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: Doctor Who, Role Playing Games

More character sheets from past games

Last month I posted that I had found an old three-ring binder that I had kept character sheets in from different role-playing games. Here are a few more character sheets that I wanted to share.

Doctor Who RPG Character Sheet
Doctor Who Character Sheet for Christopher Floyd.

I remember playing the Doctor Who Role Playing Game by FASA in the late 80’s and early 90’s. There was a group of friends who use to hang out at Comic Utah and watch Doctor Who episodes on the local PBS affiliate, KUED Ch. 7. On the back of this sheet I had written down an inventory list for Christopher Floyd (yea it was a play on the Christopher Lloyd name). His inventory included a trench coat, an adventures hat, a briefcase, a personal word-processor computer, lots of notes, two books he had written (he was an author turned adventurer to be inspired to write future novels), a flashlight, a snubnose .22 pistol with ammo, a drawing pad and several RPG books. While I remember the friends I played with, I don’t recall much of the campaign beyond attempting to hack an alien computer system with my personal computer.

Doctor Who Character Sheet for Christopher Floyd.
Doctor Who Character Sheet for Jacob Stine.

I remember making this character with the thought that Jacob Stine would have been a member of the underworld. Infiltration, assassination, burglary, etc. Like Christopher Floyd, I had his equipment written on the back of the sheet. Weapons, blacksuit, explosives, etc. I don’t recall if I had a chance to play this character, but I believed I used him as an NPC for a Doctor Who RPG that I ran.

I’ll be getting more character sheets scanned and posted soon.

Posted in: Collecting, Doctor Who, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek

FASA Catalogs from my collection

FASA Catalogs

As I’ve been cataloging and organizing my collection, I noticed something. I kept all of the FASA catalogs that I had come across in my attempts to collect all of the Star Trek The Role Playing Game. These free catalogs came with the game itself, or were found at gaming stores in an attempt to generate future sales. Some of these catalogs had information on products that FASA planned to release, but never did for one reason or another.

Because some of these items are starting to get hammered, I decided to scan them into PDF files and then put them away where they would be protected. It is possible that there may be more of these windows into the past still lurking in a box somewhere. If I happen to find any un-scanned catalogs, I will scan them and post them here for all to enjoy (or use in historical research). I’m missing any catalogs from 1984 and 1986.

FASA CATALOG 1983-1

This catalog came with the 1st edition of FASA’s Star Trek The Role Playing Game boxed set. I’m not certain if they had any catalogs before this one. It was printed on regular paper and stapled in the middle. There were eight pages in total (counting the cover and the order form on the back). The Star Trek RPG was prominently displayed on the first two pages. It listed the basic game boxed set and the 15mm deck plans for the USS Enterprise and the Klingon D-7. It also contained working titles for upcoming supplements and adventures. “Merchants and other Characters” would have been a sourcebook for civilians and traders in the Star Trek universe. This is probably the precursor to the released Trader Captains and Merchant Princes. I would have loved to see RPG details on other civilians such as ambassadors, law enforcement, researchers and more. Another book had the working title of “Klingon/Romulan Characters”. This obviously turned into the separate Klingon and Romulan sourcebooks that later became available. The adventures scheduled for release was “The Vanished”, “Old Soldiers Never Die” and “Witness for the Defense” which were all published. “A Chance for Peace” would have been an adventure about the Gorns sitting down at the negotiation table with the Federation with the possibility of Klingon sabotage. There was an adventure with the Gorns that was eventually released called “Demand of Honor”, but the plot was different. But in “Demand of Honor” it talked about the agreement reached at the Clanhaven Conference. I wonder if this was the name of the conference from “A Chance for Peace”? Another adventure that never saw print was “Forward into the Past”. This dealt with some cultural observers on a planet that was technologically at the Medieval Period on Earth and they end up facing real dragons and magic. I wonder how this one would have developed. The last unprinted adventure listed was “Spores of Hatred”. It was a follow up to the TOS episode, “Patterns of Force“. A new humane government on Ekos needs help with an underground Nazi movement attempting to detonate a nuclear device. This would have been an interesting read.

There were also entries for FASA’s Traveller publications. I’ve never had a chance to play Traveller so I don’t know how these books (or planned books) turned out. “Behind Enemy Lines” was a World War II RPG that caught my attention as a WWII history buff. There was even a supplement for “The Guns of Navarone“. I wonder how the system played out. Another game that was scheduled for release was “Combots”. I wonder if this was a precursor to FASA’s Battletech game? Grav-Ball was futuristic combat sporting event that may have been inspired by “Rollerball“.

FASA CATALOG 1983-2

I don’t own this catalog, but a friend of mine send me this PDF copy of it. Again Star Trek The Role Playing Game is displayed on the cover showing scenes from “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan“. This time the first five pages is dedicated to the ST RPG. It has product numbers and prices for “The Vanished”, “Witness for the Defense” and “Denial of Destiny”. The previous adventures mentioned above are also listed. The “Romulan Character Generation Set” is listed under Coming Attractions. A gaming magazine called “The Captain’s Log” was scheduled to start in 1984. I believe this turned into the “Stardate Magazine”. There were also Star Trek character and starship miniatures listed in the catalog.

Other games listed included “Deathworld” based off of the works of Harry Harrison. “Combots” now includes miniatures and no longer shares a page with “Grav-Ball”. Behind Enemy has two whole pages and lists several supplements and adventures that may or may not have seen the light of day. The last two pages were dedicated to FASA’s Traveller products.

FASA CATALOG 1983 STAR TREK TRI-FOLD

This was a free flyer printed in the tri-fold format displaying the products that FASA had released so far. It was in color and displayed a beautiful display of boxed sets, books and miniatures. On the back was a cover of the Star Trek II Starship Combat Simulator.

FASA CATALOG 1985

This was a very narrow, but thick, catalog that I believe was included with the 2nd edition of the Star Trek The Role Playing Game boxed set or the Doctor Who boxed set (perhaps both). It had a beautiful painted cover that came from the ST RPG boxed set. It had entries for “The Masters of the Universe” RPG. I remember watching the cartoon, however I never had any of the toys. Luckily a friend had them for me to play with. The Doctor Who RPG is listed with a single page. Next came “Battledroids” which was the first name for “Battletech”. Then “Combots” is listed. On the next page was the “Battlestar Galactica A Game of Starfighter Combat”. I was excited when I saw this, but dissapointed that no BSG role playing game was ever developed.

With the Star Trek RPG still being the crown jewel for FASA there were several pages advertising the boxed sets, books and miniatures. It looked liked they planned to have the 2nd edition of the Ship Construction Manual be released in two separate books (Warship Design Handbook with 32 pages and Astronautics Handbook containing 48 pages). I’m really glad that this was released as a single book, but I wonder if there were any differences between the two products other than the two-book design? Another book that was listed but never released was “The Gorn and Minor Races” (Stock# 2304, ISBN# 0-931787-44-0). As a collector of starship stats, I would have LOVED to see this book (or the notes for it). The catalog also listed the Star Trek mini-games that FASA had produced.

Another starship combat game that FASA released was “The Last Starfighter Combat Game.” The last game rounded up the 13 page catalog.

FASA CATALOG WINTER 1987/88

It is possible that there was earlier catalogs for the seasons in 1987. This side-printed catalog featured “Battletech” on the cover as the new crown jewel. I believe that FASA realized that they could produce more Battletech products since they didn’t have to wait for approval from Paramount. More products hitting the market faster meant more profit.

The starship/ground combat game “Renegade Legion” was listed on the first two pages. “Battletech” then followed with six pages of products. Next was the listing of the Star Trek RPG line which was listed in six pages. However there was not any listing of products planned, just those that had already been released. I think that FASA realized they needed to only list items that they had officially released. We then see a page of Doctor Who RPG books and miniatures and a page dedicated to a series of games based off of the James Clavell novels. The back cover is a beautiful painting of The Golden Medusa for Renegade Legion Interceptor.

FASA CATALOG 1989-90

This booklet sized catalog contained a cover dedicated to the new RPG by FASA called “Shadowrun”. It was cyberpunk with fantasy races such as elves and dwarves. It sounded interesting, but the gamers in my group were playing the Cyberpunk RPG so I never had a chance to try this one. Shadowrun made up the first two pages of the catalog. Next was fourteen pages of just “Battletech” material. You could tell that this was definitely a money maker for FASA. Six pages of “Renegade Legion” followed.

We finally reached the Star Trek RPG section with six pages and the back cover. The Star Trek: The Next Generation First Year Sourcebook is listed. I understand that a sourcebook for year two and three was worked on, but never released (again I’d love to see the draft sent to Paramount). The listing of products that we already know about follow with one exception. The Star Trek: The Next Generation USS Enterprise Blueprints is listed with Stock #2103. From what I’ve read on other sites, a lot of work had gone into these blueprints. The product never saw the light of day as the license was pulled before it was released. I feel bad for the person who put the energy into this product. As a Treknologist, I’d love to see these works someday.

CONCLUSION:

I hope you got as much enjoyment going through these catalogs as I have. Again I’m looking for the releases that I am missing. Most of the time these catalogs were tossed out after the year was completed. But it gave a look into the products that were released as well as what could have been. Some of them I would have love to have seen.

Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Doctor Who, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction

Character Creation Challenge Day 24: Doctor Who Roleplaying Game

Character Creation Challenge Day 24

While I have played the FASA Doctor Who RPG many, many years ago. I have not had the chance to play Cubicle 7’s entry into the Doctor Who game universe. So this will be an introduction to the game for me. I picked up the book from a local game store a year ago and I also had a chance to get a lot of the PDF books in one of the charity bundle sales. I’ve also noticed that a lot of fans are homebrewing their own “publiclations” for this game with unofficial “Expanded Universe” sourcebooks. This gives me a little bit of hope and inspiration as I’d like to do this with other universes (Star Trek in particular). So I knew that I had to make an entry into the Character Creation Challenge with this game.

Since I made a Gallifreyan Time Lord with the FASA system, I think I’ll make a companion with this game. Tim Bronson was originally a police officer in a small city when he got caught up in some business with a mysterious stranger, some weird alien looking things and some para-military group that claimed they were working with the United Nations. Turns out, they were working with the UN and they all helped to stop a group of aliens from harvesting Human body parts for some intergalactic medical black market. The mysterious stranger, called The Baron, put in a good word with UNIT’s commanding officers. Upon this recommendation, they invited Bronson to join them in their quest to keep the Earth safe from the aliens that wish to harm the planet and it’s occupants. Sometimes he’s with a team heading off planet, other times he’s helping The Baron with some urgent tasks. But he’s been running ever since that fateful day.

The character creation system assigns you points to build a character. They can be spent on Attributes, Skills and Traits. The attributes are Awareness, Coordination, Ingenuity, Presence, Resolve and Strength. They have a score range from 1 to 6 in each attribute. For a law enforcement character I selected the following. Awareness: 4, Coordination: 3, Ingenuity: 3, Presence: 2, Resolve: 3 and Strength: 3. The Traits that Bronson had (which also pulled from the same pool of character points as attributes) was Brave, Lucky, Keen Senses (sight), Voice of Authority (aka The Policeman’s Voice), Quick Reflexes and Friend (all of his buddies back in the police force). There were a few other traits that were intriguing (including some bad traits that would have gained me points) but I decided not to go overboard on the character.

There are twelve skills listed. Each skill can also have an Area of Expertise (but they cost points to put into them). So I selected the following for my police officer turned UNIT operative. Bronson’s area of expertise was Interrogation (trying to get information out of a suspicious person). The Stuff section basically stated to select what you thought your character should have. So I picked a few things that a former police officer may still have in his possession and called it good. Here is the character sheet.

Tim Bronson character sheet

Afterthoughts:

I liked the detailed explanation of the attributes. Ingenuity-3 represents this, Strenght-1 represents this, etc. It detailed what an average Human would have for statistics which, I think, helped players create their characters. This level of detail also went into the Traits and Skills.

I also liked that the end of the character creation process was noted in the book. Usually a character creation process just pushes you into the next chapter, then the next and so on. There were times I was wondering “Am I done or did I miss something?” Especially when I would see blank spots on the character sheet. I usually had to go look up the index to find the section to fill in that part of the sheet.

I really had to resist the urge to pull the other books out and check out what they had listed for stats and information. I may have to do that soon, especially the fan made stuff.

Additional Notes:

Dealing with a malfunctioning furnace made me wonder if I was going to be able to get a character made today. Luckily we were able to get a temporary fix going until we can get a professional in to look at the system. I really dislike the winter and the cold weather. I’ll take the heat of summer anytime.

Coming Up Next:

Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition

Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Doctor Who, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction

Character Creation Challenge Day 18: Doctor Who Role Playing Game

Character Creation Challenge Day 18

As you can tell from the title of this Blog of Holding, I am a big Doctor Who fan. I remember playing the Doctor Who Role Playing Game by FASA with my friends in the 90’s. I remember even running a game. However it has been a LONG time since I even looked at the rules that I hardly remember anything at all. So this entry into the Character Creation Challenge is almost like reading it again for the first time. Unfortunately there hasn’t been any opportunity to participate in an RPG session lately. One friend still uses the name of her Gallifreyan character as a nickname. Hi Agiani.

When this game was published, the Gallifreyans did not allow for interference in other worlds. This made The Doctor a bit of a renegade with the leaders of his people. To get around this in the game, characters could be Gallifreyans or companions participating in a group called the Celestial Intervention Agency (CIA). The agents in this rogue organization battle against the threats of Daleks, Cybermen and dozens other aggressive species across space and time.

Since I’ve never made a Time Lord character, the character that goes by the name The Barron. His birth name is Redbronovurudu, but that was too hard to pronounce by his Human companion. “Red what? Like Red Baron?” “Oh.. The Baron, I like that. It sounds very noble.”

There are six mental and physical attributes in the Doctor Who Role Playing Game. Strength (STR), Endurance (END), Dexterity (DEX), Charisma (CHA), Mentality (MNT) and Intuition (ITN). Attribute scores range from 1-30 (with 30 being the best) but they are also listed at Attribute Performance Levels. Level I is Handicapped. Level II is Untrained. Level III is Basic Performance. Level IV is Average Performance. Level V is Professional Performance. Level VI is Expert Performance and the last performance of Mastery is Level VII. Characters will also have Special Abilities and Skills. The skills, like Attributes, range 1-30 and have their own I-VII proficiency ratings from Unskilled to Mastery.

Your character’s initial attribute scores start at 6. To find out how many points are in your attribute point fund, roll 2d6+36. I ended up with 43 points to spend. The Baron was a Researcher in the Grand Library of Gallifrey before he unexpectedly found himself traveling the universe. So I gave him higher scores in the CHA, MNT and INT scores. They are as follows: ST: 10 (Level IV), END: 13 (Level IV), DEX: 10 (Level IV), CHA: 15 (Level V), MNT: 15 (Level V), INT: 16 (Level V). During the character creation process, a 3d6 die roll determines if your character has a special ability, and what it is if present. My roll ended up earning a Luck special ability. This added 5 to my INT making it 12 (Level VI). Endurance rates for health was quickly discovered and written down.

Like the FASA Star Trek Role Playing Game, there is a large number of skills used in the game. This skill system in the character creation process was… ugh. After reading through the books several times I finally just selected some skills I thought a brainy guy would have (with some skills he would have needed in the field without getting greedy) and not worry about points. This is probably a section that I would have needed an experienced GM to explain things to me. I then decided to wrap it up and scan the character sheet.

The Baron Character Sheet

Afterthoughts:

The character creation process is explained in the middle of the Player’s Manual after they have explained the items that go into a character and a short story with play examples. The rules talks about selecting a race, but there are no stat adjustments for the two races playable in the game (Human or Gallifreyean).

The books kept switching between the use of INT and ITN. This must have slipped through the editing process.

The Game Operations Manual had a section on Judging Character Creation. I had to refer to it in order to get some of the numbers needed in the character creation process. The section for determining skills was needlessly complicated and it took several read throughs to understand it all (I think). I understood that skill points from one attribute would purchase more skills that fell under that attribute (Higher STR score made it easier to buy STR based skills), but the way it was processed was just overly complex. There could have been a better way to figure these out.

If I recall correctly, we used pre-generated characters when we played this game. After going through this process, I can see why. I think this is the first day I got frustrated and ended the process.

Additional Notes:

I’m still looking for more blogs or message boards of people participating in the Character Creation Process.

Coming Up Next:

Tall Tales BX

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: Conventions, Star Wars

Farewell David Prowse

David Prowse was an English actor who recently passed away at the age of 85. According to his daughter, he passed away due to complications to Covid-19. As fellow geeks, you probably know David Prowse from his most famous role as the actor in the Darth Vader suit from the first three movies. He was also seen in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (the BBC TV mini-series), Space: 1999, The Benny Hill Show, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (as The Monster), The Tomorrow People, A Clockwork Orange, The Horror of Frankenstein (again as The Monster), The Saint (TV series), the 60’s Casino Royale movie and Doctor Who.

In 2007, David Prowse was one of the guests at a local fan-run Science Fiction convention that I chaired. I cannot tell you how much of a gentleman he was. Even when he was in pain (which he suffered from a lot) he was always gracious to the people around him. He appreciated his fans who came a long way to see him and made the meeting a memorable one. He posed with my daughter and myself for a photo just before getting ready to return to England. Farewell good sir, you’ve earned your rest.