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

Friday, April 24, 2020

BlackStar: Mercy and Other Random Trek Ideas

A lot going on at my day job.  This social distancing has us busy as hell revise a number of our courses. Well, nothing like job-security I guess.

Going through my various Trek RPGs and collecting various ideas that may, or may not fit in with my BlackStar campaign.

Star Trek: Mercy
This idea came about by watching the hospital ships come into New York, and Beverly Crusher-Picars's ship the USS Pasteur in "All Good Things."  I was going through my new FASA Star Trek boxed set and was thinking about my first Trek character, Dr. Scott Elders, the CMO of the USS Andromeda.

I thought a good Post-Enterprise (2151), Pre-TOS (2265) era game might focus on the USS Mercy, a Federation Hospital Ship.  It has the authorization to go into other parts of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants to provide medical assistance.  I was also thinking it could doctors of dozens of different species.  If I set it between 2151 and 2265 it gives me an excuse to use a character that has been mentioned in my games, but never actually seen, Fleet Admiral Lucille Ball, Commander of Starfleet Operations.

How Lucille Ball Helped Star Trek Become a Cultural Icon
In any case, she is part of my Trek-universe history. So just as Admiral Nyota Uhura is a central figure to my BlackStar game, Admiral Ball is to Star Trek: Mercy.

I am partial to a Daedalus or Olympic-class style ship, with the extra space in the "saucer" section dedicated to hospital beds and medical care facilities.  Maybe I would have something a little more advanced than the Daedalus-class (2196), but not quite the Olympic-class (2395).


It is tempting to split the difference and set it in 2295.  That would put it firmly into the Enterprise-B time.  Again, appealing for just for the newness of it.  Among other things, it gives me a Captain Nyota Uhura, a Cmdr. Chekov is part of Starfleet Intelligence and an Admiral McCoy.
I might also get a Captain Demora Sulu.

This is also a good time because this is the time period I set my original Ghost Ship adventure.
Maybe I could do a Mercy one-shot to set up Ghost Ship later on!

Star Trek: Federation News Network
This came from a couple of different places.  First, going back to the Star Trek Generations and the new Picard series, both featured news reporters in the Trek universe.  I really liked that idea and thought it might be fun to have some other points of view than just Starfleet officers.
Secondly, I am working as a mentor for a high school senior.  She is writing her own Trek story and the central character is a reporter.

That is all I have at the moment, but it could be something I could add to any game.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

BlackStar: Ghost Ship

A while back I posted this about my "Ghost Ship" adventure:

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)

Some of my ideas I had scribbled down for this, WAYYYY in the early 90s at the Corner Diner in Carbondale, IL (it's closed sadly). Back then this was the Enterprise B before there was a Generations movie and when all I knew it was an Excelsior-class ship.

The trouble I am running into is that I am stealing ideas from this for The Ghost Station of Inverness Five.

I would like to keep this as the crew discovers a ship, preferably one that has significance to them, floating adrift and full of ghosts.  So there would be elements of Event Horizon as well.

The big question I have now is this.  Should the "ghosts" on the Ghost Ship be really dead or some sort of weird temporal/dimensional accident?  I think I have my choice made for me really.
This is BlackStar, not just Star Trek.  The crew of the Ghost Ship really are all dead.

Flying Dutchman from the Time-LIFE Water Spirits book.  The genesis of the Ghost Ship Adventure

The Ghost Ship adventure will be a simple haunted house adventure with a twist; the twist is that the "house" is a star ship.

There is a "Star Trek: Ghost Ship" fan film out there from the "Avalon Universe".  What I like about this is that it feels like a nice mix of the TOS style and the Abrams/Kelvin Universe style.
It is a fan film, so don't judge it too harshly, instead, take it in the spirit it was made; the love of Trek.

I will say that Victoria Fox, the Producer, Lt. and then later Commander Amanda Beck, is pretty good. she would later go on to produce, direct, write, and star in Star Trek Demons.  Her Trek-street cred is solid.  I also think that Victoria Archer (Lt. Cmdr Jamie Archer) must be at least 6' tall (ok she is only 5'9", must be the "go-go" boots).

Part 1:



Part 2:




Of course, no Ghost Ship posting is complete without a nod to the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.



Or the woman still waiting for him on the shores.


Ghost Ship Adventure Related Postings

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

BlackStar: The Ambassador Class Heavy Cruiser

It's "shelter in place" time here in Illinois.  So I am spending my time playing D&D and CoC with my kids and doing research for my BlackStar game.


To that end, I am pouring over my Trek books, both sourcebooks, and RPGs, to find a nice mix.

Plus I am doing research on my favorite class of starship, The Ambassador Class.

https://memory-beta.fandom.com/wiki/USS_Enterprise_(NCC-1701-C)
https://memory-beta.fandom.com/wiki/Ambassador_class

Up first a few "history of" and "technical specifications of" the Ambassador Class ship










This is a "walk through" but I think they got the size of the bridge wrong.




Star Trek Online takes the same "space" as Starfleet Battles for me.  Similar, but a separate timeline where there is more war.   Here is a player taking his Ambassador class "Support Ship" through some paces.



Enjoy the videos.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

BlackStar: Klingon Time Travel, The Ghost Station of Inverness Five Part 2

I have been thinking about Time Crystals and Klingon Time Travel.
That almost sounds contradictory, but hear me out.

A couple of things about Klingon culture stand out to me.

First, there is Boreth, the Klingon Monastery.   When the First Emporer Kahless was leaving his people he pointed to a star and said: "Look for me there, on that point of light."  That point of light was the star that Boreth orbited.  It has been given as one of the reasons that Klingons expanded into space; to keep their promise with Kahless.


Boreth has only one building, a monastery dedicated to Kahless. Here devotees can have visions. One thing not spoken about in Federation circles is that these visions always come true.  Why?  Boreth is also home to naturally occurring Time Crystals.  These warps time around them much like dilithium warps matter and space.   No, the science doesn't make any real sense, but this is Star Trek, not Astrophysics.   So we have a culture that has a planet full of time altering crystals.  We saw the Klingon High Priest Tenavik grow to an adult in a few months here (ST:DISCO) and later Worf sees visions of his future (ST:TNG).

Klingons have also had access to time travel devices in Voyager. In particular, in 2404 (five years from the current Picard series) a Klingon named Korath "sells" Janeway a time travel device.  The implication is this was something only a Klingon could get and he wasn't supposed to be sharing it with any non-Klingon.

Then there is the Klingon homeworld of Qo'noS. Or as we say it, Kronos. Another nod to time.

So why don't Klingons travel in time?  Simple.  Kahless told them not too.

Before Kahless went to Sto'Vo'Kor he passed on some more wisdom to his fellow Klingons.
"nuq 'oH legh ghaH 'Iv legh qa' jIH."

or "He who looks to the past misses the future."

Klingons, while they honor their past, took this as an injunction against meddling with it.
Kahless is not just their Emporer, he is a messianic figure. Remember, according to Lt. Commander Worf, "Our gods are dead. Ancient Klingon warriors slew them a millennia ago. They were more trouble than they were worth."  Kahless is all they have left.

BlackStar


How does this fit into BlackStar?

This is the background I am using to set up "The Ghost Station of Inverness Five."
It would make for a great con game.  I could even run it straight as a pure Star Trek game, to be honest.  Though this makes The Ghost Station the most "Trek" of all the BlackStar adventures.

I am going to have to see if I can find an old copy of the FASA Trek Regula-1 Deck Plans.
After I posted my first post on The Ghost Station I realized I put a Space Station into what should at that time be protected space.  So the Time Crystals simply pulled the science station into the current time.



The station is from the Federation-Klingon war, so lots of old-school Trek fun with it.  I just have to be careful and not steal to many ideas that I was going to use in the "Ghost Ship" adventure.

Friday, February 7, 2020

BlackStar: The Ghost Station of Inverness Five

I am a Trekkie, and I have always preferred "Trekkie" over "Trekker" as well.  No negative connotations for me, I embrace them.

To that end, I am a fan of both "Axanar" and "Discovery" even if they are competing and incompatible with versions of the war with the Klingon Empire. 


In Discovery the war takes place around 2256-2257.
In the Axanar and FASA Trek RPG continuity, this is known as the Four Years War and takes place between 2247 and 2250.
(Note the Enterprise NCC 1701 launches in 2245, so that tracks with Discovery but off a bit for Axanar.)

Once you start digging more and more with Disco, Axanar, and FASA it becomes obvious that the continuities will never line up even by my normal desire to handwave some details in favor of others.

I enjoyed Star Trek Discovery, I also happen to like Star Trek Axanar maybe just a little bit better. Mainly for all the same reasons spelled out here: Star Trek Discovery vs Axanar Choose Your Klingon War.



I do want a universe where Adm. Ramirez gets to say, "For myself I have but one fear: destroying the dream of the Federation. Compared to such a loss I DO NOT FEAR THE KLINGON EMPIRE!

Hey, I said I was a Trekkie.

BUT I also want a universe with Anson Mount's Captain Pike and Sonequa Martin-Green as Commander Michael Burnham.

How do I have my cake and eat it too?

So I am going to steal a page from myself.
Back when I was playtesting the Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space RPG I converted a bunch of Angel and Ghosts of Albion characters to DWAITAS characters (easy enough to do) and ran them all through The Ghost Tower of  Inverness. Only I called it the Ghost Tower of Inverness, Illinois.

Why does Inverness, IL need a Lighthouse??
In that adventure, the Soul Gen is replaced by the Time Beacon.  A lighthouse for time travelers.
I can replace the lighthouse and tower with the 23rd Century equivalent; a Starbase.

The Ghost Station of Inverness Five

Inverness Five.  During the Federation-Klingon War, this colony was the site of one of the bloodiest battles and the greatest defeat of the Federation.  Hundreds of thousands of souls were lost and many more were made homeless overnight.   Inverness was a colony of four inhabited worlds rich in dilithium.  To the Klingon Empire, the Inverness system is a sacred, if not holy place.

I'll take a page from Discovery and TNG and make Inverness like the Klingon monastery on Boreth.  Not just holy, but also the home of Time Crystals.   At the time of the war no one knew this.   The humans just knew that there were large deposits of dilithium.  The Klingons knew it was holy to Kahless.  The battle managed to disrupt the crystals, one of which was located in the science lab on the Inverness Station, and now the place is like the Bermuda Triangle in space.

In 2352 the Protector is sent the Inverness system, getting strange readings.  The system is unstable and both the Federation and the Klingon Empire have agreed to stay out of the system.  The Federation considers it too dangerous and the Klingons want everyone to stay out.  Both sides treat it like something akin to a battlefield graveyard.

When the Protector shows up they should send an Away Team over to the station, the source of the readings, but "chronometric interference" makes it impossible to get a good lock.  So they are sent to what is basically the bottom of the station.  The team has to work its way to the science lab.
Here I basically will run a version of the Ghost Tower of Inverness.
In space, the Protector is fired upon by a Klingon D6 from Axanar's time.  Communications are ignored and channels to Federation Space are blocked.  They are then both attacked by a Klingon cruiser from Discovery's time.

Both teams end up having to battle with Klingons from Axanar, Discovery and even smooth ridged Klingons from the time between Enterprise and The Original Series.


So weird time dilations effects.  Battling anywhere from two to four different sorts of Klingons.  Starfleet chatter from nearly 100 years ago about the Klingon war and the Federation is getting it's ass kicked.

I need to figure out how to up the horror elements too.  After all, that is what makes this BlackStar and not just Star Trek.  I do know how it will end though.  Once the Away Team gets the Time Crystal aligned/sealed/destroyed/reversed to the polarity of the neutron flow, the battle will stop and the Protector will be hailed by the current era Klingons asking if they need assistance.  A reminder that at this time (2352) the Klingons and the Federation are allies.

This is my homage to not just Axanar and Discovery, but also Yesterday's Enterprise, the Bermuda Triangle and the chance to do the one thing that all old school Trekkies love, and that is to battle Klingons.

In the end, the players will not know if they had really gone back in time OR if they were battling ghosts of some sort.  Also, they might never find out which version of history, Axanar or Discovery, was the correct one since they all remember it both ways.

This one will be fun too.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

BlackStar: The United Federation of "hold my beer, I got this"

Ok. Not *really* BlackStar related, but this is in the back of my mind the whole time I am thinking about BlackStar.  This is always worth forwarding.   Some of the comments are gold too.



The United Federation of "hold my beer, I got this"




Tuesday, January 28, 2020

BlackStar: Kzinti

One of the races I really enjoyed back in the Pre-TNG days of Trek (Pre 1987) was the Kzinti.  I was very familiar with the race from the Animated series and was aware, vaguely, of the "Man-Kzin Wars" books by Larry Niven.  I also knew of what would now be called fan-fiction in the form of some weird Trek zines I remember from the day.



The Kzinti in the Trek Universe
The Kzinti homeworld is called Kzin and it orbits 61 Ursae Majoris about 31 light-years away.  Humans of the late 21st century, pre-warp Earth headed to towards this system in the great migrations from Earth. On their way, they encountered the Kzinti and the first of three wars between the two races began.  The Kzinti are violent, expansionistic, and convinced of their own superiority.  The Kzinti lost each time to Earth's forces (then mostly sub-light ships) and they never got over that they lost to an "omnivorous" race.
The stellar cartographers of Starfleet named the Kzinti area of space the Kzinti Hegemony. Their own name for their government can be translated as The Patriarchy.

By 2151 Starfleet had pushed the Kzinti back to their homeworld and Archer IV, also orbiting 61 Ursae Majoris, was established as an Earth colony.  By 2371 it was a fully inhabited Federation planet.  The confusion came about because the Kzinti call any world they inhabit as their "homeworld".  The Federation not only defeated the Kzinti, they humiliated them.



So we have a chauvinistic race, that has a government called the Patriarchy, who is convinced they are superior to all other races and yet still got their asses kicked by the Federation. If you think I am not going to have a go at that then you have not been here reading this blog for long!

Besides.  Star Trek was doing Social Justice in the 60s.  This is a perfect subject to do in a Star Trek RPG.

I am planning on making them my "little bads" or at least make them appear to be the big bads.  They are not, they are just a pain in the ass.  Their area of space is close (ish) to other parts of the federation including Memory Alpha. This works out well since the first mission of the USS Protector is a "milk run" to Memory Alpha.  Yes I am making the first adventure a run to the Federation "Library" as an homage to all the library runs I made to read books about space, astronomy and then Lovecraft and Star Trek.



A couple reasons that make the Kzinti great for my BlackStar game is they are superstitious, still believe in magic and ghosts (and why not, they have a high level of psionic individuals in their population) and maybe best of all they allow me to use some ideas I have created for other games that would find fertile ground here.

Rebuilding the Kzinti for BlackStar
I am setting my BlackStar game between the TOS and TNG eras.  A time, calendar wise that also corresponds to the time when I first discovered the Kzinti and a time of evolution of Trek and in particular the Klingons.

In a fairly real sense, the Kzinti represent stepping stone really between the "old" and the "new" Klingons.  The honor, the violence, and even the warrior caste system of the Kzinti can be added to the old, or TOS Klingons to create the newer TNG and movie era Klingons. 
Since this "in-between" time is also covered fairly well by the FASA Trek game I will turn to it for ideas.

FASA Trek, much like Starfleet Battles, can be seen as an alternate evolution of the same core Trek from the Original Series on.  I am already borrowing a lot from FASA Trek, so I might take some of their ideas on Klingons and use them for the Kzinti.

In particular, their philosophy of "That which is not growing is dead." to explain their desire to expand their territory again.

I am not going to make Kzinti available as a playable race. If I want something like that I'll go with Caitians like M'Ress and Srrel.



White Star

Kzinti Warrior
KZINTI WARRIOR
ARMOR CLASS: 7 [12]
HIT DICE: 2
HDE/XP: 2/25
SAVING THROW: 17
TOTAL HIT BONUS:  +2
MOVEMENT: 12 (12 when climbing)
SPECIAL: Dark vision 90 ft, Climb
ATTACK: Claws (1d6) or by weapon

KZINTI PSYCHIC
ARMOR CLASS: 9 [10]
HIT DICE: 1-1
HDE/XP: 1/15
SAVING THROW: 17
TOTAL HIT BONUS:  +1
MOVEMENT: 9 (0 when climbing)
SPECIAL: Dark vision 90 ft, Climb, Psychic Blast,
ATTACK: Psychic Blast (1d6)

Starships & Spacemen

Kzinti Psychic
KZINTI WARRIOR
Encountered: 2d4 (2d10)
Movement: 120' (40')
Intelligence: Average
Psionic Potential: inactive
Hits: 2d8
Armor: 7 (2 with power armor)
Combat Skill: 12
Save: L1
Attacks: 1
Damage: By weapon
Morale: 10
XP: 25

KZINTI PSYCHIC
Encountered: 1 (1d6)
Movement: 90' (30')
Intelligence: Above-Average
Psionic Potential: active
Hits: 1d8
Armor: 9 (5 with power armor)
Combat Skill: 6
Save: L1
Attacks: 1, Psychic Blast
Damage: 1d6
Morale: 7
XP: 15

Kzinti Warriors are 2.1-meter tall  220 kg, barrel-chested felinoids.  They can attack with claws but prefer weapons.   They have long tails and hairless ears.  Their eyesight is good in the dark, but their sense of smell is superior to that of Terrans.  They are voracious carnivores and must consume raw meat. They can survive on replicated food, but they will claim it has "no life" to it.
They are a superstitious race and will not use the weapon of a fallen foe believing that the ghost of that foe still haunts the weapon.
Kzinti Warriors will often add honorifics to their name and title. So a captain of a Kzinti warship that has never been defeated might call himself Vrust-Captain, the Undefeated.

Kzinti Psychics almost apper to be a different race.  They are much smaller, 1.8-meter, and much thinner at 130 kg. They are hunched over and appear to ready to fall over.  They are powerful psychics and know many attack and defense modes.  They are often used to extract knowledge and secrets from other species.  Even though they appear frail they are driven by the same desires that affect the warrior caste.  This has caused many among the psychic class to adopt cruelty to others weaker than themselves which is even marked by Kzinti standards.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Star Jellies for OSR games

"Seek a fallen star," said the hermit, "and thou shalt only light on some foul jelly, which, in shooting through the horizon, has assumed for a moment an appearance of splendour."
- Sir Walter Scott, The Talisman (1825)

Star Jelly

Star Jellies, also known as astromyxin or astral jellies, are creatures known to fall to the earth from celestial bodies.  They are often found where a shooting star is thought to have struck the earth.
These are chaotic and evil creatures of alien will.   They will attempt to attach themselves to other life forms and feed on them.

Upon landing they will move, slowly to the nearest warm-blooded creature it can find.  It prefers humans and humanoids.  Once attached the star jelly will excrete a poison that both paralyzes their victim and causes them to have vivid hallucinations or horrible phantasmagorias.  The victim feels they are being attacked by creatures unknown and will attempt to lash out at them.  In truth, the victim is paralyzed and the jelly is attempting to digest the victim from within.

The jelly's only attack is an attempt to latch on to the flesh of a humanoid.  The victim gets a saving throw vs. Paralyzation (to keep from being paralyzed) and a save vs. Poison each round afterward to realize they are hallucinating.   Once attached the jelly will dissolve flesh, causing 2 points of Constitution damage per round.  The only way to remove a jelly is to burn it off or expose it to direct sunlight.  Something about the combination of sunlight and air damages them and they take fire damage per round in the sun.

Constitution loss is permanent unless healing magic is used.

Star Jellies have an intelligence, albeit an alien one.  They are immune to charm, hold, sleep, and other mind-affecting magics.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_jelly

Star Jelly
(Labyrinth Lord)
No. Enc.: 1 (1-2)
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Movement: 10' (30')
Armor Class: 8
Hit Dice: 2+2** (11 hp)
Attacks: 1 (special)
Damage: 2 points of Constitution damage
Special: Causes paralysis and hallucinations
Save: Monster 2
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: None
XP: 50

Star Jelly
(Blueholme Journeymanne Rules)
AC: 8
HD: 2d8+2
Move: 40
Attacks: : 1 (2 points of Constitution damage), causes paralysis and hallucinations
Alignment: Chaotic
Treasure: None
XP: 50

Star Jelly
(Old-School Essentials)
AC 8 [11], HD 2+2 (11hp), Att 1 touch (2 pts Con damage), THAC0 19 [+1], MV 30’ (10’), SV D17 W18 P17 B18 S17 (2), ML 12, AL Chaotic, XP 55, NA 1 (1), TT None
 Poison skin: Causes paralysis and hallucinations.

Star Jelly 
(WhiteStar)
ARMOR CLASS: 8 [11]
HIT DICE: 2
HDE/XP: 2/50
SAVING THROW: 18
TOTAL HIT BONUS: +1
MOVEMENT: 3
SPECIAL:  Causes paralysis and hallucination
ATTACK: by touch, 2 points Constitution damage
In the depths of space, their natural environment, Star Jellies are immune to the effects of sunlight.  They can also grow to very large size (up to 10hd) if given enough living organic matter to eat.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

New Year's Day! What's New for the Other Side in 2020?

Happy 2020 everyone!  I expected to have more cybernetic implants by now, but hey at least we are not living in a futuristic dystopian hellscape right? Right?
Anyway.

I am now at a point where I can say I have been playing D&D for 40 years. 

2019 was my celebration of 1979, the year I first learned about D&D and started to play.  I thought that might be the end of my "Back to Basic" but I was wrong, I find I still have more to do and say.
If 2019 was my focus on Holmes Basic and the AD&D Monster Manual (my gateway drugs) then 2020 will be my focus on the Moldvay Basic Set and the games I was playing with that.

So here are some things I am looking forward to doing here at The Other Side in 2020:

Sci-Fi
This was a science-fiction Christmas break for me.  We watched The Mandalorian, season 2 of Lost in Space, we started The Expanse on TV.  We binged watched all of Star Trek Discovery and LOVED it.  Saw Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in the theatres (I loved it) and we will see Doctor Who later today and then again at the Fathom Events special in the theatres.  We really had a great sci-fi vacation.  It all has me pretty pumped for a good Sci-Fi game.

The Expanse and Lost in Space have a grit to it that I really like.  Both also have some elements of horror to them I also liked.  All the things I want to add to my BlackStar game*.
(*just a reminder, BlackStar is not a game I am looking to publish, just something to have some fun with.)

I already knew that I was going to add elements of ST:DISCO to my game too, I just didn't what yet.  With Picard coming up soon, season three of Disco after that AND the re-merger of Viacom and CBS it looks like a great time to be Star Trek fan.

Both Lost in Space and the Expanse (pre-warp Sci-fi) have also refueled my desire to finish "Space Truckers."  I'd love for it to capture that late 70s Trucker movies and early 80s campy sci-fi.

Back To Basics, Year 2
2019's Back to Basics was so much fun I want to keep going.  Last year was mostly dedicated to Holmes and my weird Holmes/AD&D hybrid.  In the OSR this was best represented by Blueholme and Labyrinth Lord.

This year is the 39th anniversary of the Moldvay Basic set.  Though the copyright date is 1980, it is good enough for me to call it 40.  My focus this year then will be Moldvay/Cook/Marsh B/X flavor basic.   This system is represented best by Old School Essentials (formerly B/X Essentials) and Pacesetter's BX RPG.


I do have at least four more witch books I want to get out.  The Pagan Witch and the Warlock for OSE.  For BX RPG I am wanting to do a Diabolic Witch book and one I am calling "The Secret Order, The High Witchcraft Tradition".

The nice thing about The High Witchcraft book is it will take me full circle back to my original notes and witch class.  After this, I want to focus on other things.  I love writing about witches but I have more I want to do as well.

 So here is to a new 2020!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

My Next Kitbash, Federation Viper

I have some parts left over from my Protector kitbash model, and as it turns out they are exact parts I need for my next kitbash, a "Star Trek" style Viper from Battlestar Galactica.

So I have parts from this:


In particular, the nacelles, which is what I need.

Combine them with this:


Which I still need to buy mind you.

I can add the nacelles to the viper wings, modify the nose with a deflector dish (which I have). Change the red decals to blue, could just paint them on, put on the Protector's registry number NX-3120 and it will look like it is part of the ship. 

I did this mod years ago but I honestly can't recall what happened to it, it was 40 years ago. The one thing I didn't figure out then and still need to figure out now is how to account for those giant-ass thrusters in back.  I might need to 3D print some additional parts or see what I have laying around.  In my first version of this I used the V8 engine out of an 82' Corvette.

My goal is something like these:





At least that is the plan.  Have it ready for my BlackStar game. Imagine this going up against MiGo in space.

Hope to get working on it soon!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Review: Reimagined: Fanfic Role-Playing Game

Ok, now this is a fun one. At least it made me smile.

Reimagined: Fanfic Role-Playing Game

Reimagined is a "fanfic RPG" in which you take some other world and run with it.
If you have ever read (or written) fanfic or have a personal "head-canon" (or even know what that is) then this might be the game for you.

The author, Katarzyna Kuczyńska, comes in with some solid street cred, just different than what I have seen in the past.  This is a good thing.

The game is for two players using the X-Card system (a system I was not very familiar with).
You decide on the fandom, what level of romance you want (Gen, Lime, Lemon and Smut), what sort of story you want (lots listed) and who the charaters are and what the themes are.

Now you and the other player work out your do's and don't (or yeses and noes) and move on the storyline.
You have some tables you can roll on with a d6 (which makes it a game and not a series of collaborative storytelling).  The tables will depend on the tone of your game and type of story.

The players go back and forth being the "actor" and the "director".   I think with some tweaking it could be modified to accommodate more people and thus more characters.  This is one of those games where people that really know each other is where it would work the best.

There is also an example of play given and some examples of the worksheets filled out.   I love the example card shown of "Captain Carol and the God of Thunder" a Superhero story with Lemon (aka steamy) levels of Romance and tension.  On the Noes are "Children being hurt", "torture" and "alcohol" ok, fine and on the "yeses" are Dragons!


Images for illustrative purposes only...

Among our themes are "Superheroes Showing off", "Passionate Foreplay" and "Space Battles" you know...I am enjoying this one more and more.
The main storyline, "Heroes team up to save an alien planet using their powers and spaceship."

Seriously, how does that not sound like fun?


Seriously off the top of my head, I came up with about 30 fandoms this would work with.  Even some I wish I hadn't (gives the Mallfoy-Granger shippers some side eye).

I'd have to try it out. You need the right group to do this game with, but I think it would be fun. This is a very different sort of game for me and I want to try it out.

The PDF is full-color at 39 pages.  There are also extra sheets included.

All for $3.00. That's pretty good really.

Plays Well With Others: BlackStar

Of course, this got me thinking.  If this works well like this, maybe I could use the Story generation functions of this game in my other games.  Sit down as a Session 0 to determine what we all want to do out of a series.  IF that series is media-tie in, say like Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, or anything, then it might be a good starting point.

So.  Let me try it with BlackStar.

BlackStar is part of the Star Trek Fandom, but it also has heavy doses of Cthulhu.
It's going to be Dark, but Gen.  Sorry, there won't be time for romance among the stars for this crew, I'll save all of that for the Captain and the Thunder God above.

It is an Alternate Universe and partial crossover. 
The only character I know right now is Captain Valerie Beaumont.  BUT she is not in charge of the ship.  She was supposed to be, but it has been taken over by NPC Commodore Taggart.  He is the project leader and a complete dick.  So that will make up some of the interpersonal dynamics.

I want to cover the themes of "Horror in/of Space", "We are not alone", "Science as a Candle in the Dark" and "Adventure! ...but don't go insane."

I am saying yes to Monsters, Insanity, Death, and Visions of Hell.
I am saying no to Vampires, Klingons (sorry!) and no to Deltan and Betazeds.  Not because I don't like them, I love them, but empaths will have a really bad time here.

These are the voyages...
Yeah.  This sounds like fun.

Friday, November 22, 2019

BlackStar: Trek Videos

Been pretty busy with work and various projects.  But I am looking forward to doing some Trek gaming sometime soon.
To prep for this, I am watching a LOT of Star Trek videos made by fans for ideas.

Here is one that has a lot of ideas for me.
Since my Mystic Class is an NX or experimental ship, I figure it would be good to see some other failed Trek experiments.




And since the Mystic class also has the potential to be the fastest ship in Trek, but maybe not the deadliest, this one caught my eye.




For years I have been fascinated with the idea of Star Trek Phase II.  I am seriously considering having Xon show up in my game in some way.



I also wanted to learn everything I could about the Ambassador Class starship and the Enterprise-C




Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Plays Well With Others: B/X Gangbusters

Yesterday I reviewed the new B/X Gangbusters game and talked about its potential due to its Basic-era roots.  I stand behind that and a recent dive into some of my favorite Basic-era games supports this.  So let's see how well Gangbusters, B/X edition Plays Well With Others.



Realms of Crawling Chaos
Both are built on similar B/X designs.  Realms of Crawling Chaos adds Lovecraftian Horrors to your B/X Gangbusters games.  Both also support the same era of play, more or less, and have similar offerings in terms of playing normal humans. In fact, adding Realms of Crawling Chaos can add an edge to your "Educated" characters they might not normally have. 

Of course, at this point, you might ask why not just play Call of Cthulhu or d20 Call of  Cthulhu.  The answer, of course, is to be able to play this as a B/X game.

Amazing Adventures
AA is a Pulp-era game based in and on the 1930s; so about a decade later.  But there is still a lot in this game that would be helpful to the Gangbusters player or Judge. Not to belabor it, but the are equipment lists here that have different items that the GB Basic book.  The Amazing Adventures classes also give the GB Judge some go ideas for playing Powered Characters.

Basic Psionics Handbook
Moving further afield we have Richard LeBlanc's Basic Psionics Handbook.   While psionics have a "complicated" relationship to Fantasy games, they seem to work just fine in semi-modern ones.  In particular, a psionic wild talent would fit well into a GB game.  Let's not forget that the 1920s was also the time of Harry Houdini and his magic shows.  In real life he was a debunker of claims of the supernatural, but who knows what he was doing in YOUR world.

This along with Realms of the Crawling Chaos gives you a Lovecraftian style game that is less "Call of Cthulhu" and more "Cast a Deadly Spell".
I want to try this with a hard-boiled private eye that used to be a boxer and has seen a little too much magic.  I'll have to name him Robert Howard Lovecraft.

Starships & Spacemen 2e
Moving even further out from Psionics we have another one from Goblinnoid Games, Starships & Spacemen.  How does this one work?  Glad you asked!  One of my favorite Star Trek Episodes is "A Piece of the Action" where the crew of the Enterprise beam down to Sigma Iota II to investigate the crash of the Horizon from 100 years earlier.  They discover that the Iotians, a very creative and intelligent humanoid race, have recreated Chicago from the 1920s based on the book "Chicago Mobs of the Twenties", which had been published in (their version of) 1992.  The Iotians recreated their entire civilization based on this book.  At the end of the episode, it is revealed that Dr. McCoy misplaced his communicator.  Kirk and Spock state they will analyze the technology and that by the time they come back they could be the Federation.



There was an attempt to do a sequel to this by Michael Piller for TNG and some comics.  For me though, it was a throw-away section in the FASA TNG Officer's Manual that when the Federation came back to Sigma Iota II that they found a fully functional Federation style Space Station waiting for them.  Frankly, I would use that in a heartbeat for my own BlackStar games.  Maybe even adopt Piller's idea that this was a Federation, with the morality of the Chicago gangs.
It sounds like a lot of fun really.  I'd steal more ideas from FASA Trek for this too, including the interim uniforms they were using for the Enterprise-C era.   I will have to come back to this.

There is a lot more you could do with Gangbusters and the vast library of Basic-era B/X compatible material out there.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Vast

Today's topic is Vast.

Vast. Seriously it is like it is too large of a word to tackle all at once.


To any PC in any sort of RPG the setting should feel vast.  For D&D it is can be the world or the known planes.  In sci-fi games, this can be the galaxy or even the universe.

But I don't write vast.  I write local.

Yes, there is a whole world out there, but how much of it are the PCs going to see? What do they really know about it?  Sure, there were people in the 13th century that had a pretty good idea what the world looked like, but did the peasants?

Let's look at Star Trek and by extension my BlackStar game. Because really, what is more vast than space?


That is a map of the Known Space of the Star Trek universe roughly at the end of the 24th Century.  My BlackStar game is likely to be set 50 years prior to this.
This is a LOT of territory.  The Sol system is where the larger yellow line is.  Click to see larger.

This is roughly 1,500 Light Years wide, of the Milky Way that is 105,000 Light Years wide, about 1%.

That's a lot of untold stories. 

I wish I had more time to do more!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Busy Week

Sorry for the lack of posting everyone.  Been a really busy week at work.

Here are some brief updates.

Back to Middle-Earth
I turned 50 last week!
So I decided to re-read the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings for something like the 7th or 8th time.
Finished up the Hobbit and I am at the part in Fellowship where the Hobbits have left Tom Bombadil's home.  I am likely to also re-read The Silmarillion, a book I loved much more than expected.

I am also considering picking up Tales from the Perilous Realm and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, two books I ignored as being "too childish" for me...back when I was, in fact, a child.

Then To the Wizarding World!
Speaking of childish things, I have no shame in admitting that I enjoy playing Pokémon GO with my wife and kids.  We walk all over my son's campus (because apparently, I am not on campus enough now) and catch Pokémon.  We get out, we get exercise and we all do it together as a family.
So now we are all playing Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.  HP is a little more near and dear to my heart than Pokémon is. Though I have very, very fond memories of playing the Pokémon card game with my son when he was little and watching the cartoon with him.
Wizards Unite uses the same game engine as PG but with some differences.  More immersive.  I see more walks in my future with my family and both games.

BTW if you want to add me, here are my codes.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite: 1990 1847 9214
Pokémon GO: 5190 6074 7972


Then Back to the Final Frontier
My BlackStar game is going rather well.
A couple of new developments.
First, I am going to be adding Kzinti as a race.  I am going to say at this point they are in an uneasy cold war with the Federation.  They are largely going to fill the role of the Klingons from the FASA Trek game.  Including the Klingon philosophy of "what is not growing is dying".   Again, this is merely background and I might set them up as the main antagonist for the "series" before springing the horror on them.
Second, I have gotten some GREAT ideas from a very unlikely source, the HBO series Chernobyl. 
I think this is going to be great.

I just need to survive the term start here in a week and I'll be great.

BTW I am now working on a new Graduate level Social Justice course.  This will be a lot of fun and I am really looking forward to it.

See you all next week!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

BlackStar: Launch Date 31165.86

It's my birthday! But I am at work today. Thankfully I was so prepared for all my meetings I got done early.  Thought I might share an update.

I have been working, slowly, on my BlackStar game.  This is still not something I am looking to publish mind you, just something to have fun with.  This is likely to be the most Trek-centric post of this series.
For this game I want to establish that the Universe, despite all it's wonders and dangers, is still a sane, ordered place. Yes, there are things we don't know but we are not incapable of knowing them.  So for me a clear starting point for the horror to come is a normal reality.  This is a process similar to what Stephen King uses and I can do worse than emulate him.
Part of my "reality grounding" was trying to determine when the game takes place.  The where is easy, the Star Trek Universe.  If I ever decide to publish in the future it is easy to remove that aspect and focus more on the things that are different, aka the horror, so anyone can add it to their own game.

I debated a lot with my self and with my kids about a good time.  Eventually, I went back to my original idea to set it in the era just before the Next Generation.  I can control the history and the future better from this point AND still have room to do what I want.



What do I know?

The Enterprise-C, commanded by Capt. Rachel Garret was lost in 2344, 20 years before the launch of the Enterprise-D in 2364 (SD 41153.7).  Since my ship is based on the Ambassador Class ship, same as the Ent-C it makes sense to set it closer to then.

We don't see many Ambassador class ships in the TNG time-frame, why?  I am going to say there was a design flaw that was later discovered after Starfleet Corp of Engineers went over why the Ent-C was destroyed.  There is a flaw in the nacelle arrangement that was missed in the R&D phase and only seen in practice.  This lead to newer warp nacelle configuration that gave us the Galaxy and Nebula class ships.  Despite living in the 24th century, human Starfleet personnel can still be somewhat superstitious and the Ambassador class gained the status of a "cursed ship".

This is also why there are 21 decommissioned Ambassador class ships outside of Neptune Station.   Here, Commodore Peter Quincy Taggert, with a signed order from Admiral Nyota Uhura (who had been fond of the Ambassador class and hated to see them go to waste), began work on the Mystic Project.  The NX-3100 (mislabeled on the hull as NX-3000 due to a clerical error) was developed at the Klatuu Nebula Yards in conjunction with the Theremin Science Council and launched to Earth on SD 30007.21. 

The Mystic, however, was lost with all hands en route.  Not destroyed, no one knows where it is.  Capt. Lazarus, XO Tawny Madison, and Chief Engineer Chen who were hand-picked by Taggert have been listed as "Missing in Action".  Yes, this might work for my "Ghost Ship" adventure.


The other ships were built with various levels of failure. The "Ambassador Curse" is in full swing on the Mystic line.

Presently the only ships in "mission ready" status are the NX-3113 USS Necromancer, NX-3119 USS Imbolic Mage and NX-3120 USS Protector.


The Protector was the first one ready for a full test of the new Warp-13 drive.  It is set to launch on June 13, 2352, SD 31165.86. (Exactly 333 years from today, on a Friday the 13th).


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

BlackStar: Old School Black Holes

Today is a big day in astrophysics.  The first-ever image of a black hole has been released.
The black hole is 500 million trillion km away, or 500,000,000,000,000,000,000 km or 52,850,042 Light Years.



When that light left the black hole's event horizon the Earth looked like this:


Just some perspective, plus I love those maps.

Much like magic, black holes have "suffered" due to the expansion of science.  What do I mean by that?

For much of the 20th Century, the black hole of science fiction was monstrous, mysterious, even evil thing.  A star that ate everything that came to close including light and time.  It's not hard to see why there were some sci-fi authors who categorized them as monsters.
In fact, this one is a monster. It is 40 billion km across and has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun. For reference, the Earth has a diameter of 12,756 km and the Sun has a diameter of  1.392 million km.  That dwarfs the Sun more than our sun dwarfs the Earth.

In fiction black holes lead to other universes, often evil ones. Or sending people to different parts of the universe in defiance of any laws of relativity.  Indeed they were the ultimate "MacGuffin" to break all sorts of laws of reality.

BlackStar, as a game concept, really owes a lot to these older ideas of black holes in more than just name.

In truth, the ideas for BlackStar got their very first start for me in the 1979 Disney movie The Black Hole.  I remember seeing this at the 67 Drive-In in my old home town.  The movie is full of ideas that characterize what I want BlackStar to do and be even before I add the Lovecraftian bits.  We have a crew exploring space. There is a psychic crew member. We have an evil mad scientist in his old castle spaceship surrounded by mindless servants and evil strongman; it's practically gothic horror.  Even the tag line is horror, "A Journey That Begins Where Everything Ends".



Another black hole sci-fi/horror movie that was a big, if not one of the biggest, influence on BlackStar is 1997's Event Horizon.

In Event Horizon, we have a black hole, in this case, an artificially created one (like what we see in the Romulan Warbirds) that power the ship.  The mystery, and horror, of the Event Horizon, is where was the ship the entire time it's been missing.  We learn that the black hole has taken the crew into a hellscape not dissimilar to what we saw at the end of The Black Hole.  Claire Weir's, Dr. Weir's (Sam Neill) dead wife, tells us "I have such wondrous things to show you" brings to mind Pinhead's "We have such sights to show you" from the Hellraiser movies.  Indeed they can be assumed to be the same sights.



In both cases breaking the laws of physics, in both cases trying to move faster than light, opens you up to the consequences of breaking the Laws of Creation. The black hole becomes the proverbial gate to Hell.  Abandon all Hope Ye Who Enter Here.

This is made even more explicit in the Doctor Who episodes "The Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit" from 2006.  In this, the scientific portrayal of black holes is contrasted with the classic sci-fi portrayals.  In Doctor Who black holes are a means of travel. Gallifrey and every TARDIS is powered by "The Eye of Harmony" a captured black hole created by the Timelord Stellar Engineer Omega. It has as much horror as the engine in a Tesla sedan. Neat yes, but not horrible.

The Satan Pit turns this on its head.  Here the black hole "just eats" according to the Doctor. The black hole is The Pit, the jail that the devil can't escape from.  It is the Christian Hell or the Abyss.
Consequently, the episodes have been compared to "Event Horizon" and "Alien" by critics.


So that leaves me at today.  What can black holes do to inspire horror?
Much like "anti-matter" gave way to "dark matter" in the minds of the creatives, black holes have been largerly replaced by "Wormholes".   But even a wormhole is still sci-fi shorthand for "short cuts in FTL travel".  Sure they can be like "gates" but the fear is diluted.

I think where I am going to go with all of this is take a page from Event Horizon and make the drive of the new Mystic class ships be the problem.  They were designed to move faster than light, the heralded Warp-13 drives, but the real purpose is to open rifts in space-time to allow these horrors to come through.  Both sci-fi horrors and cosmic horrors.

Black Holes, like the God of the Gaps, has had its mystical notions removed for the more appropriate scientific ones.  As someone that originally studied to be an astrophysicist, this is a great thing.  But as someone who loves horror and sci-fi adventure, I feel like I have lost something.

Maybe Dark Matter and Dark Energy can be my new mysterious thing! In any case it needs to be frightening.  They say "in space, no one can hear you scream", but I also want "in space, no one wants to hear you yawn".

And this song was on my mind while working on this post.



Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Review: Realms of the Crawling Chaos

One of my favorite Old School books has been Realms of the Crawling Chaos by Goblinoid Games.  It's a nice blend of both D&D Basic-era (via Labyrinth Lord) and the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft.  We get a little bit of Call of Cthulhu and the Cthulhu Mythos from Deities & Demigods.

Available as a PDF and softcover for years it is now out in hardcover for backers of the Advanced Labyrinth Lord Kickstarter.


The book looks fantastic, as to be expected.









The hardcover book is 60 pages worth of material and deals with running a Lovecraftian-inspired game of horror fantasy.
A few new races are introduced for a Race-as-Class style game with notes on other classes to use in an advanced game; Sea-Blooded, Subhuman, White Ape and White Ape Hybrid.

Next, are some new magical formulae and some new spells all based on various Lovecraft sources. Enough to sprinkle into various dammable texts for the players to find AND then really get into trouble with.

We come to the monsters and all the old favorites are here. Comparing them to other sources of similar monster will give you plenty of differences in stats, which is a good thing really. Players who are familiar with other books should not have knowledge their characters do not.

A small section on Eldritch Artifacts, a staple of many of Lovecraft's mythos stories.

And finally a section on Psionics which differs from other books/games.

We get some appendices on Eldritch tomes and an artifact generator.  Appendix 3 covers the use of these psionic rules in Mutant Future. And Appendix 4 covers the stories and books used.

We end with the OGL section.

If I have one complaint there are no rules for sanity or madness. A fair staple of many Lovecraftian games.

The book is awfully fun and is full of great ideas.  If you are a fan of Labyrinth Lord and Lovecraftian tales then I would most certainly grab this.

For me, this is has been the "missing" part of both my BlackStar game and War of the Witch Queens.  I say "missing" but I have had the PDF forever.

This is actually a HUGE part of my BlackStar game.  This plus Starships & Spacemen So I am going to talk a little about in the frame of reference of that game soon.

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