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: Anime, Character Creation Challenge, Dungeons and Dragons, Horror, Humor, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Top Secret, Westerns

2024 Character Creation Challenge After Action Report

And we’ve reached the end of the 2024 #CharacterCreationChallenge. If you made it to 31 days, congratulations. Send me a note via email (carl (at) tardiscaptain.com) on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. My daughter is currently working on a new graphic for those that completed the challenge and I’d like to make sure that it gets sent to you upon completion.

I did make it to 31 characters, but I was delayed by a few days due to a family emergency. Thank you to everyone who reached out to me to ask. One poster mentioned that they had seen a lack of entries for the last two days. My mother and grandmother were involved in an automobile accident. The good news is that they are OK with no injuries and they are just fine (other than needing to replace a minivan). But it was a little scary for me when I found out.

I noticed that the Scooby Doo gang was used in a lot of different themes by participants (seeing Velma and Daphne in the Doctor Who RPG was a hoot). It was interesting to see them show up in different gaming systems. On the discord server there was a very good representation of characters from 80’s movies represented in the Power Rangers Roleplaying Game. It was kind of a trip down memory lane since I hadn’t seen some of these moves in a LONG time. There was also a participant who was making Star Trek characters for three different RPG systems for several entries. It was interesting to see the characters side-by-side. One of the most unexpected discoveries wasn’t a current participant, but someone who participated back in the first challenge in 2021. Apparently it got him out of some serious mental funk that he had been dealing with. It got him back into blogging and eventually back into writing RPGs (that he had done before). It was an emotional moment for me when I read his blog post.

Of the entries that I used for 2024, the games that stood out to me were Monty Python, Fallout, White Lies and Star Trek Alpha Quadrant. I really enjoyed making a character for Teenagers from Outerspace and I’ve been watching some classic comedy anime lately While Vintage Space didn’t fully scratch the FASA Star Trek itch that I was trying to recall, it did get some gears turning that may result in a future project. I also appreciated the publishers that responded when I posted characters for their games. They were able to answer some of my questions that I had raised in the blog posts. I tried to post those responses in the “Additional Notes” section of an entry a day or two later.

The disappointments were those games that were needlessly crunchy or overbearing. I had a few readers on Mastodon and a few of the message boards respond with similar experiences, which made me feel like I wasn’t such an idiot. I’m still digesting Cowboy Bebop and I have a few things I want to check out before I post my unboxing and final thoughts entry.

Here is my 2024 list of characters:

Day 1: Fallout Character: Ragnal Walker of Vault 47
Day 2: Hackmaster Basic Character: Cid the Kid
Day 3: White Star Galaxy Edition Character: Jenker Slix
Day 4: Fantasy Quest (Dicing w/ Dragons) Character: Alric Hinman
Day 5: Top Secret S.I. Character: Nick Tanner
Day 6: Tiny Wastelands Character Stewart Barlow
Day 7: The Dark Eye Character: Halmar
Day 8: Star Trek: Alpha Quadrant Character: Tropp
Day 9: Monty Python Character: Sir Richard Hammond
Day 10: Basic Fantasy 4th Edition Character: Durlan Torven
Day 11: Teenagers from Outerspace Character: Prince Zaxxod
Day 12: The Spy Game Character: James “Captain Slow” May
Day 13: Star Ace Character: Balkor
Day 14: Ninjas and Superspies Character: Luke Ward
Day 15: Conan Character: Braga
Day 16: Boot Hill Character: Noah ‘Lasso’ Johnson
Day 17: White Lies 2nd edition Character: Jack Sterling
Day 18: Vintage Space Character: Troxtor
Day 19: Fantasy Hero Character: Drokkin the Dwarf
Day 20: Shadowrun Anarchy Character: Spike
Day 21: Nights Black Agents Character: Kendal Barker
Day 22: Barbarians of Lemuria Character: Kruk
Day 23: Starfinder Character: Sarangari
Day 24: Crypts & Things Character: Azor
Day 25: Cyberpunk Red Character: Indigo
Day 26: Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Characters: Pelloth Graysoul
Day 27: Cowboy Bebop Character: Wayne Wolf
Day 28: Rolemaster Fantasy Character: Hobson Silversting
Day 29: Tiny Frontiers Character: YYZ-2112
Day 30: Pathfinder 2nd edition Character: Rogar of the Granitebender Clan
Day 31: Anarchy Character: Marcell Freeman

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

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: Character Creation Challenge, Horror, Role Playing Games, Spy-Fi

2024 Character Creation Challenge Day 21: Night’s Black Agents

Welcome to Day 21 of the 2024 #CharacterCreationChallenge and today we will be using a Horror/Espionage based roleplaying game called Night’s Black Agents. I had picked this up in the same DriveThruRPG sale that had Boot Hill and several other games that I had been wanting to get my hands on. I had also seen this game mentioned on some of the gaming blogs that I read so I thought I’d check it out at the discounted price that was offered. Yes I do buy a lot of games when they are on sale since I am a bargain hunter.

This game is using something called the Gumshoe system, that I’ve never used. I hope that the book explains the system enough for me to create a character. In the universe of this game, your character is a secret agent (or ex-secret agent) that discovers that vampires are real and are attempting to rule the world. Sounds interesting. The PDF is 236 pages long. The character creation steps start on page 9. The character sheet is only one page in length.

The rules state that the character creation process is broken down into four broad steps. Choose one or more backgrounds, choose your investigative abilities, choose general abilities and building your personality and dossier. A player has build points for the different sections.

After looking over the different backgrounds for the first step, I selected Bagman. This is basically a courier what handles the money and gets it from point A to point B. This guy was an American OTIF agent monitoring SWIFT transactions in Switzerland. I wrote down the Investigative Abilities and General Abilities that slated for the background.

Selecting the investigative abilities is the next step. These are abilities that do not fail. The amount of build points is determined by the number of players in the game. (Boy, they must believe that our gaming schedules can all coordinate) For the purpose of this build I’m going to pretend that we have four players involved for a total of 22 investigative build points. Oh, I’m already down 6 points to pay for my background package. I like that the rules explain that if you don’t use all of the build points now, you can use them in-game to add a skill that your character always had, but hadn’t been seen until now. The RAW advises that having a variety of 1-point skills are better than having a few specialties. I looked over the descriptions and wrote some down spending my remaining 16 points.

Third step is to select the general abilities. I have 70 points to spend on these (with some already coming from the background at a cost of 18 points, so 52 is the actual starting point). The general abilities do have a possibility of failure unlike the investigative abilities. The rules advise me to put many points into a few different abilities because you spend these points during the game. I also followed some of the other advice the book gave on these including a good athletics (to make the character harder to hit).

OK, last step. Building a personality and dossier. This is broken down into three smaller parts. Picking a sources of stability, the character’s drive and the character’s trust. This is also where we pick the name for the character (pulling up the random name generator and it gives us… Kendall Barker). Ken’s sources of stability are what keep him sane when the life of an espionage agent hunting vampires gets too stressful. If these sources get threatened or taken away, the character can’t refresh his stability. I can see this being part of the horror aspect of RPGs that I hardly get. These sources of stability should connect with the character’s drive or motivation for doing what they do. Since this isn’t a mechanical part of the game, sometimes I trip over this, especially when I’m under a time-limit like I am right now. Screw it, Ken’s partner was killed by vampires (which is how he found out about them) and he’s trying to find the particular vampire that caused the death. The symbol is his partner’s badge, the solace is the partner’s widowed wife and the solace is the motorboat that his partner once owned. OK, onto something called trust. You get something called trust points (5 of them) and you assign 3 points to an other agent (is this supposed to be another member of the party? Yea, I think it is). Another agent gets 0 points (i.e. you don’t trust them) and then the remaining get 1 point each. I can tell the other players who I chose or I can keep it a secret. I’m still not understanding this gaming currency. I think it adds to a dice pool, maybe? I’m really confused by the wording. I guess I’d have to see it in play to see if I really understand this. Since I really don’t have a group of friends around a table to experiment this with, I guess we’ll skip this part. And I think this is the end of the process. Write up a background on how Ken got into the espionage business. We know he got out when his partner was killed. So I’m done? I still don’t know the health score or some other items. I’m confused, but here is the character sheet.

Afterthoughts:

I had to laugh that one of the abilities was “Bullshit Detector”. I know that I get a lot of use out of that in real life.

The investigative steps seemed a little straightforward, but I’d still have to see it in play before I really decided if I understood this gumshoe system. I wonder if this is just a settings book and not the actual core rules? I can’t find a gumshoe core rules on DriveThruRPG. I guess the original game was a crime drama if I’m understanding correctly. There is a ‘discovering of information’ portion of the game and then a ‘confronting/escaping the opposition’ portion. Is this a game that acts like an episode of CSI? I really wish there had been a “core mechanic is…” page where I could get a good idea. Until I understand more, I can’t say if I’d play or do more with this game.

Additional Notes:

I had a couple of readers reach out to me on Mastodon regarding my attempt to make a Fantasy Hero character. The phrase used was “Congratulations, you have now been exposed to the wonder that is Champions/Hero, or as I like to put it ‘the greatest programming language in all of RPGs.'” In the USENET days there were competitions to see who could design a single power to destroy the planet with the least number of points. Others would use the system to describe a toaster using only game power descriptors. They would do everything but play the game as an RPG. There were a lot of comparisons to GURPS (just as I had come to the same conclusion) and there were a lot of “You couldn’t pay me to play the Heroes system again” comments. I’m glad to know that I wasn’t the only one who had his eyes bleeding from the game.

Coming Up Next:

Barbarians of Lemuria

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: 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: Horror, Role Playing Games

RPGaDay2023 Day 28: Scariest game you’ve played

The Scariest Game You’ve Played is the topic for Day 28 of the #RPGaDAY2023 Challenge. I had to think about this one for a moment. I really don’t get into the horror roleplaying games. When you are sitting around the table, or at a virtual table, how do you get scared? You are primarily in a safe controlled environment. Especially if you know you are going to be in a horror based game, you are expecting to experience something horrible like zombies or some unspeakable horror.

But I do recall one moment where I was “scared”, not only for one session but for multiple sessions. I’ve previously talked about a recent Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 campaign that had my favorite character (and his demise) and towards the end of that campaign the DM, Jeff Sullivan, pulled it off.

Here is how Jeff did it. He placed us in a demon controlled pocket dimension where the rules of wizard and clerical magic didn’t apply (aka His realm). The ability to rest to recover hit points wasn’t available due to the nature of the dimension. My magic-user character and our cleric couldn’t replenish our spells in the normal manner. And we would be in this dimension for a long time.

Let’s just say it worked. Not only was my character agitated, I was agitated as well and wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. This made me as a player on edge and slightly (more) paranoid that usual. All it took was getting the character out of a comfort zone.

Could this be done in a game like Chill or Call of Cthulhu? I don’t know. I’m expecting horror then. I think the best way to present it is to run a game with a generic rule set where you don’t tell the players that they are going to be experiencing a zombie outbreak or an interdimentional invasion. Then you might actually get some horror elements in there to scare some players.

What do you guys think? Is it possible to scare someone in an RPG where they know that a homicidal maniac or weird beast might pop out of the shadows? What experiences have you had with horror based games? 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: Doctor Who, Horror, Role Playing Games

RPGaDay2023 Day 25: Unplayed RPG you own

What Unplayed RPG do you own is the topic for Day 25 of the #RPGaDAY2023 Challenge. Are you kidding me? I’ve got a good collection of dead-tree books and a LOT of PDF copies of different games. OK, I think I’m going to pick one of each (physical book and PDF copy) that I wish I could play. However, I’m not going to talk about some of the games that I’ve already talked about previously.

Dead-Tree Version:

So I walked over to one of my bookshelves and the first book that jumped out and attacked me was the Doctor Who Roleplaying Game by Cubicle 7. I only own the 1st edition of the game, so I haven’t had a chance to check out the 2nd edition yet. Not only am I a huge Doctor Who fan (duh, look at the URL for this blog) but I loved how this game was presented. They made it very simple to try to explain the system to friends in an attempt to get them to play. (see photo below)

Not only was the basic rule easy to present, but so was the character creation process as I discovered in a past Character Creation Challenge. I liked how the attributes was explained (this score equals this type of human for each attribute). It made me really want to see how the system ran.

PDF Version:

Isolation Games put out an RPG called When The Moon Hangs Low. This is a gothic action RPG set in a fantasy Victorian inspired world where characters are tragic monster hunters in the capital city of Harrowmire. Each character has some connection (or deep secret) to the monsters they hunt. Think Supernatural in a Victorian Age. I had picked up this game in a charity bundle on DriveThruRPG to support Doctors Without Borders just after the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine. The system sounds interesting and the Character Creation process was pretty simple. The company even has their own discord server for players to check out and ask questions.

Again there were a ton of options I could have selected from, but these two jumped out at me when I was looking over the collection.

Do you have an unplayed RPG that you own? 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: Alien, Character Creation Challenge, Dune, Dungeons and Dragons, Horror, Pirates, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Westerns

2023 Character Creation Challenge After Action Report

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

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

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

Here is my 2023 list of characters:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tally ho

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

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

2023 Character Creation Challenge Bonus: Vampire Hunter$

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Afterthoughts:

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

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

Additional Notes:

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

Coming Up Next:

Character Creation Challenge After Action Report

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

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

2023 Character Creation Challenge Day 31: They Came From Beyond The Grave!

I wanted to wrap up the 2023 Character Creation Challenge with a game that has caught my interest. Onyx Path Publishing has released a series of games titled “They Came From…” that covers a variety of genres. The system that I’m going to be using today is based off of the cheesy 60’s and 70’s horror movies that I’m enjoy watching on Elvira, Svengoolie and Creature Features. I also wanted to promote this game because Onyx Path Publishing was one of the sponsoring backers for season 13 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 as seen on the Gizmoplex. A thank you from me.

The PDF has 268 pages (with several extra pages of printable quip cards). The character sheet is only a single page. I believe that the character creation process starts with Chapter Three on page 49. There really isn’t a checklist (takes a few points away from Gryffindor) so I guess we are winging it through the chapters. I hope they are put together well as I dislike knowing when the character creation process has ended.

Our first step is to come up with a concept for the character. Not knowing if the adventures are going to be set in the 1970’s or earlier, I think I’ll create a curious professor type character that has found a mysterious book with missing pages and he’s wants to find them. So the missing pages will be the long term aspiration. I’m also instructed to pick two short term aspirations. So let’s make them… actually I can’t think of anything now and the few examples are not very helpful. So I’d probably beg the Director (GM) to let me come up with them during play as inspiration strikes.

The next step is to pick a path. These were life experiences before the adventure. These are broken down into three things. An archetype (think class or profession), origin and dark agenda (dun, dun, dunnnnnnn). Well I’ve already selected professor since all of the archetypes were described in chapter two before the character creation started. I selected the four professor skills on my sheet (not added dots, like designating a class skill on a D&D 3.5 character sheet) out of the 10 listed in the earlier pages (a lot of jumping back and forth slows things down). The origin is the background of the character. I can select four un-selected skills that came from this origin and mark them with an “O”. Nothing in the examples really spoke to me. I just selected four skills at random and put down “some guy” hoping that something will come to me later. I really could have used other players to bounce ideas off of. As for the Dark Path, the book says this drives your character. The examples were not very helpful. He’s not going to be a cult leader. Fame and fortune might work, might. Forbidden love? No. Protective Parent? Search for a Cure? They don’t fit. I know it sounds like I’m down on this game, I’m not, I’m just not inspired to write up a whole backstory just yet. I just want to fill out the character sheet and see if anything sparks while that is happening. I’ll put down the fame one now and probably change it later if the creative juices actually start flowing. I marked the skills. Now I have three dots in each category to place in those skills.

Onto step three. Spend six more dots on any skill on the sheet (not just the ones selected above).

Wow, we are finally to the step where we select our attributes. There are nine in total. Might, Dexterity and Stamina make up the physical attributes. The mental attributes are Intellect, Cunning and Resolve. The last three that make up the social attributes are Presence, Manipulation and Composure. I pick one of the three groups above to be the primary focus. There is already one dot in each of these attributes and each group gets a series of dots depending if it is my first, second or third choice. Now I get to choose the favored approach. These are Force, Finesse and Resilience. These all associate with a set of attributes from across the three types. The favored approach get one dot for each attribute. I selected resilience, why? Don’t know, it just sounded good. There was an optional step to take a freebie dot and place it anywhere that wasn’t already at the max of five. My pretend Director said yes to this and I put the dot in the weakest attribute of Might.

Step five is to select a trademark? No, not something I’d file with the US Patent and Trademark Office. It’s described as a signature move (that could be tied with a skill or attribute) that can be used once per story where it provides two additional dice to the pool and gives you something called “Directional Control” if you succeed (hold on, I’ve got to flip down another 40 pages to see what this is). OK, the player gets to alter the story in a logical manner (example: the murder’s ax can suddenly become lodged in a tree trunk). I guess this could be the “we suddenly found a vital clue or gain an advantage we didn’t have before” aspect to the scene. Scrolls back up to the character creation portion. So if I’m reading this correctly, it could be a catch phrase or move. I’m going to go with “I read this in a book once” and connect it to the science and enigmas skills.

Step six is to determine relationships and connections. Apparently this involves coordinating with the other players in the party and determine how your characters feel/know/understand each other. As there is no other party members being rolled up in this challenge entry, I’ll skip this step. I have a lot of voices in my head, but not all of them want to make characters right now.

Now we are at the final touches. Assign three tropes (what are those?) and three quips (what?) Scrolling back up to the earlier description of the archetype I see that it has various trademarks listed. I can select two of them so I picked “Let me guide you” (lend skills to another) and “Don’t be fooled” (snap a companion out of a mental condition). I can also select another trope from anywhere else which was “My lucky dime” (a good luck charm that I can use as a bonus. As for the quips, the are some sort of catchphrase that can be found on the “deck of cards” in the back of the book. There is a quip deck for each archetype. Since I can’t really shuffle and draw randomly, I’ll just select them. It wasn’t exactly clear what the quips do, so I just picked some.

I like the fact that in the final touches it talks about tweaks. Once you’ve played a session or two you can work with the Director to change a few things to fit the campaign and/or party. I have a feeling that I’d probably need something like this.

So I did pick out a name in the middle of the process. This professor is called Bruce Walters (hey it fit). There were a lot couple of blank spaces still left on the character sheet, but I’m going to scan the sheet now.

Afterthoughts:

There is a chapter at the beginning of the book with a lot of movies and TV shows that are inspirational for a game such as It Came From Beyond The Grave! Some I’ve seen, some I need to check out.

I don’t know if I like the “come up with your whole backstory” process when making a character. Sometimes the inspiration for these things come while playing the game itself. Trying to come up with them in a vacuum doesn’t work sometimes.

The humor in this game sounds good. With a group of like-minded friends (with warped senses of humor) who love the cheesy horror genre, this could be a good game to play. From what I read of the system, it makes sense. I just wish the delivery was a little bit better when it came to character creation and explanations of game terms. I did a lot of jumping around in this book. I’m going to have to pick up a PDF of some of the other “It Came From…” books to see how they compare to this one. I’m not certain which books came first.

Additional Notes:

We did it!!!!! 31 characters in 31 days. I am working with my daughter who came up with last years completion logo to make another one. She hasn’t completed it yet because college studies have taken priority. But if you made it, email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com and I’ll make sure to get it to you. I still see the 2022 logo on display on a few websites.

Coming Up Next:

A bonus character (day 32?) and a challenge summary

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

Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Horror, Role Playing Games, Spy-Fi

2023 Character Creation Challenge Day 19: The Agency

I picked up The Agency: A Roleplaying Game of Sixties Spies and the Supernatural in the same Doctors Without Borders charity sale that I picked up When the Moon Hangs Low. I’ve always been interested in espionage games because I am a big fan of the Spy-Fi genre and I wanted to use this one for the Character Creation Challenge. The world setup for The Agency is that the players play the part of 1960’s British spies that are trying to protect the United Kingdom (and the world) from supernatural horrors. Think James Bond and The Avengers vs vampires and evil cultists. The Agency would recruit witnesses to help them fight this threat. This usually resulted in a wide variety of characters

There is a one page character sheet and the creation summary starts on page 25. The first step listed is to create a concept. Basically a background and occupation for the character using the spy series and movies from the 60’s and 70’s as inspiration. This character will be a photographer who shoots both wild animals and wild women. The next step is to pick a name that a 60’s/70’s espionage action hero would have. It gave a list of possible first and last names to choose from or you could choose your own. Pulling names from the list, this character will be named Simon Steele.

A character sketch is the next step. While I didn’t actually need to draw my character (thank the gods) I did have to come up with three things that people would notice when they encountered the character. This would include fashion, mannerisms and a prop. For his prop he either carried a camera with him or a viewing lens to “get the shot”. When he wasn’t trying to get the best photo, he was trying to get under the skirt of a willing model. Steele always wore tight fitting clothing fashionable for the London swinging scene with tweed coats and looked like Michael Caine.

The name is Steele…

Finally we are coming to the skills of the character. There are two sets of skills. Action (fight drive, athletics, etc.) and Ingenuity: (evade, technology, wit, etc.). For Steele, I selected Persuade at 5 (he had to encourage his targets to pose the right way for the photo shoot) and Track at 4 (he had to find the subjects he wanted to photograph both in the urban and jungle environment. For those skills I didn’t select, they are assumed to be ranked at 3 dice.

What are the heroic bonuses and flaws that the character has. This was explained in the rules as “something that would set the character apart both in a positive way and as a flawed human. There is a list provided in the game, but I wonder if the player came up with a good suggestion if the Director would allow it? For Steele, his bonus is resources. He was born into a rich family that allowed him to turn his hobby into a career. Lustful is the flaw that fit this character to a T.

The rules explains that all characters start with one Karma point. This can be spent to power a bonus. Present on the character sheet are three status boxes (Dazed, Disadvantaged and Down, this sounds like the character’s health). There is also a section for Motifs. The rules explain that this is a player resource instead of one used by the character. It can be used to heal or aid a fellow player. The motif is a recurring imagery or fictional element associated with the character. The rules kinda cut off here “What do they do when (line ends)” so I’m not quite sure what this is exactly. Hopefully it explains a little bit better later in the book. Looking down, it appears that if you can incorporate the motif into the roleplay, then you can give an automatic success to another player like they had used a karma point or heal themselves. Looking at the sample characters there was “change of costume”, “flashbacks” or “party lifestyle”. I’m still not certain what to put here so I borrowed “riches & excess” from one of the sample characters. Here is the character sheet.

Afterthoughts:

I’m not much of a “fashonista” so thinking of the look of the character was different for me. Do I go too campy and stereotypical? I tried to keep it within the spirit of the game.

Lots of good introductions to the world. I would have loved to seen a section of how the dice are used in the game. I know there are threat pools and the like but are the players attempting to beat a number or the Director’s rolls? I finally found the answer on page 49. When presented with a challenge the player rolls 3-5 dice (depending upon the skill used) and any roll of 4-6 is counted as a success. The Director rolls threat dice (number depending upon the difficulty) and if the player has more successes than the Director, the player has accomplished the action. For the total number of successes, the player can describer what happened. I guess that gives them some narration in the game as well.

I would be interested in play testing the game. After the play test, I’d probably know more if I wanted to play in a campaign or homebrew for this system.

Additional Notes:

It felt like I was very busy today besides creating this character. I was also trying to decide what games I was going to schedule for the upcoming Salt-Con. In one way it was sad because the lone Dune: Adventures in the Imperium table was quickly filled up. However, it looks like I might get a chance to actually play the James Bond RPG. That would be kewl.

Coming Up Next:

Cyber Generation 2nd edition

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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