Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games, Star Trek

#RPGaDay2021 Day 5: Community

Day 5: Community

The stereotype of a person who plays role-play games is not a good one. Like the Trekkie, the general public tends to look upon gamers as socially inept loners who happens to get together with a couple of other loners on a Saturday night and dress up like their characters. I’ve been gaming since the late 80’s and the only time I’ve seen someone dress up as their character was for a Halloween party.

I really think that the general population doesn’t realize how much the gaming community has grown. I still meet up with friends, and possible new friends, at local gaming stores. I talk with the clerk about what is selling and what is not. And while I miss publications like Dragon Magazine and Challenge Magazine, the internet has taken on the load that those publications once served.

Not only are there active gaming communities on social media like Twitter, Facebook and MeWe, but they tend to be more focused. Want a group that only talks about 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons? There is a Facebook Group for that. MeWe has a FASA Star Trek/Doctor Who RPG community. There are a ton of twitter accounts that you can follow for both classic games and the latest releases. Discord has also become a popular destination for the gaming community for several reasons. You can have private chat rooms to hold games in. You can share files in certain channels. It’s a combination social media and communications platform.

I still think that message boards serve a purpose of bringing together the gaming community. Like some social media pages, they can be very specific, or they can be very general in nature. I’m going to link a few of them here for others to check out.

Old School Trek– If you want to talk about classic Star Trek gaming, this is a place to go. This includes some of the older classic Trek games, semi-official games and fan made creations.

Star Trek Starship Tactical Combat Simulator Online Database and Archive– This message board specializes in topics for the FASA Starship Tactical Combat Simulator for the Star Trek Role Playing Game. Lots of ship designs and homebrews posted here.

Trek-RPG Forums– This message board talks about all of the different Star Trek RPG products that are out there. Unfortunately it is not as active as it use to be.

Basic Fantasy RPG Forums– Basic Fantasy is a good retro-clone of Dungeons and Dragons with a very active community providing new content.

RPG.net Forums– The good thing about this site is it is very active. You’ll be able to find just about anything here if you just ask. The bad thing is that it is very active. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the number of posts made at this site.

Now like any community, the gaming community has it’s good and it’s bad. But overall I think that the gaming community is a good one. RPG.net has a series of Secret Satan (a joke on Secret Santa) gift exchanges every year. I’ve also seen gamers who have never met offer support to other gamers in times of need.

And there has been an ongoing battle to improve the image of the gaming community. My favorite Dungeons and Dragons DM would take extra time to not only help new players (especially encouraging them with the math in the game) but he would take extra time to talk with a spouse or family member of a gamer to alleviate any concerns they might have (no D&D is not of the devil, etc.)

Final Thoughts:

While “Throne” was begging for a fantasy adventure blog entry, I just didn’t have one that I could post at the time. “Include” could have been integrated in the above post. “Gamble” didn’t bring anything to mind, but I could have talked about gambling in gaming if I had more experience in the subject.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart

Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

#RPGaDay2021 Day 4: Weapon

Day 4: Weapon

So I’ve been watching a few shows on my Paramount+ account. Yes I picked it up to get the latest Star Trek shows. But my kids have enjoyed watching the Avatar and Legend of Korra episodes. I just completed a re-watch of the Daria series a few months ago (I forgot how much of a dark ending that had). Another good thing on Paramount+ has been several documentary series on The Smithsonian Channel.

One series that I found really interesting (and I hope they have additional seasons) was titled “World of Weapons”. They had ten episodes which covered a subject and looked at several weapons that could be found within the subject matter. It ranged from ancient times to modern days with demonstrations by experts and graphical imagery telling the story behind the types of weapons.

I found the details and demonstrations of the Roman pilum very interesting. But the weapon that really caught my attention was the sling. Before watching that episode, I had always thought of the sling as a poor man’s bow and arrow. The cleric could use it as a ranged weapon since it wasn’t edged. We all know of the tale of David vs. Goliath. I even recall using a sling in the first King’s Quest video game and later in Pitfall: The Lost Expedition game on my Nintendo Gamecube.

The World of Weapons documentary episode demonstrated two things about the sling. It was a common man’s weapon. Thus I did not see many noble or aristocratic users of such a weapon. The Greek and Roman armies used “slingers” to rain down a lot of stones upon an enemy and even included sling snipers who were more accurate with the weapon. The episode even showed how a sling could be easily and quickly created by braiding plant fibers. Thus someone familiar with the sling could create a sling and use common stones found on the ground. The documentary also talked about the Roman Glandes which his made by melting lead into a mold to create an acorn looking bullet. Some Roman soldiers also added messages to their Glandes in a similar fashion of messages being added to bombs that are dropped on the enemy. Another online article I read also talked about how some Glandes came with a small hole in the middle that made a whistling sound as the bullet was projected at high speeds. It was believed that this added a psychological effect to the weapon in battle.

For the purpose of this blog entry, I checked the game stats for the sling in the various editions of Dungeons and Dragons and various clones. Most had the sling giving 1d3 to 1d4 at a very short range. After watching the World of Weapons episode, I wondered if we have sold the sling short? Perhaps keep a standard rock at 1d3, a shaped bullet stone at 1d4 with a longer range and allow the Glandes at a higher damage of 1d4+2 or perhaps even a 1d6 at the longest range.

Now I want to create a Hafling character that uses a sling like a sniper. He could hide his slings as various belts and the Glandes could be decorative brooches or buttons on his clothing.

Final Thoughts:

Another good primary suggestion for Day 4. A subject of “Search” could have talked about searching for hidden doors and traps, but I couldn’t think of some content that would have been interesting to read. This would have been the same result with “Reward” and “Figure”. Someone may have been inspired by these suggestions, but I was not.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Art, Dungeons and Dragons, My Creations, Role Playing Games

#RPGaDay2021 Day 3: Image

Day 3: Image

I elected to go with the suggestion of “Image” for today’s entry for several reasons. Graphics, artwork and photography go a long way in helping our imagination with role-playing games. It didn’t need to be a complete illustrated story, but show just enough to get the imagination going. The old saying is, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” but I will say that a good cover usually attracts my attention before a dull one will. For the longest time I had no desire to read The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun because the cover image confused me. The bulk of images used for other modules made sense and attracted me towards the book and gave me a little taste of what I might find inside. But Tharizdun… well I just wasn’t attracted to it and that was due to the cover image.

When we create a character for any system, we usually have an image in our minds-eye of what our character looks like. We can write down a description or bring it up during a role-playing session, but sometimes we just have to have an image of that character. I’ve never had the computer skills to photoshop a image of my characters, but I did attempt to hand draw some of them. Recently I found my old three-ringed binder that I used to store my RPG characters going all the way back to the late 80’s. I started scanning in some of these characters for future blog entries.

One of the AD&D 1e character sheets also included my crude drawings of the character and possible “logos” that could have been used for his in-game persona. Lornic Mynsor was a Half-Elf Fighter/Thief that also went by the name “Stealthblade”. (Hey, I was a teenager, don’t judge) I don’t recall any of the adventures I played him in (it seems like a lifetime ago) but it appeared that we were running with some house rules. There is a Perception attribute that the DM was using. I believe I drew the image and logos while I was waiting for my turn in the game. Here are the images and the character sheet.

Final Thoughts:

The suggestions for today were not bad ones. I was just more excited to post my geeky artwork from a long time ago. A topic on “Tactic” could have easily talked about the Starship Tactical Combat Simulator by FASA. “Risk” could have covered some of the risks that players have to think about as they make their way through the adventure. And “Support” could have been a post about how some companies support (or don’t provide support) for the game that they have published and how the gaming community adds their support as well.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

#RPGaDay2021 Day 2: Map

Day 2: Maps

So day two of the #RPGaDAY2021 challenge had four different suggestions for possible subjects. I elected to stick with the primary suggestion of “Map”. We use a ton of maps in different role-playing games. Everything from a dungeon layout on a notebook of graph paper to full color starship deck plans showing every room on the USS Enterprise.

Unfortunately I don’t have any maps ready for public release. I thought about finding some classical maps that could be used for inspirational purposes. However I decided I wanted to display two of my favorite Dungeon and Dragon maps that I spent many days studying back in the early days of the BECMI system.

The Grand Duchy of Karameikos.
The lands surrounding the Grand Duchy of Karamiekos.

Both of these maps came from the BECMI Expert Set Rulebook that was published in 1983. The first map shows the Grand Duchy of Karamiekos (that the players were first introduced to in the “B” and “X” series of adventure modules) and the second map shows the surrounding areas beyond the Grand Duchy’s borders. I loved how the various hexes were set up and filled out (there was a key in the Expert Rulebook) and these maps inspired me to “fill in the blanks” or even just create new maps of my own.

When the Gazetteer series was released a ton of information was dropped in this world. It fleshed out a lot of areas that had just been words on the map. I also loved the fact that they added different rule sets within these Gazetteers such as Dwarven clerics and more. I’m a little surprised that these supplemental rules haven’t been collected into a companion piece to the Rules Cyclopedia.

One additional note about maps. I remember selecting fantasy novels to read from various libraries and book stores. Those fantasy books that had maps in the front of the book were usually placed higher on the reading list. I could follow the adventures by referencing back to the map while reading.

Final Thoughts:

While the maps topic suggestion was an excellent one, the other suggestions were really lacking. Senses, Plan and Voice? I guess I could have posted about how players and game masters tend to over-plan, but that wouldn’t have been very positive. The other two suggestions drew complete blanks when it came to possible RPG subjects. I was happy that I had the opportunity to ignore them.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Quotes, Star Trek

Daily Star Trek Quotes: August 2-8

Logically, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.

Here are the Daily Star Trek Quotes that will appear on the @STrekQuotes twitter account for the week of August 2nd through the 8th.

August 2
“That’s what you get for missing staff meetings.” Kirk- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Stardate: 8210.3 #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #WeAreStarfleet

August 3
“And what better place to find oneself than on the streets of one’s home village.” Picard- Family, Stardate: 44012.3 #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

August 4
“All ready for Attack of the Lobster People?” Chakotay “I am not familiar with that species.” Tuvok- Repression, Stardate: 54090.4 #StarTrek #StarTrekVOY #WeAreStarfleet

August 5
“I grew up with dogs. Can’t remember not having one.” Archer- A Night in Sickbay, Date: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekENT #WeAreStarfleet

August 6
Happy Birthday to Michelle Yeoh. @michelle_yeoh https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Michelle_Yeoh #StarTrek #StarTrekDiscovery #WeAreStarfleet

“He is a bully. They crumble like a cookie when they meet a bigger one.” Mirror Georgiou- Scavengers, Stardate: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekDiscovery #WeAreStarfleet

Star Trek: Lower Decks premieres on this date in 2020 with the episode Second Chances. https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Star_Trek:_Lower_Decks #StarTrek #StarTrekLowerDecks #WeAreStarfleet

“Yeah, no, we’re not really elite. We’re more like the cool, scrappy underdogs of the ship. You know, we don’t wash our hands, we’re doing kick flips all the time.” Mariner- Second Chances, Stardate: 57436.2 #StarTrek #StarTrekLowerDecks #WeAreStarfleet

August 7
Happy Birthday to Cirroc Lofton. https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Cirroc_Lofton #StarTrek #StarTrekDS9 #WeAreStarfleet

“The entire future of the galaxy may depend on us tracking down Willie Mays…and stopping him.” Jake Sisko- In the Cards, Stardate: 50929.4 #StarTrek #StarTrekDS9 #WeAreStarfleet

August 8
“We will start with the assumption that I am not crazy. If I am, it won’t matter one way or another.” Dr. Crusher- Remember Me, Stardate: 44161.2 #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games, Technology

#RPGaDay2021 Day 1: Scenario

This is my first year of participating in the RPGaDAY challenge. According to David F Chapman (the creator of the challenge) this is the eighth year that the challenge has been run. And since a lot of people (such as Halls of the Nephilim and The Other Side) are participating in this, I was inspired enough to give it a try.

Unlike the Character Creation Challenge, I won’t be creating the posts the day of the challenge. Certain schedules will not allow that (and it created quite a toll on the CCC). So there may be some entries that are created the day of (such as this one) or I may write the blog post in advance and schedule it to be published on the required day. I will also be posting other blog entries as inspiration strikes or that were scheduled to be posted (such as the Star Trek Quote of the day). This should make for a very busy month.

Day 1: Scenario

There is only one suggestion for Day 1, Scenario. We all have them in our various role-playing games. I could have posted some memories of a past scenario that I’ve either ran or participated in. Or I could have posted about a favorite scenario that I’ve read about. However I’ve decided to talk about keeping notes for a scenario that I’m trying out.

My last Dungeons and Dragons game ended in 2019. I was thinking that another opportunity would come up to jump into a game. Then 2020 hit (we won’t relive that year of hell). I haven’t had a chance to sit around a table, eat unhealthy snacks and just roll some dice with friends. Yea the online gaming programs are out there, but I’ll leave my thoughts about them in another blog post.

So I decided to create a new world from scratch that a series of Dungeons and Dragons (or insert your favorite Sword and Sorcery RPG system here) games could use to explore. In my head I started thinking of the recent history, why things were bad, what allowed adventurers to explore but keep serfs tied to their master’s land, etc. Some was inspired by our own history (this part of the world is ancient Greece, here are the deserts of Egypt, Vikings are located in this portion of the world, etc.) and some was inspired by preexisting RPG scenarios that I’ve found from different sources (just twist this around, add a few more bad guys to add conflict and bingo).

Keeping it all in my head is a bad idea. A very bad idea. In the past I would use plain old pen and paper to write up some notes, draw some maps and more. While this was good, it has several problems. 1- If I lose this notebook, there goes a lot of time and energy. 2- I will not always have the notebook with me when inspiration strikes. I could be eating a meal in a mall food court or in the middle of a family event when ideas float to the surface. Ideas have come to me while watching a historical documentary or cheesy 80’s fantasy movie with bad special effects.

So I decided that I was going to keep everything in a soft copy. I’ve used Google Docs and Google Keep (think electronic post-it-notes) for various simple and detailed notes on other subjects. Both Google and Microsoft have online version of spreadsheets. While those are good for planning things out (such as what topics I want to use for each day of this challenge) it’s not what I was looking for. I eventually decided to utilize the Microsoft OneNote program. I could type things up like a word processor. The search feature really impressed me when I was quickly trying to find things. Uploading images and attachments are another feature that I found very useful. The program is free for anyone to use and connects to your Microsoft Office account (note: You don’t have to use an outlook.com email address to create a MS account). With the Office account, you can save the data in the cloud storage. This means that you can access it from the program on your computer, a web browser via office.com or an app on your smart phone or tablet. This way when I’m away from my computer, I can quickly write down a thought for the game and then expand it after getting back to the keyboard.

The only downside is that the free Microsoft Office account only comes with 15GB of storage space so you can’t upload a lot of stuff. But students and employees at certain large companies may get a discount for a paid version which comes with more space (1TB of space).

With my usage of the OneNote program, I’ve been able to compile several scenarios together with notes on how things might go. Before I know it, I’ll have enough notes to start up a campaign. Now if I can just keep project creep from affecting what I write down I’ll be good to go.

Final Thoughts: Scenario was a good suggestion for a day 1 RPG topic. I could see different possibilities for #RPGaDAY2021 posts by both players and game masters.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart