Sunday, April 24, 2022

Melancholy Daydream

My unintentional and frankly unwanted hiatus from blogging continues.

In relation to my plans for my 45th Anniversary in the RPG Hobby, this blows. I am feeling really down and while I've run some great sessions within the last few months, my overall mindset is one of frustration and disappointment. 

There are several factors that contribute to this, though some are more difficult to define then others. An ongoing and general dissatisfaction prevails. My games (for the most part) are not particularly exciting, memorable, or special. My newly developed Star Wars aside that is; that one feels like the 'good ol' days' have returned. Thank The Force. 

I recently ran a Star Wars one-shot unrelated to the new campaign with some members of my regular Friday night group and while the players liked it (or said they did), I found it a let down. Right from the start, literally the first minute, one of the players interjected with what they 'didn't want the game to be about' and it took me not only by surprise but completely knocked the wind out of my sails. I hadn't planned to set up the kind of story the player didn't want but now it felt neutered, like that wasn't a possibility if at some point in the scenario someone wanted to go that way or if events happened to lean in that direction. 

It's like we're going out to a buffet restaurant and someone proclaims, 'The one thing we shouldn't have is sushi!'. OK, we said we were going to a buffet. Not sure why you're bringing up sushi. Then you go and in addition to steak, French fries, salad, chicken, and dozens of other options you also see sushi and it looks good. There is an unspoken feeling of not getting any though since one person put it in your head that that's not why we're there and putting some on your plate might upset them. 

That's a major problem with my Friday group. I often feel hamstrung on what I can do and not do because of one or two particular players and their very specific ideas of what things should be in the games we play. I have very specific view too but I tend to look at ideas with the mentality of 'how can I make this work within the parameters of this setting' instead of 'X does not work in the parameters of this setting. It just does not.". 

Also, don't open any game session with a 'don't do this', 'you can't do that', negative statement right off the bat. It sets a tone that sucks all the energy out of a thing right from the start. 

Anyway, I don't have much else to say. The second part of our Ghostbusters two-parter was OK, good but not as great as part one. Pacing issues that were mostly my own fault. 

Yeah. Nothing else interesting to report just now. 


Hoping your gaming is going well.

Barking Alien

Sunday, April 10, 2022

STAR WARS: GRAY TERRITORIES - Episode I: Another Person's Trash - Part 1


Episode I: Another Person’s Trash

The Galactic Civil War is over but all is not well. Between the Western Reaches and the Unknown Regions, chaos reigns.

As the New Republic focuses on the inner systems, Imperial Remnants and Independent Warlords battle for control on distant worlds. In addition, the mysterious cult known as The Dwellers in The Dark search the stars for the tomb of an entity most sinister.

Meanwhile, on the remote planet of Boggonda, the paths of three beings who may decide the fate of the region are about to cross...

We open with a view of the planet Boggonda in space, a large starship moving in front of that camera; you know, as you do in a Star Wars production. As the audience takes in the scene they realize that ship is clearly Imperial but it's not a Star Destroyer. Rather it is a considerably smaller corvette, badly damaged, and apparently adrift. 

Then we go down to the surface of the swampy, humid , foliage covered world, its single biome best described as 'the Florida Everglades'. The focus terms to the character of Xim Darrol (PC), an 'Ex-Imperial Field Commander'. More on the potential inaccuracy of that description later. 

Art by Aristides Iliopoulos

Through an inner monologue we learn that Commander Darrol has been stranded on Bogganda for about 5 years. Sent to take out Pirates and Criminal Warlords thought to be working with the Rebellion, Xim's team was out numbered and outgunned. His unit, along with support in orbit, managed to defeat the enemy at a huge cost; the orbiting ship was disabled and the majority of the Imperial soldiers were dead.

Darrol called in back-up that never came and neither did an extraction team. Communications broke down and eventually the Commander and his remaining team members found themselves stuck. Rumors spread that the Galactic Civil War was over; the Emperor was dead and the Empire no more.

One by one his squad fell to local bandits, dangerous local flora and fauna, and the rough conditions of Boggonda's environment. Darrol survived, cobbling together gear dropped by those who didn't make it and learning to live in the wetland jungles. Now, for the first time in as long as he could remember, there might be a chance to get off this mudball.

While in the town of High Ridge, Xim overhead a local mechanic and salvage scavenger saying he might have found a ship at the bottom of Crevice Crater North East of them. The mechanics fellow salvagers didn't believe him, especially when he insisted it was a Corellian Transport, maybe a Light Freighter, and in really good condition. Darrol was ready to believe this guy however because, as he said himself, "I gotta get outta here! I've had it with this slime pit."

Xim heads off to speak with the mechanic, a Dug by the name of Dunbolgo Siwani (PC) who works for Beego's Salvage Shop.

Dunbolgo's player didn't know he found a ship until I mentioned it in the opening to Xim's player. Without any more elaboration, I turned to 'Dunbolgo'...

Art by Keith Conroy

"So where is Dunbolgo this morning?"

The Dug Mechanic was already at the shop, trying to perform some repairs on a Dwarf Probe Droid he'd found in the jungle a few weeks back. Xim walks in, nods to the Rodian Shopkeep Beego and then marches towards Dunbolgo. Darrol had been to the shop before for parts and repairs and while he'd seen the Dug many times, they'd never really spoken before. Funny enough, the Dug had probably done work on Xim's gear. 

Xim and Dunbolgo's players immediately launch into an in-character conversation that basically I had nothing to do with as GM. 

Xim: "Hey there...say, is that a Viper 10J? A Dwarf Probe Droid? My team used to work alongside those."

Dunbolgo: "Why yes...yes it is. I found it pretty badly banged up in the jungle. Something is clearly wrong with the waste compressor."

Xim: "You seem like you know your stuff but have you tried adjusting the power flow? The tech boys I knew said that if you give it more juice it compensates for all the gunk that gets in it from the terrain out there."

Dunbolgo: "I thought of that but was afraid it might overheat. just gave me an idea. I can divert some of the battery power to the filtration system to prevent the compressor from needing to work so hard. Yeah! That'll do it. Thanks...ah..."

Xim: "Xim. Xim Darrol. Listen...(gets closer and lowers his voice)...I hear you found a ship?"

Meanwhile in the wetlands below, we see a rarely sparse and simple camp site and a figure stirring from within a makeshift tent. This is Bodhe (PC), a former Guardian of The Whills who once protected the Kyber Temple on the Jedha. Offworld when the planet was destroyed by the first Death Star, Bodhe has wandered the galaxy for many years questioning and reaffirming his faith in The Force. Lately he believes he has achieved a deep understanding and connection to it, possibly even gaining the abilities of the long lost Jedi. 

Art by Jason Narvaez

Or...he might be delusional.

Bodhe is missing many specifics in his memories of the past and periodic visions confuse his sense of the present. Reality and dream intertwine as he searches for answers as to his identity and purpose in the universe. Here and now on Boggonda he is looking for something, both a light and a voice, calling to him from the wilderness. Having had a dream of the location of this thing that calls him, he seeks to climb a nearby mountain in an attempt to get a better vantage point. Perhaps he can find a landmark from his vision to guide him further. 

As Bodhe approaches a waterfall coming out of crack in the mountainside, he sense a cave opening behind it. The expanse of swamp beyond the mountain is too hazardous to travel by foot and he decides to see where the cave leads. Soon he find himself ascending rough hewn stairs as the cave leads to some sort of ancient dwelling and what looks to be a shrine. Ancient symbols carved into the walls seems strangely familiar...

To Be Continued,

Barking Alien

I Feel Good, I Knew That I Would Now

This past week has been extremely busy work wise and looked to be remarkably light game wise.

My regularly scheduled games are all on hiatus this week for a variety of different reasons. In my Traveller group, one of my players and his wife just had a baby (Congratulations! Welcome to Earth Miranda Lotto! I know it doesn't look like much but give it a chance. We have mochi and Star Trek!) In a different group one fellow is away for about two weeks (a convention and a vacation). Although one fellow in my Sunday game is not home this weekend, he is still going to play from his temporary location. Fingers crossed. 

Instead, I've been lucky enough to have played two other games this past week that were absolutely marvelous. Better than my usual games? Well...

Ghostbusters Buffalo Logo created by and for The Buffalo Ghostbusters 
A Ghostbusters Fan Club in Buffalo, NY. 

The two games I played were the second session (or 'Episode II') of my new Star Wars: Gray Territories campaign and the first half of a two session Ghostbusters game. 

The Star Wars game, as was described in my previous post, is just an absolute pleasure. It is so easy to run, so exciting, funny, and really charges up my imagination. The players are proactive, invested, engaging, and big fans of the setting, subject matter, and our shared style of play. It is some of the most fun I've had gaming in a long time. A breakdown of this campaign, complete with player generated artwork coming in a future post.

The second game utilizes my kitbashed Ghostbusters RPG detailed in entries to the blog posted in November and December of last year (2021). A scenario broken into two sessions - one this week, one next week - that sees a three man franchise in Buffalo, NY dealing with Metro Rail related hauntings. The game is run with my Friday Night group with whom I normally run Star Trek Adventures and play in a Hogwarts/Wizarding World campaign bi-weekly (switching off every other week). 

The first half of the two-parter went remarkably well. Truth be told, I've never had a bad Ghostbusters session but I was duly impressed by my players in this group. They tend to overthink things and are often reluctant to put themselves in harms way to achieve their/the scenario's goals but here they leapt right into action. More so then usual they clicked with the setting and feel of the game and it made for a really enjoyable evening. I will go into more about this game following the conclusion next week. 

I am not gonna lie, I needed this. I needed the kind of boost these two games have given me. Not only does it reaffirm my love of Tabletop RPGs but I once again feel like maybe I really am good at this GMing thing. Who knew?

More to comes,

Barking Alien