Sunday, October 17, 2021

Juggling Ideas

I've been thinking a lot about what games I want to run next year. 

Yes, next year.

This year I am already running three campaigns and playing in one. With real life getting in the way and the end of 2021 coming up before you know it, I've no time, desire, or need to start a new game right now. 

Next year is kind of special. It will mark 45 years for me in the tabletop gaming hobby. Forty-Five Years. That's some serious mileage. To that end, I am juggling a number of different campaign concepts that I'd really like to pull off for the big Four Five. 

It is important to note - at least I feel it's important for me to point out - that all the ideas below are ones I've been working on in my spare time. Can't believe I said 'spare time' with a straight face. 

I want whichever one of these that I choose to do to be a big production. An Art Film and a Blockbuster all at once. I want it in-person and not online. I want a good number of players and a regular schedule. It's possible I won't be able to get everything just the way I like it but I am going to try.

Some of these concepts have been in the works for weeks or months. One has been under development for many years. All have been waiting for something; some outside requirement or idea to click into place before I can fully and properly execute them. A couple of these are still waiting for this but I now have a better idea about when the needed ingredient is coming. 

Here's what I have...


I've been really interested - really, really interested - in running a full-on Ghostbusters campaign again. 

I had an absolute blast running my last one and the two specials I ran over the Pandemic were both fantastic. Those who've played in these games seem to have enjoyed them immensely; I won't lie, that is the kind of thing I live for. 

My particular approach to Ghostbusters is a little less humorous and a little more spooky/serious. Not that it lacks for comedy but the balance between humor and horror weighs a bit more to the latter than the original film. 

The missing piece for this one is [of course] the new film, Ghostbusters: Afterlife. I feel like I need to see it before I can run a new campaign.  

Star Trek: Lower Decks

It's no surprise to any reader familiar with myself or this blog that I am a huge fan of Star Trek and gaming in the Star Trek universe is my favorite thing to do. That said, aside from my ongoing, bi-weekly TOS Era campaign (now in its 6th year of real time), I've been unable to come up with a different approach that has the same sustainability. 

Part of the reason for this is that I've run a lot of Star Trek at this point and even for a fan like me, keeping it fresh can be tricky. This hasn't been helped by modern Trek, which hasn't added a lot of interesting material nor generated [in me] feelings of excitement or inspiration. 

That has changed with Star Trek: Lower Decks...

I have totally fallen in love with this series and with the Season 2 Finale I am more jazzed than ever to run a Lower Decks inspired game. The thing is, I already ran such a campaign, although it didn't quite hit the notes I'd intended. Instead, it was just a very good Star Trek game. It wasn't specifically 'Lower Decks'. 

Now that I've seen all of the second season, I feel I might have a better grip on how to pull off what I have in mind. 

Obviously completing the second season was the missing piece. 

Star Wars: Visions

Like Star Trek, I am pretty much always in the mood to run Star Wars. That doesn't mean I always have a good idea for a campaign. 

Following multiple views of the episodes in this series, I find myself very much intrigued to run something in a Star Wars universe we only think we know. A game with all the tropes and trimmings of that familiar galaxy Long Ago and Far, Far Away but one in which there is a high degree of unknown elements and unusual takes on classic concepts. 

Exactly how I want to go about this is something I am honestly still working on. I was writing posts in this regard (see this one in particular) but stopped because I am unsure of where to take the idea next. 

It is possible that the missing piece for this is still missing. 

The Dark Crystal

For almost 40 years I've wanted to run a Dark Crystal themed and inspired RPG campaign. Periodically throughout that time I made notes on the subject and generated possible plot and adventure ideas.

With the release of The Dark Crystal young adult novels and especially the (Absolutely Amazing) Age of Resistance Netflix series, the desire to run a Dark Crystal game became stronger than ever. Previous concepts and narratives I'd considered became clearer (one could say they 'crystalized'. Heh.), while a number of newer ones came forth. 

What I needed -what I'd always needed - was the right system. Over the 40 year span I have played with various rules but nothing clicked perfectly. A number of years back I got very close as I was asked to be part of a design team working on a proposed official RPG. Unfortunately that project fell through. It did inspire thoughts on hope to continue with my own homebrew, one which is very close to completion.

The possible missing piece here (aside from a hope of more Dark Crystal series or film content) is River Horse's official The Dark Crystal Adventure Game, due out in the first quarter of 2022. If the system for that game is better than my homebrew I will use it to run my campaign. If not I will either use my homebrewed system or see if the two and be incorporated into each other in some way. 

Finally there is one last concept I have that I am not yet willing to completely reveal...

The Mystery Game

A Medieval Fantasy campaign inspired by Anime and Manga that I've been considering for a little while now, this game idea is one that is waiting for a missing piece in the form of a Japanese TRPG that is due to be released sometime early next year. 

More information will be posted as thoughts on it develop. 

That's it for now my friends. If any of these ideas are interesting to you please share your thoughts on them down below in the comments. Which of these would you want to play in?

Barking Alien


  1. I'd be interested about reading of adventures in ANY of these ideas.

    Mmm. Maybe not Star Trek. Ever looked at Albedo Platinum Catalyst? I'd throw that one in as a replacement to ST (which has a tendency to end up as pastiche of the TV shows).

    BTW, for a Ghostbusters game with more humor, I've had good success using the InSpectres system. I know you have the actual GB system, but if you've never checked out InSpectres, you might want to take a look; it's very much "story forward."

    1. Hmm. You should read through more of my past posts JB. ;)

      Star Trek having 'a tendency to end up as pastiche of the TV shows' is a plus in my book, not a drawback or weakness. I've been a Star Trek fan since I was very young, playing in that universe the way most kids played 'Cops and Robbers', pretending to beam down with friends and exploring the playground for new life forms and new civilizations.

      Star Trek is in many ways my D&D, a game I've been running since the FASA version in 1982. It is my favorite setting for an RPG campaign and the one I've run the most often.

      For many years now my Ghostbusters games have used a hybrid system that basically combines WEG's Ghostbusters with InSpectres. You might note that InSpectres appears as one of my Tags with 23 related posts. I am a big fan of it and again, use it in conjunction with elements of the old D6 Ghostbusters game.

    2. Albedo is that Anthropomorphic Animals SF game based on the old comic book right? Why that and not Traveller?

    3. I don't know the comics, but the game is very interesting, and I'm an old school Rocket Raccoon fan (like, the original character from the 80s). The game is quite focused on the space-military thing (with interesting mechanics) a way that Star Trek isn't really, despite the Federation being a kind of a "space navy." I just think it would be different.

      My point was just that, of the choices you offered, I would rather NOT be reading excerpts of ST pastiche. Doesn't mean it wouldn't be a fun game. I'm just talking about the blog, man.
      ; )

      [and for real ST pastiche, I always recommend Far Trek to folks. Great fun, that one]

      I completely missed the InSpectres tag (apologies) because I tend to NOT read the GB posts (apologies, again) as that is less interesting to me than some of your other posts.

      RE: Why Albedo and not Traveller

      Because of the focus of the game and the way the mechanics support it. Deals with the consequences of space warfare (including combat fatigue, etc.) in a way that a game like Star Trek (ostensibly about a space navy) or Traveller (which *could* be military but is generally about ex-military adventurers) does not.

    4. Hmm. As we both know, our interests and approaches differ. I may check out Albedo again one of these days out of sheer curiosity (I played a one shot of the original edition of the game years ago and barely remember it) but I'm not currently looking for a space navy warfare game.

      Star Trek features a space navy but it's not about a space navy. It's about exploration and discovery, Science Fiction What Ifs, and what it means to be us.

      These are the five ideas I am most interested in tackling next. Unfortunately, you can expect a lot of the posts next year to be about one of them.

  2. Replies
    1. Nope, not for 2022. I am currently running a Champions 4th Edition game and I think I will continue to do so at least until the end of the year (if not further based on player interest).

  3. Alright Star Trek, Star Wars - we know you can do those and it will probably be interesting.

    I think Ghostbusters is remarkably flexible as you could drop it into any location and quite a few genres and it would still work from Old West (with some kind of steampunk angle for the devices) to Cyberpunk (get the PPE meter add-on for your cybereye?) to early futuristic SF campaign ("apparently they think one of the moonbases is haunted"). It didn't sound like you were going in any of those directions, just thinking out loud here.

    Also: Hong Kong Ghostbusting: Woo + Reitman.

    Dark Crystal - is there enough material about the rest of the world out there to make a game of it? I know the movie and the novelization from back then, have not watched the show or read any other books. I see the RPG listing at Water Horse but not a ton of discussion about what you do in a Dark Crystal RPG as a group of players. What are your thoughts?

    1. There is a considerable amount of material between the original film, the Netflix series, the young adult novels, the books on the making of the film and series, the books about the world of the Dark Crystal, and various supplemental and secondary sources.

      If you deep dive into the subject (which is the only way I am capable of diving), there are numerous unexplored elements and bits of unresolved lore that could easily fill a campaign lasting a year or more.

      Then there is the fact that, as stated above, I've been jotting down notes on running a Dark Crystal game for some 40 odd years now so yeah, I think I have enough to fill the time.

  4. Given how my brain works I can't not address this question directly:

    "is there enough material about the rest of the world out there to make a game of it?"

    What do you mean by this? I MUST KNOW? My brain is going into overdrive considering this paradigm.

    Do you mean is there enough canon material to keep the game going for a long period of time? Is canon material required to do that? Don't some games have no canon material?
    How does one run a D&D game or any other RPG in which you play in a setting of your own design?

    But it isn't a world of my design you say and you'd be right. Still, can you run a Star Trek game if you haven't seen and read every Star Trek thing ever produced? Can you run Star Wars if you've only seen the Mandalorian? Could I run a game of Space:1999 or Blake 7 even though we don't really know how those stories end and there isn't nearly as much material on them as Star Wars or Star Trek?

    How much material is not enough? How much is too much!

    Wait, also 'the rest of the world'; must I take the PCs beyond the Skarith Region of Thra? Is that a necessity? Is not having information on the other regions of Thra a hindrance or a benefit?