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

#RPGaDay2023 Day 1: First RPG Played (this year)

Alright I was able to get through the month of July, so let’s start the #RPGaDAY2023 challenge that I had posted about previously. The day 1 topic is “First RPG played (this year)”. OK, this should be easy.

Except it wasn’t. I had to go back and check. I thought it was my FarTrek game, but it appears that the first half of the year was under the dreaded “schedule curse”. So my first games were at SaltCON in March. At this gaming convention I was able to play the following roleplaying games in one shots.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition- The GM was really good. If I had a good GM like that, I could see myself participating in a campaign. Lots of stuff in Pathfinder that could become too overwhelming if not handled well.

Alien– I had a lot of fun in this game. It was my first try at the system and I could see that I’d prefer a character that I had made instead of a pre-made one. Besides being a big fan of the Alien franchise, I had met the author of the RPG at a previous FanX: The Salt Lake Comic Convention.

Dungeon Crawl Classics– I’ve always wanted to play in a level-0 funnel and SaltCON gave me the opportunity to try this out. DCC is another game that I could see myself playing as part of a campaign.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition- A filler game after another game I had scheduled was canceled.

Mistborn– I didn’t really have fun on this game. See the SaltCON Spring 2023 After Action blog post.

James Bond 007– The classic game from the 80’s. It was my first time playing it and I had a blast.

Star Trek Adventures– The GM ran us through a scenario that was inspired by Star Trek: Lower Decks. This was before the new Lower Decks Campaign Guide had come out.

GURPS– The scenario was set in the Aliens universe. This was where I was glad that I didn’t have to create a character.

Cyberpunk RED– It was good to step back into this universe after I had played the original Cyberpunk many years ago.

What was the first role playing game you played this year? This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) with any comments.

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

Prepping for SaltCon 2023

Hold on, I’m not done packing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s roll some dice.

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

Posted in: Alien, Character Creation Challenge, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction

2023 Character Creation Challenge Day 1: Alien

Hello readers and welcome to my first entry into the 2023 #CharacterCreationChallenge. Last year I used the first day to post about Dune: Adventures in the Imperium because of how much I’d love to play that game. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to at the upcoming SaltCon. Another game that I hope to play is Alien from Free League Publishing. I had the opportunity to meet the writer of the Alien RPG, Andrew E.G. Gaska at the 2022 FanX: The Salt Lake Comic Convention. He was able to explain a little of the game to me and he signed my book. So I wanted to use Alien for day 1 of the new challenge.

Meeting Andrew EC Gaska at FanX 2022.

OK, so let’s get down to making a character for this game. The character creation steps start on page 27. There are two types of play for this game. Cinematic (think one-shot, character has a good chance of dying by the end of the session) or Campaign Play (self-explanatory). I’m going to run with the assumption that this character will be for a campaign. I need to select a career for my character out of a choice of nine available. The choices are Colonial Marine, Colonial Marshal (oh, I wonder if the movie Outland could be an inspiration for something like this?), Company Agent, Kid, Medic, Officer (think CO of a mining vessel like the one we first saw in Alien), Pilot, Roughneck (worker) and Scientist. Since I told Mr. Gaska that my favorite movie of all time is Aliens, I know that I’ve got to make a Colonial Marine. I’m going with the name Jan Karlsson (plucked out of the air).

There are four attributes in Alien. Strength and Agility (both self-explanatory), Wits (this covers intelligence, sanity and perception) and finally Empathy (think Charisma and how you treat others). You get 14 points to spend over these attributes. Minimum of 2 with a max of 5 for the key attribute of your career (4 max on the others). For the Colonial Marine, my key attribute is Strength. I selected the following for Jan. Str 5, Agi 4 Wit 3 and Emp 2.

Now we spend some points in our skills. There are only twelve of them and they are tied with one of the attributes listed above. As a starting character, I can spend 10 points on any of the following (keeping in mind that my Colonial Marine has to have certain skills) with a max of 3. Close combat, Heavy Machinery or Stamina (under Strength), Ranged Combat, Mobility or Piloting (under Agility) Observation, Survival or Comtech (under Wits) and Command, Medical Aid and Manipulation (under empathy). As my character progresses, I can increase the skill numbers. Jan is not a leader, he’s a point and shoot guy who also wants to make sure he and his squad comes back. So I selected Ranged Combat-3, Close Combat- 2, Stamina- 2, Observation-1, Survival- 1 and Medical Aid- 1.

For a campaign, each player starts with one talent and can earn three more later. A talent in the Alien RPG is a trick, move or minor ability that gives Jan a small edge in something. Each career has a selection of three starting talents to choose from. Later, there is a selection of general talents that can also be used. For the Colonial Marine, I loved the idea of the Banter talent. It helps reduce stress levels between fights. Plus I love interacting with my fellow players at the game and making them laugh.

It wasn’t on the list on page 27, but in the descriptions following the next items are calculating your health and stress. Health is self-explanatory but if you reach zero (and don’t die) you can receive a critical injury. Stress is what your character feels under certain situations. The stress level can rise if you push a skill roll, perform certain actions (or lack of actions such as lack of sleep), etc. If stress gets too high and isn’t kept in check, your character can panic (which is bad). Starting health is based upon the Strength attribute (so Jan’s is 5) and stress at the start of the game is 0? (Flips back a few pages to the combat chapter) Yea it’s 0.

Next on the list is choose a name (done, see above), decide on your appearance (imagine Ivan Draggo from Rocky 4 in Colonial Marines fatigues) and select a personal agenda. From the looks of things, the personal agenda is something about your character that you want to fulfill, or want to keep secret. If you are playing a cinematic game, you earn story points if you complete an agenda item. In a campaign, you gain extra experience points. Since these can be anything I selected “Previous unit let a company man die because he was endangering the team. We kept the details a secret and want to keep it that way.” Since this is a campaign, I can select a buddy and a rival. The rules stated one or both could be another PC. Since I don’t have other PCs to decide on, I’m randomly picking my buddy to be Chester Williams, a marine I helped train and the rival is Miguel Rodriguez, a guy who claims to be an ex-company man, but Jan doesn’t really trust him.

With gear, there is more than just the stuff you have. You can also select a signature item and there are also consumables. From the Colonial Marine details what I felt was appropriate. Jan’s signature item is an old pocket knife that an ex-commander gave him before he died. I think I only track consumables (food, water, air, etc.) if we are off ship. So I’m leaving those sections blank right now. And hey I get to roll my first die while creating a character. Jan has $500 to start out to buy other equipment, of which I did that I thought was logical for a Colonial Marine. I think the character is done. Here is the sheet.


There were only a couple of areas where it was a little confusing. Besides the physical book, the publisher also sent me a PDF copy. I was able to use that to do some quick searches for subjects like “cash” and others. The pages are black, but the majority of the text is in light boxes with a dark font. So it isn’t too hard on the eyes. I still haven’t had a chance to go through the entire book cover-to-cover, but I really hope to play this game at an upcoming convention. The log entries at the start of the book was drawing me into a story. I really want to see the system in action. With experience, I could easily create a character quickly. I wonder how much material that the publisher has pulled from the older Dark Horse Alien comics? I could see myself homebrewing some of those items.

Additional Notes:

I’ve been seeing submissions for the #CharacterCreationChallenge on the forum and on social media using the hashtag. I’ve even been tagged on a few Mastodon posts. Several participants have emailed me links to their sites. So far there have been some interesting submissions. There was even a link to another message board on Board Game Geek that are participating in the challenge. I’m trying to get all of the links posted on the Character Creation Challenge page so that everyone can see them.

Update: The TardisCaptain dot com Discord is now ready and can be accessed by following this link.

Coming Up Next:

The classic Star Frontiers game from TSR

Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Pirates, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Westerns

Prepping for the 2023 Character Creation Challenge

Some of the games that I plan to use in the 2023 #CharacterCreationChallenge

As I’ve mentioned before, it is always a good idea to plan ahead for a 31-day challenge. I’ve already seen quiet a few people prepping on the forums. They are deciding upon which system(s) they wish to use. Are they going to follow a theme or just create characters randomly? I’ve already had some people reach out to me using various methods to let me know of their participation. Please let me know, Carl (at) if you plan to post your characters up on a blog. I’ll link to it from the Character Creation Challenge section of my website. I also have something else in the works, but I’m not quite ready to announce it yet. Still trying to get some ducks lined up in a row.

I’m once again using a spreadsheet with the date, day and game type to schedule my games. This way I won’t have two fantasy games next to each other. I can also plan a game that may take more time and energy on a day off. This is also a good idea for those dates I know are going to be busy, I can schedule the systems I’m more familiar with for these days.

As in the past, I’ll try to walk through the character creation process as I understand them in the rules-as-written (RAW). This also gives me a chance to do a review of the process. I will then scan the character sheet for all to see. And I will have all of the character sheets printed out before the challenge starts. I’ve found that this helps me get everything ready.

If you are posting on any of the social media websites, please use the hashtag #CharacterCreationChallenge so that other participants can find them. I love seeing what other RPG fans have come up with. I also know that there is one reader who wants to see if a game will pop up that he’s never heard of. I was able to accomplish this last year with my Technoir entry.

I’ve picked up some new physical books by online auctions, trade or special sales. I’ve also done a lot of purchasing from Kickstarter, DriveThruRPG, HumbleBundle and Bundle of Holding. I even donated to a Doctors Without Borders fundraiser, for which a lot of PDF copies of different games were provided. Some of these sounded very interesting.

If you are reading this after January 1st and you still want to jump into the challenge, please do. A few participants last year either did a quick catch up or just made sure they ran a full 31 days. The choice is yours. This challenge is just for fun with our gaming systems.

Remember to have fun with this. That was one of the primary goals of the challenge.

You can also use this graphic to help promote the #CharacterCreationChallenge.

31 Day Character Creation Challenge
Feel free to share this image on social media to spread the word.
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