Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Movies, Website

The end of 2020 and prepping for 2021

So It Begins meme

Yay the end of 2020 is here. There were a lot of weird and bad things that happened this past year, but you don’t need me to tell you that. It wasn’t all bad, but I think I’ll be one of the many people who use 2020 as a swear word.

There were several movies that came out this year that I wish I could have seen in the theater. I really loved how cute the Scoob! movie was. Bill & Ted Face The Music was another really good movie that I wish I could have seen in the theater. I know that Wonder Woman 84 is out, but I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. I’m really sad that several movies that was scheduled for theatrical release in 2020 were delayed. When they come out (and hopefully in theaters) I am looking forward to seeing the epic SF movie Dune, the new James Bond flick called No Time To Die, The King’s Man (as part of the Kingsman series), Black Widow, Godzilla vs King Kong, Ghostbusters: Afterlife and more. Yes, I miss going to theaters.

So starting tomorrow, January 1st, I will be participating in the 31 day Character Creation Challenge. So there will be a new blog post at least once a day. This will be a marathon on several levels. I’m curious on how this will turn out. As I’ve been finding more and more homebrew creations, I plan to post them online. Eventually I want to start making new creations that will be featured on this website. I’ve been gathering photos for my online photo album and they should be up fairly soon. This will include my meeting a variety of famous people and kewl things that I have seen. Plus I’ll be continuing to flesh out this website. Time seems to be the constant struggle with all of the things I have on my plate.

But in all I know that 2021 will be a much better year. I plan to make my contributions towards that goal.

Posted in: TV Review

Battle Royal meets The Prisoner

Logos for The Prisoner and Battle Royale

This isn’t even peanut butter and chocolate being accidentally mushed together so you may be a little confused at first. What does the 1960’s British spy thriller “The Prisoner” and the 2006 Japanese cult film “Battle Royale” have to do with each other?

Answer: They both reminded me of the latest series I binged watched on Netflix called Alice in Borderland. The Prisoner was a psychological spy-fi series where the hero tries to survive brain washing and opponents using super-science in an effort to find out what information the secret agent found that caused him to quit the agency. Number Six doesn’t know if he is being held captive by his own government or a rival power. Battle Royale is a violent movie about kids being forced to kill each other in a last-man standing contest in totalitarian Japan. It was very bloody and controversial when it was released during the time that school shootings dominated the headlines. Both series developed cult followings.

I’m going to type out my thoughts on this blog entry and since I don’t know if I can avoid any spoilers, I’ll post the thoughts on Page 2. You have been warned.

Posted in: My Creations, Role Playing Games, Star Trek

Homebrew stats for Starships

Klingon starship K'Teremny

Part of the reason I put this website together was to give a home to some of the creative works I’ve put together. While I don’t have a novel to release (yet), I have created some items including some home-brew stats for various role-playing games.

For the Star Trek Starship Combat Simulator by FASA they created a Starship Construction Manual. This book contained charts and rules to create Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Gorn and Orion starships. I used this book in the 90’s for quite a few creations. Usually my targets were the various starships seen in different fan made technical-manuals and blueprints. The ships had already been designed and contained enough statistics to convert into game statistics. I would then type of the stats, photocopy the image of the ship and quite literally cut-and-paste. I was able to make one look really fancy (Belknap), but most were just the text and an image of the ship.

I had made a master book of starships for the game. I had copied all of the ships from the various manuals, modules, magazine articles and fanzines and placed them into a three-ring binder alongside my own creations. As you can imagine, this book became quite thick. Luckily I was able to keep this book through all of my moves and I recently pulled it out of a storage box. I selected three creations at random and scanned them into the PDF format. If I had enough background details, I would include it with the statistics. Since this was the time before Google, I didn’t know the reason behind some of the class names.

I didn’t have any construction stats for the Tholian and Kzinti races, but that didn’t stop me from at least attempting to create game statistics for them. I never had the chance to play test them, but I’ll be presenting them on this site. So for the first three samples I have selected the Belknap Class Strike Cruiser, The Klingon D-15 K’Teremny Class Cruiser and the Kzinti TC-1 Police Cruiser. I may re-write some of these with the computer tools available now, but until then I’ll be presenting them in the format I originally saved them in. Enjoy.

Posted in: Community Service, Role Playing Games, Star Trek

Charity on two fronts

Two RPG guidebooks for better play.

Today two things happened that made the season better. I received an unexpected surprise and I had the chance to give to a good charity.

If you recall from an earlier blog post, I talked about The Power of Gaming and how gamers on the RPG.net forums have been helping each other out by participating in a “Secret Satan” (a play on the Secret Santa name) gift exchange. Well apparently the copy of Mutant Crawl Classics wasn’t the only gift coming my way. A package arrived in the mail containing the two books shown in the photo above. The Ultimate RPG Character Backstory Guide and The Ultimate RPG Gameplay Guide both by James D’Amato. Also included in the package was a note that my “Secret Satan” had picked up extra copies of these books in anticipation of gifting to an RPGnetter and that there were two packages coming. Thank you for these gifts. One of my geek kids has already flipped through one of the books and was impressed by what she quickly saw. I plan to read through these books and I’ll write up a review for a future blog post.

Cyrstal Allen as D'nesh on Star Trek Enterprise.
Crystal Allen as D’nesh on Star Trek Enterprise.

Actress Crystal Allen has been in many different shows including Supernatural, Boston Legal, Star Trek Of Gods and Men (a fan film) and Star Trek: Enterprise. The photo above is her as the Orion Slave girl D’nesh. She has been doing something that I think is really wonderful. She has been making home-made meals for medical personnel, firefighters and first responders who have been serving us during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently she is running a GoFundMe page to raise $2,000 to cook healthy meals for these frontline warriors for the holidays. She’s even willing to send an autograph to supporters. I would have picked up her autograph at a convention anyway, but donating to a good charity inspired me to jump at this opportunity. If you are so inspired, click on the link and see if you can help Crystal reach her goal.

Posted in: Art, Conventions

The things you find in boxes

Carl Stark cartoon by Howard Tayler

So I’ve been trying to get all of my stuff out of cardboard boxes. While cardboard boxes are good for short term storage or getting pizza delivered in (mmmm… pizza) they are not good for long term storage of items you want to keep safe. One of the goals that I have set for myself is to get everything that is still in a cardboard box out of said box. Sometimes I even feel like Indiana Jones uncovering the hidden ark. From there I can decide if I want to trash it, donate it, trade it or keep it. When I uncovered this bad boy in his protective sleeve (now scanned and posted above), I knew I wanted to keep it.

Over thirteen years ago I went through a period of insanity where I was a Con-Chair for a local fan-run convention. A Con-Chair is basically the president of the committee (a Con-Com) that puts together the convention. One of our primary guests at this convention was an artist named Howard Tayler. Howard is one of those fellow geeks that when you see what he’s done, you have to be inspired. Twenty straight years of publishing the web-comic Schlock Mercenary without missing a date. He has also designed role-playing games, written short stories and participated in a weekly podcast which has won a Hugo award.

Howard made a caricature of me at the convention. I was in “Con-Chair” mode with my body in an injured Captain Pike wheelchair. Like Pike, I could beep ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but I also had the option to ‘delegate’. I thought it was hilarious. I have fond memories of those conventions and seeing this image reminded me of some of them. Now that I have an office, I will be framing this and putting it up on the wall. Thanks Howard.

Now I wonder what I will find next? I’m motivated to get more boxes emptied.

Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Role Playing Games

Prepping for the Character Creation Challenge

31 Day Character Creation Challenge
Feel free to share this image on social media to spread the word.

So the gears in my mind started churning last month and it came up with the Character Creation Challenge. I am so looking forward to this event. However I don’t want to jump in without being prepared. So I’ve been making sure that all of my books are where I can get to them (there are still a few I’m trying to unpack out of boxes). I have my dice bag in my desk. I even created a spreadsheet for each date in January (with the day of the week) and a tentative game scheduled for each day. This way I could spread out the games (so I wasn’t doing D&D 3.5 one day then D&D 4th edition the next. But I could schedule the games I’m familiar with on busier days and games I’ve never created a character for on weekends. I’ll probably be still adjusting the schedule if flexibility is needed.

Just recently I created my first couple of characters for an upcoming Star Trek Adventures campaign that I’ll be playing in. I won’t do a review of the game now, but I’m really glad I did a trial run before creating a character for the #CharacterCreationChallenge. Now I’m debating if I should do trial runs for some of the other games I’ve never created characters for or if I should just go in cold. About 2/3rds of the games I’ve got listed on my spreadsheet I’ve created characters prior (or it’s generic enough like the D20 system that I have a good idea what to do). This is another internal debate I’ll be having up until January 1st. It will be interesting to see how this Character Creation Challenge unfolds.

Posted in: Fan Club, Star Trek

Klingon Meal Kit

Klingon Meal Kit
The Klingon Meal Kit

Every year the Star Trek fan club, the USS Ticonderoga, holds a Mugato Gift Exchange (think White Elephant Gift Exchange, with a Star Trek animal replacing the word elephant) to celebrate the various holidays that happen this time of year (even Wookie Life Day). This was a very popular event and had a large number of attendance for this Star Trek family. However, with how 2020 has treated us, the Captain of the Ticonderoga made some changes to event. Since we couldn’t get together in person, the White Elephant format was dropped and replaced with a “Secret Santa” format.

The new name for this year was the “2020 Can Die in a Fire” long distance Secret Santa gift exchange. Participants signed up in advance and random Secret Santas were selected a head of time. If they were purchasing something new the limit was $10. If they were re-gifting something or creating something of their own, then the limit is what they wanted. The gifts had to be to their victims before the regularly scheduled Ticonderoga meeting. Since the meeting was being held by video conference, everyone would get a chance to open up their gift with everyone watching.

When I first heard of this idea, I was worried about the distance involved. Some members of the club live in different counties. I am pleasantly surprised that everyone who participated made it (mostly) work. I understand some gifts were late and I hope that they have made it to their intended recipients.

At the meeting I was overjoyed at the person who opened up my gift. They had a big reaction to the Mugato present. I can’t say anything more about that otherwise I’ll end up giving away who my victim was.

The gift I received was the Klingon Meal Kit seen in the photograph above. I don’t know if that is what my Secret Santa was calling it, but one of my kids blurted it out while I was opening the gift and the name stuck. I hope you can see the detail that went into this home made gift. Home-made Klingon Bloodwine labels were fixed onto glass bottles of special cherry cola (I can’t tell what the original brand was). Another label was attached to a package of black rice noodles advertising “instant gagh”. It was accompanied by a bottle of premium fish sauce, which is something I’ve never tried before. I really love the effort this warrior cook put into the kit. It is truly with honor, well done.

So the next question I ask myself. Am I going to consume the items in this gift or keep it as a memento? I’m really curious how the “instant gagh” would taste and I am a fan of cherry colas. 15+ years ago I purchased the special limited edition Heinz Ketchup which had the special labels on them. It had a quote from William Shatner stating “Fixes burgers at warp speed.” However I did not empty the container and it got nasty looking. I threw it away this year when we were packing to move. I’m not certain how to keep these items in a collectable value so I may just break down and eat the gagh and try one of the bloodwines. If I do, I’ll report it here on the Blog of Holding.

Posted in: Archer, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Technology, The Orville, Transformers

I still buy DVDs & Blu-rays

Raiders of the Lost TARDIS
Yes the search for bargains continue.

So in this modern day of streaming services, why would anyone still buy movies and TV shows on DVDs and Blu-Rays? There are many answers for this. I call my physical media my “Offline Versions” of my favorite shows. There have been times that the internet has failed to function properly (luckily not very often). There have also been times someone needs to stay off of the internet because of a project that takes up a lot of bandwidth. This is when the physical media comes in really handy.

Buying the disks has also become a catch phrase for me when reviewing a show. I remember after watching a stream of the Transformer’s movie “Bumblebee“, I stated that I would buy the movie on DVD. And the next time I saw a copy, I did just that. I also watched the Spy-Fi/Comedy series “Archer” on streaming first and I enjoyed it so much that I picked up the seasons on DVD.

The final reason that I still purchase DVDs is because then I always have a copy of the show so it’s at my fingertips. I’m not wondering “Is The Rocketter on Netflix or Hulu this month?” (spoiler: It’s not found on these services, it’s on Disney+). There have even been some shows that I haven’t been able to find on streaming at all.

Just the other day I was able to find DVDs for season eleven and twelve for the new Doctor Who series. I can’t wait to sit down and watch them. I can’t wait to watch the special features (which may or may not be on streaming).

Now don’t get me wrong. I love streaming services. I see some really off the wall shows on several services. It also gives me a chance to check out the movies that I might enjoy, but not really buy on DVD. Streaming services also give life to genre shows that might not find footing on network and cable television (such as the new Star Trek and the next season of The Orville). But I plan to continue to buy physical media in the near future.

Posted in: Role Playing Games

The Power of Gaming

Mutan Crawl Classics rule book
Mutant Crawl Classics by Goodman Games.

Today I experience the power of gaming from multiple sources. And as readers of my blog know, I get excited by the power of creativity.

The picture you see above is the latest role-playing game that has been added to my collection. It was sent to me by another gamer that I don’t even know. On the RPG.net gaming forums gamers put together a “Secret Satan” (a play on words of Secret Santa) gift exchange program to try to brighten someone’s day. And believe me, with the way 2020 has gone, we could use all of the brighter days that we can get. I was amazed at how many people responded to the forum post wanting to participate. This surge of goodwill excited me and I signed up. I was assigned a “victim” and given enough details to send them a gift with a cap of $40 to spend. Luckily my “victim” had done some research and provided some Amazon links to possible gift ideas. One of these was selected and the gift was sent. I may have messed up because I let my “victim” know who I was (I thought that gifts sent via Amazon had the sender’s name attached). But it resulted in a nice thank you note for the game that was delivered.

I had also provided a list of possible gift ideas. Mutant Crawl Classics by Goodman Games was one of the items on my list. I had recently purchased the Dungeon Crawl Classics in PDF format from a Humble Bundle sale and I had been pretty impressed with the quality of the work put into the game. So I thought that the companion game, MCC, would be an interesting read. A delivery from Amazon was made today and the excitement of not knowing what was in the box added to the thrill of seeing MCC when the box was opened. There were cheaper games on the list so my “Secret Satan” went the extra mile to make this holiday a special one. (tips hat) To my “Secret Satan”, I thank you. I hope you had just as much fun with your gift (what ever it was) as I did with mine. I also want to give a shout out to the organizers at RPG.net who put this together. This is where I felt one of the surges of energy today.

The second surge of energy came from the Mutant Crawl Classics book itself. It did remind me of when I read the Dungeon Crawl Classics rules on PDF, but there was something more about this game. I couldn’t understand it for a moment until I realized that I was physically holding a brand new RPG book in my hand. The new book smell and feel was there. When I opened it up, I could feel the energy coming from the creativity (both writing and artwork) contained inside. I really want to play an MCC game now. Thank you Goodman Games for your work on this.

Until I get a chance to actually play, I will be adding Mutant Crawl Classics to my list of games for the Character Creation Challenge coming up this January. This way I will have fun creating a character and learning some of the rules in the process.

Posted in: Website

Website construction continues

So I have the basic plan for this website planned out. I’ve started putting the skeletal structure in place and will be adding the meat to the bones soon. I’ll be concentrating on the about and gaming sections first. Eventually I will get the other sections filled out as well.

For the blog posts, I will be posting on subjects that capture my fancy at the time. I’ve already had a few geeky ideas pop in my head. In January, I will be participating in the 31 day #CharacterCreationChallenge where you create a new role playing game character for each day of the month (as part of the “New Year, New You” theme). These entries will be blog posts and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

The photo gallery will contain photos from a variety of events and dates in my life. Most will include meeting various famous people, seeing things that I geek out about and just general stuff that I want to share.

If there are any items you’d like to see, let me know by emailing Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com.