Saturday, August 30, 2014

RPGaDay Challenge - Day 30

Day 30 - Rarest RPG Owned

The rarest RPG I own? Rarest, huh?

No idea. Not as up on the collector's market as I used to be.

I mean, I have the original LLB books from Traveller, the AD&D 1E Deities & Demigods with Elric and Cthulhu, and first edition RPGs that only came out in Japan for crying out loud!

(Looks around with shifty eyes)

I also have the playtest rules for Last Unicorn Games' ICON System Star Trek RPG. I was one of the playtesters on it and a writer on one of the supplemental sourcebooks. The version I have differs in a few big ways from what was finally released.

I read it so many times I used to use that version in play, and players would say, "Adam, I don't think that's right. It says here X, Y, Z.", or what-have-you.

I still do it from time to time. I actually prefer the playtest version truth be told.

My NDA is over by now right?

Almost done...

Barking Alien

Friday, August 29, 2014

RPGaDay Challenge - Day 29

Day 29 - Most Memorable Encounter

As with my previous post, and a number of others in this Blogfest, I haven't played a lot as a player, so the memorable encounters from which to choose from are limited. I didn't have a lot of encounters as a PC compared to how many I've run as a GM is what it boils down to. Of the ones I did have, I remember a good number of them, but that doesn't exactly make them 'memorable'.

More memorable than ones I've completely forgotten I suppose.

Well, looks like we're going back to Champions...

In my second session of William's Champions campaign, the PC hero group, Project: UNITY, was called upon to stop a drunken rampage but the supervillain known as Adamant.
I (Starguard) was briefed by team leader Omni on the way there. Adamant was a clone of A-List, #1 Most Wanted, Top-Super-Baddie-In-The-World, Kineto. Kineto created Adamant himself with some outside scientific assistance, and things went down hill from there.
First, Adamant didn't have Kineto's powers (thank goodness, though he was still plenty dangerous). Whereas Kineto could use kinetic energy to reorganize matter (among other things), Adamant could only reorganize his own body. He was more like The Absorbing Man than Firestorm or Molecule Man.
Second, Kineto at first treated Adamant as a son, but increasing, he reacted to him as a son he was disappointed in. Kineto's harsh attitude and overbearing, critical 'parenting' approach drove Adamant to despise Kineto, and Adamant soon turned to drugs and alcohol. Apparently the two hadn't been seen together in months, with Adamant appearing periodically in the employ of lesser supervillains.
In his current stupor, he was spouting things about being 'unwanted' and 'better if he'd never been created'. He would randomly grab cars, full of people, stuck in traffic by the damage he'd caused, and hurl the cars into the air or at buildings.
While our resident super speedster, Pulse, distracted Adamant, Omni, Starguard and Scaramangler (an Iron Man like character who went by his famous, public identity) focused on catching the cars and helping innocent people get clear. Scaramangler eventually went to coordinate rescue efforts with EMTs and Firefighters, while Omni stayed alert for thrown vehicles or Adamant's next move. Starguard meanwhile, did what Starguard does best...
Landing about two times arms length in front of Adamant, who was currently in normal form, Starguard shouted to get the villain's attention, shattering the windows of nearby cars and a store front.
Starguard: "Know you this! I am Starguard! I represent The Pleiades Imperium, and lead The Protectors of Pleiades. Today, I speak for your world's Project: UNITY as well . You have acted to bring harm to innocent people. Surrender, or be destroyed."

Adamant: "Huh? *Stumbles around* I don't know you. YOU don't know...know ME."

Starguard: *Confused* "Be that as it may, I challenge thee. You may strike when ready."

Starguard struck a heroic pose, waiting for Adamant to hit him. Adamant for his part stood somewhat stunned. He shook his head, slapped himself a few times, and tried to sober up.

Adamant: "Alright Spaceman...this is Earth. On Earth, the challenger goes first. Go a'head. Take a swing."

Starguard: *A bit surprised* "You are quite brave. Very well..."

Suddenly thinking this fellow was more honorable than he'd first judged him to be, Starguard threw a punch at Adamant's jaw. Moments before connecting, Adamant changed, his skin becoming a mixture of Stellar Titanium (a McGuffin metal of the setting, like Marvel's Adamantium) and Enchanted Alf-Runal Stone (like the Uru metal of Thor's Hammer).

You see, one advantage Adamant has over Absorbing Man (who must touch a material to become it), is that Adamant can recall materials he has been in contact with before. When drunk, high or otherwise messed the heck up, he sometimes remembers their composition incorrectly, for better or worse.

My Superman-lite strength, augmented by my Universal Energy field, slammed into Adamant's chin with enough force to demolish a mountain. The BANG-CLANG of fist hitting mystically infused stone/cosmically forged steel rang out for miles. Windows shattered, the force tore flags from their poles, and the ground shook like an Earthquake has hit the skating rink in Rockefeller Center Plaza where we were standing.

Adamant's body hadn't moved. His head was turned, he turned it back, and then massaged his jaw a bit. "That...was impressive. My turn..."

I winced. Not Starguard, me. I was not expecting this guy to be this tough. It was then that the encounter became the greatest I've ever had.

The GM just said, "Wall."

Me: "Wall?"

GM: "Wall. Wall...Wall, Car, Wall, Window....Wall."

Me: "Huh?"

GM (Speaking very fast); "Wall, Car, Car, Wall, Truck, Car, Car, Car, Car, Mailbox, Car, Wall, Lamppost, Wall, Tree, Wall, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree..."

Other Player: "Holy crap. These are all the things your going through...literally through...after he hit you."

Me: "Ow."

GM (Speaking very fast until the last one which was said with flourish): "Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, ROCK, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, ROCK, Tree, Tree, *Whistles* BELVEDERE CASTLE!"

Other Player: "Central Park?!?"

Rockefeller Plaza is located on between 5th and 6th Avenues, on 48th Street in New York City. Belvedere Castle (In the campaign, the secret headquarters of Project: UNITY), is located in the middle of Central Park, roughly 79th Street and 7th Avenue.

Adamant punched Starguard over 31 blocks. That is about a miles and a half. Starguard had one or two Hits left. He was nearly dead in his second appearance from a single punch.

Starguard spend the next four or five sessions in a medical facilities inside the HQ, healing up from his encounter. In the mean time, I created an ran a new character named S.I.M.O.N..

Also in the mean time, Omni managed to use his telepathic abilities to calm Adamant and put his to sleep. He was pretty pissed to find himself waking up in a super-prison holding cell. At the same time, he was visited in prison by Omni, Pulse, Tachyon (a former PC hero, now NPC) and others. The group managed to convince him to enter a rehab program and turn his life around.

Fast forward, Adamant is now the Bouncer and part-time Bartender at a secret bar accessible only by superhumans, and some supernormals who move within the cape and costume community. He has helped the world's heroes during the Dark Trinity Incident and the Invasion Earth War. He and Starguard are friendly rivals, repeatedly challenging each other to arm wrestling matches and even playing soccer against each other for charity.


Barking Alien


Thursday, August 28, 2014

RPGaDay Challenge - Day 28

Day 28 - The Scariest Game You’ve Played

This one is easy to answer.


Remember, I haven't spent very much time as a player over the last 37 years. The number of PCs I've had, and campaigns that I have been in, probably number less than two dozen. I certainly can not accurately remember more than that many.

In the entire stretch that I've been in the hobby, I'm only played a smattering of horror games and none were truly scary. Most didn't even achieve my personal goal as a GM of the genre, weird-you-out-creepy.

Two that did were my friend William's short, but awesome, Call of Cthulhu campaign, and my buddy Keith's equally brief, but really good, alternate setting Deadlands game.

No, the only game to ever put real fear in me was William's Champions campaign, 'The Age of Champions'.

In the 'chapter' I was part of, 'The Age of Chaos', we fought villains that you honestly thought might freakin' win if you didn't do something about them. Characters died, and most of the time, they didn't come back. Not all supervillains killed, but some did, or would, if it meant their success, or escape, depending on their motivations.

Since I loved my characters so much, I really did not want them to die. At the same time, all three of my PCs - Starguard, S.I.M.O.N., and The New Yorker - shared a desire to protect the innocent at any cost, and a certain amount of poorly thought out bravado.

One particular villain, William's heavily modified version of the Champions RPG villain Dark Seraph, was absolutely terrifying.

Penciled, inked, and colored in Photoshop by Me.
Heavily based on an illustration by Alex Ross.

The Dark Trinity Incident
In a veritable flood of brilliant and challenging story arcs, William managed to make this one stand out above and beyond. It wouldn't be the only such stand out mind you, but damn this one was so epic that to this day I can't believe we (the PCs) survived. OK, mostly survived. We lost one or two of our alternate characters.

First, a little set-up:

Each player had a character in the campaign we considered to be our main character. This was our A-List PC if you will. Then, in addition, some of us had alternate, or alt, characters. Most of these were considered B or even C-List.

Now, this was purely an option. You didn't have to have spare characters, but sometimes it proved to be a lot of fun to switch from your cosmic, spacefaring Superman (such as Starguard) to a more low-powered, or even non-powered, street level crime fighter (such as my alt, The New Yorker) for a few sessions.

In most cases, you played your main more than your alt (or alts). In a few rare cases, a player would switch characters often, or play one for a long stretch and then play the other for a long stretch, resulting in two mains (such as my friend David's characters, Omni and Night Force).

For the most part, you wouldn't find yourself playing both characters in a single session, and if you did, it wasn't at the same time. Starguard and New Yorker never teamed up (technically, I'm not sure they've even met).

Every once in a while though, there would be a story arc, a series of scenarios so devastating, so world-shattering, that every last costumed crusader on the planet would be called upon to thwart the oncoming apocalypse.

This was one such time.

It's The End of Days for Three Parallel Worlds - Crisis on Three Earths!

Three years prior to the start of this adventure (that's three years of real time by the way), a group of PC superheroes had managed to trap the entity known as Dark Seraph in the null plane of Limbo. In those three years, deprived of the vast majority of his powers, Dark Seraph explored his prison of endless nothingness, eventually coming upon two 'points' in Limbo that seemed different from the rest of the essentially featureless realm.

Apparently, the Limbo into which he was placed touched upon two other Limbos, separate but essentially similar to his own. Through the use of what abilities he had remaining, Dark Seraph reached out to these other Limbos and made contact with two other entities who were similarly trapped.

The first was a dark, cosmic god-being known as Dark Seed.

The second was a female spirit, formally Human, but twisted and corrupted by the black magics of a presence known as Dark Unicorn.

Dark Seraph concocted a plan to escape all three of their confinements by forcing what little power they had on each others prisons instead of their own. Eventually, the walls between the Limbos shattered and all three beings, each more mad, more powerful, and more determined than they had ever been before, were free to let loose chaos and death on their unsuspecting universes.

Only...they weren't quite as unsuspecting as the Dark Trinity believed.

On Champions Earth Wilco Charlie-1, Professor Christopher Crighton, aka The Legionnaire, was alerted to some kind of severe quantum flux, and was able to pinpoint a hole in the fabric of space-time.

On Champion League Earth Delta Ceti-1, Brother Destiny, a missionary in possession of an ancient amulet which in turn possessed him, detected a disturbance in the spirit world, and traveled through the astral plane to investigate. He soon found Limbo had been broken open, and a once well occupied space on The Great Genesis Gate now lay empty.

On Challengers Earth Mu-1, Professor Christopher Crighton, aka Professor Phenomenal of the Phenomenal Four, received shocking news from his computers monitoring The Never Zone. The negatively-charged, psychokinetic energy mass known as 'The Dark Unicorn' has somehow broken free from it's confinement in 'The Place That Is Not'!

Basically, our biggest bad frees and is freed by the biggest bad of a DC Comics parallel universe (Dark Seed is, you guessed it, Dark Seid), and a Marvel Comics parallel universe (Dark Unicorn is of course, Dark Phoenix).

Dark Seraph then has a plan to merge the three Earths together, however only a single population would survive. That is to say, if there are 7 billion people on each world, when the merger is over there will be 7 billion people, not 21 billion. All those who don't get to be the one that forms on the merged Earth will perish. That's right, it's not that there are three John Smiths and they merge, it's that one of the John Smiths will survive and the other two will be obliterated.

Those destroyed will become a Death Flotsam, a psycho-spiritual energy foam of sadness and despair, that will be absorbed into a device of Dark Seed's design. The machine will then convert the deceased into power that can further energize the Dark Trinity members, and grant them more power than they've ever had before.

Of course, Dark Seraph is plotting to absorb all the Death Flotsam himself and double cross the others. Dark Seed is aware of the possible double cross of Dark Seraph, and is working on a contingency plan that will destroy all of existence. Dark Unicorn is torn between a vampire like hunger for the power, and desperately trying to reconnect with her humanity.

In the end, it took all the heroes, and many of the villains, of the three Earths to combine their forces, resources, skills and abilities in an attempt to save their worlds. When the smoke cleared, PCs and NPCs were dead, some heroes and villains from each Earth were permanently trapped in a world not their own! The villains were defeated, but only barely, as we managed to convince Dark Unicorn that she was really Jane Ash (once a normal girl, loved and missed by friends, family and a world in need), and that without her help all would perish. She turned on the other two who had largely ignored her and used her while scheming against each other.

I, as S.I.M.O.N., my mid-range, B+ List PC, punched her in the face. Yeah, not one of my prouder moments but I had to do it in order to disrupt the Unicorn Power and allow Jane's consciousness to regain control.

Starguard fought Dark Seed. A highlight of his career I can assure you.

The New Yorker was transported to the Marvel-like Earth, and saw a rogues gallery of costumed nutjobs beating up some nerdy kid in a spider-themed suit. Yeah, well, they now wish they hadn't. "Da medical bills for dose guys ah gonna be murda."

I'll never forget those last moments of the finale, when the dimensional merger was reversed, and that crazy machine invented by the two scientist Crightons was sucking Dark Seed's machine into itself. Dark Seraph  was being pulled into the collapsing singularity, a custom designed, pocket dimension of 'Before-Space'. Dark Seraph tried to take Omni, Favorite Son, and Maxi-Mode with him. Refusing to let anything happen to Omni, Starguard flew to the rescue, suddenly finding himself backed up by the heroes Arctic Fox, the Golden Ankh, Professor Arcane, and the villains Kineto, Lord Gauss, and Black Staff.


The Superman of Champion League Earth Delta Ceti-1
Real Name: Mild mannered Chris Crighton.
That Crighton guy sure gets around.

Epic upon epic. What a battle. What incredible GMing. I didn't think we were going to make it, and I was getting ready to kamikaze Starguard into Dark Seraph to hurl them both into the Before-Space vortex that had formed. At the last second, Night Force and Brother Destiny figured out a way to empower the vortex to an even greater level. Caught by surprise, Dark Seraph was sucked in and trapped forever.

We hope.

Damn that was some scary sh**.

Barking Alien

*Drawing of Maxi-Mode based on a Superman drawing by Ed McGuiness and Ian Churchill's Marine Man.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

RPGaDay Challenge - Day 27

Day 27 - Game You’d Like to See a New / Improved Edition of…

Now here's a question I can really get into. I know exactly which RPG fits this bill.


Left: First Edition Cover
Right: Second (Executive) Edition Cover
And someday...

Oh yeah baby!
On a parallel Earth, David Bruggerman, the entire TAGG team, and I are wallowing in money 'cause we just sold the movie rights to same people who made Galaxy Quest.

As noted by some of the other participants of the RPGaDay Blogfest, a lot of the answers to these questions, and therefore the posts regarding them, seem like repeats. The same games will come up on a given bloggers posts again and again.
Barking Alien


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

RPGaDay Challenge - Day 26

Day 26 - Coolest Character Sheet

This seems an odd question.

I imagine if I saw every single character sheet ever designed, or even remembered what half the ones I have seen look like, I'd be better able to answer this.

I mean, don't character sheets fall into one of two categories? Either...

  • You use the one that comes with the game 'cause frankly, it's just a character sheet
  • It matters to you so you design your own.
  • Who needs a character sheet? I write it down on a sheet of loose leaf , or copy paper.

I tend to custom design my own sheets, partially for easy of use and partially for aesthetics.

Not much else to say on this one. When it comes to this particular question, I just don't give a sheet.

Wokka Wokka!

Barking Alien

Blogger is acting a little strangely for me. I apologize for any inconvenience in the reading of this post.

Thanks, The Management.