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

Dicing With Dragons: A Review

Earlier this year I was walking through a mall in my city that has a used book store. Like a siren calling me to the depths, I went in not knowing what I was going to find. This used book store has had several roleplaying game books in the past, but it actually had an entire display towards the front of the store. It was probably trying to capitalize on the Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie that was playing in the theater across the mall. Most of the books were ones I already owned or made my savings throw vs buy. But one book caught my eye. A little hardback book with a worn book jacket titled Dicing with Dragons: An Introduction to Role-Playing Games by Ian Livingstone.

I don’t know why this book jumped up and said “buy me”. Perhaps it was a chance to look into the early parts of the role-playing hobby since this book was published in 1982. According to the text on the inside of the jacket, the author co-founded Games Workshop and was (at the time) editor of White Dwarf magazine. Since the price was reasonable, I made the purchase with the intent to read and review the book for the blog.

This version that I had picked up was the book club edition. From what I saw on the internet, this book also appears to be available in paperback as well. This book was printed in the United States by The New American Library. I believe this company is one of the branches of Signet and/or Plume. All three company names were listed in the credits.

My book has 210 pages with several black and white illustrations (created by Russ Nicholson) and several sample pages from various games. The cover on the jacket was painted by Victoria Poyser. The book is broken down by acknowledgements, introduction, nine chapters and three appendixes.

The introduction takes a narration from the characters point of view through a combat scenario in a dungeon setting. This is one that you would normally read at the start of a ‘what is role-playing’ section of a core rule-book. In typical old-school fashion, one of the characters dies in this narration. This leads us directly into chapter one “Mind Games.” The author gives a description on how role-playing games work. What are player characters, working together in a group, using the power of imagination, etc. There is a discussion of the differences between RPGs and board games, the different styles of dice and what the different players do (including the dungeon/game master).

Chapter 2 “A Solo Adventure” talks about the rise of solo roleplaying (which is making a comeback from what I understand). There is a mention of Tunnels and Trolls (a popular solo RPG at the time) but primarily focused on a game written by Mr. Livingstone for this book called Fantasy Quest. It has a character sheet, creation rules and a combat system. Don’t be surprised if I end up creating a character for the next Character Creation Challenge coming up in January, 2024. I didn’t read too much of this chapter beyond the rules section primarily because I wanted to actually play the game after I’ve created my character. But the adventure is in the typical (if you want to go left, read section 17, if you want to go right read section 18, etc.)

“Games You Can Buy” is our next chapter. The author talks about some of the beginnings of the industry in the 1970s and how someone can learn the different games and rule sets. Then he discusses the popular games at the time with a little bit of detail. Not exactly a rule-book, just enough to give you an idea of what is needed to grasp the game. These included Dungeons and Dragons, Runequest, Traveller, and the above mentioned Tunnels and Trolls. The end of this chapter mentioned a few other games that were available on the market at the time, but didn’t go into detail on these systems.

Chapter 4 “Accessories” talks about the various published or authorized books and products that were available at the time of publishing. It broke these down by rules expansions, playing aids, background supplements and scenarios. It also listed their publisher and status (official, approved, etc.). Most of these I had heard about or seen in person or in catalogs. Some I wondered if they actually existed, but at the time of reading I didn’t want to get distracted by internet searches. There was also a description of magazines (yes White Dwarf was listed first) and a very brief listing of fanzines.

“Miniature Figures” was the subject of chapter 5. I really skipped a lot of pages in this chapter so I really couldn’t tell you if the techniques would still be useful for today. The primary reason for this is my lack of patience to put together models or paint miniatures. I love seeing them in play and I admire the person who does have that patience, but I know that person isn’t me. There are color charts and diagrams about how to paint. So, it may be useful to someone with that interest.

Chapter 6 is titled “Playing God” and the author discusses a lot of tips and tricks for new game masters to use. A lot of it made sense and were items that I had thought about (or read about in other GMs guides). But it was interesting seeing the early 80’s viewpoint.

Chapter 7 was for something very new at the time, “Computer Games“. The author talks about the wide possibilities that computers could help in gaming (if he only knew). I did skip a few pages in this chapter as well, but not for the same reason as chapter 5 above. The author was trying to describe in 80’s terminology the parts of a computer. “A kilobyte is…”, etc. It is a little dated (remember that a computer year is like a dog year). Having worked with computers since the late 80’s, a lot of it was very dry to me. If you are interested in the early days of computing, this chapter may be of interest to you.

The next chapter, titled “One Step Beyond” was very short. It covered live action role-playing. From the assassin game Killer to the SCA to something in the United Kingdom called Treasure Trap that was held in a real medieval castle. It sounded interesting, but I don’t think it may have gotten very far.

Chapter 9 titled “How Do I Start?” covered the different methods that you could use to get involved with other gaming enthusiasts and groups. It also talks about game shops and conventions. These techniques were good for the time and gives a look on what challenges the players had in getting together. It was a good chapter to end the book on.

Appendix 1 gave the postal addresses for the various game publishers. Magazine publishers were found in Appendix 2. Addresses for companies involved in miniatures and figures could be found in Appendix 3.

As I was reading this, I started gaining an appreciation for those who came before me. I started getting interested in role-playing games not too long after this book came out, but I was stuck in the bubble that most junior-high kids found themselves in at the time. What information we gathered came from local shops or what was published in the magazines of the time. While some of the items in this book are a little dated now, it still gives an interesting look into the introduction that many of our fellow players may have used. I’m glad that I have found this book and added it to my collection.

Have you read Dicing With Dragons? What books would you recommend about the early days of the role-playing game industry/hobby? 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: Autographs, Collecting, Comic Books, Community Service, Conventions, Cosplay, No One Lives Forever, Star Trek

FanX 2023 After Action Report

Some of the loot from FanX 2023.

2023 marked the 10th Anniversary of FanX: The Salt Lake Comic Convention. I remember when I first heard about this event in 2013. It was announced that Jonathan Frakes would be the guest at a con to be held at a convention center in Sandy, Utah. I had just arrived at a friends house to talk Seventh Fleet business. We had never heard of the company that was putting together Salt Lake Comic Con (as it was called then). The event became so popular (I think the name and lots of advertising helped) that eventually the convention was moved to the Salt Palace (the largest convention center in Utah). In 2013 it ended up being the third largest comic book convention in North America.

So it’s no surprise that ten years later it’s still going strong. Since the Seventh Fleet is given the opportunity to perform our community service mission at the con, I was in attendance to help out. Here is my after action report.

One of the first things that is different this year (for me) is using the FanX app. It had some good thing and some areas that needed improvement. I was able to see a lot of the panels that were scheduled and I could even set up reminders. However the reminders were not very descriptive when popping up on my screen (it’s only in the small notification area at the top). The map was very generic which was bad in trying to find something. Probably the biggest thing that needed to be improved was looking up the panels themselves. In order to see just the panels, you had to select each individual panel room. Then it showed you the panels for that room on that day. It would be very helpful if we could get this information (just the panels) in a grid so I could see if there was a conflict between two panels that I’d like to go see. I could see the value in having the app and I used it several times to confirm times. But I feel that this still needs some improvement before it becomes something to brag about.

Usually at a pop and comic convention there is a LARGE number of guests. Sometimes it is overwhelming when it comes to budgeting money to pick up autographs. As it turns out, this was Christopher Lloyd’s last convention appearance so that made . Something that FanX has finally done is added the autograph prices to their website so I could decide a head of time who I could afford. But I do dislike that a lot of guests (or more honestly, their agents) think, “Hmm… comic con. I’ll jack my prices up by 20-30 dollars.” I’ve found myself getting less and less autographs each convention.

Achievement Unlocked

The main person I was really interested in seeing was Jen Taylor. She is best known as the voice actress who voiced Cortana from the Halo series of video games and TV shows. But the reason I wanted to meet her was due to her work as the voice of Cate Archer in No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in Harms Way. This series is a cult video game that is in IP rights hell. No one knows exactly who owns the rights. So the game can’t be re-tooled for modern computers and added to GOG or Steam. Several years ago Jen Taylor had stated in an article that she didn’t know if there was still NOLF fans out there. I let her know that we were still present and really wished that the game could be re-made for new fans to discover. She was actually excited to hear that we were still out there.

I do have to thank my old roommate who had found this poster for me many, many years ago. He had found it in a gaming magazine and gifted it to me. This is the first time it’s been out of the frame I use in several years. Thank you Gibby.

A look at the autograph.

One of the other guests that I met up with is Science Fiction author Dayton Ward. He has written several Star Trek novels and contributed to the Star Trek Adventures RPG Star Trek Comics and Star Trek magazines. I wanted to make sure that he felt welcomed to Utah. I picked up two books from him. His Star Trek Discovery novel Somewhere to Belong and the Star Trek Kirk Fu Manual (you know I had to add this to my resource library).

After picking up the Alien RPG at the 2022 FanX convention, I was wondering if I could find any RPG books this time around. Believe me, I looked to see if anything jumped out at me this year. A ton of dice vendors. I’d really like to know if they made the dice themselves or ordered it from a third party. There was an author selling a superhero RPG (which is a genre I’m not really interested in role-playing right now) and another author who had written his own 5E guidebook to a fantasy world he had a book series set in. This last one looked pretty, but I couldn’t justify the $50 for the full color version. I did bump into a local publisher who had their first Kickstarter out for the Ter’Ra’Mentia Role Playing Game. This was a fantasy game with a 2d12 system that sounded interesting. I was able to look through the beta-version of the book (about a third in size of the book that will contain player, GM and monster information) and it looked interesting. They are also using a local artist for all the art in the book (none of that AI generated crap). For that alone I’m giving this one some serious thought towards supporting.

One of the biggest surprises from the con came not from the con itself, but from a friend. Earlier in September comic book artist Sean Von Gorman was in Salt Lake to promote the newest IDW Star Trek comic, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds- The Scorpius Run. Sean was there to sign the Retailer Variant cover that was inspired by the cover of the first issue of Star Trek DC Comics issue 1. I was not able to attend the signing because of another engagement, but my friend had picked up a copy for me and gave it to me at the Seventh Fleet booth. I was very excited.

Speaking of the Seventh Fleet, we were performing our community service charter by raising funds for a special charity. Heroes4Causes is a publishing house creating superheroes that have the same affliction (such as pediatric brain cancer or cystic fibrosis) so that kids can see that they can still be heroes. One of the artists was present at our booth and was signing books and art for donations. To draw in the crowds, we had home-made stand up cutouts of the Star Trek: Lower Decks crew for people to take photos with. We had a lot of people who were wanting photos. There was even a crowd of other vendor chanting “Lower Decks! Lower Decks!” when we first brought in the characters.

Many thanks to Dan Farr, the staff and volunteers at FanX. You helped us perform our community service mission and we had a lot of fun in the process. I can’t wait to see what will happen in 2024 when the convention is held on September 26-28.

Here are some random photos from the convention.

Posted in: Collecting, Reviews, Role Playing Games

Review of Dice Legends products

Two sets and dragon dice bag from Dice Legends

Last year I saw an add for the North-to-South Designs Gaming giving away free dice if you paid for the shipping. Well another advertisement came up earlier this year for Dice Legend that was giving away dice if you payed for the shipping. After the interesting response from NTDS, I thought I’d check it out.

After checking out the link from the advertisement, the prices were all listed as $0.00. The shipping prices were not listed but would be revealed just before completing the order. There was 21 pages of free items that also included pins, dice trays, metal dice, acrylic dice, jewelry, dice containers and patches.

I had selected three sets, and then knocked it back down to two after I saw the shipping prices. With the two sets it cost me $18 (so about the same if I had purchased two sets in a local gaming store). I received a confirmation email and a tracking number. Which turned out to be from China Post. It took a few days before I could get signed up to receive email updates and I waited. One email arrived a few days later stating that the package had moved from one location in China to another location. Google maps showed it wasn’t very far. Oh well, I figured it would take a while.

To my surprise, the package showed up a week later. I think the reason it was a surprise is that I didn’t get any further email updates letting me know the status. I never received another email until a week after the package had arrived stating that the package had been delivered. Um… OK.

As for the dice themselves, I picked up two sets. The first was the Dark Purple set (for my geek wife, which she loved). The second was the Vampire Set with red numbers on a white translucent color. Both sets had the same gothic looking font. I’m certain that there is an official name for this font, but I don’t know what it is.

The two D20s compared with the NTDS D20 on the right.

While comparing the weight and feel, they seemed to be about the same as the NTDS set and the set I picked up from the Dollar Tree in 2021. Which also meant that it was lighter than the Chessex dice. I did several test rolls and it did the job. Random numbers across the board.

A surprise in the package was a free dragon dice bag with an eye embedded in it. The note of appreciation stated it was a $12 value. It was large enough to hold a set or two, but not my entire collection. I’ve got a dice bag that I have no idea where I picked it up from.

Since she hasn’t had a chance to uses the set, my wife didn’t have an opinion on her dice. So while I thought the gothic looking font was kewl, I’m not really certain I’d pick up another set for full price. The weird lack of communication from China made me raise an eyebrow. I think I’d prefer to order from a domestic manufacturer.

What is your favorite dice set? 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: Collecting, Role Playing Games

RPGaDay2023 Day 23: Coolest looking RPG product/book

Day 23 of the #RPGaDAY2023 Challenge and it’s a hard one. Coolest looking RPG product/book. I’ve got so many to choose from.

I really liked two of the recent Modiphius Star Trek Adventures products. Earlier this year I reviewed the Star Trek Lower Decks Campaign Guide and the Utopia Planitia Starfleet Sourcebook.

I also thought that the Lynx Dice Dunce Chair that I had reviewed several years ago was pretty kewl and I could put my Jason Fox Lucky D20 in it if I wanted (but it has all 20s on each side so it would never go wrong).

But for this blog entry, I think I’ll talk about one of the recent purchases that I haven’t had a chance to review yet. The 20-in-One Card Deck by precis Intermedia. The GM of the James Bond RPG that I played at SaltCON Spring was using it during his game and I was really impressed that I had to order a set of my own.

It is a set of 60 cards and an instruction sheet. There is a standard set of playing cards (with 8 Jokers), your common single die rolls (D3 up to D20), common multiple die rolls (2D6, 3D6, 2D10, and D%), Averaging die roll, Fudge/FATE Roll (-4 to +4), D6-D6 Roll (-5 to +5), Coin flip, Yes/No with Conditionals (and/but), Directional (in degrees) and Clue (who, what, where, when, why).

Sample of one of the cards

While I haven’t had a chance to use these as a GM, I did get a chance to use them when I played Weird Frontiers at SaltCON-Summer. I’m looking forward to using these in the future. As a GM, the players can’t hear me draw a card as they can rolling a die. Muwahahahahahah!!!!!!

What is your coolest looking RPG product or book? 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: Collecting, Star Trek

July 2023 Star Trek eBook deals

It looks like the Dominion War from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is taking front and center for the latest eBook deal from Pocket books. There are also a couple of Voyager novels in this mix as well. Various Star Trek digital novels are only 99 cents for the month. Amazon is also doing a special where you earn points for each book you buy. This can lead to free books.

I noticed something putting this blog post together. The 3rd novel in the Dominion War series is listed by Pocket Books (and on Amazon) as being written by Esther Friesner. Yet the cover has John Vornholt listed. Does anyone know why there is a discrepancy?

Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Dominion War Book 1 Behind Enemy Lines by John Vornholt
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Dominion War Book 2 Call to Arms by Diane Carey
Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Dominion War Book 3 Tunnel Through The Stars by Esther Friesner
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Dominion War Book 4 Sacrifice of Angels by Diane Carey
Star Trek Tales of the Dominion War edited by Keith R.A. DeCandio
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Rising Son by S.D. Perry
Star Trek: Voyager: Captain Proton Defender of the Earth by Dean Wesley Smith
Star Trek: Voyager: Seven of Nine by Christie Golden

Which books have you read? Which book do you think would make for a good Star Trek Adventures scenario? Feel free to talk about it on my the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord channel.

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

A look at Basic Fantasy RPG 4th Edition

The covers to the 3rd and 4th edition of the Basic Fantasy RPG.

So on July 3rd my hardcover copy of Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game 4th Edition arrived at my house. This is the latest version of the OSR inspired game that I had ran for my college aged daughter and her friends. I’ve also used this game as one of the entries in the #CharacterCreationChallenge.

So if PDFs of this game is free on the Basic Fantasy website, why did I purchase a physical book? Well, I wanted to support the community efforts into creating the 4th edition. After the OGL fiasco that Wizards of the Coast had created earlier this year the Basic Fantasy community elected to remove all System Reference Document (SRD) references in the game and place the system under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. At the time they were doing this, I was unable to jump in and help lightened the load. It took a lot of volunteers to help out in getting Basic Fantasy moved over. The primary concern was to remove all terminology that could be construed as SRD. These “limits” only fueled the creativity of the Basic Fantasy community that is now seen in the new 4th edition book. Some of these I’ll mention below.

As you can see from the photos above, the covers of the 3rd edition and 4th edition look very similar. The biggest change is the “castle border” now wraps around to the back of the book. Chris Gonnerman mentioned in one of his videos that this was a creative decision in order to give an “at a glance” look that differentiated the 3rd edition books from the 4th edition books. Plus he really likes the dragon art that was used on the cover that he had commissioned. (Side note: pay the artists for their work. Chris did for this cover and I thank him for that.) The 3rd edition book has 166 pages where as the 4th edition has 202 pages. The ISBN is 9798398957679 for the hardbound (I’m not certain if the softbound has a different ISBN number) and it ran me a little over $18 after taxes. Because I have an Amazon Prime membership, shipping was free. Not a bad price for a hardbound book considering some of the other prices I’ve seen lately.

The system itself is basically the same. With the SRD text, mostly, removed. As I was thumbing through the books side by side, I noticed that the 4th edition had page numbers when they referenced another section (i,e “See How to Attack on page 53…”). I could see this being very helpful when you are quickly flipping through the book trying to find a rule. It was also visible that some descriptions of various items (spells, races, classes, etc.) had been slightly altered.

The monster section has been greatly expanded from 183 entries in 3rd edition to 213 entries in the 4th edition book. Some of the new art can be found here. I think the art for the Rot Grub is going to give me nightmares. When the volunteers working on the update thought that they couldn’t use Kobolds any more (until WotC backed off of the OGL mess), they came up with their own variation that was still used in the book, The Barklings.

Did you just tell us to go fetch?

I think this shows some of the creativity that went into this update. Another change was with the Dragons. Instead of being just a red dragon or a white dragon, now they are based off of their environment. The red dragon is now a mountain dragon, white represents the ice dragon, etc. They list the old terminology next to each type so it is easily connected. However the cloud dragon is not listed with a color in my copy of the book. I also like that they listed the similar monsters together, such as all of the puddings are listed under pudding.

The back part of the book deals with magic items, various rules and optional rules that the gamemaster can use, stocking dungeons, setting up strongholds, etc. As with the other sections, there has been some polishing here and there, but it basically looked like it covered the same subjects as before. I will say it was a little different not seeing the OGL statements at the back of the book that I’ve been seeing for over twenty years. But I think that’s a good thing.

So my complements to the army of volunteers at the Basic Fantasy forums for coming together and getting this project done. I could easily have seen a lot of project creep work it’s way in which they were able to avoid. Players of the Basic Fantasy RPG will easily recognize the high quality that this line has been known for. If you are looking for an old school feel with some modern tweaks, I’d recommend picking up this book. At the least, it just costs you some download time to get the books and supplements. But if you are like me, a person who loves to feel the weight of a book in his hands, then I would strongly urge you to pick up a physical copy.

Have you played Basic Fantasy RPG? Do you enjoy the games that have that OSR feel? 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, Star Trek

June 2023 Star Trek eBook deals

The complete Star Trek Deep Space Nine worlds set and the Star Trek Destiny set highlight the June 2023 eBooks that are available for 99 cents. There is also one TOS novel, one Stargazer novel, an additional DS9 novel and one for both Enterprise and Discovery.

All of these eBooks are 99 cents and available to read on your Amazon Kindle. Amazon is also doing a special where you earn points for each book you buy. This can lead to free books.

Star Trek: The Original Series: No Time Like The Past by Greg Cox
Star Trek: The Original Series: The Higher Frontier by Christopher L. Bennett
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Stargazer: Oblivion by Michael Jan Friedman
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Revenant by Alex White
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Worlds of Deep Space Nine #1: Cardassia and Andor by Heather Jarman and Una McCormack
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Worlds of Deep Space Nine #2: Trill and Bajor by Andy Mangels, Michael A. Martin and J. Noah Kym
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Worlds of Deep Space Nine #3: The Dominion and Ferenginar by Keith R.A. DeCandio and David R. George III
Star Trek: Enterprise: The Expanse by J.M. Dillard
Star Trek: Discovery Dead Endless by Dave Galanter
Star Trek: Destiny #1: Gods of Night by David Mack
Star Trek: Destiny #2: Mere Mortals by David Mack
Star Trek: Destiny #3: Lost Souls by David Mack

Which books have you read? Which book do you think would make for a good Star Trek Adventures scenario? Feel free to talk about it on my the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord channel.

Posted in: Collecting, Comic Books, Star Trek

Star Trek Sky’s The Limit (and some DVDs)

While I was doing some research for my “More IDW Comics in Star Trek Adventures?” blog post, I came across an interesting tidbit in Memory-Alpha. There was a comic released by IDW in 2019 called Star Trek: Sky’s The Limit. This concerned me. My local comic book store had been very good about making sure that all new Star Trek titles from IDW Publishing was put into my hold. I had also not seen digital versions of this comic come up on Amazon.

So I inquired with some of the online Star Trek comic discussion boards and was pointed in the direction of the Star Trek Picard Movie & TV Collection. The Blu-Ray set contained TNG episodes “The Best of Both Worlds” and “Chain of Command” along with all of the TNG movies. But included in the set was the 16-page Sky’s The Limit comic. This is why I didn’t see it in the comic store, it was a special item.

So to the online shopping sites I went. And luckily I was able to find the set with the comic at a reasonable price. A week later, it arrived. So this is my review of the comic (and a few notes about the movies/episodes).

A size comparison between Sky’s The Limit and the recently released Star Trek #7

It shouldn’t of surprised me, but the issue is only 5.25 inches across and just under 7 inches high. This was so it would fit into the Blu-Ray slip-case. The story was written by Thomas Zahler, art by Carlos Nieto and colored by Charlie Kirchoff. As mentioned above there are only 16 pages in the issue, but I think this gave the story an advantage. Set in Stardate: 48516.7 (just after the events in “All Good Things…“) Picard has to protect a Federation colony from a Maquis cell. The story is pretty quick and it reminds me of reading a short story. The writer only had so many words (or in this case panels) to tell the story so they got right to it. There were still a few tidbits that would be recognized by Star Trek fans (General Order 24 anyone?) plus some new things that I’ll probably need to update on Memory-Beta. When I was done reading the comic, I was glad that I had picked it up. This is one of two (that I’m aware of) IDW Comics that have not been made available digitally. The other being the Loot Crate “Star Trek: The Next Generation – Mirror Broken: Origin of Data” comic that was released in 2017. I had to jump through some hoops to get a copy of that issue. I really wish that IDW would release digital versions of these two books since they were both released several years ago.

As for the disks, well they were just the episodes and movies. I enjoyed watching the gag reel and documentary on Best of Both Worlds. But when I compared the movies to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Motion Picture Movie Collection I already owned on Blu-Ray, they were practically the same disks with the same specials and bonus features. I was a little disappointed as I was hoping for new material.

On the Star Trek comic message boards, someone responded to me that the comic would be worth it if you were a collector who needed all of the issues. While I don’t feel the need to collect every variant cover (what I want is on the inside) I did want a copy of Sky’s The Limit so that I could read it again at my leisure. Of this, I was not disappointed. If you are looking for the movies, well the Picard collection is slightly cheaper than the movie collection. It’s a little thinner for placing on the shelf, but it doesn’t come with the 5th disk of specials (called Evolutions) that the movie collection does. I’d probably recommend the movie collection over the Picard TV & Movie collection. But both would fulfill the mission of watching the movies.

Did I miss an IDW comic that hasn’t been released digitally? Have you read Sky’s The Limit? If so, what did you think 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.

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