Thursday, August 31, 2023

RPGaDay Challenge 2023 - Day 31


This question...previously fairly easy to answer, isn't so simple for me today.

For the vast majority of my time in the hobby, the answer would have been Star Trek. First it would have been FASA's game, then Last Unicorn's, and now Modiphius' Star Trek Adventures.

Star Trek is my favorite setting for running Science Fiction Space Adventure RPG campaigns, my favorite type of campaign. Star Trek Adventures has become my favorite way of running Star Trek, though I have made some changes to the system and incorporated elements from both FASA and LUG. Still and all, Star Trek Adventures could easily be my answer.


I am really loving the ALIEN RPG system and what I've been able to do with it, especially my kitbashed Ghostbusters game and my Red Dwarf game. I am incidentally working on a variation of the Ghostbusters rules that I might post to the blog in the near future. 

I suppose in the end, Star Trek Adventures is my final answer. It's my favorite.

There is also another that has the potential to come real close.

Barking Alien

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

RPGaDay Challenge 2023 - Day 30


This one kills me. I am sure there are people out there who see this prompt and think Paranoia or Shadowrun. Those to whom spicy and exotic food means someone added black pepper and a pinch of garlic to their dinner. To quote my boy Malthazar in Galaxy Quest, "Those poor people". 

Me? Hmm. Let me think...

Maybe. Some of these are probably more well known than others. 

It's all relative. Any one of these could be someone's D&D.

Maybe not.

Barking Alien

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

RPGaDay Challenge 2023 - Day 29


I've been so busy lately that I started to fall behind on this challenge and to be honest the motivation to get to the next one isn't particularly strong. 

This year has been boring. We're looking at repeat questions that weren't especially exciting the first time around. Take this question for instance; this is one of the good ones and yet it isn't particularly gripping.

Why? For me at least, talking about memorable encounters of the past is something I do all the time. This is an RPG blog after all, so it's a fairly regular occurrence. I could link you back to any number of prior posts. 

I could also recount one I haven't yet described...but I'm too tired. 

Instead, I'm going to bed. I'll tell the tale of a memorable encounter again some other time.

Barking Alien

Monday, August 28, 2023

RPGaDay Challenge 2023 - Day 28

I've fallen behind with the RPGaDay Challenge because of work and other aspects of Real Life TM and for that I apologize. Let me try to catch up...

Horror isn't where I go when I want to talk about scary games.

What creates real fear in the hearts and minds of RPG players isn't B-Movie Slashers, Vampires, or even Nameless Horrors from Beyond...though it could feature any of those. What truly freezes the blood is when you are concerned for the safety and well-being of a character you've invested emotion in. 

As my Sunday Group discussed just last night, player buy-in is the key to making any RPG frightening. If the players aren't deeply connected to their PCs, NPC friends and family, and the world they're living in, there's no way they'll be afraid of losing everything. 

The last time I responded to this prompt in 2014 it was as a player and my answer involved our old Champions: Age of Chaos campaign. Check it out here. This year I'm recalling a scary moment as a GM, one that took place in a old session of FASA Star Trek.

The Miranda Class USS Odyssey (the PC vessel), detects a weak distress call from a much older Starfleet Science Ship, the USS Endurance. The Endurance is found adrift in space, suffering from both internal and external damage as well as being desperately low on any and all consumable resources. After securing the science ship, USS Odyssey proceeds to tow the craft via tractor beam to the closest Starbase. 

The Captain and crew of the Odyssey see to accommodations for the surviving crewmembers of the Endurance and answers as to what happened to them. After conversations with the NPCs, investigations into the conditions of the science vessel, and observations by the Odyssey's Caitian Science Officer, it was the opinion of the Odyssey's Captain and First Officer that the crew of the Endurance had been possessed or mind controlled by some sort of outside source. They believed it likely to be someone with Psionic Abilities or a God-Like Entity. 

Not quite right but on the right track...

Instead, the Endurance's Crew were being controlled by variants of the Flying Parasites first encountered at the Deneva Colony by the colonists there and later Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise (in the episode Operation: Annihilate). In addition to Parasites attached to the surviving crew of the Endurance, there were hundreds of them stored in the science ship's cargo hold. Using the transporters aboard the Odyssey, the Endurance's infected Captain was able to connect with the cargo transporter on her ship to beam over the creatures in massive numbers. 

The big twist was that the Flying Parasites seemed unaffected by their documented weakness, exposure to Ultraviolet Light. Previously that killed them but when the Odyssey crew tried that here it seemed ineffective. 

The PCs fought valiantly against the hivemind of killer pancakes (as the PC Captain referred to them) and possessed shipmates but were drastically outnumbered. They had to fall back, eventually making a last stand in the Odyssey's Sickbay. The Doctor was particularly badass when covering the rest of the group, firing his Phaser three times and hitting with each shot, one being a critical strike.

Once 'safely' in Sickbay, the Doctor and Science Officer analyzed an injured but living Parasite to find out why Ultraviolet Light didn't effect them. They discovered the creatures were actually affected, just very mildly. These Parasites were different from those previously encountered, having built up a resistance to UV Light over time. Very likely they did this during the years the Endurance was lost.

Using the Odyssey's Ventilation System, the PCs were able flood the ship with a biochemical agent that weakened this resistance. Once that happened, the ship's interior was bathed in Ultraviolet Light and the Captain was able to marshal the crew to retake their vessel. 

The end of 'Act Two' - after the Flying Parasites were revealed but before the PCs reached Sickbay - was intense! The PCs were on the run and a step behind the Parasites and infected Endurance personnel at every turn. The PC Engineer wasn't with the rest of the group, taking to the ship's Jefferies Tubes as a way to hide and get to important systems (he was vital to activating the Ventilation System without access to the Bridge). The characters were desperate but not for their own safety, focused more on their NPC crew and each other. 

It was the SCARIEST game because, quite simply put, my players and I weren't guaranteed it would have a happy ending. At many points we were thinking it wouldn't. It was only through smart planning, creative use of knowledge and skills, and a little luck that things turned out OK.*

Barking Alien

*There were some NPCs losses and PC injuries but the crew succeeded in the end. 

Sunday, August 27, 2023

RPGaDay Challenge 2023 - Day 27


The last time I answered this question I said Hunter Planet, The All Australian RPG from the one and only David Bruggeman. My response to the Day 16 prompt that year, 'Game I Wish I Owned' was Hunter Planet as well. That post lead to my imagining a new edition and the aforementioned David Bruggeman, creator of the game, sending me a copy. Thank you forever David! A great memory and a highpoint of the blog. 

Unfortunately, that makes this year that much harder. As I mentioned in a prior post, I am OK with there not being a new edition of my favorite games if they are, in fact, my favorite games as they are. At the moment, I can't even think of a title I'd want a new version of. Maybe Sketch? It doesn't really need one but it'd be cool.

Barking Alien

Saturday, August 26, 2023

RPGaDay Challenge 2023 - Day 26

Generally speaking I custom make my own sheets. My reasons for doing so are two-fold:

#1. I like everything to be organized, concise, and have the information I and/or my players need on one page (if at all possible). 

#2. I want the look of the Character Sheets to match the aesthetic of the game universe/setting. 

Some of my favorite Character Sheets include...

My version of the character sheet I use for Champions, 4th Edition

Character Sheet for my homebrew/kitbash Ghostbusters RPG

Character Sheet for my modified ALIEN RPG / Year Zero Engine RED DWARF RPG

Star Trek Adventures RPG Character Sheet I made for our Star Trek: Prosperity, TOS Era Campaign

and lastly...

Star Wars D6 2nd Edition Character Sheet from West End Games
I don't think I altered this at all. 


Does a Character Sheet NEED a place for a picture of your PC? Maybe it doesn't need one but if I can fit one in, I do. 

That was fun. I guess. 

Barking Alien

Friday, August 25, 2023

O Frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”

It's August 25th and I'm chortling in my joy. 

On this day in 1977 I played my very first tabletop role-playing game, Basic Dungeons and Dragons - Holmes version. 

I've now been gaming for 46 years and I gotta say, I'm feeling beamish.

Sir John Tenniel, 1871

Galumphing on...

Barking Alien

RPGaDay Challenge 2023 - Day 25

One thing I am quite proud of is that I have very few of these. 

In the last year or so, between Kickstarter and PDFs, I do have a few that I haven't gotten the chance to actually play. Some I've only had for a short time, such as the PDF 'Beta Rules' for BREAK!!. Others I purchased more for my own reading pleasure, not expecting to bring them to the table virtually or otherwise for the foreseeable future. Heckin' Good Doggos falls into this category.

Other than these...hmm...I haven't gotten to play or run The Troubleshooters yet, though I did incorporate some ideas from it in my attempted Pokemon homebrew. I would really love to give this game a go, maybe moreso than any of the other ones I have with a similar status (owned but unplayed).


*Whistles* (Taps foot, looks at watch)


Well. That's it.

Bye now.

Barking Alien

Thursday, August 24, 2023

RPGaDay Challenge 2023 - Day 24


The most complex game I play is Champions, specifically the 4th Edition of the game. I am currently running a campaign that is now a little over 2 years old. 

I would say Champions is the complex game I like the most, as generally speaking I don't like overly rules heavy, complicated games. I tend to prefer my RPGs a bit more rules lite but more on that below.

The simplest game I currently play is our Hogwarts/Wizarding World homebrew where I am a player. Inspired by Apocalypse World and other similar systems, its basically a base 2D6 roll plus additional dice added for traits or skills and then you only take the highest two results. A 2 is a Critical Failure/Botch, 3-5 is a Failure, a 6-8 is a Partial Success, 10-11 is a Success, and 12 is 'Boxcars', a Critical Success. 

There is a little more to it but honestly not that much. I like it a lot. The system leans in to a narrative feel most of the time and works really well for the setting and the type of stories our GM and group are telling. 

Throughout my time in the hobby I - and I'm sure a great many others - have forever chased the holy grail of the sweet spot between simple and complex rules. Of course, everyone's sweet spot is different and we're not all seeking the same point on the line between 'Flip a Coin' and 'Page 63, Paragraph 4, Reference Table 3B of the Comparative Combat Encumbrance Modifier Chart'.

I think my perfect RPG would start at the midway point between Faery's Tale Deluxe and Phoenix Command and then lean slightly more towards the rule-lite side. As mentioned in previous posts, the closest I've found has been games like Star Wars D6 and Star Trek Adventures. That said, I also love the simpler ALIEN RPG and the complex game Ars Magica.

We like what we like. 

Barking Alien

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

RPGaDay Challenge 2023 - Day 23


Everyone has their preferences when it comes to what looks cool.

I mean, most of these prompts ask about one's preferences. They may be addressing the participant's past experiences but really they want you to share your opinion on those experiences.

Asking what the 'WEIRDEST game you played' was doesn't expect that you're going to be giving an objective answer. There are no definitive and measurable facts upon which one can conclude that a given game is in fact the WEIRDEST game. FAVORITE Purchase, FUNNIEST, and SCARIEST games, all of these can likewise only be answered subjectively. 

Hmm. That was a pointless tangent. Anything to make this year's event more interesting I suppose. With that, here are some RPG products that I think look really cool:

Left to Right - Top Row First

ALIEN, Break!!, Deadline Heroes,
Kill Death Business, Star Trek Adventures: Lower Decks, The Troubleshooters

Barking Alien 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

RPGaDay Challenge 2023 - Day 22

The only item I recall getting SECONDHAND was a copy of the first printing of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 1st Edition's Deities and Demigods. My ex-wife bought it for me at Gen Con as recounted here

A nice memory but the prompts are getting REEEALLY boring. 

Hopefully something more engaging is on the way. 

Barking Alien

Monday, August 21, 2023

RPGaDay Challenge 2023 - Day 21


I feel like I already answered this. 

I'm a guy who likes running games in LICENSED settings - Star Wars, Ghostbusters, DC Comics - but by far my favorite IP paired with my favorite system is...

If you want further thoughts on the subject just click on the Star Trek Adventures tag and check Day 18 of this month.

Well, that was easy. What else ya' got?

Barking Alien

Sunday, August 20, 2023

RPGaDay Challenge 2023 - Day 20


The same games I played 20 years ago and/or I'm playing now. Plus some new ones I suppose. 

I may have switched out FASA's and Last Unicorn's Star Trek RPGs for Star Trek Adventures but I figure if I was using 4th Edition Champions in '89 and 4th Edition Champions now, there is a really good chance I'll be running 4th Edition Champions in 20 years. 

I'm not much for switching to the shiny new version of stuff unless it works better for me than the stuff I have. If my tools do their job I have no need to buy new tools. I am one for checking out new games and new versions of old games to see if indeed that do work better for my objectives but if I don't see major improvements I'm good sticking with what I have. 

Possibly my best example of this is the Ghostbusters RPG.

I played the original Ghostbusters RPG published by West End Games in 1986 way back in...1986. We modified it with houserules that made it more like the Star Wars RPG, which wouldn't come out until 1987.

When the 2nd Edition, Ghostbusters International, came out in 1989 we modified it even further. 

Sometime in 2002, the game InSpectres came out and I noticed how similar it was to the old Ghostbusters game. I found my old Ghostbusters notes and created a kitbash combining my GB houserules with some new ideas from the InSpectres game.

In the fall of 2021 I updated my Ghostbusters rules once again, this time merging them with the Panic/Stress system from Free League's ALIEN RPG. I really like how it came out and it's what I will use to run Ghostbusters for the foreseeable future. 

In 20 years? Who knows? It could be I'll still be using my current version of Ghostbusters or it could be additionally modified by some game that hasn't come out yet. I'll let you know in 20 years I guess.

Barking Alien

Saturday, August 19, 2023

RPGaDay Challenge 2023 - Day 19

I'm not one for PUBLISHED Adventures. 

As I went from fresh-faced newbie GM to wizened veteran GM, I found myself using Published Adventures less and less. Even back in the day I would add to and subtract from pre-packaged adventure 'Modules' to customize them to my personal style and the interests of my group(s). 

My favorite Published Adventures are therefore ones that are easy to modify and make my own or which have multiple ways they can be used. With those criteria, the modules I've liked the most throughout my time in the hobby are...

A Doomsday Like Any Other, Star Trek, The Roleplaying Game - FASA, 2nd Edition
Crisis on Crusader Citadel, Villains and Vigilantes - 2nd Edition
Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons - 1st Edition
Legion of Gold, Gamma World - 1st Edition
Ravenloft, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons - 1st Edition 
Starfall, Star Wars, The Roleplaying Game - 1st Edition

That's all I have to say. See you all tomorrow!

Barking Alien

Friday, August 18, 2023

RPGaDay Challenge 2023 - Day 18

For a very long time my answer to this question was the same, the D6 System as seen in West End Games' Star Wars, The Roleplaying Game

At this moment in 2023, for the first time since I started running the 2nd Edition of Star Wars D6 (1992), I think the system might have some competition: The ALIEN RPG by Free League and Star Trek Adventures by Modiphius. 

ALIEN, which uses a variant of Free League's 'Year Zero System', is so simple, flexible, and perfect for the setting it depicts I am honestly stunned. I played the Leading Edge Games version at a convention about 30 years ago and though I had fun, the system was a mess. Like many games of its time, the ALIENS Adventure Game went for complexity, while Free League's ALIEN cuts out all the fat and just gets down to what matters. It's absolutely brilliant. I love it so much that I've used it to make two of my most successful homebrew/kitbashes: Ghostbusters and Red Dwarf.

Star Trek Adventures is now my favorite way of playing my favorite subject matter for a game. I've played FASA, LUG's Icon System, Japan's Enterprise RPG, and others, with each giving gamers its own spin on the very familiar setting of Star Trek. At the same time, all the various Star Trek games shared many things in common as well. All these games had the same objective - emulate what it would be like to live and work as a Starfleet Officer exploring the Final Frontier.

Star Trek Adventures embraces this same goal but does it through the lens of this all being based on a TV show. STA fully stands behind the meta-understanding that it is a game about a popular Science Fiction media franchise. Even though I feel like it shouldn't, this dynamic works extremely well. It lets the GM and players relax and just go with the story, have fun, and not worry that they haven't memorized the Star Trek Encyclopedia. Your campaign can pay as much attention to canon as the Lower Decks writer or the website Memory Alpha or as little as STD or Strange New Worlds (Zing!). 

Yes, there are bit and pieces of the prior Star Trek games I do miss and occasionally incorporate into my current games but overall I absolutely adore how Star Trek Adventures treats Star Trek and how it lets you play in that universe. 

It is impossible for me to decide which one I like more. If I had to pick one, maybe ALIEN as it has the benefit of being adaptable to other settings (I especially like how it helps improve my Ghostbusters rules). 

Well, that's that. Next...

Barking Alien

RPGADAY Challenge 2023 - Day 17

Sorry this one's late but I fell asleep writing it. LOL 

When it comes to Funny Games, as with many of the prompts this year, my first thought it to define 'played' as Gamemastered.

This is mainly because I tend to GM a lot more than partake in the hobby as a player. Additionally, when it comes to Comedic/Humorous RPGs, the number of GMs I've encountered running those other than myself can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Sure, I've experienced some very funny moments in serious games but if we're talking FUNNIEST here, that's going to require a whole different mindset. 

All that aside, if I am focusing on games I've run...damn...there have been A LOT of hilarious one-shots, sessions, and even whole campaigns over the years. I love genre comedy and as such it probably comes as no surprise that I've had great success with a multitude of different systems and settings. Picking one as THE FUNNIEST is really, really tough. 

Plus there is my own game, the primarily Muppets-inspired RPG 'The Googly Eyed Primetime Puppet Show'. This game grew out of my fan-made Muppets RPG, detailed on this blog in March of 2011.

I'd suggest checking out our Red Dwarf RPG campaign, 'Yellow Sun' and the Muppets RPG adventure I ran at a RECESS Game Day event titled, 'The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made'. I think these rank among the most laugh-out-loud RPG sessions I've ever run for sure.

OK, onward...

Barking Alien


Tuesday, August 15, 2023

RPGaDay Challenge 2023 - Day 15 and 16


I'm kind of bending the meaning of the prompts today but I've wanted to tell this story for sometime and this seems as good an excuse as any. So far this RPGaDay event has been pretty boring and I want to do something a little more engaging (at least for me). 

I was at an Anime Convention with a strong Gaming presence in the Winter of 1994 when I came upon a table selling a bunch of Japanese RPG Magazines [in addition to various Manga titles and Artbooks]. Talking with one of the employees, I found out he was running a session that evening featuring a 'Mini-Game' from the September 1994 issue of RPG Magazine. He invited me and a friend to join him and we said sure. 

The game...'Burning Spirits'. 

At least, I think that's what it was called. That might have been the name of the adventure, the article in the magazine, or even something else. I wish I could recall. All I know/remember is that the game was a Street Fighter-esque Martial Arts RPG with a super-cool combat system. I'm getting ahead of myself though...

The GM had a number of pre-generated Player Characters, each an over-the-top cliche' combatant reminiscent of such side-scrolling fighting video games as Street Fighter II, Fatal Fury, and King of the Fighters. Each PC had its own agenda as well as wanting to take down the world-spanning criminal organization 'Dark Inferno'. 

My character was a Native America wandering hero who traveled across the country helping people in the vein of 'The Incredible Hulk' or the 'A-Team'. I added that he focused on helping his fellow Indigenous Americans, basically going from community to community helping out where he could and fighting off agents of Dark Inferno. His combat style was a mix of Traditional American Wrestling and some Special Moves related to Bear Hugs, Leg Locks, and Throws. He was very Big (Tall and Wide), very Strong, and very Tough.

My buddy played a Bruce Lee inspired Chinese-American Secret Agent whose specialty was Chi-Focused Punches and Spinning Kicks. He had some of the wildest Special Move combos including a Flurry of Blows that ended in a Leaping Upper Cut. 

T. Hawk and Fei Long of the Street Fighter Video Game Franchise.

Definitely not our characters.

The key thing I remember is that the rules for Martial Arts Moves was similar to, though simpler than, the way spells and magic are handled in Ars Magica. The characters each have a number of Actions based on a Speed Score (I believe). They start with a Stance that they can declare before a fight that can give them bonuses during it. An Attack Stance added to Attack and Damage, a Defense Stance makes you harder to hit and reduces damage, etc. If you don't have time to set your Stance you need to take an Action to set it up which gives you one less Action in a round. Like Ars Magica Mages have ratings in Techniques and Disciplines, Burning Spirit Characters have Attacks, Defenses, and...maybe also Techniques? It's been so long. 

Attacks were things like Punch, Kick, Hold, and Throw.  Defenses were Block, Deflect, Redirect, or whathaveyou. Techniques involved how it was done or what was the goal - Rapid (multiple Attacks or Defenses that cause or reduce less damage), Position (end up behind someone or send them out of Hand-to-Hand range), or Force (spend two Actions on one Attack to cause extra damage and weaken an opponent, reducing their stats). 

A PC could, for example, take an Attack Stance and combine Punch with Rapid to throw a whole lotta blows at an opponent using Defense Stance-Block-Rapid to try and avoid them. In addition there were Styles: different sets of moves that gave various modifiers but told the opponent what Martial Arts school you were using. For Example: Wing is using Crane Style. He sets an Attack Stance and tries a Force Kick against Yumi. Unfortunately, Yumi recognizes he's using Crane Style and uses her Aikido Style with a Defense Stance to Redirect the kick so Wing hits his friend Danny and send the latter flying.

It sounds like a lot to remember but it really wasn't in practice and much of it is deciding what move you wanted to make at the last possible moment. Combat was really flexible. You were locked into an Action once you chose one but you didn't necessarily need to decide until you were ready. One of the Stat/Skill combos let you choose AFTER seeing what your opponent was going to do. If the opponent wanted and had the right Stat/Skill combo, they could 'cloak' their Action choice, forcing you both to move simultaneously. I am not sure I'm describing it well but it was so cool. I've played the White Wolf Street Fighter RPG and this was sooo much more fun. It felt like the perfect merging of Video Games and Anime. 

Our finale fight was in a loft apartment in a skyscraper in NYC. The Big Boss bad guy was throwing a party and our PCs had crashed it. While two of us took on the villain, my pal and I and one other took on a horde of goons. Like a freaking army of endless thugs. I was Bear Hugging two guys at once and throwing dudes into three other dudes and having a blast. My buddy had a Special Move that sent opponents 20 feet as long as it was split between Up and Away. Imagine it like this: He could Punch or Kick someone 5 ft. Up in the air and also 15 ft. back and Away. He could knock someone 10 ft. up and 10 ft, backward. He used this to Punch and Kick a number of henchmen into the ceiling or out windows. A lot of hysterical combinations with the environment and the moves of the other characters. 

Anyway, I used to have the issue above in my collection but I lost it some years ago. As I do not read Japanese, I don't know getting it again would help. I am not even sure the basic rules were in the issue. It might have just been an adventure that the GM was using for a separate game he already owned. Who knows?

Anyway, that's my tale. Hope you liked it. Let's see what's next...

Barking Alien

Monday, August 14, 2023

RPGaDay Challenge 2023 - Day 14

Like questions 1, 3, and 4, there is apparently quite a bit of interest and importance placed on when and where a game is purchased. I guess I can see there being something to this; the time, place, and other circumstances around buying a game can certainly effect one's feelings toward it.

What were we talking about? Oh yes, my favorite CONVENTION purchase. Got to go with Sketch, which is the same answer I gave back in 2014. I haven't played Sketch in a really long time and that makes me sad. I really love this game.


Barking Alien