Saturday, September 30, 2023

Starfleet Support Services

I finally got the chance to read through Modiphius Entertainment's Star Trek: Lower Decks Campaign Guide for the Star Trek Adventures RPG and I'm very impressed.

Not only does the book capture the art and humor of the animated series, it expands the game overall with several elements that work with any and all eras and settings. For example, this book contains the first full-on alien creature design system. I'm not only amazed it took this long for the game to have such a thing but that it should first appear in the Lower Decks sourcebook is wild.

The book isn't perfect, although none of its minor short comings impact my overall love for this product. There are some editing errors and it doesn't include stats for two alien species that are nonetheless depicted and/or mentioned, specifically the Dooplers and Pandronians. Luckily the latter are given a full write-up in the Star Trek Animated Series Supplemental Guide (which is awesome in and of itself - check it out!). Finally, and this one gets me, each new Species is given sample names except the Exo-Comp. WHAT? You're not going to elaborate on the choice of PEANUT HAMPER? Perfect opportunity for humor casually tossed aside. For shame! 

The more I read, the more ideas I get for a Lower Decks campaign but there are some changes I would make to the 'core game' to add an additional level of emulation to the game and the part of the Star Trek universe it depicts and embraces.

Yeah, yeah, you know me. I can't help it. I just have to customize. 

Optional Lower Decks Character Creation

It bugs me a little that they didn't change or add much to the Character Creation process for Lower Decks characters. To me, there are some considerations that I feel could be a lot of fun if addressed. 

For instance, standard Character Creation involves having two Career Events: things like Conflict with a Hostile Culture, Ship Destroyed, and Transporter Accident. These events give the PC bonuses to an Attribute and a Discipline, as well as providing a prompt for some backstory. Cool right? But...Lower Decks characters haven't had a Career yet, let alone two character building Events. 

I would like to suggest a few alternative options for making a Lower Decks PC in Star Trek Adventures. Here goes nothing...

Environment and Lower Decks Upbringing

Environment and Upbringing seem to be a big deal for the characters in Lower Decks, especially Mariner and Tendi, though Boimler too to a lesser extent (I'd love to meet his parents in an episode). I this should be evident in Character Creation, perhaps giving the PC something more meaty than Homeworld and Science and Technology. *Yawn*

I'm thinking you can probably keep Environment as is (haven't decided) but Upbringing should carry more weight. Maybe with Lower Decks Upbringing you get only one Attribute bonus, you pick a Discipline as usual, a Talent, a Focus, and then you have Issues.

Issues are drawbacks that can benefit your PC at a cost or disadvantage your PC for a bonus later. Something like Rebels Against Authority for Mariner or Embarrassing Heritage for Tendi. In either case, you can re-roll a D20 when interacting with your Issue ( say, when Mariner is disobeying an order from the First Officer or Tendi is trying to explain away how she knows where the secret compartments on a Smuggler's ship are located) but 

Career Events Academy Major and Academy Minor

Academy Major: Character receives a +1 to one particular Discipline and a Focus related to their career objective. Command Officers might take Diplomacy or Starfleet Protocols, Security Officers might take Energy Weapons or Small Unit Tactics, etc. You also get to come up with a story on how, this one time, you aced a test the rest of the class did poorly on or helped a classmate get past a mental block preventing them from grokking a subject. Gain a Contact! In the first example, the Instructor was so impressed she stayed in touch. In the second situation, you and the other Cadet remained friends even though they're stationed on another ship.

Academy Minor: The PC receives a +1 to one particular Attribute and must choose a Focus that will not come up that often. A very niche area of knowledge or a not generally applicable skill is their forte. Maybe they excelled at reasoning out Time Paradoxes in Temporal Mechanics Class. Perhaps they're extremely well-versed in early period Andorian Ice Sculptures.


Academy Event

A Lower Decks Player Character receives a +1 to any one Attribute and a +1 to any one Discipline as well as two Focuses related to whatever the event was. It could be recommended [by the Narrator] that one of the Focuses be more serious and the other more trivial but it isn't necessary I suppose. I just think it's a fun idea.

On a related side note:

One of the things I loved about the FASA Star Trek RPG that other incarnations have kind of ignored is that it included skills like Gaming, Sports, and Trivia. I think we had a houserule that you could switch one of these for Hobby. Characters had interests and familiarity with things outside of beaming down to planets and scanning spatial anomalies. Lower Decks is all over this, so it seems only fitting to include it in the Character Creation section for a game in this setting. 

Values Goals

A lot of Star Trek Adventures players I know have difficulty understanding the Values feature and the rules around it, myself included. Part of the problem is I've been gaming for so long without needing or using role-playing mechanics (that is, a rules sub-system governing aspects of role play) that it takes me a while to wrap my head around rules that adjudicate my acting. Another issue, one I come across very often, is that they don't know their character's values at Character Creation. Sure they have some ideas but a lot of them develop their PC's outlook and beliefs as they play. Making Values before playing the Character is counter-intuitive to many of my friends, let alone ones that will aid them in a mechanical way.

In our [now 7 year long] Prosperity campaign, we just don't bother with Values at all. Determination is spent when it seems dramatically appropriate to what is going on in session. In other games I've run I let people leave them undefined at Character Creation to be written in later as they get to know their PC. 

For Lower Decks, I'm thinking of replacing Values with Goals. Instead of identifying the attitudes and convictions of a young Starfleet Officer who may not have figured those out for themselves, we go for the more straightforward objectives of a newly minted Ensign. Some possible Goals inspired by the show include:

  • Find a Bridge Buddy
  • Get noticed by the Captain
  • Join a Clique/Club (For example: The Bear Pack, The Redshirts)
  • Get a promotion
  • Get transferred to a cooler ship

Like Values, you can act counter to your Goal but I recommend doing this near the end of an adventure/arch. If it fits what's going on, talk with your Narrator about making it a 'B Plot' for your character while participating in the latest 'episode'. Perhaps your Goal is to get transferred to a cooler ship in the standard fleet. Finally you're awarded exactly that after you work with your friends to save your current ship, a California Class vessel. Sure you get what you wanted but you turn it down to remain with your Cali-Class starship and crew. In the recently finished adventure you gained a new found appreciation for your ship and your crewmates. You might then swap that Goal out for a different one moving forward. 

I have more thoughts on this, including working out some new Talents, as well as Academy Majors, Minors, and Events to use with the idea above. I'll leave things here for now, as tomorrow starts a whole other focus for the blog.

Hint: It's Spooky.

Don't worry Star Trek fans, we'll talk again soon.

Barking Alien

Thursday, September 28, 2023

A Tale of Two Kinetos

I had the recent pleasure of once again talking with my friend William Corpening, creator of Kineto and our classic Champions Superhero RPG Campaign, 'The Age of Champions'.

We discussed, among many other things, how his version of Kineto differs considerably from my own. The reason for my Kineto diverging from his and the original 'canon' is quite understandable; my ideas about Kineto are based on my recollections of his appearances in our campaign.

Will's understanding of the character on the other hand are based on, well, Will made him up. He knows the character better in a way I never could. I'm working on memories from 35 years ago. Will's knowledge of the character is intrinsic. Will is the source of the OG incarnation. 

The core of the two Kinetos are essentially the same:

  • He is a former Superhero.
  • He is now viewed as a Supervillain by most of Humanity, both Normal and Super.
  • He is an extremely powerful Super who controls Inertia, Momentum, and Kinetic Energy.
  • He believes Superhumans to be superior to Normal Humans.
  • He believes himself to be the 'most superior' of all Superhumans.
  • He believes the salvation of Earth and its people depends on Supers ruling Normals.
  • The majority of Humans, Normal and Super, do not agree with Kineto's Manifesto.
  • A small number of Supers do agree with him. A smaller number of Normals do too.

Much of Kineto's early 'history' and backstory - his origin and the death of his wife for example - remain the same between the two versions. Likewise, most of the in-game events I've described in previous Kineto posts happened in essentially the same way. 

So the question do they differ?

According to Will, the main difference is in their role in the universe. Will created Kineto on November 17, 1981 while sitting on the bus. The character was primarily inspired by Magneto (duh) but was used more like [the 1970s and 80s Marvel Comics version of] Thanos - a god-like, very big, very bad, Big Bad Guy. 

Will explains that his Kineto isn't particularly subtle, layered, or deep. He's a villain plain and simple. He's also a megalomaniac, seeing himself as a God among Ants. Think about that for a moment; Kineto doesn't perceive himself as a god among men but among ants. Everyone and everything is beneath him and only he can save the world by taking control of it. 

Will's Kineto is a nigh-unstoppable powerhouse, his only weakness his own massive ego and self-imposed code of honor. 


Will describes my version as 'more nuanced' and I'll take that as compliment (though I feel his is more layered then he thinks it is, lol). My Kineto sees himself as a King among Peasants, with the peasants being normal Humans. Other Supers are somewhat like Knights or other low-level nobility. This alternate viewpoint is absolutely key to understanding the incarnation I use in my games. 

Peasants aren't ants. They, along with Knights and such, are the King's subjects. He rules them but also protects them. He acts in the best interest of his people even if it's difficult for the common folk to understand his activities and goals. In fact, if my Kineto believed another King would be better at ruling he would hand the throne of the kingdom to that person. Of course he would insist on being kept on as an 'advisor' because someone has to make sure the king is doing their job [properly].

Adam's version of Kineto is just as powerful as Will's but more emotionally flawed. He has the aforementioned code of honor but it's more complicated as a result of his upbringing and experiences. The Kineto of Champions Earth-AD-1A is his own worst enemy, forever trying to fix a world that appears broken to him because he's viewing it through the lens of his own imperfections and regrets. 

Just some thoughts and conversation with my favorite Superhero RPG Gamemaster. I'll continue with my series on Kineto soon, hopefully finishing up in one or two posts.

See you soon,

Barking Alien

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Stardate 57

This was supposed to post yesterday (I know, 'Fake Fan!') but I was exhausted from a week of walking in New York's late summer heatwave. With that...

Happy Birthday Star Trek! 

First airing on September 8th, 1966, the venerable franchise is now 57 years young and still going strong. Sure, I don't love all the material they've made over the last...well...a long while, I absolutely adore Lower Decks and the Star Trek Adventures RPG. I am also happy to see Paramount paying attention to things long ignored or underappreciated like Star Trek: The Animated Series. 

Star Trek means a great deal to me. It remains one of my earliest obsessions; before I loved Red Dwarf, Ghostbusters, and even Star Wars, I was a fan of Star Trek. I watched the show in syndication on Saturday nights with my Father on one of the two evenings he didn't work. We would sit in front of the television with TV dinners, something we also only did Saturday nights. He had never watched it when it aired, being in the army, college classes, and getting ready to get married and have me (to be clear, my Mom did the hard part). 

In grade school we would play Star Trek the way other kids played Cops and Robbers or Cowboys. With plastic Phasers and Tricorders we explored the strange new world of a playground or set up our MEGO Action Figures to investigate the mysteries of a school yard. I drew pictures of the USS Enterprise and wrote stories about being in the Star Trek universe. 

Everything is better when you add Star Trek to it.

In 1982, at the age of 13, I discovered the gaming store one of my uncles had said was somewhere around the neighborhood of his office. Entering into this wonderland of tabletop and RPG awesomeness, I spotted the FASA Star Trek RPG boxed set and I knew I was home. I recount the experience in one of my oldest posts: Check it out.

I've mentioned before, recently even, that Star Trek is my favorite subject for running RPGs campaigns, with Star Trek Adventures being not only my preferred way of doing so but very likely my favorite game overall. I have run [easily] over a dozen long term games, several dozen short-to-medium length games, and so many one-shots I can't even venture to guess the number. I am currently in the 7th year of running an Original Series Era Star Trek campaign - Star Trek: Prosperity - and starting a separate one with a completely different group. 

Today (OK yesterday) I join all the world's fans in celebrating Star Trek in all its infinite diversity and infinite combinations!

Here's to you Star Trek! I am looking forward to the next 57 years (or at least as many as I get to enjoy). 

Live Long and Prosper,

Barking Alien

Just noticed this is my 1701st post. Nice.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Immersion Deep Dive

Here's a subject I've wanted to discuss again for sometime but I didn't really know where to begin. The hardest part is often figuring out where to start when addressing something as big as this. 

Let's talk Immersion and Investment.

Before I get into it, I want to thank Tim Knight of HeroPress for inspiring me to make a new post on Campaign Immersion and for just being a great guy. His supportive comments (partially recently) have helped keep me focus during the particularly chaotic Summer I've had in Real LifeTM. Funny enough, Tim said my posts on Champions have in turn inspired him. 

We're looking at an Inspiration Inception here!

In a comment on one of my Kineto posts, Tim Knight wrote:

"As ever, I am so envious of your gaming group and the investment your players put into a campaign (most months, I'm just happy if my players turn up).

Perhaps at some future date you could write a post expanding on this, explaining the benefits of player investment from both the GM's and players' perspective. And maybe offering up suggestions to GMs on how to get their players more invested in a campaign?"

Player and Gamemaster investment in the development and execution of an RPG campaign is always going to give you better results then a lack thereof. This isn't any sort of epiphany. No grand revelation found here. If you and your players care about the game you're running and playing, its going to be a lot better than if you don't. 

But what does immersion and investment even mean? What are they in this context? 

Defining What We're Talking About

Honestly, I feel it really hard to define. I mean we can define it, I can get some definitions for us; let's see what we have here...OK, how's this: (from the Oxford Dictionary)

Immersion: deep mental involvement.


Investment: an act of devoting time, effort, and/or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.

Combining those and applying them to the hobby of Tabletop Role Playing Games I'd say that what we're talking about is 'Devoting mental and perhaps emotional energy and effort into your involvement in an RPG character and/or the campaign you're participating in'.

So how do we do this? 

There are a number of ways but they are largely surface elements. What do I mean by that? Stay with me...

The Surface of Depth

There are a lot of ways to get people involved and invested in a campaign. It's a good idea to do as many of these as you can as they will all compliment each other. Additionally, different people are inspired and excited by different things. Utilizing a wide array of tools gives the GM and players options; what works for one person might not work for another. 


Art. Art. Art. I can't stress this enough. GM, have an image, miniature, or other visual for that monster, flying castle, or giant robot ready when you introduce it to your players. You don't need a picture of every little thing but you do want one of anything that reinforces the unique look and feel of the particular campaign you are running. Humans are visual beings, we remember things we've seen even more than what we've read or heard. A picture is worth a thousand words. 

Maps are especially useful in this regard, even if you don't generally use maps. My campaigns never really require maps but I often make them because - and this is important - Humans are visual! People like maps. Mine almost universally ignore exact distances, latitudes and longitudes, or anything that make up a traditional map. They just look cool and (vital part) help immerse the players in your world. Real places have maps. Real buildings have floorplans. If you have a map, any sort of map, it makes your locations seem more real. 

Players, try to find or draw (if you have the ability) an image to represent your character. I highly recommend this. It not only gives the GM and other players a better sense of who your PC is, it help make your character more 'real' to you in a fashion. I've seen it happen many times.

Once, before trying to figure out if his character could squeeze through an opening in a fence or gate, instead of rolling dice a player took one look at his illustration and said, "No way man. Come on! *Laughter* Look at me. I'm huge! This chest and these shoulders aren't getting through a small gap in a fence. No way." The other players looked over at the artwork and nodded. Simple, immersive, and effective. 


This one works really well for me in some ways, not as well in others but I understand its very helpful for most people. 

Cultivate a library of sounds for giving the right feel and atmosphere to your game. This can be a real library of sound effects on a laptop or a practiced array of noises you can make with your voice or objects available to you. It can help immensely to have mastered or have accessible to you a creaking door, phaser fire, rain, the roar of a TIE Fighter, or any number of other noises common to your setting. 

Do voices. Please. If you can't or feel you can't than just work on varying the cadence, tone, or or volume of your own voice so not every NPC from friendly barmaid to bloodthirsty pirate sounds like you reading the ingredients off a cereal box. Few things take me out of it more. 

Play background music. Give your campaign a soundtrack. Personally I have a lot of trouble with this as I find it mildly distracting but A LOT of friends I've gamed with think its awesome. There have definitely been times I've enjoyed it as well [the volume and timing work out right].

Local Color / Slice of Life

Part of what [I think] creates immersion in my campaigns and the campaigns of those GMs I've enjoyed playing with is the world/setting appearing 'alive' around and independent of the Player Characters. That is to say: NPCs are working in the background, starships are coming and going from the spaceport, animals are grazing in the fields all without any direct impact on the PCs or input from them. 

At the same, any PC at anytime can walk over to any background being or beast and talk to them and/or have them react to that PC. They can interact with the environment: the PC can swim or fish in a river, search for salvageable parts among a wreckage, or just sit and enjoy a cup of coffee/tea Earl Grey/steamed blue milk. 

The GM creates local color in the form of a living, breathing world around the PCs that acts in a way a world with its particular nature would act. In turn the PCs should consider participating in that world, partaking in slice of life activities that go beyond beating up bad guys and finding lost artifacts. The characters are people living in a place and seeing them as such is a key component of feeling immersed in a game.

Let's go back to my initial question for a moment: How do we do this?

Honestly I have to do you not? I mean, I understand not everyone does this automatically but I personally don't get why. If you enjoy gaming, are excited about the game you're taking part in, like and connect with your character, and want yourself and everyone else involved to have fun...why wouldn't you invest yourself in the endeavor to the best of your ability? I'm not asking why you aren't going full method actor but c'mon, if you want to participate you've got to give a damn. Right?

If you don't or can't invest/immerse in a game, ask yourself why. Don't feel bad or ashamed by your answers. Pinpointing what's wrong can help you fix the situation.

Do you not enjoy playing this game, story, or even with this group? Maybe you can suggest playing something different. Maybe you can suggest a new storyline. If it's the group, can the difference be rectified? If not, maybe find yourself an alternate crew. You can still be friends with the members of your ol' group even if you don't love gaming with them.

Are you not excited about this particular campaign, setting, or system? I have trouble getting excited over D&D [and its style of Fantasy in general] but sometimes its what my friends want to play so I totally get it. I've tried to play along but I REALLY don't enjoy it. Luckily, I have some very flexible friend who are willing to try a variety of games.

Maybe you don't like your character. Have you considered making a new PC? Talk to your Gamemaster about this and maybe you can figure out what to do about this together. Hopefully there are one or more PC options in the game of choice that you will find interesting. I know from personal experience that this can be quite difficult.

Do you want to have fun and enjoy yourself? Do you want everyone else at the table to do the same? Of course you do, otherwise you wouldn't be playing an interactive game with other people. If the answer is no, maybe your problem is bigger and broader than investing in RPGs. You don't have to live that way. Get some professional help. Seriously. Everyone has the right to be happy. 

Part of ones ability to immerse while simultaneously dealing with other players doing the same, each in their own way, can be tricky. If I am taking the setting seriously and another player has a character with a silly name or a pun based gimmick it can sort of take me out it, especially if I let it. I would try to catch myself and try to be more flexible but I might also let the player know and ask them to 'sell me on it' so I can get past my issue. Honestly though, its their character and my problem. Learn to deal. It'll do you and everyone around you a world of good. 

Well, that's it for now. I might have more thoughts on this subject in the future but this is good enough for the moment. 

What do you think? What do you do to create immersion? How do you deal with a lack of it?

Curious to hear your thoughts.

Barking Alien

Rest in Peace musician, singer, songwriter, and author James 'Jimmy' William Buffett. 

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Kineto - His Life and Times

Onward to part four of my biography of the Supervillain Kineto, the biggest big bad of my friend William Corpening's 'Age of Champions' campaign from the 1980s and early 90s. As I have run a number of Champions RPG campaigns in my own variations of this world, I've used the character of Kineto a good number of times. He is honestly my all time favorite Superhero Comic Book style Supervillain. Here's why...

To continue...

Sometime in the late Fall or early Winter of 1986, Adamant and Kineto part ways after a particularly intense argument. After a bout of excessive drinking and drug use, Adamant went on a rampage through New York City, ending with a one-on-one battle with the alien superhero Starguard. This was followed by Omni knocking Adam out telepathically and moving him to a secure super-prison facility. Later, Omni and several other members of the UNTIY New York team manage to convince Adamant to enter rehab as a part of his rehabilitation. 

For an expanded version of this story, see this post

Roughly three months later, an emergency situation arises in New York City as an escalating series of electronic and mechanical malfunctions play havoc with the city's infrastructure. Traffic lights change rapidly and at random, subway trains nearly collide due to signal and track failures, and many neighborhoods lose power. Things continue to worsen as the police, fire department, and emergency services are pushed to their limit! Eventually, the Mayor calls in PRIMUS and UNTIL to assist. UNTIL sends Superheroes from UNITY New York to aid the Big Apple. With the help of our heroes the city is able to stay just ahead of the situation but only barely. 

Meanwhile, the Superheroes Nightforce and Christian Scaramangler investigate the cause of these cascading catastrophes. Through their detective skills and technological genius the two men are able to determine the culprit to be...Kineto! Using a combination of his powers and the hacking of various computer systems by his associates, Kineto was able to rest control of the city's most important operations. Livid with the reveal of this information, Omni called out Kineto using Broadcast Telepathy, insisting his actions were 'Dishonorable' and labeling him a coward. 

Omni certainly knew how to press Kineto's buttons by this time. Kineto flew with his entourage to appear before Omni and after a brief duel of taunts and sharp words the UNITY Heroes and Kineto's supervillains came to blows. Eventually, Omni simply asked Kineto, "Why did you do this? What was the point?"

What followed was a speech by Kineto now referred to as 'Kineto's Manifesto'. Paraphrasing it to the best of my memory it went like this:

"My point and goals will be made clear.

The problems we nudged forward were not 'Super-problems'. No danger was paranormal in nature. Accidents happen, systems fail, and no machine works perfectly forever. All these mundane difficulties combined together threatened the safety of the people of the city but they were undeniably mundane. 

In the end however, no equally mundane force could stop them. No regular Human, valiant and brave though they may be, could do anything to prevent or remedy the issues. It wasn't until Superhumans got involved that the day was saved. That is what we do. That is who we are.

I advocate Super-Humanity be given dominion over normal Humanity. Superman must rule over Man for Mankind's own safety and continued well being."

A hero scoffed, "Right, 'Ruled by Superhumans'. Who? You?"

"No fool. By someone with the greater-than-normal ability to do so. Think...who do you want to balance the World Economy? Would you prefer someone good at Mathematics, Economics, and Accounting or someone good at Mathematics, Economics, and Accounting with Super-Intelligence? Who is best to fight Forest Fires? A Firefighter with many years of experience or someone who can Command Fire? Imagine someone who could talk to the flames, tell them to cease, and know their origins instantly. Isn't that a better choice?

How well has baseline Humanity handled the world so far?"

I will never forget this moment. Omni's Player literally, physically duplicated the above meme. The table went quiet. Many of the players looked at each other and shrugged, some nodding. 

Imagine that in a society, the majority group of people that make up that society represent the standard mental and physical capabilities of those in that society. Now imagine there is a smaller group of people who are objectively SUPER capable. Yeah, might be a good idea to have them in charge of certain aspects of said society. 

The message was captured on film and audio by numerous communication outlets and news services, broadcasting the Manifesto live to millions of viewers across the US, Canada, and beyond. Within hours it had spread to affiliates around the world. Within a day, there were very few on Earth who had not seen or heard Kineto's speech. 

After a moment of dramatic silence the battle continued, with tension and harsh words from both sides eventually leading to punches being thrown. In the end most of Kineto's allies were defeated and captured. Kineto himself escaped, leaving behind a world of frightened normals and questioning Supers. 

Kineto wouldn't appear again for quite a while, eventually returning to strike against the United Nations in an effort to convince them of the natural superiority of Superhumans and his point of view. Over the next few months he would make several attempts to boost his power, his resources, and get more and more Supers over to his way of thinking. For many Supervillains, this wasn't too much of a leap. For Superheroes it was a harder, though not always impossible sell. He amassed a number of 'neutral', low-power Supers who felt Kineto's Manifesto gave them potential purpose and direction. 

Sometime later while regrouping from one of his confrontations with UNITY, Kineto was approached by a mysterious man calling himself Faust. Faust claimed to be Kineto himself from a Parallel Earth, one where his abilities were mystic in nature and obtained through the detonation of an arcane artifact. There, in this more magically attuned alternate universe, Faust was essentially 'The Sorcerer Supreme'. He said he had achieved the dream of having a child, a son, and he could give that to Kineto for a price. While the details of their deal are unclear, Kineto agreed and Faust used Black Magic and Demonic Powers to 'birth' a son from a pit of Alchemic Mud, Blood, and Fire. 

This was not completely unlike Hermes, The Druid. The Druid developed an instant dislike and distrust of Faust and his plan. Hermes tried to warn is 'father' but as with most things he brought up to Kineto, The Druid's 'nervous ramblings' were ignored. 

'Doyle Kennison' / Inferno

The child, named Doyle (Irish surname meaning Stranger or Visitor with dark undertones), displayed the powers of Super-Strength, Flight, and near Invulnerability in addition to some unique magical abilities. Doyle's skin was incredibly hot, ranging from 100 to 500 degrees on average. He can deliver a massive blast of flame and heat with his punches and kicks, igniting objects and people upon contact. He took the name Inferno

Kineto took Inferno on a number of small missions where the latter was quick to take offense and come to blows but otherwise behaved himself. He aged rather quickly (a factor common to Kineto's clones and other created offspring). When he reached his late 20s to early 30s within a week or so he seemed to stop.

One mission had Kineto and Inferno travelling to Ireland to enlist the aid of another magic practitioner called Witchcraft. When Witchcraft seemed indecisive about whether or not to side with Kineto, Inferno attacked her, trying to force himself on her as well. Kineto fought him off but realized it wasn't easy to do; Inferno's abilities were resistant to Kineto's powers because of their arcane nature. Kineto apologized to Witchcraft, assuring her this would never happen again.


Inferno proved to be increasingly short-tempered and incredibly aggressive. When Kineto called upon Faust to explain the reason for this and ask what could be done, Faust merely laughed. The whole thing was in fact a ruse - Faust was absolutely a powerful mage but he wasn't a Kineto variant and he wasn't from another Earth. He simply fooled Kineto into helping him gain access to an ancient grimoire and allowing him to create a powerful minion out of Kineto's own blood. Faust then commanded Inferno to attack Kineto, aiding his homunculus with spells from the grimoire. 

Just then Witchcraft showed up with several UNITY Superheroes in tow, revealing she'd been looking into the situation ever since her encounter with Inferno. She actually got the heroes to help by promising to help take down Kineto when in fact her plan - which worked perfectly - was to aid Kineto in escaping while UNITY fought Faust and Inferno. She eventually joins Kineto's movement, though sometimes her motivations are unclear. She seems to just like and appreciate Kineto's near-fatherly attitude towards her. 

As Kineto and Witchcraft departed, Faust cast a rote allowing him to do the same, briefly changing in appearance to reveal a costume and visage not unlike the devil as depicted in 15th and 16th century plays. This has lead many to believe he is in fact The Devil or at least a devil or demon of some sort. As he vanished Kineto heard voices: his wife Maggie drowning, the painful cries of the disintegrating Kate/Terminatrix, and venomous curses and accusations hurled at him by Adam. All his failures, torturing him at the edge of his perception. 

The faces of Faust

Faust is a Grade-A bastard. I'm just saying.

Following these events, Kineto and company laid low once more. He would not appear again until...

Stay tuned!

Barking Alien

Friday, September 1, 2023

RPGaDay Challenge 2023 - What Goes Around Comes Around

 Bonus Prompt!

Consider this more a palette cleanser than a follow up. Stuff in my head I need to clear so I can move on to more intriguing things.

This year's RPGaDay event, the 10th Anniversary of this endeavor, was very disappointing to me. I lost interest about part way through but decided to continue anyway until I finally ran out of motivational energy around the final three posts. 

I've been comparing a number of my posts this past month to the same (or very similar) ones from 2014* throughout. I couldn't help it. Since the 2023 challenge is basically a repeat of the first one the original questions/prompts creeped into my memory unconsciously. 

The only two answers I'd like to visit (revisit?) are: 

Day 18 asks about favorite system. Generally I am of the opinion that the rules are the things that support the functionality of the game but stay out of my way so we can all have fun. That said, I do like mechanics that simulate and reinforce the setting and/or genre.

When I answered this in 2014 I said Star Wars D6, something I've said many times before and after and for years. 

The fact that in 2023 I am saying Star Trek Adventures is pretty amazing to me. Does this mean my tastes have changed? Are there similarities between these games perhaps? Hard to say without going into a deep analysis. Perhaps some other time. I do find it interesting that I've changed my feeling on this, even if its only by a small margin. 

Day 31 covers favorite game and that's somewhere else where the reigning champion has been unseated. Star Trek Adventures has topped LUG's Star Trek RPG and no one is more surprised then I. As I've noted before, there are aspects of the Icon System that I am particularly fond of and I do incorporate some of those into my Star Trek Adventures games. Even so, I am finding Star Trek Adventures to be the better game for my current crowd of Trekkers. It just works the way we need it to and feels the way we want it to feel. 

That's all for today. Just some thoughts with no real direction. I've got some ideas stirring up in my head but I'm not sure what directions I want to take them in. 

Barking Alien

*It's the events 10th Anniversary, meaning the first RPGaDay occurred in 2013. For some reason I first participated in this challenge in 2014 and my 2014 posts seem to be the same as those for the original 2013 incarnation. I may have just learned about it in its second year, did a search, and got the questions from the first go-around without realizing it. Oops.