Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fulfill Your Destiny

Space is almost unimaginably vast.

As such, there is more than ample room for the many stories we Humans dream up, and set among it's potentially infinite reaches.

While I may not like what the powers-that-be have done with my beloved Star Trek, someone out there will. Someone, heck, a lot of someones, will find it interesting, and exciting, and maybe it will inspire them to watch other Star Trek shows they haven't seen before. Maybe they will want to play a Star Trek RPG, or run one.

That's pretty cool, regardless of my personal feelings on the product itself.

Luckily, there are other options for things that will inspire me to explore distant worlds. There's The Orville of course, and, oh yeah, have you seen a little thing called...

I am so eager to run a Star Wars game it's ridiculous.

My only problem is that most of the people I know who would participate don't really want to play Star Wars. That is, they say they do, but the stories they want to tell aren't very Star Wars-y.

They're into painting the New Republic as flawed and no better than the Empire, or talking about the economic and political ramifications of a huge galactic military, or, you know, anything and everything in Star Wars that isn't Star Wars.

Personally, I'd rather focus on good vs. evil, temptation, redemption, fast vehicles, cool spaceships, starfighter battles, weird aliens, planets with a single environment, and comedy relief droids.

You know...Star Wars stuff. 

The new trailer has all that, and more than a dash of pathos as well, but it still feels very Star Wars. 

Say what you will about The Force Awakens, that is was far too derivative of the original film, A New Hope, but it got Star Wars feeling like its old self again after...*shudder*...the prequels. It had the right look, the right feel, and it reintroduced us to a Star Wars universe that felt familiar, and yet still has some new things to offer.

I am hoping this film does the same. Yes, I'd like to see a bit more originality, but honestly, not too much. I don't want to see the universe I love become a different universe that I don't. That's basically what's happened with Star Trek, and that makes me sad. If it becomes a choice between doing that, or rehashing classic tropes, please rehash away! I look forward to seeing another lightsaber duel between a black armored space knight, and a naive young hero, with some sort of Sci-Fi vista in the background. I am good with that.

Anyway, I don't have much else to say on this just yet. It's early, and the film is still two months away. I have no immediate plans to run, or play Star Wars, but its certainly on my mind and, well, you never know. 

Some other news, and notes...

This past weekend I attended New York Comic Con. I had a great time, largely because I spent it meeting up with old friends, and one new one.

The fellow on my right is Jose Viruete, a fan of this blog since 2010, who has commented on various posts here and there. Jose lives in Spain, and came to the States as part of a vacation that included attending NYCC. 

The chap on my left is my good friend Ray, a member of my gaming circles for a few years now, and mentioned  in posts off and on. 

We had a great time talking about Science Fiction, Superheroes, and RPGs, and the unique elements and differences between those in Spain, and the US (as well as a few other places). It was a wonderful conversation, and Jose is the nicest of nice guys. 

If you read this Jose, you are welcome back anytime! Next visit we'll go to lunch, and grab a beer, or something. 


As it turns out, October isn't just for Halloween anymore. No sirree! A lot of cool stuff is coming out this month, and if time allows, I will be covering, or at the very least posting some thoughts on the various releases. They include:

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency Season 2 - This awesome, very quirky show returns and I am very excited. 

Red Dwarf Series XII - Which will see the return of Norman Lovett, the original Holly, after 18 years!

Stranger Things Season 2 - Which will feature Stranger Things Season 2! I can hardly wait!

Plus, all the CW Superhero programs have started back up, and I'm looking forward to Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl. Arrow is my least favorite of the shows, but last season was an improvement on the previous two, so hopefully it will get even better this time out. 

Alright, that's all for now. Catch up with you again soon.

Barking Alien

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Vulcan Eff You

After having viewed the first four episodes (giving it the same fair shake as The Orville), it is time to address the 800 lb. Mugato in the room, Star Trek: Discovery, or STD. 

Never has there been a more accurate abbreviation. 

The Vulcan hand gesture, originally thought to mean 'Live Long, and Prosper',
turns out to be the equivalent to the 20th century Earth middle finger.

It translates directly from the original Vulcan as, 'Eat Protons, and Die Suckers'.


I have been pondering what I would write regarding a Star Trek: Discovery 'review' for sometime now. With each episode, I had to tell myself, "Wait for the first four. You can't speak on it until you've seen the first four." Now that I have, I wonder why I waited. My feelings didn't change much between Episode 1 - A Vulcan Hello (the title of which makes me literally sick to my stomach), and Episode 4 - A title so long and pretentious that I am not even going to humor CBS by writing it here. 

Simply put, I don't like it. Not at all. 

I don't hate Episodes 3 and 4 as much as I do 1 and 2, which are absolutely dreadful, but I still do not like any of them. 

This disappoints me a great deal. This was their chance to make a great impression on a new generation of viewers, and recapture the loyal fan base they spurned with those terrible Abrams films. They did not accomplish the latter as far as I'm concerned, and the former remains to be seen.

I hardly know where to begin.

To me, Star Trek is about the exploration of the Human condition through the trappings of Science Fiction. Along the way, we experience exciting, Sci-Fi/Space Opera adventures, futuristic technology, interesting characters, intriguing aliens, and visit cool planets/locations.

This show is not Star Trek. It has none of these things.

We are exploring the same condition again, and again. War.

DS9 explored Humans, and their allies in the Federation at War. The movies addressed the subject several times. Battlestar Galactica, old and new, Babylon 5, and far, far too many other TV Sci-Fi shows take a look at it. 

I am tired of war. I am so f*^#ing tired of it. I am particularly tired of it in universes as vast, and advanced as this. Move on. Evolve. There is more to life than death, and killing. So limited in scope, so one dimensional. 

Exciting Space Opera adventures? Maybe. Not in the first two episodes. Only war, death, a poorly executed Prime Directive reference in the very beginning. Just...ugh.

Futuristic Technology? Sure. Lots. Far more futuristic than any of it should be based on the fact that this series supposedly takes place 10 years prior to The Original Series. Yeah.

Interesting Characters? OK, here I rant a the first two episodes there is literally one notable character - Michael Burnham..who I could not stand. Completely despise this main, and only real character.

She is overly emotional for someone trained on Vulcan to be an unbeatable Mary Sue (Michael Sue?). I mean, she is constantly making what would be awful really bad decisions, and then being treated as if she's an excellent officer. She has a psychic connection to Spock's dad based on a mind meld he had with her (an Alien), but never had with his own child.

Oh, not to mention that Spock had an attractive Human older sister for the past 50 years we've never heard about. 


Sadly, there really aren't any other characters developed enough in the first two episodes to talk about. Michelle Yeoh is largely wasted. Saru is both a bit corny, and kind of cool. By Episode 4 we have a few more characters, but the focus remains on Burnham who is just wholly unlikable to me. 

Intriguing aliens? Well, Lt. Saru could be interesting, but really isn't given enough to do, or say until Episode 3, and 4. The actor is excellent, his species look is neat, but I really can't comment more than that. 

The Klingons are...blech. They look atrocious, bare no resemblance to any previous Klingon incarnation, have a nonsensical variation on their culture when compared to the previous canon, and...I just can't. They are so bad. Their story is bad, their appearance is bad, and just about every scene they're in is boring, and painful to watch. 

What is this thing? Seriously.
It looks like a Reman in Skeksis armor.

Cool Planets? Engaging locations? No. None. So far, the vast majority of the scenes in the four episodes occur on ships, or otherwise indoors in rooms that look like all the other rooms. They have different sized tables, colored glass, computer display panels, but after a while they all blend together into largely dark areas with small. bright, blue lights. We've been down to one planet in the first four episodes, and that one only in the first five minutes (if that) of the premiere. 

I could go on, and on, but I've already used more words, and energy in writing this than the show is worth. 

I wanted this to be good. I really did. I mean, it's such a fantastic thing that we have a new Star Trek TV series on television after twelve years. I just...I am not enjoying it. It looks wrong, it feels wrong, it's written sloppily, and it has no characters I like.

Even after all that, if I didn't have to pay for it I might give it more time. I do have to pay if I want to see it though, and that is just the last straw. 

Live Long, and Pros...oh, sorry...Die in a Hale of Photon Torpedoes STD.

Adam out.

Barking Alien

Monday, October 2, 2017

Hugging The Donkey

"Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity,
because if you're passionate about something,
then you're willing to take risks."
-Yo-Yo Ma

There are a lot of fandom subjects that I'm passionate about, but few as strongly as Star Trek.

Although the original Star Trek television series went off the air in the same year I was born, I fondly remember watching it with my father when it was re-run on our local TV channel on the one evening a week when he was off from work as a police officer.

Star Trek reminded me of my Dad back then, and vice versa. 

The characters were men, and women in uniforms, protecting their families, friends, and neighbors from hostile forces who might seek to steal from, or harm the good citizens of the United Federation of Planets. 

Additionally, they embraced the task of exploration, meeting new people from far away places, helping strangers in need, and discovering things about their universe, and about themselves. 

Star Trek, like DC Comics Green Lantern Corps (one of my other favorite things) combined my two dream jobs as a child - Policeman, and Astronaut. What could possibly be cooler than that?

Much changed as I got older, but one thing that didn't was my love for the optimistic, 'better tomorrow' of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek universe. Apparently, I wasn't alone, as the original series spawned a series of motion pictures, four spin-off series, hundreds of novels, and books, and of course Role Playing Games. 

Now, 48 years after the first series ended, yet another series has been produced that embraces the philosophy of Human, and extraterrestrial mutual prosperity through putting aside our differences, and embracing what makes each of us unique. A series that celebrates diversity, discovery, and flat out Space Adventure Fun!

I am of course talking about...

The Orville.

What? You thought I meant another show? A different show? Really? What...

Oh, Star Trek: Discovery. No.

I shall discuss the utter disappoint that is STD some other time. Suffice to say, no program has ever had more apropos initials. 

If you are a fan of Star Trek, truly passionate about the kind of Action-Adventure Science Fiction that sometimes asks tough questions, and doesn't have easy answers, then the show you are looking for is The Orville.

A love letter to both The Original Series of Star Trek, as well as The Next Generation, The Orville is the brainchild of Seth MacFarlane, a multi-talented fellow best know for the long-running animated comedy series Family Guy. In addition to other spin-off series, he also created the wildly popular film Ted, and serves as executive producer for the Neil deGrasse Tyson hosted space science series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (based on the show Cosmos, hosted by the late Carl Sagan). 

Seth is, it turns out, a Sci-Fi geek, and a huge Star Trek fan. He had a reoccurring support role on Star Trek: Enterprise, and has always wanted to do a Science Fiction series in the vein of Star Trek.

As a matter of fact, it is now coming to light that Mr. MacFarlane approach CBS about producing a new Star Trek series sometime ago, but was turned down. Like any bold explorer he didn't let that stop him. Instead, he decided to make his own and as far as I am concerned, he succeeded!

The Orville is great! It is a fun romp through an all-new Space Opera galaxy that feels at once familiar and brand new. There is more than a touch of humor in the show, and while not always hilarious, the drier and more subtle jokes are very funny indeed. They lighten the mood, and at the same time make the characters seem more Human.

The characters are my favorite part of the show. I like these people. I would hang out with them. I'm love to catch an old Earth flick with Malloy, and Lamarr, talk futuristic weapons with Bortus, see if the awesomely capable and adorable Alara wanted to go for hike on some alien world, and find out if Isaac dreams, and if so what about.

That's not even addressing Captain Ed Mercer (played by Seth himself), who is a huge Muppets fan (just like Seth himself). We have so much in common! Then there's Commander Kelly Grayson, Mercer's ex-wife and a former Agent of SHIELD. Heheh. 

What's a good Sci-Fi show without cool tech though, am I right? We've got it all here on The Orville. The ship itself is awesome (designed by a friend of mine - No kidding! - A guy I went to high school with. I found out he was the lead designer), with Cutting Rays, Tractor Beams, Deflector Shields, and a Quantum Drive based on the Alcubierre Drive

The characters themselves are armed with energy weapon sidearms (yet to be named as of this writing), and 'Comm-Scanners', which are a combination of a Communicator and a Tricorder (Comm-Scanner is not the official name, as that too has not yet been confirmed). 

The uniforms, the aliens, including the villainous Krill, ALL SO COOL!

The stories are a mix of classic Science Fiction tropes, and in at least one instance, real, thought provoking moral questions. There's only been four episodes for far, so it remains to be seen which style of story will dominate the episodes. I'll point out that the series format is more episodic, with traits carry over from one episode to the next, but no big meta-plots. I am so relieved. Take me to a new planet each week! Let's meet god-like aliens, and evil space pirates! I am so tired of the, 'What? You missed one episode here and one there? Well now you'll never understand the opening of Season 3 and the intricate layers of intrigue we've so carefully developed'. Bugger off you! What's the matter? Not skilled enough to tell a story in an hour?

Anyway, you know me, when I get this excited about something, I just have to game it. So, as a bit of a side project (you realize that I have as many side things going on as a box of D20s right?), I'm working on this...

I'm starting to turn around on the new Star Trek Adventures RPG, and think it's a perfect fit for the type of stories being told on the Orville so far. Basically, interesting, exciting, quickly paced, but not as complex, or involved on the average as classic Star Trek. I am really looking forward to seeing where this goes, and whether or not I can get any of my friends to take the trip with me. 

I'll update you guys as I go, but I already have a custom character sheet, and ship record ship ready to go. More info as it becomes available (and as more episodes of the series come out).

Until next time, Engage Quantum Drive!

Barking Alien

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Creeping It Real


Did I scare you?

It's October, and you know what that means don't you? Autumn's arrived, the air has cooled, and the leaves have turned to russet hues. Soon, sooner than we think, All Hallow's Eve will be upon us!

Barkley here, and yes, I know it's been some time since you've seen me, but I've been extraordinarily busy of late. 

Oh indeed! I have been scouring the fringes of time, and space, and that one dimension, you know, with the goopy stuff, surely you know it, yes? - anyway, I've been searching for new content for Adam to post to the Barking Alien blog, and low and behold I have!

This month, in addition to whatever posts should strike Adam's fancy, he will be posting various Halloween themed games, adventures, and the like which have come across our paths over the years. 

To be a bit clearer, the Halloween themed posts will include things like...

  • Halloween Themed Star Trek, Superhero, and other sessions I've had over the years
  • Ideas and Mechanics from my new RPG, Unfinished Business
  • Running, and Playing Comedic Horror Games

There may be other Creepy, Kooky, Mysterious, and Spooky things this month, so you'll have to keep checking. 

Until then...Fangs for coming by! 


Barking Alien

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

What's Happening?

Whew! I've been gaming a lot.

A lot!

Well, a lot for me in comparison to last year at least. 

Most of it has been very fun too, and really, what more can you ask for?

At this point I figured I should update you all on what I'm doing, if for no other reason than to share the joy, and get some new content up on this blog for cripes sake! It's September 18th, and this is only my third post! Sheesh! 

Have no fear citizens, a meatier post is forthcoming. 

Most of the games I'm in, or running are bi-weekly, or monthly. Only the online Google Hangouts Kapow! Group (the one I am running DC Adventures for right now) meets every week.

Wait. That isn't exactly true. I meet with Dan's Group every Friday night (roughly), but we alternate games. 

Following our DC Adventures game, the Google Hangouts Kapow! Group will be doing a DC/Marvel Crossover, and then its back to our Kapow! campaign. 

Crisis on Earth G+

We've had three sessions so far, and everyone seems to be having a great time. I can tell you that I am. This mini-campaign is just my personal love letter to the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths, Silver/Bronze Age continuity of DC Comics. Getting the chance to do this is awesome, but knowing that my players appreciate the work I've put in is really icing on the cake. 

This week will feature the fourth part of our story, and a trip to World War II, and Golden Age DC! In addition to DC's WW II 'War Comics' heroes, such as Sgt. Rock, and Easy Company, G.I. Robot, and Jeb Stuart and The Haunted Tank, we'll get a guest appearance by the Earth-2 Justice Society of America! Woohoo! I can't wait.

Star Trek Adventures: Excalibur

Our new Google Hangouts group completed the adventure 'The Rescue at Xerxes IV' last week, and I must admit, it was really good. A fairly straight forward scenario, it was nonetheless an excellent introduction to the new Star Trek Adventures RPG. 

We are going forward with a mini-campaign, which may last no more than one additional adventure scenario, or it may continue onward. Lots of enthusiasm, but no pressure to commit to a tightly scheduled, long term game. 

We run this every two weeks, or so at a terribly late hour on Saturdays. 

The idea of using the Star Trek Adventures game to run a campaign based on 'The Orville' (which I touched on in my previous post) is one that keeps popping into my head. I am currently trying to rework the character sheets, and obtain as much information about the setting as possible, which isn't easy considering the series has only had two episodes at this point. 

My Hero Academia: American Ultra!

The Students of UA High School's Class 1-A
My Hero Academia

We've had three sessions of American Ultra, my homebrewed spin-off campaign based on the popular Japanese Anime/Manga series, My Hero Academia. 

So far it's been really great, with moments of WOW. It's some of the best GMing I've done in a long time, and I have the perfect group of players for it. Everyone, and everything just connects in a way that makes the game a pleasure to run, and the players have told me they love it.

The first two sessions had a nice mix of action, intrigue, humor, and world building. The third was much more focused on character development/role playing, investigation, and was a tad less funny, and action packed, but the players/PCs uncovered a bombshell reveal that had the team 'Holy Crap!'-ing all the way to the end. 

I'm pretty proud of that.

Next session is coming soon.

New Group - New Campaign - Villains & Vigilantes?

We played a super fun game of that Superhero RPG classic, Villains & Vigilantes last week, and are considering turning it into a campaign.

When I say we, I really mean myself, and two of my buddies. The third participant from our first foray won't be able to make it on a regular basis. Actually, it will be a rare occurrence if he can make it, which is too bad. He was a great guy to game with, and really rounded out the team.

While we had a great time, and I was flooded with nostalgia over the use of the very first Supers game I'd ever run, the loss of the third player and the fact that I am already running two Superhero campaigns has me wondering if this is a missed opportunity to run something else, like a Sci-Fi/Space Adventure game. 

More about this in my next post.

This group will also probably meet every two weeks, but I'm kind of running out of free days, and nights, so we'll play it by ear. 

Dan's Group - Alternating Games

Dan's Group meets at my friend Dan's house, and therefore we creatively refer to our entourage as 'Dan's Group'. Currently, Dan isn't GMing our Friday night games. That task is usually handled by my friend Alex, who is running a home-modified Powered by the Apocalypse 'Harry Potter/Hogwarts' game, or myself running...whatever. 

Whatever is a catch-all for the various games I start up with the group, run for a couple to several sessions, and then try to figure out what else might work better. Over the past year, or so this has included Ars Magica 3rd Ed., Champions 4th Ed., Marvel Heroic, Star Trek (LUG Version), and a number of others.

The problem is that games with the group never feel quite right to me. While we all get along and share similar interests, our playing and GMing styles are quite different, and even clash on occasion. The group is doing great with Alex's game, but every game I try feels either underwhelming, or annoying. 

I've yet to figure out what game works best with this assembly of gamers. 

I will keep trying of course. 

That's all for now. I have another post coming up very soon on some game ideas that have come to me of late. With any luck I can get this next entry out tonight.

Until then,

Barking Alien

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

We Need No Longer Fear The Banana

September is shaping up to be a busy month, and it's just getting started.

In addition to the increase in business due to the change in seasons, I am also experiencing an unexpected increase in the number of gaming sessions I have been, and continue to be, involved with.

This is good, though the combination of real life and hobby activities to this degree can be exhausting. 

The reason for my post today is related to a game I recently played that, honestly, I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy, a TV show I thought I would, and did, and the odd relationship between the two.

Well over a year ago, Modiphius Entertainment announced they were releasing a brand new, official, Star Trek Role Playing Game, to be entitled Star Trek Adventures

I was extremely excited for a number of reasons, not the least of which was my love of gaming in the Star Trek universe. If that weren't enough, I found out a friend of mine had gotten a job with Modiphius, and a few of the people who'd worked on previous Star Trek RPGs would also be involved. 

Before long I was signed up for the play test, and in conversations with some of the fellows in charge of Star Trek Adventures about submitting some adventure proposals, or supplemental material. 

Then I read the rules.

I was crushed. I did not like the game. To be more precise, I didn't really understand how it worked. I got the basic mechanics, but there was all this other stuff that seemed confusing and unnecessary bolted on. I found some of the 'gamespeak' terminology hard to recall, and came away feeling like I would not be able to run it. 

Overall, I was very disappointed, and kept up with the product only because it is Star Trek-related.

Time has passed since then, and the game has been released. It is quite successful in fact, and the final product (which I have yet to purchase as of this writing) looks very slick, and impressive.

My friend Keith, the regular GM for our Google Hangouts group, had similar feelings about the game. As is often the case with Keith (much to our group's benefit), he can't give up on a when game he feels strongly that he should like it. 

A few weeks to a month ago, Keith revealed that he had a really cool idea for a Star Trek scenario, and wanted very much to run said scenario using the Star Trek Adventures game. I thought it was a great opportunity to play it as a player, and perhaps learn how it worked from someone who understood it's bells and whistles better than I.

We ended up making characters one week, and playing it the next. There were three players - Mark (as a Human Science Officer named Lt. Commander Sprigg), a really nice fellow from Germany named Frank (as Human Engineer Lt. Commander Bush), and myself as First Officer/XO (an Andorian Command officer with a Security background named Commander Ch'Halor Thel). 

While our ship was set to be the Constitution Class USS Excalibur (repaired following severe damage and the loss of all hands during a battle with the M-5 Computer equipped USS Enterprise in 'The Ultimate Computer'), we began with an adventure from the published materials in which our group crashes in a shuttle on route to rendezvousing with our vessel. 


From there we (the players and GM alike) had a rollicking good time, as we proceeded to respond to a distress call from a Starfleet Research Outpost, encountered what may have been devolved scientists, and dealt with the planet's treacherously rocky terrain. The combination of mystery solving, fighting opponents, and navigating through the environment gave as all a good idea of how the rules functioned. 

Combat was interesting, with some cool options once we figured out exactly what they were, and how they worked. This was a good example of how the wording in the book was a tad unclear. Thankfully Frank (who was more well versed with the Modiphius 2D20 System than the rest of us) was able to clarify the mechanics. Once I understood it, I liked it a lot.  

Frank was a great addition to the group, partially for his greater handle on the rules, and partly for his role-playing, and characterization style, which was simultaneously light-hearted yet he maintained the seriousness of the situations we were in. His portrayal of Lt. Commander Bush was often humorous, but never goofy, or over-the-top in a way that broke immersion. 

This got me to thinking...although I am unlikely (at the point as least) to use Star Trek Adventures to run Star Trek over my preferred LUG/ICON System version, I might use it to run another television project focused on adventure, and space exploration.


I am waiting until at least the first three episodes air before I dedicate a thorough post to the show, but I did see the premiere of The Orville, and yes, I did like it. I liked it a lot. It was fun, it had some good characters, neat ideas, and awesome design work (you gotta love that ship!). 

Most importantly (to me at least), it got me thinking about running an Orville-style game. A Star Trek game with the setting safeties off, and an attitude more in line with...with...well, with the way most people play Star Trek-style SF games. Star Trek Adventures unique blend of setting appropriate abilities, but occasional 'it-works-like-the-TV-show' mechanics seem like a perfect fit for this type of game.

I am curious to investigate both the Star Trek Adventures game, and The Orville series a bit more. Who knows where this may lead?

Engage Quantum Drive!

Barking Alien

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Fall of Superheroes

And by 'Fall' I mean Autumn of course!

Yes my fellow caped and cowled costumed crusaders, it's that time of the year again - The kids are back to school, the leaves are changing colors, and the Pumpkin Spice Lattes flow like river rapids through the streets of every major American city. 

As Summer departs, and the harvest season blows in, I find myself running a number of Superhero RPGs. More accurately, I am running Superhero games, and little else. All things considered, I'm enjoying it, and pretty happy with the results so far.

I am currently running:

My Hero Academia: American Ultra!

Our third session of this campaign is coming up this Sunday (September 10th). 

So far the game has been a delight, with a perfect mix of action, intrigue, humor, and characterization. The world building has also been a ton of fun, as I adapt ideas from the Manga, and Anime, but twist a few to show the differences between how things work in Japan, and how they work in the United States. 

This next episode with feature school orientation, meeting their homeroom teacher, and the first day of classes. I can hardly wait!

I really need to do some session recaps on here soon. 

DC Adventures - Crisis on Earth-G+!

We just had the second session of my part of our Ultra Mega Summer Super Crossover Event, which is obviously bleeding into the next season. Summer was not enough to contain it! 

Our story places us in 1984, in the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Comic universe, where the inevitable wave of anti-matter from Crisis is sure to eliminate our reality. However, a plot by a cabal of supervillains may actually have given the heroes, with the help of the New God Metron, a way to save existence!

Travelling through time, and space, the heroes of the Justice League of America, are attempting to gather various items of power from throughout DC history, and use them to repair the Worlogog, a map and transportation device that might keep Earth G+ around post-Crisis. 

One can only hope. 

Villains and Vigilantes - Unnamed Superhero Campaign

I have been tasked with the creation of a new Superhero game by two good friends of mine, and I have gladly excepted the challenge. 

I am contemplating using the new Villains and Vigilantes 3.0, or a hybrid of 3E, and 2E. A friend suggested the 'Revised Second Edition' maybe a good option. 

I have a lot of nostalgia for that game, and I created a universe for it that I'd love to revisit and update. I have a pretty clear idea of how it would work, but I need to get comfortable with a version of the rules before I go about really setting it down on paper.

OK, that's what's up at the moment. More to come very soon.

I'm really eager to run a few other things, namely Star Wars and Star Trek, but I have not idea when I'll find the time. 

Barking Alien

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Red Skies and Floppy Disks

As my 40th Gaming Anniversary month draws to close, I am kind of amazed at how much of it I spent talking about, and playing Superhero RPGs.

It shouldn't come as a surprise really, for as I've said, Supers is what got me into RPGs in the first place (in a manner of speaking). It's just that, with a name like 'Barking Alien' you'd think there would be a bit more Science Fiction in my celebration of the 40 year mark. 

Furthermore, when I look at the general gaming landscape, how things like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, and Numenera seem to dominate the market by leaps and bounds, I am once more reminded that is the bulk of the lot, the unifying factor, the common denominator...but it just ain't me.

This past Wednesday evening I ran the first session of my half of our Google Hangouts group's Ultra Mega Summer Super Crossover Event, DC Adventures - Crisis on Earth G+!

The first part, a Marvel Heroic mini-series, ended with a bit less bang, and a bit more whimper than we all would have liked. The Marvel Heroic system didn't turn out to be to most of the players' liking. Even, or perhaps especially the GM found the game cumbersome, and tedious, getting in the way of telling a Superhero comic book story instead of supporting, and enhancing it. 

I was personally a tad disappointed that we didn't get to 'see', or experience very much of the Marvel Universe. If I don't normally play in the Marvel milieu, and I get to for a limited run, I want the opportunity to encounter uniquely Marvel things. I wanted to feel why the atmosphere of Marvel is special - why it's not DC, or our homegrown Kapow! game. 

I tried really hard to make that a part of our DC excursion. To facilitate that, I made some tough choices. Not tough for me to make, but choices that I knew might not initially sit well with all the players. For example, I limited which characters they could choose to play, but I didn't do it arbitrarily. Rather, I did it to make the whole thing work. 

Here's what we ended up with...

The Silver/Bronze Age Justice League of America
Characters by Jose Garcia Lopez
Background by Me.

First, I told all the players that the story was set in the DC Universe in the year 1984.

Yep. 1984. The Bronze Age. Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths. 

I opened the game saying:

"The year is 1984. 
Ronald Reagan is the President of the United States.
Footloose, and Beverly Hill Cops are raking it in at the Box Office.
Dynasty, and Family Ties top the Nielsen Ratings. 
Just like the rest of Earth G+, Bonnie Tylor is Holding Out for a Hero."

That right there is the key to everything. 

Any character created by DC during, or after Crisis on Infinite Earths does not exist in our game. If the character was acquired by DC Comics, and first appears in a DC book during, or after COIE, such as Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, and the other Charlton Characters, they too are not available as PCs. 

The 'Satellite Era' Justice League of America, the Teen Titans (Dick Grayson is Robin, not Nightwing), the Doom Patrol (original), the Metal Men, and a number of independent heroes are all cleared for use. 

The group eventually chose a very classic Justice League line up:

The Flash/Barry Allen (played by Keith)
Green Arrow/Oliver Queen (played by Stephen)
Green Lantern/Hal Jordan (played by Tim)
Hawkgirl/Sheira Hall (played by Mark)
Superman/Clark Kent - Kal-El (played by Carl)
Wonder Woman/Princess Diana - Diana Prince (played by Melinda)

A day, or two before the session, I posted the following image, and caption to our Event page...

'Earth Time - August 29th, 1984, 12:00 PM EST - On the outskirts of Space Sector 2813, bordering the edge of 2814, Green Lantern Honor Guard Member, Tomar-Re, detects a disturbance in the Space-Time Continuum.'

The following morning I posted this...

'A series of strange events, some clearly villainous, some merely suspicious, have kept the Justice League of America rather busy over the past 48 hours.

Flash, and Green Arrow - In the wee hours of yesterday morning, Mark Mardon, AKA Weather Wizard, somehow escaped from the Minnesota State Correctional Facility that held him. Several hours later, a sudden, terrible storm blew over Star City just as a plane extraditing Count Werner Vertaygho of Vlatava, AKA Count Vertigo, had taken off. The aircraft, as well as Count Vertigo himself, have disappeared. 

Green Lantern, and Superman - Our heroes have been on the trail of Rudy Jones, AKA The Parasite, for at least twelve hours now. Jones recently escaped from a S.T.A.R. Labs facility attempting to cure his condition. As the heroes neared his last known whereabouts, the Metropolis suburb of Midvale, reports came through that a 'yellow-gold giant with purple clothes' had been sighted in the Delaware Water Gap National Park, about 80 miles Northeast of the city. 

Hawkgirl, and Wonder Woman - Yesterday evening, Helen Alexandros, AKA The Silver Swan, stole an ancient, Greek salpinx from the Midway City Museum (The Midway Museum of Ancient History). She was aided by a mysterious man in a blue cloak. The two individuals vanished right before the eyes of stunned security guards. Early this morning, a man wearing a cloak of the same description was spotted in the Suicide Slum area of Metropolis by Ace O' Clubs owner Bibbo Bibbowski.'

A few hours later, I posted this last, additional entry:

'Update: Additional sightings of the Parasite, Silver Swan, the Blue Cloaked Man, and the mysterious Yellow-Gold Giant have been confirmed by various sources, and complied by J'onn Jonzz, The Martian Manhunter, back on the JLA Satellite. According to his findings, they are all headed for central Metropolis, likely the borough of New Troy.

Weather patterns there have begun to change rapidly, and a particularly intense lightning storm seems to be forming. Very likely, this is a sign that Weather Wizard, and perhaps Count Vertigo, are on their way as well.

Be ready Justice Leaguers!'

The important things to note here are that I tried to make sure I had certain vital (IMO) components established:

  • Familiar super villains from the rogues galleries of the chosen PCs.
  • A few mystery villains who could not be confirmed to add intrigue.
  • Mention of key DC Comics locations related to the PCs.
  • Mention of key NPC heroes, or supporting cast members. 
  • Everything culminating in the most well known location mentioned: Metropolis.

Also, I established that the Martian Manhunter was there to help in an advisory capacity. This enabled me to give exposition, helpful hints, and the like with an in-game voice (J'onn's) instead of a GM/Narrator voice.

Remember this is all before the first session. This is the prologue. It''s...

Pre-Crisis on Earth G+!

More to come...

Barking Alien