Posted in: Collecting, Conventions, Dungeons and Dragons, Horror, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Star Wars

SaltCON-Summer 2024 After Action Report

Loot from SaltCON-Summer 2024.

Well I thought the picture of the loot at the top was not so fuzzy, but I’m not going to re-take it now. Hey, I survived another SaltCON both as a player and gamemaster. It was fun, lesson learning, idea forming, friend making and just a little stressful. But I wouldn’t know a convention that didn’t have those.

I did get some loot at this con, but for a while I was worried that I wasn’t going to find anything. The game swap only had one person bring in RPG books and I ended up buying three items from him. The hardbound book Codex of Erde (an earlier edition of the Codex of Aihrde from Troll Lord Games) and two boxed sets of Dungeon Crawl Classic modules called “The Heroes Arise” and “The Saga of the Dragon Cult”. The modules in each boxed set would form a campaign that could take characters from first to high levels. The boxed sets were in really good shape considering their age with only one book showing any damage. I also picked up five token trays that I planned to use for my Star Trek Adventures game. These had been created by a local artist. The convention organizers gave me a set of dice as a thank you for running my games (they were purple, they went to my geek wife) and I also picked up a convention t-shirt. I love how they have a different design each convention.

For the gaming sessions I played in, this is how it went.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition- We had to find a lost puppy owned by the local magistrate. Unfortunately this lost puppy was a three-headed hellhound and was burning up the town. And, as fate would have it, we were not the only party looking for the wayward pet.

The One Ring– Set in the times between the events in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, our party had been hired by a not-so-trustworty dwarf in an attempt to find a treasure left behind by his recently-deceased uncle. I really liked the system as it worked very well with the Middle Earth universe that we were familiar with. I may have to pick up this system.

Star Wars D6- I missed out going to this game due to real-world issues and I tried to track down the GM to explain why (apparently no one else had shown up for the 9am game either). But the good news is that I was able to track down an AC tech to fix the air-conditioning unit at my house.

Stellar Odyssey– A RPG created by a Utah author. I had been in some of his games at past conventions and since I suddenly had an opening in my schedule, I signed up. This was a Star Trek inspired game where you play the crew of an intrepid starship doing missions for a planetary union. The emphasis is on social combat (with initiatives and different methods you could use to convince others to see your way/perform an action/etc.) with actual combat limited to a single die roll. The system made sense and really encouraged roleplaying. The starship stats (and how they could be used to enhance your dice pool) also made sense. I may have to use this game in an upcoming Character Creation Challenge.

Ter’Ra’Mentia- This was only an hour long intro session and I was the only person present in the time-slot. This allowed me to ask a lot of different questions without feeling guilty that I was taking away from the other players. I’m also a ‘hands on’ person when it comes to learning a game, so this helped very much. While I don’t know if I’d be able to pick up this game, I now have a better understanding of it. It’s basically a 2d12 system+skill points to beat a target number.

The Walking Dead- This was a scenario set in Utah. Which meant that the players were (mostly) familiar with the area. While it did end early (four players in a family had to go) I did get a chance to try the system. It felt like a game where dread was always around because even with the dice pools, we hardly got any successes. We didn’t have all bad luck, but it didn’t feel like we were in a cinematic cake-walk either. I don’t know how I’d feel about this. The constant wear-down of not getting successes might get old in a campaign. I’d probably have to actually try a campaign to see how I felt.

This is how the games I ran turned out.

The Star Trek Adventures game that I was going to run only had one person show up. It was probably the time slot that I had selected on a Sunday that did this in. I would have run this on a Saturday, but originally a family commitment would have kept me out for the whole day. When plans changed and I only needed to leave for the evening, it was too late to change the date. With the single player I sat down and explained the game basics to him. It was his first convention and I think he was excited to just try something more than Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder.

Basic Fantasy went better than I expected. I got to use a new GMs tool to help draw out the map of the bandit’s lair that the party was trying to escape from (I’ll have a review blog post very soon on this). Most of the players were use to 5e so I had to explain some OSR styles (running away is an option, your character may die if you are not careful, etc.) Well they took this to heart and actually worked together very well to facilitate their escape. While looking up a rule really quick, I reminded myself of one of the basic guidelines for running a game. Keep the flow going and don’t be afraid to make judgment calls instead of slowing down play by looking up rules. I had one player tell me afterwards that he hadn’t been a fan of the D20 games, but would play more Basic Fantasy if offered because he had fun in my game.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, getting together is one of the highlights of playing RPGs. On the first day I bumped into a GM for Savage Worlds. He asked if I wanted to go through a quick demo, which I jumped at since it gave me the chance to check out a system I had never played. Turns out this guy runs an RPG video blog on YouTube called the Ace Roleplaying Games Club. He even named dropped my blog in his own SaltCON after-action report. Thanks Mason.

Once again I’d like to thank the army of volunteers and coordinators for putting SaltCON-Summer together. While I was disappointed in the swap meet (I really wish more people would bring their RPG books looking for new homes) I could see how people were having fun over the weekend. Even the convention organizers. I got to meet up with some friends that I only seem to see at these conventions as well. That is an added bonus to attending the convention.

Also note to self, don’t forget to pack some antacid tablets in your convention backpack just in case the nacho cheese served at the convention center affects me again.

Have you been to any gaming conventions lately? Tell me about it. 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: Conventions, Dungeons and Dragons, Horror, Role Playing Games, Star Trek, Star Wars

Prepping for SaltCON Summer 2024

The two games that I am running at SaltCON-Summer 2024.

Soon I’ll be enjoying another gaming weekend at SaltCON-Summer 2024 at the Davis Convention Center. As you can see above, I signed up to run two more games again. You can read about my past adventures at SaltCON in my past blog entries. I will be packing my Convention Backpack that I have documented in a previous blog post.

For this convention, I’ll be running two adventures that I did not write. I wanted to try some of the adventures that others had put out. The first will be for Basic Fantasy 4th Edition. Just in case any of the people signing up for my game might be reading, I’ll reveal the adventure after the convention. The second game is going to be a Star Trek Adventures game. Which one, however, I couldn’t say. When I originally signed up, I elected to run a Star Trek Adventures Klingon Empire adventure. However, just after I had signed up, Modiphius had released the Star Trek Adventures 2nd Edition Quickstart Rules. So I’m going to give the players who show up a choice. Klingon or 2nd Edition Quickstart. It will be interesting to see how this goes. I’ve read through the Quickstart rules and they sound better. I can’t wait for the 2nd Edition core rulebook to come out.

Here are the games that I’ve signed up to play at SaltCON-Summer 2024.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition- The adventure sounded interesting. It’s also being run by a friend of mine so I wanted to support him.

The One Ring– I’ve never played this system before so I thought I’d try it out. Plus I’ve always been a fan of the Lord of the Rings books.

Star Wars D6– A fan-continuation of the original West End Games D6 Star Wars roleplaying game. I haven’t played this system in years.

Ter’Ra’Mentia– This is the fantasy game written by some Utah authors. I met them at last year’s FanX when they were promoting their KickStarter. This will be a demo of the game.

The Walking Dead Universe RPG– The GM is running a scenario set in Utah. I’m very interested to see how this runs.

I know it doesn’t sound like many games. But SaltCON-Summer is only three days instead of the spring event which has four. But, I’m looking forward to sitting down with some friends (or soon-to-be new friends) and throwing some dice. I wonder if I’ll find any RPG bargains in the game swap? Look for the after-action report soon.

What should I be on the look out for? Any recommendations for the games I’m going to be playing? 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, Conventions, Horror, James Bond, Red Dwarf, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Star Wars

SaltCON-Spring 2024 After Action Report

Loot from the 2024 SaltCON Spring

I survived my time at SaltCON Spring 2024. I was starting to wonder if I was going to get through it. First I was nervous before the start (did I have everything ready for the games that I was running) and I had to take a few breaks to make sure I didn’t get overwhelmed. March definetly came in like a lion with a big snowstorm (with thunder) on Saturday. Luckily my Convention Backpack kept all of my items safe in the nasty weather. But I made it and I enjoyed myself. I even had someone come up to me and identify me from this blog. If you read my blog and meet me in real life, welcome. This gentleman even wanted to talk about the recent Character Creation Challenge.

So how did the games that I ran go? I think they did quite well. Both sets of players told me that they had fun, which was the goal. My Basic Fantasy game only had two players, so I had them use two characters each. They were able to find the lost son of a Dwarf nobleman before he was discovered in an area he wasn’t supposed to be in. And they did it differently than the previous time I ran this adventure so it was interesting to see a different approach to the problem the party was presented with. I’m going to have to re-draw the map before I try to submit it for possible publication within the Basic Fantasy community. As for the Star Trek Adventures Game, I had quite a few laughs as the Lower Deck style characters had to deal with the Top Core (aka Top Gear in space) antics. I encouraged the humorous nature at the table by tossing pieces of candy to the players that got into the spirit of things. I really want to polish up this scenario as well and “publish” it for others to use. Both games had minor hiccups (the draw-able map didn’t like the markers I had brought for the Basic Fantasy game and I had left some papers behind for the Star Trek game) but we got through them.

A special pin just for the convention.

A new thing that SaltCON did this year was running a pin quest at the event. If you went to certain sections of the convention center, you could earn/buy/trade for a convention pin. Just before the Basic Fantasy game, one of the organizers handed me two SaltCON 2024 RPG pins which was a mimic hiding as a book (pictured above). I was instructed to keep one and to award the second to the player at the table I thought did best. As I had mentioned, there were only two players in that game and I thought they both did equally well having to balance two characters. And, in player fashion, they came up with solutions that I hadn’t planned for as a GM. Thank heavens for GM intuition and rolling with the punches. I even got to use the phrase “I’m allowing that because it meets the ‘Rule of Cool’ so go ahead.” When the game was over, I place the pin in the middle of the table and asked the players to decide who earned it. With how good they were, they both pointed to the other guy and said ‘you take it.’ So I made a GM ruling and had them both roll a D20 with the highest roll winning. I didn’t really get a chance to collect any of the other pins, but that was fine.

I also appreciated that the RPG coordinator made special posters advertising the different games. Since there were multiple Star Trek Adventures games, they were all on the same poster. But I really liked the poster they made for my Basic Fantasy game. When the end of the convention hit, I couldn’t find that poster (even thought I had seen it hanging on the wall in the convention center). I’m very grateful to the organizer who tracked it down for me.

The QR codes allowed you to sign up for the game or find out more about it.

As for the games that I played (or attempted to play), here is how they went.

Fallout The Roleplaying Game– Turns out I had the same GM as last year. She even recognized me from before. It was the same scenario, so I just ran my character as someone who would want to do what the others wanted to do (without spoiling anything). Luckily we got farther than we did last year so I was able to see some new material. I really liked how I just slipped back into the groove of this game.

James Bond 007– The same game master as before, but a whole new scenario. The GM recognized me as well and even handed me the same character that I had previously played. This and the way the system was set up made it easy to slip back into the game with no kinks. For a game from the 80’s with a little crunch, it ran pretty smooth.

Dreams and Machines– A new game that I was looking forward to since it’s the first in-house IP for Modiphius. I liked the world that the game was built around. The starter set components (characters were created by selecting a series of cards with stats on them) made it easy for a convention one-shot. The GM’s daughter made jokes about how the little girl in the starter set was going to die (spoiler: she didn’t). And I liked some of the changes to the 2d20 system (there were tokens for equipment assets that I was able to use in the middle of game play). But there were other changes that I really didn’t know if I liked or not. Momentum was split with spirit which also had to do with health. It was convoluted and is something that I hope doesn’t make it into the just announced Star Trek Adventures Second Edition (I’ll be blogging more about this announcement later). While I enjoyed myself at the table, I don’t know if I’ll actually be picking up this game.

Red Dwarf The Role Playing Game– All but one player knew about the Red Dwarf TV show, so we had just as much fun explaining things to her as we did playing. And she got really involved (she played a cat character). I got to play this universe’s version of Lister (a space bum). The GM had a waxdroid character prepared, but didn’t give it a name allowing the character to decide. So we were running around with a waxdroid of Winston Churchill who was always on the lookout for Space Nazis (not only did we find them, we kicked their fascists butts). I really liked how the system worked and while we struggled (hey were not exactly the cream of the crop in the space corp) it made sense. I really need to get my own copy of this game.

Star Wars Roleplaying– This was a little weird. Not only was I learning about a new system, but the GM was part of a group called RPG Sessions. This is a website that had online tools that could be used for this version of Star Wars and a few other games from the same publisher. While he explained the dice to us (there were a lot of new players to this game), we were primarily playing with these tablets. So instead of learning one thing, I was attempting to learn two. While the online tools helped, I felt that not rolling dice took away my enjoyment (and learning) of the game. However a special thing happened while we were on a mid-game break that I’ll talk about below.

The Witcher Roleplaying Game and Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. I ended up dropping out of these games. I was able to cross my name off the sheet for The Witcher (and there were several people signed up as backups which made me better). There was some nasty weather going on and I wasn’t feeling all too well. I didn’t want to be fighting the storm at midnight to get home. I also needed sleep which caused me to not make it for the early morning Sunday D&D 5e game. To the GMs, I apologize for not being able to make it. I really wanted to check out The Witcher system since I had picked up the PDFs in a bundle sale last year. Hopefully at a future con I can play this game.

Old School Essentials– We only had three players (one very new to RPGs) but we got to fight a dragon that we tracked down. Lots of good roleplaying in this session. Unfortunately all three characters ended up as piles of ash by the end of the game.

The GM for GURPS Star Wars– accidentally left his Star Wars material at home (I know the feeling dude) so we ended up with a pickup game of Dungeon Fantasy. This is also a GURPS system. However (insert Ron Burgundy “Well that escalated quickly” meme) we ended up not getting very far. In fact, we ended up not getting out of the starting building without setting the building on fire (yea, it went south really fast). The party ended up getting kicked out of the town. So the game also didn’t last very long. But the GM, knowing of my past attempts at making a GURPS character, offered to sit down and show me how the publisher had streamlined Dungeon Fantasy. I was able to make a character with the bulk of needed items to play in about 20 minutes.

As for the loot pictured above, I was able to pick up the following items. I purchased the 2024 convention t-shirt (loved the design). There were no general RPG dealers in the dealers room (lots of self-publishers, but nobody if I wanted to pick up a new book from a regular publisher). At the game swap I was worried for the first two days because there was a TON of board games, but practically nothing in the way of RPG books. There were more DVDs than RPG books. But while I was in the Star Wars game that I mentioned above, someone came to the table and reported that they had seen the Star Wars starter set with dice for sale for a very good price. Especially when they discovered that the very expensive core rulebook was included in the box. Since we were on break, I had the guy take me directly down there where I was able to snatch it up (cha-ching, bargain found). On the last day of the con, I came across the core rulebook for The Strange. This is a Sci-Fi RPG that I had been sent a supplement for in the Random RPG book club. Now that I have the core rulebook, not only can I use it in a future Character Creation Challenge, but if I elect to trade/sell/give the books away, I can do so in a set. The last item I got was The Walking Dead Universe starter set. This was a gift from the game coordinator for doing a good job running my games at the con. I was not expecting this and it was very much appreciated.

While I didn’t play as a Captain in the Artemis Bridge Simulator, I was asked to play an walk-on part as an invading Borg Drone. I think it shocked some of the players to suddenly have a LARP like experience happen in the middle of a networked computer game. Thanks guys for letting me play this part (and I didn’t hurt myself too bad when I fell down after being shot with a phaser).

Conclusion:

I am very grateful to all of the volunteers who helped put this convention together. I’ve really been enjoying myself and meeting people from all over the US (and Canada) who travel to the con. I had a lot of fun despite my being overwhelmed in the middle. Not only am I thinking about possible games to run for SaltCON summer, I’ve also talked with another long-time GM who is expressing interest in running a few games.

Have you been to any gaming conventions lately? Tell me about it. 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: Archer, Character Creation Challenge, Comic Books, Conventions, Doctor Who, Dune, Dungeons and Dragons, Horror, Movies, Music, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Star Wars, Video Game, Website

Moving from 2023 to 2024

Stack of character sheets printed out for the 2024 #CharacterCreationChallenge

2023 was a weird year to say the least. I was able to see a ton of concerts including several that I wanted to check off of the bucket list. These included Duran Duran, Love and Rockets, The Cure, Garbage, and Depeche Mode. I was able to see a live show that featured some of the comedians from “Who’s Line Is it Anyway” (the show had a different name probably for copyright reasons). I’ll be getting the photos for these up in the photo albums.

For the first time in a long time, I had the opportunity to attend a gaming convention. SaltCON Spring, SaltCON Summer and SaltCON End-of-Summer. I know at the beginning of the year, I stated that I only wanted to participate at this event and not volunteer. Well, after much thought and discussion with others, I’ll be running two games next spring. One will be a one-shot for Basic Fantasy RPG that I already had written up and did some polishing on. The other is a Star Trek Adventures: Lower Decks inspired game where the crew will be meeting the cast of Top Core (a sci-fi parody of the BBC show, Top Gear).

I’m still watching a ton of movies at home thanks to the many streaming services that I have access to. In the theater I did enjoy Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. I also saw Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. I also enjoyed this movie and I hope that the ending would lead to another sequel. But I wouldn’t be disappointed if there wasn’t one. My youngest is a Five Nights at Freddy’s fan so we had to go see the movie in the theater. Not knowing much about the video game series, I thought the movie was OK and I wasn’t bored. In 2024 I’m looking forward to seeing Dune: Part Two, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga and Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.

Television wise I’ve been soaking up all of the various Star Trek franchises (Picard knocked it out of the park and I demand more Lower Decks). The Star Wars episodes have been good as well. I’m sad that Archer is ending, but I’d rather have it end on a high note. What We Do In The Shadows has also continued to entertain me. MST3K season 13 was a blast. I watch so much TV that I am unable to list them all here. On the weekends I’ve still been enjoying Svengoolie and Creature Features. I’m really looking forward to the new Doctor Who episodes after the great introduction from the 60th Anniversary specials and Christmas episode. The Fallout TV series has also caught my attention. I did cancel my Peacock account because there was nothing on it to watch (and I’d go months forgetting it was even there).

Reading wise I’m still going strong on the Star Trek and James Bond comics. While I’m also enjoying the Star Wars comics, I had to move from buying the physical books to a subscription to Marvel Unlimited due to the high cost of the individual issues. Too many Star Wars comics to continuing to buy them all.

I may have made a mistake with my video games. I set up both a Steam account and a GOG account. So I’ve been getting deals on lots of classic games that I use to play. I’ve been trying to play a few others as well such as Fallout New Vegas and a couple of other hidden gems that were tossed my way. But when it comes to time crunch issues, the video games get put off to the side pretty fast. I need to make sure that I’m spending some enjoyment time playing these games.

I want to get some writing done in 2024. I’ve talked about it, but I need to sit down and do it. Hopefully the Basic Fantasy scenario will be good enough to submit to the BFRPG community for consideration. While I also have some fan projects in mind, I’d actually like to have a few publications that I could legitimately sell online.

Keep an eye on this blog for what happens in 2024. Now off to the USS Ticonderoga New Years Eve party. Tomorrow I dive into the deep end of the pool with the Character Creation Challenge.

What did you enjoy about 2023? What geeky things do you want to do in 2024? Tell me about it. This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com or click on my social media links with any comments.

Posted in: Role Playing Games, Star Wars

RPGaDay2023 Day 29: Most memorable encounter

Day 29 of the #RPGaDAY2023 Challenge and the topic is “Most Memorable Encounter”. While a few of them popped in my head when I read the question, I’m going to go with this one for the West End Games Star Wars RPG system.

Back in the 90’s I was regularly attending games at a place called The Clubhouse which was next to Comics Utah. There were lots of different games happening in this place. Members of my gaming circle enjoyed playing the Star Wars RPG from West End Games. We played the usual misfit of rebels just after the events of The Empire Strikes Back. We had the smuggler, the pilot, the Jedi, etc.

There was one session where we all discovered an interesting aspect added to the WEG SW RPG. We were flying to some destination when we were spotted by an Imperial patrol. Not a big Star Destroyer, just some patrol along the way.

The captain of the vessel got on the comlink with the Imperials and was starting to talk his way out of them having to board us. Unbeknownst to him, the character of one of the players had an irrational hatred of the empire and immediately ran to one of the gun ports and started firing. He ended up shooting down at least one TIE Fighter. The CO was putting the Imperials on mute, screaming to the other characters about getting him off the guns and then returning to the conversation that they were having a “slight weapons malfunction”.

When asked for the name of the vessel, the CO responded “We are the Fresh Fruit Express” (trying to come up with a name on the fly. The GM tilted his head and asked the player to make a CON roll. Now this wasn’t CON as in Constitution that we normally see in Dungeons and Dragons. This was a skill used to “persuade an NPC to do something that isn’t in the NPC’s best interests.” It could be a distraction or a logical argument. Well the CO had a decent number of dice in the CON skill and rolled very high. High enough that he had been able to fool the Imperials that there was a mechanical issue and that they were carrying fruit.

We did end up having to land on a planet and meet up with the Imperials. The player had his CO character walking down the ramp eating an apple when he stepped out to continue the bluff.

I don’t know if I conveyed how hilarious we had found it at the time, but I still giggle when I think of “This is the Fresh Fruit Express.” Seeing how successful he had been in bluffing the Imperials, a lot of players dumped advancement points into the CON skill for future encounters.

Or was this just nostalgia in my head? It was memorable to me. Do you have a memorable RPG encounter that you’ve experienced? Tell me about it. 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: Comic Books, Conventions, Dungeons and Dragons, Reviews, Role Playing Games, Star Trek, Star Wars, Website

A bunch of geeky stuff on May 7th

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

Art Con:

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

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

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

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

Free Comic Book Day:

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

Random RPG Book Club-May Delivery:

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

Selection delivered in May 2022.

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

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

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

An unexpected tip of the hat:

Apparently my blog has been inspiring. Thank you.

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

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

Posted in: Role Playing Games, Star Wars

Character sheets from past games: WEG Star Wars RPG

In the latest entry of character sheets found in my old character book, I am posting a bounty hunter I once played in a Star Wars Roleplaying Game by West End Games. In my previous character sheet entries I posted characters from Dungeons and Dragons, the FASA Doctor Who RPG, Cyberpunk and Vampire: The Masquerade.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s I had the opportunity to play several sessions of the Star Wars RPG by WEG at a “clubhouse” next to Comics Utah in Sugarhouse (a suburb of Salt Lake). I believe this was the character that I was playing in the campaign when we all discovered how we could use the Con skill to BS our way through certain scenarios. This also may have been the campaign where our rebel ship faked being a merchant vessel called “The Fresh Fruit Express”.

I’m not certain where I came up with the name Sargoth Silverman. I’m sure that Sargoth sounded Star Warsish and Silverman just rolled off the tongue. The “De Commisar” nickname was inspired by the After the Fire song “der Kommisar“. I’m sure if I were to ask the younger me, he would say that he wanted to play a stealthy character this time around.

I’ve got several more WEG Star Wars RPG characters to post as well. I’ll get to them at a later time.

Posted in: Role Playing Games

Biggest turn-off when checking out a new table top RPG

A few days ago the independent TTRPG designer @TitanomachyRPG, asked on Twitter “Biggest turn-off when checking out a new #TTRPG?” While I gave a response to the post, I kept thinking about the question. I felt that it needed more than a quick jumble of words that fit into 240 characters. When I see a role playing game on the shelf at my favorite gaming store or online at DriveThruRPG, what makes me think that I should or should not pick it up?

Not only did I think about it, I pulled a few books down to find both good and bad examples. I collect the books, both in physical and PDF style. I love seeing the different styles and systems. When I open a role playing game, I see opportunity. Opportunity for creativity, adventure and an escape from this crappy world we live in. However since I have limited time, limited shelf space and limited funds, sometimes I have to stop myself from purchases. So when contemplating a purchase what am I considering? What turn-offs will make me not want to purchase a game?

First, am I currently playing (or plan to soon play) the game in question? Unfortunately, I am not playing a lot of role playing games right now. This is something I hope to remedy soon. Also am I planning to homebrew for the system? Right now I’m trying to homebrew for the various Star Trek RPGs so I’ve been trying to pick up the various Star Trek Adventures books and other Trek-based systems when the funds allow it. Yes, the cost of the game will make or break a purchase decision. There are several games that I’d like to pick up, but the price is a little beyond my reach. I’m also a bargain hunter, so finding an opportunity to save will help greatly in pulling the trigger. A lot of times the Bundle of Holding, Humble Bundle or DriveThruRPG Deal of the Day have offered me inexpensive options to pick up some titles in PDF version. Sales can often be found at game stores, conventions and online for the dead tree versions. Every once in a while, I can luck out and find a game at a thrift store. That is how I found the Holmes version of Dungeons and Dragons at a very good price. Now this doesn’t mean that I won’t pay full price for a book, but the higher the price, the more I’m putting it off (or using a gift card for it).

So now that the 800 lb gorilla is out of the way, let’s get down to the other items that I consider when thinking of making a game purchase. I will say that probably one of the biggest is how the game is explained in the rules. A publisher is asking me to pick up their game and play it. As RPGs are social games, I would need to explain the game in a nutshell to potential players how the game is played. So if a game takes a page or two and explains the basics of the game, I’m more inclined to buy it. I remember being at the game store and flipping through the pages of Modern Age. Right near the front the explained how the game system worked in simple terms. I ended up buying the game. When I used the Doctor Who Roleplaying Game by Cubicle 7 in the 2021 Character Creation Challenge, I spotted this.

I could show this to potential players and they would understand the concept quickly. The core concept was explained on a page or two with the extra details provided in the deeper parts of the book. This also helped me out when I was creating my first Doctor Who character in this system.

Speaking of character creation, one of the things that the Character Creation Challenge has taught me is that a book that clearly lays out the character creation system from start to finish is one that I’d be more inclined to pick up. Not just roll dice for your attributes, but step by step. This should include the equipment acquisition and a clear ending to the process. Too many times the character creation process would start, then suddenly go into the next chapter, then the next and then… well am I done? Give Step One and keep going until you give a clearly marked final step. As with the core rules, summarize then go into more details later.

Hopefully the RPG book will flow from beginning to end. When I’m flipping from one section back to another then to another just to understand how the rules work, it gets a little frustrating. So I’ll look for an index in the book. If there is one, that’s points in favor of a purchase. If the books in in PDF, is it bookmarked? Bookmark entries will also be points in favor of purchase.

We now have two methods of reading our games. Dead tree versions and soft copies (PDF primarily). While I’d prefer the dead tree version if I’m learning a game for the first time, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to learn from the PDF version. Publishers, please make sure that your books are readable in both formats. For example, here is one of the few things that I didn’t like about the Star Trek Adventures core rulebook.

I’m not a graphic designer. I don’t even play one on TV. But as a consumer, this was frustrating to me. The light fonts on a black background was very difficult to read. The over-use of the little side boxes also made it difficult to read. I’m trying to read the actual rules and these, for lack of a better term I’m going to call them pop up ads, side items would try to grab my attention. I already hate it when websites try to do this, but to see it in a book was just doubly frustrating. Yes the system was good, but as I was looking through the book, I kept wanting to re-write the chapters so it was just the rules. Luckily the publisher has received feedback on this because the PDF versions also come in a “printer friendly” option. While this doesn’t resolve the “pop up ad” items, it did make it easier on the eyes. Now Modiphius took this feedback and released the other books, like the Klingon Core Rulebook and Dune: Adventures in the Imperium, with a much better layout. It wasn’t so busy, it was easier to read. Thank you.

Speaking of graphic design, the art on the cover and in the book can add or subtract from the points towards purchase. Yes the old axiom is “Never judge a book by it’s cover”, but a good cover will help. I’ve had bad covers put me off on making the purchase. When looking at the interior art, I try to look at it more objectively now since I have a college aged kid studying this subject. I’ll ask her questions and show art examples to her to get her feedback. It’s really helped on some books. I was looking at one game that I picked up cheap on the DriveThruRPG Deal of the Day and some of the interior art, while good, didn’t fit the page it was on. You’re describing equipment, and you have the art of a character headshot that has nothing to do with the subject matter. It made me raise an eyebrow. For my final photo, I’m going to show a good cover and a not-so-good cover. The Operations Division Sourcebook for Star Trek Adventures and Technoir.

In my opinion, the cover for The Operations Division showed action and a clear image of what the book would be about. Starfleet officers in gold uniforms commonly worn by those in the Operations Division doing their jobs. The Technoir cover is, well noir-ish, but bland. It could have been a 1930’s detective cover or a futuristic style cover. Had I not been gifted the Technoir book, I don’t think I would have purchased it.

The last item that could move the needle towards or away from a purchase is the support the game has. Are there free “quickstart” versions of the game that will let me read some of the basic rules? (I have made purchases after reading the quickstarts) Is there an online community for the game? How does the vendor respond on social media? Can I grab some basic freebies from their website like character sheets, handouts, or other items?

Now stepping back into the personal realm, I do tend to gravitate towards games that are part of my general interests. Specific franchises such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who and other popular shows will catch my attention. As will specific genres such as espionage, westerns, pulp-era/gangsters, science fiction and post-apocalyptic. For fantasy, I’m sticking with Dungeons and Dragons or a good clone for that itch. Retro-versions of past games can also be picked up by my radar. What fails to grab me are horror (I’m really particular about my horror tastes, plus how can I be scared in an RPG), romance, and super-heroes. While I love hero movies and shows, I’m just not drawn to the super-hero RPGs at this time.

So in conclusion, publishers please make your game easy to understand so I can explain it to others. Make your publication readable and easy to use and investing in some good artwork will really help. Hopefully this insight into one of your consumers will help you with future sales.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some more RPG books I’d like to read through.

Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Dune, Role Playing Games, Spy-Fi, Star Trek

2022 Character Creation Challenge after action report

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

So the 2022 Character Creation Challenge is now in the books and this was a bit different from the 2021 challenge. I don’t know if I was more enthusiastic about the games in 2021 or if it was something else. Not knowing if there was going to be a 2nd challenge, I used a lot of games that I really wanted to run/play. For 2022 there were more games of “well it’s there, let’s take a look at it” which may have been the wrong attitude. But I’m glad that I used those games. While there are some that I’ll never play and may even trade the games away, I can still say that I’ve dipped my toe into the water. I was worried that my lack of enthusiasm for that game may affect the creation process. There was a few times I told myself “smeg it, I’m done”. I still want to do a variety of games, but I’m wondering if I should just limit it to the games I would actually want to play? I’ve got some time to think about this.

I tried to use the time that would have been allotted to me in a session zero time frame to create a character for the challenge. For some games that I am not familiar with I would probably need a lot more time to learn the system. For games that I am familiar with, I would need time to think about a character concept that would go with a party. During the 31 day challenge I also made a Far Trek character for an online game. That was done in free time and it took a few days because I had to confirm what positions were still available. Unfortunately the Engineering spot had already been taken up otherwise I would have requested the use of the character I made in 2021.

My biggest suggestions for game writers, a checklist or worksheet is a big help. Give a start and an end to the character creation process that includes the allocation of equipment. There were some really funky and weird equipment guidelines in some of the games. Some kewl and some made me scratch my head and wonder what they were smoking. Also explain your system before character creation starts. I mean explain it simply and save the extra details for later in the book. If you are going to have a player pick a value or belief for the character, give more than 2-3 examples. Even if they don’t get used they may inspire other ideas.

I would like to say that I’m very surprised by a couple of things. A thank you has to go out to the companies that still have character sheets available online for games that they haven’t touched in years. I was also surprised that some of the dead games were still available on DriveThruRPG. Especially the Farscape RPG since it is based on an intellectual property.

Last year I only printed out the character sheets just before I needed to use them. This year I had this drive to have all sheets printed out and ready to go before the challenge started. I was really glad I did this. When I discovered that one game (sideways glance at Fantasy Imperium) had a six-page character sheet and that I had scheduled it for a weekday, I moved that game to a day I had off. I’ve played with character sheets in excel, fillable character sheets and even sheets provided in a virtual table top. But I have fond memories of writing things down on a printed out sheet and loved doing that as part of this challenge. When I found my three-ringed binder full of old characters that I had played, I had a blast remembering the past games.

Yes there will be a 2023 Character Creation Challenge. Details won’t be posted for quite some time however as I’ve got to decompress.

The reaction to this year’s challenge is one of the many things that blew me away. The 2022 Character Creation thread on the RPG.net forums was named a Staff Pick by the moderators. This year’s thread has made it up to (at the time of this posting) 128 pages. This was three times larger than the 2021 thread of 42 pages. I loved reading all of the different blogs that participated. If I don’t have your blog on the Character Creation Page, please send me the URL. On social media I could not keep up with all of the entries using the hashtag #CharacterCreationChallenge. This was particularly true on twitter, that place was gangbusters. I tried to like and re-tweet as much as I could but some days that got to be too much. If I missed your post, don’t feel bad. Ten days into the challenge I realized that I should have kept a tally of how many entries there were for each system, but in 20/20 hindsight I’m glad I didn’t. That could have taken up a ton of time. Perhaps I’d do this if I wasn’t actually creating characters, but I really want to roll dice since I haven’t been able to get together with friends on a regular basis. There was a number of entries also posted on Facebook and MeWe. It wouldn’t surprise me if similar threads were popping up on other social media sites and message boards. If you hear of any that I don’t follow, please let me know.

Speaking of reactions, I added a new plugin for my site this year that tracked the number of visitors. It showed the sites that you guys would read. The top five games that brought in the most visitors was Dungeons & Dragons: Holmes Basic, Classic Traveller, Espionage! and Dungeons & Dragons: B/X edition. I still need to find a way to enable followers to comment on blog posts without having to worry about spambots infiltrating everything.

The 2022 games that made the most impression on me are Dune: Adventures in the Imperium, Star Trek Adventures-The Klingon Empire, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Boldly Go!, White Lies! and Covert Ops. I want to take deeper looks at Tiny Dungeon 2nd edition, Amazing Adventures 5E, Modern Age, Castle & Crusades and Classic Traveller. While I may never get a chance to play them, I do have a greater appreciation for Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Paranoia 2nd Edition. The low points of this challenge were Fantasy Imperium and Blue Rose.

A lot of participants were posting their list of games before the challenge started. While I had a spreadsheet created to help me with my entries, I’m glad that I didn’t post it. I swapped out a couple of games when two new games came into my possession. The two I rotated out was Rocket Age and The Frontier, which should be on my 2023 challenge list.

Here is my final 2022 Character Creation Challenge list.
Day 1: Dune Adventures in the Imperium Character: Tarkin Dal of the House Nimoi
Day 2: Wendy’s Feast of Legends Character: Garthos of the Order of the Spicy Chicken Sandwich
Day 3: Dungeons & Dragons-Holmes Basic Character: Dylath
Day 4: Men in Black The Roleplaying Game Character: Agent C
Day 5: BASH! Sci-Fi Edition Character: TaChar
Day 6: Star Wars Saga Edition Character: Keet Apaal
Day 7: Espionage! Character: Devron Marcus
Day 8: Star Trek Adventures-The Klingon Empire Character: Nurot son of H’unos
Day 9: Pirates and Plunder Character: Jason “Jake” McCabe
Day 10: Modern Age Character: Raymond Ray
Day 11: Farscape Roleplaying Game Character: Drellith
Day 12: Castles and Crusades Character: Godfrey of Cloverdale
Day 13: The Judge Dredd Roleplaying Game Character: Judge Stark
Day 14: Boldly Go! Character: Tigrox Carvor of the SFS Valiant
Day 15: Covert Ops Character: William Greene
Day 16: Paranoia 2nd Edition Character: Car-R-PET-1
Day 17: Fantasy Imperium Character: William Moore
Day 18: Cyberpunk v3 Character: Freejack
Day 19: Amazing Adventures 5E Character: Derick Fieldstone
Day 20: Dungeons & Dragons B/X edition Character: Brother Alexander
Day 21: Prime Directive 1st edition Character: Kovil
Day 22: Werewolf The Apocalypse Character: Hans Brulker
Day 23: MERC Character: Mark Powell
Day 24: Dungeon Crawl Classics Character: Multiple
Day 25: White Lies! Character: Ronald Denton
Day 26: Classic Traveller Character: Tyrell Balto
Day 27: Blue Rose Character: Valk Starn
Day 28: Bubblegum Crisis Character: Taxun
Day 29: Technoir Character: Arron “Trench” Chambers
Day 30: Dark Conspiracy Character: Dale Laslow
Day 31: Tiny Dungeon 2nd edition Character: Rek Son of Talk

While I’m not trying to think of the 2023 challenge yet, I’m really hoping that I can find a copy of Star Frontiers for it. I’m also having doubts that I’ll ever find my Top Secret S/I collection. I may have to break down and see if I can acquire the rules again.

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.

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. If you buzz me, I’ll send you the badge to display.

Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Role Playing Games, Star Wars

2022 Character Creation Challenge Day 6: Star Wars Saga Edition

In the 2021 Character Creation Challenge I had the opportunity to create a character for the D20 Star Wars Revised Core Rulebook. At the time I mentioned that I didn’t know what was the difference between the revised rules and the Saga rules since I did not own the Saga core book. Well over the summer of 2021 a friend (not the same friend who moved back east) offered to give me his Saga books since he knew they would be going to a good home. So for the 2022 challenge, I decided that I would make a character using the Star Wars Saga rules.

Over the holiday break I had the opportunity to watch my college aged kid play a lot of Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order, so I think I want to make a young Jedi character. I was tempted to use the Knights of the Old Republic guidebook, but it’s been a buys day so far so I’m going to stick with a pre-empire era character. Keet Apaal is a young Zabarak Jedi serving with the order on various assignments.

I haven’t done a lot of dice rolling for this year in the #CharacterCreationChallenge, so I elected to go with the 4d6 drop the lowest method listed in the book. There was also a point build option and a standard score package just as there was in the revised rules. I ended up the following. STR 12, DEX 13, CON 11, INT, 11, WIS 14, CHA 11. I see that they moved back to the term “Hit Points” for the Saga edition. I added my racial and class abilities. No armor class, but the savings throws are used as defenses with the Fortitude added to the Damage Threshold.

As a Jedi Guardian, I selected the appropriate skills (Use the Force and Perception), feats (Force Training) and force powers (Move Object, Rebuke and Surge). I started filling in my equipment and weapons. For some reason there was no crit information on the weapons despite it being listed on the character sheet. I was done with the creation process. Here is the sheet.

Afterthoughts:

It’s been a year since I did the earlier D20 Star Wars character. I don’t recall there being too much difference between the revised and Saga character creation process. I think it was a little clearer this round, but having just completed the process may make it fresh in my mind.

I’m still a big fan of the D20 system based off of the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 rules. I could very easily see myself playing this game if an opportunity arose. There could also be some homebrewing in the future if inspiration struck.

Additional Notes:

I’ve added a couple more blogs that are participating in the #CharacterCreationChallenge. As I was doing this, I noticed that we have more links to blogs than we did in 2021. Please let me know if I’m missing anyone.

Coming Up Next:

Espionage! by Hero Games

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