, private security firms.
Ideal for: Shooting way more bullets than have any effect, hosing down a board meeting or bar scene, taping a flashlight to the end of.
Good for: Using two at once (but tacky), shooting a short burst, pulling out from under your jacket, mounting a silencer onto.
Lousy for: Shooting one bullet at a time, hitting anything except by volume of fire.

Pump Shotgun
Access: By permit, gun dealership, Big D's sporting goods, city PD, FBI, ATF.
Ideal for: Doing lots of collateral damage, intimidating someone, making that pump shotgun noise.
Good for: Killing someone way dead with one shot at close range.
Lousy for: Shooting someone at moderate or longer range, quick draws, hitting someone after a shot misses.

Access: Illegal gun dealer.
Ideal for: When you absolutely, positively got to kill every burgerflipper in the place.
Good for: Firing a short controlled burst, shooting at lots of people at long range, sniping.
Lousy for: Winging someone, taking a hipshot, hiding under your clothes, keeping quiet.

Access: ATF, US Armed Forces, illegal gun dealers.
Ideal for: Shooting a million bullets into the jungle, shooting through a car door, shooting a really effective 3-round burst.
Good for: Shooting through body armor, shooting many people, shooting an accurate single shot at pretty good range, mounting a grenade launcher onto, mounting a laser or optical sight onto, mounting a low-light scope onto.
Lousy for: Being unobtrusive, not breaking down, taking a hipshot, mounting a silencer onto.

Underbarrel grenade launcher
Access: US Armed Forces, USSF, SEAL.
Ideal for: Providing a little bit of counterweight when you're firing full auto.
Good for: Lobbing a grenade into those hard-to-reach places.
Lousy for: Shooting when it's not mounted onto a gun.

Bolt-action rifle
Access: By permit, Wal-mart, Big D's sporting goods.
Ideal for: Shooting when you have a little time and space and perfect accuracy isn't critical because you can follow up with another shot - like from a second story window into a slow-moving convertible limousine, if you'll forgive me saying so.
Good for: Shooting a deer, mounting an optical scope onto, shooting at a nice long range, shooting a tranquilizer dart.
Lousy for: Taking a hipshot, hiding under your coat, mounting a silencer onto, high-pressure sniping.

.357 Magnum
Access: By permit, gun dealership.
Ideal for: Intimidating someone, blowing a big hole in someone, being frickin' huge.
Good for: Shooting through a car door, shooting through a cinderblock wall, shooting through someone into whatever's on the other side, running out of bullets.
Lousy for: Hiding in your clothes, keeping quiet.


Laser pointer
Access: A.J. Hastings stationer, Wal-mart.
Ideal for: Irritating the usher at a movie theater.
Good for: Highlighting things on a blackboard.
Lousy for: Heating up microwave popcorn.

Big knife
Access: The knife shop at the mall, Big D's sporting goods, mail order.
Ideal for: Killing someone quietly and intimately, intimidating someone who isn't an actual martial artist, being knocked away by an actual martial artist.
Good for: Quick draw, cutting someone up in a fight, hiding under your clothes.
Lousy for: Cutting up onions without crying, getting through airport security.

Magnetic infrared high-explosive heatseeking waterproof watch of doom
Access: Q.
Ideal for, Good for, and Lousy for: Well isn't it obvious?

Telescoping tactical baton
Access: City PD, FBI, private security firms, mail order.
Ideal for: Whipping out on very short notice, surprising someone who thinks he has the upper hand.
Good for: Whacking someone silly, disarming someone, breaking someone's hands or kneecaps, knocking the ice off the bumper of your car.
Lousy for: Light bdsm play.

Baseball bat
Access: Toys 'r' Us.
Ideal for: Hitting a baseball. Natch.
Good for: Hitting anything, smashing a car window or mailbox, breaking someone's arm or knees or skull, intimidating someone, clutching when you hear an intruder in your house and you'd kind of like to get shot.
Lousy for: Intimidating someone with a gun.

Broken whiskey bottle
Access: Bar, package store.
Ideal for: Being there when you need it, leaving impressive scars.
Good for: Keeping someone at bay, cutting someone up pretty badly actually, being trumped by a chair smashed over your head.
Lousy for: Shaving.

Body Armor

Silk body armor
Access: Japanese Shogunate, early 20th century Eastern European
aristocratic military tailor.
Ideal for: Protecting Arch-duke Ferdinand's body while his head got blown off.
Good for: Keeping you safe in style and elegance from extremely low-powered armaments, like say BBs.
Lousy for: Protecting you from any real damage.

WWII-style flack jacket
Access: Antique store, army-navy surplus store.
Ideal for: Looking bulky and being cumbersome.
Good for: Protecting you from shrapnel and friendly fire fall out.
Lousy for: Keeping bullets from killing you.

Lightweight concealable body armor
Access: PD, FBI, ATF, private security firms.
Ideal for: Being light and comfortable.
Good for: Protecting you from low-velocity .22 rifles and .38 special revolvers, being able to fall asleep in it.
Lousy for: Protecting you from non-bullet blunt injury or a knife, protecting you at all if it's been immersed in water.

Type IIA and Type II NIJ standard concealable body armor
Access: PD, FBI, ATF, private security firms.
Ideal for: Always being aware that you're wearing it.
Good for: Protecting you from .357 Magnum and 9mm bullets, reducing injuries from car crashes or motorcycle accidents, reducing blunt injury from a baseball bat or whatever.
Lousy for: Protecting you from a knife.

Type IIIA concealable body armor
Access: PD, FBI, ATF, private security firms.
Ideal for: Constantly having to adjust or fidget with.
Good for: Protecting you from .44 magnums and 9mm submachineguns while still being concealable, significantly reducing injuries from car crashes, baseball bats, and whatever other blunt traumas.
Lousy for: Tangoing, wearing comfortably for any length of time.

Semi-rigid plate body armor
Access: PD, SWAT, private security firms.
Ideal for: Protecting you completely from small-arms fire.
Good for: Protecting you from high-powered rifles and automatic fire, taking on a barricaded position, not caring at all when you get hit by nun-chuks.
Lousy for: Not being obviously a badass.

Rigid ceramic or composite plate body armor (NIJ type IV)
Access: PD, SWAT, private security firms.
Ideal for: Intimidating the hell out of small-time bad guys, looking like a stormtrooper out of Star Wars.
Good for: Protecting you from armor-piercing bullets, giving you some security in high-threat situations.
Lousy for: Protecting you from multiple hits (the plates are brittle and only have to survive one shot in field tests).

According to the National Institute of Justice, of the people who ought to wear body armor full time, only about 20% do. It's just too uncomfortable.


Access: Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, the pot in the break room.
Ideal for: Making you jittery at work.
Good for: Getting you good and addicted and giving you headaches when you try to kick it.
Lousy for: Helping you wind down and get some sleep.

Access: 7-11, frat parties, bars.
Ideal for: Making pancakes with (I'm serious, but use a good wheat ale, not like a coors or whatever, or they'll suck).
Good for: Being cheap and plentiful, drinking a lot before you get really drunk, keeping a 6-pack in your pickup truck.
Lousy for: Actually being suave and charming, instead of just thinking that you are.

Access: Package stores, bars, restaurants.
Ideal for: Snobbery.
Good for: Your cholesterol levels, in moderation.
Lousy for: Being both cheap and any good at all.

Hard liquor
Access: Package stores, bars.
Ideal for: Having shaken not stirred.
Good for: Making it seem like a good idea at the time, getting addicted to and beating your children.
Lousy for: Operating heavy machinery, driving, walking a straight line, remembering where you live, forming complete sentences, remembering to use a condom.

Access: 7-11.
Ideal for: Trading for stuff in prison.
Good for: Getting hooked when you're too young to know better and sucking it up for the rest of your emphysemic life.
Lousy for: Your lung capacity, your singing voice, your endurance, your senses of smell and taste, your life expectancy.

Access: Your local tobacconist.
Ideal for: Making you feel like a rich fat straight white guy, like maybe Bill Clinton.
Good for: Being stinky.
Lousy for: Not having Freudian significance.

Clove cigarettes
Access: Your local tobacconist.
Ideal for: Making you smell like a gothboy, making your tongue numb.
Good for: Giving you lung cancer for sure.
Lousy for: Tasting as good as they smell.

Access: High school, college, your local potheads.
Ideal for: Making you say 'whoa, man.'
Good for: Passing around at a party, giving you the munchies, getting you 5-10 for possession (if you can imagine it).
Lousy for: Getting you off your butt to pay the rent or wash the dishes or find the remote, even.

Access: College, your local artists and gothpeople.
Ideal for: Being really fun until you're addicted, and then it's no fun at all, but going without is even worse.
Good for: Eventually dying of AIDS from, what with the needles and reduced judgement and desperate need for cash and all.
Lousy for: Kicking.

Access: College, your local hippies.
Ideal for: Watching 2001: a Space Odyssey on.
Good for: Turning you on to Eastern religions, sometimes being extremely un-fun (even psychologically damaging).
Lousy for: Supporting a scientific-materialist worldview.

Access: Hospitals, EMTs, military field medics.
Ideal for: Stress and pain relief.
Good for: Seeing the world fly by in a pink blur.
Lousy for: See heroin if prolonged use.

Access: Drug treatment facilities.
Ideal for: Getting rid of heroin addiction.
Good for: Probably nothing...
Lousy for: Getting high.

Access: The same goths who sold you the heroin.
Ideal for: Behaving like a fly, talking really fast.
Good for: Weight loss, listening to "Amphetamine Logic" by The Sisters Of Mercy.
Lousy for: Calming down, being cool, behaving sensibly.

Access: The CIA, if you follow the supply line up.
Ideal for: A quick high (works within 10 seconds).
Good for: Fitting into ghettos.
Lousy for: Combining with alcohol.

Access: Actual dealers, people with beepers and guns and stuff.
Ideal for: Clearing up your nostrils.
Good for: Increased energy and alertness.
Lousy for: Your brain, your stomach and your heart, not to mention your sexual organs.

Access: The grocery store, a cow.
Ideal for: Growing and repairing bones.
Good for: Brittle bone disease, combinations with chocolate.
Lousy for: Lactose intolerance.

Access: Grocery stores, farms.
Ideal for: Your eyesight.
Good for: Your teeth.
Lousy for: Ballistic missiles (use a turnip instead).

Chili peppers
Access: Grocery stores, pizzas, chili con carne.
Ideal for: Unblocking your nose, Mexican food, Thai food.
Good for: Disarming criminals (if used as a pepper spray).
Lousy for: Picking your nose after you've chopped them.


Honda Civic
Access: Everywhere, with a high resale value.
Ideal for: Putting a child's car seat into.
Good for: Driving responsibly, getting good mileage, handling well in everyday difficult conditions.
Lousy for: Driving faster than say 100 mph, popping wheelies, looking sexy, exploding in flames during a crash.

Bond car
Be sure to choose a make!
Access: Q.
Ideal for: Looking sexy.
Good for: You name it. Missiles, smoke, lasers, machine guns, oil slicks, ejector seats, jet engines, remote control, helicopter rotors, laser-reflective chrome, grappling hook, flame thrower, homing beacon, chilled champagne and wet bar, grey poupon.
Lousy for: Surviving until the end of the movie.

Access: Biker gangs.
Ideal for: Making a noise just this side of the space shuttle taking off.
Good for: Belching out black smoke, cruising down the open highway in a rowdy pack, getting knocked over (domino style) by someone destined to die/kill by the dozen, oh yeah and bein' bad to the bone.
Lousy for: Putting a child's car seat into.

Access: Suburbia.
Ideal for: Holding your skis.
Good for: Driving on dirt roads or through weenie little streams, stashing dead bodies or a portable gun shop in the back of.
Lousy for: Making environmentalists like me sympathetic to you and your upwardly mobile anti-environment consumer lifestyle, ozone-hole boy.

Access: US Armed Forces.
Ideal for: Merging on the freeway.
Good for: Driving in sand, muck, mud, rocks, snow, or shallow water; mounting a machinegun in the back of.
Lousy for: Accelerating, driving fast, getting good mileage, tailing someone unobtrusively.

Tanker truck
Access: Trucking companies.
Ideal for: Carrying a) something extremely flammable or b) liquid nitrogen (you get the best of both worlds if you're in Black Mask).
Good for: Carrying normal liquids like milk or canola oil or whatever, being parked at a rest area or Truckers Welcome Diner, being driven by someone on no-doz in the middle of the night.
Lousy for: Getting good mileage, accelerating, making sharp turns, braking abruptly.

Martial Arts

Chan Fu
Access: The Peking Opera.
Ideal for: Climbing in and out of shopping carts, balancing on ladders, scrambling across hot coals.
Good for: Punching people, straight fights with no props.
Lousy for: Punching people out with one blow, not getting hit.

Van Dammeage
Access: USSF.
Ideal for: Punching people out with one blow, looking ripped.
Good for: Fighting people who're intimidated by how ripped you look.
Lousy for: Actually fighting actual martial artists.

Jet Jitsu
Access: Well, you start when you're fourů
Ideal for: Actually fighting actual martial artists, not getting hit too much, hitting hard.
Good for: Jumping from place to place, dodging bullets, fighting many people.
Lousy for: ...Well, nothing really. Jet Li kicks butt.

Real Martial Arts

Access: your local dojo.
Ideal for: moving forwards (never backwards). Fighting a single enemy. Getting new colorful belts.
Good for: walking barefoot. Self defense. Shouting kiai.
Lousy for: fighting any other style of martial arts.

Tai Chi Chuan (Tai ji quan)
Access: health clinics, tai chi clubs and centers
Ideal for: good health in old age, achieving inner peace. Getting in touch with your qi.
Good for: kicking serious ass if you have trained for half a century.
Lousy for: fighting anyone if you've learnt it in any of the above mentioned health clinics.

Access: your local judo club
Ideal for: throwing people around
Good for: collecting fancy colored belts, ripping your opponent's jacket off.
Lousy for: defense against firearms.

Super Powers

The one from The Matrix
Access: The Real World.
Ideal for: Having whatever clothes and weaponry you want, the slicker the better.
Good for: Jumping from building to building, punching through walls, dodging bullets, flying, mowing down your fellow human beings without a single second thought.
Lousy for: Not going on and on about The One, not seeming like a roleplaying geek on heavy duty wish fulfillment.

The one from Black Mask
Access: Squad 701 or whatever.
Ideal for: Ignoring pain, being able to mo-ove, dressing funny.
Good for: Ignoring gunshot wounds, ignoring stab wounds, ignoring concussion wounds, climbing things, shooting people.
Lousy for: Living very long, killing people without feeling melodramatic angst.

The one from The Terminator
Access: The Future.
Ideal for: Prying off your own cornea, seeing everything with superimposed crosshairs, killing anybody and everybody in your path.
Good for: Shrugging off injuries and any damage less than a bath of molten iron.
Lousy for: Having a vocabulary that includes more than a half dozen prewritten catchphrases or otherwise acting like a normal human being.

The one from Blade Runner
Access: Tyrell, Inc.
Ideal for: Waxing poetic before you kack.
Good for: Developing a weird psychotic personality, collecting fake memorabilia, fighting in self-defense, acting out intense and violent Freudian urges.
Lousy for: Living past your fourth birthday.

The one from the Alien flicks
Access: The Company.
Ideal for: Doing the knife thing.
Good for: Moving with inhuman speed and accuracy, functioning even though you've been chopped in half and are oozing all kinds of lubricants and white goo out of your mechanical guts.
Lousy for: Having free will.

Access: Nuclear test sites.
Ideal for: Looking green and speaking in short sentences.
Good for: Increased strength, stamina and reduced vulnerability.
Lousy for: you keep changing when you're stressed out. In a normal job this should happen at least once a day. Your clothes (unless you wear spandex)

Spider Man
Access: radioactive spiders.
Ideal for: climbing walls, reaching hard to get books on shelves.
Good for: fighting crime (sixth sense and all).
Lousy for:

Access: radioactive chemicals (there's a pattern evolving here...)
Ideal for: increased senses apart from eyesight.
Good for: wearing a cool red uniform and being a lawyer in your spare time.
Lousy for: public toilets, noisy places, watching tv.

Access: parent-killing muggers
Ideal for: bearing a long time grudge.
Good for: swinging across rooftops, fighting eccentric criminals, having a sidekick.
Lousy for: vigilantism is generally frowned upon and long time grudges bear deep scars on the soul. Sidekicks can give the impression of sexual deviation.

Access: through changing solar systems.
Ideal for: citizens of the planet Krypton, with an overdeveloped sense of justice (optional).
Good for: having a journalism career on the side. Long time relationship problems with co-worker due to your alter ego.
Lousy for: removing or handling kryptonite.