Friday, September 23, 2022

Undergoing A Refit

Like much of 2022, September has fallen far short of my intentions and expectations, with the plan for Spacetember - an entire month dedicated to Science Fiction Space Adventure TRPGs - coming to naught and me feeling mighty down. 

Repair and Refit, By Me by Midjourney

So...going to take a break, reorganize my thoughts, and return in November with another go at it. You will likely see posts during the month of October dedicated to Ghostbusters and a few other things but my real focus will be developing material to knock your socks off come the following month. 

Spacetember is closed down for reconstruction and in a manner of speaking, so am I. 

Have no fear. Barkley and I and all the Space Opera epicness we can muster will return in...

Clear Skies and Later Days.

Barking Alien

Thursday, September 1, 2022

RPGaDay Challenge 2022 - Bonus Round

The RPGaDay 2022 'Event' is over and underwhelming is an understatement. 

Six questions that amount to 'Tell me about your character'? Three on the RPGaDay Challenge itself, including the gripping philosophical conundrum 'When did you start participating in this'? Really? REALLY? C'mon, put a little effort into it or don't bother. 

With the whole RPGaDay 2022 being what it was, I am practically beside myself to post something for this bonus round...

As noted before, I don't like tagging people, so I won't be doing that. I really couldn't even if I did want to in the case of this story as none of the players were close friends of mine and I lost track of them all years ago. 

One Saturday when I was in my early 20s, must have been around 1990 or '91, I went to a 'local' RPG Convention in New Jersey. I met some great people, played some great games, and ended up having a conversation on game design, theory, and all the other big life questions with a bunch of people into the late hours. One or two were regular acquaintances, a couple were friends of friends, and a couple were people I'd met that say. One was a woman who...well...instant crush. 

Anyway, it got late, a lot later than intended and I was kind of dreading the long train ride into New York City. The nippy Autumn weather was no problem for me but it was drizzling and foggy. I considered calling up a friend who lived in Jersey to see if I could crash there when two of the people I'd been talking with said I could stay overnight in their hotel room if it was cool with the third occupant and I had no issues. It was all good and I slept there that night. 

Except I didn't sleep. None of us did. Intrigued by my ideas and approach to gaming from our earlier conversation, my three impromptu roommates wanted me to run them through a short, makeshift session of something. I said sure. Then one of them said, "Hey, we should see if we can get some of the others [from the early conversation group]."

Everyone nodded in agreement and so I said, "Sure. What the heck."

Sometime later, with coffee and snacks, we ended up in a room in the hotel probably used for meetings or as a lounge. I can't recall exactly. I just remember a big room, a couch, some chairs, and a coffee table. Some of use were in our clothes from the day before but I remember Crush Girl was in her PJs. 

Here's how the game went down...

Medieval Fantasy. A Dungeon Crawl That Wasn't. I had everybody take a piece of paper and told them to write down their Character's name, a nickname or title, their 'Race', and three things they were good at, one thing they weren't.

Their last task was to come up with a question they wanted to ask one of the other characters. When they were all finished with their PCs, they asked each other one question each. Some of the questions were like:

'How do we know each other?'
'How'd you get that title/nickname?'
'Do you have any hobbies?'
'What Monster scares the bejeezus out of you?'

Finally, I asked them all, 'Why are you doing this? Adventuring is a hard life. Dungeons are freakin' dangerous. Why risk it?' The answer to this formed the key elements that drove the adventure...not the adventure itself. To put it another way, I focused on their personal backstories and their interactions with each other with pit traps and goblin hoards being the framework and backdrop of the game, not the main event. 

It blew them away. Many were Anime fans and said it reminded them of their favorite Manga and animated series. It had humor but they also feared for their character's lives. I remember someone saying their cared more about their character here than in the home game they'd been playing in for months by that point. 

It felt great to get the praise of course but it was also just a really fun session. It lasted well into the morning and I ended up sleeping three hours and then going to the con for a second day. 

If there is any interest, I'll write up the characters as best I can recall them and even a little about the adventure. I'd forgotten about this game for years, decades honestly, only to have it come back to me in a recent conversation with a fellow online regarding great one-shots.

Art by Me by Midjourney

Thanks for checking out the post. Look around the blog and see if there's anything else that might interest you. 

Next month...we're going to SPACE...

Barking Alien

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

RPGaDay Challenge 2022 - Day 29-31


The last three posts for RPGaDay 2022 are about RPGaDay. How...I don't even know really. The questions this year were so lackluster that this seems both disappointing and fitting. 

Let's see...

#29. I can't really think of anyone in particular. I would love more of my gaming friends to take part but honestly I don't think they all think about games in the way I do, as much as I do, and they don't all have a regular means of posting their thoughts on it if they were so inclined. 

That said, there are definitely some that can and should participate next time but would they? Maybe if the question were more engaging. 

Which brings me to...

#30. Outsource. The. Questions. Announce several months in advance that you will be collecting ideas for questions from those who would like to participate. Get those that take part in the RPGaDay event to generate the questions this next time.

Questions for RPG gamers by RPG gamers. 

#31. I first started in 2014. I've been doing it 8 years.

And...that's it. 

See you later tonight for the bonus round.

Barking Alien

RPGaDay Challenge 2022 - Day 28


OK first, I don't randomly tag people. I don't do it and don't usually like when it's done to me. Tip for future RPGaDay events, nix this. 

Second, who the heck has a D8 lying around? D&D players that's who. The rest of us would kindly you appreciate you choosing a die EVERYONE probably has, like a D6. 

So I've rolled 1d6+1 and got a 5, plus one makes 6. That's the number of favorite RPG cover art images I will post. See there, now everybody's happy. 

I am a visual person; far more easily and intensely inspired and excited by images than words. When the two meet and merge to compliment each other I am over the moon but it is rare and I am picky. It is my [likely unpopular] opinion that most RPGs across the board still have pretty weak artwork to this day. I am especially irked by Superhero and Anime based games that don't look like professional Comic Books or Anime. Don't make a game about an artform if you can't emulate that artform.

Some games have a 'house style' such as D&D and Pathfinder that might be very popular and technically well done but they just don't do it for me. It would be too easy to just post covers from IP based games since you know the art there will be good and I am biased by the fact that I like said franchise so it may not be fair to favor the art.

This brings us to...

Paranoia - Second Edition

Art by (Not sure - James Holloway? Doesn't look like Holloway)

Neighborhood Ghost Story Peekaboo aka Peekaboo Horror
First and Second Editions

Artist Unknown but it's the same person who did the art for Meikyuu Kingdom

Skyviators of The Cloud Seas aka The Ocean of Clouds Skyviators

Artist Unknown

Traveller - Japanese Boxed Edition

Art by Naoyuki Katoh

Villains and Vigilantes - Second Edition

Art by Jeff Dee

Wares Blade - First Edition Boxed Set

Artist Unknown

Yes, a lot of these are Japanese produced TRPGs for the Japanese gaming market.

As noted in the beginning of the post, I left out games based on Intellectual Properties for this list. If I were to include them, a few would trump the ones shown here. Specifically:

OK, almost done. This year has been...well...kinda meh. I think maybe meh is being kind. Not bad but really boring. Not much to make you think or share your ideas. What's your favorite cover art? This one. How long do you game for? A few hours. Might as well have made them yes or no questions. 

Oh well, been kind of a crappy month for me overall so looking forward to it ending on all counts. 

Later days,

Barking Alien

Sunday, August 28, 2022

You Seem To Have Caught Me Midjourney

This is a tough post to write because what I will say is hard to for me to admit.

It is something that's been coming for a while now but I've been resisting saying it 'out loud' [in a manner of speaking] and still refuse to except it. Maybe I believe that putting it in writing will help or even make it go away.

As much as I love gaming...I am not loving gaming. 

Here I am celebrating 45 years in the hobby and it is a chore, an uphill drudge through oncoming winds carrying a heavy stone to have something, anything to write about. That is because my blog is an RPG blog primarily and I am just not enjoying gaming like I once did. 

There are many different reasons and factors contributing to this but the worst of it is I really hate not being excited about it. I want, more than anything, to love running and playing RPGs again. It's kind of who I am, part of my identity for better or worse. I'm not especially skilled or talented at many things and this is the one thing I think I am actually great at and I'm not having a ton of fun doing it. 

Don't get me wrong, I am having some fun. I am not hating it by any stretch but...the magic is missing. My motivation has waned. There are days when it feels arduous to bring myself to want to run or play. 

At the same time I am feeling as creative as ever. More so! Have you encountered Midjourney? It is an AI based Image Generator that can create some truly gorgeous pictures by entering in a series of prompt words. I have become pretty obsessed with it. What do I use it for? Creating RPG images and getting inspired by those images to create adventures. Then...not wanting to run or play overly much. 

What gives? 

Yeah, I can produce incredible campaign art in seconds and so I have. Dozens of planets. A multitude of Alien Species, intelligent and animal life alike. Even some Fantasy stuff for some odd reason. Why though? Why am I doing this if I'm not excited to use for anything? 

Simply put, my head is always filled with ideas. It's wonderful and terrible and it's been this way my whole life. I need to create whether I am excited to do so or not. If I don't I feel like my head will pop like a balloon or I'll be crushed under the weight of unrealized concepts.

Anxiety is a b**** i'nit?

Anyway, I've rambled enough. I hope the spark comes back and soon. I miss loving my favorite thing. 

Barking Alien

So where's all the art I've been making? Well, I will reveal it slowly, once I can connect it with some game material I am actually motivated to post along with it. The image of my Hogwarts RPG campaign character Frank Pellgrove (previous post) was made with Midjourney. 

Hopefully soon.