Monday, June 17, 2013

Under Renovation

Greetings admirers of all that is 'comme un chien et vert'.

You haven't seen me post often lately because I have been very busy and very sick.

I saw a doctor today and there is good news (really good news), which is that I will get better, hopefully in a week or so. This is especially good news since at first  we (my family and I) thought that what is wrong with me would be sticking with me, a permenant condition that would require me to change my eating habits and life style a bit.

As it turns out, I am actually quite healthy (according to a real doctor!), barring what is making me ill for the time being.

Sick sucks. I would rather be tired than sick and I hate being tired.

The good news has inspired me to jump back into blogging as it was (to be quite frank) my illness that was draining my energy and making it difficult to stay on the computer long enough to write out a complete thought.

am considering doing a little remodeling on the blog, although honestly I am not certain what I want to change or update. I just feel its looked the same for a long time and I'd like to spruce the place up a bit. Suggestions are welcome.

How else can I beef up this other protein light post? Ah!

Check me out on the site of my ultra-cool fellow Muppets fan and all around broham Ryan Dosier, The Muppet Mindset. I also did the banner/button on the right that leads to news on the new Muppet motion picture, now officially titled 'Muppets Most Wanted'!

My old drinkin' buddy from our star hopper days back on the Beezagian-Altraix IV run, Jay at EXONAUTS, posted the trailer for a new Japanese CGI film coming out featuring...CAPTAIN HARLOCK! Woohoo! Take a look.

Ark, Grand Poobah of Studio Arkheim and master of the tag 'Rather Gamey', has posted a link to youtube and a new series of cartoons by the creator of Adventure Time called Bravest Warriors. It's Crazilicious.

I have a lot of ideas spinning through the Matter/Anti-Matter intermix chamber that is my noodle but I need some time to sort through them.

Will post again soon. Peace and Love everybody!

Barking Alien

Monday, June 10, 2013

Kingdom Come

This weekend I picked up the fourth and final book in Green Ronin Publishing's Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition powered, DC Adventures Role Playing Game, thereby completing my collection of it and all things both DC and RPG related.

As I noted briefly in a previous post, this is not only the end of this particular line of superhero role playing products but in some ways, a beautiful and useful last will and testament to the pre-New 52 DC Comics universe.

Foregoing a direct attempt to define and detail a specific point in DC Comics seventy-seven year publishing history, Green Ronin set about describing the iconic and rarely changing elements of their characters, their worlds and their mythologies.

While the majority of the information is presented as close to the "current" incarnation of the DC Universe as possible as of 2010-2011*, many of the specifics of long standing characters are easily understandable to the reader even if they haven't seen the character in many years. In addition, a number of side bars and boxes explain some of the changes that have been applied throughout different incarnations (it is also in the background and flavor text for appropriate individuals).

While I did notice an error here and there, a few characters didn't make the cut and I would've loved a four book series just on the Legion of Superheroes, I think they did a great job. Really. That's big praise coming from me. Trust me.

Kudos Green Ronin. I tip my hat to you.


I starting reading the final book Saturday night but with being so busy with the Learning Center Sunday, I haven't finished it just yet. I intend to read Book 4 completely once, all the way through, and then go back over certain key points that interest me. Afterwards I will probably reread the entire series.

The 'Universe Book' details all aspects of the DC multiverse, from the Infinite Earths to Jack Kirby's Fourth World of the New Gods and onward into the past, the 'present' and the future. Detailed descriptions of the ficitional cities and countries that make up DC's "Earth Zero", or New Earth, which is essentially the world that replaced the erased parallel Earths at the end of the first Crisis (Crisis on Infinite Earths). In addition, the New Earth described appears to incorporate the Earth that followed Infinite Crisis. We also get the planets of the galaxy, the powers known as The Endless and all the cool legends created and complied over the course of seven decades of comic book creativity.

Reading through it, I am simultaneously inspired and saddened beyond measure. Alright, beyond easy measure.

As I peruse the pages of this powerful and poignant publication, I am struck solidly with the knowledge that I remember it all. Taking in this text in not so much a learning experience as a refresher course. This is my childhood, my high school and college years (minus a gap in the 90's). This data is not just stats and images. This was a part of my life from the time I was very young.

I had an older female cousin who read comics and among her favorites were Archie, Casper and Hot Stuff and The Legion of Superheroes. My uncle worked for a newspaper and magazine distributor who distributed, among other things, Mad Magazine and DC Comics. My favorite superhero was Green Lantern, partially because my father was a police officer.

This is all different now. Not only is my life quite different of course but the comics I read, the histories I know, the information in this book are different now. I hold in my hand over seventy years of professional work that someone two years ago determined doesn't matter. It didn't happen. It's not the first time either but it is so radically different in some instances this time around and, in my humble opinion, so poorly executed, that I long for the stories this book, this RPG book, is telling me. That is, reminding me of.

The wheels are spinning in my cape crusading brain, you can be sure of that. Ideas leap off the page at me at every turn. Each familiar face is a brand new challenge waiting to be sprung on my players, beings far less informed about this particular universe than I.

I've always wanted to update Time Commander. I've got a great idea for a plot with him and...Hmmm, Yellow Martians. Almost forgot about them and their connection to...Wow. St. Roch is a fantastic and different modern city setting. Perhaps I could...Ah yes, the Silent Knight. Always liked his look. Ooh! Ultra The Multi-Alien!

Where to begin...

Barking Alien

*DC Comics was founded in 1934, originally holding the name National Allied Publications. It's publishing history therefore dates back 79 years, not 77 as I indicate above. I used the span of 77 years however because in 2011, DC altered its continuity to that of the 'New 52', which I do not enjoy. The DC Adventures RPG by Green Ronin only covers the characters, elements and history of the DC Comics universe up to 2011 and contains no New 52 information (although some of the images are from the time when the change over was first made).

Other related posts in the past on this subject that you might find interesting include:

Crisis on Infinite Crises
DC Adventures - Who's Who
DC Adventures - Identity Crisis Part 1
DC Adventures - Identity Crisis Part 2
DC Reboots Its Universe Again...Again.
The Original Universe
Where Legends Live

One final note...

In a recent and really interesting post on his blog, Zak Smith wrote...

"Like all RPGs and few horror stories, the characters are criminals. They break and flee the law."

The line fits perfectly with the post he made about a very particular style of weird horror noir. As is sometimes the case with me, I just have to totally disagree with the first part. Most RPGs. Popular RPGs even. Not my RPGs. At least not the best ones I've run and played.

Good night.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Picked Up On Sensors

Captain's Log Stardate 66013.2

While continuing our survey of the Omega Omnicron Sector, our sensors detecting a tight beam subspace transmission from the Zenopus Star System. I am forwarding that message to you at Starfleet Command. I highly recommend you analyze it fully.

What I find really interesting about how my friend Blacksteel explains his approach (or rather a possible approach) to getting ideas for Star Trek RPG adventures is how plainly and simply he describes the process, what a Star Trek adventure can entail and how to break it up into the various acts that make it simultaneously a RPG adventure AND an episode of Star Trek.

All too often (as I look back on my own entries on the subject), I think I get a bit too philosphical and 'big picture' minded when giving advice on how to run games in the Star Trek universe. One could say I am discussing theory, the idea behind it, while Blacksteel is addressing practice, the actual 'doing' of it.

Now I know some of my posts have been useful or at the very least interesting, based on both the feedback I've gotten and the fact that I was there when I've run game sessions that utilized my theories and the adventures were well received. At the same time, reading Blacksteel's post made me take an objective and hard look at how I convey things to others. I have knowledge, skill and experience with the subject of running Star Trek RPGs but that doesn't mean I know how to teach those elements to someone else.

Perhaps teach isn't the right word. I basically want to help someone interested in running a Star Trek game to do so. I have done it many, many times myself. How can I impart what I know or have learned about running Star Trek to another?

How indeed. Maybe not the way I have been. Hmmm.

Replicated food for thought today at Barking Alien.

Have a great weekend folks!

Barking Alien

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Adventure Time

It's June and a new month (the true start of summer no less), signifies a renewed sense of purpose to get my game blog on, as it were.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Artitificial Intelligences and Non-or-Trinary Sexual Species from the Andromeda Galaxy, It's...ADVENTURE TIME!

Trying to maintain a theme these last two months has not done well by me so I think I am going to skip that approach for now and go back to the tried and true method of spilling out whatever weird concoction fills up in my head.


I do it to cleanse the palette in a sense, as I have a pretty awesome theme month planned for July. It's one I've been wanting to do for some time and I think next month is the perfect time to (try to) pull it off.

In the meantime, I want to address the 'State of Gaming' for yours truly and also discuss a few ideas I have regarding a project that may allow you (Yes YOU loyal Barking Alien fans!) to join in on a game run by my moi. How's that for incentive to check back!

Why do I hear crickets?

Anyway, the status quo fo yo gaming bro is as follows:

Traveller: Operation Paladin

Run once a month, usually the 2nd Saturday, at The Compleat Strategist, New York City's FLGS.

We have 5 regular players, with 2 on again off again players for a full ensemble cast of 7. The campaign is a science fiction sandbox using a kitbash of the classic Traveller and MegaTraveller rules.

The setting is my personal take on the classic Traveller canon. Very story heavy and character driven. There have been no PC deaths thus far. Almost no combat has actually occurred honestly. A lot of politics, secret agendas, diplomacy and trading however.

This is going very well and is up to the 5th session I believe, with the 6th coming up this weekend (update for prosperity - the session run on June 15th was actually the 7th session of the campaign). I am liking this one a lot.

Champions: New Age Heroics

Run once a month, usually the 4th Saturday, at a public space in NYC. At this point, it looks like we'll have 4-5 players.

The system is Champions 4th Edition, though considerations will be given to adjustments or added material from 5th if the player can convince me its worth using.

The campaign will be set in my previously used Champions Earth Alpha Delta-1 universe, which was based on the nearly 11 year campaign created by my friend William. Part of the draw is that it will be set in the same 'universe' as my every other week campaign and could feature a crossover somewhere down the line. The main premise is a sort of Justice League-Lite or Avengers on the cheap. The PC team will be a B List superteam trying to reach A List in a world where there really isn't an A List superteam outside of those who work for UNTIL / Project: UNITY and Britain's Watch. The USA has no Avengers or JLA anymore. Can these guys be THE team?

This campaign has not yet begun.

Champions: Dark Champions NOW!

Run every other week or so, at a public space in NYC. There are only two players other than myself but I hope to add some more down the line.

This campaign will also be using Champions 4th Edition, with considerations given to 5th edition material based on player input and cajoling.

The campaign is a slightly above street level game focusing on gangs, organized crime and low level supervillains in Chicago. The setting is interesting. We have essentially gone back to Champions Earth Alpha Delta-1 (the setting of our previous campaign 'The New Age of Champions'), but we are pulling the camera in a little tighter on one particular city. It's kind of a new status quo (like Marvel's Marvel NOW) crossed with a darker, grittier Dark Champions outlook. Just started. Literally one 4 hour session so far.

Players liked it, I liked it and their characters are pretty cool. I hope this continues at least for a while. I am curious as to how I am going to cross this over with the other Champions campaign.

Marvel Heroic: Avengers Initiative: The Rookies

The campaign at the learning center where I teach on Sundays is approaching the end of its Marvel Heroic Event Series, designed and destined to finish up in time for the Summer Program to begin in July. At this point the kids, ages 10-13 for the most part, are in dire straights after a mysterious villain attacked them while they were aboard a SHIELD Helicarrier by dropping a Celestial on them from near orbit. If that sounds like it would hurt, you're right. It did.

What am I running next for the kids? Well...I do have an idea but I am going to save the details for another post. Stay tuned.

Trek Tuesdays

As I mentioned in my last post, I am currently in a Google Hangouts Star Trek game (actually two alternating campaigns) every Tuesday night and its been a real blast. Played again yesterday with my alien science officer taking even more of a command role aboard the USS Odin. I may switch my shirt from Blue to Gold.


Whoah Nelly! That's a lot of gaming going on don't you think? It doesn't even address the game I am working on for the younger kids class for summer and my Star Trek adventure planned for RECESS. I mean, I couldn't possibly take on another game.

Or could I?

Thinking very seriously about running a Google Hangouts game of my own set either in the Star Trek universe or in my homebrew Galaxy Quest game. I haven't decided anything yet but the ideas are germinating pretty quickly.

Would any site visitors be interested in joining in?

Lots more to see, show and tell on the next episode of Barking Alien!

Barking Alien