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.

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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 I later sold a customized A-Wing fighter diorama that included miniatures originally made for Star Wars D6.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.


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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!

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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



Equinox 

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.


Excelsior

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...


Starguard

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!

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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.

Wonderful. 

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...


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