Saturday, November 29, 2014

Super Senses and Sensibilities

Greetings Barking Alien Lovers!

OK, well, Hobo Joe. Greetings Hobo Joe! Glad you're still here...hey...Hobo Joe? Where ya goin'?


No, no Hobo Joe, you got it all wrong. I didn't forget about you, man. I've just been crazy busy with real life is all.

When I said expect the extraordinary, you didn't think I meant it would be coming this month did you?, no. I meant in December. Yep. ^ ^;

It turns out I needed a temporary hiatus from blogging, although I didn't know I did until it happened. I also didn't exactly want one. Long story short, I may still be rather sporadic for a bit, but December is looking to be when everything will be back on track.

I hope.

In the meantime...

While I may not have been telling you lot about any of my gaming ideas lately, that doesn't mean I haven't been having any. Oh contraire! My brain has been a buzz! It's been bubbling with bonafide, brilliant, bursts of bombastic badassery.

The subject? Superheroes of course. Couldn't you tell by my use of alliteration?

With a more direct hand in character creation and design, I have managed to get the players to (finally) comprehend the type of campaign setting I'm going for, without actually giving them too much information about the campaign itself. The idea being that I already know the style, theme, atmosphere, etc. of the campaign, and I just needed the PC heroes to fit that milieu.

Not having the majority of the players know the ins and outs of the game's setting is quite liberating. I have noticed that many modern players (heck, even those who started gaming within the last twenty years or so) get very hung up on setting. To me, the proliferation of setting heavy games, as opposed to those that provide a 'generic' system, but not so much a canon setting, actually made things more difficult for us 'genre junkies'.

Stay with me here and I'll try to explain.

If you tell players you're running a Star Trek game for example, and they aren't people for whom that is an instant guarantee of compatible fun, you are liable to get several responses:


I don't know enough about Star Trek to play in that universe/setting.

I can't play that. I can't take all those rubber aliens and cardboard sets seriously.

I know a lot about Star Trek (but I don't have a Star Trek game mindset), so I'm going to come up with some cockamamie story so I can be a Q in your TOS era game.


Meanwhile, if you describe a space exploration game, with a sixties style, space opera motif, in which the PCs all serve on a starship in service of an alliance of Humans and aliens, you'll probably end up with some very Trek appropriate PCs.

That's essentially what I've done here with our new Supers campaign. I've assisted the players in coming up with genre appropriate characters, as opposed to characters appropriate to a specific setting. Now, as a result, they not only fit the setting perfectly, but they add to it as well.

Final pre-production and production elements are going on this week. Hopefully I will be able to reveal the results of my efforts very soon

See you in December everybody!

Barking Alien

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Rebel, Rebel

I apologize for not posting much so far this month, but I've been busy. I know that's not much of an excuse, but seriously, I've been working late every weekday night for the last two and a half week. I am just so tired.

Tired is a new state of being for me, and one I will freely admit I am not particularly fond of.

I've had insomnia for most of my life (Seriously. Since Middle School at least), and as such, developed the belief that sleep is for the weak. It's bad. You get nothing done. I mean, Mozart, Shakespeare, Jack Kirby - it's a good bet they did most of their great works while awake.

The point is, I'm used to not sleeping very much. I am used to being active for a good 18 to 20 hours each day. Feeling tired, and needing to sleep, throws off my whole schedule.

How do you Humans do it?

Anyway...enough about my peculiar, alien, physiology. Have you seen this?:

Star Wars Rebels is a CGI animated television series produced by Lucasfilm, and Lucasfilm Animation, in association with the Disney Channel (for Disney XD). It is currently up to its seventh episode I believe.

It's good. Really good. Not great mind you, at least not yet. It's getting there, and it has tons of potential.

While it shares many of the same staff as Star Wars The Clone Wars, this newer show somehow doesn't look, sound, or function quite as polished as the last seasons of its predecessor. Seems odd to me that this doesn't look even better right out of the gate, but instead Star Wars Rebels more closely resembles Clone Wars' first or second season.

That reminds me, did you get to see or hear about this:

The upcoming Star Wars Episode VII is going to be called The Force Awakens according to a plethora of sources on the internet. This means there is a 45% chance that it's true. OK, maybe 50%.

Not the worst name I've ever heard (The Phantom Menace anyone? Yeah.), though not super exciting either.

Name aside, I am starting to get more excited about this movie. Generally I've become very wary of sequels, especially those looking to continue a popular franchise I love. J.J. Abrams, who directed the two reboot Star Trek films, Cloverfield, and other bad movies, has been given the helm on this new Star Wars installment, and that certainly doesn't fill me with confidence. At the same time, the Star Trek films sucked because they were too Star Wars-like. Maybe he can get his space IPs straight this time.

Now that I look more closely at the title logo, I'm not particularly keen on it. I'm hoping this is preliminary, and they go back to the style we've seen with the past films.

Will the lens flares be strong with this one? That's the real trick isn't it?

All of this has put the bug of running a Star Wars RPG game in my mind. Perhaps just a one-shot or short campaign series to get it out of my system. Who knows? At present, extra time, and players with open schedules, are definitely not 'my thing'.

Trust in the Force.

Barking Alien

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Expect The Extraordinary

Don't be surprised if this month is kinda Superhero heavy.

MARVELS Panel By Alex Ross
In addition to the weekly online Superhero game I'm in as a player, and the bi-weekly (or so) Supers game where I switch between player (mostly), and guest GM (occasionally), I am gearing up for a new Superhero RPG campaign with my regular group to begin (hopefully) in December.
Dang, but that was one of my most annotated paragraphs in a while. Sheesh.
Back to the subject of this post, it looks like my group may finally be getting the Four-Color Superhero genre the way I see it, and that is a big plus in my attempt to run something with a little staying power. Our last few attempts at Superhero campaigns have often experienced great starts, but quickly buckle under a combination of the players being unfamiliar with the tropes of the era of comics I like, and my frustration with them not comprehending what to me is so second nature I don't even think about it.
Truly this is unfair of me, I know. I can't expect them to understand something largely foreign to them, which I've spent almost 40 years being engrossed in (See my recent post, A Secret War). At the same time, as I've said before, I have tried to provide them with frames of reference, and a few of them are familiar with the era, and style of comic books I'm talking about.
On the suggestion of my good pal Dave*, I have attempted to approach this campaign, and character creation specifically, in a slightly different manner than that which I've used in the past. In my mind, I have been a tad more heavy-handed in telling the players what I'm looking for with this game. Dave was insistent that I had to be if I wanted to run a particular type of Superhero game. I do believe he's right.
It may not be my preferred way of doing things, but the results have been pretty good so far.
As expected, I still have two players who's characters are a tad off, although mostly in their powers. Their backstories and such are excellent. They are coming around, albeit a little slowly. That's OK by me. Take all the time you need to get the parts to fit together I say.
Expect updates on the PCs and the setting (still a mystery to most of the players! Yay!), ideas and attitudes toward running Supers, and anything else that pops up while I develop this campaign.
Questions and comments are always welcome!
Oh, and if you know of any good Superhero tabletop RPG blogs or podcasts, send them my way. Thanks!
Barking Alien
*Dave is/was, surprisingly, having the most trouble with the overall feel of the campaign, even though he is my biggest advocate for the running of Superhero games.
Dave is not a fan of the Silver/Bronze Age periods of comics. I find this somewhat perplexing, even knowing the reasons for his opinion. My point to him was, "utilize the tropes and style, but add what you felt the comics of that era were missing".
It's comic books, not brain surgery, yet sometimes I think it would be easier to assemble a Brain Surgery RPG than one of the former type.