Showing posts with label BlackStar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BlackStar. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

At the Planets of Madness

Throughout October and November, I have been rereading everything from H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith.  In particular, I have been focusing my attention on their "Cosmotism" and sci-fi stories.  All the while thinking about how I want to approach my own "Star Trek meets Cthulhu horror is Space" game, something I have been working on under the title of "Black Star".

Of course looking at Lovecraft through the lens of Sci-fi rather than horror gives the stories an extra dimension.  Once I got back to the "Dream of the Witch House" and the equations of Walter Gilman I knew there was something there.  I figured what if we took the Gilman equations and used those to power Warp drive?  It seemed like a great fit! Really, really great.  Too great. I had to go back to my shelves and sure enough, the idea is not my original one.

Eldritch Skies was published by Battlefield Press a few years back does exactly this.  I was a consultant on the original Cinematic Unisystem version, but now you can only get the Savage Worlds version.

Still, I am pressing on to use the Gilman drive in my own games.  The Gilman equations are added to normal warp drive to produce the Gilman-Cochrane drives.  I'll adapt Eldritch Skies as needed with plenty of Lovecraftian beasties to fill my CAS-style planets.  Hey, it makes as much sense as the Spore Drive.

Converting the stories to Sci-Fi/Horror adventures is easy.

After the first adventure which is Star Tre + Galaxy Quest + Alien + Lovecraft + Event Horizon I figure I can do these:

At the Planets of Madness.  The PCs find a planet that is older than the known Universe! To make matters worse there is evidence of an ancient civilization.  (At the Mountains of Madness + the Image of Fendahl)

Ghost Ship.  The PCs find a derelict adrift in space and it is full of the ghosts of the dead crew.  Originally this was going to be the Enterprise B when I ran it as a pure Trek game. (The Haunting of Hill House, Dreams of the Witch House, the Flying Dutchman)

The Color out of Hyperspace.  A slow moving wave is "eating" up parts of space and everything in its wake.  (Color out of Space)

Starcrash on Hyperborea.  A shuttlecraft with the PCs crashes on a primitive frozen planet.   (Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea + The Galileo Seven +  All Our Yesterdays)

At least that is what I have so far.  I want to use more of Clark Ashton Smith's planets, in particular, his planets around Polaris.  It is also giving me a chance to adapt some Tékumel material to White Star.  This page on Wikipedia, Stars and planetary systems in fiction,  has been invaluable for finding planets and star systems I can use.

Much like Lovecraft, I started out in life as an astronomer.  Also, like Lovecraft, I discovered I lack the skills in math to ever get very far.  Though in my defense my wall comes up around Calculus 2.  I did go on to get a degree in Statistics and Measurement.   But the idea of using some long unused parts of my brain are appealing to me.

I have posted a lot in the past about various worlds.  All of these can be used too.


Time to boldly go where no one can hear you scream!

This post is part of my contribution to the RPG Blog Carnival for November 2018.
This month's topic is "All these Worlds..."
Looking forward to what my fellow RPG bloggers are doing this month and how many ideas I can use from them!



Wednesday, October 10, 2018

October Horror Movie Challenge: Forbidden World (1982)

Ah...not Forbidden Planet...but well you get the idea.
I was not going to do an 80's themed October Challenge without getting in a Roger Corman film.
Corman is up to his usual tricks here too, cheap sets, recycled footage, and beautiful women in various stages of undress.

The plot is one so old that even in 82 it felt old. Alien monster created by science gets loose in a lab and kills everyone.  But to Corman's credit, he still manages to make this old chestnut entertaining.
Our hero, Mike Colby, is a Federation Marshall sent to deal with the problem.  He manages to have sex with every woman on the base and still finds a way to allow everyone to get killed on the base.
Priorities I guess.

Still, if I ever get my Star Trek/White Star/Black Star game going again there will be a shape-shifting alien in the Jefferies Tubes killing people.

Forbidden World also features a Pre-V June Chadwick as Dr. Barbara Glaser, but she might be remembered best as David St. Hubbins' girlfriend Jeanine in "This is Spın̈al Tap".  Of course given that this a Corman flick the only way the two women on board can figure out how to communicate with the creature is during a scene where they shower together.

This movie has also been known as "Mutant".  The actual creature, as to be expected, looks nothing like the cover art.

Watched: 7
New: 3


Friday, March 30, 2018

The Movies of BlackStar

BlackStar is the working name for my "Star Trek meets Cthulhu" game and the material I am writing for it that may (or may not) see the light of day as published material.
There is a lot that is going into this, including years of my mis-attempts at SciFi games over the last few decades.  But today I want to talk about the movie influences that have gone into this campaign/game/idea.

I am posting this as part of the "GM's Cut" RPG Blog Carnival hosted this month by Codex Anathema.



The Movies of BlackStar

BlackStar, at it's core, owes everything to the WhiteStar RPG, which owes a lot to Star Wars.  It was during my playing of White Star that Black Star was born out of a desire to add more horror to my game. I always want to add more horror to my games.   While I loved SciFi novels, SciFi movies are my favorite.

Here are some of the movies that are going into my BlackStar experience.

Star Wars (1977)
I have said it before that Star Wars (A New Hope) is the perfect Dungeons & Dragons movie.  We have a hero, a villain, a princess (who is also a hero), an old wizard, a rogue, an impenetrable fortress (the Death Star), war, magic (tell me to my face the Force is not magic) and a quest.  There are sword fights, monsters, and interesting locales. It is D&D in all but name.   They even meet the rogue in a bar!

Not only was it out at the same time (more or less) I discovered D&D. It became so much a part of my experiences as a kid that is hard to tease out where one influence begins and the other ends.
I loved everything Star Wars growing up too.    I still have a couple of Boba Fetts (one I had to save proof of purchases for, one I bought) sitting on my desk.  I went from being a hard-core fan to a more relaxed one.

There is not a lot of horror here despite lip service to the "Dark Side", but that is fine.  Horror is a spice to be added to some things or a main dish.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Again, these movies are not horror.  But for horror to be effective there needs to be a "normal". For me my "normal" is not Star Wars, but Star Trek.  These two movies influenced my opinions of what a good Sci-Fi game should have.  I also feel that Star Trek: TMP is a vastly underrated movie.
The goal of BlackStar is to start it out as a "Star Trek"-like story but move it into a new and horror filled direction.
Why these two? Well to me they fit the ideas I want and the style I want. I am even considering setting my Trek-ish game in the time of the Enterprise C or after, but before TNG.
That is just details though.  I can do anything really, what is important to me is how do I do the horror?

Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986)
It is often said that the difference between horror and action adventure is in the Last Girl.  If she is a girl/woman and afraid, you have horror. If she is a big burly dude with guns then you have action adventure.  What if your last girl is Lt. Ellen Ripley? Then you have the Alien franchise.  But only the first two are worth talking about here.  Alien is straight up horror. Aliens takes that horror and turns it into a Sci-Fi action adventure. Both are good for what I want for different reasons. I want to do the opposite. Take Sci-Fi action adventure and turn it into horror.
The difference is agency.  In Alien Ripley is alone, with no weapons or resources.  In Aliens she has a pulse rifle, a flamethrower and a giant loader exoskeleton.  In my game I'll take away the characters power OR more to the point make them comparatively powerless in the face of the great evil on their doorstep.



Event Horizon (1997)
Jumping way out of the late 70s, early 80s here for this one.
Event Horizon is actually kind of a perfect movie for what I want to do here. Sci-fi, horror, alternate dimensions, lots of terror. The Event Horizon could have been a proto-Federation Starship too; or really a proto-Romulan ship.




Special Mention, Galaxy Quest (1999)
Ok. This is totally NOT horror.  Or is it?
We have a race, the Theramins (love that name) that are really squid-like aliens pretending to be human.  They can construct a complex starship from a TV show, but not realize it is a show.
Plus I have to give a nod to Galaxy Quest since it was one of the inspirations for not only the tone of the this game (light-hearted at first then soul-wrenching terror) but also my new Starship, the USS Protector.




For the record, you can see my inspiration for the Protector here.

I am also working on a list over as the Internet Movie Database on horror sci-fi films from the 80s (though I will consider 1979).
https://www.imdb.com/list/ls023307178/

I'll keep you posted how the game develops.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Arts & Crafts WEEK, Part 2: The USS Protector

I am still on Spring Break and loving it.   I should do this more often.

So while my wife is painting minis I have been working on my USS Protector model for my Star Trek game.

I have been toying with this idea for about two years now and I wanted to get something done.  So I pulled out my primed and painted models and started to work!

I started with my LEDs.  I bought a bunch of 12v 5a blue LEDs for this project.  I figured wiring them in first before glue and paint was the best.




Turns out I did not have enough room inside the NSEA Protector "wings" for the LEDs.  So out they came.




For the main deflector dish I drilled a small hole to feed the LED wires through and left the LED on the outside of the dish.


Liked the look of that better anyway.




I had a leftover piece from the GQ Protector, so I had my wife paint it and I fixed it to the top of the engineering section.   A ship like this needs an expanded engineering section!


Next I got the wings nacelles added in.  They are glued in yet. Still have some more trimming to do on them to make them fit.


Quick light test.


Added the ventral phaser array and drilled and cut a hole for the DC power adapter.





Next up I soldered these tiny ass 22-gauge wires to my power connector.  Keep in mind I wear bifocals and I have not soldered anything in nearly 20 years.


She snapped right in. After more trimming.


Some more paint and sculpty.



Sculpty is not dry yet.


Now add some decals.


Lining up my registry number.


Get them into place! (some "0"s died in this attempt.)




The lights work great!


Even the impulse engine and the bridge.



I still need to get it's name printed out, the "U.S.S. Protector" and get a few more decals on, but for the most part she looks great to me!  I might get around to doing some more painting...or more to the point getting my wife to paint some more on it.

I opted for "NX" instead of "NCC" since this is supposed to be a very experimental ship.

All in all, I am extremely pleased with this!  Can't wait to give it a go in my games.

This is a "Mystic Class" starship. Based on the original USS Mystic found here, http://www.mcfergeson.com/hobbycorner/2015/04/23/the-uss-mystic-a-kitbashed-starship-from-star-trek/





Previous posts in this series

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Campaign Updates:2018

Work has me crazy busy, but this is a good thing.  The downside is I have not had the time to blog as much as I want or even get in the campaign prep in at night.  So I thought I would kill two birds today and see where I am in my games.



Active Games

The Dragon Slayers
A 3.x game that was briefly 5e and now fully converted to 1st Edition AD&D.  The characters were trapped in Baba Yaga's Hut for nearly a year. They freed the Old Crone and her daughter Elena the Fair.  Up next the final battle. I am using the Tom Moldvay adventure Twilight Calling for this.

Next are my three interlinked 5th edition games collectively known as Come Endless Darkness. Tharizdûn is returning to the multiverse and the PCs of the three campaigns need to stop him.

The Order of the Platinum Dragon
The Order has defeated all the giants and are now wandering the Underdark looking for the Drow. The big bads here are Lolth and Graz'zt.  Graz'zt is setting up Lolth much like he is described doing in Expedition to the Demonweb Pits (for 3.5e).  I try to focus on classic monsters in this one.

Second Campaign
The Treasure Hunters of the Second Campaign have just entered the Forbidden City. Here the big bad is Demogorgon.  Here the focus is on other creatures that might not see normal games.

Into the Netir Vale
Known by my kids as the Orcus campaign. This is my revived and converted 4e campaign brought over whole cloth. I might lessed the involvement with the Raven Queen and play up Shar since this is part of the Forgotten Realms in my house.

All three games will meet up at the Temple of Elemental Evil to battle it out with the risen Tharizdûn.  So roughly 18 characters of 18th to 20th level.  It's gonna be wild.

Inactive/On-hold Games
These games are all inactive for a number of reasons.

Star Trek: Voyages of the USS Protector
This game is will be using White Star with my own "Black Star" rules modifications.  I have the first adventures ready to go, "The Stars Are Right" and "These Are the Voyages".  I have two more nearly ready "Ghost Ship" and "Abraxas Down".  I want to do two more.  I have been scribbling notes on rule changes and feel like the rest I can do while the game is moving along. 
What is really slowing me down is the wiring of the LED lights I want to put into my USS Protector Model!

Spirit of '76
On indefinite hold.

Hero's Journey to Middle Earth
This one is requiring some significant reading on my part.  As my first REALY foray into Middle Earth as a game world I want to do it right.

Magic School 
This one is on hold till I am done with Come Endless Darkness. Since this one will use D&D Rules Cyclopedia and I really want it to feel like a separate game.   Plus things that happen in CED will change the world of the Magic School and I don't know what those are yet!

War of the Witch Queens
This is the higher level version of the Magic School kids.  What happens here will also be determined by what the PCs do in CED.  I have all the adventures for this, just not the end game.



The Incredibly Awesome (and Not At All Made-Up) Adventures of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle!
Huh...ok this one was a little bit of a joke, but I keep getting asked about it.  I do have one adventure worked out that introduces the PCs to the world. Called "Damn It Barry Allen!" it sets up Booster and Blue as the true heroes of the DC world, it's just that no one can remember them.

I still have to get my new Blue Rose campaign going.  I ran the first adventure, Kingdom of Rain, and it went great.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Star Trek RPG Operations Manual

I am working on my limited run Trek game to start in October.  I have decided on my base system(s).  I am going with my "Black Star" idea with Starships & Spacemen as my main set of rules and adding in "Basic Era" ideas when and where I can.   Nothing against White Star, and I will use it as well, I just want something closer to Trek than to Star Wars.
I also want to use material from the Basic Psionics book.

Here is what I have so far.


Since I am using this ship I wanted to honor it's genesis. So there is a mix, at least in the first adventure of Trek and Galaxy Quest.  At least for the first act.  THEN it becomes Trek. Or rather Trek if "Where No One Has Gone Before" was replaced by "Event Horizon".
Afterall it is good enough for Jason Issacs.


The Klatuu Nebula Shipyards is not only a nod to Galaxy Quest, is also a nod to "When the Earth Stood Still" and even a side nod to "Army of Darkness".  Commander Taggart is now Commodore Taggart.  Since I need a high-level Starfleet officer to get things moving.

The "pilot" episode deals with Taggert and his band of Thermian engineers having been given 22 derelict Ambassador class ships to retro-fit with the new Triberyllium Warp-13 drive.  Many of the ships have failed and one has gone missing with all hands (trying not to be too Babylon 5 here) so now this ship, The Protector, is ready to go and Taggart has taken over command.  There is one other ship that is functional, The Mystic (another nod to it's genesis).

Here are the books (so far).


The Core Rules.


The Lovecraftian Terror.


Mostly for the Mutants.


And Apes...in SPAAACE!  Because why not.

While I have most of these in POD and Dead Tree retail versions, I wanted to print them out so I can scribble in my notes and make the changes I want.   Make them all more "Trek".

For starters, I am converting everything to Metric.  Starships are not measured in feet! They are measured in meters!  I am going with the rough 5 feet = 1.5 meters.  So I have to fix all of those first.

Plus I really like the idea of using the the Basic-era system for this.  Star Trek, the shows not so much the RPGs, are usually fast and loose with skills.  Data can do X, Y, and Z well because he is Data.  The characters will be the same way.  So simple ability checks are fine here.

Also, I need to add some Trek RPG material from various editions.  Not sure what yet, but certainly some material from my FASA Trek books.  I'll have to run them off on the copier for this.

I am setting it well past the TNG/DS9/VOY time.  Though I would still like to use these uniforms somehow.   Maybe I could do it 20 years before TNG.  I am not really planning on using many races from TNG.  I'll see what my players want.

The adventures will not really be Trek adventures per se, but more Call of Cthulhu ones.


Right now I am thinking a short run. Maybe five adventures.  A mini-series really.
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