Posted in: Humor, Reviews, Role Playing Games, Star Trek

First look at Star Trek Lower Decks STA products

So the gang at Modphius just announced a Star Trek: Lower Decks campaign guide for Star Trek Adventures. You don’t know how excited this announcement has made me. There is an old running joke that Dungeons and Dragon campaigns start as Lord of the Rings, but turn into Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Why, because we have fun around a table for our roleplaying games. I can see this also happening with Star Trek Adventures. Even at the recent SaltCON there were several STA sessions inspired by Star Trek: Lower Decks. According to the email, this book should come out in Quarter 3 of 2023. Sigh, I hate waiting so long.

To tide us over, Modiphius has released two Lower Decks products on PDF. The Lower Decks Season 1 Player Characters (aka the crew pack) and the Lower Decks inspired adventure Lurkers. Now in past blog entries I’ve reviewed the Star Trek: Discovery crew packs. So I thought I’d do a quick review of these publications.

Like the other character guides, they are written as reports given by the superiors to the USS Cerritos officers. The book comes in at 17 pages, which is smaller than the Discovery character guides. We get eight main characters, several supporting characters and a write up for the USS Cerritos itself. No new races for the game (sad) but most of the races used were already covered. They could have given us stats for Excocomps, however that wasn’t the case. Hopefully that will be in the campaign guide.

I loved Mariner’s “Contraband Stash” but wondered about the claim that Tendi was the first Orion in Starfleet. I wonder how the focus of “catnip” will come into a session? (guess where that was listed at). I think this was a good purchase for me and I can’t wait to see the season two character guides to see what has been added.

I really wondered if I wanted to read through the adventure “Lurkers” as I wanted to play it. But I also wanted to see how a “Lower Decks” adventure was written up. When we had our Lower Decks inspired game at SaltCON, the gamemaster gave a lot of prep and setup for the game. We had players who had never seen the show, but still had fun. So I would recommend that the GM set the tone at the table explaining that this is a comedic episode and letting the players go a little wild. At SaltCON, we had a player end up with two Orion slave women that I don’t think was originally part of the scenario. But the way the NPCs came to be a part of the group (we hid them from the drunk commanding officer by stating they were new crew) added to the humor.

Without giving the plot to Lurkers away, I can see where the setup works. Bad bureaucracy leads to the scenario and the players have several choices to make along the way. There is an option for combat, but most of the adventure is thinking on your feet and not getting caught or left behind by the senior officers. One of the things that I like about Lower Decks is the various Star Trek Easter eggs that are scattered through-out an episode. Lurkers gives the GM an opportunity to through several of these in the adventure. So I would recommend that the GM be very brushed up on their Star Trek minutia trivia. Especially with debates among various Star Trek fandoms. There is even an opportunity to slip Lurkers into a regular Star Trek Adventures campaign, but the main characters use by the players should be of the Lower Deck variety. In a way, I’d really love to see a veteran group of STA players take the actual Lower Deck characters and play this scenario (and record it on YouTube for others to see).

One final note about Lurkers, it actually has a follow up mission briefing listed for GMs to use as part of a follow up. So you are getting more than just a single mission. I’d recommend picking this up.

Until then, I can’t wait to get the Lower Decks campaign guide. Ugh, 3rd Quarter 2023 is such a long ways away.

Are you looking forward to the upcoming Lower Decks STA products? Have you picked up the character guide or Lurkers? This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) with any comments.

Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Movies, Reviews

Roll vs Review: Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Bottom line up front: I really enjoyed the movie. Not only am I planning to buy the Blu-Ray set when it comes out, but I want to go see it a second time in the theaters with more geeky friends.

I don’t know what happened. I remember going to see Dune, Ghostbusters and James Bond in the theaters, and then for some reason I haven’t been back since. I was talking with my geeky wife last week and I asked if she wanted to go see Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves and it hit me how long it had been. So yea, it was time to go see a movie in the theaters. In the past we’ve gone to movies on the Sunday of the opening weekend. Usually the movie was not as crowded. However for Dungeons and Dragons, it was still very full for a Sunday matinee.

A few months ago, I wondered if I really wanted to go see this movie after the crap that Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro had tried to pull off. After thinking about it, I didn’t want to punish the actors and crew who had already worked hard on this movie and had nothing to do with Hasbro’s corporate level blunder. I will say that when I saw Hasbro’s name come up on the screen, it reminded me that I’m still not happy with them. As a corporation, they haven’t earned my trust or buying impulses back yet for the D&D books.

I can’t really guarantee that I’ll be posting anything spoiler free. A few items were already leaked out onto the internet before the release date. So continue reading at your own risk if you haven’t seen it yet.

First, Chris Pine nailed his character as a bard. He was able to deliver on several ranges that allowed me to connect to him and the character at the end of the movie. I mistook Michelle Rodriguez for the actress who played Cara Dune on The Mandalorian. Michelle played her barbarian roll so well that Disney+ would be smart to pick her up if they wanted to recast the Cara Dune roll. These two are your primary characters in the movie but we had a full range of good characters that played their parts well. If any of you are reading this, sorry, I’m not a professional film critic. Just a fan that liked your works.

There are a few flashbacks in this movie and, in my opinion, they worked well. The humor wasn’t forced and seems like it would come up during a game. I especially enjoyed how the party found the location of a magical helmet. In the movie items from the game, such as spells and creatures, were used without having to go overboard on what they were. Instead of saying “I cast chain lightning”, the spell caster just used the spell. I knew what a displacer beast, rust monster and gelatinous cube was without having to have someone spell it out. When they did have to “explain” something, they were able to present it without breaking the pace. Oh and I loved the dragon. I won’t say anything more on him for those who haven’t seen the movie yet. The setting being used is Forgotten Realms. Several locations and names are dropped that may go over the heads of those not familiar with this particular world.

The spell caster had a weird components pouch that I didn’t recognize from the game. So this may have been something new. One of the things I look forward to when picking up the movie on disc is turning the sub-titles on. Sometimes that can explain a lot more than just hearing it during a noisy scene.

There was one special effect that I thought fell flat. They presented a large number of character races in the film. The dwarf was well done, the tabaxi, aarakocra and dragonborn worked. But when they showed the halfling, he came up short (yea pun intended). I get that they probably didn’t want them looking like the hobbits from Lord of the Rings, but just shrinking the image of a normal human being just looked wrong. Even in the various Dungeons and Dragons books, they looked like the Tolkien hobbits. They could have easily kept the halfling pudgy.

Also there was a very dangerous item at the end of the movie that I don’t know what happened to. I hope it’s not just lying around in the city. Again, another reason I need to watch the movie a second time. I hope to catch more that I missed on the first viewing.

One cameo image that has already made the rounds is the gang from the animated Dungeons and Dragons TV series. While they don’t speak, they do make a couple of appearances that work. Now I need to watch that series again. I did laugh when they came on the screen, but I noticed that I was the only person laughing.

My daughter who is going to college for an art degree wants to see any behind the scenes book for this film. It would be interesting to see it as well. I’d be interested in seeing the character stats, but I’m not interested in signing up for the online D&D game to see them.

One final note about today’s movie going event. It had been a very long time since I had been to an AMC theater. And now I remember why I hardly go there. Non-caring staff, non-working drinking machines, un-stocked restrooms and a very unpleasant experience (not the movie, the theater). I’m sure that I’ll forget why I haven’t been to AMC in about 8-10 years before I get reminded again.

Have you seen the movie? Come to my discord and tell me what was your favorite parts (and yes you can post spoilers there). This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) with any comments.

Posted in: Collecting, Dungeons and Dragons, Reviews, Role Playing Games

BX Advanced Bestiary Vol. 1 a KickStarter reward

Cover to the BX Advanced Bestiary Vol 1

So another item that came up in January, but the review had to be pushed back to this month because of the Character Creation Challenge, was the arrival of a KickStarter reward. I’ve backed KickStarters before for RPG material (and I have a few that are scheduled to be delivered in 2023). In 2022 I backed an independent publisher who wanted to put out a series of bestiaries for OSR games. Specifically in the B/X flavor (which is a given since it’s in the title of the book). This was The BX Advanced Bestiary Vol. 1 by Third Kingdom Games.

From my KickStarter submission I received the hardbound book which is 133 pages long. The ISBN number is 2370011833927. The cover states that the contents are designed for use with the Old-School Essentials RPG but could be used with any OSR style system. The cover art and interior art are all black and white. The author, Todd Leback, was able to obtain artwork from eight different artists for all of the entries. There are also several house-rules that are made available for GMs to consider and an appendix with several items, optional player races (which are classes in this OSR).

This tome covers monsters from A-D (Ape, White to Dryad). The interesting thing is that each entry also contains variants of the different monsters. So the GM can keep the players on their toes. “What do you mean this boar has an iron hide?” The entry for the dragon is 18 pages long which covers information on ages, lairs, allies and types of attacks.

A sample of one of the dragon pages in the book

There are about 100 monsters contained within the pages of the BX Advanced Bestiary Vol. 1. I’ve been in contact with the author and he responded very quickly to any issues (one of the images was accidentally submitted as blurry due to low resolution, which he offered a replacement book with the imaged replaced). I am impressed with both the organization and the book itself. I’ve been told that there will be KickStarters for future volumes. I plan to back them as they are released since the support levels were very reasonable. This is the type of effort we should be supporting. Fans of the game producing materials for other fans to use.

What roleplaying game KickStarters have you backed? Tell me about them or ask any questions about this book on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord page.

Posted in: Reviews, Role Playing Games, Star Trek

Utopia Planitia Starfleet Sourcebook first look

It’s finally here.

Two days ago (hey it’s been a busy week for me) my late birthday gift of the Utopia Planitia Starfleet Sourcebook for the Star Trek Adventures role-playing game finally arrived. While I quickly snapped a picture of the book and shot it out for my social media followers, I knew that I was going to have to write a blog post detailing my first look at this book.

As a Treknologist and a big fan of the FASA entry into the Star Trek RPG market (especially using the Starship Construction Manual to homebrew several starships for the game) I was really looking forward to this book. I’ve seen several starship adaptations and homebrews on the Continuing Mission fan website for the Modiphus game and I was interested in trying my hand as well.

Now confession time, when the book was ordered a few months ago, Modiphius sent me a PDF copy of the book. Knowing that I wanted to blog about the book combined with the fact that I love the feel of a physical dead-tree version in my hands, I waited to read this book. Even when a fellow player was asking me questions from items he read on the PDF. Oh the temptation was seriously there for me to start reading previously.

So the book from Modiphius came shrink wrapped. Let’s rip this protective plastic off and dive into the book. There are 253 pages in this hardbound book. The ISBN number (for those of you looking for the dead-tree version) is 978-1-80281-032-5. The project manager was Jim Johnson, writing by Michael Dismuke, Jim Johnson, John Kennedy, Thomas Marrone, Aaron M. Pollyea and Al Spader. The book was edited by Jim Johnson (boy he must have been busy) and Keith Garrett.


OK, so the first opening shows this wonderful two page spread showing the top views of several classes of Starfleet vessels. Some of these are from Star Trek Online and they are all very beautiful in color. I was very pleased to see this.

There are five chapters, an introduction and an index. The chapters cover Starfleet’s Legacy (chapter 1), Starfleet Operations (chapter 2), Design Bureau (chapter 3), Federation Spaceframes (chapter 4) and Gamemastering (chapter 5). I’m glad that the text is black on white paper (with blue highlights). I was one of many people who found the odd colored text on black in the Core Rulebook very disjointing. Also as a fan of Star Trek quotes, I love how they utilized several quotes throughout the book. The motif used in the book gives it a LCARS feel from the original series movies. That was an excellent choice.

The first chapter covers the history of Starfleet from the pre-Federation days to the 25th century. The little ‘pop-up’ stories were also scaled back and not as numerous that I’ve seen in other Modiphius books. While these are good for adding some background and history, I have found that too many are very distracting. Especially when I’m trying to do a quick search for a rule.

The second chapter is an interesting concept in a role-playing resource book. It covers life on a starship while serving in Starfleet. What are your day-to-day events? Key locations of a starship are detailed. How would the characters interact with the computer? What do characters do during downtime? What happens during an evacuation? There are even sections on replication and salvages.

The Design Bureau in Chapter three is probably where I’m going to spend a lot of time in the future. There are sections for starships, small craft, space stations and more. This includes various starships talents that are used in the game. I liked seeing a guide to the different types of beam weapons (what is a Free Electron Laser vs an Antiproton Beam?) and torpedoes (example: photon vs photonic). There is even information on the Mark I Emergency Medical Hologram.

Chapter four brings us 70 Federation Spaceframes for starships, stations and small craft. This covers designs from the 22nd to 25th century. Just as I poured through the Federation, Klingon and Romulan Ship Recognition Manuals from FASA and the Starships book by Decipher, I could see myself returning to this chapter many times in the future. I knew that I couldn’t spend too much time in this chapter (I was on a time deadline to complete this blog post) but I loved the graphical and data setup (especially with the logo used for the various eras). I’ll try to model my homebrews similar to this setup (without exactly copying it). I was a little shocked to see the Hermes-class scout as seen in the Star Fleet Technical Manual. Possibly because it was mentioned in the background radio traffic in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and seen as “Okudagrams” in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Wait, they also gave us the stats for the NASA Space Shuttle that was used from 1981 to 2011? OK that deserves a chef’s kiss. (fingers to lips) *smack*

I couldn’t get my flash to work on this image, but the pages are very beautiful.

And finally chapter seven brings us to some additional game master rules which are optional. This includes a jury rig role and building specialty shuttles while out on missions (it’s got to have the fins and dials). There are also several starship centric mission briefs that GMs can use.

More ships on the back inside cover.

So am I happy with this book? Oh yea. I think it will go a long way in helping me homebrew various starships for the game. As a Treknologist, I am very impressed with the graphics and level of detail so far. There are not rows and rows of equipment charts as there were in the FASA construction manual, but it’s also a different game. There are plenty of samples of starships from a wide variety of eras so if I needed some inspiration for something, I’m sure that I could find it. I think that both players and GMs will find a lot of valuable information between these covers.

Posted in: Reviews, Role Playing Games

Review: North to South Gaming Dice

So 99% of the time, the online ads shown to me are worthless. I’ve grown accustom to placing them on a mental auto-ignore. But every once in a blue moon, an advertisement actually shows something that might interest me. One advertisement popped up for North to South Gaming, a family run business out of Texas, that was advertising free dice. Well, free for the product. They asked for help covering the cost of shipping which was reasonable. In return, they would be sending a random sample of two dice sets. A regular size and a mini-sized set both made with acrylic. They arrived in a package that looked like this.

This is the logo of North to South Gaming. The box itself was very well packed. The interior contents were protected and did not arrive with any damage. The glass tube the that the mini-dice came in had some bubble wrap around it as well. It also didn’t take very long to arrive. However with the holiday season quickly approaching, If you are thinking of ordering any, I’d recommend doing it sooner rather than later to avoid any delays.

This is a close up of the very nice glass tube with the North to South Designs logo. There is a cork that is used to keep the dice inside. The photo may not due the color justice to how the mini-dice look. The color of this set was an off-pink. Some of the numbers didn’t really stand out very well against the dull background. It may have been the light in my office, causing the numbers to blend in with the die. I don’t see myself using this set very often. However, in all fairness, I’m not a big fan of mini-dice. The last set of mini-dice that I picked up, I ended up losing a die or two fairly quickly. As I was handling this set, I was worried that I’d accidentally drop one and never find it again. Especially since I have two cats that like to knock the shinny clicky-clack sounding things around to the dark corners where they hide all of their “toys”.

The mystery dice arrived in a wrapped package covered with gaming sayings. My daughter liked reading the different phrases. She believes that they may have come from one of the online RPG group videos.

Inside was a plastic box (again with the logo) with a very nice set of blue-green sparkly gaming dice. I did not see any defects on this set. On the photo above, it looks like there is something just below the “18”, however that may have been from the plastic box. On the D20 itself, there is no mark. I was really impressed with this mystery set. I could see myself using this at an upcoming gaming convention that I plan to attend in early 2023. I am a little worried that the box itself may get crushed in my massive dice bag, so I may keep this set separate until the con.

Here are the two sets in a side-by-side comparison. This photo was taken in a different room than my office and without a flash. The photos that I had taken with the flash seemed to blur out the numbers on the smaller set. So again it might be a lighting issue there. When I compared the mini-dice with my surviving members of the last set, the older set had no problems with the numbers being read. I also compared the larger set with my Chessex set and my Dollar Tree set. The NTSD set was the same size and weight as my previously purchased sets. When I did my few test rolls, the randomness was present.

If you are looking to support a small business, I could highly recommend the mystery set. If you are good with mini-dice, you probably won’t go wrong with this company as well. There are several other sets of dice available from different materials and colors that looked interesting as well. Let me know if you picked up a set and what you thought.

Posted in: Reviews, Role Playing Games

Review: Lynx RPG Dice Dunce Chair

I had mentioned in my FanX 2022 after-action report that I had picked up a few role-playing items. One of the items that I didn’t get a chance to pick up was any geeky magnets for my home and work office. I had found a few samples, but none of them spoke to me. After my attempt at the con, I elected to check online to see if I could find something that would meet my needs. I searched on Amazon with various names for dice magnets with no success. But in the search, something else popped up that caught my attention.

This is the container that arrived in the mail with the Lynx RPG Dice Dunce Chair. A stylized “dice jail” that players could use to “shame” their dice when they rolled badly. I broke the seal and opened up the package to discover the following.

You could barely see the top of the dunce chair and a large amount of foam padding. I pulled the padding out and inside I found this item inside.

This was the dunce cap that you could place on top of the die in the chair. It has the traditional red color with “dunce” written in white. With it wrapped inside the padding it was very well protected. The next item I pulled out of the container was…

The actual chair itself. The words “Time Out” were scratched into the back of the chair. It was very well detailed looking like it was made out of wood with a brown finish. In reality both the hat and the chair were made of a hard clay that was still light. The hat had a little bit of weight to it. The detail was also continued on the back of the chair with the following carvings.

A couple of carvings were found on the back. A cartoonish looking goblin and a heart with “B&S” contained inside. I was impressed with the back detail. Originally I was thinking that this wouldn’t contain anything. However thinking about it, you wouldn’t know what angle someone could see it at when it was placed on the gaming table.

Now the point of the Lynx RPG Dice Dunce Chair is to place a die that has performed badly during a gaming session. So I first tested it with the Jason Fox Lucky D20 (not that it would end up in a dice jail like this) and this is how it looked.

Next I found a D10 from the set of dice that I had picked up from the Dollar Tree. While the hat sat a little lower, it still covered the die in the chair.

While I was gaming in the 1990’s, I had picked up a 30 sided die not knowing if I would ever use it on a regular basis. Since I still had it and since it was the largest usable die I had, I placed it in the chair to see how it looked. It still fit both the chair and the dunce cap.

The last die I tested was one of the original D4’s that I owned from my gaming time in the 80’s. I believe this came with one of the Dungeons and Dragons boxed sets. The dunce cap sat a little lower, but still covered the die in it’s shame function.

The only concern I had while using this die jail was the dunce cap would not sit on top of the die without needing to rest on the back of the chair. But once it was in place, it didn’t teeter or try to fall off. So this may have been by design. Which would make sense because you didn’t know what type of die would be placed in the Lynx RPG Dunce Chair. I can see this prop gaining a few laughs when I pull it out after a frustrating result. It would certainly keep me from wanting to smash the die with a hammer, so that would save me a few bucks in trying to replace my dice.

I’d still like to find some geeky RPG magnets for my offices. The search continues.

Posted in: Collecting, Dungeons and Dragons, Reviews, Role Playing Games

X-Treme Dungeon Mastery 2nd Edition first look

XDM book covers
X-Treem Dungeon Mastery 1st edition (left) and 2nd edition (right).

Over the weekend one of my physical Kickstarter rewards came in the mail. I contributed to the 2nd edition of X-treme Dungeon Mastery book by Tracy & Curtis Hickman when the campaign was running in 2021. This book is illustrated by Howard Tayler (who did a portrait of me at a convention in 2007).

The first X-treme Dungeon Mastery book was published in 2009 and became an instant hit. Not only did it give advice about running games and handling the various types of players, but it also talked about the Killer Breakfast. This last item is something you should really look up if it happens at a convention near you. If you look on Amazon the physical copy of the first edition book runs between $150-200. I was lucky to find a copy at a Westercon in 2019.

The Unboxing:

Showing the box without showing any addresses (you stalkers).

The shipping box was very well secured. The book was in a padded section with paper taking up any excess space to keep things from moving around. I knew instantly what it was when I picked it up off my porch.

What I found first.

Under the paper I discovered the signed bookplate that was included with my level of contribution. While I had Howard’s autograph on several art books, this was the first time I was able to get an autograph from Tracy and Curtis Hickman. Oh, if those names don’t sound familiar, turn in your geek card. Tracy Hickman is one of the co-authors of the Dragonlance books and games, the Ravenloft game books and a ton of various fantasy novels. Curtis Hickman is the son of Tracy and is also a magician an co-founder of The Void, a virtual reality experience.

Hey, that’s the book. Don’t make any cracks about the book.
The text from the back of the XDM 2nd edition book.

The Book:

Tracy & Curtis Hickman’s X-treme Dungeon Mastery 2nd edition. Illustrated by Howard Tayler, edited by Sandra Tayler with an introduction by Jim Zub. ISBN 978-1-945120-11-4. Like the first edition, this version is hardbound. There are 190 pages (compared to 158 in the first edition) with illustrations on almost every page (check out the lower right corner on each page).

After I had opened up the box and took the photos I did a quick glance at the contents of the book. While I did have access to a PDF version of the book for several weeks (another benefit from participating in the Kickstarter) I wanted to wait until I had the dead tree version in my hands. I enjoy reading a new book this way with the electronic copy being used for quick reference searches. I noticed that there were some items that had been carried over from the first edition, but there was also a lot that was added to the second edition. A lot more. I’m planning to do a deep dive later, but I wanted to drop a blog post since I was excited to get the book in my hands. There were several chapters where I had to stop and read immediately. And there are some other chapters that I’m going to have to go over later. I can see where some of the value for Dungeon Masters can be found in this tome.

I’m also interested in taking a deeper dive in the second edition of the XD20 roleplaying system. Don’t be surprised if I use this as one of my entries for the 2023 Character Creation Challenge. I also have another set of blog posts that is currently boiling in a pot that I can use this system for as well. More on that later.

I did notice that the method of printing on the cover held my fingerprint smudges more than the first edition book. However this doesn’t bother me that much since I purchased this book to use, not to keep as a collector’s item.

Other Kickstarter bonuses that I received included two adventure modules (PDF) and several color illustrations in JPG format. One of these illustrations was also sent to me in a postcard.

Overall I am very pleased with the material I received for my Kickstarter backing. This book will look very nice next to my first edition copy in my gaming library. I can’t wait to delve into the wit and wisdom of the book’s contents. If you didn’t get a chance to participate in the Kickstarter, you can still pick up the book in various formats from Howard Tayler’s online store. I would recommend picking up this guide to being an X-treme Dungeon Master.

(Damn I need to hear some dice rolling soon)

Posted in: Collecting, Reviews, Star Trek

Trekkies 25th Anniversary Edition review

Twenty-Five years ago a documentary about Star Trek fans was produced and released in theaters called Trekkies. It was narrated by Denise Crosby and focused on various Star Trek fans while interviewing various actors from the (then) franchises that were airing. Recently Shout Factory released a 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray to the wild that included not only the movie but a special interview with producer Denise Crosby and directory Roger Nygard called “A Trek Back”. I picked up this disk and invited my college aged kid to sit down and watch it with me since she had never seen it before.

Back when this movie was released in the theaters, I was invited with other members of my Star Trek fan club to attend a sneak-peak screening prior to the opening night. Because they knew we were die-hard fans, the organizer had set up some hard trivia questions. I recall that one of them was “What Star Trek character was referenced in the 1980’s song 99 Red Balloons by Nena?” It had been a while since I had seen the movie so it was an excellent re-visit. I could re-call some of the stories about some of the various fans that were interviewed and what happened to them after Trekkies had been released. Gabriel Koerner was able to move into a career in movies and television working on special effects. I had to explain to my kid why the Star Trek juror, Barbara Adams, was a big thing in the 90’s during the Whitewater Trial. Specifically how the media was trying to latch onto anything during a boring trial (which was nothing like Law and Order) It also reminded me of when I entered a costume contest at CONduit (a Salt Lake fan-run convention) in a Star Trek uniform with a sign on my back stating “Avoiding jury duty”. Yes that got a lot of laughs. My daughter looked up the Star Trek dentist in Orlando and discovered that something like that was still going on. The name may have changed (which is how she had heard about it). Another reminder that was kind of sad for me was seeing the various dealers room tables during the 90’s. Back then, that is where you got your latest blueprints or resource books. (yelling at cloud moment) Most dealers rooms have been very dull. Comic Conventions seem to be the “State Fair” setup and smaller fan-run conventions are falling by the wayside. The dealers room use to be a huge draw for me at conventions, now I hope to find something. But seeing the Trek clubs in action and talking about how Star Trek fans help with charity brought a smile to my face. This is something that is continuing to this day as we try to move our world into the 24th Century.

When the movie was over I had a great time remembering this movie. I asked my college aged art student what she thought. She loved it except for some of the semi-erotic art put out by various fans. Seeing what fandom was like before she was born was an interesting experience.

After watching the movie I played the original trailer (I’m very happy when companies include this in their media) and “A Trek Back”. The special was recently filmed with Crosby and Nygard and had some very interesting tidbits including a response from JJ Abrams. I was hoping there would have been another special or two (this is blu-ray after all) but that was it. Hopefully we will get more specials if Shout Factory releases a blu-ray of Trekkies 2.

For the price on Amazon, Trekkies was a good pick up for the money. It was good to add this to my collection (my previous ownership was the VHS tape I had recently found in the garage). And yes, I want Trekkies 2 on blu-ray to complete my collection.

Posted in: Collecting, Dungeons and Dragons, Reviews, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction

DriveThruRPG Print on Demand Review

The Dungeons and Dragons Rules Cyclopedia and Star Frontiers Alpha Dawn print on demand books.

A package arrived for me the other day. It contained my hardcover print-on-demand copy of Star Frontiers Alpha Dawn from DriveThruRPG. This was the second POD that I had ordered from DriveThruRPG. Before the first Character Creation Challenge, I had ordered a POD of the Dungeons and Dragons Rule Cyclopedia hoping that I could use it in the challenge. It had arrived too late for that event, but it made me realize that I could use the POD options to obtain books that I’ve been wanting to add to my collection. While PDFs are good for reference and quick searching, I still like the feel of a book in my hands. Especially when I’m learning a new system or wanting to recall reading the books for the first time. While I had my own copies of the BECMI Red Box books, I’ve been wanting a copy of the Rules Cyclopedia. Star Frontiers was one of those games that my group of gaming friends wanted to play when it first came out, but for one reason or another, we never got the opportunity to do so. With the credits that I had been building up from DriveThruRPG (thank you) I thought I’d pick up a POD for me to enjoy.

Another thought hit me as I was opening the package, I should write a review of the POD copies that came from DTRPG. So I took some pictures and decided to write down my thoughts. This will be a review of the POD, not a review of the games themselves (which will be handled in a later blog post).

Ordering the books was pretty easy in both cases. Go to the entry on the website and see the options available. Just keep in mind that there is a charge for shipping as well. I don’t recall how long the Dungeons and Dragons book took to arrive (I had ordered at the tail end of the holiday season which is probably the worst time to try to get things by mail), but the Star Frontiers book arrived in ten days after ordering. Both books were printed in Tennessee. A USPS tracking number was provided in both cases.

Both books were packaged very well. The container the D&D book did get a little roughed up in transit, but the book itself was just fine. There was no damage to the container that the SF book arrived in.

Top views of the bindings for both books.

As you can see, the bindings for both books look pretty solid. The covers are not attached directly to the prints themselves which has allowed for repeated book opening. While I haven’t had a chance to go through the Star Frontiers book, I have had several sessions where I’ve sat down to read chapters in the Rule Cyclopedia and I cannot see any additional wear from these readings.

View of the spines.

As you can see from the earlier picture, the covers are pretty sharp. The back image on the Star Frontiers book does slightly bleed onto the spine. The Rules Cyclopedia front and back cover appear to be the same as the original publication. As for Star Frontiers, it appears that “The Original” was added to the top of both covers. Another note on the Star Frontiers, book, they did not change the wording of the description on the back. So the hardbound book talks about how “the box set includes…”. Since they had slightly changed the cover, I’m surprised that they didn’t change the description. But it was an interesting read to see what the original box set stated.

A colored map in the Star Frontiers book.
The Grand Duchy of Karameikos map in the Rules Cyclopedia.

Considering these prints are from a scan of the original books, they came out sharp in the publication. The colors stood out just fine (as seen by the photos above). There were a few pages that contained blue text in the Star Frontiers book (which I believe was the same in the original book). The art printed out OK as well. Again, for a scan, these came out readable and usable. Nothing extra blurry or hard to read.

Now that I own Star Frontiers, I’ll be able to use it in the 2023 Character Creation Challenge. I don’t know if I’ll ever get a chance to play it, but I can at least read and understand one of the classic games that I saw advertised early in my RPG days. I’m also planning to pick up a few more POD books that I’d like to have dead tree versions of without having to pay expensive collector prices for.

Posted in: Comic Books, Conventions, Dungeons and Dragons, Reviews, Role Playing Games, Star Trek, Star Wars, Website

A bunch of geeky stuff on May 7th

So there were a bunch of geeky things planned for today. I thought that some of the events would make for an interesting blog post. This will cover several topics from comics to conventions to role playing games.

Art Con:

So first was something that I saw advertised on Facebook, and nowhere else. Art Con was going to be held on May 6-8 at the Salt Palace. This is the same location where FanX: The Salt Lake Comic Convention is held every year. Admission was free, but you had to sign up for tickets. It sounded like something that my geeky wife and my art inspired kids would be interested in attending. We would already be in the Salt Lake City area to help my college aged kid get her stuff out of the dorm, so we could swing by afterwards to check it out. Here are some photos I was able to sneak in while at the con.

At various conventions one of the attractions are the art shows and artist alley. You can see unique works of art (paintings mostly, but there have been other mediums). It is also an opportunity to meet various artists and see some inspiring ideas.

Art Con was advertised as a convention displaying art from Star Wars, Dungeons and Dragons, Harry Potter, DC & Marvel Comics, Star Trek and more. It sounded like it was going to be quite large. It was… quite disappointing. Instead of being in one of the convention halls, it was in two side rooms. You can see from the photo with the Darth Vader painting that the room was divided in half and you could walk past tables displaying reproductions of art for sale. Yes there were two artists there, but they were working on some actual paintings at the time and I didn’t feel comfortable going up and asking them questions or getting a photo. The photos above were of the largest pieces available at the con and none had been used in any actual publications that I was aware of. I was hoping to see something that had been in an art book or RPG manual. Yes there was a small print of a beholder, and a few other fantasy things, but nothing that I recognized. There was a lot of prints of various superheroes and anime characters on the toilet (that gag got old very fast). We were only in the room for an hour.

My college age art student actually got upset because some of the pencil drawings appeared to be from artists not at the event. Yes they were licensed to sell these IP items, but other than a large sale, there was nothing here. In the hallways outside the rooms, I saw a couple of cosplayers who looked disappointed. They got dressed up an there was nothing for them to express their cosplay. I think if this had been more of an actual convention instead of a yard sale, it would have been OK. As my oldest put it, if we had come down just for this, they would have been very upset. I’m wondering if they take this “event” from city to city as a traveling sales show? If they made it more like an “Artist Alley” where we could see many different styles of art from different artists that we could meet, I could see this being something we would want to attend more. As it was presented today, I doubt we’ll be back.

Free Comic Book Day:

We had skipped going to our local comic book stores for Free Comic Book Day to attend Art Con. Since that was a bust and we still had a ton of time left, the family decided to head to the Valley Fair Mall to see if we could hook up with some cosplay friends who were going to make an appearance at the Nerd Store. While we made it to the store, we had missed our friends. But I was able to pick up a free Doctor Who comic and a free issue of Red Sonja. My kids were able to pick up some comics as well. The store didn’t have any of the Star Trek or Star Wars comics that I was missing, so we checked out a few other stores before hitting the food court for lunch. One of the places was Hammond Toys and Hobbies. I had many memories picking up 1st edition and 2nd edition Dungeons and Dragons books there in the past. Unfortunately I didn’t see any RPG books now. It had been years since I had been in a Hammons.

Random RPG Book Club-May Delivery:

When we arrived home there was a package waiting for me. The May delivery of the Random RPG Book Club. Here is what was in the package.

Selection delivered in May 2022.

As you can see there was another hardbound book that came in. At first I thought it was duplicate of what I had in my collection. But I had the Dungeons and Dragons v3.5 Monster Manual, but this book is the 3.0 version of the Monster Manual. So this does fill a hole in my collection. Perhaps I could write up a comparison between the two books in a future blog entry.

The second book is The Strange In Translation: The Strange Character Options. It is a sourcebook for a roleplaying game called The Strange from Monte Cook Games. I had never heard of this RPG before so I have no idea how the system works. From my initial view through the book, it looks like it is of pretty high quality and art. If I can find out more about this game, perhaps I’ll write up a review.

I did look up both books on ebay and they were well above the $8.00 a piece mark. So the club continues to deliver what it promised.

An unexpected tip of the hat:

Apparently my blog has been inspiring. Thank you.

So yes it has been a geeky day with ups and downs. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got pizza waiting and an episode of Svengoolie and Creature Features to watch.

Oh, before I go. I’ve been working on some of the fan pages on this site. I’ve got more details for the FASA Star Trek RPG, the LUG Star Trek RPG and I’m working on fleshing out more of the website.

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