Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

I backed an RPG creativity kickstarter

So I’ve posted about some of the Kickstarter rewards that I’ve received in the past. These have included the 2nd Edition X-Treme Dungeon Mastery and the BX Advanced Bestiary Vol. 1. I’ve also got several rewards coming to me later this year that I’m looking forward to seeing. However another Kickstarter campaign just came across my desk that really caught my attention.

For those of you scratching your heads, let me explain. David Flor wrote this adventure back in 1983 when he was twelve years old. He had it printed out and then lost it as he moved through life. Well, as he explains on his Kickstarter Page, it was recently found and reunited with him. David had returned to gaming life a few years ago and even had some adventures published. So when this example of 1980’s creativity was returned to him, he knew that he had to share it with others. Thus a Kickstarter was launched to scan the original (which is part of the rewards), update it with new artwork (also part of the rewards) and (if certain goals are met) update the adventure for such systems as Dungeons and Dragons 5E and Dungeon Crawl Classics.

So why did this catch my attention? This is the stuff that I would do back in the 80’s and 90s. I was lucky enough to find my homebrewed starships for the FASA Star Trek RPG and my Book of RPG character sheets. I’ve been sharing them here as a way to give my creativity to others. This type of creativity is what inspires me to post on my blog. So I wanted to share it with others. If you can back the Kickstarter, please do so. I’d love to see what is generated from this with all of the stretch goals accomplished.

And yes, I will make a blog post with my first look when the rewards have been released.

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: Comic Books, Role Playing Games

Character sheets from past games: Marvel Superheroes

This is a character sheet for the Marvel Superheroes Roleplaying Game (released by TSR in 1986) that I found in my three-ringed binder containing my old character sheets that I had discovered in a storage box. In my previous character sheet entries I posted characters from Dungeons and Dragons, the FASA Doctor Who RPG, Shadowrun, Cyberpunk, Vampire: The Masquerade, WEG Star Wars the Star Trek RPG by FASA and GURPS.

This was a campaign that I played with one of my 90’s batch of RPG friends. We played a ton of other games together (such as the above mentioned Vampire, Doctor Who and Cyberpunk games). One of them was the system based off of the Marvel comic universe.

Another trend in the 90’s was the mutant superheroes in the Marvel line of books. They were extremely popular and seemed to be talked about by everyone. I think this is part of the reason I avoided reading the issues. I recall a day at Comics Utah were my hold was light so I figured I’d try a new book. I walked over to the Marvel shelves and there was mutant this and mutant that. I took a step back, and headed over to the DC Comics shelves to see what might catch my eye. So, as you probably guessed, when the option came up for a Marvel RPG campaign, everyone but me wanted to play a mutant character. I rebelled by announcing that I would be playing an android character.

I remember liking the name Strikeman. The alter-ego was named Hal Robberts, a name he had chosen for himself. I think I pulled the name Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey. He was created by Noonian Ling, which I’m 99% certain was inspired from Data’s creator, Noonian Soong. Since Ling was still listed as a contact, I’m assuming they got along. I don’t recall what S.H.I.P.D. stood for (something something police department?). I wish that I had kept better notes from my 90’s games, but I guess I’m lucky just to have found the book of characters.

While I don’t remember anything about the FASERIP system, I do recall hearing that it had a lot of fans. When I found the Amazon link listed above, the book was very expensive. If you are interested in roleplaying in the Marvel universe, there is a new Marvel Multiverse RPG core book coming out in August.

This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com with any comments.

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

More IDW Comics in Star Trek Adventures?

What I would like to see

So earlier this month I was working on my review of the latest Star Trek Lower Decks releases for the Star Trek Adventures RPG when it hit me. “I wonder if we will see any future cross-over products between Modiphius (publisher of Star Trek Adventures) and IDW run of Star Trek comics?” Back in 2021 there had been a cooperative release with the IDW Year Five Tie In.

So I thought I’d take to social media and ask. On twitter (while dodging spam posts) I submitted the following:

Hey @Modiphius are we going to see any additional #StarTrekAdventures supplements for @IDWPublishing #StarTrek comics like we did for Year-Five tie in? I would love to see more supplements like this. #please

@TardisCaptain

Well, I received a response from Jim Johnson, who is the project manager for Modiphius Star Trek Adventures. Wow, I wasn’t expecting that. He asked what I’d like to see from the IDW run. Well when I read that, my first thought was “Everything!” Yea, I know that’s not going to fly logically. IDW has been publishing Star Trek comics since 2007 and has released over 400 issues and trade paperbacks. Some of them include crossovers with other intellectual properties such as Doctor Who, Planet of the Apes, Green Lantern, The Legion of Superheroes and Transformers. The likelihood of any supplements for these issues are slim to none. Especially since there is already a roleplaying game for Transformers and Doctor Who.

So what was the most likely candidates from the wide catalog of IDW publications would be good for a Star Trek Adventures supplement? Well I have several recommendations in mind. I did mention a few in a quick twitter response to Mr. Johnson, but I felt that this topic deserved a blog post to give it more thought.

I’ve actually mentioned this in past blog posts, but IDW has done a very good series of comics covering the TNG crew in the Mirror Universe. In this setting, the Terran Empire was defeated, but not overrun. (Hey, if you are looking for a reason to keep this within “cannon”, just remember that there are many, many multiple universes as seen in the TNG episode “Parallels“.) This empire was boxed in, was low on resources (Captain’s kept their own secret supply caches) and still had some fight in it (for both external and internal conflicts). RPG scenarios could include Prime Universe Federation members dealing with Terran Empire incursions, more accidental crossovers or a campaign set with PCs playing members of the Terran Starfleet. Some of the advantages to this idea include lots of resource material (13 TNG comics plus additionaly 7 TOS comics, 1 Voyager comic, and 4 Discovery comics) which could include new races, new spacefames, new background information, new characters (we see “The Obnoxious Okona” who is a thorn in Mirror Captain Picard’s side). The disadvantages that I see are also the large number of sources (the supplement could be much larger than the Year Five tie in if they didn’t break it up by comic series), roleplaying in the Mirror Universe is much different than in the Prime Universe (but I do recall playing in a FASA Star Trek campaign where we were accidentally sent to the Mirror Universe) and there is a lot of Mirror Universe seen in the shows. While this is my first choice that I would LOVE to see, I could understand why it may not make the list at Modiphius.

Before there was Star Trek: Year Five by IDW, the comic publisher released Star Trek Year Four. This covered what could have been the fourth season of The Original Series. This would make for an excellent companion piece to the STA Year Five tie-in. This would be an excellent opportunity to present the stats for the Federation Class Dreadnought (seen in the Enterprise Experiment series). There are not as many issues covering Year Four as there are for Year Five (10 vs 26 respectively) but that might make is more of a candidate for a PDF only release. There are other TOS comics presented by IDW, but they cover various times across the Original Series. That could be used to pad out a publication if needed.

The next recommendation may be an issue. I don’t know if Modiphius has any type of license with the Kelvin Universe movies. Creating a tie-in supplement might be possible if a license isn’t fully connected. However there are a LOT of Kelvin Universe comics published by IDW. A total of 106 issues (not counting the two Kelvin Universe/Green Lantern crossovers). Some of these issues cover Starfleet Academy cadets and could be a perfect way to release some Kelvin Universe resource material into the market.

The last recommendation that I’m going to make is for Leonard McCoy: Frontier Doctor that had four issues. Not a lot of material, but the storyline covered Dr. McCoy after he had left Starfleet and went on a “Doctors without Borders” type of adventure (between the end of The Original Series and The Motion Picture). There would definable be a new spaceframe (The Joanna), several characters and planets and information on how to play in the Frontier Medics Program. A non-Starfleet sourcebook could help with civilian roleplaying.

As I mentioned in my Year Five Tie-In review, there was still some Year Five material that could have been added to the supplement. I wouldn’t be opposed to that type of expansion.

There are still a ton of other IDW Star Trek titles that information could be pulled to create a tie-in supplement. Some cover various races and characters. A few had different inter-ST series crossovers that only comics could pull off. Others had tie-ins with different Star Trek novels and video games. I believe that IDW has the longest run of continuous Star Trek comic publications. Despite recent news that the company had some layoffs, I hope that they will be able to continue to publish new comics for quite a few more years.

Thank you Jim Johnson for inspiring me to expand this subject into a blog post. I had a great time going back through several comics and (quickly) re-reading some of the stories. Jim did respond to my suggestion tweet saying “I just gotta chat with the good people over there and see what’s possible.” So… (crosses fingers).

What IDW Comics would you like to see turned into a Star Trek Adventures supplement? Are there other Star Trek comics that you draw gaming inspiration from? This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com with any comments.

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) TardisCaptain.com with any comments.

Posted in: Alien, Conventions, Dune, Dungeons and Dragons, James Bond, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek

SaltCON Spring 2023 After Action Report

Loot from SaltCON Spring 2023

So I finally had a chance to recover from my first SaltCON (apparently I was not capitalizing CON as I should have been) and I’m putting my thoughts down here before they all escape my head. TL/DR section: I had a blast and I can’t wait to attend another one.

As you can see from the photo above, I was able to walk away with some loot that I gathered at the con. Three games in the swap meet room that I can use for the 2024 Character Creation Challenge (and another upcoming secret project that I hope to announce soon). These are Barbarians of Lemuria Legendary Edition, Crypts & Things and Shadowrun Anarchy. Three books I didn’t know existed. I also picked up the Star Trek Adventures Player’s Guide and Star Trek Adventures Gamemaster’s Guide from a dealer that I only see at conventions, and always buy Star Trek books from. It’s almost become a tradition that we’ve been doing since the early 2000’s. I also picked up a t-shirt for the convention.

So if you read my Prepping for SaltCon 2023 blog entry, you will know that I had a signed up for a lot of different roleplaying sessions. Here is how they went.

Some of the characters I played over the weekend.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition by Pazio: I played a half-elf rogue who was working with several other party members to help a merchant named Nelar in recovering some heirlooms from his family crypts. He was planning to sell them in order to save his business. The PF2 system was pretty straight forward. The gamemaster explained the differences in the rules and was very helpful. I liked how he used colored poker chips to represent each “bad guy” and then had a colored stand to represent where each person was in the initiative order. The adventure was very simplistic (get in, get past the defenses and get out) and I’m not certain if it was published or an original adventure. The GM was understanding when my paranoid PC brain went into effect. I thought that someone was attempting to stop us so that they could ruin the merchant’s business. The PF2 rules were not too bad and I’d be interested in playing more. A pre-generated character was used and I’ll probably make a character for the next Character Creation Challenge. I picked up a bunch of the books on PDF from a recent bundle sale. However I really wish that Pazio’s website didn’t suck when it comes to downloading the PDF purchases.

Alien by Free League: I’ve already mentioned meeting the author previously and how I wanted to try this game. When we first started, the large room used for RPGs at SaltCON was filling up. This resulted in more noise which ended up helping with the “lots of pressure” portion of the game since we were in uncomfortable situations. There were only two players for this session and we both played Colonial Marines. We were escorting a group of scientists and corporate flunkies to a new planet to explore. As you can imagine, we ended up running into Aliens, Engineers and Predators. I used a pre-generated character, but would have loved to use the character I had made earlier this year in the Character Creation Challenge. I would like to play this system in a campaign.

Dungeon Crawl Classics by Goodman Games: Yes I got to experience a zero-level funnel for this game. I had read about it previously and really wanted to try it. We were going through one of the printed adventures with a full table. It was very interesting attempting to use just the equipment that we were assigned before heading out on the adventure. I was attempting to make the surface under the feet of a summoned demon slippery by using the fine sand carried by a gravedigger. Eventually between all of the zero-level characters we were able to defeat the bad guy. I’d still like to play this system in a campaign.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition: This game was canceled due to the DM falling ill which was too bad because the adventure scenario sounded really fun. Hopefully the DM can run it at the next con. So I went over to the Dungeons and Dragons Adventures League table and created a 1st level dwarven fighter and jumped into an intro game. We had to track down some bandits that had attacked a caravan. The local league handed out some wooden tokens with logos on them for participating.

Mistborn by Crafty Games: I went into this session not knowing anything about the system or the original source material. I was hoping to learn about both. The books were set in a world were only the nobles were supposed to have magic, but you could get magic by sipping vials of liquid with metal flakes in them, or something like that. The system was really, really funky. The scenario was a murder mystery and our criminal gang was like a group of Leverage type characters, I think. We actually had some combat in the last 10 minutes of the game and it was really bad. I do not see myself playing this system in the future. When I made a character for John Carter of Mars, I was inspired to go download the John Carter books for my Kindle. I was not inspired to go look at the source material for this game.

James Bond 007 by Victory Games: Excellent game master with an excellent scenario. He was able to explain the rules quickly and answered any questions that we had. We played members of the ResQ branch of MI-6 and our job was to help James Bond complete his assignment (keep the bad guys away from him, help if something is incomplete or messes up) without him knowing that we are there. So we have to help fight the bad guys as well as keep undercover. There was an excellent group of players (including one that had never seen the Bond films). Now that I’ve had a chance to try the JB007 RPG system, I’m sad that I missed out on it. However, the Classified RPG is a retroclone of the James Bond game and the GM was using parts of that book.

Star Trek Adventures by Modiphius: This scenario was heavily inspired by Star Trek: Lower Decks. We were a band of misfits working together on a California-class starship under a drunk captain. I randomly drew the human helmsman that was fresh out of the academy (where he had annoyed his flight instructor). So I played the character as a kid with his voice breaking the entire game. I got compliments from the other players for that. It was also good to get another dive into the STA system and I’d like to be able to continue in a campaign and homebrew some items.

Artemis- Dominion War: This was a LAN computer game set up like a Star Trek bridge in one of the side rooms at the convention. One computer was set up for the engineer, another for weapons, science, helm, etc. I was asked to play the captain of an Excelsior-class starship trying to defend the Federation. All of the players were new to the game and I thought we did quite well for a bunch of newbies. This was my only non-RPG game of the weekend. Many thanks to the volunteers of the USS White Buffalo for putting this together.

GURPS by Steve Jackson Games: Yes, I gave a not-so-good review when I created a GURPS character in the last challenge, but the gameplay system itself isn’t too bad. If I don’t have to make a character, then I don’t mind playing. The GM ran us through a game set in the Aliens universe. It had a ton of action and we were either laughing at our jokes or running for our lives. I liked how the GM handed us equipment cards with our ammo limits on the cards. Every time we fired, we had to mark off the number of shots we had taken.

Cyberpunk RED by R. Talsorian Games: So I had played the classic Cyberpunk back when it first came out. I had even made a character for Cyberpunk v3.0 in a past challenge. It was interesting catching up with this universe (there had been a lot of changes from the previous products) and the GM ran it really well (he was the same GM that ran the James Bond game). I was impressed with the system and I’ve moved it up on my buy list. I know at least one friend who is/was playing this so I wonder if I could get into a campaign sometime in the future.

Final thoughts:

As I mentioned above, I had a lot of fun at SaltCON. I made sure to give some thanks to one of the organizers at the front desk before I left. I had picked up a con t-shirt as well and I’ve already purchased my ticket for the summer event. The spring event sold out and the summer event has even less tickets available. There are water bottle refill stations at the Davis Convention Center. The food sold at the concessions stand was not bad (and about average price) but I also brought a couple of snacks in my backpack to tide me over until I had a meal break. The con is very very heavy on the board game side that it seems to drown other games out (again it went years before I realized there was more than just D&D Adventures League there). Even the swap meet and flea market were 95-98% board games. I think I was lucky to find the three books that I did. I wonder what it would take to get more of an RPG presence in the swap meet or flea market? I’d hate to haul a bunch of books down only to find out that I brought the wrong things. I did like that the swap meet was set up with the game, a post it note with the price, contact info and venmo info for the seller. I could just text the person and get a confirmation that my purchase was complete.

When I was talking about the con online I had a few responses from Utah players saying “Wait? There’s a gaming con in Utah?” and I would provide some details. So hopefully there will be a few new attendees at future events. This event had 2,000 gamers and it was considered a sell out. I’ve been told that the con is always looking for GMs to run games in exchange for free admission (and the number of hours required was very reasonable). One friend even asked me if I wanted to run a game. But that goes back to my conundrum of “I want SaltCON to be my non-volunteer convention.” If I were to GM anything, I’d probably try to run something non-standard or out-of-print like the James Bond experience I was able to enjoy. There were a few people who came by to see if any openings had become available. You’d want to experience something at a convention that you don’t normally get a chance to play or do. A track of these games would really make the con stand out.

I was warned ahead of time to sign up for my games as soon as possible using the online scheduling system. The gaming schedules were a little weird when I was trying to coordinate my schedule with some overlapping preventing me from trying out a few systems. Games of a similar nature overlapping each other (two STA games within the same timeframe). I found out later that the GMs set their own times. I would hope that someone could coordinate to try to avoid the overlap. The one GM who ran Dune got a lot of “I wish I could have played” responses so he is planning more than one session for SaltCON Summer. I did like the fact that I could download the schedule to a calendar file that I could import into my Google calendar. I then had it at my finger tips when I needed to check what was coming up (or go back and read the original description).

I made some new contacts at the convention which was kewl. I’ve always felt that RPGs was a social interaction that was better experienced in person. I also had the opportunity to meet up with some gaming buddies that I hadn’t seen in a while. With one, we had 30 years of catching up to do. Besides trying out a few different systems I also got to see some techniques and tools in action. When I got home I had to order the 20in1 Card Deck from Precis Intermedia. I was also impressed with the Roll 4 Initiative Dry Erase Dungeon Tiles that was used by one GM. If I had found either one of these, or a copy of Cyberpunk RED, in the dealers room, I would have picked them up then.

The only real negative thing I’d probably say was the game room itself. As I mentioned above, it got really noisy at some times. During our James Bond game there was some sort of multi-table game going on where some in-game yelling was going on and we had to stop until the yelling had ceased. This really disturbed the other tables and probably should have been moved to another area.

I’m glad that SaltCON is here and I’m also glad that it is only a few miles away from where I live. It was very nice not to travel down daily to Salt Lake like I usually do for conventions down there. It was really good to roll the dice and have fun in a few games over the weekend.

This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com with any comments.

Posted in: Alien, Conventions, Dune, Dungeons and Dragons, James Bond, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Stargate

Prepping for SaltCon 2023

Hold on, I’m not done packing.

So I’ll be attending my first gaming convention in a very llllooonnnggg time. SaltCON is a gaming convention that has been running in Utah for years and will be running this weekend. However until recently, I thought it was just a convention for board games. Some friends would be running the Artemis spaceship bridge simulator (complete with lights, sound effects and more) so I’d stop by to help them set up or bring Seventh Fleet flyers. But I never stuck around, again thinking it was just board games. I don’t mind board games, they just are not my draw to a convention.

SaltCON in March is their biggest event (2,000+ attendees). They also hold smaller events in the summer (600 attendees) and late summer (800 attendees). So to my surprise, one of my friends was telling me about how he ran the Stargate RPG at the last convention. I was a little amazed actually and after some thinking (and before the ticket prices went up) I purchased my pass several months ago. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the upcoming con. I wanted to sit down and play as many role-playing games as possible. Thanks to the patience of the convention organizers (who responded to my emails in a timely manner) and the advice from some friends who had attended in the past, I was able to get several games reserved. I’m a little sad because the Dune: Adventures in the Imperium session filled up before I had a chance to grab a seat. But I was able to get seats for the following games.

-Pathfinder 2nd Edition (The scenario sounded interesting and it will give me a chance to check out this system)

Alien (I’m really excited about this one, especially after meeting the game designer)

Dungeon Crawl Classics (I get to go through a zero-level funnel. WOOT!!!)

-Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition (I signed up before the OGL fiasco, plus the adventure sounded interesting)

Mistborn (Based off of the Mistborn novels by Brandon Sanderson)

James Bond 007: Role Playing in Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Yes, the game from the 80’s)

Star Trek Adventures (In a scenario based on Star Trek: Lower Decks)

GURPS (The adventure sounds like it is set in Aliens and I don’t have to make the character)

Cyberpunk RED (I’ve never had a chance to try this new version yet)

Because of the time schedules, there were a couple of other games that were presented that I couldn’t fit in. These included Low Fantasy Gaming and Tiny D6 Frontiers. Perhaps I’ll be able to get in on a pick-up game when I have some free slots open during the con.

The very first “con” I went to was a gaming convention at a local library back in the late 80’s. I don’t recall if it had a name but I remember playing Dungeons and Dragons for several hours. In the early 90’s a local comic and gaming store called Comics Utah ran Kubla Khan for several years. Another gaming store (of a name that I can’t remember) ran several conventions in the mall they were in called WinterGameFest, SpringGameFest, etc. There was also gaming at the various CONduits in which I was able to sneak in a game or two. In a past website, I had a convention resume listed. I need to get that finished for the Blog of Holding.

So I will write up an after-action report when SaltCON is done to let you know how it went. I’ve been planning and prepping (backpack, dice, meals, books, etc.) for quite some time. I’m very grateful that the con is in my county (as compared to most cons in Salt Lake or other distant areas). It will be nice to sleep in my own bed each night after the convention.

Let’s roll some dice.

This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com 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: Character Creation Challenge, Dungeons and Dragons, Rant, Role Playing Games

My thoughts on the recent WotC/OGL fiasco

Guess who rolled a 1

So in early January 2023, I read up on the new “draft” of the Open Gaming License (OGL) that Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast (WotC) was pushing out. I’m not a lawyer, but it didn’t pass the smell test for me. It felt like a lot of creative people who had put their time, money and effort into their own products were being screwed. Because I was just starting the 2023 Character Creation Challenge, I didn’t have time to write up a full blog post on the subject. So I tagged Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast in the following tweet.

Click on image to see the tweet.

I never got a response from either group. Knowing how most mega-corporations think, I wasn’t expecting to get one either. I’m just a single guy and most corporations are only thinking about money, how to get more money and ignoring any laws and common decency in a quest for money. So I figured that nothing would happened and I put my energy into the character creation challenge.

Oh boy, was I wrong. Shortly afterwards this issue exploded with the force of an atom bomb. Not only were other gamers upset, but so were the video makers and third-party publishers. This caused so much of a ruckus that it made it onto the various news sites and made Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast look bad. Especially with how horribly they handled the issue in their first attempt to respond.

The critical fumble continued by Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro until they finally backed off and announced that the 1.0a would remain in place and that the 5.1 System Reference Document (SRD) would be placed under the irrevocable Creative Commons. A move that shocked a lot of people (myself included), but it may have been too-little, too-late. A lot of third-party publishers that were giving free advertising to the Dungeons and Dragons game had elected to move to other licenses. Several designers are making changes to remove all SRD references so they would no longer be bound by the OGL. When these third-party publishers released a book, they had something on it that stated it was compatible with Dungeons and Dragons. The name of the WotC flagship game was being seen with each book. Now that reminder will be gone and other games will be promoted instead. Third-party publishers were also a source of talent that WotC could pull for future D&D products. I doubt these freelance writers would be interested in helping after the way they were treated.

Another reaction that the various third-party publishers had was to dump their 5e compatible products. I’m certain they were thinking that if the new OGL went into effect, they would be stuck with inventory they could no longer sell. Since I’m a bargain hunter, I was able to pick up a few books in both PDF and dead tree versions.

This all happened at the end of January before I had finished the Character Creation Challenge. And when the challenge was done, I took a few days off from the site to recover. The challenge is a marathon and can be a little exhausting. I also wanted some time to properly compose my thoughts about the WotC/OGL ordeal.

I wondered if I was really going to comment on this as mid-February hit. Then I walked into my Favorite Local Gaming Store (FLGS) and saw the very large display of Dungeons and Dragons 5e products. My instant reaction was “walk away, I’m still not happy with them.” Normally I’m looking over the books deciding if I want to pull the trigger on a purchase. There are still a few books that I don’t have in my collection. Instead I was looking to see if the Star Trek Adventures books that I wanted had arrived yet and to see what else was new on the shelves.

So since I felt that I needed to get these thoughts off my chest, I started putting together this blog post. As I was researching different aspects (trying to make sure I’m posting correct information) I discovered that the Bank of America has listed Hasbro/WotC stock as “under-performing” due to mishandling of brands and attempting to over-monetizing the Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering products.

Various WotC representatives are currently on a “restore the goodwill tour” (think of what BP had to go through after the Deepwater Horizon environmental disaster) and if I had a chance to ask them, I’d probably ask the following: “Since several college and white papers will be written about this monumental cock up, do you think they will spell the names of the decision makers right?” In all seriousness, I’d probably ask them what are the lessons learned from this experience and what would they do in the future if this came up again? What I hope to hear is how the OGL discussion would be handled in the open and with all stakeholders before sending out a “draft” with contracts attached. That the C-level executive managers have learned what this game is about (no it’s not just a money spigot) and that they understand that the customers who are purchasing the game are not going to play online. Yes that is an option, but it’s not where we get the camaraderie around the table in a social activity. Yes, the game will make them money, but don’t kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Hasbro and WotC still has a lot of making up to do with the gaming community.

As for myself, I’m still very hesitant about buying any WotC products at this time. The upcoming Dungeons and Dragons movie that is coming out soon is something that I might go to, depending on how things are handled from here on out. It’s already finished and I wouldn’t want to punish those involved in the production who had no say in Hasbro’s critical fumble. It’s not a 100% that I’m going to see it in theaters (as I was planning at the end of 2022) I’m not going to trash my current collection (I’ve already purchased them) but new items? Well, we will see.

Perhaps the silver lining in all of this are players and stores discovering that there are a ton of other roleplaying games out there that can be enjoyed and promoted. I may post more about this topic if inspiration strikes. But I’m going to concentrate on being a muse and doing some creating myself.

This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com with any comments.

Posted in: Alien, Character Creation Challenge, Dune, Dungeons and Dragons, Horror, Pirates, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Westerns

2023 Character Creation Challenge After Action Report

Note: If you made it through 31 days of the challenge, read to the bottom of the post.

I’m going to declare the 2023 Character Creation Challenge a magnificent success. Yes there were some days that I wondered if I was going to get through this. For the first time ever I had multiple games frustrate me so much that I just said “screw it, I’m done with this system”. But I was able to post for all 31 days (plus an extra day since I forgot that I was going to use a certain game).

I think my most favorite post was the one for Ork! Second Edition. Writing for another voice was fun and I had a blast. Fantasy Age made a little bit more sense than the 2022 entry for Modern Age. The reading of Mutant Future got the creative juices flowing and I hope to actually put thought into action sooner rather than later. When The Moon Hangs Low and BareBones Fantasy also caught my eye. After reading some of the information on the John Carter of Mars RPG, I went and purchased some of the novels to read on my Amazon Kindle.

Here is my 2023 list of characters:

Day 1: Alien Character: Jan Karlsson, Colonial Marine
Day 2: Star Frontiers Character: K’likki the Vrusk
Day 3: Low Fantasy Gaming Character: Golarth
Day 4: Tiny Spies Character: Daniel Drake
Day 5: Swashbuckling Adventures Character: Dirk Clarkson
Day 6: John Carter of Mars Character Jakour Detha
Day 7: Cepheus Deluxe Character: Jess Tokkin
Day 8: When The Moon Hangs Low Character: William “Kitt” Smythe
Day 9: Fantasy Craft Character: Perrich Teagrove
Day 10: The D6 System Character: Paul Reynolds Code Named- Gold Crown
Day 11: XD20 2nd Edition Character: Blix the Barbarian
Day 12: Mutant Future Character: Carath
Day 13: Ork! 2nd Edition Character: Grukk
Day 14: Serenity Character: Steven “Dart” Carter
Day 15: FASA Star Trek-Starfleet Intelligence Character: Roger Taylor
Day 16: Against the Darkmaster Character: Heathgar son of Kragin
Day 17: US Marshals Character: Leonard “Lariat” Daniels
Day 18: OSIRC Character: Myrin
Day 19: The Agency Character: Simon Steele
Day 20: Cyber Generation Character: Side Wire
Day 21: Strike! Tactical Combat and Heedless Adventure Character: Craig “T-Bone” Miller
Day 22: Barebones Fantasy Character: Traxxis
Day 23: D20 Modern Character: Gregory “Max” Mattheson
Day 24: Fantasy Age Character: Yost Rocktapper
Day 25: Traveller D20 (T20) Character: Baaken
Day 26: Star Crawl Characters: Multiple
Day 27: GURPS Character: Dieter “Ace” Tannin
Day 28: White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game Character: Wingar
Day 29: Metamorphosis Alpha Character: Spikeleaf
Day 30: True 20 Character: Markkin
Day 31: They Came From Beyond The Grave Character: Bruce Walters
Day 32: Vampire Hunter$ Character: Jock Barkley

A big thank you to those of you who encouraged me to keep going. Thank you to those who have joined my Discord server that I’m going to start using for more blog feedback. I’m very grateful to those of you who reached out to me to let me know of the blogs and other message boards that were participating in the #CharacterCreationChallenge. On social media I saw a lot of participation on Facebook, MeWe and Mastodon, but not as much on Twitter this year. I think that the platform may be having some additional issues. I’m not on Instagram so I couldn’t tell you if anything was being posted there. If I’m missing any blogs or sites that were participating, please let me know at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com and I’ll add them to the list.

Also, if you purchased anything after clicking on the link to DriveThruRPG, thank you. I’m not doing this blog to make money, but the kickback helps when making game purchases for future challenges.

I noticed a lot of participants used Dune: Adventures in the Imperium and Aliens as their “I’m excited about this game” posts. We had more participants using themes this year. One in particular that stood out was a GM who was making future bad-guys to use against his players. I was very excited that Tim Hardin, the artist who drew the map I used in a recent Basic Fantasy game, participated and posted some very good character images for his entries.

So did you complete the challenge and make 31 characters? If so, please email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com. My art school kid in college loved hearing about the characters I was making on a daily basis and the challenge in general. She created a badge for those who completed the challenge. It is a variant of the 2022 badge, but the fact that she was able to alter this between college homework assignments makes me happy. Here it is if you want to download it to display.

There will be a 2024 Character Creation Challenge. Keep an eye out around November for the warnings that it is coming up. I’m starting to use the supplements to some of my games to make characters so I suspect that I’ll be using one of the FASA Star Trek race supplements (Not certain if its going to be Klingon, Romulan or Orion). There are also a couple of other games that have similar supplements that I’m going to be using. Plus I backed the KickStarter campaigns for the Monty Python RPG and Cowboy Bebop RPG, so they will certainly be used in 2024.

So once again, if you had fun, if you learned something new, if you participated, thank you. I really appreciated the people who took my idea and ran with it and made it something of their own.

Tally ho

This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com with any comments.

Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Horror, Role Playing Games

2023 Character Creation Challenge Bonus: Vampire Hunter$

So after I was a week into the 2023 Character Creation Challenge, I realized that I had made a promise on this blog to use the Vampire Hunter$ RPG system that I had received through my Random RPG Book Club membership. I was really locked into what I had on the list and didn’t really have any sacrificial lambs that I could knock out. I also didn’t want to wait until the 2024 challenge, so you guys get a bonus character this year.

Vampire Hunter$ is published by Nightshift Games (listed as Team Frog on DriveThruRPG). The book that I have was published in 1999. The book itself is 141 pages with the character creation process starting on page 18. The character sheet is two pages long. The basic concept of the game is that you are hired on with a new local franchise for a vampire (and other monster) hunter corporation called Vampire Hunter$ Inc. The game uses 2d6 as a base dice pool. For every talent you can gain various additional d6 to roll in certain challenges. Doubles are added and re-rolled and if you beat a target number, you succeed in the task.

I’m going to create Jock Barkley. An ex-Army vet who by day is a handyman, and by night is a monster hunter after being approached by a fellow Army buddy who wanted to start a new franchise. Jock originally didn’t believe in vampires until they went on their first hunt. Now he can’t wait to get back out there and slay some suckers.

To create a character, we set up the character’s talents, knacks, faults and hits. The talents are major skills of the character. You have 10d to place in any number of talents with no talent starting higher than 3d. I selected the skills I thought that my character would have picked up while in the military.

The next list is knacks (there really isn’t a checklist). Knacks are early talents (or perhaps natural talents). Before you can get a new talent after character creation, you have to take it as a knack. A knack only gives you a +1 bonus to your roll (as compared to a d6 for a talent). I can (and did) select five knacks for my new character using the same skills list as seen a few pages earlier.

Now our characters have at least one fault. A fault is something that affects the character in a negative way. If I wanted, I could select one or two faults with each fault worth 2d in talents. The list isn’t really that long and actually suggests that you come up with some faults on your own. Since I’m on limited time, I’m going to pick enemy. On Jock’s first hunt, he helped slay a vampire only to discover that the vampire had a mate. One that wasn’t very happy with Jock.

Hits is exactly how it sounds. It’s how much damage your character can take. To determine Jock’s hits I roll 2d6 and add 10 (hey I get to roll some dice). I ended up with 17. I could have taken a die or two from the talent pool, but I had already spent them before doing so.

The final step is to “round out the corners”. Character name (done), background (done), description (written down), and equipment. It just says “ask the GM”. So I just consulted the equipment list and picked out a few items I thought an Army vet would have access to. Here is the character sheet.

Afterthoughts:

If I was going to run this as a campaign, I’d probably put together a character creation guide to help my players. It also bugged me that there were no back of the book index or (in some cases) page numbers. You also get five knacks, but the character sheet only has room for four (oops).

The system sounds pretty simplistic. I could see this being a quick pick up game using some of the sample characters listed in the book. Only after then would I know if I’d want to homebrew for this game. Vampire Hunter$ could be something for fans of the Supernatural TV series or the 1998 movie John Carpenter’s Vampires.

Additional Notes:

Not a lot of additional notes today as I’m saving my final thoughts for the after action report.

Coming Up Next:

Character Creation Challenge After Action Report

This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com with any comments.

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