Thursday, November 28, 2013

Any Way You Want It

I should be sleeping but I'm as wired as I am tired thanks to a bajillion thoughts running through my mind, many of them gaming related.


I have some Superhero RPG ideas and opinions I want to discuss after listening to the latest Play on Target podcast on that very subject, but I need a little more time to think about what exactly I want to say.


My Pendragon campaign is going...I am not sure. Well. Very well in fact. I think. I mean, it is really good but unlike Traveller, it doesn't come easy. No, Traveller is nearly effortless while Pendragon is a pain in the butt actually. It's definitely gone pretty far off course from what I intended. I should know by now to follow my own rule and not 'intend' so much with this group.

Fantasy, even when it's my kind of fantasy, just isn't my forte'.*
So let's talk more about my upcoming Star Trek campaign for the time being. Why? Because Star Trek, that's why.

Daedalus Class By MadKoiFish
Best version of the many design variants I have seen.

I am usually, let's say 95% of the time or more, absolutely willing to indulge my players in crazy character ideas or deep backgrounds for their PCs that are not always perfectly suited to the world or universe we are playing in.

As long as they are largely suited or even mostly suited, I will find a way to make it fit.

Part of the reason for this attitude is I never want to be one of those GMs who automatically gives a flat out 'No!' to anything and everything a player suggests.

Another reason is that I've been spoiled and for many, many years, had great players with whom I was completely simpatico.

With my current group and the extended network of gamers that I know, things are somewhat hit and miss. For the most part, the majority of them are on the same page as I am, and vice versa. That's to say, they often are, but not always.

Case in point, for our Pendragon campaign, a game based on, and set within, the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of Camelot, I have only two of the five players who want to be Knights...and British.

One is a female peasant girl of Danish decent.
One is a female Irish mercenary disguised as a man.
One is a Moor/Saracen Magician.

An interesting mix ,and each has a good story behind them, but yeah, not exactly what the game is about. Now, have I made it work? So far yes. At the same time, I can't help but think, why am I having to make it work? Why couldn't it have just worked?

I get this a lot when I try to run games with very specific settings.

One effect Dungeons & Dragons has had on gaming, to the detriment of genre, is to create a dynamic where everything and the kitchen sink can be thrown in. Some see this as the game's strength, but I have grown to see it as a disadvantage.

If you don't want something in your game so that you can reinforce a particular flavor, or feel for your setting, you are viewed as limiting the players or hindering the adventure possibilities. The concept of genre tropes, often viewed as a negative by some, are what I try to use so that every game doesn't feel exactly the same as every other.

If all games felt and featured the same approach, why play anything other than one game? Whichever game enables you to do everything, even if it doesn't do any one thing particularly well, would be the go to game for all gamers.

For my new Star Trek campaign, I have a very particular idea in mind. I want the rough and tumble 'American Pioneer' feeling of the Original Series of Star Trek, as well as stories inspired by the Golden Age of Science Fiction. We have the trappings of Star Trek: Warp Drive, Tricorders, Transporters and Communicators, but otherwise it's a fairly low-tech future. The Phaser has not yet become standard issue. The PCs carry Laser Pistols. The Tractor Beam exists but no rerouted the plasma hyperbole through the navigational array in order to hyphenate the super model. That's some bulls*^@!

Also, certain Species are around, certain ones aren't. Distance and speed (while I don't intend to get nitpicky or nerdy about them) matter. We don't, at a time prior to the Original Series, have relations with everyone we know in the Next Generation/DS9 period. One of the things I hated about Star Trek: Enterprise and the Abrams movie was they failed to grasp this. "Let's name drop or show Ferengi and Cardassians even though this is a time before we met ANY OF THEM". Come on staff writers, use your heads? There was a point in the history of Western Europe when no one had been to Japan. You wouldn't have a Viking, in the Autumn of 793, walk into a mead hall in Norway and say, "This is my friend Hiroshi. He's visiting for a couple of days. Two sakes please."

Anyway, I am aware I am bordering on a rant here so I'll try to finish up.

In a group of 2-5 players I usually have one who just can't grasp, or won't grasp, the setting specifics if it's anything other than allowing for everything. In a group of 7-9, one or two. I am also surprised at how hard some people find it to drop into a particular milieu. I usually grasp the feel of a world or universe after a few words out of a GMs mouth, or two to three sentences in a Facebook post. Others need you to give them one of those DK Eyewitness Travel Guides in order to feel comfortable in a game they're going to be playing in.

Look, I am willing to play the game any way you want it, but I am GMing, so it's got to be any way I want it too. If you don't like it, run one yourself or don't play this game. Wait for something more familiar. No big.

Barking Alien

Something Of Note:

The first interracial kiss on network television celebrated it's 45th anniversary on November 22nd. For those unaware or unfamiliar with who kissed whom, it was Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) on an episode of the original Star Trek series.

Relevant, groundbreaking, controversial. The original Star Trek.

Hey JJ, sit down before you hurt yourself.

*One More Thing:

Have you ever been really good at something you didn't particularly enjoy? I know, it sounds weird, right?

I am actually really good at running D&D style Fantasy. I just don't like it is all.


An Ode To Thanksgiving - BARKING ALIEN Style

To All Those Who Visit and Came to Say Hi,
I Wish A Happy Thanksgiving,
And I'll Tell You Why...

I'm Thankful For Family, Mine Is Small But The Best,
I'm Glad To Spend Time With Them, To Eat and To Rest,
To Joke and To Laugh, To Have Stories To Trade,
To Enjoy Our Group Viewing of the Parade Macys Made.
I'm Thankful They're Cool To Follow In Tow,
As I Watch My Favorite Creatures In The National Dog Show.
I Relinquish The TV, Done With It All,
So My Brother-In-Law Can Watch His Football.
I Play With My Nephew, The Least I Can Do,
Since I Love Him a Bunch and He Loves Me Too.
My Sister A Cook Like No Buddy's Biz,
Her Turkey Making Even My Mom Say, "GEE WHIZ!"
I Am Thankful For All This, My Friends and My Dog,
And That You've Indulged Me With This Post On My Blog.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
Barking Alien
PS: This is happening...Tonight!

I am not a Lady Gaga fan (at all) but she is a fan of the Muppets so she can't be all bad. Check it out Barkers! Peace!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Madness Most Wanted

Greetings all, short post today, just going to announce a little thing I've been wanting to do since, well, March two years ago...

Why 'DEUX'? Well duh...or maybe's because I have run a good number of sessions of The Muppets RPG now, learned some things, tweaked some things and I'm looking for an excuse to add new material. Plus, I will be finishing up and exploring some variations on the game including The StoryTeller, Labyrinth and Dark Crystal 'expansions'.
Why March? Well, I love alliteration and Muppets March Madness Month sounds waaay cooler than Muppets April Madness Month. Also, I did my first Muppets Madness Month in March of 2011. Thirdly, there is this little thing going on in March 2014 regarding the Muppets called...


This film looks like it's going to be pretty darn good if I do say so myself. Much more action-y than your typical Muppets film with the usual great cameos (actually the one area the previous film fell short IMHO was that the cameos were kind of weak), amazing puppetry and tons of classic Muppet style humor.
Plus, check out how...there is no other was to say it...badass! Sam the Eagle gets to be as a CIA Agent. Go Sam!
Here's the trailer!
So watch out for the film and more maniacal, Muppet mischief here at Barking Alien this coming March.
Have a Great Weekend!
Barking Alien
PS: Thank you to those who have made donations. Not out of the woods yet but feeling good about it. A little help goes a long way.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Don't Stop Believin'

I am unlikely to be continuing with any additional work on my NaGaDeMon project. Again.

This, who am I kidding, this year...has not gone smoothly for me. I am working more and harder than usual, largely to make up for the weak business of a few months back. Please check out my humiliating notice to that regard at the bottom of this post.*

Not one to simply give up (Never Give Up, Never Surrender!), I am putting in extra hours on all fronts and still working on my various game projects but I'll be taking my own sweet time thank you very much. I may not slay the NaGaDeMon but Unfinished Business will get finished, The StoryTeller will be told and The Twilight Zone, well, keep an eye out for the sign post up ahead.

Traveller is still going strong, if we survive the next session of Pendragon that too can be considered a success...but wait...what's that off starboard...sensors are picking up...


I'm not exactly sure how it happened but basically I mentioned missing Star Trek gaming on a Facebook RPG Group I am a member of and the next thing I know I am gearing up to run a pre-TOS campaign which could very well have 7-9 players.


I am really excited and already have the 'meta-plot'/premise and tons of adventure ideas. Tons!

The game is a classic space exploration campaign. We will begin the game aboard the USS Journey, a roughly 70 year old Daedalus Class vessel being used to test the feasibility of upgrading older model ships with the newest equipment. Is it worth it, or more effective to simply back newer starship designs? The initial adventure, the Pilot Episode if you will, will feature a shakedown cruise and review of how well the ship performed.

If you think it ends've got another thing coming.

So far only a few PCs have been worked out but I am very happy to say that among the players are two or more new additions to my group, two of which are female players. Yay! Female players again! Star Trek, female gamers...starting to feel like old times.

Expect numerous updates on this one. I am serious. Yeah, I know I've said that before but this is Star Trek. I also plan on working in a number of Journey references. Trust me, they'll go on and on, and on and on...

Oh wait, before I forget, I was name dropped on the latest Play on Target Podcast! Yeah boy! Lowell Francis and the amazing group over at PoT did an episode on Superhero RPGs and mentioned me both on Lowell's site Age of Ravens and in the podcast itself. Thanks so much Lowell! Everyone should check it out. Play on Target is my favorite gaming podcast so not only it is a great honor but I highly recommend listening to their previous entries.


Please bare with me for the rest of the month. I am going to try as hard as I can to update more regularly but with Thanksgiving, work and other concerns it might be a little tough. Still, know that I'm thinking about all of you!

Barking Alien

*Please highlight if interested: I have, against my personal pride and better judgement, added a Donation button on the right side of my blog. This is a temporary measure. Funds are very short right now because of a very bad summer season. Terribly so in fact. Business is getting back to normal and may soon improve and I will be expanding my weekend work teaching at the learning center. Right now though, I could really use some help.

Thanks everyone.

Monday, November 11, 2013

NaGaDeMon and A Ghost Of A Chance

I have some unfinished business with Unfinished Business.

So here is my idea...wait. I have kind of explained what the idea of this game is already in previous posts. Maybe not completely but I've eluded to it.

So here's my problem...

Very often (though not always of course), when I design RPG systems, the concept and design pops into my head full formed. I'm serious. The theme, rules, the look of it, everything. I then clean up that block of solid creativity into something that I can actually show others.

Do you know the old quote attributed to Michelangelo that goes...

"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."

That is a bit like my game design philosophy. I think of it as 'Zen Michelangelo' (although by no means do I see myself as Michelangelo). The feeling is, this game already exists, inside of my head, in it's final form, completed. I know all of it but it's too much for my brain to handle. Instead, I am only able to perceive this big mess of parts, ideas and cool stuff and I have to then spend time sorting it out, putting it in order, adding a few pieces that got stuck deeper in my skull, while throwing out extraneous parts from other games and places that got mixed in and don't need to be there.

The Smurfs worked that way. Futurama worked that way. Galaxy Quest worked that way.

The Muppets did not. Not exactly. It popped out ready made but that version wasn't good enough for long term use. Several versions popped into my head after that. Over time I kept adding, taking away, adjusting and modifying until I finally got what I wanted in March of 2011. And the truth is, I'm still tweaking it.

The StoryTeller, a variant of the Muppets RPG system that is turning out to be quite different from the 'core rules' (Oh, so now you're some shot, eh? You got Core Rules for the Muppets do ya?), is half and half. In my noggin' it was basically fully formed but I need a lot of names for things. Like the Twilight Zone RPG, I saw in my mind's eye how to run it but the mechanics needed (and still need) a lot of spit and polish before I could actually run it.

Is any of this making sense?

So what is the deal with Unfinished Business?

Did anyone else hear that in Jerry Seinfeld's voice?

Well, I don't have it fully formed in my head. I've been thinking about it for a long, long time and while, once again, I can see how to run it and what kind of game it would be, I feel that the mechanics for achieving that goal are less formed than any previous project I've worked on.

The question is why? Why can't a lock this down from a rules standpoint?

The answer is 'a lot of reasons'. Among them the fact that real life and other projects have me highly distracted. Why the heck do they run this NaGaDeMon thing in November anyway? I'm busy as all get out in November. I need to be after a hit and miss Summer. Why not make it a Summer project? That would make so much more sense and be so much easier. Gripe, gripe, gripe.

Another reason is I may be trying to hard. Some game ideas come very naturally and the mechanics flow with them and it all follows suit. With this, an idea I had originally hoped to publish professionally , I am being ultra-picky and a perfectionist and as a result making very little head way.

What to do...

Barking Alien

On This Veteran's Day, I just want to say to our service men and women, I appreciate what you've done and I am sorry that you had to do it. I remember and honor those who fought, served and died but long for a of time when your services will not longer be required.


And now for something so freaking cool it's almost ridiculous...

Ryuutama in English on Kickstarter

Saturday, November 9, 2013

In An Octopus's Garden With You

"No, no NaGaDeMon, I haven't given up already. No, I am just...working out the details of my Unfinished Business idea before I post them.

Hold on, I have another call."

"Hello...What? No Unfinished Business, I'm not avoiding you. Someone else? Just because I've been discussing The Twilight Zone doesn't mean I'm not interested in you. The Twilight Zone and I are just old friends..."

Whew. What a predicament!

Truth is this has been a crazy busy week and I haven't found it easy to focus on my NaGaDeMon project. I keep getting distracted by real life, other ideas and my regular ongoing games.

Now there's this...

12 Questions from the Octopi Lord:

Not another one of these things! These silly questions about...hmmm...these actually seem fun. No! Must focus. Can't be distracted.

Well...OK. Answering a few won't hurt.

I am going to answer these based on my D&D-But-Not setting of Aerth and the Chronicles of The Winghorn GuardTM campaigns. Otherwise, this would go all over the place.

What is your favorite villain you ever challenged players with?

Probably Shadowhaunt.

It would take a very long post to explain all the elements that made him 'him' but suffice to say he was ruthless, vicious, intelligent, well prepared, well organized, made things personal and in the end, revealed to be doing all his villainy to save the lives of his people, perhaps hundreds of now extinct Pale Elves, who had already long since died.

In his final moments he helped the heroes defeat an Ancient Green Dragon who had doubled crossed him and was about to destroy a good deal of the mortal world.

What is your favorite organization behind wrong-doing in your setting?

There are so many. My favorite isn't really a villainous organization either. There is a group called The Circle of The Shattered Rainbow. Basically, they represent an as yet unknown entity or set of entities dedicated to preserving the balance of Good and Evil by assisting whichever side seems likely to be overwhelmed by the other.

Since my setting has a very powerful and well organized heroic organization, The Circle aids the villains more often than not. In a bit of dialog from one adventure, a Circle member indicates that by aiding the villains he is not only maintaining some existential 'balance' but actually giving the heroes' lives purpose. "What would you do without us? Who would you be?"

Another is the 'Burning Scream', an Assassin and Thieves Guild lead by an Eye of Fear and Flame. Many of it's members are undead. "Constable! Come quickly! Bjornrick of Briar Town just made off with the money for the orphanage!" "Impossible! Bjornrick is dead. He has been dead three seasons now. I ran him through with my longsword myself, I did."

What is the most interesting location you ever staged a battle in?

I am all about location. Location, location, location. To choose one is very difficult. Maybe...

Mount Oblivion, a mile high column of obsidian rock over a lake of lava?

The Earth Wound, a sword shaped gouge in the world over 300 feet deep, filled with various demonic creatures, it's floor a gate to Hell itself?

The Sky City of The Wind Dukes of Aaqa (inspired by Advanced D&D)?

The Bridges of Grief! A monumental wall extending from the Southern tip of one continent and going across the sea to another. It is the only safe way to cross the gap by day and sea monsters and strange beasts dwell in the straits. By night it is haunted and only by showing respect to the ancient warriors buried there can you passed across it unharmed.

Darn. I only have 50 more off the top of my head.

What is the most interesting chase scene you ever had in a game?

One PC and several NPC allies are on his (the PC's) caravel ship, chasing an enemy pirate ship off the coast of a nation similar to medieval Hungary. In the air above them, two of the pirates are returning to their vessel on the backs of Kargas (Hippogriff-like creatures combining the parts of a Stag and a Hawk). Each Kargas is also carrying a PC, who is grappling with the pirate trying to get back to his ship. Oh, did I mention the waters are being churned up by an precocious sea demoness who was summoned by the pirates but is not completely under control? 'Cause there was that.

What is the most evocative scenic location you have used in a game?

See question three.

What is the most interesting one-of-a-kind unique monster in your games?

Again, I have sooo many. In my setting a large number of creatures are unique, unlike in D&D but very much like folklore and myth. The Tarrasque, the Alicorn, Saint Abigail's Griffon, the Beast of Knokkernoffen...ah...the Beast of Knokkernoffen.

The Beast of Knokkernoffen (a small mining town in the hills of my homebrew setting's Germanic region) is based on several medieval hybrid and heraldic monsters I saw in a book as a kid. As I got older I added elements of the Questing Beast of Arthurian Legend and a bit of the chaos creatures you'd see in Warhammer Fantasy.

It's body is the size of a large bull but shaped like a stag. It has a stag's legs and hooves as well. It's neck is long, with an oddly serpentine, animal head at the end of it. The head has glowing green-yellow eyes, goat-like horns and fangs. There are two black feathered wings, like those of a crow, growing from it's sides, just below it's back. It's tail is of medium length and serpent-like. The entire body is covered with matted and flea-bitten gray fur (similar to a goat's) which is lighter on the underside and has dark spots on the dorsal.

The creature breathes a stench so foul, it can knock all but the stoutest constitutions unconscious in moments. It's teeth, horns and hooves are razor sharp and the beast is heavy and very strong. It's wings are incapable of carrying it aloft, as it is no doubt weighed down by it's bulk and the sin of its misdeeds. It can leap very high, hang in the air for a few moments and raise itself a few feet of the ground by beating its wing furiously, though this tires the creature.

The sound of its call has been described as the playing of a fiddle, a flute and harp at their worst and all at once.

What is the most tantalizing artifact, relic or tech you have ever used in game?

Tantalizing? Not idea. Coolest? There is a lot of cool stuff on Aerth.

Possibly 'The Golems of Rae-Uhn', two 65 ft. tall, metallic statues, one painted red, the other blue, that walk back and forth around the city and to everyone's knowledge, always have. They do not veer from their rounds, respond to outside stimuli, and they have only ever stopped moving twice.

Once, they stopped to watch a falling star crash to Earth many miles from the city of Rae-Uhn. The second time they stood still and than turned to defend the city at the approach of The Machine of Lum The Mad, the Apparatus of Kwalish and The Mighty Servant of Leuk-O.

What is the most world shattering thing a player has ever got up to in your settings?

A very high level, essentially immortal demi-god PC (who'd been played for many, many years of real time) landed a blow on the head of Tarrasque using a Hammer of Thunderbolts, Gauntlets of Ogre Power, Girdle of Giant Strength combination (lent to him by another PC) after being air-dropped from a flying ship. It made the Tarrasque stop walking, wait a moment, stunned (that anyone tried something so nuts I'm assuming), and then it left by sinking beneath the ocean.

Of course there were other world shattering events. So many in fact...

What is the strangest death of a character in game you have run?

Strangest death? Hmmm. One villain was crystallized by repeated flame, heat and fire spells being used in conjunction with spells of intense cold, ice and snow. The bad guy was then shattered by a third character using a lightning bolt from her magic sword.

That can't be the strangest one though. I've got to think about this one.

What is the most intriguing challenge, trap, or non combat obstacle in your games?

Conversation. You can undo a villain's plan with a word before any conflict event begins.

What is most interesting ability or character option you have added to your game?

Magic. Magic in my D&D doesn't suck.

What is the strangest mash up or weirdest system hack you have made in gaming?

Not sure...or at least I can not answer this easily in the context of the rest of the questions. I do odd system mash-up constantly. The Muppets is a cross between RISUS, the One-Roll Engine and stuff I developed after playing Toon, TFOS and a number of other games.

Now that I think about it...the rules for my D&D-But-Not game are not any one edition of D&D but rather an unholy mish-mash of Advanced D&D 1st Edition, D&D 3rd Edition and a Talent System not completely dissimilar to the Superpower rules from some of the simpler, more rules-light Superhero RPGs.

Well, that was kinda fun. Now where was I...Oops! NaGaDeMon. Heh.

Barking Alien

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Submitted For Your Consideration



You are about to enter another dimension,
A dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind.
You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas.
A journey into a wondrous land of imagination.

Next stop...

Obviously I don't have enough on my gaming plate right now with Traveller, Pendragon, my NaGaDeMon project and finishing The StoryTeller. I need to suddenly get obsessed with another game concept. If I've said it once, I've say it a thousand times; My brain doesn't know how to stop coming up with ideas for RPGs. Sometimes they're even good. Like (I hope) this one.
Like the Muppets, Star Trek, the Smurfs, Futurama* and of course, Sid and Marty Krofft**, The Twilight Zone is one of my long time IP obsessions. I have seen all the episodes a few times over, largely thanks to the annual Twilight Zone marathons that show on the we-can't-spell-Sci-Fi channel. Long before there was such a channel, there were local stations that did the same thing, usually around Independence Day, New Years Day or Thanksgiving.
Nothing says "I love America", "Happy New Year" or "I am thankful for this food" quite like a society of monsters thinking a pretty girl is horrific.
As with anything I like that is not already an RPG, the first question that springs to my mind is, "How do I make this into an RPG?"
I can think of two ways:
The more traditional approach would be to create a series of PCs in a modern or period setting (the 1950's or 60's perhaps) and have them investigate strange, surreal happenings in a manner not too different from Call of Cthulhu characters or PCs in a game of Chill or Stalking The Night Fantastic.
While that would certainly be the easy way to go, it might not be the best way. It certainly doesn't take into account all the myriad story, character and setting possibilities a game based on this particular show could cover.
My second and preferred approach therefore is to have each player control one or more 'Actors'. An 'Actor' would be a PC with some set stats and abilities perhaps but with a skill set that could be swapped out and changed for different knacks and knowledges appropriate to the 'Episode' or adventure session.
Thinking a bit further, maybe 'Actor' isn't the right name for it. I imagine character types or templates like 'Average Joe', 'Girl Next Door', 'Reporter', 'Hobbyist' or 'Soldier'.
If the session involves a Reporter on the front lines in World War II investigating strange lights in the sky, than the Reporter would gain some skills for surviving combat and the Soldier would be tailored for trench fighting, for example. In a small town haunted by an old wives tale about not playing near the reservoir or 'Missy Green will get you', the Soldier becomes a cop or a fellow back from the war. The Reporter becomes a local man working for the town newspaper and the Girl Next Door a School Teacher or, a Girl Next Door I suppose.
Any and all of these can be modernized but I think if I ran The Twilight Zone as an RPG I would want that period feel and would never set any scenario too close to the invention of digital cameras and smart phones. Once you have present day computers you open up a can of worms. Still, the themes and concepts in The Twilight Zone are essentially timeless. Perhaps I would go modern once in a while after all.
Mechanics wise, well that's when things get a little harder. I have thought about going back to the one RPG already in existence that's as close as you can get to a Twilight Zone game...Over The Edge. Not sure. Need to reread my copy and see if it really captures the tone and style I am looking for.
Risus, InSpectres and other similar games would also work I believe but I would have to test them out first. They would probably require some detail to be added.
One idea for a mechanic that came to me just today was a 'Twilight Point'.
I want the players to have access to the opposite of a Hero or Drama Point. Basically, doing...something, I am not sure what...during the game gets you points that you can spend to make the situation worse. That's right, you spend Twilight Points to shift blame to another PC or cause things to become more complicated for everyone. Perhaps, if the situation has a time limit you spend a point and shorten the amount of time you all have.
You would want to do it to stay on the theme and reinforce the atmosphere but there needs to be some other in-game incentive for it as well. Still thinking on that.
I had another idea while responding to a comment on this game concept in the NaGaDeMon Facebook Group. There is a free RPG created by the sublime genius of Andrew Peregrine called Doom & Cookies. I may have mentioned it before. I may not have.
Not only is this game written by a guy named after a falcon, but it also may hold the key to how I want the Twilight Points to work.
In Doom & Cookies, the objective is to finish the game with at least 1 Cookie (a good thing) and no Dooms (a Doom being a bad thing). Regardless of what these mean in the context of that game, you get the idea that if you have a Doom and No Cookies or a Cookie and a Doom you do not get to win or succeed at the game's finale. My ghost RPG Unfinished Business has a very similar mechanic and I didn't really even think of it until now.
So what if, to be spared the Twilight Zone twist ending, to succeed or at the very least escape, you need to be rid of your Twilight Points and have at least one point of...of...Insight. Yes. A touch of Insight and no Twilight.
I can already see some of the episodes of the original show explained in this fashion.
OMG. I think this is something I can really make work.
Anyway, I am going to revisit this idea periodically or at some point at least, later this month. I hope I can finish at least one of my insane ideas before month's end.
Barking Alien
*Yes, I have actually created a homebrew Futurama RPG. I hope to post it here one of these days.
**No, I have not created a Sid and Marty Krofft RPG. This is something of a reoccurring joke or running gag here at Barking Alien. I've done the Smurfs and the Muppets so I wouldn't put it past me to stat up the Far Out Space Nuts or H. R. Pufnstuf.

Traveller Light - Part 1

Before getting into my project(s) for the NaGaDeMon challenge, I wanted to do an update on my Traveller campaign, as we completed Session #15 this past Saturday.

We've been travelling far
Without a home
But not without a star
This remains one of my best campaigns in a long time. On a scale of 1 to 10, the campaign would rate at least a 9.5 at this point, maybe 9.7.

Why not a 10? I personally wish there was a bit more action and exploration mixed in with the intrigue, wheeling and dealing that goes on. Business deals, corporate espionage and conspiracies rule the day, and while the players and I are loving it, I am hoping for a little more two-fisted space adventure in the near future.

The irony is the only aspect of the game that can get frustrating is the activities of one player, Marcus, and his character Rex Kincaid, who as it turns out is the only truly bold, adventurous type. Unfortunately, he is often the leap-before-you-look type as well, meaning the rest of the group, who are playing a 'thinking game' of Traveller, are unlikely to follow him into the breach.

Andy and Hans (playing Ivan Petrovo and Amaya Takeda respectively) are a bit more action oriented and gung-ho than Will and Ray (Belarus Hosta and Emil Fujikawa), but thankfully have mindsets and motivations that add an air of caution or at least forethought into any grand adventure they may hope to undertake. If all goes well, Andy and Hans can temper Marcus' impatience while simultaneously encouraging Will and Ray to take a few more chances and perhaps even leap into the fray a little (well Ray at least. Will's character would be acting considerably out of character if she leaped into fray of any kind).


TRAVELLER: Operation Paladin
An Overview and Campaign Summary
Part 1

Our campaign began on Imperial Date IY 1095.40, or February 9th, 5613 on the Solomani Calendar.

All the PCs present in the first session began on Bussard Reach Highport, a space station orbiting Leighton IV in the Leighton system of Flux, Subsector J of the Spica Sector.

The PCs started not knowing each other at all. Most of them go looking for work, either by talking to NPCs or checking help wanted post on the station's internal 'E-Net' kiosks. Major sources of information and work come from NPCs Antoine Lambert, the station's Quartermaster, and bar/restaurant owner 'Barkley' of Barkley's Den (a Vargr who has dyed his fur green and claims to be of a very rare subspecies).

Belarus Hosta (Will's PC), contacts Barkely and Quartermaster Lambert (establishing that she has been on the station long enough to become friendly with them*) and tells them she is hiring for an excursion to a planet in the next subsector (Farbor, Subsector K). She also posts the job positions she needs to the E-Net.

Hosta ends up hiring the other PCs: Dr. Emil Fujikawa (Ray's PC), JayZed Trisector (Ed's PC) and Rex Kincaid (Marcus' PC). Fujikawa has a ship (a variant Lab Ship) and will take them to their destination. In addition, Hosta learns of two vagrants on the station: an alien pilgrim called Berell ThirdTurnFromTheSun (NPC) and his companion, a mysterious man named Kael (Jeff's PC). Hosta leaves the bay doors on Fujikawa's ship open after some parts and cargo are loaded on, giving an unspoken invite for the two to stowaway. Having learned a bit about the alien's culture, she believes she can cover some of the more questionable elements of her trip by saying she and the crew are escorting a religious pilgrim while also studying his religion and culture for a thesis.

Forged papers and permits helped that go more smoothly.

According to Hosta, she needs to travel to The Shallows, a planet supporting an experimental aquatic farming operation that she has invested a great deal in. Three months ago, all contact with the colony stopped and now the Imperial Navy has designated it a Red Zone, allowing no civilian traffic to the system. At the same time, they will not tell her the status of the colony and its operation, which she must know for business, legal and insurance purposes. Once she confirms what happened, they can leave.

In addition to the PCs and the alien Berell, Hosta convinces Barkley to come with, saying he could use a vacation and the experience will give him some great stories and maybe information he can use back at his restaurant. Actually, she was hoping his heightened senses and greater knowledge of Charted Space might come in handy. She and Barkley also cook up a contest, "Where's Barkley Gone?", encouraging patrons of his establishment to guess where he went. A contest entry is free with any purchase. The winner gets a 'Barkley's Den T-Shirt, Mug and a free dinner for two (or if it's a family, kid's eat free and adults are half price).

The trip will take approximately a month there and a month back, during which time there would be one fuel stop at the mid-way point each way. On the first fuel stop, the PCs docked at a Hive Federation Highport and refueling station and did a little side business. Barkley told Hosta that since that were there he would try to get a shipment of 'Green Wig', a mildly psychoactive moss/algae that when dried and ground, makes a very relaxing tea. It is something of a delicacy and hard to obtain.

By creating a ruse in which a sample of the tea 'caused' Barkley's fur to 'turn green' (the Hive Federation merchant was aware Barkley was a Vargr but hadn't seen him), Hosta got the group a discount on the fuel and a good deal of a batch of Green Wig, once it was scanned and tested of course. to why are they actually going to The Shallows? Well...

Barking Alien

*At the start of the campaign I asked everyone, "How long has your character been on the station?"

More than a month.
A month.
Less than a month.
Less than a week.
Just arrived today.

I prepared a series of index cards with the information they would know or have gained by being on Bussard Reach for their chosen amount of time. Longer wasn't automatically better, just a little different. However, the longer you were on the station the more and better you knew the station personnel (and they knew you).

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Return Of The NaGaDemon

Greetings all, and a very happy November to you!

November is one of my favorite months, for it contains Thanksgiving, one of my favorite Holidays. Thanksgiving is a big deal with the Barking Alien clan and well love when it rolls around.

 Another November festivity I've been looking for to is the tempestuous, biting and oh-so-challenging National Game Design Month event!

For those of you who don't know about it, National Game Design Month, or NaGaDeMon, is a challenge put forth by Nathan Russell who was riffing off November's annual National Novel Writing Month event.

(It's cool too by the way and you should check it out. Even if its initials don't spell out a mythological monster. Our contest is just cooler like that)

The challenge is to design, write, play and complete a workable, playable game in one month. It can be a board game, a card game, a role-playing game or anything else game related. There is no physical prize other than having a completed game of your own design in your hands but there are the accolades and cheers of your peers and fellow NaGaDeMon slayers.

Last year I failed to complete the challenge. Heck, I barely started it. I had a few good ideas and false beginnings but the timing was terrible. Hurricane Sandy and some personal sadness lead to me giving up early on. My heart just wasn't in it (actually my heart was a mess but that's another tale for another time).

This year, SCREW YOU YA CREEPY, DICE-TAILED SERPENT! I am going to best this challenge and the resulting work is going to be so beautiful you will look upon it and cry little snake tears.


So what am I doing? Right...

Unfinished Business, my Ghost Story Role Playing Game which I have been thinking about for forever and a day, will be completed by month's end. That is my goal. You can read a little about my obsession and ideas for it here and here.

It may be biting off more than I can chew, but I also intend to finish The StoryTeller, my Muppets RPG variant based on the Jim Henson series of the same name featuring John Hurt and Brian Henson (as the Dog). You can check out what I've mentioned about it so far here. I have decided not to focus on any elements from the latter Greek Myths series but may do it as a sort of expansion at some later date.

Wish me luck and please stop by for periodic updates on my progress.

See you soon!

Barking Alien