Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Dungeons and Dragons, Reviews, Role Playing Games

Review of three RPG battle mats/tiles

Wiz Dice on the left, Role 4 Initiative in the middle and Chessex on the right.

As I was preparing for SaltCON-Summer 2024, I realized that I had not done my review of the three RPG battle mats/tiles that I currently own. So as I was preparing for the con, I had my daughter help me set these out and take some photos for a review. I’ve owned two of these maps for a few years and purchased the gaming tiles last year after I saw them in use at SaltCON-Spring 2023.

The Chessex 26×23.5 Battlemat

So the first battlemat that I had purchased was the Chessex double-sided 26.x23.5 battlemat. The DM for my Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 campaign that ran for several years used a larger version of this product. When my nephew had asked me to run an introduction to Dungeons and Dragons game, I realized that I didn’t have a mat to use. So I slipped into one of my local gaming shops and picked this one up. It has square grids on one side and hexagons on the other. Eagle-eyed readers may spot this map as the background to some of the photos I used for the various Character Creation Challenge entries. Besides the game with my nephew, I was able to use it in a few other games. The surface is a little rough, but I think this is both a good thing and a bad thing. The mat itself is thick and feels solid. However when I drew on it with dry-erase or wet-erase markers, it could sometimes leave the image behind. While I was experimenting with the map for this article, my daughter discovered that using the Mr. Clean MagicEraser would remove the older drawings without (as it seemed) to damage the map. While I could still see some of the older set-in markings, it is a lot clearer than it use to be. Because this map is rolled, I have to use heavy objects to hold the corners down.

The Wiz Dice 48×36 gaming mat

Just a couple of years ago I had the opportunity to run a OSR game for my daughter and several of her friends who had been playing in a D&D 5e campaign. I had created the adventure myself (and later used it at SaltCON-Spring 2024) and realized that the map I had found on the internet, was too large to use on the Chessex mat that I already owned. So I found the Wiz Dice 48×36 gaming mat on Amazon. It is also a reversible map with hexagons on the other side. For the purpose of the one-shot, I was able to use the map with a dry-erase marker. However, after the event, I really wished that I hadn’t purchased this mat. First, it’s really thin and flimsy. While taking these photos for the article my daughter mentioned that it was like having a shower curtain on the table. While the Chessex surface felt rough, but durable, this map was wrinkly, sticky and felt like it was going to rip if I wasn’t careful. When I attempted to use it at SaltCON-Spring 2024, I discovered that the markers I had brought would not write on the map properly, so we ended up using graph paper instead. Like the Chessex, the MagicEraser product was handy in removing stubborn markings from the map. The other issue that I had with this map is the poor quality of the printing. As you can see in the photo below, there were parts where the grid had misprints in it or were missing. As a rolled mat, it also had to be weighed down at the corners.

Just one example of misprints on the Wiz Dice mat

Had there been one issue, I probably would have been OK with the map. But with both the misprints and the flimsy/thin quality, I really wish that I had spent my money on a larger Chessex mat.

The Role 4 Initiative Game Tiles

When I saw how handy these game tiles were at SaltCON, I had to order a set myself. I picked up the Dry-Erase Hexagon Game Tiles from Role 4 Initiative. While preparing for the latest SaltCON, I decided that I wanted to get all of the tiles out to make sure that they could handle the adventure map I was planning to use. The kewl thing is that you can start out with a small section, then add the sections as needed depending upon where the players elect to go. While these are double sided, they have hexagons on both sides. One side is solid hexagons with broken hexagons on the reverse side. There is a grid version of the tiles available from the same manufacturer that I’ll have to pick up sooner or later. Where the Chessex surface is rough and the Wiz Dice surface was sticky, these tiles were very slick. While it made marking the tiles easy, you could easily smudge a dry-erase marking if you were not careful. There are thirty-three 1/8″ thick tiles that are six inches across in the box. This makes the box a little heavy compared to a rolled up mat. But I was able to store my dry-erase markers in the extra space the box provided. When we were drawing the full map of the planned adventure, my daughter commented that it was like assembling a map puzzle. Here are some various photos.

First opening the box
The solid and broken hex sides of the tiles
We did a timed test with some markings and it erased with no problem after 30 minutes
All of the tiles assembled in a square like fashion with 28 inches across
Drawing the full map of the adventure


The rolled up mats are lighter than the tiles. But the tiles offer greater flexibility for the GM. The costs are about the same (Dice Wiz is lower compared to the same sized Chessex mat). If you are going to stick with a rolled up mat, buy the Chessex for the quality. But my overall advice is take the flexibility of the Role 4 Initiative tiles. They also marked and erased easier.

Have you used any of these three products? If so, what were your thoughts on them? Are there other mats/tiles that I should look into? 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) or click on my social media links with any comments.

Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Role Playing Games

2024 Character Creation Challenge feedback

As promised in the 2024 #CharacterCreationChallenge After Action Report, here are the badges for those who completed the 31 characters. My daughter provided them in a large and small format. The badge is different than the last two years and are provided below.

Large version
Small version

There was several participants who sent feedback to me on the challenge itself. I didn’t have permission to use their names, but I wanted to pass on their comments to encourage others. I think part of the reason that these have been successful in the past is the encouragement that we all give each other on message boards and social media.

  • I just wanted to say I really enjoyed the experience and it was a great way to start the new year. I hope to have the time to do it again next year. If you have any questions please contact me on my email or feel free to also contact me directly on Discord. Thank you again I had a blast!
  • Thank you to TardisCaptain for this opportunity to participate and to all those enjoying this!
  • Made it! Thanks again for putting this together. And glad to hear everyone is okay.
  • I really enjoyed the Challenge this year, already looking forward to next year’s!
  • Agreed, thanks for running this, had a great time participating with my Advanced Fighting Fantasy reskins of classic 80s fantasy films (some of which may appear in The Warlock Returns fanzine as full articles in the near future), and had a lot of fun reading all the varied and imaginative entries from everyone else. Good times!
  • D&D remains my bread and butter. But I was able to explore a few other RPGs this year. More planning for next year, methinks. (Hubris. Any bets on no more actual planning next year?)
  • I’m afraid I’ve got no insightful commentary. Folks can make of my musical taste what they will. Thanks to TardisCaptain , it was fun. Now to sit down and actually read the thread. Is it bad I’ve come up with a theme for next year already?
  • Honestly, I think I did better last year; both in terms of being more organized and more creative. Which isn’t to say there isn’t a couple of highlights here, but between scrapping several ideas and having a lot else on my mind this year, it’s maybe been a bit more hassle than I’d have liked. I did enjoy coming up with themes to the names of some groups.
  • So, it was fun, but also more work than expected. If I do this next year, maybe rather than full parties I’ll go with something that requires less prep and crunch – simpler systems, more spontaneous ideas for chargen. Or maybe I’ll do pregens for one-shots. We’ll see.
  • However, doing this exercise has made me want to start writing stuff again, it’s really blown away the dust and cobwebs. It’ll take me a while to get back into practice, but I do intend to write more on this blog in future. And I’m really looking forward to next year’s challenge.
  • Wow, making 31 characters for as many different games was quite a lot, even though I did choose mainly rules-light games. Seeing the great diversity in games and character concepts posted in this thread was very fun!
  • I had fun making these characters and using several games I have not touched for decades I look forward to this next year!
  • Thank you, TardisCaptain ! Once again it was a lot of fun. And it was very cool to see all the creative stuff people came up with. I had to stop myself from gumming up the thread with questions. Thanks!
  • And with that 2024 is a wrap! Looking forward to 2025. As usual I will plan to get a few characters ready in advance so I can try more complicated systems. If all goes like previous years I will fail horribly and scramble to do each day next year.
  • Thank you for organizing the event once again.
  • Character Creation Challenge comes to an end! It was a blast!

So there will be a Character Creation Challenge in January 2025. I’ve already got a few new games to use and I’m willing to take any requests (if I have them). I’m also thinking of different themes that I may want to use since I saw a lot of successful ones used this year.

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

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

2024 Character Creation Challenge Day 31: Anarchy

NOTE: Real world issues delayed the last two characters getting posted online.

And here we are to the final day of the 2024 #CharacterCreationChallenge. It was very rough for me at the end as a family emergency came up and delayed my last two entries. Today I am using the Anarchy: The Role Playing Game by Dicegeeks. This game is using the Open D6 system which I was able to play (a lot) in the Star Wars Role Playing Game from West End Games.

I picked up this game after reading about it in a series of newsletters about creating your own role playing game. Being a fan of post-apocalyptic games and the D6 system, I elected to check it out and to use it in the challenge.

The PDF is 65 pages long with the character creation process starting on page 10. The character sheet is one page long. The PDF is only bookmarked in the table of contents. The setting for the game is the United States that has twenty cities destroyed by nuclear explosions. The concept for the game is that the players begin the game alone three-years after the nuclear war and the winters it has caused has ravaged the planet.

Step one is to determine what your character was doing before the war. There is a list to choose from or you can roll randomly. Since I wanted to throw some dice, I let fate decide. This character was a college graduate student working towards a higher degree. Age is 28 and he was at an Ivy League school (both of these were part of the random roll charts.

Step two is what changed over the past three years. A roll of 1 resulted in a close family member or friend died from disease. I would assume that there would be a lot of that in a nuclear winter Earth. The RAW states work with your GM to create the details of the recent change. Talking with the voices in my head we decided that the character’s wife is the person who died.

Step three is the character’s goals that, if achieved, will be rewarded. There is another chart to roll against and the D10 (there is a different die for each time something needs to be randomly selected). A roll of 5 lists “Found a democratic town as a safe haven for any weary souls.” I think that the first thing the character would want to do is find a location that a town could be safely set up.

Now we are to step four where we set up the attributes. I have 18D to spread between the attributes of Dexterity, Knowledge, Mechanical, Perception, Strength and Technical. No attribute can be less than 2D or higher than 4D. Since this guy was almost done with his masters degree, I gave him high knowledge but lower strength.

Step five is to select advantages and disadvantages. The RAW states that a minimum of two disadvantages must be taken. I can skip any advantages, but it doesn’t give me a limit (which seems wrong) so I’ll match the plusses and negatives listed next to the advantages/disadvantages. Unlike the earlier steps, there is no random chart with the advantages and disadvantages. For the first time I had to go searching for the descriptions of the advantages and disadvantages (having the bookmarks on the left of the PDF would have helped here).

The skills are selected in step six. The RAW states that we get 7D to distributed (and a D can be broken down in to +1, +1, +1 or +1, +2). I went over the character sheet and gave him a lot of +1s and +2s.

Step seven is to determine the health points. 20+a STR roll. I wrote down the 26 health points.

Personal info is the next step. I consulted a random name generator and stopped at Marcell Freeman. I wrote up a brief physical description and a short background based upon what had been rolled above.

Step nine is the starting equipment and we are back to the random charts. All beginning characters start out with some clothes. Then I’m instructed to roll a D10 for each chart of Gear, Tools and Vehicles. This resulted in a sleeping bag, a hacksaw with two blades and two quarts of motor oil (uh… why?).

Starting weapons and armor is step ten. More D10s results in an axe and some motorcycle elbow pads. More D10 rolls for starting food and water resulted in eleven cans of spam (singing: Spam in my mailbox at work) and three gallons of water.

Step twelve determines the starting vehicle for Freeman. We are doing a percentage roll here. Freeman has an SUV that has 10 MPG and GHT of 30. What is GHT? The character sheet has something marked GIT under vehicles? I looked down at the vehicles section and it had some additional items, but nothing on the GHT/GIT question.

Step thirteen is to randomly roll for a personal memento. A D10 roll resulted in a music box. Probably all he has left over from his dead wife.

Step fourteen is to determine the current age of the character. Add three to anything determined earlier (28) results in an age of 31. Adding a single Fate Point is step fifteen. And the steps end here. I looked over the sheet and I noticed that I didn’t have any armor points listed. I looked at the equipment section and wrote them down. Here is the character sheet.


So I’ve played this system before and I’d be willing to play it again. I liked some of the random charts, but I wish that there had been some costs involved for obtaining other items. It sounds like there may be a lot of bartering or GM decision making to be made. I doubt I’ll get a chance to play this game, which is too bad.

Additional Notes:

I had a few people ask me how I was going to get Jeremy Clarkson into one of the characters after making Sir Richard Hammond and James “Captain Slow” May characters. I kept waiting for inspiration to strike. When none came, I decided to make the school that Marcell Freeman was studying at Clarkson University. I’m sure they have a great automotive study program.

I received an email from one of the participants in the Character Creation Challenge. He had been posting on his own website for the entire 31 days. I thanked him for his participation and added his site to the links list. In the future, if you are participating let me know as soon as you can. This way I can add the link with the other participants. Congratulations to everyone who made it to the 31 days.

Coming Up Next:

2024 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) or click on my social media links with any comments.

Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Role Playing Games

2024 Character Creation Challenge Day 30: Pathfinder 2nd Edition

NOTE: Real world issues delayed the last two characters getting posted online.

Day 30 of the 2024 #CharacterCreationChallenge and I am using the Pathfinder 2nd Edition system by Paizo. I had picked this up on the same charity bundle that I had also picked up Starfinder with. And I had a devil of a time getting the files downloaded from Paizo’s website. But I was finally able to gain them.

I’ve had a chance to play Pathfinder 2nd Edition at my first SaltCON last spring. I was really impressed with how the GM presented the game (and the tools that he used for a one-shot). The characters were pre-made so this is my first attempt at making one. I wonder how it will compare with the earlier Starfinder entry?

The PDF I own contains 642 pages with the character creation chapter starting on page 19. The actual character creation list (with character sheet breakdown) starts on page 21. The character sheet is four pages long.

OK so step one is to create a concept. I’ve felt the need to play a dwarven cleric so I’m going with that. I named him Rogar of Clan Granitebender.

Step two is to start building ability scores. I rolled for these scores because it was an option and I wanted to throw some dice. But apparently you don’t just use these scores. Depending upon your ancestry (aka race), background (aka growing up), and class there aer some ability boosts (that add or subtract from the ability scores. It was an interesting concept at first. But I make the mistake of trying to write everything down on a notepad before transferring it over to the character sheet. With the real-life interruptions that happened, I had to back-track over a few things to make sure I got them right when I was transferring the information.

Steps three, four and five (as mentioned above) was the selection of ancestry, background and class. I tried to make sure I had all of the parts put together (a little from here, then add some from over there, etc.) Thank heavens for the PDF being properly bookmarked.

The next step is to determine the ability scores. Basically you are going over all of the items assembled from above and making sure they are in the right place with modifiers. Step six is a companion step where you record your class details.

Step eight, finally buying equipment. Prices were really different than they were in other D20 games. But I appreciated that there was the “Adventurer’s kit” available.

Step nine is to calculate the modifieres (again you are going over everything, which I think I did right)

Step ten is the finishing details. I pushed my way through this, I really wanted to be done after going over (and re-going over) a lot of details.

Apparently I didn’t get my spells, so I at least wrote down the name. I really wanted to be done with this character. Here are the sheets. Yes there is some missing information, but I need to finish this because of how far behind I am due to real-world issues.


When I wasn’t getting interrupted by real-world events, I was starting to get caught up in the character creation. I was actually wanting to play this character. A physical book purchase may be in the future. Would I run a game? I don’t know with the ton of books that are out there (that a GM needs to know about), but I could very easily see myself playing Pathfinder 2nd Edition.

I hope that some of the steps presented in character creation for PF2e get integrated in the upcoming 2nd edition of Starfinder that they are working on now. One of the things that caught my attention on the character sheet is the breakdown of proficiency from Untrained (+0) to Legendary (8+Level). In the different sections of the character sheet, if you had one of these proficiencies, you just check the level. However while I was trying to fit in all of the details on the character sheet, I’m starting to think that I should just move to fillable sheets. Copy and past if I’m pulling from a PDF.

When I was finally done, I longed for the simplicity of OSR. But I still want to participate a PF2e campaign.

Additional Notes:

I’m very thankful for the readers who have interacted with me both on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server and on social media. On Mastodon a couple of readers have started a long discussion to my Rolemaster Fantasy entry. Comments included that the game was an artifact of it’s era with the volume turned up to 11 with crunch going beyond the competitors of the time. Another comment was “you wouldn’t get me playing Rolemaster or RuneQuest due to the crunch”. “I’m absolutely horrified when I look at the design and layout of some of the games that I use to think were wonderful because now they are nothing but a solid medium-density pile of mushy text which beyond being poorly edited are just badly laid out.” I think there is a big reason we see D20 variants everywhere but no clones of these games.

So if I know, or think, that a game might be too crunchy or badly presented why do I use them in the challenge? I want to at least dip my toe in the pool and see how it is. There have been a few games that have been a surprise on the good side. And there have been others that still make me shake my head and wonder how these books are popular.

Coming Up Next:


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

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

2024 Character Creation Challenge Day 29: Tiny Frontiers

For day 29 of the 2024 #CharacterCreationChallenge I am using another game in the Tiny D6 line. Today we are creating a character for Tiny Frontiers Revised. Now earlier this month I created a character for Tiny Wastelands (by request) and in past years I’ve used Tiny Dungeons 2nd Edition and Tiny Spies. Part of the reason I selected this game on this day is for two reasons. I really like the system, and I knew that it was going to be one of my busier days and I needed something that I could whip up quickly.

The Tiny Frontiers Revised PDF is 162 pages in length. It was written by Alan Bahr and released by Gallant Knight Games. The character sheet is one page and the Explorer Creation steps start on page 20. The basics for the system is a standard test roll is 2d6 and if you roll a 5 or 6 you complete the task. If you have an advantage, you roll 3d6 and only 1d6 if you have a disadvantage.

The first step is to select a heritage (aka a race). These range from the standard Human, genially modified humans (called Gens) and more. With this being the revised edition there are more heritages to choose from including a hard-light hologram (I wonder if he’s a smeg head?) Each heritage gives you your starting hit points and a species-specific trait. I elected to go with a Gen character as it sounded interesting. I decided that he was a security officer born on the Control Ship Red Barchetta and was named YYZ-2112 since he was grown in a lab. Points if you can catch the popular band reference in the name and history.

The next step is to select three traits from a list of available options. There were no prerequisites or other barriers, if you wanted a trait, you got it. This allowed players to make a character that might be a big ox and still make him graceful and athletic. I didn’t compare the traits against those in the other Tiny games that I own. I’ll have to sit down and do a comparison one of these days.

Step three is to select the weapon group (and specialty weapon) that YYZ-2112 is proficient with. Since was a genetically modified warrior, he had a second one as well. This guy is going to be a gun specialists. Besides selecting the weapon, we also write down the equipment the character has (basically your weapons, your space suit or armor and an explorer’s pack). You also get 10 GalCreds (money).

Now we choose the family trade. This is what the character was doing before they went out into space. Uh, he was grown in a lab so the family was a training regiment. So YYZ-2112 is also a drill instructor.

The last step is to select a belief. This is represented in the form of a quote. I decided upon “I will train others to survive.” And after filling in a few spots, I scanned the sheet (then realized that I missed a few spots, oh well, I’ll get them filled in).


When I was showing my daughter the artwork for this (and other Tiny D6 games) she loved it. She also loved that she could quickly grasp the system mechanics from the quick description. In fact, just after reading it, she asked if I would be willing to run a one shot of a Tiny D6 game for her and her gaming buddies sometime this summer. Hmmmm….. yes, and thank you for proving my point that if you can quickly explain the game mechanics, you can easily convince others to play the game.

Now that I’m thinking about it, perhaps a Tiny Wastelands game would be a good way to test this system out. I’ll have to think about which genre I want to run (I’ve already been told, no zombies, darn). They all sound pretty easy to set up and play.

Additional Notes:

The end is in sight and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. How are you doing with your Character Creation Challenge? If you are behind, feel free to catch up. You can make it. There are some participants who have gone into February to finish up. I just talked with my daughter who drew up the award logo for those who have completed the challenge and she is working on a new one now.

Coming Up Next:

Pathfinder 2nd Edition

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

Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Role Playing Games

2024 Character Creation Challenge Day 28: Rolemaster Fantasy

Here we are at Day 28 of the 2024 #CharacterCreationChallenge. Today we will be using another game that I was able to pick up cheaply at the SaltCON game swap. Rolemaster Fantasy Role Playing by I.C.E. Inc.

This book was published in 1999 and is a second edition. I had read a challenge entry from someone who had used an earlier version of Rolemaster and they expressed a lot of frustration. I wonder if I’ll run into the same thing. The physical book is 255 pages in length and has an ISDN number of 9-781558-065505.

This appears to be a percentage system. I like the percentage system in the FASA Star Trek RPG so I’m hopeful for this. The character creation steps are listed on page 11. The character sheet is four pages long.

Step one is the character concept. Since I haven’t made any halfling characters yet, this guy will be a thief from that race. Using a random name generator I came up with Hobson Silversting.

Step two is to select the race (done, see above), I wrote down the halfling stats that were provided. Choose a profession (again see above) and choose a realm of power. Which is something that has to do with spell casting. So I don’t know why a thief would need this, but I selected one after reading the descriptions

Step three is to generate the stats for the character. The attributes are Agility, Constitution, Memory (the ability to retain what your character has learned), Reasoning (i.e. intelligence), Self Discipline (control of mind over body), Empathy (aka wisdom), Intuition (luck and precognition and stuff), Presence (control of one’s own mind. How is this different from Self Discipline?), Quickness and Strength. Now you don’t get the stats themselves, you generate the temporary stats (which you then use in the game if I’m understanding this correctly). Then you generate the stat potential (uh…. yea…. OK). I think I followed the math and math and math and math.

Steps four, five and six all have to deal with skill groups and individual skills. You get some when the character was young, when they were trained and in their profession. More math came out of the woodwork and I’m starting to get annoyed. I don’t mind some math, but school assignments are long behind me.

By now I’m skipping ahead. I write down some items that it states that the character gets. I didn’t write down anything else because I decided that I was done. I have to agree with the person who posted about the first-edition of Rolemaster, it’s too much and it’s scattered everywhere in different sections of the book. I threw the sheets in the scanner and here they are.


I liked how they showed different sections of the character sheet being filled in during the character creation process. It did help answer a few questions, especially with how spread out everything was on the four sheets.

While the writing was OK and the flow had a good start, it dived into the curse that alternative games had in the 80’s and 90’s. Too much crunch and too much math. They were trying to be a little too realistic. Most participants in the hobby know that you can’t come up with a system that is going to be 100 percent accurate. Just give us a system that will not interrupt the flow of the game while giving us the randomness of a failure/success process.

I don’t see myself playing this game or homebrewing for it. After I’ve used it in a secondary project, I may put this game in the trade pile.

Additional Notes:

I had a different reader comment on Mastodon that he would play fourth-edition Dungeons and Dragons, as long as someone else ran it. He liked the miniatures-first/heavy combat play because he had a large wargame collection. I had heard from several other RPGers prior that they thought that fourth-edition was a good tactical game, but not a very good roleplaying game. Had it been a side game called D&D Tactics, it probably would have been better received.

A few of you wanted to hear more about Cowboy Bebop. I’ll do an unboxing post in February. By then I hope to have more information to share about my thoughts. I’m going to explore another avenue after the Character Creation Challenge is done.

Coming Up Next:

Tiny Frontiers

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

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

2024 Character Creation Challenge Day 27: Cowboy Bebop

As we near the end of the 2024 #CharacterCreationChallenge, I am using the new Cowboy Bebop Roleplaying Game for Day 27. As a fan of the anime and the live-action series (curse you Netflix for the cancellation) I backed a Kickstarter to get the game launched. I wanted to use it in the challenge so I didn’t look at the PDF before today (I usually like looking at a physical book when trying to learn a new system).

I’m not going to go into the stats for the book since I will do that in an upcoming unboxing blog post. But the character sheet is only one page long and the character creation chapter starts on page 56 with the creation steps (which are different than earlier in the chapter) on page 74. They recommended that the characters be made when all players are together at the table before the campaign starts.

Let me be blunt. I have no idea how this game system works. I don’t understand the concepts. So I’m going to say that I think the character is done. Wayne Wolf (thank you random name generator) left a slum lifestyle and eventually found his way into the occupation of bounty hunter in an attempt to escape poverty (and the control of his family that he left behind). I really wish I could give you a breakdown of the character and what each item is that I wrote down, but I don’t understand it myself. So I’m just going to post the character sheet.


I sat down in a couch, after taking photos of the unboxing for a future blog post, and I attempted to read some of the basic concepts of the rules. I didn’t understand any of them. This in-turn, caused my confusion when it came to character creation. I’m saving my final thoughts on the purchase for the unboxing post that will come later, but I’m really scared that I may have buyers remorse. Before I officially declare that, I’ve reached out on the forums to see if anyone else can help explain (or if they are feeling the same way that I do?)

Additional Notes:

I did have one person respond to yesterday’s post about Dungeons & Dragons Essentials. They stated that they had liked fourth-edition. When I asked why, their response was: “Game Play: Tons of character options, great background fluff and world building. Always something for every character to do. Design: the design of the game was tight, everything had a purpose from character options to lay-out. Plus the designers were not afraid to make new choices and throw out bad ideas in favor new ones. Not everything worked mind you. Combat was a slog and sometimes there was too much emphasis on where everyone was.” I agree very much on that last point. This was the first I had actually heard anyone say anything positive about the fourth-edition so I wanted to give some equal time. When I offered to run an OSR game for my daughter and her fifth-edition playing friends, the first words out of their mouths were “no fourth-edition.” Perhaps if I had been actively gaming during the fourth-edition era, perhaps I’d feel different. But just reading the raw rules and trying to make sense of them, I don’t see it as a system I’d want to use.

Coming Up Next:

Rolemaster Fantasy

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

Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

2024 Character Creation Challenge Day 26: Dungeons and Dragons Essentials

Day 26 of the 2024 #CharacterCreationChallenge is not a repeat from my 2021 Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition entry. I am using a book titled Dungeons and Dragons Essentials: Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms. I had picked up this book from a thrift store in 2022 and added it to the bookshelf thinking it was just a fourth edition supplement. Then last year I was looking through the book and noticed that it contained some rules, a character sheet and a character creation process. I looked up the book online and discovered that it was published a few years after the fourth edition core books came out. It appeared that WotC may have attempted to streamline the rules if I understood it correctly. So is Essentials a version 4.5? I figured that I would add it to the 2024 challenge and see how it compared.

This is a digest sized book with 365 pages. The ISBN number is 978-0-7869-5619-7 and the original cover price was $19.95 (I still had the receipt from the thrift store, I paid $5.35 after tax). The character sheet is two pages and the character creation steps starts on page 32.

Step one was to select a class. This book only had classes for Druids, Paladins, Rangers and Warlocks (oh my). Out of these, I selected a Ranger. When I read the description, I needed to choose a sub-class, so I selected scout. I wrote down the details including the special powers that made this game feel like an off-brand MMORPG that cursed the fourth-edition.

Next we were instructed to select a race. While all of the races were mentioned, only the Dragonborn, Drow, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Humans and Tieflings. Since the Drow was a race I had not used, I elected to use that one. I wrote down the racial stats and abilities (and powers) that were listed.

Step three is to determine the ability scores. These are the same that we commonly know from Dungeons and Dragons. But instead of rolling them, we selected one of three predetermined sets. I selected one that with the racial abilities, made a lot of sense, but I ended up with two ability scores at 18. Hey I won’t turn that down.

Now we determined the skills. I think I did it right. I had to go look at the skills section to double check a few things, but I’m not certain. But moving on.

Step five is choosing powers. I think they over-used this term in this game (again probably in a vain attempt to attract the MMORPG crowd). I think I selected these correctly, but I didn’t write down everything they did because of a lack of space on the character sheet.

Feats don’t fail me now. But I only get one feat at first level so I selected one quickly.

Step seven is to fill in the equipment. The rules stated that I only had 100 GP to spend on stuff. Luckily there was an adventurer’s kit that had a lot of the basic items. I selected the weapons I thought a Drow Ranger-Scout would have.

The last part was filling in the numbers. Some sections I got or were able to locate. Others I could not. I just left them blank. But I did select a character name from the list of name examples listed in the book for the Drow. This guy is known as Pelloth Graysoul. Ooohhh, sound gothic and mysterious. Here are the character sheets.


I remember being impressed by the fourth-edition character sheet when I used it in the 2021 challenge. This character sheet was lacking and seemed to be missing a few sections.

There was a section in the character creation process about roles, but nothing about what they meant in the game. So I skipped it as it seemed unnecessary. There was a lot of fluff in this book for “simplified rules”.

When I closed the book after making this character, the comment I made to my wife was “Fourth edition still sucks.” Now that I’ve had a chance to go through this process, I don’t think of this as a version 4.5, I’m thinking it was another attempt to try to explain the fourth edition. Perhaps if I had read the D&D Rule Compendium (4e) it may make better sense. But I seriously doubt it. I’m not going to go out of my way to pick up these books. If I find them at a thrift store like I did with Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, I’ll grab them. But that’s about it.

Come to think about it. I don’t think I know anyone who has told me that they actually played fourth-edition. Did we just dream this up? Did these books come from an alternate universe?

Additional Notes:

This is the third day in a row where I make up the character first without stopping to type in my thoughts. I’m getting through the creation process (somewhat) faster, but it’s still taking a while with systems that I don’t have a lot of familiarity with. I’m also concerned that I might miss a thought when I go to type these in later. What do you guys think of these last few entries?

Coming Up Next:

Cowboy Bebop

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

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

2024 Character Creation Challenge Day 25: Cyberpunk Red

On the 25th Day of the 2024 #CharacterCreationChallenge and I am using the Cyberpunk Red system. I had the opportunity to play this system at SaltCON-Spring and I really enjoyed it. But I will admit that it was a one-shot where the GM guided the characters around the rough spots.

I had picked up the PDF of this game when DriveThruRPG had a sale last September. This was on the week of Science Fiction games if I recall correctly. Since I had played Cyberpunk when it first came out in the 90’s, I wanted to see how this new system stacked up.

As mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, I am trying the technique of creating the character first and then writing the blog post later.

The PDF is 458 pages long. The character creation process starts on page 40. The character sheet is three pages long. I saw the Rockerboy entry (aka Cyberpunk bard) I thought, I’ve never made a bard like character before. So this will be my first. I decided to, loosely, base him on the 80s/90s Peter Murphy with the same look.

There are three options for character creation. Streetrats, which is just take one of the ready made templates as described in the book. This was for the quickest play with those not familiar with the system yet. Next was Edgerunners (aka Fast and Dirty) where some items were selected for you, but you also had some freedom to make the character yours. The last option was the Complete Packages. This was for those very familiar with the game and wanted to get into the nuts and bolts of character creation. As tempting as the last option is, I elected for Edgerunners because I’m still learning, but I wanted more than to pick a template.

There is a very well done flowchart on page 41 that also contains hyperlinks (in the PDF) to the pages they reference. Step 1 was to pick a roll, which as mentioned above, is the Rockerboy. Step 2 is the Lifepath. This was both from your culture (where in the world you were born and raised) and role-based lifepath (Rockerboy history). You could roll randomly or select for the image of the character you had. I did a little of both.

Step 3 was the Statistics. The heart and soul of most games. Our stats included Intelligence, Reflexes, Dexterity, Technical, Cool, Will, Luck, Move, Body and Empathy. Pretty standard for most RPG. I followed the guidelines and while I still rolled, it was for a random part of the chart. This lead to step 4 where you calculated your derived statistics like hit points and humanity (which I noticed that I hadn’t transferred it to the character sheet before I scanned it).

Step 5 was selecting your skills. With the quick and dirty I already had my skills selected, but I had 86 points to spread around between them. I gave more points to those that I thought would match the punk musician that I was creating.

The next step was recording the weapons and armor. Most of it was pre-selected but I did get to make a couple of choices. Step 7 was your outfit. In cyberpunk games fashion is a major part of the game. I wrote down the clothing and lifestyle information (including the housing).

Step 8 was the cyberwear. I wrote down what was provided to me. I came up with a German sounding name (from a random name generator) and elected to use the handle of Indigo (pulled from one of Peter Murphy’s popular songs). Here are the character sheets.


I liked how they had three different options for character creation depending upon how familiar you were with the game. I also really liked how each chart in the step had an arrow pointing you towards the next chart in line. I had read on Reddit that someone really didn’t like how the book was laid out. While I haven’t gone from cover-to-cover, I can say that I liked the character creation process and how the bookmarked sections helped lead me to the next area I needed to go to.

I wouldn’t turn down a game of Cyberpunk Red. But I don’t know if I’ve got the bandwidth to think about running or homebrewing for this system.

Additional Notes:

I posted my Crypts & Things character on the D101 Games discord channel. The publisher responded with some interesting information. They said: “Nice You’ve got a real piece of history there, in the 1st edition of the game. In answer to your question, Remastered is twice as big, with all new art. There’s lots of new content. Characters get two life events, one for their homeland and one for their character class. The magicians losing hit points was dropped, but you still gain corruption for casting black magic.” Now I really want to check out the remastered Crypts & Things book.

I really like it when the smaller game companies interact with their fanbase. DwD Games has done the same thing when I’ve posted about FrontierSpace and their other publications.

On the Forums I had a reader that uses the handle “Hunter” respond about the use of The Breakfast Club as RPG characters. They had also used the same characters in the 2023 Character Creation Challenge in the Leverage RPG system.

Coming Up Next:

Dungeons and Dragons Essentials

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

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