Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Joy to The World

Welcome to December, the last month of 2017, the year that marks my 40th Anniversary in the Role Playing Game hobby. Wow. The year feels like it flew by at light speed. 

This was a year of big changes for me. I moved, my business picked up finally, and considerably, one relationship ended, another has begun, and I've done a lot of gaming. A lot. A butt load honestly. 

This blog has been a bit neglected though as a result of all these other things, and while that bums me out a bit, the aforementioned events needed my attention more than this did. Barking Alien is fun, and even therapeutic, but it doesn't pay the bills. 

Now the holiday season has arrived, and I am still incredibly busy. A good thing too, as I know things will get very quiet in a week, or two. With the additional time off I may be able to game some more, and even blog a few times. We'll see.

What I am getting at here is don't be surprised if you don't hear too much from Barkley, and I until January. I'm focusing on real life, and enjoying doing so (a far cry more than I have over the past several years). 

When Barking Alien returns to its regularly scheduled programming, (such as it ever is) expect to see a lot of Sci-Fi/Space Adventure material. I've been missing Science Fiction, and related gaming a lot and I'm heavily inspired to get back to it in a big way. 

I intend to go more deeply into my gaming ideas based on The Orville TV Series now that Season 1 is complete, and I'm sure Star Wars: The Last Jedi will add fuel to the fire that's been burning in me to revisit that galaxy long ago, and far, far away. 

Until then, I want to wish everyone, and everything a very happy, and healthy holiday, regardless of the holiday, or tradition you follow.

Joy to the World,

Barking Alien

Friday, November 24, 2017

Ask Barking Alien - Nigh Invulnerable

My friend Mark Orr asks, "What do you consider the weakness[es] of Supers games?"

What a question! Wow, huh? 

"What's the meaning of life?" too easy for for? Geez.

OK, I had to clarify the question with Mark to make sure I was interpreting it correctly. As it turns out, my understanding of the question was spot on. What is really being asked here is, "What are the difficulties in running a Superhero RPG game", or "What makes it harder to run a Superhero game than say, a D&D game"?

Well...first off, I don't normally find Supers games hard to run, and I don't feel like the genre itself has a ton of weak points that prevent it from being enjoyable in RPG form. That said, there are a few obstacles to Supers games that can be tricky to get through.

Let's look at a two of the biggest...

If You're Not On the Same Page, It's Not Going To Work

More than any other single genre I can think of, the genre of comic book Superheroes has splintered to the point where it seems harder than it should be to find a group where all the members have the same view of Superheroes.

This is do to the various 'Ages' of comics, the deconstruction of Superheroes and Superhero comic book tropes in the late 80s and early 90s, and the exposure people have had to these characters. Some folks have been reading comics since they were kids, others only know them from modern movies, and tv shows, and still others have only a passing knowledge of what Superheroes are.

I've played in a few games now with players who are all gung-ho to play Supers, but having only read manga, or Vertigo comics. They end up playing teen age kids with no costumes and try to kill their enemies.

That's fine if you are all in synch to play that kind of game. If you're not, it can be problematic.

For a Superhero campaign to work the participants must share the same collective consciousness when it comes to what Superheroes are, why they do what they do, and how it all works. You don't just need 'buy-in', you need roughly the same buy-in. 

On a related note:

While discussing this very question, a friend remarked that in his view Superman's origin, and his weakness of Kryptonite, didn't make sense. If he were creating a Superhero universe of his own, he would 'fix' origins like Superman's. In what way? Well first, according to my friend, "Planet's do not just explode, so..."

It was at that point I tuned out.

You see, in my view, if Superman doesn't work as a character, then no Superhero character works. Kal-El being rocketed from his exploding homeworld makes no more or less sense than a kid being bitten by a radioactive spider, a pilot being given an alien ring of power, a quartet being bombarded by cosmic radiation...none of it results in super powered heroes. Most of it would result in dead people if the events could occur at all. None it makes sense. It's all thoroughly ridiculous.  


Unless you accept that you are talking about a Superhero universe, and the laws of such a universe make these things possible.

Character Power Levels Can Seem Disproportionate

One of the biggest issues when playing a Superhero RPG is handling the massive differences in scale that the genre accommodates, often seemingly without effort. Applied to the Player Characters, this means someone could end up playing Robin, and someone could end up as the Hulk. In comics this is nothing unusual, and teams often feature characters with abilities at different ends of the power scale. In the Avengers films for example Black Widow and Hawkeye are considered key team members as much as Iron Man and Thor are, but there is no way Hawkeye is ever going to contribute as much to a battle to save the world as Iron Man is. Right?

For many, this dynamic is not easy to replicate, or deal with in an RPG. If one player's starting PC can lift and throw a tank, fly at the speed of sound, and shoot energy beams from her eyes, how can the next player's PC be a martial art with Human strength, and a katana. Where's the game balance? How do you make it fair?

Some systems use very abstract mechanics to make this work, sacrificing detail, and genre tropes to maintain game balance. Others deal with it by giving the players points to spend, and saying the a 250 point Superman simply spends his points differently than a 250 point Batman. Clark has flight, invulnerability, and phenomenal strength, while Bruce has a car, a plane, a base, skills up the wing-wang, and wealth.

I'm a much bigger fan of the latter. If I want to play a skilled character with gadgets, if that's what I really want to play, then I'm not going to complain that I can't do what the flying brick can do. I could have chosen that kind of character. I didn't. No sour grapes from me.

I hope that answered the question and didn't veer to far off course.

Looking to move on to December to be honest. A lot of other ideas have been bubbling up.

Up, up, and away...

Barking Alien

Monday, November 20, 2017

Active Silence

As you can tell by this month's post count, I haven't been posting a lot at all lately. 

Why? Well...it's as I feared. With no single theme, challenge, or anything else, I don't have a lot of motivation to write anything down, and share it. I've gotten a few questions from viewers, mostly friends, but not a lot. No interest from you guys translates to no interest from me I'm afraid. 

I'm certainly gaming a lot, reading a number of games, and watching a lot (A LOT!) of cool TV shows that I find inspire game ideas, but I am also working extra hard lately, and dating someone, and the blog just isn't calling to me. 

I will get to the questions I've been asked, and maybe a little more here, and there, but November is going to be pretty quite at the ol' Barking Alien site it seems. 

Maybe it will pick up next month.

Barking Alien

Monday, November 13, 2017

Ask Barking Alien - Lost in Space

Foomf asks, "Have you ever created models, or art of Traveller spacecraft?"

The answer to this is yes. Unfortunately, I have no proof.

I'll explain...

Most of the spacecraft art, whether two, or three dimensional, that I've made for Traveller over the years was made long ago. It's been at least 10-15 years since I've made anything of a model-kit, or original illustration nature. 

Never particularly good at drawing Science Fiction vehicles (especially starships), and yet loving them to pieces, I would most often use already existing art found in books, and magazines. Eventually I met other gaming friends better at illustrating spacecraft, and left the depictions to them. 

I am pretty good at imagining, and designing ships, just not getting them on paper.

As my modeling skills improved, and I started to customize Japanese Robot models more, and more, I tried my hand at customizing Star Trek, and Star Wars models. I sold a battle damaged Klingon K'Tinga that I'd made, which originally hung down from the ceiling in the old Forbidden Planet comic book store here in New York. I later sold a customized A-Wing fighter diorama that included miniatures originally made for Star Wars D6.

By the time I started college I had begun creating kit-bashed speeder vehicles, and shuttles for Traveller, but this was around 1989-1990. We did not have cameras in our pockets like we do now, and so I never took pictures of any of my work. I also never kept any of it, since I rarely used miniatures in my own games. Instead, as with the K'Tinga, and the A-Wing, I made it a habit of selling my pieces to supplement my income.

So, the answer to the question is yes, I have made models of original ship designs, but no such works remain in my possession, and no photos exist of them that I am aware of.

You'll just have to take my word for it.

Barking Alien

A Podcast Service Announcement

The 2017 Discover Pods Awards are upon us, and I would like to take this opportunity to once again recommend 'The Pod of Many Casts' by my good friends Leo Jenicek and Alex Berkowitz (among others).

The podcast is eligible for entry in nearly every category, as all the categories are write-ins. 

Give the show a listen if you're into Dungeons & Dragons with a comedic flair. I like it a lot, and I'm sure you will too. 

Please visit the Discover Pods Awards, and vote for this, or your own personal favorite. If anyone knows of any particularly good Sci-Fi RPG podcasts, please let me know about them in the comments below.

Good luck gang!

Barking Alien

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ask Barking Alien - Flying High

I am having a pretty good week so far, and as such I thought I'd post while in a positive, posting mood. 

I've only received a single question after my request for inquiries from the Barking Alien viewership, and while that's a bummer, I figure once more people read about it I'll get more questions. Right? Hello? Bueller?

OK, on to the question...

Tom Reed asks, "What is your favorite type of superhero to play?"

Great question! Why? Because even though I haven't played even half as much as I've GMed, the one RPG genre I think I've partaken in the most is Superheroes.

I've played a fair number of Superhero Player Characters, and although I've tried a wide variety, there are definitely certain types that I gravitate towards, and favorites that I have.

First, I tend to create characters that have elements of my favorite well-known, published Superheroes. These include, but are not limited to:

Green Lantern, Iron Man, Mon-El (Legion of Superheroes), the Silver Surfer, The Vision, and Wildfire (Legion of Superheroes).

What you'll notice here is we have a lot of spacefaring heroes, a good number of aliens, and characters who use high-tech armor, or are assisted by technology.

I like heroic, Silver Age heroes who can fly through space, and who are a little unfamiliar with the world setting they are in. I like to play the stranger in a strange land, an alien, or android trying to understand Humanity, and their place among it. 

I also like playing powerful heroes, though less for the raw power, and more for the flexible variety of options they have.

My three favorite heroes of my own creation are:

Equinox, Starguard, and Excelsior


An android whose chest cavity houses an ancient, pre-Mayan artifact that summons spirits four elemental into the androids body. The elementals then form a gestalt being with a variety of supernormal abilities.

Equinox can fly (thanks to a combination of his air, and fire powers), change the nature of his form to that of any of the four elements (air, earth, fire, and water), release blasts of any of these elements, sense changes to those elements in the world around him, and other related feats depending on the game system in which he was generated. Additional abilities in the past have included controlling, and shaping the elements, 'force fields' of the elements, and absorbing them.

Personality wise, Equinox was originally patterned heavily on the Silver Surfer - an intelligent, powerful being who exhibited a child-like sense of wonder, and fascination regarding the modern world. Not Human himself, he found Humanity strange, and wonderful, though dangerous to themselves, and their world. His goal in protecting them was to have more time to understand them, and perhaps help them to better understand each other, and the Earth itself.

Over time the character changed, and expanded. Each of the different elements, when in charge of the gestalt, had a different look and personality. Air is very much as described. His is curious, whimsical, and asks a lot of questions. Earth patient, a slow, though deep thinker, and a bit more callous towards Humans. Fire is bold, aggressive, more direct, and has the least amount of patience. Water is female, flowing, forever coming up with new ideas, and approaches, though likely to change her mind, or be distracted by new people, places, and occurrences. 

I created this character for a friend who wanted to play with an idea from an old folktale he knew. His favorite character was the Silver Surfer, who is a fave of mine as well, so I tried to merge the former Herald of Galactus with my friend's South American myth.

Equinox was first created in Villains & Vigilantes 2nd Edition, and played by my friend Sergio. He has appeared in Champions (as an NPC when I GMed), and Kapow! (finally played by me) as well.


One of my oldest characters, and my absolute favorite (though Starguard is a close second).

Excelsior is a former astronaut, and engineer from about 25 years in the future who was sent back to the present when the experimental FTL drive on the starship he designed exploded. In addition to being hurled back in time, Excelsior was converted into negative matter, or anti-matter, the source of the starship's power. 

To prevent him from exploding by just being in existence, those that found the time-lost man put him inside a highly advanced containment suit that uses magnetic fields to keep him together. This provides him with armor, but it's an armor without which he would detonate and easily vaporize a three mile radius. In addition, he has a limited perception of the world around him, as he 'sees' and 'hears' through magnetic sensors. He has no sense of touch, smell, or taste in his current state. 

For reasons unknown, Excelsior's body is surrounded by a constantly regenerating field of anti-energy. The suit has functions that allow him to channel that energy into bolts, create blasts from his feet for flight, generate a fine, 'anti-energy' mist that serves as a force field, and systems that give him superhuman strength, and endurance. 

In different incarnations his anti-matter powers have been either very powerful energy attacks and defenses, or what they were really meant to be, which is a power with disintegrating effects. For example, in Champions he could not only disintegrate matter, but incoming attacks disintegrated upon hitting his force field. 

Excelsior probably has the most complex personality of any character I have. He is very multi-layered, and I'm not sure I can explain it all in this post. Basically, he is a peaceful, scientist who now has the power to destroy, and only destroy. He can't really pull his punch, and his powers disintegrate. He is also a pretty non-violent guy, though he does know how to fight, he'd rather not have to. It takes him a while to come to terms with his abilities, and he gets pretty creative figuring out how not to kill people with his anti-matter.

He is also a man of 35 years of age hurtled 25 years back in time. He exists here as a 10 year old boy! Excelsior is told repeatedly not to interact with his younger self, but various situations and villain complicate that dynamic. This causes him to take very non-traditional actions to prevent events he knows will happen in the future. For example, he at one point speaks at his younger self's school, only to tell him that perhaps he should pursue art, or sports and not his dream of being an astronaut [an attempt to prevent the events that create his Excelsior identity]. 

Lastly, he has to deal with the loss of some of his senses, and in ways his Humanity. He can't touch another Human being, he can't eat, smell flowers, or enjoy any of the many simple pleasures of being a normal person. Music doesn't sound the same. Movies, and television have no depth, so he can't see them at all. 

A possible Excelsior redesign by my friend Aris

Excelsior was heavily inspired by Iron Man, and Wildfire from the Legion of Superheroes.

Excelsior was first created before I ever played an RPG. The first game he appeared in was V & V 2nd Edition. He was so close to the random rolls I made that I made him up in for the campaign I was in. He was later built in Champions 4th Edition, Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition, and several other games over the years.

I really love this character, though he is no longer my favorite. That honor goes to...


Probably the character most familiar to my viewership, Starguard is the principal character I played in my friend William's legendary Champions campaign, The Age of Champions. I, and Starguard, were only involved in the game between 1986, and 1989, roughly. I was involved for three and a half years, but I don't exactly remember where the 'half year' fell. It is likely it bled into 1990. 

Starguard has been discussed on this blog a number of times. His origins have been told, and some of his exploits, both renowned, and infamous, recounted.  

Starguard is everything I love in a superhero character.

He has pathos, mythos, and the ability to fly through space and throw comets. He is a larger-than-life individual, doing what is right for the right reasons. Starguard stands up for the little guy, he despises cheaters, and thieves, and punches tyrants in the face. He has epic adventures, travels through time, and does all the most amazing of amazing things only superheroes get to do. 

His personality is also a ton of fun to play, as it isn't typical of the type of characters I create. Starguard's persona is patterned after Marvel's Thor, and Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner. He boasts a lot less than they do, but he is prone to being just as arrogant, stubborn, and aggressive as they are. This is tempered by a 'Knights-of-Camelot'-like sense of justice, and honor that always keeps his ego in check. He will get angry, swear vengeance, call the villain a 'knave', or the like, but he never forgets he is there to protect the people under his charge. 

First designed, and constructed as a PC for Champions 3rd Edition, he has been rebuilt in 4th. Mutants & Masterminds, Villains & Vigilantes, and other Supers games. 

So there you have it. My favorite Superhero PCs to play in Supers games are high-powered, aliens, androids, or time-lost individuals, trying to make trying to make sense of the world and people they've sworn to protect.

Flying High, and on to the next question!

Barking Alien

Friday, November 3, 2017

November Has Come

Hey gang!

Adam and Barkley here at the Barking Alien Blog to welcome you to the month of November, and what we're going to focus on this month.

Excellent! What are we going to focus on?

What? I thought...I thought you knew.

Me? Why would I have that kind of information?

The blog is called 'Barking Alien'. You're the barking alien.

Oh no. No, no, no. You're not laying this in my lap mister. First...technically...I don't have a lap exactly...and second, we knew going in that this site is your baby. I'm just the help.


Look, don't get discouraged just because your out of post ideas...

I'm not out of post ideas. I'm not. How long have we known each other? I'm never really out of ideas for posts, I just...I don't know what I actually want to take the time to talk about. 

I'm running two campaigns right now, a Star Trek Adventures campaign titled, 'Star Trek: Prosperity', and a homebrewed Superhero campaign based on 'My Hero Academia' called, 'My Hero Academia: American Ultra'. 

I'm also playing in three campaigns. A modified Powered by the Apocalypse Wizard World Game - 'Hogwarts: Ravenclaw' - , a Kapow! Superhero game featuring our original team, 'The Wardens', and a bi-weekly (or so) Star Trek Adventures campaign titled, 'Star Trek: Excalibur'. 

That's a lot of gaming! So what's the problem? You have tons to talk about.

Yeah, but I don't really want to play-by-play report on all of those. If I talk about some, why not others? It's just not the mood I'm in blog wise.

Geez. Fine. What do you want to talk about?!

I don't know! It's like...it's like when you're really hungry, and you're at the supermarket, and you can't decide what you want to eat. Know what I mean?

No. I'm a extraterrestrial dog. If I am hungry enough, the boots on your space suit are just fine. By the way, you need new space suit boots. Just FYI.

*Sigh* I need something to spark my drive to post. Something I haven't done before, or in a while. I'm thinking, if I can find my catalyst, everything else will fall into place. 

You need a theme for the month...an angle.

Yes! Precisely. I will probably talk about other things as well, but a theme will help me focus my thought. If you look back at August of this year, and the RPGaDay Challenge, I made 42 posts even though there were 31 questions. The challenge got me writing, and coming to the blog so I did an additional 11 posts. I need something like that.

OK, so how's this...

Hey there Barking Alien enthusiasts, viewers, and visitors! 

For the month of November, 2017, the Barking Alien blog will be answering questions from our audience! That's right, ask any question, and Adam and I will answer it to the best of our ability.

Did Adam ever co-GM a game, with two GMs running simultaneously? What is his favorite snack food? How many times has a starship named Bonhomme Richard been destroyed in his Star Trek games? (Answer: Every time).

Not a bad idea. I can still post whatever comes to mind, but I will also post responses to ideas from my fellow gamers. It also ties into my 40th Anniversary, answering questions about my gaming interests and experiences as we head toward the end of 2017. I love it! Thanks Barkley! Good work ol' friend. 

No problem chum. That's why I'm here. That, and the free food. 

Well, this might turn out to be an interesting month of posts after all...

Barking Alien

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Matter of Trust

Some weeks ago, a friend suggested she should try Dungeons & Dragons.

She has played but a single role playing game you see, at least to my knowledge. It was a few years ago, so I may be mistaken. She could have played many times since our first, and last session together.

With myself as GM, she and a group of perhaps five others partook in a pretty epic session of the FASA Star Trek RPG. She was brilliant at it. A natural, as they say.

We managed to meet for only a meager handful of sessions. That was a few years back, and we've been trying to get together to game again ever since, but distance and conflicting schedules has made that extremely difficult (read: impossible).

I got the chance to see her again at New York Comic Con, and we discussed the possibility of staging another game. She said, half jokingly and half seriously, that perhaps she should try a game of Dungeons & Dragons. Her reasoning?

"It's like 'geek cred', no? If you're going to be a gamer, you need to play D&D at least once."

Strangely, for someone who has no great love for the game, this hit home, and made sense to me.

D&D was my first game, and I can't deny the fact that without it, without the experience of that first game, that first campaign, nothing would have followed.

That is to say, had I never played D&D, had it not existed and I hadn't played it when I did, I wouldn't be blogging this right now, I wouldn't have written, and sold my own game, I wouldn't have celebrated 40 years in the hobby this year, and I wouldn't have had all the incredible memories I've form over all these years.

My friend asked me to run a D&D game for her, and my first thought wasn't, 'Ugh. That game', or 'But Tales from the Loop is sooo much cooler' (even if it is). My first thought was, "Wow. Why me? What makes her think I'm the right guy for this honor?"

Maybe I'm the only GM she knows. Maybe I was there when she thought of it.

Maybe she trusts me. Maybe she thinks I'm good at this stuff, and she wants her experience to be good, so...

I've been mulling around fantasy ideas in the back of mind ever since. 

I'm not sure what I have in mind exactly. I see something classic, old school, to give her and the other players that participate a taste of what it was like in the 'Golden Days'. At the same time, D&D is a taste I've never quite acquired. I need to season it somehow, to make it not only palatable, but full of the kind of flavors I enjoy. How do I accomplish B, while still achieving A? That's the real trick isn't it.

I will figure it out. I want to. I have to. 

At the risk of being overly dramatic, it's a matter of honor now. A matter of trust.

Barking Alien

Monday, October 23, 2017

Return to Prosperity

I haven't been able to follow through on my plans for October.

I wanted to discuss games with a creepy, scary, or generally Halloween-y feel, but my mood this month hasn't leaned in that direction. Sadly, it has also made working on my Unfinished Business, Ghost Story RPG, a very difficult thing to work on. I'm simply not in that headspace.

Instead, I am in space...the final frontier.

USS Prosperity, NCC-1585, Ventura Class

Captain Ann Fletcher,
First Officer/Science Officer Cmdr. Solok
Chief Engineer Lt. Cmdr. Both, and Communications Officer Lt. Rhys Carr

Three years ago (in October of 2014), I started an on again, off again campaign of Original Series Star Trek using the ICON System from Last Unicorn Games entitled, 'Star Trek: Prosperity'. I ran about a dozen sessions, the final of which was in December of 2015. It was the first part of a two-part (two session) story that featured two additional players, and PCs in conjunction with my four regulars. Unfortunately, schedules changed, things got complicated, and we never got back to it. 

A week ago, I finally ran the second half of the adventure. The two players who were added to the mainstay crew would not be joining us again on a regular basis - if ever (one moved, one has a completely incompatible schedule now), so I decided to pull the trigger on that phaser and complete our tale. 

Custom Character Sheet by yours truly. 
Part 1 of 2

It went over so well, the group and I have decided to continue the exploits of the USS Prosperity into a second season as it were. 

Season Two sees the whole thing converted over to the new Star Trek Adventures 2D20 system. The more I play and run Star Trek Adventures the more I like it, though I definitely feel there are things about it I don't get. Some of the mechanics are a little cumbersome, specifically Extended Tasks, and Reputation.

Additionally, I haven't yet gotten familiar enough with it to remember what all the Talents do, or how they work. This gives me unappealing memories of games like D&D and Pathfinder with their strings of Feats that force you to refer back to the rulebooks to find the rules behind them. I hate having to refer to any books during play as it slows the game down, and I'm not a fan of charts for similar reasons. Hopefully this will change over time. 

Part 2 of 2

Right now, there are more positives than negatives, and the first session with the new system went over well with the group. As familiarity increases, so will flow improve, so I have high hopes for our ongoing efforts.

I promised the group that if for some reason this system doesn't work for us, we can go back to LUG/ICON, and I won't drop the campaign out of frustration (which I sometimes do). I like our campaign, the characters, the setting, our ship, and exploring the galaxy TOS style is exactly what I want to do right now.

Starship Record Sheet.

Any questions, comments, or anything, please feel free to hail us.

One to beam up.

Barking Alien

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 little...in 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