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: Conventions, Dungeons and Dragons, James Bond, Red Dwarf, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Star Wars

Prepping for SaltCON Spring 2024

The two games that I will be running at SaltCON-Spring.

The time has come again to get ready for SaltCON, a local gaming convention in my area. This is the first of three SaltCONs and the biggest. It will take up the entire Davis Convention Center. You can read about my past adventures at SaltCON in my past blog entries. I will be packing my Convention Backpack that I have documented in a previous blog post.

When I first discovered that SaltCON had multiple RPG sessions (and not just board games, which is a massive draw at the convention) I had decided to make this my relax-a-con after volunteering at a lot of other local conventions. However while attending the SaltCONs last year I was talking with the RPG coordinators who expressed interest in having more game masters signing up to run games. Also the fact that I would be getting into the con for free (and get a special t-shirt) sealed the deal after some other bills had pilled up. So I’m nervous, but excited to dip my toe into running one-shots for the convention in the spring. If you can guess from the photo above, I’ll be running a Star Trek: Lower Decks inspired one-shot (think Lower Decks meets the cast of the BBC television program, Top Gear) called Top Core. The second game will be using the Basic Fantasy 4th Edition RPG using a polished up scenario that I used with my daughter and her 5th edition playing friends. It is my hope to take all of the notes from these two sessions and submit it to the Basic Fantasy community for possible publication. I’ve also been working on a Basic Fantasy 4th Edition Reference Sheet that players can use to answer basic questions while the limited gaming session is in progress.

Of the games that I’ve signed up to play, there are a few that I’ve played before and some new ones. They are as follows.

Fallout The Roleplaying Game– After playing this at a past SaltCON, I knew I wanted to play it again. This is the game from Modiphius.

James Bond 007– The classic game from the 80’s released by Victory Games. This will be run by the same GM who ran it last time. He did such a good job that I wanted to sign up again.

Dreams and Machines– A new game released by Modiphius that I haven’t played yet. This uses the 2d20 system that we’ve also seen in Star Trek Adventures, Dune: Adventures in the Imperium and John Carter of Mars. I think it’s a type of post-apocalyptic world some 200 years after a great war with machines.

Red Dwarf The Role Playing Game– The game originally released by Deep 7 in 2003. Not only have I always wanted to play this game as a huge fan of the series, but its currently my holy grail of RPG books to find.

Star Wars Roleplaying– Released by Edge Studio. I have not had a chance to play this variant of the Star Wars RPG so this will be interesting to try.

The Witcher Roleplaying Game– A game by R. Talsorian Games that I haven’t had a chance to play yet. I recently picked up the PDFs in a bundle sale, but I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition- The description of the scenario sounded interesting, so I’m going to check it out.

Old School Essentials– I was going to play this D20 clone at SaltCON-Summer, unfortunately the GM came down with con-crud. I’ve signed up for a session hoping that we can get a chance to try this game.

GURPS Star Wars– The GM will be running a Star Wars scenario using the GURPs rule system. While I hate making a character for this system, I’ve had success with playing the system at past conventions.

What should I be on the look out for? Any recommendations for the games I’m going to be playing? This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com with any comments.

Posted in: Red Dwarf, Role Playing Games

RPGaDay2023 Day 16: Game you wish you owned

I’ve been looking forward to this one. Day 16 of the #RPGaDAY2023 Challenge is “Game you wish you owned.” There are several games that I wished I had on my shelves. I’ve been lucky to track down several of the games that I previously owned or never had a chance to own. But right now there is one holy grail of RPGs that I’d love to have in my hands.

I am a big, and I mean BIG, fan of the British science-fiction comedy Red Dwarf. When I had my first chance to watch in on KUED Ch 7 (our local PBS station) I was hooked. It was fun to watch Red Green, Red Dwarf, Black Adder and Doctor Who on Saturday nights back in the day. When I’m in a bad mood I’ll put on some Red Dwarf to cheer me up. It is a favorite of Sir Patrick Stewart after he mistakenly thought it was a rip-off of Star Trek: The Next Generation (and was wanting to call his lawyer).

So imagine my surprise to find out that in 2002 a company named Deep 7 released the Red Dwarf Roleplaying Game and several supplements. As someone who loves RPGs and loves this series, I’d love to obtain a copy of the game. I keep using the word “love” I noticed. Not only would I use it in a future Character Creation Challenge, I’d probably see if I could homebrew for it as well (depending on how the system works).

I’ve yet to find it in the wilds or at a reasonable price on Ebay or Amazon. So my search continues. I just hope it takes 3 million years into the future.

What is a game you wished you owned? 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: Humor, My Creations, Red Dwarf, Star Trek

Making Memes Part VIII

Going through my past blog entries I realized that it’s been a while since I posted a batch of my homemade memes. Here are a few that I randomly pulled out of the “My Work” folder. If you are brave enough, you can see the past memes I’ve created here: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI and Part VII. All of the entries in this post were created with MS Paint.

I’ve posted this on some of my social media sites and it has made the rounds on the internet. The look on Dr. McCoy’s face while holding the communicator made me think of the caption.

The only real reason I watch the Superbowl is to see the commercials. Companies spent a lot of money to show us the “best of the best” advertising. Sometimes they work really well, and sometimes they have wasted a lot of money. After the crypto commercials last year with the weird QR codes, I was surprised to see a lot of commercials with QR codes this year. So it inspired me to make this meme.

If you haven’t seen Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, go watch it now. Oh, are you back already? Good. This scene from the first episode was turned into a series of memes where the TV displayed different shows that Captain Pike could have been watching because it was a classic. I had to drop a scene from the Red Dwarf episode “Gunmen of the Apocalypse”. I received lots of compliments on this entry including the use of the letterbox. Honestly, it was just the way the picture fit on the screen.

I actually just made this meme an hour before posting this blog entry. I saw the pun on one of the newsletters I subscribe to and knew I had to meme it. Luckily I’ve been making meme blanks and this one stood out to me.

What are some of your favorite memes? Do any of my past memes stand out to you? I have a Jokes and Memes channel on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. Not only am I posting my latest memes there, but others have been sharing as well.

Posted in: Art, Collecting, Music, Rant, Red Dwarf, Star Trek

My first NFTs… wait… what?

Note: This article was originally started in June and was held in a draft form until it was completed and released now.

Adopters of new technology. Grabbing something that has a buzzword attached to it and running with it. It’s trendy with techies to jump into something shiny. There was even a course I had to take at my college to identify and understanding emerging technologies. Well I’ve actually dipped my toe into that water, and it wasn’t on purpose.

I’ve got the reputation for being a “technology whisperer” when it comes to computer issues. From family members to previous jobs, I had people approaching me about how to fix various IT issues. If I can get my hands on the device, I can usually “scare” it into working again. Most of this happens by poking around in the device until I find the correct settings or functions. However fixing them and understanding them didn’t mean that I was interested in being the first to get them. At first I was hesitant about getting wireless routers set up in my home because I was concerned about outside connections. Later as I saw the security options, I adopted the technology. I don’t need the latest OS or cell phone when the hype is the biggest because I know they will have some bugs that need to be worked out. I have no problems letting someone else be a guinea pig and getting burned while all the kinks are resolved. So when I heard about cryptocurrencies and NFTs, I thought “no thanks”.

Why was that? Well the first time I heard about NFTs was from my college aged art student. Apparently anyone can take a piece of art and turn it into an NFT without the artists permission. Something that really bothered the art community. For those of you who don’t know, NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token. Boiled down, an NFT item (mostly artwork, but it can be assigned to videos. music, in-game items and other things) has a blockchain code attached to it. This code cannot be duplicated (the non-fungible part) and the record of it’s ownership is contained within the blockchain. Allegedly this gives a value to the image in question by trying to make it rare. Yea, a piece of artwork that has a limited run number imprinted on it (such as number 30 of 100 prints) is something similar, but I tend to trust the individual artists who put these out since I can support them directly. Here is an example of a limited print run artwork.

Print 1 of 10 of Starbug (Red Dwarf) by the artist, Michael Goodwin

To me, this has value. The artist made it, the artist signed it, the artist got money for it. I can enjoy it on my wall and it will still be there if a server goes down. I still own it if someone hacks the account the NFT is connected to. An NFT can’t be held in my hand. It’s a glorified graphic file which anyone can right click and save. I’ve noticed when someone tries to artificially inflate the value of something, and I tend to avoid it. While I’ve enjoyed collectable card games, I didn’t jump on them right away. When they first came out and I noticed that they had the word “collectable” attached to it, I held off. When a comic publisher releases 12 versions of the same issue with different covers, I just buy one because I want the story on the inside. The NFTs producers even tried to attach them to a brand name with limited success. So it was no surprise that no one was buying the Star Trek NFTs at the official Star Trek convention in April. When the Admiral Pack went on sale at Mission: Chicago, it had a list price of $250. Now you can get one on their website for $189 (at the time of this article’s publication) Yea that collectors item really took off. One of the more popular NFT themes, the bored apes, had a unit sell for $50,000 in 2021 only to be re-sold in 2022 for $115. Ouch. While that may have been a one-time anomaly, an article in Marketwatch stated that the bored apes had lost 60% of their value in a month earlier this year.

OK Carl, I get what you are saying, but how do you now own NFTs if this trend is going south?

Believe me, I was just as shocked as you are. I received an email from a vendor for an upcoming concert that I purchased tickets for. Basically it said, “Congratulations, we are giving you an NFT of your ticket (which can’t be used to get into the concert) for free.” I remember raising an eyebrow at this email. When I looked at the NFT website (which was legit from the ticket company), it showed two generic looking tickets attached to my account. The same looking thing. Perhaps if there had been a different image on each NFT ticket, it may have been interesting. But it was just a boring looking ticket. And since I had purchased tickets to a second concert later in the year, another pair of NFT “tickets” showed up in the account a few weeks later. Again with similar boring illustrations on it. “Trade them with your friends, give them as gifts or sell them off to collectors.” Big whoop.

I purchased the tickets to the two concerts because my wife and I wanted to enjoy an evening together watching an artist we liked. Had I been on the fence about purchasing the tickets; the cost, not the opportunity to get an NFT, would have been the deciding factor.

I’ve talked with other friends about this whole NFT fiasco. And I think I’ll end this rant with a comment that has stuck out ever since I heard it. “The way you’ll know if NFTs are really going to take off is if the porn industry gets involved with it.” The more I thought about it, the more I believed this person was right. The porn industry has always been early adopters of new technology that gets their product out to the masses while making them money. Magazines, cable TV, VHS tapes, pay-per-view, the internet, DVDs, Blu-rays, 4K High Def, streaming, etc. When holodecks become common place, I’m sure that the porn industry will be right behind NASA and PBS in adopting the medium. If you look closely there hasn’t been any movement by the porn industry into NFTs. There are plenty of bondage chains, but no blockchains. (Fade Out)

Posted in: Collecting, Red Dwarf, Reviews, Science Fiction

Book Review: Total Immersion

One of my favorite shows is the British Sci-Fi comedy Red Dwarf. What? You haven’t heard of Red Dwarf yet? OK, go watch this clip showing three of the main characters and then come back to this blog.

Done? Good let’s continue.

Long story short, Red Dwarf is a show about the last human left alive (Lister, the guy trying to teach the android Kryten how to lie) who is marooned in space on a mining vessel called the Red Dwarf. His companions are a life form that evolved from his cat (the snazzy looking guy who they called over), the hologram of Lister’s dead bunkmate called Arnold J Rimmer (he’s a smeghead) and an insane artificial intelligence that runs the ship called Holly. The crew is attempting to return to Earth after being lost in space for three-million years (there is a very good reason for this in the pilot episode called “The End).

Being one of my favorite shows and a collector of resource books, I had to pick up the two volume set called Total Immersion: The Comprehensive Unauthorized Red Dwarf Encyclopedia written by Paul C. Giachetti. These two book were published by Hasslein Books in 2014 and are very, very detailed. The title of the books is a reference to the Total Immersion artificial reality video game that the crew finds and uses in several episodes. Think a holodeck but you have to wear special VR goggles and equipment. Players get plugged into a virtual world for various roleplaying in realistic environments. Let’s just say the title is very appropriate for these two encyclopedias. The entries cover everything from the various TV series (including both American pilots), novels, resource books, roleplaying games, smegazines (magazines), official websites, DVD extras and more. I’m talking the level that would normally be seen in a fan Wikipedia. If a label was on a container in a scene, that information will be found in these books. Was there a difference between the close captioning and the script on the spelling of a name? It has been documented here. With the show being British there were some comments and jokes that I didn’t get at first. Total Immersion explained the reference to me and let me in on the joke. Everything is referenced to the source(s) that the entry came from. Here is an example.

This guide was at the bottom of every page that did not contain the art found in the book. This helped document where certain information came from. This also lead to my only snag in the book. Every once in a while an entry had a reference that wasn’t listed in the bottom guide. For example in the photo above one of the entries is listed as coming from “X-APR”. The “X” is for the miscellaneous category, but the code of “APR” is not defined. There isn’t even an APR in the other categories. This is something I could forgive because it was very rare. These two publications are the type of books that I would love to write. Detailed an interesting without being overly burdensome on a subject that I just can’t get enough of.

Another interesting feature of this two volume set is the artwork. The covers are based upon the panels seen on the side of the Red Dwarf vessel. Internally there is a bunch of black and white artwork drawn by Pat Carbajal. It wasn’t just the main characters and devices, there were some drawings of characters that only made small, but memorable, appearances. A lot of these were very detailed and impressive. Here is an example I randomly pulled from the books.

The back of the second book was an appendix which contained a categorized index. If you are looking for a list of inmates in “the tank”, you will find it here. Locations by address, yes that is here as well. Listed is all entries related to “Starbug”. While everything is listed alphabetically, it would have been helpful to give page numbers here. But I did find this to be a helpful section when trying to look up some of the details.

It is my fondest hope that there will be an updated volume to these books as we’ve been blessed with additional seasons of Red Dwarf. Until then, these books are a must for any fans of the Red Dwarf franchise and merchandise. To date, I have not found any other printed encyclopedias for the show. This two-volume set was written by fans, for fans.

Details:

Total Immersion Volume I (A-K), ISBN 978-0-578-15057-4, Trade Paperback with 327 pages.

Total Immersion Volume II (L-Z), ISBN 978-0-578-15058-1, Trade Paperback with 323 pages.

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