Posted in: Role Playing Games

#RPGaDay2021 After Action Report

So the #RPGaDAY2021 challenge is over and I was able to complete all thirty one days. So what did I think of this challenge?

I went back and re-read my entries, and there are a few that I’m quite proud of. I had the feeling of excitement when I put the post together. I couldn’t wait to share the link on MeWe, Twitter, Facebook and the RPG.net forums. Here are some of my “Best Of” entries.

Day 2: Map: I knew I had a lot of favorite maps from different RPGs. But I didn’t want to list all of them. So I went through my books and decided on the one that I had enjoyed the most.

Day 4: Weapon: I had just watched a documentary talking about how dangerous the medieval sling was. I had to write something up about it.

Day 15: Supplement: I talked about some of my favorite RPG supplements. I actually got some good feedback on this one.

Day 17: Nemesis: I did my first homebrew for Star Trek Adventures.

Day 25: Box: I show some of the damaged boxes that I have of older RPGs. I had a few people who wanted to hear about my efforts to repair the boxes in future blog posts.

There were a few others that I’m also quite proud of, but I think that the above entries are the best of the bunch.

There were several suggestions on the list that just made me scratch my head. When I first put together the spreadsheet to try to plan out the month, there was a lot of blank spots. I almost didn’t participate. But seeing the other blog writers posting their entries on various social media platforms encouraged me to jump into the pool. I’m glad that I did. I think it was a good challenge for me. Being my first year, I don’t know how this list of suggestions compares to past years. Right now I’m about 60-40 on doing this again next year. I didn’t hate it, but it could have been better.

I am still working on some ideas for the blog. Just before I found out about this challenge, I was putting together a personal challenge of my own with Secret Agents and Espionage games. I’m still thinking about putting this together, but instead of being a theme for a month, I may spread it out on a certain date. Secret Agent Saturdays or some general idea.

I want to thank those who took the time to read my posts. If you have any comments for me, feel free to send them to Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com (I’m still trying to set up a feedback section for the blog entries that won’t be spambait). I would also like to thank the organizers for putting this challenge together and the other participants. Reading about some of their entries (after I had done mine) was quite interesting.

Be seeing you.

Posted in: Role Playing Games

#RPGaDay2021 Day 31: Thank

Day 31: Thank

I think I did my thanks post yesterday now that I think about it. Perhaps I should have used yesterday’s entry as a “What would you have selected” topic. Oh well, too late now.

So I’d like to thank those of you who have read through my ramblings. Not only for the past month with the #RPGaDAY2021 challenge, but ever since I started this blog last year. Some of you have emailed me or responded on social media. I love getting the responses letting me know that someone has been reading my blog.

I would especially like to thank those of you who have followed the links to DriveThruRPG and ordered games. They do send me a little kickback for you guys doing that. I was able to order a game or two that I plan to review on this website. So far, no one has donated to the Ko-Fi link located on the sidebar. But I also don’t know if I’m using it properly. I’m certain that a regular schedule of original posts would help with that.

I would like to also thank the organizers of the #RPGaDAY2021 challenge. This has been an interesting experience. I wonder what other participants have thought now that it is over?

Final Thoughts:

I’ll be posting an after action report tomorrow.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Role Playing Games

#RPGaDay2021 Day 30: Mention

Day 30: Mention

There are a few people I’d like to mention.

My wife: I am so grateful that she is a geek and a gamer to boot. She loves anime and sci-fi. I still remember the day she demanded that I build her a computer.

My kids: They have also turned into geeks of their own interest. At least one has been playing D&D 5e with friends. (Proud Papa)

My Star Trek family: Not only have we had a chance to play various Star Trek role playing games, but we’ve RPGed in other systems as well.

Game designers: Thank you for your creativity and your efforts. I hope that someday I’ll be able to share my creativity with other players.

Final Thoughts:

Fumbling over the finish line.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Star Wars

#RPGaDay2021 Day 29: System

Day 29: System

So when it comes to selecting a role playing system to play, which is better? Learning something new or going with a system you are already familiar with that has been adapted for the universe you want to play in?

For me, it’s sixes. Recently I had the option to play in an online game and the game master gave us the option of a D20 system (Starfinder) or something else. I don’t even really recall what the second option was because I was more worried about trying to learn how to use the online virtual table top application (another post for another day). While I was happy for the easy of the D20 system, I also discovered that Starfinder (and I later found out that Pathfinder was the same way) was just a little too crunchy for me. It seems like it has taken the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 book and added way to many additional rules to the system.

On the other hand, the D20 based Star Wars RPG released in the early 2000’s didn’t really attract me at the time. I’m a big Star Wars fan, but I remember thinking that “Seeing Luke and company with D&D stats just seemed off.” I don’t know if it’s because of all the D6 Star Wars games that I had played, or that I just didn’t have the money at the time to buy another set of books. So I never got into the game at the time it was being published. If someone were to invite me to a game now, I’d take them up on the offer.

There are generic systems out there. I had played GURPS back in the early 90’s. It seemed ok at the time, but a lot of math. So it’s not one of my first choices. I just received Dune: Adventures in the Imperium for a birthday gift which is a 2d20 system like Star Trek Adventures. It’s been interesting to see the tweaks between the two rulebooks. (again another blog post will go into further details on this) The D6 system that was used in the WEG Star Wars system has been ported over to a series of generic RPG books. I could see myself using the D6 system for a classic Battlestar Galactica game.

I haven’t even scratched the surface on which systems have stood out to me or failed to grab my attention. There are just way to many out there. But I have tried a few. When I was going through my three-ringed binder of old characters, I noticed I had sheets for some games that I don’t even remember playing. I must not have been very impressed with the system if I can’t remember them now.

Final Thoughts:

All of the remaining dates in the challenge only have one suggestion for each day. It almost seemed like the list just sputtered out of ideas.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Role Playing Games, Science Fiction

#RPGaDay2021 Day 28: Solo

Day 28: Solo

I had previously posted about finding an old three-ringed binder full of past role playing game characters that I had been using in various games. I even posted a previous character on Day 3 of the #RPGaDAY2021 challenge. When I had created the spreadsheet in July with all of the terms for the challenge, I had an immediate typed in an entry for this day. I would post my Solo (think cyberneticaly enhanced soldier/fighter/mercenary) character from a past Cyberpunk game. So here is Edgerunner.

Cyberpunk character, Edgerunner
Cyberpunk character, Edgerunner
Cyberpunk character, Edgerunner
Cyberpunk character, Edgerunner

This was our gaming group’s first attempt in the cyperpunk genre. We had previously played Doctor Who, Star Wars, Vampire The Masquerade and DC Superheroes. One of the moments that I remember from the game was our attempt to escort a semi-truck full of valuable stuff from one city to another. The bad guys had launched a shoulder fired missile at the truck. In one of those “once-in-a-lifetime” rolls, I actually rolled high enough that my shot caused the missile to detonate by shooting at it. This was the group that was primarily gaming at the old Comics Utah stores when they were still around. I had a lot of fun with this group.

Final Thoughts:

It’s probably a good thing that the suggestions for this date was “Solo”. I really couldn’t have thought of anything for the other options. “Dream” could have come up with something. “Open” and “Delve” was very, very vague.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Role Playing Games, Star Trek

#RPGaDay2021 Day 27: Group

Day 27: Group

Getting together with a group of friends is the biggest reason I play role playing games. These games are a social activity. Those who show up early can chat about how things are going before the game starts. A good game usually results in members of the group talking with each other between sessions.

I recall one campaign with the FASA Star Trek Role Playing Game where the session had ended on a cliffhanger. We were trapped on a starship with several enemy torpedoes heading directly towards us. This was in the days before texting and emails. So phone call by phone call the different players called each other with different ideas of what we could do. Which idea was the best? Which idea would actually work? There was a problem and we were going to solve it.

When it came time for the next session, the GM picked up from where we left off. As the torpedoes hit, the power suddenly went out on the ship. A voice called out “OK, open it up” and the simulator wall holding the viewscreen slid open a la Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. An instructor walked through checking off a box on a clipboard stating “Well you messed that one up, didn’t you?” We don’t know if the GM planned to make this a simulation or it was his idea to get himself out of a painted corner. I just remember that one player screamed. The GM quickly gulped and ran out the door. When he dodged the player chasing him and ran back in to the house, he had discovered that we had a belt converted into a hangman’s noose. While we were upset about our ideas being thrown out the window, we were not really going to hang him… or were we?

I’ve made many different friends in different gaming groups. Some of them I haven’t talked to in years. Others I am still in contact with today. One lives so close I could hit his house with a well thrown rock. It is still my opinion that gaming in person with the group was much better than gaming over an online platform. Yes, the online options have allowed games to continue while we work our way through recent challenges. But I want to see the body language expressing secret messages via glances, I want to hear the groans as I let loose a joke (If I could make the DM laugh during a session he’d give me extra experience points), I want to hear about how my friends are doing.

Having re-read a lot of my gaming books or checking out new systems I want to get a group of friends together just to try a system. While we may not make a campaign out of the game, we would at least try out the system and see if it worked. I just wish that we could actually get together. Not just health wise, but trying to arrange scheduled (the same old story). But we would to it together as a group.

Final Thoughts:

I had a hard time with this set of suggestions. “Fraction”? It was my understand that there would be no math. “Kindle”? I guess I could have talked about reading books on a kindle. “Practice” You want me to blog about practice?

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

#RPGaDay2021 Day 26: Origin

Day 26: Origin

Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink, he would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark.

Dr. Evil- Austin Powers (1997)

When creating an origin for a character, how much backstory is too much backstory? I believe that should depend upon what level you are starting that character out with. If a character is starting out at first level, then the backstory shouldn’t be more than a few sentences. Perhaps a half-a-page at the most. Where did you grow up at and why did you take off for your life of adventure? Is there anyone from your past that is notable? Not a ton of detail, but at least one or two ideas for the GM to use in the game if needed.

If the character has a higher level when starting, then yes create a longer backstory. I’ve heard of players who have written up an 18-page backstory for a peasant that is out seeking his fortune. That much detail may be too much for the GM to read and why would a newbie character be that detailed.

I’ve heard from some players that they have enjoyed making up the origin of their character as they play the game. A creative process between party members and game master. Sometimes these could turn out to be the most interesting stories of all.

I did have one Dungeon Master who had me give him a series of 10-20 random dice rolls before starting a campaign. From those dice rolls he sent back information on my character. Are one or both parents still alive? Any siblings? Occupation of family members (or my character) before he left for adventure. I need to see where he got that table from so I can use it in future games. I recall early characters seemed to be orphaned loners (thus the bad guy, i.e. GM, couldn’t use the family against the character later in the game. Unless you murdered your family like Elric the Kinslayer, they would probably still be around.

I’ve always thought that session zero was a perfect opportunity to talk about the origin of characters as they are being rolled up. This could also explain how the party members came to be together. If someone wrote up a reasonable backstory, I could see myself giving that player experience points for the effort.

Final Thoughts:

These last minute decisions on entries are becoming easier. I’m not certain why. I couldn’t think of anything for “Theory”. “Play” seemed very generic and could go almost anywhere. Every time I thought about “Renew”, I kept thinking of Logan’s Run.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Collecting, Doctor Who, Role Playing Games, Star Trek, Top Secret

#RPGaDay2021 Day 25: Box

Day 25: Box

I have loved boxed sets for different role playing games. Besides the various books, sometimes there are extras that are included in the box. Dice, maps, character sheets, player aids and (one of my favorites) catalogs. I also think that the boxes look better than some of the books when I’m taking a shelfie (a picture of books on a shelf) of my role playing game collection.

The bad thing about the boxes is that they are made out of a type of cardboard. This cardboard can be easily crushed or damaged at the corners. Games that have been kept in temporary storage boxes (more cardboard that can easily be crushed), over stuffing the box with more than it’s capable of holding, moved from place to play by friends who don’t know what’s inside, constant opening, etc. can take a toll on some of these boxes.

Here are some photos of some of the boxes that I have in my collection that are in need of repair.

The Doctor Who RPG boxed set by FASA.
The Doctor Who RPG boxed set by FASA.
Several boxed sets for the FASA Star Trek Role Playing Game.
Several boxed sets for the FASA Star Trek Role Playing Game.
Boxed Romulan supplement for the Star Trek RPG by Last Unicorn Games.
Boxed Romulan supplement for the Star Trek RPG by Last Unicorn Games.
Damaged corner from the Pirates and Plunder boxed set.
Damaged corner from the Pirates and Plunder boxed set.
Split corner from the Pirates and Plunder boxed set.
Split corner from the Pirates and Plunder boxed set.
A split corner on the Top Secret boxed set by TSR.
A split corner on the Top Secret boxed set by TSR.

As you can see, some of these boxes are so damaged that I don’t even want to move them on the shelves. This is not good. I’ve been researching how to repair these boxes without damaging them further. I really don’t want to tape up the box as the tape will eventually fade and fail (I’ve got one book that I did this to in the 90’s and I wish I had done something differently now). One site suggested getting candy boxes with thin cardboard and cut them for use in the corners of the box that you wish to reinforce. I’d have to make sure the box is free of any food particles before I do that.

I think the first thing I’m going to do is buy some used board games at a thrift store that come in boxes with similar thickness. Toss the game contents and then use the boxes as my test platforms. I can experiment with different glues and repair styles. This way if I mess up, I’m not further damaging a collectable. I don’t know if I want to go all the way in my restoration project to make the game like mint. Sometimes having a little bit of wear and tear shows the love for the game. But I’d like to be able to pull my Star Trek RPG box out without praying that the entire box doesn’t disintegrate on me.

I’ll make a future blog post with details when I take this project on.

Final Thoughts:

“Welcome” could easily be a post about how to make sure that all players feel welcomed at your gaming table. “Tradition” could be a host of things, none that are coming to me currently. “Fresh” could be a post on how to keep your game from becoming stale and stagnant. I could see some possibilities in today’s recommendations.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Doctor Who, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek

#RPGaDay2021 Day 24: Translate

Day 24: Translate

There are a lot of languages that can be used within different role playing games. Spies in a modern day espionage game may have to deal with the dialect of different nations. Races in both fantasy and science fiction genres have their own language. In some fantasy games, certain classes/occupations have their own languages such as Thieves’ Cant.

Most games state that there is a common language that everyone speaks as a first or second language. According to StatisticsAndData.org the number of people on Earth that speak English is 1.2 billion. The population of the planet is 7.8 billion. It would make sense that there would be different dialects even in a fantasy world or science fiction universe.

So how do Game Masters handle a language barrier? There are two different ways. Keep the difference in languages there as a possible role playing opportunity or introduce a translator option.

The language barrier can make for some interesting drama. Can you get American secret agent the message over to the Italian police officer that there really is a bomb in the van he’s been chasing? Some RPGs have language skill ratings, this could be a time to use it. If PCs and NPCs are talking in a language that other PCs don’t know, I’d recommend using notes to pass between the players that understand the language (as well as the GM). I understand one of the online virtual table top systems will allow you to type a message in English and have it translated into the language selected. Only those who have that language listed as a skill can read the text. There are different ways that this can be incorporated.

The automatic translator is also another option. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has the Babel Fish. The Farscape TV series uses translator microbes that are injected into the body which conducts the translations. While Star Trek introduced the translator as a piece of equipment in the 1960’s, a modern day version has already been developed. In Doctor Who, the TARDIS translates for the occupants. In one of the early episodes of season eleven, the Human companions were placed in medical pods. When the pod discovered that the occupants didn’t have a translator circuit installed, one was inserted into them. Several fantasy games have the equivalent of a “translate languages” spell, or one could be created very easily. Plus a translator could be hired by the party when entering a foreign land. This also creates another role playing opportunity.

Even if direct translations could be provided, there is still the issue with slang and metaphors. The Next Generation fifth season episode, Darmok, highlighted this challenge very well.

Just as the weather will always be spring like and sunny, different languages can be used to spice up a role playing game.

Final Thoughts:

Not really a bad crop of suggestions for the day. However I didn’t decide upon a topic until just before I started creating the blog post. “Ancient” could have talked about ancient civilizations in an exploring game. “Solve” could talk about different types of puzzles. I had nothing for “Share”.

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

#RPGaDay2021 Day 23: Memory

Day 23: Memory

I have a memory of my first time trying to be a Dungeon Master back in the early 80’s. I had the Basic Dungeons and Dragons set which included Module B2 The Keep on the Borderlands. My regular gaming buddies at my junior high school already had read through this book and knew of the dangers contained within. But I really wanted to DM, so who could I get to play?

My younger brothers. This could be their introduction to the game. Perhaps they would want to play more of this afterwards. I was able to talk them into trying out the game. We made some characters and they headed up to the Caves of Chaos.

And promptly got slaughtered in the first encounter they came up to. Total (but unintentional) party kill.

Needless to say, my brothers were not impressed. They never played again (however one of them did ask me to DM an introductory session to show the game to his kids just a few years ago).

When I thought about the session afterwards, I realized I had ran the game completely wrong. We were all so excited to get into a dungeon and start swinging some swords that we missed some opportunities. I could have explained the rules a little bit better. Not just the actual mechanics, but the additional items as well such as tactics. They were very young teenagers so they didn’t know about the option to run away (insert Monty Python and the Holy Grail joke here). I could have run a little role playing at the keep itself to give the players some rumors and allow them the opportunity to bring along some hirelings. As a DM, I also could have fudged the dice for newbie players. The dice were very savage in that particular session.

I had learned my lesson and tried to implement them in a game the next time I ran one (which wasn’t for quite some time after watching a few other GMs). When my brother asked me to run an introductory adventure I came prepared. I gave my niece and nephew their own set of RPG dice that I had just picked up from a local store. I had pre-made characters created before hand and allowed the two players to take first pick. My wife also played as a cleric in the party. As a veteran player, she would know when to step in and help and heal. I had the party get into role playing by having them approach a small village at the same time that a band of low powered orc raiders showed up. The raiders were quickly driven off, but the players found out (again through role play) that the raid was a distraction. While the town and party was trying to fend off the raiders, someone had broken into the village church and stole a sacred statue. A statue that the village believed they needed to keep themselves safe and was willing to pay the party to retrieve. They were able to quickly track down the orcs and enter the caverns that they were using as a base.

Long story short, my niece and nephew had fun. My brother loved watching them have fun. I heard later that my nephew had joined a gaming club at his school which allowed him to get involved with some social interaction.

So I guess things turned out all right in the end. But every once in a while, I wonder; what would have happened if I could have turned my siblings into participants of the RPG hobby? Think of the memories we could have made.

Final Thoughts:

I was kind of lukewarm on the other suggestions for this date. “Innovation”, “Quick” and “Surprise” all had items that could have been talked about. But nothing was really coming to the surface on these three topics.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart