Sunday, August 31, 2014

Believe It or Not, I'm Walking On Air

So, this is my 800th post, and it's a special one, because in the 6 years this blog has been around I can not believe I've never posted about this.

Ladies, Gentlemen, Androgynous Androids from Antares, and Telepathic Protoplasm from the Horsehead Nebula...there is a remake coming...and it's one I've been waiting for a long time...

is making a comeback!
Read more about the good news here, here, and here.
Barking Alien

RPGaDay Challenge - The Making Of The Series

This month, in addition to marking my 37th year in the hobby, needs to be acknowledged for being the first one in a long while in which I beat 12 posts in 30 to 31 days. In fact, I more than doubled that.

How you may ask? OK. Go ahead. Ask. OK, cool, you really want to know? Awesome!

I'm going to get some rest, but Barkley is here to fill you in on...

The Secrets of the RPGaDay Blogfest Challenge -
The Making of The Series

"Hello all! Barkley here with a special behind-the-scenes look at how we made this series work.

Pills. Mostly pills.

NO! Kidding! I am so kidding. Heheh.

No, Adam did do a few things to get himself to complete this challenge, and since he is sleeping it off, and preparing for a few other projects, I am going to fill you in. Won't this be great? You and I hardly get to talk anymore.

These are the notes Adam left for me. I'll print them just as he wrote them."

#1. In Advance of The Landing

I did a lot of these posts days in advance of when they were to be released (Including this one). Because some of them were easier to answer than others, and easier to answer in shorter posts, I did several drafts at a time, when I had the time. I would then log on to my account via my phone and just hit publish. Easy as pie. Mmmm. Pie.

#2. Out of Order!

I didn't do all of the drafts for these posts in order. I jumped around a bit as to answer the questions when they were fresh in my mine. For example, if I looked at the list of questions, and while answering the one for Day 14 or 15, an idea for the Day 18 post hit me, I would do #18 right then and there.

#3. I Don't Play Around

Not having much player experience in comparison to Gamemastering experience meant there wasn't a ton of moments to choose from when the question was of the 'played' variety. In some of the question, the term played was used and, as such, I focused my answers to those from a player perspective. If the question specifically noted GMing, or didn't specify things one way or the other, I went with whatever my gut feeling was. In many cases, that was still from a player perspective to maintain consistency.

#4. Too Much Time on My Hands

These past two weeks have been very slow business wise. Coupled with a very bad bout of insomnia, I have had a lot of time to write. Congratulations would be in order if this didn't royally suck. Still, it enabled me to get the job done.

"So that's about the size of things. Hope you all enjoyed this bit of Summer fun. Adam did, I assure you. He promises to try his best to at least do better than a dozen posts a month going forward. I will do my best to assist, which should help, as I am extraordinary.

Oh yes, also, there was also this little thing that happened."

Barkley, I just woke up, and saw this! Wow! Woot and Hoody Hoo! I am so pleased, humbled, pumped, and thankful. Really appreciate the kind words Charles.

OK, September, whattaya got for me! Put'em up, put'em up!

-Adam & Barkley

Barking Alien

RPGaDay Challenge - Day 31 - Favorite RPG of All Time

Day 31 - Favorite RPG of All Time

Well this is it, the last entry for the RPGaDay Blogfest Challenge. The big finish. The Grand Finale!

Hard to believe I made it to the end. As my good friend F. Douglas Wall noted, I've tried to do a number of these in the past and mostly failed. Not this time. This time I had insomnia, a slow work schedule, and a few tricks up my sleeve to get me through.

Now I've come to the end, and I get asked the big question. What is my all time favorite Role Playing Game.

I went looking through my past entries on this blog to see if I've mentioned it before, and you know what I discovered? I'm rather non-committal on the subject. Oh, I've listed my top 5 or 10, 'in no particular order', or mentioned a number of games that are, 'among my favorites', but I've never really stated my favorite game unequivocally.

Part of the reason for that is that unlike some GMs and players, I just can't keep playing the same game forever. I get bored. I get ideas that don't necessarily fit the story or genre I am currently running. I save these ideas, and use them later when I run a different game. As much as I may love a particular game, there are other games I want to play and new games I want to try.

I think of it like my favorite foods. I love sushi and sashimi, but even I can't eat sushi three meals a days for the rest of my life. I'd go bonkers.

That said, I do love sushi and sashimi. I do have a favorite food. I have a favorite musician/singer (David Bowie), a favorite color (Emerald Green), and a favorite superhero (Hal Jordan, Green Lantern).

So I must have a favorite RPG.

And I do.

STAR TREK Roleplaying Game
ICON System, By Last Unicorn Games
Long before I ever played a role playing game, I played Star Trek. Sometimes it was with the MEGO Action Figures, sometimes it was with the play accessories available (Light up Phaser, Walkie-Talkie Communicators, Cheap Plastic Tricorder), enabling us to play Starfleet and Klingons instead of 'Cowboys and Indians' or 'Cops and Robbers'.
Fact is, my friends and I, especially myself and my best friend at the time, Joe, were just crazy for Star Trek. We imagined how amazing it would be to explore outer space in a cool starship, fighting evil aliens, and get pretty girls in glittery, silver, lame' to dig how awesome we were.
When the FASA game came out I totally fell in love with it. It is still up there, a favorite with a very special, sentimental place in my heart.
As time marched on, and I experienced a host of different rules systems and approaches to gaming, I found FASA worked, and worked well, but I wished it was smoother, sleeker, and more cinematic. I wished it was more like West End Games' Star Wars game, without actually being that game.
If you've got a better description of Last Unicorn's ICON System Star Trek game, I'd love to hear it. To me, this game is the perfect middle ground between the obsessive detail we Star Trek fans love, while at the same time being simple, straight forward and flexible enough to remind us, yeah, this was a TV show. Lighten up jack!
I mentioned in the entry 'Day 18 - Favorite Game System' that the WEG D6 Star Wars game is similar to the ICON System Star Trek game mechanically. Star Wars hits that perfect sweet spot I am forever searching for between crunch and complexity and feel and atmosphere. Star Trek comes in a very close second, but it has the added benefit of being, well, Star Trek.
Moreover, it just does what I need it to do. It lets me run the kind of Star Trek game I want to run, with the kind of characters that fit the setting. It builds stories and subplots right from character creation on forward. The game is also pretty easy to mess with, and that is a major plus for me. It's not difficult to add to the game. New ships, new aliens, and even new overlays (professions/classes) are fairly simple to construct.

The USS Renown, A Miranda Class Variant CGI
Created by a friend for one of my LUG Star Trek Campaigns
Did I mention that it's Star Trek? Because, ya'know, it's Star Trek.
Star Trek for me is the ultimate RPG setting. It does everything I like.
The player characters begin the game capable, with a bit of detail. They don't start out as quickly named nothings, born a few seconds ago with no past, or knowledge of what they are doing, and why.
Everyone knows why they and everyone else is there. They may have different personal interests, goals, and mistakes from the past they'd rather leave behind, but they all know their characters share a future. They are boldly going where no one has gone before. They are going to defend the institution and ideals of the United Federation of Planets. They are going to seek out new life forms and civilizations. Cool. Nobody is trying to get revenge on anyone else in the group. No one is trying to get the most money. We don't use money exactly. It's complicated.
I really love that you all share the same overall goal, but your individual goals can be very different.
The Captain hopes to make Admiral so he can be stationed at a Starbase and move his family out to be with him. He misses the wife and kids so much. The First Officer is looking to get her own command and while she wouldn't mind taking over the ship from the Captain if he's promoted, she would love to take charge of one of those new Vesta Class Starships. The Chief Engineer isn't impressed by the flashy Vesta Class. He has his own design he's been working on. If he could just get it to the right person in Starfleet, he knows they'll approve its production. The Doctor only really joined to get access to Starfleet medical records and technology. She hopes to cure the plague outbreaks in the Chimera Angora System. She lost a lot of relatives to that illness and it still remains a threat. 
Another thing I like about running and playing Star Trek? No murderhobos! You live on the starship until you get to go home to Earth, Andor, Vulcan, the Vega Colony, or wherever. You aren't there to kill things, though it may be necessary to do so if the lives of your crew, or the safety of your vessel is threatened. You are not there to steal from people. You are there to learn, teach, spread the concepts, and peaceful message of the Federation and perhaps, in the process, get a new prospective on what it means to be Human.
Who's in charge here? The Captain! The party works as a team with a definitive team leader having the final say. Make is so!
There are just so many elements of running and playing in the Star Trek universe that I love, there is not way this would not be my favorite game.
Which makes me all the sadder that I am not running right now, nor have I been able to get a regular game of it going for some time. Sigh.
Still, I am scheduled to run of one shot of it for my bi-weekly group, so we'll see what happens.
There are always possibilities my friend Spock said...
Barking Alien

Saturday, August 30, 2014

RPGaDay Challenge - Day 30

Day 30 - Rarest RPG Owned

The rarest RPG I own? Rarest, huh?

No idea. Not as up on the collector's market as I used to be.

I mean, I have the original LLB books from Traveller, the AD&D 1E Deities & Demigods with Elric and Cthulhu, and first edition RPGs that only came out in Japan for crying out loud!

(Looks around with shifty eyes)

I also have the playtest rules for Last Unicorn Games' ICON System Star Trek RPG. I was one of the playtesters on it and a writer on one of the supplemental sourcebooks. The version I have differs in a few big ways from what was finally released.

I read it so many times I used to use that version in play, and players would say, "Adam, I don't think that's right. It says here X, Y, Z.", or what-have-you.

I still do it from time to time. I actually prefer the playtest version truth be told.

My NDA is over by now right?

Almost done...

Barking Alien

Friday, August 29, 2014

RPGaDay Challenge - Day 29

Day 29 - Most Memorable Encounter

As with my previous post, and a number of others in this Blogfest, I haven't played a lot as a player, so the memorable encounters from which to choose from are limited. I didn't have a lot of encounters as a PC compared to how many I've run as a GM is what it boils down to. Of the ones I did have, I remember a good number of them, but that doesn't exactly make them 'memorable'.

More memorable than ones I've completely forgotten I suppose.

Well, looks like we're going back to Champions...

In my second session of William's Champions campaign, the PC hero group, Project: UNITY, was called upon to stop a drunken rampage by the supervillain known as Adamant.
I (Starguard) was briefed by team leader Omni on the way there as to who this fellow was. Adamant was a clone of A-List, #1 Most Wanted, Top-Super-Baddie-In-The-World, Kineto. Kineto had created Adamant himself with some specialist scientific assistance and things went down hill from there.
First, Adamant didn't have Kineto's powers (thank goodness, though he was still plenty dangerous). Whereas Kineto could use kinetic energy to reorganize matter (among other things), Adamant could only reorganize his own body. He was more like The Absorbing Man than Firestorm or Molecule Man.
Second, Kineto at first treated Adamant as a son, but increasing, he reacted to him as a son he was disappointed in. Kineto's harsh attitude and overbearing, critical 'parenting' approach drove Adamant to despise Kineto, and Adamant soon turned to drugs and alcohol. Apparently the two hadn't been seen together in months, with Adamant appearing periodically in the employ of lesser supervillains.
In his current stupor, he was spouting things about being 'unwanted' and 'better if he'd never been created'. He would randomly grab cars, full of people, stuck in traffic by the damage he'd caused, and hurl the cars into the air or at buildings.
While our resident super speedster, Pulse, distracted Adamant, Omni, Starguard and Scaramangler (an Iron Man like character who went by his famous, public identity) focused on catching the cars, and helping innocent people get clear. Scaramangler eventually went to coordinate rescue efforts with EMTs and Firefighters, while Omni stayed alert for thrown vehicles, or Adamant's next move. Starguard meanwhile, did what Starguard does best...
Landing about two times arms length in front of Adamant, who was at that point in normal form, Starguard shouted to get the villain's attention, shattering the windows of nearby cars and a store front.
Starguard: "Know you this! I am Starguard! I represent The Pleiades Imperium, and lead The Protectors of Pleiades. Today, I speak for your world's Project: UNITY as well . You have acted to bring harm to innocent people. Surrender, or be destroyed."

Adamant: "Huh? *Stumbles around* I don't know you. YOU don't know...know ME."

Starguard: *Confused* "Be that as it may, I challenge thee. You may strike when ready."

Starguard struck a heroic pose, waiting for Adamant to hit him. Adamant for his part stood somewhat stunned. He shook his head, slapped himself a few times, and tried to sober up.

Adamant: "Alright Spaceman...this is Earth. On Earth, the challenger goes first. Go a' head. Take a swing."

Starguard: *A bit surprised* "You are quite brave. Very well..."

Suddenly thinking this fellow was more honorable than he'd first judged him to be, Starguard threw a punch at Adamant's jaw. Moments before connecting, Adamant changed, his skin becoming a mixture of Stellar Titanium (a McGuffin metal of the setting, like Marvel's Adamantium) and Enchanted Alf-Runal Stone (like the Uru metal of Thor's Hammer).

You see, one advantage Adamant has over Absorbing Man (who must touch a material to become it), is that Adamant can recall materials he has been in contact with in the past. When drunk, high, or otherwise messed the heck up, he sometimes remembers their composition incorrectly, for better, or worse.

My Superman-lite strength, augmented by my Universal Energy field, slammed into Adamant's chin with enough force to demolish a mountain. The BANG-CLANG of fist hitting mystically infused stone/cosmically forged steel rang out for miles. Windows shattered, the force tore flags from their poles, and the ground shook like an Earthquake had hit the skating rink at Rockefeller Center Plaza, where we happened to be standing.

Adamant's body hadn't moved. His head had turned, slightly. He turned it back, and then massaged his jaw a bit. "That...was impressive. My turn..."

I winced. Not Starguard, me. I was not expecting this guy to be this tough. It was then that the encounter became the greatest I've ever had.

The GM just said, "Wall."

Me: "Wall?"

GM: "Wall. Wall...Wall, Car, Wall, Window....Wall."

Me: "Huh?"

GM (Speaking very fast); "Wall, Car, Car, Wall, Truck, Car, Car, Car, Car, Mailbox, Car, Wall, Lamppost, Wall, Tree, Wall, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree..."

Other Player: "Holy crap. These are all the things your going through...literally through...after he hit you."

Me: "Ow."

GM (Speaking very fast until the last one which was said with flourish): "Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, ROCK, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, Tree, ROCK, Tree, Tree, *Whistles* BELVEDERE CASTLE!"

Other Player: "Central Park?!?"

Rockefeller Plaza is located on between 5th and 6th Avenues, on 48th Street in New York City. Belvedere Castle (In the campaign, the secret headquarters of Project: UNITY), is located in the middle of Central Park, roughly 79th Street and 7th Avenue.

Adamant punched Starguard over 31 blocks. That is about a miles and a half. Starguard had one or two Hits left. He was nearly dead in his second appearance from a single punch.

Starguard spent the next four or five sessions in a medical facilities inside the HQ, healing up from his encounter. In the mean time, I created, and ran a new character named S.I.M.O.N..

Also in the mean time, Omni managed to use his telepathic abilities to calm Adamant, and put him to sleep. He was pretty pissed to find himself waking up in a super-prison holding cell. At the same time, he was visited in prison by Omni, Pulse, Tachyon (a former PC hero, now NPC) and others. The group managed to convince him to enter a rehab program and turn his life around.

Fast forward, Adamant is now the Bouncer and part-time Bartender at a secret bar accessible only by superhumans, and some supernormals who move within the cape and costume community. He has helped the world's heroes during the Dark Trinity Event and the Invasion: Earth War. He and Starguard are friendly rivals, repeatedly challenging each other to arm wrestling matches, and even playing soccer against each other for charity.


Barking Alien


Thursday, August 28, 2014

RPGaDay Challenge - Day 28

Day 28 - The Scariest Game You’ve Played

This one is easy to answer.


Remember, I haven't spent very much time as a player over the last 37 years. The number of PCs I've had, and campaigns that I have been in, probably number less than two dozen. I certainly can not accurately remember more than that many.

In the entire stretch that I've been in the hobby, I'm only played a smattering of horror games and none were truly scary. Most didn't even achieve my personal goal as a GM of the genre, weird-you-out-creepy.

Two that did were my friend William's short, but awesome, Call of Cthulhu campaign, and my buddy Keith's equally brief, but really good, alternate setting Deadlands game.

No, the only game to ever put real fear in me was William's Champions campaign, 'The Age of Champions'.

In the 'chapter' I was part of, 'The Age of Chaos', we fought villains that you honestly thought might freakin' win if you didn't do something about them. Characters died, and most of the time, they didn't come back. Not all supervillains killed, but some did, or would, if it meant their success, or escape, depending on their motivations.

Since I loved my characters (a rarity, trust me), I really didn't want them to die. At the same time, all three of my PCs - Starguard, S.I.M.O.N., and The New Yorker - shared a desire to protect the innocent at any cost and a certain amount of poorly thought out bravado.

One particular villain, William's heavily modified version of the Champions RPG villain Dark Seraph, was absolutely terrifying.

Penciled, inked, and colored in Photoshop by Me.
Heavily based on an illustration by Alex Ross.

The Dark Trinity Incident
In a veritable flood of brilliant and challenging story arcs, William managed to make this one stand out above and beyond. It wouldn't be the only such stand out mind you, but damn this one was so epic that to this day I can't believe we (the PCs) survived. OK, mostly survived. We lost one or two of our alternate characters.

First, a little set-up:

Each player had a character in the campaign we considered to be our main character. This was our A-List PC if you will. Then, in addition, some of us had alternate, or alt, characters. Most of these were considered B or even C-List.

Now, this was purely an option. You didn't have to have spare characters, but sometimes it proved to be a lot of fun to switch from your cosmic, spacefaring Superman (such as Starguard) to a more low-powered, or even non-powered, street level crime fighter (such as my alt, The New Yorker) for a few sessions.

In most cases, you played your main more than your alt (or alts). In a few rare cases, a player would switch characters often, or play one for a long stretch and then play the other for a long stretch, resulting in two mains (such as my friend David's characters, Omni and Night Force).

For the most part, you wouldn't find yourself playing both characters in a single session, and if you did, it wasn't at the same time. Starguard and New Yorker never teamed up (technically, I'm not sure they've even met).

Every once in a while though, there would be a story arc, a series of scenarios so devastating, so world-shattering, that every last costumed crusader on the planet would be called upon to thwart the oncoming apocalypse.

This was one such time.

It's The End of Days for Three Parallel Worlds - Crisis on Three Earths!

Three years prior to the start of this adventure (that's three years of real time by the way), a group of PC superheroes had managed to trap the entity known as Dark Seraph in the null plane of Limbo. In those three years, deprived of the vast majority of his powers, Dark Seraph explored his prison of endless nothingness, eventually coming upon two 'points' in Limbo that seemed different from the rest of the essentially featureless realm.

Apparently, the Limbo into which he was placed touched upon two other Limbos, separate but essentially similar to his own. Through the use of what abilities he had remaining, Dark Seraph reached out to these other Limbos and made contact with two other entities who were similarly trapped.

The first was a dark, cosmic god-being known as Dark Seed.

The second was a female spirit, formally Human, but twisted and corrupted by the black magics of a presence known as Dark Unicorn.

Dark Seraph concocted a plan to escape all three of their confinements by forcing what little power they had on each others prisons instead of their own. Eventually, the walls between the Limbos shattered and all three beings, each more mad, more powerful, and more determined than they had ever been before, were free to let loose chaos and death on their unsuspecting universes.

Only...they weren't quite as unsuspecting as the Dark Trinity believed.

On Champions Earth-Wilco Charlie-1, Professor Christopher Crighton, aka The Legionnaire, was alerted to some kind of severe quantum flux disturbance and was able to pinpoint a hole in the fabric of space-time.

On Champions League Earth-Delta Ceti-1, Brother Destiny, a missionary in possession of an ancient amulet which in turn possessed him, detected a disturbance in the spirit world and traveled through the astral plane to investigate. He soon found Limbo had been broken open and a once well occupied space on The Great Genesis Gate now lay empty.

On Challengers-Earth Mu-1, Professor Christopher Crighton, aka Professor Phenomenal of the Phenomenal Four, received shocking news from his computers monitoring The Never Zone. The negatively-charged, psychokinetic energy mass known as 'The Dark Unicorn' had somehow broken free from it's confinement in 'The Place That Is Not'!

Basically, our biggest bad frees and is freed by the biggest bads of a DC Comics parallel universe (Dark Seed is, you guessed it, Dark Seid), and a Marvel Comics parallel universe (Dark Unicorn is of course Dark Phoenix).

Dark Seraph then has a plan to merge the three Earths together, however only a single population would survive. That is to say, if there are 7 billion people on each world, when the merger is over there will be 7 billion people, not 21 billion. All those who don't get to be the one that forms on the merged Earth will perish. That's right, it's not that there are three John Smiths and they merge, it's that one of the John Smiths will survive and the other two will be obliterated.

Those destroyed will become a Death Flotsam, a psycho-spiritual energy foam of sadness and despair that will be absorbed into a device of Dark Seed's design. The machine will then convert the deceased into power that can further energize the Dark Trinity members and grant them more power than they've ever had before.

Of course Dark Seraph is plotting to absorb all the Death Flotsam himself and double cross the others. Dark Seed is aware of the possible double cross of Dark Seraph and is working on a contingency plan that will destroy all of existence. Dark Unicorn is torn between a vampire like hunger for the power and desperately trying to reconnect with her humanity.

In the end, it took all the heroes and many of the villains of the three Earths to combine their forces, resources, skills, and abilities in an attempt to save their worlds. When the smoke cleared, PCs and NPCs were dead, with some surviving heroes and villains from each Earth permanently trapped in a world not their own! The villains were defeated but only barely, as we managed to convince Dark Unicorn that she was really Jane Ash (once a normal girl, loved and missed by friends, family, and a world now in desperate need of her heroism) and that without her help all would perish. She turned on the other two who had largely ignored her and used her while scheming against each other.

As S.I.M.O.N. (my mid-range, B+ List PC), I punched her in the face. Yeah, not one of my prouder moments but I had to do it in order to disrupt the Unicorn Power and allow Jane's consciousness to regain control.

Starguard fought Dark Seed. A highlight of his career I can assure you.

The New Yorker was transported to the Marvel-like Earth and saw a rogues gallery of costumed nutjobs beating up some nerdy kid in a spider-themed suit. Yeah, well, they now wish they hadn't. "Da medical bills for dose guys ah gonna be murda."

I'll never forget those last moments of the finale, when the dimensional merger was reversed, and that crazy machine invented by the two scientist Crightons was sucking Dark Seed's machine into itself. Dark Seraph  was being pulled into the collapsing singularity, a custom designed, pocket dimension of 'Before-Space'. Dark Seraph tried to take Omni, Favorite Son, and Maxi-Mode with him. Refusing to let anything happen to Omni, Starguard flew to the rescue, suddenly finding himself backed up by the heroes Arctic Fox, the Golden Ankh, Professor Arcane, and the villains Kineto, Lord Gauss, and Black Staff.

The Superman of Champions League Earth-Delta Ceti-1
Real Name: Mild mannered Chris Crighton.
That Crighton guy sure gets around.

Epic upon epic. What a battle. What incredible GMing. I didn't think we were going to make it and I was getting ready to kamikaze Starguard into Dark Seraph to hurl them both into the Before-Space vortex that had formed. At the last second, Night Force and Brother Destiny figured out a way to empower the vortex to an even greater level. Caught by surprise, Dark Seraph was sucked in and trapped forever.

We hope.

Damn that was some scary sh**.

Barking Alien

*Drawing of Maxi-Mode based on a Superman drawing by Ed McGuiness and Ian Churchill's Marine Man.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

RPGaDay Challenge - Day 27

Day 27 - Game You’d Like to See a New / Improved Edition of…

Now here's a question I can really get into. I know exactly which RPG fits this bill.


Left: First Edition Cover
Right: Second (Executive) Edition Cover
And someday...

Oh yeah baby!
On a parallel Earth, David Bruggerman, the entire TAGG team, and I are wallowing in money 'cause we just sold the movie rights to the same people who made Galaxy Quest.

As noted by some of the other participants of the RPGaDay Blogfest, a lot of the answers to these questions, and therefore the posts regarding them, seem like repeats. The same games will come up on a given bloggers posts again and again.
Barking Alien


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

RPGaDay Challenge - Day 26

Day 26 - Coolest Character Sheet

This seems an odd question.

I imagine if I saw every single character sheet ever designed or even remembered what half the ones I have seen look like, I'd be better able to answer this.

I mean, don't character sheets fall into one of two categories? Either...

  • You use the one that comes with the game 'cause frankly, it's just a character sheet
  • It matters to you so you design your own.
  • Who needs a character sheet? I write it down on a sheet of loose leaf  or printer paper.

I tend to custom design my own sheets, partially for ease of use and partially for aesthetics.

Not much else to say on this one. When it comes to this particular question, I just don't give a sheet.

Wokka Wokka!

Barking Alien

Blogger is acting a little strangely for me. I apologize for any inconvenience in the reading of this post.

Thanks, The Management.

Monday, August 25, 2014

RPGaDay Challenge - Day 25 - Anniversary Edition!

Day 25 - Favorite RPG No One Else Wants to Play

Thirty-seven years ago today, I played my first RPG. August 25th is my annual RPG Anniversary.

Thirty-seven years, 37 mind you, is a lot of years to be doing anything. 

To be honest, as hard a question as this one is to answer, there couldn't be a more appropriate question for the day, don't you think?

Looking over nearly four decades of gaming (wow...I just made myself feel old), I seem to have had phases, or perhaps eras, which cause the answer to this question to vary widely.

The GOLDEN AGE, 1977-87

Maybe not the Golden Age, but my Golden Age.

In this period, gaming was new. If a game came out, and we found it, we played it. I could get anyone to play anything, and I'd play or run anything someone suggested.

The SILVER AGE, 1987-1995

By this period, we all had our favorites. I had more than one group, and what one group might not want to try and/or play, the other would totally be up for.

The New York crowd didn't much care for Mecha Anime/Manga.
The New Jersey crowd were all old school giant robot fanatics. Mekton is go!

The New Jersey crowd wasn't so into American style Superhero comics.
The New York group were all rabid comic book fans. Champions? When can we start?

It was like that.

As time marched forward, I played with the NJ crew more often, with the New York group breaking up to deal with work, family, and other personal things.

A NEW GOLDEN AGE and The DARK AGE that followed, 1995-2007

I met my future ex-wife in 1995, and some time later introduced her to my New Jersey friends, and to gaming. She loved it, and in 2000 insisted our first vacation together should be Gen Con.

While her favorite game remained D&D (3 and 3.5 specifically), her favorite genre Fantasy (I know, right?), she also played Mutants & Masterminds, Changeling: The Dreaming, and Traveller (Traveller was another favorite of hers. Go figure).

Life was good, until it wasn't. That part of my story is too personal for this blog, but suffice to say, the honeymoon didn't last forever. When we parted and separated our massive collection of gaming stuff, I laid off heavy gaming for a while. I played once in a while, ran some one-shots, and attended one or two 1-day gaming conventions but didn't really get a campaign going for a couple of years.

The MODERN AGE, 2010-Present

The New Jersey group has split up, in contact with each other for the most part, but living too far apart to really assemble much has basically removed that particular assemblage from my list of go-to gaming contacts.

My old New York pals have kids, work, and elements such as distance and tight budgets that make for an environment not very conducive to gaming.

I found a new New York group a few years ago, and thanks to time, effort, my FLGS, and the very much missed RECESS game days, I now have a great bunch of players. There are some elements of the group that differ greatly from any I have previously gamed with since my earliest days however.

For the first time in 37 years, I kicked a person out of one of my groups. Marcus is no longer gaming with us.

I have no women in the group. No regular players of the female persuasion. It's weird.

This group is very inexperienced compared to my older groups. There are only one or two veteran players that has been playing more than 20-25 years. No one even close to my era.

The group is much more particular in their familiarities and preferences. Superheroes is tough to run in this group, as is non-D&D fantasy (although Bushido is looking promising, but more on that another time). I like more easy going, simple, rules-lite systems, while most of the group likes crunchier mechanics. At the same time, the gang contains several consummate role-players. Like, method actor level. It's cool, and really odd (in a positive way), to have that. I like it. I put up with the crunchy rules because the characterizations are so good. ;)

In the end, I don't think there is any game I would want to run that no one would want to play. It simply requires finding the right audience, and having a great sales pitch.

Good Gaming All! Here's to another 37 years!

Barking Alien

RPGaDay Challenge - Day 24

Day 24 - Most Complicated RPG Owned

I own a surprising number of complicated RPGs.

Surprising because, as any regular here on Barking Alien can tell you, I don't much like complicated RPGs. In most instances, I despise them.

It is therefore among the universe's great, unexplained paradoxes that I should be a fan of Champions, Bushido, and, yes, Space Opera. It's right up there with why we call it a 'bus stop' when it should be a 'bus pause'. I mean, the bus starts up again like a minute later...*

Space Opera aside (I will address that particular enigma below), I guess what it boils down to with these first two games, is that they just work for me. They do what I need them to do. These games facilitate a certain style of play in a particular fashion that I enjoy enough to put up with the crunchiness and relative complexity.

With Space Opera, who the heck knows. I'm not even sure how we played that game, but we did, and quite a lot at one time. I am pretty sure that much like Bushido, we house-ruled it in order to wrangle it into something resembling coherence.

OK, that's not far. Bushido doesn't need that much house-ruling. Space Opera needs a crud-load.

Barking Alien

*Special thanks to the late, great George Carlin for that one.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

RPGaDay Challenge - Day 23

Day 23 - Coolest looking RPG product / book

I'm a visual person.

While it's not hard for me to imagine strange aliens, frightening monsters, colossal starships and unearthly vistas, I do enjoy a good illustration, painting or other artistic depiction of these things. I am more easily and thoroughly inspired by artwork than I am by music or even the written word (though I do love a good written word).

IMO, the art in most American RPGs is, well, disappointing.

Not all, but a lot, and certainly that of the most mainstream of them. Now I am leaving out licensed RPGs here, as they usually have the benefit of using art from the comic books, computer games, TV shows, or films they're based on. I am talking about D&D, Pathfinder, Traveller, and many, many others. Their art just doesn't do much for me.

Especially not when, for example, Traveller can look like this:


The Fifth Frontier War
Japanese Edition 
and this...

Traveller Box Set
Original Cover Art - Japanese Edition

Yeah, I'm a little miffed that we get this...

And they get this...
I mean, it's not just more, and better art, it's the design skill that goes into it, the quality of the printing, and just the overall presentation, and format of the books. They just look great.
Check out these pictures of Wares 1092, an artbook made for the Wares Blade RPG that actually has game content in it! Let that percolate in your brain juices for a second. This is not a game book with some nice art; This is an artbook with game information! Do we do that? No! Why don't we do that?!
Our Superhero games tend to look good, especially M&M, DC Adventures and Marvel Heroic (again though, licensed products), though not so much Champions. Why? Why is the art of Champions still so weak sauce in 2014?
Anyway, in conclusion, the coolest looking RPG products I own are all from Japan.

Wares 1092, Front Cover Art
Map Fold Out in the Inside Front Cover
Locations on the Map

Machine Soldiers

This picture came out badly due to my crappy camera.
The following pages of this section list various Mecha of the setting, how powerful they are,
how much they cost to operate and maintain, and other details useful in game play.

Some pages, like this one above, show how the cockpit and control systems
of the various Machine Soldiers look. 

*The camera on my phone stinks. Doesn't do it justice. 

Barking Alien
Sorry this came a bit late. We had our first session of our new Bushido campaign today. A character creation and prologue session, it took longer than intended.

Fret not, a post about the results will be forthcoming.



Friday, August 22, 2014

RPGaDay Challenge - Day 22

Day 22 - Best Secondhand RPG Purchase

Another hard one. I simply can't recall which products I got second hand.

Hold on...I know for one.

This isn't a scan of my copy, which shows far more wear and tear than this one does. I don't want to mess with the one I have by putting it in my scanner.

Mine is indeed the original printing, Elric, Cthulhu and all, which holds a special sentimental place in my collection and my heart for reasons having nothing to do with Dungeons & Dragons specifically.

After reminiscing with her about the awesome Jeff Dee artwork in it, and how mine was lost in a move when I was much younger, my ex-wife, then girlfriend, picked it up second hand for me while we were attending our first GenCon together. I didn't know she had done this. She had seen it at a booth, purchased it while I was playing Sketch! for the first time, and gave it to me later in our hotel room.

Although no longer married, we are still very good friends, and we still get to game together a few times a year on holidays. The tutoring center where I work on Sundays, which I've mentioned on this blog before, is owned and run by her.

This book is one of the few D&D items I kept when we split our collection. She kept most of the Fantasy stuff and I most of the Science Fiction and Superhero stuff.

I didn't want to hold on to it because I needed it for games. I wanted it because it reminds me of a happier time.

Best secondhand purchase there could ever be.

Thanks for the memories,

Barking Alien