Monday, October 31, 2011

The Muppets At RECESS - This is Halloween, Halloween!

Aside from the fact that I have been exhausted lately, I am really not sure what is taking me so long to finish this recap. Worse yet, I can't seem to move on. That is, until the recap is finished I don't feel right...or motivated...or write about anything else. And I have stuff to write about to be sure. Very strange. I am feeling a bit out of sorts with my self.

This is the final entry on the subject of my RECESS Muppet Show game and maybe any Muppet RPG stuff until the new Muppets film comes out on November 23rd. I still love, love, love the Muppets but I need to switch gears if only to clear my head and recharge for the next time I run it.

Thanks for hanging with me.

OK, so to sum things up...

Bunsen detonates
the GhostBuster device he invented before it can run out of power (as the latter would release the ghosts). The resulting explosion messes the place up a bit, destroys most of the ghosts and transforms one of them (that last big one) into a fire-shrouded, flame ghost of doom! The fire ghost winds up torching a few things as he passes through floors and ceilings until he ends up in a 'Green Room' type area with Johnny Fiama, Sal Manilla and Sam the Eagle. Sal convinces the flaming spirit (through an incredibly well role played series of pun-laced compliments) that he should go into show biz. "You're hot kid! You've got fire. I can see you burning up the stage and screen!" Threat averted. Sal becomes the fire ghost's agent.
 before it can run out of power (as the latter would release the ghosts). The resulting explosion
Meanwhile, Jack Skellington has been walking around the castle watching all the performances, checking out the costumes and tagging along with Fozzie Bear. Unfamiliar with the concept of 'comedy', Jack is under the impression that Fozzie is hilarious. What he's seen inspires Jack's idea for the show's closing number. Jack tells his idea to Fozzie, who goes pale and trembles. Fozzie stammers out that the number has to be cleared with Kermit. Jack thinks that's a splendid notion and the two seek out Kermit right away.

As Count Von Count keeps the lead ghost busy with Go Fish!, Scooter, Rizzo, Pepe, Rowlf, Bobo the Bear and Big Mean Carl use the information from Uncle Deadly to find the secret item that will defeat the evil ghosts and drive them away for good. In a mock-'Indiana Jones' type sequence, the characters enter an ancient tomb deep below the castle, figure out which coffin is the right one (Rowlf's sense of smell assists), travel through the hidden passage inside/underneath the correct coffin and seize a mysterious black disk!

Jack and Fozzie find Kermit, tired and worn out from his ordeal, trying desperately to regain control of things. Jack tells Kermit his closing number idea but does so it a way that is far less scary then the way he described it to Fozzie (actually he was direct with Fozzie but is embellishing here and there and using flowery words that make it sound like absolutely grand then horrifically scary). Kermit agrees to it as Fozzie violently shakes his head no and tries to silently signal Kermit that it's a bad idea. Piggy rushes in and fawns over Kermit and tries to make sure he is alright after the possession. Jack says he absolutely needs Miss Piggy to star as his 'Queen' in the final act. Piggy does a 180, forgetting about Kermit and focusing on her starring role.

For the closing number, Jack sings and the Muppets re-enact the 'This is Halloween'/Pumpkin King song from A Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack has placed Piggy (dressed in a ragdoll meets 'Bride of Frankenstein' type get-up) in a coffin on stage that he somehow buried beneath the 'ground' (remember, the stage of a Muppet Show production is akin to the Holodeck). She is pounding and pounding but can't get out. As Jack sings, the evil ghosts actually start getting more powerful and creepy things start to happen. The vortex from earlier in the adventure (original stuffed up by the Swedish Chef) reappears and spews out the dough. The vortex continues to get bigger as the song continues. The lead ghost seems to suddenly be beating the Count at Go Fish!!!

It's at that point that Scooter and the gang (yes, I know how that sounds. We do elude to the Mystery Machine kids a few times during this part of the game), present a very terrified Kermit, Fozzie and the rest with the black disc they found. Kermit knows exactly what to do!

As Uncle Deadly prepares to join Jack on stage, Kermit intercepts him and convinces him to go along with, er, um, the surprise twist that will make this really knock'em dead in the audience. Those that aren't already I suppose. Deadly agrees.

The black disc turns out to be a vinyl record. Once started, it plays, 'Manna Manna'. Soon, Uncle Deadly is dramatically (over-dramatically actually) singing this song, causing Jack to stop his song and listen in utter fascination. So intrigued is he by this strange and wondrous music that he decides to join in. Before long the song drives off the evil ghosts (except the Flame Ghost who sings it too), shoves all of them through the vortex and slams the vortex shut behind them. The last to go in before it shuts is the ghost leader who draws out a shout asking if the Count has any Aces. "Go Fish!", says the Count just as the lead ghost is sucked into the vortex.

I have no idea why this was so hard for me to finish. October has very simply kicked my ass. Between running this at RECESS, New York Comic Con, some personal stuff and work I have been feeling really burnt out lately. I want to blog and game but time just hasn't been on my side.

I left out a lot of stuff and it pains my to do so since all the players were absolutely amazing. The performances by the players of Uncle Deadly, Johnny Fiama and Waldorf, Bunsen and Bobo the Bear, the Swedish Chef and Scooter, Miss Piggy, Pepe and Big Mean Carl and Sal, the Newsman and many others were just brilliant.

Thank you so much guys for making it such a success and thank you readers for putting up with me this month. I intend to run Sesame Street (finally!) at the next RECESS and will be blogging a lot more in November (especially about my new Skype game I hope).

Happy Halloween everybody!

Baring Alien

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Muppets At RECESS - Everybody Scream

First off, I ain't dead.

Things have been crazy busy in my world and as usual, it is the blog that suffers. Sorry gang (Sorry blog). It's been over two weeks since I ran the Muppets game at RECESS so I am sure I am going to forget a lot of the details but I am going to try to finish this up.

I have a number of other things I want to talk about, mainly getting back to Superhero games whose sheer awesomeness I still feel I haven't fully conveyed.


I believe I may be telling this part of the recap slightly out of sequence. I am pretty sure the seance occurred immediately after the knock at the castle door mentioned in my
last post. I am pretty sure of it actually, since Pepe answers the knock and he was in the seance scene.

Continuing my Recap of the recent Muppets RPG/Muppet Show session I ran at the RECESS event in NYC...

Pepe offers to answer the knocking at the castle door. After lowering the drawbridge, he peers into the rainy night, which is illuminated by the dim moonbeams that are able to sneak through the storm clouds and the occasional flash of lightning.

Pepe sees a cloaked figure casting a massive, creepy shadow in the wake of another bolt of lightning and crack of thunder. As the figure gets closer, Pepe can make out pointed ears and an even pointier collar. Pepe asked the individual who they are.

A deep, rich voice with a Transylvanian accent says, "This is MY castle. Who are You?!"

"I am Pepe (poses like a Spanish flamingo dancer), the King Prawn, OK."

"Really?", says the voice, "Excellent! One! One wonderful prawn! Ah-Ah-Ah!"

Another flash of lightning and thunder reveals Count Von Count of Sesame Street! He is the old friend of Uncle Deadly. He also mentions knowing Kermit. "When we were younger we used to hang out in the same neighborhood."

Pepe fills The Count in on what's been going on and that there are ghosts haunting The Count's castle. The Count tells Pepe this is normal and before Pepe can fully explain, The Count takes him through the castle to count all the ghosts. Apparently, there should be 100 ghosts in The Count's castle. He counts 115. Indeed something is amiss. Pepe fills him in further and the two decide to confront Scooter and the others and make a plan for getting rid of the evil ghosts.

Bunsen and Beaker have invented a device called, strangely enough, a GhostBuster. The gadget is a small, hand held vacuum-like item (heh heh) that can suck in ghosts and contain them in a clear cartridge in the back. Bunsen tests it on Beaker (of course) with the premise that since Beaker is alive it shouldn't harm him. It nearly pulls his spirit from his body. This convinces everyone that the device at least does what it's supposed to do but recommends being very careful. Bunsen's player was prone to giving himself and/or me an easy way to make him or his devices fail so he included a limited (very limited) battery life on the GhostBuster. He also indicated all his devices (All of them!) have a fail safe button that in case of an emergency they can be made to blow up. Yessiree!

Eventually tricking the ghosts (including their leader inside Kermit) into position, Bunsen hit the switch and sucked in a good number of ghosts. Their ringleader came out of Kermit but managed to escape by passing through a wall into the next room along with a few other ghosts. Piggy, upset over the way the ghost leader possessed Kermit, went through the wall as well...the old fashioned way. Using her Karate/Kung-Fu she smashed through and then gave chase. Eventually the leader escapes by going out side the castle. Or so he thinks...The Count is waiting for him.

Count Von Count challenges the lead ghost to a battle of wits, strategy and skill. Moments later they are said to be playing 'Go Fish'. Parodying The Princess Bride, the lead ghost asks for '3's and is told to go fish. Counts asks for '2's, the ghosts hands them over and says "Inconceivable!". This happens several times in 'cut scenes'.

Another ghost that nearly escaped was a big, tough one who, at the last moment, is sucked in anyway. As everyone congratulates Bunsen, an orange light flashes on the GhostBuster and an electronic voices goes, "Charge running low. Please recharge device. Charge running low. Please recharge device. Perhaps you didn't hear me dummy. You are about to lose power. Please recharge or device go boom."

To Be Concluded...

Barking Alien

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Muppets At RECESS - One Wonderful Game! AH-AH-AH

Blogger is being it's usual completely stinking and largely useless self this so I apologize for the lateness of this post. Actually, I shouldn't be apologizing to you. Blogger should. And to me as well.

Now then...get a drink and some snacks and settle in. This is a long one.


This past Saturday, October 8th, 2011, I ran the second ever full-on session of my Muppets RPG in the form of a Muppet Show adventure at RECESS.

Was it good? Does Lew Zealand talk to tuna? YES! IT WAS FANTASTIC! It equaled and even came close to out-cooling the first session. Impossible you say? Let's take a look...

The Recap

Following the events in the previous RECESS session of The Muppet Show, the Muppet Theater was largely destroyed and is currently under repairs. This episode of the show is being done at an old castle that belongs to a friend of Uncle Deadly's. As the show prepares to start, Scooter checks on the guest star, Angus McGonagle, the Argyle Gargoyle who gargles Gershwin (Gorgeously I might add). After Scooter leaves the room, McGonagle hears a knocking on the inside of a old wardrobe. The doors burst open and out steps the episode's real special guest star...

JACK SKELLINGTON from The Nightmare Before Christmas. And *Spoiler Alert*, as you can see in the image, there was a special guest appearance by Count Von Count from Sesame Street. The Count my homies! Now the Count doesn't come into play until a little more than half way through the adventure. For the time being let's focus on the story itself... The idea is Jack has made it to the Muppet Show the same way he made it to Christmas Town. Essentially he stepped through a mysterious door. Now, why did he do this? He was one again bored and curious about the worlds beyond Halloween Town and heard the music and laughter coming from the Muppets.

Scooter discovers that Jack is among them and that McGonagle has apparently run off. He informs Kermit who makes some changes to the show's schedule. Jack opens with Wilson Pickett's Til The Midnight Hour.

Now while this is happening, Kermit asks Scooter how he let the potential audience know the Muppets had moved the show from the Theater to this Castle. Scooter implies a brief but strong campaign of posters, fliers and postcards, distributed locally. Locally in this case means an old cemetery, a dark forest and moors.

Soon the Muppets realize that the majority of the audience (aside from Statler and Waldorf and a handful of Whatnots) consists of ghosts, goblins, vampires, werewolves and zombies!

Nervous about the situation, the Muppets get Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker to devise a way to get rid of the ghosts and creepy creatures. Muppet Labs' latest invention should do the trick! The Time/Space Displacement Vortex Generator is designed to suck all the supernatural beings into another dimension. Upon activation it works waaay too well and becomes a black hole, rapidly absorbing the world around it. The Swedish Chef, performing the first of several impressive tactical moves, stuffs a massive glob of uncooked Swedish Bread Dough into the vortex, sealing it. Go Chef!

As it turned out, a small gang of ne'er do well ghosts were not sucked in and instead escaped into the Castle. The group planned on taking over the show, first by having their leader possess Kermit and then by replacing all the regular acts with Halloween themed, ghostly and ghastly acts.

Meanwhile Uncle Deadly seemed to evidence split loyalties as the ghosts convince him that he is the biggest 'living challenged' star they have. The player who was performing Uncle Deadly, Matt, hammed it up and chewed the scenery like a pro. Great work for a guy who didn't remember the character that well.

All the while Jack Skellington is walking around the Castle discovering props, comedy and music in a fashion similar to his 'What's This?' song in The Nightmare Before Christmas. He eventually discovers Fozzie Bear and believes him to be fascinating and very funny. Fozzie is torn between wanting to hang out with his first groupie and being absolutely terrified by him.

Soon, Kermit is possessed and the Ghost Ringleader cancels an act to put his ghostly allies on stage. His plan is to scare any remaining audience members to death in hopes of making more ghosts. His plan barely works as most of the audience is gone, sucked into the vortex earlier. Only a handful of whatnot Muppets filling in the seats get effected. Waldorf and Statler joke about people dying to be on the show and how they die a little every time they sit through an episode.

Scooter (played amazingly well by a gal named Liz who was also responsible for 'Swedish Chef: Kitchen Commando!') knows somethings up but can't figure out what. When 'Kermit' suggests refilling the seats with a new audience the same way he did before, Scooter is forced to go back out and bring in *Gulp* He has no choice and calls in more ghosts, zombies and supernatural beasties. At the same time, Scooter vows to reveal 'Kermit' as a fake and get to the bottom of what's happening.

Luckily, Johnny Fiama (also played by Matt) decides to help by calling his Ma and getting her to contact 'The Family'. They agree to show up to the castle as long as Johnny gets to sing a number. 'Kermit' agrees.

Now in between these 'Episode Plot' scenes we had a number of sketches and side gags. We did Pigs in Space, Veterinarian's Hospital (featuring a scoop out Pumpkin/Jack O' Lantern who was feeling empty inside. Y'know. If only he could light that fire in his belly that would bring back his inner glow. Yeah. Lots of pumpkin jokes and puns), one or two musical numbers, a Swedish Chef kitchen segment and, thanks to adding this character to the roster of available Muppets, Muppet News Flash moments commenting on the main story and featuring the Newsman! Sooo funny.

OK, at some point Scooter realizes or believes Kermit is possessed and goes to Gonzo for help. Hilarious moments as Scooter says...

Scooter: "Gonzo, you know Kermit really well. You're one of his best friends. Can't you tell this guy isn't really our beloved leader."

Possessed Kermit: "That's silly. Of course I'm Kermit the, um, frog did you say? Yes. Frog. I am Kermit the Frog."

Scooter: "See! See! You have to agree with me on this. Something is up."

Gonzo: "I don't know what you're talking about Scooter. Of course he's Kermit the Frog. Why, he just said he was didn't he?"

Scooter assembles a group to perform a seance. He hopes to contact a spirit to help them free Kermit. He is joined by Rizzo, Pepe, Bobo the Bear and Carl, The Big Mean Medium.** They use a ouja board and Carl has Rizzo sit on the key to focus everyone's karma or some such. Carl proceeds to eat Rizzo but insists it's part of the process. From inside Carl's stomach, Rizzo sees a spectral vision which turns out to be...Uncle Deadly (upstairs, other Muppets see Uncle Deadly talking to no one and figure he's just being his usual weird self).

Uncle Deadly must abide by the rules of Spiritual Communication and therefore reveals that the ghosts have a secret weakness hidden in the coffin of the lead ghosts grandmother. The coffin is in a room deep underneath the castle.It is then that there is a loud rapping at the castle door. The castle's owner has returned!
To be continued...

Barking Alien

*Everyone did an amazing job of playing the various characters, especially the lesser known ones.

It was a common and very effective theme to have the player play...not the character so much as the type of character. For example, Matt didn't know Uncle Deadly well but he could understand and play a melodramatic, classical thespian full of pomp and ego. Add the idea that he now haunts his old theater in hopes of returning to the stage and Matt nailed Uncle Deadly perfectly.

Sal Manilla and Big Mean Carl were also approached that way by their respective players and they knocked it out of the park! Don't know Sal? OK. Can you play a fast-talking Chimp who acts as hollywood agent? Cool.

**Big Mean Carl was awesome. Awesome is insufficent. Not only did he manage to be a Muppet eating monster but his personality and style truly came out this time. The young lady who played him was in the original game session and was rather shy and a bit unsure of yourself. Also, being much younger than the rest of the group meant she wasn't as familiar with some of the later Muppets. No such problems this time. She was spectacular and the Jack-of-all-Trades, Master of Eating Friend that is Carl. Her Fozzie was quite good as well. Actually she was all around very good.

I'll go more in depth about the group of players next time as something should really be said about how fantastic they were.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I Need A Recess After RECESS

Good grief am I ever tired.

As has been my experience at past RECESS gaming events, today's rocked my socks out of the box! It was also phenomenally exhausting.

It was, in a word, THE AWESOME! (Technically two words but at 2:30 am who's really going to notice?)


The Muppet Show/Muppets RPG session went over really, really well once again. In some ways even better or at least more smoothly then the first time. I will go into a detailed recap and some session notes I think you might find interesting (I know I do) tomorrow or Monday.

Played in a game of
BrickQuest that was oh so fun. It was like old school D&D, simplified and with LEGO. Fantastic.


Not really bad per se but my Smurfs RPG game was cancelled. No one signed up. While I was disappointed, I was also exhausted from running the Muppet Show game earlier in the day. I am surprised I didn't get even one or two people interested but there were less attendees in the afternoon/evening segment.

The truth is I did have one or two people interested but one didn't end up coming to RECESS for whatever reason while the other opted to play another RPG he'd been waiting to get into for a while now.

I think running something in the morning and playing in the afternoon is the way to go for me from now on but you never know...


Many requests to run the Muppets RPG at the next RECESS, with a large number of people wanting to play the Sesame Street variation instead of The Muppet Show.

Need sleep.

Barking Alien

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Crisis on Infinite Crises

We are now in October and all of the DC Comics New 52 Issue #1's have been released.

Terrible. Just terrible.

While there are a number of good, even great, titles that somehow slipped past the current management cesspool and got mixed into the bunch, my over all feeling is that DC has gone to pot.

Poor characterization, inane dialog, atrocious artwork and just plain dumb ideas not withstanding, DC has once again missed the point of being DC. My biggest complaint with the new 52 is that this new universe doesn't interest me. It has lost it's unique flavor and is now nothing special. As I noted on the message boards of one of my favorite comic book news sites...

If Marvel is making Marvel Comics
And DC is making Marvel Comics
And I don't like Marvel Comics,
What is there for me to read.

Who will be DC Comics if DC Comics won't?

Strangely enough, on further inspection I may actually be buying more Marvel soon. Terry Dodson, one my all time favorite artists, is going to do pencilling a new Defenders series. Hmmm...Marvel, eh?

I started reading comics at a very young age and continue to do so to this day. That's a long term customer. It's also a customer who has purchased (at one time or another) action figures, t-shirts, mugs, video games, trade paperbacks and graphic novels and gone to see movies about DC's characters.

As it stand with the current 'New DC Universe', I would be very hard pressed to hand any of the 52 #1's to anyone under 15. There is probably not a single title I would recommend to a child under 10.


That is extremely disappointing.

Instead of reviewing the titles individually I will simply approach this by saying the vast majority are so bad that are not worth individual reviews. The following titles are good, at least well written and/or drawn, but I will not be collecting them

Action Comics
All-Star Western
Animal Man
Wonder Woman

The next set are ones I am on the fence about. They are titles I really want to like enough to purchase but with limited funds and the alterations to the DC Universe as a whole I can't quite bring myself to commit:

DC Universe Presents: DeadmanJustice League Dark**
Legion Lost
Legion of Superheroes
Static Shock

These are titles I am actually going to buy as it stands right now:

Green Lantern
Green Lantern Corps

Note that DC Comics head, Dan DiDio, is committed to getting these books out on time every month so some issues may have fill-in artists. 'Cause, y'know, we need our next issue of Voodoo or we go into diabetic shock. Well Dan, if you change up the artist I like and would gladly wait for once too often, I will drop the book. Do shorter arcs and then go to another creative team or a new artist but don't do it half way through a story.****

Oh and should I catch you reading and/or recommending the following titles to anyone other than your arch-nemesis, I will personally come to your house and beat you will a vintage Superman Lunchbox:

Justice League
Red Hood and The Outlaws
Teen Titans

Many of the books were bad but these made week old, burning crap look good.

Barking Alien

*In some cases these books are actually well worth a look. For one reason or another they are just not my thing or just aren't my thing enough to make me not want to spend my money on at this juncture. Animal Man and Wonder Woman were especially cool and you should definitely check them out at the very least.

**While Justice League Dark wasn't bad, I am waiting for Justice League Almond and Justice League Lite which I understand will have fewer calories.

***Yes Aquaman. I was as surprised as you are. My friend Dave and I have an idea for a relaunch Aquaman that, in all honesty, trumps what they are doing and what has ever been done with the character. In a way, this goes in the opposite direction from our idea and yet in spite of that (or perhaps because of it), I think this was a very cool take on the character. I want to see what happens next.

****It's amazing to me that I've read a number of fans actually like this idea, feeling that the book coming out on time is more important than it looking good I guess. Boggles my mind. Then again, I am used to Japanese Manga and independant comics which come out when they're done.

Please Adam Warren, take forever on Empowered Vol. 7! I don't care. Why? Because in the end I will get the awesome seventh volume of Empowered. It's not food. You don't need it to survive. Learn patience and get rewarded you twitter addicted jackanapes.

Barking Alien

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Funday Late Night Double Feature

This Saturday, Saturday, Saturday!
NerdNYC proudly presents its oh-so-awesome RECESS Gaming Event!

final schedule is up and yours truly will be running two, count'em '2', RPG sessions.

In the early part of the event I will be running 'The Muppet Show' with my homebrewed Muppets RPG. It went over really well last time and I hope to top it with some October inspired craziness.

Who will the
Special Guest Star be? You'll just have to wait and see...In the latter part of the event I will be running....wait for it...The Smurfs!

That's right my little Smurfs! I will be smurfing the smurfiest RPG that has been smurfed at RECESS. Assuming I get all my smurfs in order.

I am so excited to be doing this. I hope anyone viewing this who lives in the New York area, loves games and have a free Saturday will come by. In addition to my wacky antics there will be a number of other RPGs and Board Games being played. Please check the linked websites above for more information.

I heard there will even be people running some kind of game about underground jails and flying lizards or some such. It could be a hoot.

Expect a session report on each sometime next week!

Barking Alien