Saturday, January 2, 2021

31 Days / 31 Characters - BLEEP - THE SPACE GUARDIAN

My fondness for this next character is deep. He is a combination of many things I truly love, such as Science Fiction, Comedy, and the Warner Brothers Cartoons of Fritz Freleng, Chuck Jones, and many others throughout the 1950s and 60s.

The main thing that makes BLEEP-THE SPACE GUARDIAN special however, is that he is second fiddle in his own campaign.



Character: BLEEP - THE SPACE GUARDIAN

Player: Adam Dickstein

System: Toon
 
Campaign: The Adventures of BLEEP - THE SPACE GUARDIAN!

Gamemaster: Adam Dickstein 

Circa: 1986-1987

Origins: BLEEP was inspired by a number of things including my general love of Science Fiction, Comedy, Cartoons, and a newspaper comic strip by Bruce Drummond called Orbit. It wasn't the greatest strip but I really loved the art style and Orbit's design. 

Backstory: Very little of BLEEP - THE SPACE GUARDIAN's 'backstory' is revealed in the campaign. All we know is that he is one of an unknown number of other 'Space Guardians', each protecting their Space Sector from evil (much like the DC Comics Green Lantern Corps). 

One interesting element of the campaign is a subversion of the classic Space Patrol troupe in that many planets don't recognize the authority or jurisdiction of the Space Guardians. They appointed themselves the protectors of various regions of space but who asked them to? On what authority do they come down to your planet and arrest a criminal? Many worlds do appreciate their help but then they're like, "Thanks. We'll take it from here."

BLEEP - THE SPACE GUARDIAN is comically earnest, overly enthusiastic about being a heroic do-gooder and so honorable and forthright he is often clueless about things like stealth, trickery, and subterfuge of any kind. This isn't the case with other Space Guardians who come off as more jaded and professional. 

BLEEP lives in a oddly shaped spaceship in orbit of the Earth (more on this later) with the true hero of the campaign, his 'sidekick' Cha-Wump, a purple, cube-shaped, eating machine resembling a sponge crossed with a marshmallow. 

You see, the main player in the campaign was my good friend, the late Pete Hernandez, who played Cha-Wump. Other players would pop in and out as guest stars - usually villains but occasionally other Space Guardians, Earth Military Officers, UN Ambassadors, etc. - with myself as Gamemaster and the titular BLEEP - THE SPACE GUARDIAN. Usually BLEEP is shown as being in over his head and it is Cha-Wump who saves the day, though more often than not BLEEP still got the credit. 




Overview: Our campaign began with an emergency meeting at the United Nations as various politicians, dignitaries, scientists, and military person discuss some sort of impending disaster. Before long they very reluctantly decide they have no other choice and bring out a white rotary phone with a single glowing blue button.

Picking up the receiver and pressing it, we cut to the interior of a very lived in looking spaceship. A short blue alien leaps out of bed, bounds into his space suit, and answers the call with, "Hello citizen and fear not, for you have reached BLEEEEP, THE SPAAACE GUARRDIAANN!" The name is shouted and elongated to a comical degree. 

On the other end a UN official face palms and then wearily replies, "Yes, this is the United Nations on Earth. We need your assistance Bleep!."

"Who...? Who are you trying to reach?", asks the antenna-head hero.

"What? Bleep. Bleep, the Space Guardian."

"I'm sorry, whom?"

Exasperated, the official makes a grimaced face, takes a deep breath, and copies our hero's delivery, "Please help us BLEEEEP, THE SPAAACE GUARRDIAANN!" 

"Why didn't you say so? What seems to be the trouble threatened that pretty, blue marble of yours?"

This begins the first of our running gags; BLEEP will only say his name and respond to it if it is shouted with gusto. Even in casual conversation he insists on saying the entire name and title like the universe depends upon it. 

As the relevant conundrum of the session is brought to BLEEP's attention - be it a comet hurtling towards the Earth, an invasion of the Moon by robot monkeys, or a cosmic anomaly about to swallow Proxima Centauri, Cha-Wump wakes up with something ridiculous in him mouth (the handle bars of a bicycle, the rear half of a python, several feet of steel cable) and joins BLEEP on the bridge as he slurps up the rest of whatever he was eating. 

BLEEP then discusses what to do to save the day with Cha-Wump, who - like Groot of the Guardians of the Galaxy - only replies with some variant of his name, "CHA-WUMP! Cha-cha-wump. *sob* Cha-WUUUMP!" Like an extrmely nuanced Pokemon, Cha-Wump would carry on involved conversation using only his own name. Pete was incredibly good at this, often bringing other players, casual observers, and myself to tears of laughter in this way. 

While bold, well-meaning, and good at the basics liking shooting a ray gun and piloting his spaceship, BLEEP was not especially clever or even all that bright. Cha-Wump might eat their way out of a trap, devise a plan to neutralize an enemy spaceship's weapons, or give a heart felt speech that would win the day, revealing each and every adventure who the real Space Guardian was. 

Cha-Wump would occasionally get frustrated with BLEEP's general ineptness but he never stayed mad at him. Additionally, BLEEP happily admits he couldn't have won without his trusted companion and best buddy. They were depicted as close friends, not unlike a boy and his dog though who was who's pet is left kind of open. 

Highlights:

Cha-Wump's main power was that he could eat absolutely anything or at least swallow it. His mouth would extend to five times its standard size to engulf hover cars, bombs, and other ludicrous inedible objects. His secondary power was that BLEEP could reach into his mouth and pull out any number of relatively intact people, devices, and other objects.  

The single most memorable adventure of the BLEEP - THE SPACE GUARDIAN campaign was when BLEEP faced off against one of his few reoccurring arch-enemies, Captain Cosmo Crush. Captain Crush (played by another player) had his minions devise a weapon known as 'White Out' Missile. Teased as something akin to Anti-Matter, they were in fact filled with white paint and when they struck or exploded they erased the area they hit. This was the first and most fourth wall breaking session we had, actively acknowledging the campaign to represent a weekly animated television series. If white out spilled on the art - i.e. ANYTHING - it no longer existed.

As BLEEP's ship lost more and more detail, various systems began to fail and it looked like BLEEP and Cha-Wump might actually be wiped from the universe...er...or their show cancelled. One or the other. 

Thinking very quickly, Cha-Wump gets BLEEP to extend his arm out and then appears to try and swallow it! As BLEEP tries to shake his friend off, Cha-Wump coughs various items into BLEEP's hand, periodically letting go to check what he has before swallowing the arm yet again. Finally, Cha-Wump has managed to get a magic marker into BLEEP's palm. Taking the cap of the marker off with his mouth, spitting it away, and then grabbing the drawing implement in the same way, Cha-Wump proceeds to re-draw the areas wiped out by the White Out Missiles. Not only that but since he is re-drawing it, he adds new weapons and equipment to BLEEP's vessel including Japanese Anime-style Missile Pods and a Wave Motion Gun. 

Overjoyed by the upgrades, BLEEP lets Captain Crush have it with both...wait...three? four? Four barrels! Four barrels and a barrage of contrail streaming missiles that would impress the makers of Macross the Movie. 

Another villain who made only one appearance but dialogue indicated they were long time opponents was a female space pirate who flip-flopped between deadly nemesis and romantic interest based on whether the player playing her rolled an odd or even number. Her name was something like Duallia.

Legacy: It has been a very long time since I have used BLEEP - THE SPACE GUARDIAN in any meaningful capacity. I never really forgot about him but I never found a good use for him or a satisfying way of bringing him back. 

Cha-Wump appears in my game, The Googly Eyed Primetime Puppet Show Role Playing Game which I believe may reference BLEEP. 

Game Info: Originally these characters were used in a Toon campaign but those character sheets are long gone and I haven't run Toon in many years.

Instead, here's BLEEP and Cha-Wump converted to The Googly Eyed Primetime Puppet Show. Following these are some additional notes. Enjoy!






BLEEP's Ray Gun was known as the Zap-alizer and had three settings - Zap, which did damage - Heat Beam, which was used to weld, start a campfire, etc. - and Kinetic Beam, which could push people and objects away or pull them towards the pistol shaped weapon. 

At one point I had a random list of items in Cha-Wump's mouth and if Pete failed his 'Stomach of Holding' roll he would get on by rolling D66, a range from 11 to 66. I periodically switched out the list for alternative ones, later changed that mechanic, and then brought it back again. 

BLEEP's spaceship deserves special mention, though sadly I can not recall the name of it. The exterior for a mix of retro-50s/60s Sci-Fi and a modern for the mid-80s rocket design. The ship's interior was very homey, with that Sci-Fi RV feel turned you find in the Millennium Falcon and The Mandalorian's Razor Crest. It was equipped with Force Fields, two Zap Cannons identical in function to BLEEP's Ray Gun, and it could travel at Hyper-Zoom Velocities! Whatever that means.


Next Up, when the going gets tough, the tough start purring! Meet a Feline Femme Fatale you mugs are going to go gaga for! After all, she's THE CAT'S MEOW...

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Barking Alien






1 comment:

  1. WOW! I have never heard of "The Googly Eyed Primetime Puppet Show Role Playing Game" but I am so glad I have now!
    Grabbing a copy.

    ReplyDelete