Thursday, February 27, 2014


I find the lack of comments to my last two posts...disturbing...

OK, maybe that's a bit much, but I am honestly surprised. I would have thought the one on Superheroes would have generated some interest among those who come here and enjoy my Superhero RPG discussions (yeah, you two or three people know who you are).

In addition, I thought it was a fairly well written post. One of my better entries. *Sad face*

Coming Online generated a good deal of comment and traffic, but it's follow up, Online Forecast, where I hint at work I'm thinking about running over Google Hangouts, received a paltry nod here and there. Hmmm. Maybe what I have in mind is not resonating with potential players and I should lean toward something else. I must consider that.

All in all, it's too quiet here for my liking. Hoping for a little more noise next month.

Barking Alien

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Online Forecast

At the beginning of the month I announced my intention to run a campaign via Google Hangouts this year.

I have put a lot of thought into it. I've asked you guys what you'd like to see. I've asked some of my 'in person' friends what they think would work. I compared the notes. I've looked over my gaming collection, in both hard copy and pdf formats, and searched deep inside myself to see what it is I truly want to run that others would want to play.

It's that last bit that always gets me.

I have an idea, a great idea, an inspired, fun and off-beat idea.

I should probably go with something more mundane.

Still and all, a number of factors are pointing me toward the strong belief that my idea is both sound and viable. It will work and it will be entertaining. Will people want to play it? Well that is a different story...

Without revealing exactly what it is just yet, let's see if I can tell you why I'm choosing it and why I think it will work.


It's Science Fiction

I like Science Fiction, I've good at running it and most people suggested I run something in a Science Fiction vain (Like Star Trek, Star Wars or Traveller for example).

It's Comical

Not silly but it is a comedy or humor oriented game. Some of my best games have been my 'serious comedy' games that combine a sense of humor and the absurd with a solid premise and setting.

The universe isn't necessarily funny but what happens to the people in it is.

It's Familiar

In that it is both easy to comprehend and actually based on a fairly well known IP. Well known by us geeks and fandom enthusiasts.

While not every fan is familiar with every comic book, movie or TV show, this one has a premise that, one it get it started, is fairly easy to get into the swing of. Regardless of familiarity with the series it is based on, the idea of said series is simple to convey.

Anyone guess what it is yet?


Barking Alien bestie blog EXONAUTS has recently posted a rather nifty idea and I may use the challenge he has presented to detail this campaign idea if time allows. The concept is 30 posts in 60 Days to create a campaign. Go check it out.

In the meantime, I'm off to work.


Barking Alien

Monday, February 24, 2014

Anatomy of A Superhero

Last Saturday we were in need of a fill-in game because not all of the regulars could make it for the usual campaign hijinx. I was feeling nostalgic, and the desire to run Supers has come back in a serious way, so I did something crazy.

I ran Champions. Not just any Champions either. I ran my friend Will's Champions universe, modified by the alternate timeline and events of my last campaign in said setting, "The New Age of Champions".

I fast forwarded the timeline ahead a year and kind of glossed over the events at the end of that last campaign that made me oh so happy it was over. The result was very interesting.

Everyone now wants to try a new campaign of Champions. I am not surprised by Marcus' interest or even Ray's, but Hans and Will are up for it even though they are not comic book fans. As a matter of fact, they don't really 'get' Superheroes as a genre.

Hans sent me this email in this regard, which I had to share for the simple honesty of his question:

"I'm thinking about this a bit more, and I might need a primer on what constitutes a superhero, just because the term itself, in my mind, can have a broad range of meanings - you go from people with no powers but have gadgets like Batman to those who have lots of powers like Superman, and then you have those who are more like anti-hero heroes like Punisher or Deadpool to those who are more classic good guys like Spiderman or Green Lantern. So, I guess my question is - what kind of superhero are you looking for, because that would help me sort out what kind of hero I should make."

What constitutes a Superhero?

Certainly this is not the first time I have thought about this or discussed it, but I wanted to come up with an explanation that would get the campaign started off on the right foot. Here's what I wrote in reply...

Ask a hundred comic book fans and I wouldn't be surprised if you received a hundred different interpretations. In this particular case however, as I am running the campaign, it only makes sense that I give you my personal take on the subject.
For me, Superheroes are heroes who can do something amazing or extraordinary.
They need not have powers but they do need something that puts them above the average Joe and Jane on the street. If not superhuman powers than remarkable skill, intellect, resilience and/or cunning. A unique or at the very least nifty gadget, weapon or vehicle couldn't hurt either. These are not just heroes but Superheroes. They need to be Super in some way.
More importantly than what they can do however, is who they are and why they do what they do. What is it that they do? They are heroes.
After searching various online dictionaries I found this definition:
​A person, typically a man (female is heroine), who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.
A hero is someone willing to sacrifice something, be it there time, money or physical safety, to aid another person in danger or distress.
Batman is a very different character than Superman (regardless of what Man of Steel wants you to think). Superman is not Wolverine. Wolverine has little in common with Luke Skywalker or Robin Hood, but I would count all of them as Superheroes. They can all do something special the average person can not do and they would all lay their lives on the line to protect innocents from harm.
Deadpool is not, to me, a Superhero. Punisher is. I don't particularly like Punisher but I won't deny he is trying to save lives and defeat those who would take advantage of or harm the common citizens. Punisher does not work as a member of a government supported Superhero team though. Unprovoked killing is against the law. The law will not be OK with you if you go around offing criminals without a fair trial. Superheroes uphold the law, so Punisher qualifies but only barely.
When considering a Superhero for our Champions campaign, consider that you are making an individual with some kind of special advantage, ability, device or power that has decided to use that edge to save lives and fight back against the darkness of the world (or universe). It is either because they want to, feel they have to, feel they need to (in order to repay some debt or make up for something they did) or because they have been gifted and cursed with this situation and don't know what else to do.
That cover a wide range of motivations and a huge, actually, truly gargantuan array of characters. What it does not include is people who will straight up not work with a team, people out to kill anyone to stands in their way, people who don't give a damn about other people and anyone who defines themselves by their anger, fears, greed, hatred or ignorance.
For this particular campaign, in which we will be the Superheroes tasked to represent the Superhero community, a cool code name and costume wouldn't here either.
Barking Alien


I Ain't Afraid Of No Ghost

Sorry everyone. I am sad beyond the capacity for rational thought.



Barking Alien

Image by Pete Hernandez III, a friend and very talented individual.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Regular, Irregular and Memorable

This past Wednesday was my birthday, as well as a day of great conversations and some sad losses in the entertainment word.

We'll talk about that last part a bit later, but for now...

I had a lovely and interesting talk with WQRobb Wednesday night in which we discussed, among several related subjects, the fact that a good number of gamers own far more games than they've played.

Robb himself has a fair number of games in his collection that he's never had the chance to run or play. (Which he discusses on his blog. Check it out!).

I don't. If I purchase a game, I will play it.

Over the years, I've played more games than I can accurately remember at this point ( Didn't you read? It was just my birthday. I'm getting old). Still, just because I have played or run hundreds of RPGs, doesn't mean I own hundreds of RPGs. On the contrary...

Let's take the statement, "If I purchase a game, I will play it", as a definitive truth. It should also stand to reason then that, "If I run or play a game, I will purchase it". The latter isn't quite so guaranteed. If I run or play it often I will likely have bought it or will end up buying it. If I played it once at a convention and didn't much care for it, then no, I will not be buying a copy.

Although I am quite proud of the diversity of my RPG experiences, I am sad to say my actual collection of games is surprisingly small for a gamer going on 37 years in the hobby. Many of my friends are astounded by what I don't own.

I can pretty much file every game I've ever run or played (and let's face it, I've probably played only a third as many games as I've run) into one of three categories:

Games I've Run or Played Regularly, Games I've Run or Played Irregularly and Memorable One-Shots.

Technically there should be a fourth category for everything else, such as one-shots that were not so memorable or short campaigns I enjoyed but for some reason I've forgotten.


Games I've Run or Played Regularly

In this first category are games I've either run or played three or more campaigns of, with each campaign being at least a dozen sessions or so. The category includes some of my favorite games and some that I just ended up GMing because it's what friends wanted to play. Those with an asterisk '*' are games I own. You'll notice, I own all the games in this category.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Edition)*
Champions (4th Edition - Hero Games?)*
Dungeons & Dragons AD (My personal variant)*
Mekton (All Editions - R. Talsorian Games)*
Mutants and Masterminds (All Editions - Green Ronin)*
Space Opera (FGU)*
Star Trek (FASA)*
Star Trek (LUG)*
Star Wars (WEG D6)*
Teenagers From Outer Space (R. Talsorian Games)*
Toon (Steve Jackson Games)*
Traveller (Classic and MegaTraveller - GDW)*
Villains & Vigilantes (FGU)*

Games I've Run or Played Irregularly

These are games I've probably only run one or two campaigns of and they were likely short campaigns. It also includes situations like being in a single, longer length campaign, but then never again in 36 and change years. Finally, this category covers games in which I've run a plethora of one-shots. Here, while I own the vast majority of the games on the list, I have misplaced some over the years or simply never owned my own copy.

Ars Magica (3rd and 4th Editions - Mostly - Lion Rampart and White Wolf)*
Basic Dungeons & Dragons ((I can no longer find my copy)
Boot Hill (TSR)
Bushido (Kitbashed with Land of the Rising Sun - FGU - I can no longer find my copy).
Call of Cthulhu (Edition Unknown - Late 80s-Early 90's - Chaosium)
Changeling: The Dreaming (1st and 2nd Editions - Mostly 2nd - White Wolf)*
Cyberpunk 2020 (R. Talsorian Games - I can no longer find my copy)
DC Adventures (Based on M&M 3rd Edition - Green Ronin)
DC Heroes (Mayfair Games)*
Faery's Tale Deluxe (Firefly Games - Green Ronin)*
Gamma World (Various Editions - TSR - I no longer have any copies of any version)
InSpectres (Memento Mori Games)*
James Bond 007 RPG (Victory Games)
Mage: The Ascension (1st and 2nd Edition)*
Marvel Heroic RPG (Margaret Weis Productions)*
Marvel Super Heroes (TSR)
Metal Head (Japanese RPG)*
The Muppets RPG (My personal homebrew)*
Paranoia (Several Editions - WEG)*
Pendragon RPG (1st and 4th Editions - Chaosium - Green Knight)*
Red Dwarf RPG (Deep 7)*
Shadowrun (1st-3rd Editions - FASA)*
Sketch! (Corsair Publishing)*
Space: 1889 (GDW)*
Star Frontiers (TSR)*
Vampire: The Masquerade (1st and 2nd Editions - White Wolf)*
Wares Blade (Japanese TRPG)*
Werewolf: The Apocalypse (1st and 2nd Editions - White Wolf)
World of Darkness (Original WoD - Various Supplements - White Wolf)

Memorable One-Shots

These are games I've played only once or twice, ever. Maybe, just maybe, I can recall a three to five session 'mini-campaign'. Even so, for the brief time I spent with them, they left a lasting impression on me, whether good or bad. There are a lot of these. Most I do not own.

Apocalypse World (Lumpley Games)
BASH! (Basic Action Games)
Blue Planet (Biohazard Games)*
Burning Wheel
Castle Falkenstein (R. Talsorian Games)*
Crash World (Japanese TRPG)
Doctor Who RPG (FASA)
Dread (The Impossible Dream)
Fighting Spirit (Japanese RPG)
Heavy Gear (Dream Pod 9)
Hunter Planet
Golden Sky Stories (Star Line Publishing)
GURPS (1st and 2nd Editions)
Labyrinth Lord (Goblinoid Games)
Lord of the Rings RPG (Decipher)*
MAID The RPG (Japanese RPG translated into English)*
MechWarrior/Battletech (FASA)
Men In Black (WEG)*
MERP (Iron Crown Enterprises)
Metamorphosis Alpha (1st and 2nd Edition - TSR)
Mouse Guard (Archaia Studio Press)*
Mutant Future (Goblinoid Games)*
Rolemaster (Iron Crown Enterprises)
Runequest (Early Edition - Exact one unknown)
SATASUPE Remix (Japanese RPG)
Starships & Spacemen (FGU)*
Steal Away Jordan (Stone Baby Games)*
Street Fighter The RPG (White Wolf)
Tales from The Floating Vagabond (Avalon Hill - I can no longer find my copy)
Traveller: 2300/2300 AD (GDW - I can no longer find my copy)
Twilight: 2000 (GDW)

And so many, many more...

No seriously. Many, many, MANY more.

"How is this possible?", you are asking yourself. "Is he some sort of time traveler?"

No. Well, maybe, but that's not how I did it.

You see, back when I was much younger and living through the grand heyday of RPG publication, each of my friends and I shared this love of trying new games. At the same time, we each had our favorite genres and styles of gaming so we each purchased those games we wanted to run or wanted someone else in the group to run. As my groups changed over the years, various members brought different loves into the communal pot and therefore different games, all the while still sharing a desire to sample something new.

Kinda hippie no?

Anyway, I'm sure I left out a ton of games in each category (but especially the latter two), but if I wanted to be 100% accurate to the letter, let's just say we'd be here a while.


We very recently said goodbye to the master of ceremonies of Your Show of Shows, the one and only, Sid Caesar. Lovers of the early days of television, when TV personalities were both a part of the family and yet larger than life, my parents and grandparents were all big fans of Sid Caesar and I certainly followed in their footsteps.

Mr. Caesar was once quoted as saying, "People come up to me and they thank me: 'I thank you for the many, many hours of laughter".

Thank you, from my family to you and yours.

Just a day prior, I learned of the final departure aboard the Good Ship Lollipop of the talented and iconic Shirley Temple-Black. No words are quite right to describe her contribution to the American Motion Picture industry. What many do not know is that in later years, long after she had left Hollywood behind, she was the first woman to serve as the Chief of Protocol for the United States and was the United Nations Ambassador to both Ghana (1974-76) and Czechoslovakia (1989-92).

Goodnight Little Princess. Sleep well.

A final note: John Paul Henson, youngest son of Jim and Jane Henson, passed away February 14th, 2014 of a heart attack at the age of 48. John Henson was often the performer of Sweetums, taking on the role following the death of puppeteer Richard Hunt in 1991.

My condolences to the Henson family and the family and friends of the Jim Henson Company and Muppets fans everywhere.

Barking Alien

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Obscure Thinking

On February 6th, an old school fantasy gaming blog called 'Tomb of Tedankhamen' posted an interesting blog challenge for March, and a mildly infuriating lead in to it. Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm too dang sensitive. I apologize here for the mild nerd rage manifesting as barely veiled snark.

I'm doing my best here, OK?


The premise of this particular challenge is 'Obscure Game Blogging Challenge'. By 'Obscure Game' it would seem the author means 'Anything that isn't D&D'.

He begins by noting, "No doubt about it, D&D dominates the gaming scene old and new. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as D&D is a solid game (both in terms of system and genre) with an enormous fanbase. It serves as a ‘lingua franca’ for the gaming community, much as English serves as a global language for the world. As Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Make no wonder then that D&D has captured the hearts of so many for so long."

I don't know how to break it to him, English is:

A) Not the language with the most speakers. That is Mandarin Chinese.
B) Not the language spoken in the largest number of countries. That is Spanish.
B) Not the accepted diplomatic language. That is French.

English does have the second largest number of speakers worldwide after Chinese but it, like the countries that speak it, has something of an inflated ego.

So IMO does D&D.

Granted it was the first and yes, it does have the lion's share of participants and fans, far in excess of any other table top RPG I think it is fair to say, but it does not speak to my heart. Far from it.

Since March is going to be dedicated to my Muppets RPG, I thought I'd do what I've been doing lately with these types of things and answer it all in one post.

I'm crazy like that.


1 What was the first roleplaying game other than D&D you played? Was it before or after you had played D&D?

It was either Gangbusters or Boot Hill. I am not certain I remember which I tried first.

2 In what system was the first character you played in an RPG other than D&D? How was playing it different from playing a D&D character?
One of the above two. I remember the character and world made more sense to me. It was easier to imagine. I had seen dozens of cop and gangster movies and television show and untold number of Westerns.
3 Which game had the least or most enjoyable character generation?
Early on I really liked character generation in Villains & Vigilantes and Gamma World until I discovered games like Star Trek (FASA), Star Wars (West End Games D6) and others where you could pick the stats and/or skills you wanted. Random generation is OK but I know what I want to play.
4 What other roleplaying author besides Gygax impressed you with their writing?
5 What other old school game should have become as big as D&D but didn’t? Why do you think so?

Traveller. Traveller should have been to Science Fiction what D&D is to fantasy and in a
fashion it is. Unfortunately, it failed to embrace the changing market properly and got bogged down
in its complexity instead of playing up its flexibility.
6 What non-D&D monster do you think is as iconic as D&D ones like hook horrors or flumphs, and why do you think so?

No idea how to answer this question. What makes a flumph or hook horror iconic? They are
iconic to D&D  players but trust me, non-gamers have never heard of them. It's not like a
dragon, a unicorn or Pegasus.

What about the Rancor or a Tribble? I bet more people know what a Tribble is than a hook horror.
7 What fantasy RPG other than D&D have you enjoyed most? Why?

Probably Ars Magica. I don't like the fantasy genre very much but Ars Magica feels like everything D&D is missing. The setting feels right, the magic is both wondrous and versatile and the monsters are based on real world mythologies. Also, the system, while not perfect, is very interesting and easy to get accustomed to. Character creation is waaay more fun and interesting than D&D for me.
8 What spy RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details.

Haven't played a lot of Spy RPGs but I really loved the James Bond 007 RPG from Victory Games. I wish I could tell you exactly why. It mostly boils down to them getting the feel of the movies and setting correct. Also, some great supplements.
9 What superhero RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?

I love Supers gaming and I have two main favorites, Champions 4th Edition and Mutants & Masterminds 3rd. I love them because they enable the players and myself to create exactly the character they want, allow for amazing diversity of character and scenario designs and are at the same time somewhat tactical, require the Player and PC to be smart, not just super.
10 What science fiction RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details.

Where do I begin. Science Fiction is my favorite genre and I have a lot of favorites. I think my #1 top pick would be Traveller for that hard science/space opera feel, Star Trek (Last Unicorn Games and FASA) for the space exploration meets cinematic feel and Star Wars (WEG D6) for just being fast paced, easy and flat out fun.
11 What post-apocalyptic RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?

Not hugely into Post-Apocalypse games but I have had fun with Gamma World, the Japanese TRPG Crash World, The Morrow Project, Apocalypse World and even After The Bomb.
12 What humorous RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details.

All of them. I mean, I love Toon, Teenagers From Outer Space, Hunter Planet, InSpectres, Men In Black, Tales from The Floating Vagabond, Red Dwarf and so many others. I love the ease of play, light on mechanics, heavy on theme. I love the generally upbeat nature of comedic games, even when they are dark comedies.

Did I mention I created a Muppets RPG? Because, yeah, Muppets RPG. Oh and Galaxy Quest. Yeah.
13 What horror RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?

Another genre I am not really big on but I would have to say either Call of Cthulhu, our homebrewed variant of Chill or our homebrewed variant of Stalking The Night Fantastic. Horror games require a big buy in and than being OK with dying easily. Most are not scary enough. They lose the horror part of Horror in favor of gore and shock. Not the same.
14 What historical or cultural RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details.

Not sure my favorite but I enjoyed Bushido and Land of the Rising Sun (despite them being a bit too crunchy), Flashing Blades (same) and of course Boot Hill. Well, OK, our heavily modified, kitbashed and homebrewed Boot Hill. It rocked though for sure.

The questions keep ending with 'Give details'. I wish I could. I haven't played some of these games in a long time. Others I play so often I wouldn't know where to begin. If I had expanded this to the entire month that's probably when I'd be able to really think about more extensive answers.
15 What pseudo or alternate history RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?

Hmmm, what games actually qualify in this category? Castle Falkenstein? Space: 1889? Godlike? Heck, even Ars Magica sort of fits in here. Indeed, I love all the games I've just mentioned. I hope I get to run some of them again soon.

I will say that with alternate history games, I don't always use the provided setting but rather my take on the setting. Since these are games because on divergent paths of actual people and events, I  often find history books a better source of ideas than the games themselves.
16 Which RPG besides D&D has the best magic system? Give details.

Ars Magica. No question. Magic that can be cast on the fly, or with rote or spell, magic item design and research, Wizard Duels and a host of other rules and ideas that make playing a mage feel like you are doing and being something special.

D&D and its cousins have, IMHO, the worst and least interesting magic system in the history of gaming.
17 Which RPG has the best high tech rules? Why?

Depends on what you mean. Hero System/Champions has the most flexible, balanced and yet easy to screw with systems ever. Mekton is fantastic for more than just Giant Robots. It's good for Starships, space stations and vehicles as well. Traveller's Fire, Fusion and Steel was also quite awesome and perhaps the best for individual devices and personal weaponry.
18 What is the crunchiest RPG you have played? Was it enjoyable?

I don't like crunchy RPGs overly much and yet, I love Champions. Many people view Champions as very complex and certainly crunchy, but because most of the crunch is behind the scenes and not as in your face during play (at least the way we play it), I think I can accept the level of crunch that runs through it.
19 What is the fluffiest RPG you have played? Was it enjoyable?

Most 'fluffy' games are pretty enjoyable to me, though I'm always searching for that sweet spot between rules-lite and crunchy that will give me exactly what I've been looking for in a game. I find it easier to add a little to a fluffy game than take away a lot from a complicated one.
20 Which setting have you enjoyed most? Why?

Star Trek is probably my favorite established setting to game in, especially when focused on the era of the original television series. Next would be DC Comics of the Golden Age to right around Crisis On Infinite Earths.

I don't usually like the settings of games.

That is to say, as awesome as the Traveller canon milieu is, MY Traveller canon milieu is much cooler. I have recently read a number of posts in a number of places touting how cool Mekton's setting was. First, Mekton had a setting?! Then I thought about it and realized, oh yeah, it did have a setting of sorts in that 'Algol' thing. Yeah. Never used that in any way.

The default settings of 90-95% of all RPGs that aren't based on some known IP are, well, I'll just say it, they suck. Never use them and if I do it's with major modifications.
21 What is the narrowest genre RPG you have ever played? How was it?

Not sure how to answer this one. I mean, is Teenagers from Outer Space a narrow genre game? It focuses on a specific style of Japanese Anime and Manga comedy but, there are hundreds of those and they're very different in the details. Is Star Wars or Star Trek considered narrow because each only focuses on a single IP? Marvel Heroic? DC Adventures?

I really can't, or don't, think of any of these as narrow.
22 What is the most gonzo kitchen sink RPG you ever played? How was it?

D&D. It stinks.

But, if we are talking about non-D&D games, I'd have to say RIFTS and Torg, both of which I can't stand.

First and foremost I think both have really weird rules that, for very different reasons, make each game cumbersome, unnecessarily crunchy and no fun for me.

Second (and a very close second mind you), with exception of Superhero games, I really don't like kitchen sink games or settings that try to be everything. I find that they lack a cohesive feel, an easy and accessible theme that can help me see their worlds. When I try to imagine the world of RIFTS, all I imagine is a chaotic mess with no rhyme, reason or purpose.

But wait Adam, didn't you read the 100 pages of source material scattered across a dozen splatbooks so that you know what's going on? Why no, I didn't. I have no interest in doing that. Bugger off you wankers.
23 What is the most broken game that you tried and were unable to play?

So many really and still we gave them a try. Except F.A.T.A.L. After casually looking through it I laughed and never touched it again.

The most broken huh? World of Synnibarr?
24 What is the most broken game that you tried and loved to play, warts and all?

Fantasy Games Unlimited's Space Opera. I have no clear idea in my head how we played that game but we played the heck of it at one time.
25 Which game has the sleekest, most modern engine?

Hard to say. Marvel Heroic, while not really sleek, has a modern and workable system that is a lot of fun to play. I think the One Roll Engine of Godlike and Wild Talents perhaps. Great games.
26 What IP (=Intellectual Property, be it book, movie or comic) that doesn’t have an RPG deserves it? Why?

Probably Star Trek. There have been some great Star Trek RPGs over the years but the fact that there hasn't been an official one in a while really surprises me.

Other than that, Galaxy Quest. Seriously. If any company reads this and wants to make a Galaxy Quest game, drop me an email. I have it all worked out. It functions beautifully.
27 What RPG based on an IP did you enjoy most? Give details.

Really? Star Trek first and foremost.

After than, believe or not, Star Wars. I am a much bigger Star Trek fan than I am a Star Wars fan but WEG's D6 Star Wars game is a work of art. Pure genius. Hits the Simplicity vs. Detail sweet spot like few others.

And my Muppets game of course. I'm just saying.
28 What free RPG did you enjoy most? Give details.

Risus? I think I'd have to say Risus.

I found it so inspiring that I made it the basis of my Muppets RPG before refining and distancing the rules further and further as I went along. Still and all, I think much of my current views on game design, why we make things the way we do and what the point of it all is, has been heavily influenced by Risus.

Standing ovation to S. John Ross. *Applause*
29 What OSR product have you enjoyed most? Explain how.

I don't know if there is an OSR product I've enjoyed most. I have enjoyed the ones I have enjoyed all equally. And that equal amount is roughly between 'somewhat' and 'more than a bit'.
30 Which non-D&D supplemental product should everyone know about? Give details.

If you play Last Unicorn Games' Star Trek RPG, I can not recommend Steven Long's Spacedock supplement enough. It is, as it is billed, an Advanced Design and Construction Manual for starships, space stations and other large, space capable things in that game and in the Star Trek universe. A labor of love and a work a brilliance. It is also absolutely free. You rock Steven!

Mythic Europe and The Medieval Handbook (various editions) from Ars Magica are supplements I go back to again and again. If you are playing D&D they are probably not needed. If you are setting your medieval fantasy in an actually medieval world, read these books.

Aaron Allston's Strikeforce for Champions is a must have for anyone running a Superheroes RPG. It's a sourcebook and supplement and much, much more. What it is in short is a 'How To' book on running a Superhero campaign by someone who not only wrote for the Champions RPG, but who ran a successful Champions campaign and put down the hows and whys of his success in a guide even a veteran GM would find fascinating and useful. Highly, highly recommended.

31 What out-of-print RPG would you most like to see back in publication? Why?

So many. So, so, so many.

Hunter Planet is often my number one choice for 'Games That Didn't Get A Fair Shake'. I would love to not only see it back in print but I would love to do a new edition, with the creator's input and advice, that expanded and updated the theme a bit. Loved the idea for this game.

Let's see, what 'obscure' RPGs did I cover here? Hmmm...Star Trek, Star Wars, Traveller, Champions, Ars Magica,  Gamma World, Villains & Vigilantes, Mutants & Masterinds, DC Adventures, Mekton, Teenagers From Outer Space and Toon among others.

Yeah. Obscure games.

Barking Alien


Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Weight

This is one of my all time favorite songs. I mean...ever. Being sung by Jimmy Fallon and the Muppets.

Happy Birthday to Me.

Real tears here people. Real tears

Too beautiful.

The Feels.

Thanks guys.

Barking Alien

The Fandom Zone

I am a fan.

And so are you.

But a fan of what? Well that's the real trick isn't it...

Leave it to Lowell at Age of Ravens to inspire a post when I already have so much on my mind and not nearly enough time to write it all down.

He asks the nagging question...

So what’s your fandom? What are you obsessional about? What are you obsessional about that others in your group aren't?

I have found other the years that one of the things that stands out for me is how fans and fandom seem to have gotten a bit more insular over time. I think I first noticed it with fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation who had never seen the Original Series. People like what they like and either really don't like what they don't (understandable) or have absolutely no knowledge of it what so ever.

I find that last mode of thought odd. I have never been as huge fan of the Japanese Anime and Manga 'One Piece', but I know it. I know the story and most of the main characters. I have seen a lot of fandom TV shows and movies that I myself am not a fan of per se, but I am not wholly unfamiliar with them.

In my current gaming group I can't tell you how many times I will mention an Anime, a comic book character, a TV series or, most often of all, a role playing game, and no one has ever played it or even heard of it. What is that about? Mention the Browncoats, Capt. Malcolm Reynolds and The Alliance, and I know you're talking about Firefly.

I don't even like Firefly. I watched a total of 5 episodes before I couldn't watch it any more. But that doesn't mean I don't know it. I'm curious. I like to know what my fellow fan finds interesting. Maybe I'll find it interesting too. Maybe I won't. How will I know? By checking it out Einstein!

I digress...

So what's my fandom? Let's see...


I no longer really watch TV. Not even on the internet or through some means other than a TV set or screen. Around the time Farscape was cancelled I started watching less and less. Then there was no Star Trek on TV. Finally, the relatively recent cancellation of the Young Justice animated series made me just not care that much about television.

I still have some shows I am obsessed with but most of them are old. I did love The Clone Wars CGI animated series on Cartoon Network which, er, was also cancelled. I am kind of looking forward to the new REBELS series on Disney XD, but I am losing faith in the medium more and more each day.

My top TV fandoms are Star Trek: All the series but especially The Original Series, Space: 1999, The Greatest American Hero, The Muppet Show (and any Muppets ongoing series), Justice League/Justice League Unlimited, Farscape, Young Justice and the original Teen Titans animated series (Teen Titans Go! can Go! *bleep* itself).


At present I am not obsessed with any comics, although I do read and keep up on nearly everything. I am considerably less interested in DC's nu52 dung heap but I still keep a watchful eye out just in case they do something smart. It could happen.

My Comic Book obsessions of the past are many but mainly Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earth DC Comics, DC Silver and Golden Age, Public Domain and lesser known heroes and villains (especially of the Golden Age), anything Green Lantern, Fawcett Comics Characters, Charlton Comics Characters, the Legion of Superheroes, Captain Carrot and the Amazing Zoo Crew and Marvel's Nova.


Another area where I've fallen behind. I don't read nearly as much as I used to. I can't say I follow too many authors except for Larry Niven, David Brin, Robert Asprin, Terry Pratchett, E. E. 'Doc' Smith, Douglas Adams, Dr. Seuss, Charles Dickens, L. Frank Baum, Holly Black and Tony Diterlizzi.


Like Lowell I love a lot of games, but it seems to me most of the games I enjoy the most are out of print. That said, I own everything ever made for every edition ever produced of Star Trek, Star Wars (except the new Fantasy Flight Games version), Mutants & Masterminds, Champions (although I am focused on 4th Edition), Mekton, Teenagers from Outer Space, Ghostbusters or anything like it (InSpectres), Ars Magica (although I prefer the old editions, especially third).

I am also kind of obsessed with Japanese table-top/table talk RPGs.

I love a number of different indie games but right now, none come close to being an obsession.


In this category I have a lot of favorites but not a lot I would consider to obsessions. Still, there are a few: the various Star Trek and Star Wars films, Superman I and II, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Muppet Movie and all the following Muppet features (including Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal), Ghostbusters (really just the first one), Men in Black (really just the first one), Mel Brooks' movies (especially Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein), the old Marx Brothers movies and finally Galaxy Quest. Yeah. Freaking obsessed over Galaxy Quest.

Directors? Spielberg, Scorsese, Coppola, Allen, Edwards and a few others I can't think of just right now.


None. I am just not obsessed with video or computer games. I used to be very into them and I am a fan of a number of MMOs but honestly, I can go a week or more without playing at all.

I do (or did) enjoy World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, Virtual-On and it's descendants, Halo, Mass Effect, Star Trek Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic.


I was majorly obsessed with Japanese pop culture entertainment at one time and although my otaku fever has waned a bit, I am still a pretty big fan and like to keep up with the new shows each season which interest me.

Major obsessions of the past (some of which still have me hooked today) include Mobile Suit Gundam (original 'Universal Century' timeline), Five Star Stories, Slayers, Tenchi Muyo, Aura Battler Dunbine, Dragonball and Dragonball Z, Wingman, Attack on Titan, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Mars Daybreak, all of Miyazaki's work, Crusher Joe and The Dirty Pair.


Other things I've been known to be fanatical about include Animals ( in general, but especially Dogs), The Muppets, The Wizard of Oz (L. Frank Baum books mostly), Exoplanets and the Space Program, UFOs (less so in the last few years), Cryptids (less so in the last few years), Ghosts, Faerie Folklore (especially that of the British Isles), British Candy and Chocolate Bars and Science Fiction Art of the 1970's and 80's.

Now let's see, what can I obsess over next...

Barking Alien