Sunday, February 28, 2021

In Like A Lamb, Out Like A Lion

As the month began, I was feeling really good about the fact that I was celebrating 12 years of the Barking Alien blog.

At the same time, I was feeling really down that I didn't have much enthusiasm for anything game related. I was feeling creatively lost and uninspired even as I was looking back on over a decade of awesome RPG experiences.

In the end I'm a little bummed that this month didn't feature the kind of festive celebration I think the blog deserved and yet I am happy to have recharged my creative batteries thanks to the advice of good friends and a little time to decompress the year gone by. 

I'd like to take this opportunity to once again thank everyone who came by and supported the blog and my endeavors. Before I go and talk about next month, I have a few additional announcements. 

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My good buddy Leo Jenicek has posted the final entry in his Arrondissement series. With 79 entries in total it is the length of a full blown novel, though it reads like a series of inter-related short stories for much of the first half of the run. I highly recommend checking it out. 

While I'm at it - giving some love to my friends and fellow creatives - I would like to take a moment to direct your attention to this post by my pal of over 30+ years, David Concepcion, a talented fellow who has been mentioned on this blog a number of times. His most recent post talks about the 'Celestials', our once and future 'Knights of the Breakfast Table' High School of Art and Design RPG club that remain close to this very day. 

On that note, are you into cool people and great music? Awesome. Here's a link to another member of the Celestials gang, Antonio Jacobs, also known as Blacklieder, who is one of the hippest, grooviest cats I know. Take a look and listen. 

***

Another shout out I want to give is to Pokemon, which celebrated its own anniversary this past Saturday. February 27th of 2021 marks 25 years since the release of Pokemon Red and Green, the very first Pokemon games. As you may remember, I'm a big fan and I have actually be thinking about some new Pokemon-esque RPG ideas. 



Speaking of next month...here we are! March is officially (official for Barking Alien that is) MECHA MANGA MADNESS MONTH! This March is all about Japanese Giant Robots, Japanese Comics and Animation themed tabletop gaming, and Japanese Comics and Animation themed gaming with Giant Robots! Bet you didn't see that last one coming!

As they are tangentially related, I will be continuing with my Dice Fiction / Yokai Hunters Society project as well as the aforementioned Pokemon inspired RPG concept.

See you soon and hope you enjoy!

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Whistling At Night

We put on our masks
In the hope we might frighten
What dwells in shadows

-A Yokai Hunters Society Haiku




Continuing with my ideas for using the Japanese TRPG system Dice Fiction (or my take on it at least) to run a version of Yokai Hunters Society, I am leaning heavily towards the idea of building templates. 

One aspect I really liked from the original Yokai Hunters Society game (YHS going for forward) is the concept that each member of the organization wears a Mask to hide their identity and frighten their foes both mortal and supernatural. I just wish they had gone even further with it. I mean, picture a secret group within Japanese society made up of nobles and beggars, the clergy and the unclean, all equal while performing their clandestine duties as their true identities are unknown to even their closest allies. But for how long?

Then their is the choice of motif - Big and powerful Oni, sly and clever Fox (Kitsune), social yet secretive Cat (Neko), or perhaps you identify more with ghosts and monstrous beasts! This got me thinking that the players would choose a Template patterned after the Mask they wear. Each Template has a greater emphasis on one particular Attribute and Skill column or would see more unique Techniques (Special Abilities) to reflect their Mask type. 

Mechanically all Fox Hunters - YHS members with a Fox Mask - are geared towards Awareness, Illusion, and other trickery. Visually, all Fox Masks are foxes but they needn't look identical. Again, each is unique just like each Fox themed Hunter is unique as they pick their individual character's Strong Skills, Weapon of choice, etc.

Right now I have about five Attribute/Skill Templates completed: Cat, Fox, Ghost, Oni, and Tengu. I feel some may need further tweaking. Here are three examples:

The Fox


The Fox is wise and clever, as well as very sneaky. They possess both Disguise and Stealth for any sort of covert mission, not to mention the ability to create Illusions. The Fox walks the fine line between high and low society, well versed in Romance and The Arts but not afraid to walk the back alleys and dark streets. 

The Oni


The Oni is your powerhouse bruiser - Strong, tough, able to take a beating and dish one out. At the same time, they are among the most compassionate and personable, befriending old people and children. The Oni will decimate dangerous Yokai but never forgets the people they protect by doing so. 

The Tengu


The Tengu is a being of Air and Earth just like their namesake. They strike like bolts of lightning, often from above or starting out at a distance from their opponents. They have keen Insight into the thoughts of others and the wisdom and strategic skill to know what to do about them. They can be their own worst enemy, getting involved in things like Gambling and Politics but they can also be a powerful ally. 

The Techniques, as I envision them, are like Assignment Skills that can do things beyond normal levels of Human skill. Are they actually magic? I think I want that to remain unclear, even within the setting itself. They are a mixture of Feats, Special Abilities, and perhaps just a bit of legendary Power. 

What does everyone think? I am really liking how this is coming along and although my primary focus for March will he my new Mecha RPG MSV - Mecha System Variant, I will definitely be continuing with this little project as I am enjoying where this is going. 

Join me won't you?

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*The title of this post refers to a Japanese superstition that whistling at night or near a graveyard would bring forth ghosts. It is believed to originate with thieves, who would whistle to alert or signal each other during night time burglaries. Eventually the act was simply deemed evil, prone to bringing bad luck and ill intent. 







Thursday, February 25, 2021

Get In The Robot

Twelves years ago this past Tuesday I started my Barking Alien blog and I thank all of you out there once again for taking any part of this journey with me. If you're a regular fan, a now and than visitor, or just popped by recently to check it out, I am really happy to have you here. Seriously, I can not convey how pleased I am that you took the time to give this place a looksee. I hope you enjoyed yourself, my specific brand of weirdness, and that you'll come back around again soon. 

That said, this post is directed at another milestone which occurred ten years ago this coming March. 

You see, in March of 2011 I dedicated an entire month of posts to Jim Henson's Muppets and how to run and play a Muppets Role-Playing Game. This bit of insanity was the most well received, highly viewed month in the blog's entire history. It lead to Barking Alien being mentioned on non-RPG sights, specifically The Muppet Mindset and a few others dedicated to the Muppets. I playtested the game at the RECESS Game Day event in New York City and then received requests from attendees and the staff alike to run it again...and again...and again.

If you've never read those posts, I humbly suggest doing so. Absolutely some of the best material I've ever written for this blog  - or anywhere for that matter - and the perfect companion to the Disney+ release of all five seasons of The Muppet Show. I am very proud of March 2011.

Eventually, the rules I used lead me to develop my own independent RPG, still available through DriveThruRPG, entitled The Googly Eyed Primetime Puppet Show Role Playing Game. If you haven't checked it out, please do. It's a great game for kids, adults who want to laugh, and adults and kids to laugh with each other. 

With that...

This coming March I am going to attempt a similar though quite different full month RPG project. It is less focused and specific, covering a genre more than a single IP, but it is something near and dear to my heart. In addition, it is my hope that by the end of March I will have a complete RPG that I can sell through itch.io 


Customized Mecha from Bandai Spirits' 30 Minutes Missions series.


March is MECHA MANGA MADNESS MONTH!

That's right my RPG Otaku! I am putting my Mecha where my mouth is - which to be honest sounds rather painful. Nonetheless, my love of Japanese Anime, Manga, and building-sized, humanoid machines will combine next month to give you all the chance to battle it out using the LEAST tactically oriented Giant Robot game of all time! 




Yep, you read that right. A very different take on the Japanese Anime Mecha genre in RPGs where instead of being focused on Action Economy, Ammo, and Range, we focus on Cool Visuals, Anime/Manga Tropes, and does Sempai like me now that's I'm a GIant Robot Pilot?

In addition to introducing you to the Mecha System Variant RPG TM - my 12 year old, homebrew Giant Robot system - I am going to include my recently developed campaign setting, This Mecha Life TM.

Expect things to get odd.

I hope you'll all join me. Ganbatte!

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Before I forget, this doesn't mean I am stopping work on my Dice Fiction / Yokai Hunter Society conversion. I am definitely going to keep working on that. Sugoi! 








Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Twelves Years of Barking Alien!


Today is the day!
Happy Anniversary to BARKING ALIEN!



Apparently silk is the popular gift for a 12th anniversary
so I decided to get Barkley a silk kimono.

I think he looks pretty good in it don't you?


My first post to the Barking Alien blog was posted February 23rd, 2009. It seems like forever ago. At the same time, didn't I just do an entire month of Muppets RPG posts? No, that was 2011. Oh geez. What about the first Thorough Thursday entry? That couldn't have been too long...2015, huh? The first Campaigns I Have Known post was 2016?

Wow.

As I noted at the beginning of the month, it really has been a long, strange trip. I wouldn't change it for the world (or perhaps worlds). Thanks to this block I've made a number of great friends both in-person and online, been mentioned in blog articles in Spain and Poland, run official demo games at conventions, been involved in events and YouTube interviews, taught at a tutoring center using games, and published my very own RPG.  I've gotten to speak with some amazing bloggers, brilliant game designers, and a host of truly creative people who really love this hobby. 

I want to thank and give a special shout out to Charles ALord BlackSteel, Tim Knight, and the incomparable WQRobb, who have gotten me excited to keep going when I wasn't sure I should. Likewise I thank JBJeff Rients, and Noisms for their continuing inspiration and dedication to gaming and blogging. If I hadn't read yours, I might not have created mine. 

I also need to thank the friends, players and GMs in my life who make this pastime what it is. I heartfelt hug to AJ, Alex, Andy, Arthur, Carl, Chris, Craig, Dan, David, Esmeralda, all the Erics, Jeff, John, Joseph., Keith, Leo, Lynn, Marcus, Mark, Mike, Nick, Ray H., Selina W., Will C., Will L., and far too many others. 

Finally, a posthumous salute to those we've lost in the past dozen years who I could among the greatest gamers I've ever had the privilege to know: David Cotton. Allen Halden. Peter Hernandez III. I miss you guys so much. 

With that, here's to another twelve years and new horizons...

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Here's Where Things Get Dicey

Fair Warning: This entry goes all over the place but if you'll follow along I think you'll enjoy the ride. 


My previous post on the Japanese tabletop RPG system Saikoro Fiction, or 'Dice Fiction' in English, by Adventure Planning Service was posted this morning, yet it was based on a conversation I had last Wednesday and actually written this past weekend. Why did it take so long to complete? Partly it was due to the accompanying illustration and the sample Attribute/Skill Grid I put together. 

Mostly though, it was because I did some addition research, had some thoughts, and got feeling truly creative again. Between my original twitter conversation and now I've been incredibly inspired in a way I haven't felt in a long while. I think the last time I was honestly this jazzed about gaming ideas was when I ran our Red Dwarf/Yellow Sun campaign using the ALIEN RPG. 

What follows - both in this post and over the next month - will be a breakdown of a series of ideas that have come to me, not all of which flow in a straight line. I will do my best to organize them into some kind of order. At some later point, when the ideas are largely out of my head and on paper/screen, I will likely compile some of them into a book of some kind. I can even see a sellable product coming out of some of them. 

To begin...

I am really intrigued by Dice Fiction and its Attribute/Skill Grid but one of the things I noticed when building a sample one was that with six Attribute columns and eleven Skill rows, the total number of Skills in sixty-six. 66! That's kind of nuts. It was really tough coming up with 66 names of Skills and what they might possibly be used for (or why one might be used as opposed to another).

I propose a 6 x 6 grid which would result in 36 skills. I also think that not every PC in a given game has the same 36 Skills. Creating different grids enables PCs to cover areas other PCs don't which not only allows for greater character customization but also enables you to make Templates not unlike those found in Star Wars D6. In a given setting its possible everyone has Dodge or Melee Weapon under the Attribute 'Prowess' but not everyone has the same special abilities, magical skills, or martial talents under their 'Technique' column. I believe some of the official Dice Fiction games do work this way.
 


Sample Attribute/Skill Grid for my Dice Fiction version
of the RPG Yokai Hunters Society


Now here's where my first idea comes in; a few weeks back I downloaded the game Yokai Hunters Society from the amazingly cool itch.io website. A neat, rules-lite game of masked, Meiji era Japanese folks battling demons, ghosts, and spirit monster against the background of the political and social change prevalent in Japan in the late 1800s. It has some similarities to a number of Anime and Manga series, notably the extremely popular Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, as well as numerous Japanese live-action TV shows and Movies in the Horror genre. 

Wow! I mean, seriously right up my alley, right? What a great idea for a game. Only...I don't love the system. Very simple, almost too much so, with not a lot to sink ones teeth into. It is functional, even fun, but a little lackluster for my tastes.

If I apply the Dice Fiction rules to the setting, I think I have something. Something really interesting that I can see being used for a long term campaign.

First though I am thinking of fleshing out some of the 2D6 vs. Assignment Skill mechanics with conditions or points that would allow for rolling with Advantage or Disadvantage. For example, an Enchanted Sword that gives you Advantage on your Melee Weapon/Sword so that you need to beat the Target Number on 2D6 but roll three six-sided dice and take the highest two. Meanwhile, if injured or perhaps cursed by a Yama Uba (Mountain Hag/Witch), you might roll three six-sided dice and take the lowest two.

I am definitely going to work on this and flesh it out a bit more. In addition, I will be posting both a more detailed overview of the basic Dice Fiction game (based on my research) and this alternate Barking Alien version I am developing. 

This leads me, indirectly mind you, to another idea I have. While it has nothing to do with Dice Fiction, it was looking into that game that reminded me of my age old love affair with Anime, Manga, and RPGs with an Anime/Manga influence and flavor. I miss running our very Japanese influenced games of Cyberpunk 2020 and Space:1889, not to mention games like Mekton and Teenagers from Outer Space. 

I figure it's about time I made one of my own.

Stay tuned...

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My apologizes to the creator of Yokai Hunters Society, Chema González, who did an excellent job with the writing, illustrations, and layout. Clearly impressive enough to inspire my own take on the game.
 
Also an apology to Nate Treme, who created the Tunnel Goons rules used in Yokai Hunters Society. Again, fine rules, completely workable, but they just didn't grab me personally.  




Monday, February 22, 2021

Gaming Mother Forker! Do You Speak It?

Recently, I've become kind of obsessed with the Saikoro Fiction or 'Dice Fiction' system found in a series of quasi-indie RPGs in Japan. I say quasi-indie because they're not incredibly wide-spread in popularity but they are put out by Adventure Planning Service, a well-regarded RPG publisher best known for the Japanese tabletop RPG Magazine Role & Roll

Here is the official website for Saikoro Fiction in Japanese.

I am not sure I am in love with what they've done with the game so much as what I think I could do with it. 

Of course, that's if I could completely wrap my head around it. You see, the games that use it are in Japanese and I don't fluently read or speak Japanese. Luckily, I know some people who do.



With apologies to Quentin Tarantino

Over on Twitter (What? You don't follow me on Twitter? What's up with that? Check out Barking Alien's Twitter) I was smart enough to ask Claytonian of Kill It With Fire if he could answer some questions I had about the Dice Fiction game. Specifically, I wanted to know if the game had a System Reference Document of some kind or if there was a base version without the added rules unique to each incarnation that has been published. 

You see, each Dice Fiction game has a key concept in common; a grid/chart of 6 stats with 11 skills/abilities under each stat (numbered 2-12). Some of the skills on the grid are marked as 'Strong Skills'. To do something, you roll 2D6 against the appropriate 'Assignment Skill' and try to meet or beat a Target Number.


A sample Dice Fiction grid created by me. 

The black cell/white text skills are the Strong Skills.
The black column is not counted when adding up the Target Number (See below).

If that Assignment Skill is one of your Strong Skills, you need to meet or beat a 5 to succeed. If it isn't a Strong Skill, count how many spaces away the appropriate Assignment Skill is from the nearest Strong Skill and add that to 5 and that becomes the Target Number. Blank columns add to the Target Number but filled in ones do not. 

For example: Using the chart I made above, if asked to roll a Medicine Skill check the player would roll 2D6 and have to meet or beat a 5. If asked to make a Sleight of Hand Skill check the player would need to roll an 8 or better. Start with a base of 5 and then look to the closest Strong Skill, which in this case is Psychic Powers. The filled in column adds nothing, Psychic Powers is 3 slots away from Sleight of Hand, so 5+3 is 8.

Claytonian wasn't able to answer the questions I had about the game himself so he did one better and put me into a three-way conversation between the two of us and Andy K of the Japanese Tabletop RPG Blog. Andy was quite helpful and had this to say about the subject:

"In short, there's no SRD for Saikoro Fiction games because they are all different. It would be like looking for an SRD for "Powered by the Apocalypse" but even harder because many of these games are very, Very, VERY different.

Many of them have a similar look and flow to Shinobigami: Sheet with a 6 by 2-12 "skill grid", a 3-round 1 scene/player play structure, etc. But after that they are all VERY different.

This is especially true of many of the contemporary ones released. They have great ideas, interesting mechanics, not necessarily big sellers (Shinobigami pretty much dominates Sai-Fi, everything else is kinda in its shadow); and their character creation and playstyles are very different than Shinobigami/inSANe/Magicalogica.

If there was one commonality that would tie them together, the SRD would say "The book includes - and starts off with - a full session replay of the game, complete with lots of notes about what is happening. Then, the rules are easy to read and understand and lead to the game being playable within 2-3 hours of purchasing on a quick read-through. A session can last 2-4 hours but it contains an entire story; it is not meant for campaign play (so you can have a solid, done experience in just a few hours and no requirement of an ongoing campaign). Also, more often than not it is targeted towards novice GMs and Role-players, holding their hand through some of the process". That is the only commonality that they all share."

Yeah that's fine! That isn't what I was hoping for exactly but it is also absolutely fascinating and has me super-charged up to work with the concepts put forth in Dice Fiction even further. Not only do I have my own ideas on how this could be used but how do I adapt it for long term play? How useful is it for playing over the internet, which is our primary mode of gaming these days. 

It is likely that either or both Claytonian and/or Andy K will be posting a similar recount of this conversation on their sites and if they do and it adds to the discussion I will definitely link it here. In the meantime, don't be surprised if you see more about Dice Fiction - or a Barking Alien variant on it - very soon. 

Until then, 

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Turn And Face The Strange

One of the many benefits of doing this blog over the years is that it has put me in touch with some truly wonderful people. 

Not only in a creative sense but in a real, honest-to-goodness friendship sense. I have gotten to speak with them by phone, in person at conventions, and every now and then I receive responses to my posts via Facebook Messenger, text, email, or other means more personal than a comment at the end of an entry.

Just yesterday I received such a message from WQRobb of the blog 'Graph Paper Games' (which he should totally get back too). Rob, who is a good person the likes of which our modern world doesn't have nearly enough of, read my previous post and had this to say...

"Just read your last post.  I have thoughts on the matter.

So in the last year there has been a lot of reporting and conversation among clergypersons regarding our emotional (and spiritual) responses to the pandemic and the subsequent quarantine.  While all of us are struggling with isolation, loss, and depression, the response of clergypersons has been even beyond the pale. A surprising percentage of clergy have even had suicidal ideations.

The reason: we are not only experiencing the normal absence of social interaction but we are also not getting the emotional validation from our congregants and furthermore, we are not living our vocation in a normative fashion.  And most of us have a very close personal identification with our vocation.

So even though I go to work every day and work very, very hard, to find some way to continue to minister to my parish, it doesn't feel like I'm doing anything. I feel like a fraud or a failure, or...like I'm just filling in.

So even though you are gaming a lot, you're not doing it the way you have done it since you were a child, you're not getting all the emotional payout from it, and really, being a gamer, especially a GM, is a huge part of you being you."

Wow. Is that not 'Wow'? I think it's pretty darn Wow. 

To sum up, even though I am gaming, I am not gaming the way I game. I am not doing it in the ways, means, approach, and application that it took me 44 years to develop. No matter how much effort and energy I put into it, it is going to feel off, second-rate, or at the very least less than optimal. 

Knowing this though...helps. 

It means, to me at least, a little of the self-applied pressure is off.

It's no longer, 'Why aren't I doing this as well as I know I can?'. It's being OK with, 'This is the best I can do given this situation." Instead of being frustrated that I can't seem to paint another Mona Lisa, I can look down at the crayons on my table, realize all I have is crayons so what was I expecting, and just enjoy making the best drawing I can with what I've got.

That said, I think my next games going forward, at least until we meet in-person again, are going to be shorter 'art pieces' instead of longer 'blockbuster' campaigns. If the art-pieces turn into campaigns 'cause everyone involved loves them so be it, but it isn't the intended goal. I want to experiment more. My best outing so far during this pandemic was far and away the Red Dwarf / Yellow Sun game because I tried different approaches and took creative chances. I want and need more of that. 

Thanks Rob and thank you readers for indulging me. 

Onward,

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Monday, February 15, 2021

Filler Episodes

I've been rather depressed lately. 

Part of it is our current global pandemic, part of it our political and social issues here in the US, and part of it my personal economic troubles which have not been helped by either of the aforementioned situations. I have also been feeling like...well...like I am not getting the most out of my gaming time. 

This last situation could be the result of my depression and accompanying anxiety but in the worst kind of self-perpetuating cycle it is usually gaming that digs me out of the dumps and if that isn't happening...yeah. 

I am gaming more - far more in fact - than I was before the pandemic, yet none of it seems quite as satisfying. That's not to say it isn't good and I hope none of my players or GMs read this and think I am not enjoying our time together. Oh contraire! I am having a great time for the most part and very much like the games I am both running and playing in.

It's just that...

They feel like filler episodes. They're fun stints into the various milieus and systems we are exploring but very little of it feels meaningful, deep, or (to sound extra pompous) artful. These adventures are fun experiences but they don't push the plot or larger character development of Adam-as-Gamer. 

For my Sunday game, for example, I am re-visiting Aerth, my Medieval-But-Not Fantasy setting with yet another campaign featuring The Winghorn Guard (see many previous entries on this esteemed order of do-gooders). I am doing a twist on them I've always wanted to do but never got the chance to previously, with the PCs being members of the covert/espionage arm known as The Winghorn Rangers. It's less Avengers vs Thanos and more Agents of Shield vs Hydra. 

Was it good? The Zero Session went pretty well, though one player was sadly out sick. 

Was is SPECIAL though? Hmm...no, not particularly. It didn't do anything different, shake the earth, or anything quite so epic or unique.

Did it need to? No, not really. Not to be a good game.

However...

I would like it to. I would like something to. 

I would like that very much and I kind of need it right now.
 
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Friday, February 12, 2021

Year of The Ox

Today there is cause for celebration...it's also my birthday. 




February 12, 2021 is the beginning of the Chinese New Year of The Ox, as well as being the birthday of such notable personages as Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin, and my favorite voice actress, the one and only Tara Strong. 

I also wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge Black History Month, something I feel it behooves us all to do and to look into further. Some amazing people have done some fantastic things and you should know about them. 

Promoting the concept of Yin Yang I must also note the passing of several extraordinary talents from stage, screen, sports, and beyond including Christopher Plummer, Cicely Tyson, Cloris Leachman, Hank Aaron, and Larry King, just to name some of the personalities we have lost in 2021. 

Yesterday was the birthday of my friend Dave Cotton, who passed away last June. Dave has been mentioned many, many times on this blog as he was a sweet guy and a creative powerhouse. I miss him terribly and this was the first time in 10 years we didn't discuss how close our birthdays are to each other. 

Strange what you remember isn't it?

Yes, last but not least it is my birthday today. Ugh. I have never been particularly fond of the day and although I was starting to get over that in recent years, 2020 has kind of reset my disinterest in making a big deal about it. Hopefully I can push past the feeling and enjoy it. 

Quoting my good friend (and incidentally my ex-wife) Selina...May The Ox Be With You. 

Yes, she said that.

No, I don't know what it means. LOL

Gong Hei Fat Choy Everyone!

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Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Snarks and Questing Beasts

Nope. I still don't have an idea for my Sunday game. 

I thought I did, something really special too; an IP/setting I've wanted to run a game in for a long time but in the end I felt I was forcing myself to find it exciting and interesting. I just couldn't go through with it and so I am back to square one.

Fine 12 year anniversary this is turning out to be. 

A lot of real world concerns are occupying my brain and I need to sort them out before I can settle on a creative idea that I am truly engaged with. This is frustrating on several levels, not the least of which is that having a creative outlet is usually what calms my anxieties and lets me think and act more clearly. 

Everything I need and want feels so elusive. Opportunities seem out of reach and possible positive happenings are there until I look at them, at which point they just disappear. It's all Questing Beasts and the Hunting of the Snark. 

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Friday, February 5, 2021

Where To Next?

 What's the next stop on this Long Strange Trip?

I'm not entirely sure but the meter is running and decisions need to be made. 



Where to Mac?


It's February of 2021 and my birthday is coming up. I get really bummed out around this time of year as February holds memories good, bad, bittersweet, and I'm one of those people for whom a birthday puts me down in the dumps. 

Add to this the continuing Pandemic conditions, the fact that my gaming has been good but not...not...that level of good I'm always striving for, and I am tempted to just have the driver take me home or drop me off here. Anywhere. 

All is not lost however and this isn't meant to be a downer of a post. Quite the contrary. The purpose of this entry isn't to tell you where my head is at but rather where I intend it to go. 'Further' is the answer I'm focused on. Further into the future. 

For a long while now I've been wanting to do several things and this year, do them I shall!

First, I am working on several self-publishing game products including Barkley's system-agnostic Sci-Fi travel series, 'The Barking Alien Guide to...', each of which will provide information on several star systems and planets in a particular area of space for use with whatever Space Adventure RPG you happen to prefer. From flora and fauna to the best place to buy Steamed Gumlets (Sweet or Spicy!), The Barking Alien Guides will give you an experience the average tourist will surely envy. 

Second, it is my intention to start a Podcast or Youtube channel based on this blog. I must be honest, this one excites and terrifies me. I don't know a damn thing about the technical side of this and while I have no fears about speaking before large groups of people (I've done it many times), the sound of my voice recorded electronically annoys the heck out of me. I guess I'll have to adopt one of my many character voices! Heheh. *Insert nervously scratching my head with a large Anime sweat drop going down the back of it*

Anyway...

There are some other things in the works which I will discuss as they come closer to fruition. I've always wanted to type 'fruition'. That's such a fun word. 

My main concern right now, one bit I don't have fully worked out, is what my next game idea will be. I am having a lot...wait, let me correct that...A LOT...of difficulty coming up with an idea that really grabs me.

This would be for my Sunday Evening group. We've played some really good games together - specifically and especially Red Dwarf / Yellow Sun - but have recently gone through a bout of short campaigns (or attempts at such) which were a bit harder for me to get into. Part of it was the mechanics of these games, part of it the style/approach (which I may discuss in a future post), but really I think I just want to get back to GMing. I've been playing in these as a player and I can only take so much of that before I get antsy. 

What to run, what to run...the eternal lament of multi-interest Gamemaster. Oh to be one of those referees who only runs one thing over and over but no, that is definitely not me. 

I have been particularly interested in all things Japanese again lately. From Japanese tabletalk RPGs to Anime and Manga (the visuals, energy, and style more than any one series), I seem to be drawn to that 'mental aesthetic' as it were. 

Hmmm. Barkley, let me off at the corner of Mecha and Yokai. I want to stretch my legs and look around...

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Barking Alien





Monday, February 1, 2021

Long Strange Trip

This month, February 23rd of 2021 to be specific, marks 12 Years of Barking Alien. 




February is a month that is bittersweet for me each time it comes around, with numerous anniversaries, birthdays, and memories that make it one of the toughest to get through of the entire year. Yet now, realizing I've been doing this, this thing I am doing right now, for a dozen years, I can't help but smile. 

I am rarely one to pat myself on the back, at least not without kicking myself in the rear right before or after, but in regards to this one thing I will be honest...I am kind of impressed. 

I wish I had more comments and engagement. I wish more people read the blog or even knew about it. I wish I could turn it into a podcast and/or a Youtube channel. That said, I absolutely love it for what it is. 

Join me this month in celebration of blog well done and a look into the future. What's next? What came before? Let's figure that out together. 

Barkley, charge up the Transdimensional Discussion Array and activate the Pan-tubular Idea Generator...let's blog!

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Barking Alien