Thursday, January 3, 2019



Coming in Hot!

Atmospheric Re-entry Kit for Traveller
By the ever-amazing David Deitrick

Happy New Year Everybody! Adam here to let you know that Barkley and I are back in action and raring to go! 

Also, BARKING ALIEN first debuted on February 23rd, 2009 so this coming February will mark 10 years that I've been doing this blog. TEN FREAKIN' YEARS! Woohoo! We should throw a party or something.

It's been a very interesting and enlightening holiday season, giving me time to look at my favorite hobby from a fresh perspective. In truth it isn't so much that I came up with some startling epiphany or grand realization. More so that I could see more clearly what had been staring me in the face for a long time and yet I kept second guessing it and myself. 

For some time now (many years actually) I haven't felt like I've been gaming to my full potential. 

When I was in High School, College, even for many years after, I was considered one of the best Gamemasters in my circles. I discovered, thanks to a meeting with an old acquaintance some time ago, that I was even considered among the best by those who knew me and/or the players in my games even if they themselves weren't actually in any of the games I ran. 

That last bit, it moved me. I'm being serious. As a guy who has suffered from anxiety and low self-esteem issues for most of his life it was like Godzilla being struck by lightning, charging me up with the knowledge that I really was good at something. Not just good, Great!

Alas, I feel a bit like my powers have faded over the past ten years. I know this isn't the first time I've said that here but I think I found part of the reason.

My oldest, most engaging group disbanded because several of the personal relationships in it broke up, not the least of which was that between my [now] ex-wife and myself. Ever since then, instead of running and playing games 100% My Way and the way the old group liked it, I've been trying to figure out how to play the way the new people I met preferred. I've been trying to adapt to others' play styles so I could make new friends and find new games. 

Now there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach. I am not going to lament doing this specific thing as I have made some great, close friends, ran some awesome games, and had a lot of fun along the way. 

At the same time, I am soon to be fifty years old. 50. I...*faint* Sorry, what...where was I? Oh yes, that also means I have been gaming for 42 years. Wow. I think I have earned the right to do what I want to do and game the way that makes sense to me.

True, I may find it harder to find and keep players. By being more me and less flexible I am shrinking my potential audience. My default style is not the approach the average gamer is used to. I am not a fan of D&D or Pathfinder, the games with the most wide-spread appeal and easiest accessibility. 

Still and all, if I can't make myself happy, why and I doing this, right?

It is my sincerest hope that much like my groups of old, my players of today and beyond will appreciate my games and become fans of my GMing because I will have become a fan of my GMing once more. If I am sincere and passionate about it, that will show and resonate. 

Here's to a New Year and a return to doing things I love doing. I hope you do the same. 

Barking Alien


  1. As you get older your brain changes. It’s no longer as spongy and plastic as it used to be. Your game mastering skills change. Not deteriorate necessarily, but you develop different ways to compensate for what you lost.

    Don’t sweat it. You are probably still great.

    1. I appreciate what you're saying but I work really hard to keep my brain spongy. To be clear what I mean is I make an effort to avoid becoming inflexible.

      I want to take all I've learned and add that flair I once had back into the mix. As I noted above, it really shouldn't be that hard. What I need to do it do it my way and hope people like it as opposed to doing what they might want me to do and hoping I like it.

      I gotta be me. :)

  2. Welcome Back!

    Ive always tried to GM from the "Build it and they will come" perspective.

    When running a game I try to do it from my learned strengths as a GM. Try to be flexible to my players but true to my strengths first. Confidence (not arrogance) is a must.
    My rambling point: Stick to your core. Go with what you know and add/subtract what works or doesn't to your game as a GM. As a player I appreciate GM consistency.

    Also, I want your advice. I want to run a TNG era Star Trek game. I am a huge ST fan and most of my group are casual fans. Im twisting my brain trying to figure out how to do it right. Trek can tricky. Never ran it before. But no stranger to running Science Fiction genre.

    1. Thanks Teresa, both for the pep talk and for asking for my advice. That's actually really flattering. It means a lot.

      I'd be happy to discuss it with you in more detail but here's a few basic suggestions and notes:

      First, running Star Trek with Star Trek fans isn't hard at all. It just flows as everyone will pretty much be thinking of and following the same mental images and head canon. Unless they like Star Trek Discovery and everyone else at the table has taste. There is really no helping STD people.

      If your players are casual fans...that's fine too. Avoid creating adventures that require someone to have watched the show. Basically, don't base things on specific bits of Trek lore. Keep it more Science Fiction-y and less Star Trek-y. The Star Trek-ness will come from things like the PC's ship, the command structure and PCs' species, equipment they're familiar with, etc. Even a casual fan knows what a phaser, communicator, and tricorder is.

      Star Trek is rife with names and terms that have made it into the greater pop culture awareness. Everyone knows 'Beam Me Up, Scotty'. A Star Trek fan knows Kirk never said that. That doesn't stop the bulk of the people from understanding what the transporter does.

      Lastly, read Lord Blacksteel's amazing post 'The Star Trek Model of Campaign Design'. It's freakin' fantastic! So many good points and elements to be aware of.

      I have some good posts on the subject of Star Trek gaming if I do say so myself, with the best ones being earlier in this blog's history.

      Good luck and please let me know how it goes!

    2. Adam, do you have a link to the post by Lord Blacksteel?

    3. Sorry, thought I had.

  3. Glad to see you back at it Adam! I myself have been eyeing the ol' blog again. Might be time to jump back in!

    Looking forward to seeing more from Barkley!