Posted in: Autographs, Collecting, Comic Books, Community Service, Conventions, Cosplay, No One Lives Forever, Star Trek

FanX 2023 After Action Report

Some of the loot from FanX 2023.

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

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

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

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

Achievement Unlocked

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

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

A look at the autograph.

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some random photos from the convention.

Posted in: 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) TardisCaptain.com 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.

Afterthoughts:

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 RPG.net 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: Archer, Character Creation Challenge, Comic Books, Conventions, Cosplay, Doctor Who, Dune, Fan Club, Horror, Horror Hosts, Humor, James Bond, Movies, MST3K, Music, No One Lives Forever, Reviews, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Spy-Fi, Star Trek, Star Wars, TV Review, Video Game, Website

2021 is in the rear view, now onto 2022

So another year has come and gone and I am glad. While 2021 was not as bad as the year that shall not be named, it wasn’t the easiest. There are still some challenges in this world that I really hope that our society can come together to get past. I’m still trying to focus on the positives of the past year.

==Role Playing Games==

2021 started out with the first #CharacterCreationChallenge. Amazingly enough I was able to knock out 31 characters in 31 days. I loved reading all of the different responses that the other participants and even made a few new friends along the way. I’m looking forward to the 2022 Character Creation Challenge.

There was also the #RPGaDAY2021 Challenge during the month of August. I really had a struggle with this one, but I was glad that I had participated in it.

I also had a chance to finally play an online Star Trek Adventures game. We have a second session in our “one-shot” planned very soon. The kewl thing is, the game was announced with less than a 24 hour start time. I was able to use my Star Trek Adventures entry in the Character Creation Challenge to quickly drop into the game. Playing on just Zoom is difficult, but doable.

I also had some friends get me into an online Starfinder game that lasted several months (with 1-2 sessions per month). It was interesting, but it really turned me off using Fantasy Grounds as an online platform. It’s an app instead of a browser based system and it is a resource hog like nothing else. Even the players with high end computers were having issues. Unfortunately real life caused the game to end after a few months. The Starfinder system is ok, but a bit crunchy to what I’m use to. The Pathfinder in space mentality didn’t really appeal to me either. I know I was gaming more for the company than I was for the system and universe.

I still want to get into a D&D 5th edition game or a regular Star Trek Adventure game. I’d also prefer to get back together with gaming in person, but with the way the variants are running wild, I’m not certain that will happen any time soon. I’m open to an online game if the schedules can be worked out (the same old problems).

There were several new additions to my role-playing game collection. Between purchases and donations from friends I’ve been able to add to my gaming shelf. I also took advantage of several PDF sales. Instead of listing them all here, I’m planning to save them for my Character Creation Challenge entries. I also added to my dice collection including a special die.

==Video Games==

I’m still playing my old standbys of No One Lives Forever and Tron 2.0. However thanks to a gift card for GameStop (actually ThinkGeek) I was able to pick up a few other video games that I’m looking forward to trying out. I’ve been playing Balder’s Gate and it’s been… interesting. I think I might be playing it wrong.

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order has been good so far, but I think my daughter is enjoying it more than I am.

==Movies==

Even though it came out the year before, I had the chance to see Wonder Woman 1984 and I enjoyed it. I wished I could have seen it in the theater. 2021 was also the 25th Anniversary of the Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.

Through streaming I was able to enjoy Black Widow and Godzilla vs Kong (wish I could have seen this in the theater).

Finally getting back into the theater I was able to enjoy watching the latest James Bond movie. We finally saw the sci-fi epic Dune and loved watching the new Ghostbusters film. I still want to watch the latest Matrix movie, Spiderman movie and The King’s Man while they are in the theaters.

I’ve also watched a ton of cheesy sci-fi, fantasy and horror films on streaming services. Some were good, some were not so good.

==Television==

Creature Features held it’s 50th Anniversary. During the summer I had my photo aired on a segment of Svengoolie and my kid’s artwork promoted on Creature Features.

Netflix’s Army of the Dead was a good adventure. Amazon’s The Tomorrow War was interesting to watch. Ice Road was also interesting, but probably not a repeat watch. The Wheel of Time didn’t catch my attention at first, but slowly got a little better. I never read the books so I don’t know how it compares. I really enjoyed Foundation after I was worried how the books were going to translate to the screen. Invasion was an interesting concept, but starts out really slow. I’m glad I stuck with it. I need to finish Y: The Last Man and I’m really disappointed that we will only get one season of Cowboy Bebop.

Thank you What We Do In The Shadows, Archer and South Park for being funny. Crossed Swords was a challenge, but I was able to get into it. I’ve really enjoyed the animated Disenchantment series on Netflix. It was also good to see Animaniacs again.

On the Star Trek front, Star Trek: Prodigy has been interesting. I’ve also been enjoying Star Trek: Discovery as well. I really think that Star Trek: Lower Decks has knocked it out of the park. I am really looking forward to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. I wish there was more Short Treks. Wil Wheaton’s after show “The Ready Room” has been very enjoyable and informative.

Disney+ brought us several good entries for 2021. The Muppet’s Haunted Mansion was really, really good. I really wish that they would give us more Muppets Now. WandaVision and Loki were really good from the Marvel entries. Falcon and the Winter Soldier was ok. I haven’t seen the Hawkeye series yet but plan to sit down and watch it. I really liked the What If!?! series. On the Star Wars side, The Mandalorian continued to be great. Visions was ok, but I wish I hadn’t binged it since it probably would have been better in smaller doses. The Bad Batch was also enjoyable. There has only been one episode of The Book of Boba Fett so I’ll be watching to see where this goes.

Because I missed a lot of Doctor Who episodes while I was studying for college, I spent part of the year catching up. Not only was I able to complete this task, I was able to watch the latest season as it aired. I’m looking forward to the New Years Day special.

2022 will finally get us the third season of The Orville and I’m really looking forward to the next season of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

==Books and Comics==

I really enjoyed the Star Trek: Picard novel, Last Best Hope. There are several other books that I’ve been reading on my kindle and in dead tree format. I’ve been trying to read The Dying Earth series by Jack Vance as well but I haven’t completed them.

The War of the Bounty Hunters in the Star Wars comic series was good, but frustrating. I really wish that they had a better system to follow the flow of the story that spans across several publications. I felt like a few times I was re-treading over the same ground.

The Mirror Universe stories and Star Trek Year Five was really good from IDW Publishing. I’m looking forward to reading more of these stories.

Doctor Who, James Bond and The Orville was other comics I had been pulling from my local store.

==Cosplay and Conventions==

I was able to add the Admiral Picard uniform to my collection. I had a chance to wear this at FanX: The Salt Lake Comic Convention. It was the only con I attended in the year. Hopefully 2022 will be better convention wise. I’d love to get an Admiral Vance uniform from Star Trek: Discovery or a Monster Maroon from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. However those are long term goals.

==Live Events==

Thanks to 103.1 The Wave, we were able to take the family to Lagoon. With the vaccines helping out, we’ve been able to attend the Trans-Siberian Orchestra performance and the live Mystery Science Theater 3000: Time Bubble Tour. I’ve already got several concerts and events planned for 2022. The Beyond Van Gogh experience was probably the closest I’ll ever get to a holodeck experience. The Egyptian exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Utah was very enjoyable.

I was also interviewed on the radio for the Star Trek Day 2021. That was an interesting experience. But also not the first time I’ve been interviewed on the TV, Radio or even print.

Our Seventh Fleet and USS Ticonderoga meetings and events have been able to get back in person. This was a very good thing as we are a close knit Star Trek family. We’ve been able to grow and succeed because we get together and see each other’s smiling faces.

==Website==

I was able to get some photo albums online and I’ve added to them as I’ve found more photos. I’ve been able to keep to a regular schedule of several blog posts per week (counting the Star Trek Quotes listings). I should do more gaming articles and reviews of things I’ve watched/read/enjoyed. However, I still need to get some of the other sections of my website filled out. I’m a little upset with myself that I haven’t gotten more of the website completed. This will be a goal for 2022.

It’s good to have goals. I think I’m going to spend 2022 trying to achieve more of them.

Posted in: Community Service, Conventions, Cosplay, Fan Club, Rant, Star Trek

FanX after-con report

Salt Lake Magazine interviewed me at FanX 2021
Salt Lake Magazine interviewed me at FanX 2021

FanX: The Salt Lake Comic Convention was held at the Salt Palace on September 16-18. In my duties as Commander-in-Chief of Starfleet Command’s Seventh Fleet, I helped man the charity booth that we were running at the con. The club was raising funds for the Best Friends Animal Society of Utah.

While I was there, I was able to get some additional photos for my online photo gallery. I was also able to obtain some new Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars autographs for my autograph collection. Spending time with Larry Nemecek and John Eaves was a highlight of the convention. I was even interviewed by Salt Lake Magazine in one of their FanX video reports. The video is posted below.

Salt Lake Magazine interview

Some of the additional good things included how most people were following the health guidelines. Watching the attendees from the booth I’d say that 99% of the people were wearing masks. Hopefully enough people will take steps to make the conventions next year a safer event. I also really loved the wider aisles that were mapped out on the vendors room floor. While the con was still crowded (I was told that more tickets were sold for 2021 than 2019) it wasn’t crazy sardine packed on the vendors floor. I really hope that FanX keeps the wider aisles for future years.

I’m going to go a little bit on a soapbox here. I really think that autograph prices are getting way too high. There were several guests that I ended up skipping because I didn’t want to pay that much for a signature on a photo. I think that managers hear the term “Comic Con” and automatically hike the prices up by 30-50%. It also bugs me that the autograph prices are not advertised before the con so I can budget ahead of time. The con website posts the photo op prices, but the autograph prices are always listed as TBA. When I show up and find out that someone wants $90 for an autograph that I didn’t plan for in advance, I turn it down. Speaking of photos, what is the deal with charging for a selfie? Yes an autograph creates a value on an item that can be resold, so I can understand a guest charging for that. But you can’t really re-sell a selfie. All of the selfie-style photos that I have posted on this website were obtained without extra payment. While they are kewl and I thank the guest for posing with me, I don’t see myself paying for a selfie. If I wanted to pay for a photo with a guest, I’d get a professional photo done. End of rant.

After not being able to attend a convention for two years, it was good to see my convention friends and geek out. There are a certain number of people that I only see at these events. It was good to see who had kept themselves safe. I hope that things will get better so we can continue to have more events and conventions. The new uniform worked great and I may pick up a few more from that manufacturer.

Here are some of the photos that were taken at the con.

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