Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Parallel Development

My friend and fellow blogger, the rather brilliant and rather British Tim Knight, has been working on a new campaign somewhat similar to my own.

While I revisit the universe of my ol' friend William Corpening's Champions campaign, 'The Age of Champions', Tim is revisiting his old Villains & Vigilantes campaign for use in a new campaign of his own. Hmm. Champions and V&V. I smell a DC/Marvel style Crossover in the making! Filing that in my mental archives for later consideration.

A recent post on his blog HeroPress describes the various incarnations over the years of his original character, The Acrobatic Flea. Tim frames each version of the Flea from the many and varied campaigns of yore (across multiple game systems) as being the Fleas of Parallel Earths. 

Parallel Earths are a classic comic book trope dating back to 1961 and DC Comics' 'The Flash of Two Worlds' in Flash #123.The concept is a favorite of mine as I've noted in several posts over the years.

This got me to thinking about the Parallel Earths we've visited, been visited by, and learned about in the assorted 'chapters' of the Age of Champions campaign, including those run by yours truly. Will had a very interesting way of cataloging and tracking each alternate universe and as such, I actually remember quite a number of them. 

It helped quite a bit that a former Player Character turned reoccurring NPC, Professor Christopher Crichton, aka The Legionnaire, was our world's foremost authority on Alternate Universes and Parallel Dimensions. His superpower was the ability to switch himself with any one of an infinite number of alternate selves throughout the multiverse. 

Professor Christopher Charles Crichton
aka The Legionnaire

Scientist, UNTIL Agent, Superhero

Crichton made plots and subplots involving Parallel Earth viable in a fashion similar to the way Cisco Ramon does on the Flash TV series. 

Here then, without further adieu, is...

The Barking Alien Guide to the Age of Champions Multiverse!

I've mentioned it in past posts but I will repeat it for clarity: Will has a very specific convention for naming and numbering the worlds of the multiverse. Each dimension is noted for it's primary team of superheroic protectors, the world that serves as the Trans-Multiversal Nexus Point (usually Earth), one or more code names (based on who GMed, created, or published that world), and finally a letter, number, or both. 

World's with similar designations are likely similar to each other. As the elements of the designation change and move further away from one another, the more differences the worlds will exhibit. 

So, as an example, the universe in which most baseline Marvel Comics titles exist would be:

Avengers (Prime Team) Earth (Nexus Point) - Mu (Marvel) -1 (the main one). Avengers Earth - Mu-1 would be the world you would be viewing if you grabbed the latest issue of Spiderman off the shelves at your local comic shop. Alternatively, since Marvel itself refers to it's own Earth as '616' you could go with Avengers Earth - Mu-616

Will's original, 10+ year long Age of Champions campaign took place on Champions Earth - Wilcox Charlie-1. The particulars of that world include:

  • Aliens face prejudice like Mutants do in Marvel Comics
  • History, especially 20th Century history, is slightly different than it is on Earth-Prime*
  • Magic and the ability to use it is a very rare and powerful force. 
  • The Prime Team, The Champions, don't exist throughout much of the campaign
  • Superbeings are less common on Earth than they are in Marvel and DC.  
  • Technology is slightly more advanced than it is in on Earth-Prime*
  • The United Nations has more authority and influence here than it does on Earth-Prime*

On this Earth, Prof. Christopher Crichton is the superhero known as The Legionnaire until he goes on reserve status to further his research into Multiversal Dynamics.

C.H.A.M.P.I.O.N.S. Earth - Alpha Delta-1

This Earth has no superhuman individuals in the classic comic book sense. It does have individuals with amazing levels of skill, high-tech devices, and some super science. It is a world in which secret agents battle diabolical masterminds and criminal organizations in a perpetual cold war environment. 

Imagine this world as being governed by the tropes of James Bond movies and television shows like Man From U.N.C.L.E., and The Avengers. 

On this Earth, Christine Crichton is the world's greatest spy, working for the Central Headquarters for the American Military Preparation, Intelligence, Operations, and Networking System - C.H.A.M.P.I.O.N.S..

Challengers Earth - Mu-AD1:

This Earth is a homage to Marvel Comics. It has all the Marvel tropes and the characters are clearly riffs on well known Marvel heroes and villains. The Prime Team is called the Challengers and resembles Marvel's Avengers. 

The Challengers consist of Favorite Son (Captain America), Tin Soldier (Iron Man), Raijin, The Thunder God (Thor), Big Man and Little Lady (Giant Man and Wasp), Sureshot (Hawkeye), The Apparition (Vision) and Sapphire Sorceress (Scarlet Witch).

On this Earth, Prof. Charles Christopher Crichton is known as Prof. Phenomenal, leader of the Phenomenal Four. 

Champion League Earth - Delta Ceti-AD1:

This Earth is a homage to DC Comics. It has all the DC tropes and the characters are clearly riffs on well known DC heroes and villains. The Prime Team is called the Champion League of Justice and resembles DC's Justice League and Justice League of America. 

The Prime Team consists of The Blue Bowman (Green Arrow), The Golden Ankh (Green Lantern), MaxiMode (Superman), Quark (The Atom), The Rook (Batman), Ultima (Wonder Woman), Zephyr (The Flash), and others. 

Here Chris Crichton is the mild mannered disguise of none other than the Man of the Future, The Man of Iron, MaxiMode! 

Champions Earth - Alpha Delta-A:

This Earth is virtually identical to Champions Earth - Wilcox Charlie-1 with the addition of characters, events, and ideas that occur after the end of the original Age of Champions campaign. This is the universe of my current campaign, Champions: REVIVAL

The PC heroes here are Hynagogia, Matrix, Pantheon, Too Fast, and Warfare. They do not, as of this posting, have a team name.

No team currently exists called The Champions. The main superhero team of this world, at present, is the UN sponsored Project: UNITY.

Crichton is as he is on Champions Earth - Wilcox Charlie-1 (CE-WC-1)

Champions Earth - Alpha Delta-1:

This Earth is virtually identical to Champions Earth - Wilcox Charlie-1 up to the Invasion: Earth War event. After that point the history of this world diverges as it follows new characters, events, and ideas introduced in my previous long running Champions campaign, The New Age of Champions

The PCs heroes here are Arcane, Ballistic, Night Knight, The Power, Professor Nth, and Revenant / Siphon

Crichton is as he is on Champions Earth - Wilcox Charlie-1 (CE-WC-1)

Champions Earth - Alpha Delta-2:

Inspired by DC Comics' Earth-2 and Earth-X, this world is identical to CE-WC-1 and CE-AD-1 up until the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Allied Champions prevent the bombings and World War II continues until 1955. 

The world's nations are divided up differently and a powerful Nazi regime still controls parts of Europe. The United Nations is referred to as the Alliance of Nations. The Prime Team is still the Allied Champions, though they are more commonly referred to as simply The Champions. The team membership is very different from the previously mentioned Earths. 

The Allied Champions consist of American Eagle IV and Winger IV (who is Bluejay on the Earths with a '1' or an 'A'), The Crusader, The Crimson Cowl II, The Mask of Freedom IV, The Phantom of Paris, and The Canadian Shield.

Here, a younger Chris Crichton is a 'boy genius' sidekick to the Allied Champions. He has a knack for building amazing devices out of found objects and junk (like a super-science MacGyver). 

Champions Earth - Alpha Delta-3:

On this Earth the heroes of CE-AD-1 are villains. This is the classic 'Evil Twin' Earth similar to the Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths version of Earth-3. There are a number of heroes here as well, all alternate versions of villains who have battled the PC's, but many of them were killed by the Champions of Evil. 

The good guys of CE-AD-1 put a major hurting on their criminal dopplegangers in the New Age of Champions campaign by getting assistance from their alternate selves from several other Earths.

The Prime Team, the Champions of Evil, includes of Ice Witch (Ice Queen), Macrocosm (Microcosm), Ominous (Omni), Overkill (Overload), Pulse (Pulse), Scaramangler (Christian Scaramangler), and many others. 

Doctor Christopher Crichton is a scientist who specializes in multi-dimensional physics and while he doesn't have any powers, he has several inventions that enable him to teleport, fold space, alter his physical dimensions, and other related feats.

Champions Earth - Alpha Delta-4:

AD-4 is an Earth noted for its relative lack of superpowered beings. There are only a dozen or so costumed heroes and villains in the world and the powers that be generally frown on superhero activity. 

Not much else is known about this Earth. 

This world was heavily influenced by Charlton Comics, The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, and Watchmen. 

Here Christopher Crichton is known as 'The Chief', and serves as the strategic and tactical specialist behind the Champions super team. 

Champions Earths - Alpha Delta-7, Alpha Delta-12, and Alpha Delta-23:

Little to nothing is known about these Earths other then they were destroyed and consumed by the multi-dimension villainess Lady Disdain (aka Empress Ishtara Dys'Tayn).

Council of Champions Earth - Alpha Delta-1

While many identify this as an Alternate Earth, Prof. Crichton insists on logging it as a Parallel. He once stated that although it seems very different from CE - WC-1 on the surface, he shares many analog events, people, and concepts.

Sometimes called Council Earth - AD-1, this is an Earth where magic is the primary power in the world. Science functions but is generally less effective and desirable when compared to the arcane arts. 

Imagine something somewhere between an out in the open Wizarding World of Harry Potter and a somewhat Victorian-Era Dungeons and Dragons setting. 

The world is protected by an group of powerful and wise wizards and witches from across the globe known as The Council of Champions. The planet is ruled by the Tribunal of Unity.

Little else is known about this world, including the exact make up and membership of the Council of Champions. 

Here, Master Kristoff of Croton, Son of Charles the Undamned, Archmage of the Eastern Rivers, Protector of the Hudson, and Banisher of Demons is a member of the Council of Champions. Kristoff specializes in spells and arcane knowledge dealing with demons, devils, and invaders from other realms. 

Force United Earth - Alpha Delta-1:

Identified as an Alternate Earth instead of a Parallel as the characters, history, and concepts seen on FUE-AD-1 are very different from those of variants on CE-WC-1.

Here the United Nations is paramount (even more so then on CE-WC-1 and its close parallels), with individual governments running the day-to-day goings-on of their respective countries, but final say on all international and global matters falls to the UN. Much like CE-WC-1, AD-1, AD-A, and others, there is an international network of superheroes and superteams. Instead of UNITY, this world has The Force United. 

One member of Force United America, the superhero Excelsior, was blasted through the dimensional rift from this world to CE-WC-1. He remained there for several months until The Legionnaire could find his world's Quantum Frequency and send him home. Excelsior is considered an Honorary Member of CE-WC-1's UNITY New York (and presumably AD-1's and AD-A's as well. Wait...or was that an alternate Excelsior who...nevermind). 

The Prime Team consists of The Cheetah, Equinox, Excelsior, The Patriot, Spellbound, Talon Guard, and The Voyager. 

On this Earth, Prof. Christopher Crichton is one of the foremost authorities on the Meta-gene, Meta-genetics, and the biological science behind superhuman powers. 

Ravagers Earth - Alpha Delta-1:

Identified as an Alternate Earth instead of a Parallel as the characters, history, and concepts seen on RE-AD-1 are very different from those of variants on CE-WC-1.

In the recent past, a dark wizard supervillain cast a spell intended to raise an army of the dead. The spell was improperly cast and instead of summoning a hoard of shambling skeletons he slew one third of the world's population and those slain rose twenty-four hours later as brain-eating zombies. 

Old Glory, leader of the world's greatest super team, The Righteous, snapped after discovered what had happened. He proceeded to hunt down the necromancer and beat him to death on national television. Glory than issued a televised statement that he and his team would protect the living, destroy the undead, and make every last villain who had assisted the dark wizard pay dearly. He became obsessive and if you weren't with him, you were a danger to the very idea of good. He renamed his team, The Ravagers.

The Prime Team here, The Ravagers, are Gear Head, Miasma (former villain), Morning Star, Old Glory, and The Saint of Spades. 

The Christopher Crichton of this world died and was resurrected as one of the undead. He has the power to teleport by displacing himself with another person (basically they switch locations - only people in visual range). 

In addition to these worlds, I have seen a few Parallel Selves of Chris Crichton/The Legionnaire without knowing the Earth they came from. In the three and a half years I was part of the original Age of Champions campaign I recall encountering:

Charles 'Creek Charlie' Christianson, a ghost fighting gunslinger from a 'Wild West' Earth. 
Christopher CX1, an android/replicant type from a cyberpunk Earth. 
Krees, from an Earth where dinosaurs evolved into sentient humanoids. 

There are an infinite number of quantum realities and there is no way anyone could ever catalog them all, let alone visit them. Chris Crichton will keep trying of course. It's what he does and we're glad he's there to do it. 

Until next time,

Barking Alien

*Our designation for our Earth, the Earth of the GM and players in the real world, is Earth - Prime-Zero, or simply Earth-Prime.

**Many of these Earths are my versions of ones William introduced in his campaign. Some are my own invention. Essentially, for each 'Alpha Delta' Earth assume there is also a 'Wilcox Charlie' incarnation.

After all, there are an infinite number of parallel worlds.

Yours is out there as well.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Flying Solo

The latest film in the Star Wars saga and franchise has been released and as one might expect, I now have a serious case of Star Wars RPGing on the brain.

A funny thing...the very first Star Wars film, later designated Episode IV: A New Hope, came out a scant four months before I first played an RPG and a good ten years before West End Games would put out the first official game.

I absolutely adored that first film. I took it in, absorbed its universe into my imagination, and saw it as a fantastically entertaining work of movie magic. It inspired me and deepened my love of movies, outer space, and storytelling. 

Every film since has been viewed through the lens of "What does this have that I can use in my games?" Essentially, the original Star Wars was my introduction, and the rest are enjoyable research.

This newest entry is no exception. 

First, I want to say that I very much enjoyed the film. After the original trilogy, Solo: A Star Wars Story may be my favorite film in the franchise.  It wasn't a perfect movie by any means but it was very good Star Wars.

From this point on I am going to issue a SPOILER WARNING. I don't intend on revealing any big secrets, but just in case you have been warned. 

"You never heard of the Barking Alien Blog?
It's the blog that gave a SPOILER WARNING in less than 12 parsecs."

Always in motion is the future

One of the things that makes for a good Star Wars adventure, and indeed a whole campaign, is forward momentum. 

Things - people, starships, events - should always be in motion. Like any good road trip, you need to stop now and again at some truck stop or scenic site to catch your breath and reflect on the journey, but never for too long.

Once you're ready, and there is always some underlying feeling of urgency even on a site-seeing trip, you're back on the road. You have a goal, a final destination, but the twists and turns of the trip itself are half the fun.

This, to me, is Star Wars and Star Wars gaming. 

Solo does a good job of this. Again, perhaps not perfectly executed, but well enough to get the characters, and the audience, moving along toward an exciting climax - the ultimate goal of any action/adventure story. 

Your first step into a larger world 

Another element key to Star Wars films and gaming is to utilize the familiar, yet be sure to introduce the new.

Players and their PCs should see familiar species, starships, droids, and maybe even worlds (use these sparingly - see below), while at the same time encountering new creatures, devices, and planets right along side them.  

Imperial Stormtrooper variants in Solo, A Star Wars Story

When you run Star Wars [or any IP based game for that matter] make sure you include well known elements to reward your group for choosing to play Star Wars in the first place. I mean, why choose to place your game in the Star Wars universe if your not going to use Astromechs, TIE Fighters, Rodians, or other favorite bits?

That said, if they only ever see things they already know, they're going to get bored with the setting. Maintain a balance of old and new and you will always have a reason to return to the same universe. 

Solo introduces us to new types of Stormtroopers, new TIE Fighters, and new aliens but doesn't leave out regular Stormtroopers, regular TIE Fighters, and shows a Rodian character near the end. Hurrah! That's enough to satisfy both criteria.

Make the jump to Hyperspace!

Related to both of the aforementioned factors is the notion that, unless you are running a particular type of game, my advice and preference is to travel to different planets fairly often. 

How often? Hard to say. My recommendation is to play it by ear but for me, I don't usually like to spend more than one Star Wars session on the same planet. Yes, you read that right. No more than a single session. 

If your games run short - say, 3-5 hours - sure, you can spend a couple of sessions on one world. For my in-person Star Wars games, which usually last around 8 hours, I try to either start the game on a world or with the PCs arriving at the world and by the end of the session they should be leaving it and heading somewhere else. 

But I want to explore the planet and survey it's terrain and ecology.

That's Traveller.

But I want to learn about the native species, their art, and culture.

That's Star Trek.

This is Star Wars. You want to do a thing, get in trouble with the Empire for doing that thing, then battle your way past the Imperials on your way to do another thing on another world. 

Solo does almost over does it. In the span of the movie's 135 minutes run time, the characters and events take place across no less than five planets. Maybe more. I am not actually certain. There is a scene or two that seem to take place on the same world but may be different world's and vice versa. Also, the final scenes - which are relatively brief - take place on a planet not previously seen in the film so I guess it's really six.

I got the chance to run a Star Wars one-shot this past Sunday and I tried my hardest to GM it based on the principles I've mentioned here. It went over really well and the players are hoping to turn it into a campaign.

In an upcoming post (perhaps several) I will detail the first session and dive more thoroughly into how the above concepts were implemented and why they worked. 

Until then, I have a good feeling about this,

Barking Alien

Thursday, May 31, 2018


Hey everyone!

It's been a very hectic month for me and as such a very light one as far as posting goes.

I did want to finish off May with a little update on Champions: REVIVAL.

We've run two sessions so far and we definitely have a hit on our hands.

Before I do session write-ups (likely in the next week or so), I figured I would give you all the established conceits of the setting and the Player Characters involved:

Six months ago prior to the first session of our campaign (i.e. Issue #1):

An alien being calling himself The Examiner arrived on Earth with numerous, space-faring, mountain sized machines which scattered themselves around the globe, floating a couple of miles above the surface.

He performed what he called 'The Final Analysis' and deemed 'The Grand Experiment' a failure (whatever that means). The result was that he was going to use his machines to destroy the Earth. The superheroes of the world, organized by Project: UNITY, went to stop him and his android minions. Three major supervillains also tried to help - Holocaust, Kineto, and Paradigm Shift.

Holocaust and Paradigm Shift had their own agendas and ended up attacking each other. Wounded, they escaped and disappeared. 😢

In the end, Kineto sacrificed himself to destroy the Examiner and his devices after the other heroes had disabled Examiner's defenses.

Three weeks after the Final Analysis Event, Omni, arguably the world's most popular and powerful hero (top three at least 😉) resigned from UNITY to take care of matters of a personal nature. He disappeared after that and has not been seen since.

Kineto (left) and Omni (Right)*

The Greatest Villain and The Greatest Hero
Both gone from the world.

This is all the PCs know at the start of the game. I told them that if they have contacts in the Supers Community, Government, or Law Enforcement they might know more. Likewise, if any of them have Knowledge or other appropriate skills they might be able to learn additional information. So far they've been too focused on what they're up against to investigate the backstory further.

The heroes are:

Hypnagogia (played by Esmeralda V.)

Hypnagogia is defined as the transitional state between being awake and being asleep. 

We all agreed that Esmeralda came up with the perfect codename for this most mysterious of superheroines. With the psionic power to manipulate light and the way the mind perceives it, Hypnagogia is a mistress of illusion, with her 'psychic holograms' visible to cameras and digital film as well the Human eye. 

She possesses a number of other powers as well, including a powerful blinding flash, the ability to read and manipulate minds of semi-conscious individuals, and turning herself invisible. In actuality, she is permanently invisible due to a subconscious panic attack she had when her powers first manifested. She must concentrate to become visible, and often uses her illusion power to 'show herself' (meaning none of the other PCs or NPCs know what she really looks like as of yet).

She is a detective, battling mostly street level villains and gangs before joining up with the rest of the group. Now involved in the dark doings of true supervillains, Hynagogia is trying hard to expand her understanding and use of her abilities to better combat her opponents. 

Who this young woman really is and how her powers first came to her is unknown at this time. She may not even know those answers herself.

Matrix (played by Jeff)

An orphan whose parents were involved in some government project that got them killed, the boy who would grow up to be Matrix lived on the streets of New York City using his higher than normal intelligence and mechanical aptitude to get by. He often fixed devices for people or would repair discarded items and sell them to get food and other necessities. 

Eventually, the kid was approached by some gang members who had gotten a hold of a high-tech weapon and were willing to pay him to fix it. He did, and before long he was known as the go-to guy for super-science repairs and modifications on the fly. This went on for some years and he eventually did work for some big name super-crooks.

Unfortunately for him, Matrix was eventually caught and sent to jail. His high intelligence enabled him to survive and even help some fellow inmates to navigate the often dangerous prison system. One particular fellow became a close friend and when that fellow was paroled they stayed in touch. 

One day a man arrived and met with Matrix to offer him a special deal - join a top secret government research project to expand Matrix's intellect to it's full potential and Matrix would receive a complete pardon. Matrix agreed. Things did not go as expected however. The fellow was an agent for a black ops organization that experimented on Matrix and a number of other young people. Eventually the experiments on Matrix unlocked a latent Intrinsic Field Power that caused a massive explosion at the hidden facility where he was being held. He escaped in the confusion, learning all the other subjects had already been killed by the experiments days before.

Now on the outside with a superpower could barely manifest again, let alone control, Matrix decided to turn his life around. He built equipment to help him harness and utilize his Intrinsic Field powers, and created the costumed hero identity of The Matrix to make up for the wrong doings of his youth. 

Matrix generates a field of energy that can only be fully utilized while wearing various devices of his own invention - gauntlets, boots, a helmet, a partial battle suits, etc. With the gear he can shoot blasts of different types, fly, use a variety of super-senses, etc. Without his equipment, he can only manifest a small portion of his power and it is extremely difficult for him to control the results. 

Pantheon (played by Dave C.)

A college professor specializing in Ancient History, Mythology, and Folklore, Pantheon discovered he possessed the rare gift [in this setting] of being able to utilize magic. On one of his many travels abroad, he learned that through long forgotten rituals he could communicate with the deities of old and channel aspects of them through himself to become their avatar.

The deities of this particular Superhero universe have yet to manifest in physical form on the mortal plane. While God and Goddess powered heroes and villains exist, there are absolutely no such mythological entities working the Earth. To put it another was, you might run into a Captain Marvel/SHAZAM type character or Wonder Woman, but there is no Thor or Loki.

The reason for this is currently a mystery, one Pantheon is curious to learn the answer to. In the meantime he uses his ability to summon divine aspects to fight evil magical entites, demons, and the Earth minions of evil gods. 

At present we know he can become the avatar of Isis, the Egyptian Goddess of Magic (various Spells and Mystic Abilities), Maui, Hawaiian Demi-God (Shapeshifting, Super Strength, and a Magic Fishing Hook) and at least two others. 

Pantheon has made a number of enemies during his short career, including the marauding mage who calls himself The Thaumaturge and his own former assistant who possesses the same gifts but tend to deal with darker gods. 

Too Fast (played by Marcus)

Not too much is known about this character's background either but he is definitely the perfect merger of classic and modern hero. While he is here to give his 110% to fighting evil criminals and saving lives, he also wants to make sure you caught that take down of the villains on your iPhone so he can upload it to his youtube channel. 

He is a little like Impulse/Kid Flash crossed with Booster Gold. 

His powers are particularly interesting. A Super Speedster for sure, Too Fast can also manipulate speed, adding it to or taking it away from objects and people. He often serves as a team support member by increasing the velocity of Warfare's running tackle or subtracting it from baddies as they try to escape. 

Too Fast's grandfather is a retired PRIMUS Agent (PRIMUS being a SHIELD-like organization that tends to look down on Supers in this setting). While relationship between PRIMUS and the Supers of the USA has improved here and there, it isn't all hunky dory. Grandpa is a source of info and helps the team navigate some of the red tape of dealing with PRIMUS, but he is also an older man out of his prime. It's like having Nick Fury and Aunt May combined!

Warfare (played by Eric)

By far the strangest character is Warfare, a four armed, alien warrior from a distant star who has come to our world to battle 'the greatest challengers and challenges the galaxy has ever known!'

Before coming to Earth, Warfare was a warrior/guardian on a planet that experienced centuries of global conflict. Sworn to defend his people from aliens, mad warlords, and anything else, Warfare was left without purpose when the wars finally came to an end. A new, world-wide government was established and peace and prosperity reigned supreme. Sadly, there is no place in a Utopia for one such as Warfare and so he left the planet for another world in need of his talents. 

As Earth was noted as a place constantly in danger of being taken over, destroyed, or otherwise subject to danger and villainy, Warfare headed there and has now joined with others to protect the people of his adoptive world. 

Warfare is seven feet tall, lightly scaled, pale green [with a darker, more scaly back], and possesses four arms. He strongly resembles Goro from Mortal Combat, though leaner and lizard-ish. 

In addition to great strength, armored skin, and martial prowess, Warfare wears the ancient Gauntlets of Chaos (really bracers). When Warefare takes enough damage he can utilize the damage to increase his physical abilities or duplicate himself, summoning a temporary clone. Unfortunately, absorbing a lot of damage can set off his Disadvantage of Berserker Rage. The Gems in the Gauntlets of Chaos want to promote rage, battle, and mayhem!

OK, that's the basics and all for now.

A lot on my mind. Hopefully I will have a little more time this coming month to explore some of it.

Barking Alien

*Illustration of Omni based on a Superman illustration by Eric 'Doc' Shaner.

Monday, May 28, 2018


This past Saturday, the 26th of May, I attended a baby shower for my friend Joseph Cangelosi and his lovely wife Evelin. 

A heartwarming event to be sure but, you may be wondering, 'Why post such a thing to this blog?'

Joseph Cangelosi, mentioned in posts on this blog here and there over the years, is my oldest friend. We met when we were both 7 years of age, in 2nd Grade. Over the course of our elementary and middle school years we became the closest of best friends, sleeping over each others houses all the time, attending the others family get togethers and holidays, and basically being brothers in all but blood. 

As my mother would often say when she introduced us, "This is my son Adam, my daughter Karen, and my other son Joe. Only Joe's not related."

We've know each other now for over 40 years. There have been long stretches where we didn't talk. I hadn't physically seen him in the flesh in over 15 years prior to the baby shower, though we speak on Facebook regularly. I hadn't seen his mom and dad in over 35 years. His older brother I could even say, but likely around the same length of time. His older sister 25-30 years, as she used to work at a Barnes and Noble I frequented in my high school and college years. As far as his younger sister, well it was thanks to her finding me and contacting me via Facebook some years ago that enabled us to reconnect. 

Seeing him this past Saturday, seeing them all, was an experience so amazing, so deep-down-in-my-soul good that I can not do it justice in words. Let's just say I don't say soul often, and I just did because I have no other way of describing it. 

I am so happy to have had the opportunity to be with Joe, his wife, and their families for this special event that I am beside myself. My girlfriend came with me and she said you could see the emotion on my face and in my body language. She also said that it was mirrored by Joe. He was as ecstatic to have me there as I was to be there.

We talked about the old days, the crazy antics of two geeky kids growing up poor in the pre-internet Brooklyn of the late 1970s and early 80s. We caught up on family, friends, who had kids, who got married, etc. Joe, his older brother Rob, and I talked about the new Star Wars, the Marvel movies, and all kinds of related subjects. It was an absolute blast. 

I will finish this post with the warmest and most sincere Congratulations to my dear friend, his wife, and the entire Cangelosi clan! I can't wait to meet the newest addition when he arrives!

Peace, Love, Joy, and Harmony to Everyone and May The Force Be With You.

Oh, did I mention the baby shower was Star Wars themed? Yeah. It was a Star Wars-themed Baby Shower.

Barking Alien

Monday, May 21, 2018


I was able to run the second session of my group's new Champions campaign, Champions: REVIVAL, this past Sunday, the 20th of May.

I was excited. Really, really excited.  The feeling of potential this one has is hard to describe. It's off the charts.

It's like I've discovered a door in a house I've lived in for many years that I've never seen before. Upon opening this door, I see an entirely new floor, with dozens and dozens of rooms that seem familiar though I've clearly never visited them. I can not wait to investigate further!

Since the world I'm using is one I previously played in and used with prior campaigns, much of the material is well known to at least three of the players. They love the setting and are looking forward to 'seeing' familiar faces, locations, and discovering in what direction their favorite plot lines have gone.

At the same time, the campaign needs new material as well. This is a world they once knew, now about four years on. It has to have changed, grown, and suffered loss along the way. It should be easily recognizable and yet totally surprising at the same time.

For the other two players who are coming in cold, how do I introduce over 10 1/2 years of backstory without losing their interest during the telling? They'll be right there for the new but will they be overly confused by the old?

Going through the campaign development process for this bad boy is therefore less about Campaign Construction as it is Campaign ReConstruction. 

I had to take everything I knew about the campaign up to the last point in which I was a participant and say to myself, 'That's not the end of the story. That's the beginning of it'.

This was followed by contacting several of the players and getting their accounts of the game post-me. I did some research into the canon of Champions as per the official products, the canon I could recall or get an account of from the old players, and then cross reference my own personal notes from previous games I'd run in this setting.

Finally I mapped out the logical (to me) progression of various character journeys, plots, and subplots, as well as throwing in a few surprises. 

Next, and perhaps most importantly, I took at look the Player Characters my group and created and got a handle on their various backstories and particulars. Using these write-ups as a base, I envisioned how the PCs would interact with the world I'd built, and vice versa. Modifications were made to the setting - nothing huge, a nip here, a tuck there - and I was able to organize what I believed to be a working replica of the game universe as it would be some six months after the final session of the original campaign.

Luckily, another element I remembered to include was room. I left room for new heroes, new villains, unexpected turns of events, and additional player input. 

The results have been awesome so far.

They say you can't go home again. Maybe that's true, but you can recreate your old house and start a new life there from that point forward. 

More as it develops.

Barking Alien