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: Collecting, Conventions, Dungeons and Dragons, Horror, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Star Wars

SaltCON-Summer 2024 After Action Report

Loot from SaltCON-Summer 2024.

Well I thought the picture of the loot at the top was not so fuzzy, but I’m not going to re-take it now. Hey, I survived another SaltCON both as a player and gamemaster. It was fun, lesson learning, idea forming, friend making and just a little stressful. But I wouldn’t know a convention that didn’t have those.

I did get some loot at this con, but for a while I was worried that I wasn’t going to find anything. The game swap only had one person bring in RPG books and I ended up buying three items from him. The hardbound book Codex of Erde (an earlier edition of the Codex of Aihrde from Troll Lord Games) and two boxed sets of Dungeon Crawl Classic modules called “The Heroes Arise” and “The Saga of the Dragon Cult”. The modules in each boxed set would form a campaign that could take characters from first to high levels. The boxed sets were in really good shape considering their age with only one book showing any damage. I also picked up five token trays that I planned to use for my Star Trek Adventures game. These had been created by a local artist. The convention organizers gave me a set of dice as a thank you for running my games (they were purple, they went to my geek wife) and I also picked up a convention t-shirt. I love how they have a different design each convention.

For the gaming sessions I played in, this is how it went.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition- We had to find a lost puppy owned by the local magistrate. Unfortunately this lost puppy was a three-headed hellhound and was burning up the town. And, as fate would have it, we were not the only party looking for the wayward pet.

The One Ring– Set in the times between the events in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, our party had been hired by a not-so-trustworty dwarf in an attempt to find a treasure left behind by his recently-deceased uncle. I really liked the system as it worked very well with the Middle Earth universe that we were familiar with. I may have to pick up this system.

Star Wars D6- I missed out going to this game due to real-world issues and I tried to track down the GM to explain why (apparently no one else had shown up for the 9am game either). But the good news is that I was able to track down an AC tech to fix the air-conditioning unit at my house.

Stellar Odyssey– A RPG created by a Utah author. I had been in some of his games at past conventions and since I suddenly had an opening in my schedule, I signed up. This was a Star Trek inspired game where you play the crew of an intrepid starship doing missions for a planetary union. The emphasis is on social combat (with initiatives and different methods you could use to convince others to see your way/perform an action/etc.) with actual combat limited to a single die roll. The system made sense and really encouraged roleplaying. The starship stats (and how they could be used to enhance your dice pool) also made sense. I may have to use this game in an upcoming Character Creation Challenge.

Ter’Ra’Mentia- This was only an hour long intro session and I was the only person present in the time-slot. This allowed me to ask a lot of different questions without feeling guilty that I was taking away from the other players. I’m also a ‘hands on’ person when it comes to learning a game, so this helped very much. While I don’t know if I’d be able to pick up this game, I now have a better understanding of it. It’s basically a 2d12 system+skill points to beat a target number.

The Walking Dead- This was a scenario set in Utah. Which meant that the players were (mostly) familiar with the area. While it did end early (four players in a family had to go) I did get a chance to try the system. It felt like a game where dread was always around because even with the dice pools, we hardly got any successes. We didn’t have all bad luck, but it didn’t feel like we were in a cinematic cake-walk either. I don’t know how I’d feel about this. The constant wear-down of not getting successes might get old in a campaign. I’d probably have to actually try a campaign to see how I felt.

This is how the games I ran turned out.

The Star Trek Adventures game that I was going to run only had one person show up. It was probably the time slot that I had selected on a Sunday that did this in. I would have run this on a Saturday, but originally a family commitment would have kept me out for the whole day. When plans changed and I only needed to leave for the evening, it was too late to change the date. With the single player I sat down and explained the game basics to him. It was his first convention and I think he was excited to just try something more than Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder.

Basic Fantasy went better than I expected. I got to use a new GMs tool to help draw out the map of the bandit’s lair that the party was trying to escape from (I’ll have a review blog post very soon on this). Most of the players were use to 5e so I had to explain some OSR styles (running away is an option, your character may die if you are not careful, etc.) Well they took this to heart and actually worked together very well to facilitate their escape. While looking up a rule really quick, I reminded myself of one of the basic guidelines for running a game. Keep the flow going and don’t be afraid to make judgment calls instead of slowing down play by looking up rules. I had one player tell me afterwards that he hadn’t been a fan of the D20 games, but would play more Basic Fantasy if offered because he had fun in my game.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, getting together is one of the highlights of playing RPGs. On the first day I bumped into a GM for Savage Worlds. He asked if I wanted to go through a quick demo, which I jumped at since it gave me the chance to check out a system I had never played. Turns out this guy runs an RPG video blog on YouTube called the Ace Roleplaying Games Club. He even named dropped my blog in his own SaltCON after-action report. Thanks Mason.

Once again I’d like to thank the army of volunteers and coordinators for putting SaltCON-Summer together. While I was disappointed in the swap meet (I really wish more people would bring their RPG books looking for new homes) I could see how people were having fun over the weekend. Even the convention organizers. I got to meet up with some friends that I only seem to see at these conventions as well. That is an added bonus to attending the convention.

Also note to self, don’t forget to pack some antacid tablets in your convention backpack just in case the nacho cheese served at the convention center affects me again.

Have you been to any gaming conventions lately? Tell me about it. This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) with any comments.

Posted in: Conventions, Dungeons and Dragons, Horror, Role Playing Games, Star Trek, Star Wars

Prepping for SaltCON Summer 2024

The two games that I am running at SaltCON-Summer 2024.

Soon I’ll be enjoying another gaming weekend at SaltCON-Summer 2024 at the Davis Convention Center. As you can see above, I signed up to run two more games again. You can read about my past adventures at SaltCON in my past blog entries. I will be packing my Convention Backpack that I have documented in a previous blog post.

For this convention, I’ll be running two adventures that I did not write. I wanted to try some of the adventures that others had put out. The first will be for Basic Fantasy 4th Edition. Just in case any of the people signing up for my game might be reading, I’ll reveal the adventure after the convention. The second game is going to be a Star Trek Adventures game. Which one, however, I couldn’t say. When I originally signed up, I elected to run a Star Trek Adventures Klingon Empire adventure. However, just after I had signed up, Modiphius had released the Star Trek Adventures 2nd Edition Quickstart Rules. So I’m going to give the players who show up a choice. Klingon or 2nd Edition Quickstart. It will be interesting to see how this goes. I’ve read through the Quickstart rules and they sound better. I can’t wait for the 2nd Edition core rulebook to come out.

Here are the games that I’ve signed up to play at SaltCON-Summer 2024.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition- The adventure sounded interesting. It’s also being run by a friend of mine so I wanted to support him.

The One Ring– I’ve never played this system before so I thought I’d try it out. Plus I’ve always been a fan of the Lord of the Rings books.

Star Wars D6– A fan-continuation of the original West End Games D6 Star Wars roleplaying game. I haven’t played this system in years.

Ter’Ra’Mentia– This is the fantasy game written by some Utah authors. I met them at last year’s FanX when they were promoting their KickStarter. This will be a demo of the game.

The Walking Dead Universe RPG– The GM is running a scenario set in Utah. I’m very interested to see how this runs.

I know it doesn’t sound like many games. But SaltCON-Summer is only three days instead of the spring event which has four. But, I’m looking forward to sitting down with some friends (or soon-to-be new friends) and throwing some dice. I wonder if I’ll find any RPG bargains in the game swap? Look for the after-action report soon.

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

Posted in: Anime, Reviews, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction

A look at the Cowboy Bebop Roleplaying Game

So on day 27 of the 2024 Character Creation Challenge I attempted to generate a character for the Cowboy Bebop Roleplaying Game. I had just received the hardback book from a Kickstarter campaign. I had backed it because I loved the anime and the live-action TV series and I always thought that it would be a great universe to run an RPG campaign.

The hardbound book is 270 pages long and is in full color. The ISBN is 979-12-80109-58-3 and was published by Don’t Panic Games. I love how the game company probably got this name from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but I had never heard of anything that they had released previously. The game director (writer?) is Michele Paroli. The bulk of the images are pulled directly from the anime.

There is an introduction, six chapters and a glossary. The chapters are 1-Rules (how to play the game), 2- Session (three of them make an episode or single sit-down to play), 3- Characters (how to make one), 4-Hunters in the Solar System (all about the Cowboy Bebop universe), 5- On Stage (kind of a GM section that describes the bounties your players may go after, factions encountered, etc.), 6- Playing the Bebop (the characters seen in the show and episodes put into RPG form).

Here are some photos I took when I first opened up my Kickstarter package. There is a lot of good graphics in this book.

The RPG rules is pretty straight forward for a narrative game (more on that below), even if the description of the rules are not. These pages attempted to tell me the rules of the game. And I did not get them at all. I remember getting major headaches trying to put this together in my head. There is no simple “This is the basics” of the game. I’m of the opinion that I need to understand the basic concept quickly so I can try to talk my friends into playing a game. If I can’t understand the game, I can’t recruit players. I mentioned this in my “Biggest turn-off when checking out a new RPG” blog post. If the RPG is not based off of a common system (D20, GURPS, 2D6, etc.) then give me a simple explanation of the game mechanics. In Cowboy Bebop, your character has traits (a description of a character look or item) and you can try to use them in a session (named after a music style) and you get a d6 dice pool and you have to get a roll higher than 5, 10 or 15 (depending if it’s the 1st, 2nd or 3rd session in the game) and… I tossed the book aside in disgust. I even asked on the forums if anyone else had looked in on this game, and only got one response two months later. I didn’t think this was a good sign for the game when thousands of posts are made in a day on this forum.

When I attempted to make a Cowboy Bebop RPG character in January, my goal was to do this Kickstarter review in February. After getting both frustrated and angry (I thought I had wasted my money on the book) I put the book in the “To do” pile and left it there for months. I would see the book and it would remind me that I needed to write my review, but I was still sore about how betrayed the book made me feel. A blog post that says, “Pretty graphics, lots of in-universe details, system sucks to high heaven” is a very boring review. I finally grabbed myself by the collar and said “finish this review because it’s blocking other blog posts that you want to publish”. So I sat down and gathered my photos and looked again at the book. Still feeling frustrated after another attempt to understand the system, I started searching online and came across this video review from The Final Frontiersmen. While he compared some of the game to Star Trek Adventures, he did say one thing that made a light bulb go off in my head. “The key points about this roleplaying game is it’s extremely narrative.” Too much narrative is not my cup of tea. I now understood that I had received my delivered pizza and when I opened up the box, instead of seeing piping hot cheese covering sausage and pepperoni on a layer of marinara sauce, I saw anchovies, artichoke hearts and feta cheese. If you like that type of pizza, or games that is 95%-99% narrative (practically done all by the players) then you may enjoy this game very much. I know there are players who do like these types of games. In the 90’s some of my friends were just digging the Amber diceless RPG that had come out at the time. But when I watched them play, it just seemed like group storytelling where they decided the outcome. Something that was popular in online sim groups, but had zero randomness (and in my mind, zero RPG soul). With how the Cowboy Bebop RPG was stuffed into this box, it was just barely a step above a sim.

For me, I’d prefer an RPG that has a simple system that is easy to pick up that gives the randomness of the dice. A good GM and good players can easily balance the dice of roll playing with the narrative of role playing. Star Trek Adventures and the latest Star Wars system that I experienced at the last SaltCON gave that good balance that encouraged player interaction that included a narrative with the luck of the dice. I remember my favorite Dungeons and Dragons DM describing how a dragon was defeated using combined results from the rolls we made. Other GMs have given the option of having the player describe the way the bad guy was defeated when they made the killing blow.

So now I can put this good looking book in my RPG shelf. And when I want to roleplay in the Cowboy Bebop universe, I’ll use this book for background information, but use a system like Frontier Space or Stars Without Number or a host of other science fiction based RPGs as the system.

One last thought before I close up this review. I’ve taken this as a “Lessons learned” moment when dealing with Kickstarters. The description for this game was a “d6 based system” and I assumed it was more like the Star Wars D6 game I had enjoyed in the past. I will not be making such an assumption again and I blame myself for not digging deeper. After January when I would read a gaming Kickstarter, if the system was not quickly explained to me in a sentence or two, I’ve asked the organizer for more information on the game. The last thing I want to do is open up the pizza box and see a pizza I have no desire to eat.

Have you had a chance to try the Cowboy Beebop RPG? What Kickstarter campaigns are you backing now? 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: Reviews, Role Playing Games, Star Trek

The Federation-Klingon War Tactical Campaign First Look

Last year, my Father’s Day gift was the Star Trek: Lower Decks Campaign Guide for use with the Star Trek: Adventures system by Modiphius. This year the Father’s Day gift arrived early with the release of The Federation-Klingon War Tactical Campaign. As with the Lower Decks book and the Utopia Planitia sourcebook, I’ll be writing up a review and initial look through.

The book that was ordered from the Modiphius website arrived shrink-wrapped and in a bubble-wrap filled shipping box. It is a hardbound book with 231 color filled pages and contains a bookmark ribbon. In the book breakdown there is an introduction, eight chapters, and appendices and an index. The ISBN number is 978-1-80281-079-0 with the product number of MUH0142308. The project manager is Jim Johnson and the lead writer is Al Spader. There are a large number of additional writers listed as well. Reading through the credits, I have to wonder… how can I get a job as a canon editor? (Tremble before my encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek!)

The first chapter includes several new lifepath options with several new races. The blind Aenar (first seen in Star Trek: Enterprise), the Arcadians (first seen in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home), the centaur like Ariolo (also from Star Trek IV), the Betelgeusians, the Cordanites (seen in Enterprise and Star Trek: Discovery) and the Megarites (both the Betelgeusians and Megarites were first seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture). Previously we had seen roleplaying stats for Arcadians and Ariolo in the Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home Sourcebook Update from FASA. Out of curiosity I looked up the attribute stats for the Arcadians and Ariolo. If I was going to homebrew the stats based off of the information from the FASA sourcebook, I’m sure I would have come up with the same attributes listed in this book.

There are also several new traits, values, talents and equipment listed as well in chapter one. I thought it was interesting that there was random tables for some of the different options and several quickbuild rules for the different roles.

Chapter two is dedicated to the game master for a wartime campaign. It gives advice on a session zero and a safety checklist (very well done by-the-way). The books talks about campaign stages and turns and the types of missions that would be needed. A timeline of key events in the Klingon-Federation war is also presented. I really liked the section for notable star systems. They had a lot more details on the systems involved as compared to previous publications. Planetary classification, land mass, number of moons, etc. The last section in this chapter is some optional rules for “The Admiralty Game”.

In Chapter three we are introduced to the campaign rules of play. It discusses the various resource assets and the power levels they contain. There are also various random charts for some of these. I’m not certain if I’ll be able to play these myself, but I’m interested in keeping an eye on them.

Chapter four talks about the early war campaign, chapter five covers the mid-war and the late war by chapter six. These all contains several mission briefs that can be used by the game master.

Starships are the focus of chapter seven. Some we have seen, some that look new. There is also information on fleet organization, logistics and planning.

The various adversaries and allies are listed in chapter eight. Not only are they from Star Trek: Discovery, but from Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

The appendices contains the Gamemaster Campaign Tracker, the Player Campaign Tracker and the Safety Checklist.

This is the last publication for the first edition of the Star Trek Adventures RPG. For those of you who don’t know, a second edition of the core rulebook was announced and will be released at Gen Con this August. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the release of that book. While I had some suggestions for it when I first heard the announcement, I felt that Modiphius was probably past the point of using them. So I’ll just have faith in them and eagerly await the publication. I’ve also seen several posters on social media wonder if the Federation-Klingon War Tactical Campaign that could only be used for the Star Trek: Discovery timeframe. The publishers have provided enough information and details that this could be used for wartime conflicts as seen other eras. This will be a book that both gamemasters and players will get use out of.

Have you picked up this book? What did you think of the game information, internal art, or new gaming options that were provided. 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: Collecting, Conventions, Horror, James Bond, Red Dwarf, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Star Wars

SaltCON-Spring 2024 After Action Report

Loot from the 2024 SaltCON Spring

I survived my time at SaltCON Spring 2024. I was starting to wonder if I was going to get through it. First I was nervous before the start (did I have everything ready for the games that I was running) and I had to take a few breaks to make sure I didn’t get overwhelmed. March definetly came in like a lion with a big snowstorm (with thunder) on Saturday. Luckily my Convention Backpack kept all of my items safe in the nasty weather. But I made it and I enjoyed myself. I even had someone come up to me and identify me from this blog. If you read my blog and meet me in real life, welcome. This gentleman even wanted to talk about the recent Character Creation Challenge.

So how did the games that I ran go? I think they did quite well. Both sets of players told me that they had fun, which was the goal. My Basic Fantasy game only had two players, so I had them use two characters each. They were able to find the lost son of a Dwarf nobleman before he was discovered in an area he wasn’t supposed to be in. And they did it differently than the previous time I ran this adventure so it was interesting to see a different approach to the problem the party was presented with. I’m going to have to re-draw the map before I try to submit it for possible publication within the Basic Fantasy community. As for the Star Trek Adventures Game, I had quite a few laughs as the Lower Deck style characters had to deal with the Top Core (aka Top Gear in space) antics. I encouraged the humorous nature at the table by tossing pieces of candy to the players that got into the spirit of things. I really want to polish up this scenario as well and “publish” it for others to use. Both games had minor hiccups (the draw-able map didn’t like the markers I had brought for the Basic Fantasy game and I had left some papers behind for the Star Trek game) but we got through them.

A special pin just for the convention.

A new thing that SaltCON did this year was running a pin quest at the event. If you went to certain sections of the convention center, you could earn/buy/trade for a convention pin. Just before the Basic Fantasy game, one of the organizers handed me two SaltCON 2024 RPG pins which was a mimic hiding as a book (pictured above). I was instructed to keep one and to award the second to the player at the table I thought did best. As I had mentioned, there were only two players in that game and I thought they both did equally well having to balance two characters. And, in player fashion, they came up with solutions that I hadn’t planned for as a GM. Thank heavens for GM intuition and rolling with the punches. I even got to use the phrase “I’m allowing that because it meets the ‘Rule of Cool’ so go ahead.” When the game was over, I place the pin in the middle of the table and asked the players to decide who earned it. With how good they were, they both pointed to the other guy and said ‘you take it.’ So I made a GM ruling and had them both roll a D20 with the highest roll winning. I didn’t really get a chance to collect any of the other pins, but that was fine.

I also appreciated that the RPG coordinator made special posters advertising the different games. Since there were multiple Star Trek Adventures games, they were all on the same poster. But I really liked the poster they made for my Basic Fantasy game. When the end of the convention hit, I couldn’t find that poster (even thought I had seen it hanging on the wall in the convention center). I’m very grateful to the organizer who tracked it down for me.

The QR codes allowed you to sign up for the game or find out more about it.

As for the games that I played (or attempted to play), here is how they went.

Fallout The Roleplaying Game– Turns out I had the same GM as last year. She even recognized me from before. It was the same scenario, so I just ran my character as someone who would want to do what the others wanted to do (without spoiling anything). Luckily we got farther than we did last year so I was able to see some new material. I really liked how I just slipped back into the groove of this game.

James Bond 007– The same game master as before, but a whole new scenario. The GM recognized me as well and even handed me the same character that I had previously played. This and the way the system was set up made it easy to slip back into the game with no kinks. For a game from the 80’s with a little crunch, it ran pretty smooth.

Dreams and Machines– A new game that I was looking forward to since it’s the first in-house IP for Modiphius. I liked the world that the game was built around. The starter set components (characters were created by selecting a series of cards with stats on them) made it easy for a convention one-shot. The GM’s daughter made jokes about how the little girl in the starter set was going to die (spoiler: she didn’t). And I liked some of the changes to the 2d20 system (there were tokens for equipment assets that I was able to use in the middle of game play). But there were other changes that I really didn’t know if I liked or not. Momentum was split with spirit which also had to do with health. It was convoluted and is something that I hope doesn’t make it into the just announced Star Trek Adventures Second Edition (I’ll be blogging more about this announcement later). While I enjoyed myself at the table, I don’t know if I’ll actually be picking up this game.

Red Dwarf The Role Playing Game– All but one player knew about the Red Dwarf TV show, so we had just as much fun explaining things to her as we did playing. And she got really involved (she played a cat character). I got to play this universe’s version of Lister (a space bum). The GM had a waxdroid character prepared, but didn’t give it a name allowing the character to decide. So we were running around with a waxdroid of Winston Churchill who was always on the lookout for Space Nazis (not only did we find them, we kicked their fascists butts). I really liked how the system worked and while we struggled (hey were not exactly the cream of the crop in the space corp) it made sense. I really need to get my own copy of this game.

Star Wars Roleplaying– This was a little weird. Not only was I learning about a new system, but the GM was part of a group called RPG Sessions. This is a website that had online tools that could be used for this version of Star Wars and a few other games from the same publisher. While he explained the dice to us (there were a lot of new players to this game), we were primarily playing with these tablets. So instead of learning one thing, I was attempting to learn two. While the online tools helped, I felt that not rolling dice took away my enjoyment (and learning) of the game. However a special thing happened while we were on a mid-game break that I’ll talk about below.

The Witcher Roleplaying Game and Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. I ended up dropping out of these games. I was able to cross my name off the sheet for The Witcher (and there were several people signed up as backups which made me better). There was some nasty weather going on and I wasn’t feeling all too well. I didn’t want to be fighting the storm at midnight to get home. I also needed sleep which caused me to not make it for the early morning Sunday D&D 5e game. To the GMs, I apologize for not being able to make it. I really wanted to check out The Witcher system since I had picked up the PDFs in a bundle sale last year. Hopefully at a future con I can play this game.

Old School Essentials– We only had three players (one very new to RPGs) but we got to fight a dragon that we tracked down. Lots of good roleplaying in this session. Unfortunately all three characters ended up as piles of ash by the end of the game.

The GM for GURPS Star Wars– accidentally left his Star Wars material at home (I know the feeling dude) so we ended up with a pickup game of Dungeon Fantasy. This is also a GURPS system. However (insert Ron Burgundy “Well that escalated quickly” meme) we ended up not getting very far. In fact, we ended up not getting out of the starting building without setting the building on fire (yea, it went south really fast). The party ended up getting kicked out of the town. So the game also didn’t last very long. But the GM, knowing of my past attempts at making a GURPS character, offered to sit down and show me how the publisher had streamlined Dungeon Fantasy. I was able to make a character with the bulk of needed items to play in about 20 minutes.

As for the loot pictured above, I was able to pick up the following items. I purchased the 2024 convention t-shirt (loved the design). There were no general RPG dealers in the dealers room (lots of self-publishers, but nobody if I wanted to pick up a new book from a regular publisher). At the game swap I was worried for the first two days because there was a TON of board games, but practically nothing in the way of RPG books. There were more DVDs than RPG books. But while I was in the Star Wars game that I mentioned above, someone came to the table and reported that they had seen the Star Wars starter set with dice for sale for a very good price. Especially when they discovered that the very expensive core rulebook was included in the box. Since we were on break, I had the guy take me directly down there where I was able to snatch it up (cha-ching, bargain found). On the last day of the con, I came across the core rulebook for The Strange. This is a Sci-Fi RPG that I had been sent a supplement for in the Random RPG book club. Now that I have the core rulebook, not only can I use it in a future Character Creation Challenge, but if I elect to trade/sell/give the books away, I can do so in a set. The last item I got was The Walking Dead Universe starter set. This was a gift from the game coordinator for doing a good job running my games at the con. I was not expecting this and it was very much appreciated.

While I didn’t play as a Captain in the Artemis Bridge Simulator, I was asked to play an walk-on part as an invading Borg Drone. I think it shocked some of the players to suddenly have a LARP like experience happen in the middle of a networked computer game. Thanks guys for letting me play this part (and I didn’t hurt myself too bad when I fell down after being shot with a phaser).


I am very grateful to all of the volunteers who helped put this convention together. I’ve really been enjoying myself and meeting people from all over the US (and Canada) who travel to the con. I had a lot of fun despite my being overwhelmed in the middle. Not only am I thinking about possible games to run for SaltCON summer, I’ve also talked with another long-time GM who is expressing interest in running a few games.

Have you been to any gaming conventions lately? Tell me about it. This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) with any comments.

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

Prepping for SaltCON Spring 2024

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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