Showing posts with label Mars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mars. Show all posts

Monday, April 18, 2022

#AtoZChallenge2022: O is for Outer Space

The A to Z of Conspiracy Theories O
The A to Z of Conspiracy Theories: O is for Outer Space

This is a catch-all for various things I wanted to talk about but didn't have enough on their own.

They do all have at least one thing in common.  A serious distrust of NASA.

Moon Landings Faked

This is a big one really. There are some people out there who think the moon landings were faked.  We have a word for these people.


But it does give me a chance to use one of my favorite movie jokes.  

"NASA went to Stanely Kubrick to convince him to film their fake moon landing, but Kubrick was such a perfectionist he demanded the film it on location."

It is the same distrust of NASA that gives us the Flat Earthers

The Planet Nibriu 

Nibriu has tried to kill us not just once, but twice. There has been some version of this for decades.

Some questionable literature

Face on Mars / Pyramids on Mars

Back in 1979 the Viking I mission to Mars took orbital photos of what appeared to be a face on the planet Mars.  Later the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Mars Global Surveyor in 1998 and 2001 took better pictures and showed that the "Face" was a trick of the light and pareidolia.  Humans are programmed to recognize faces.  Great when you are a newborn baby looking to get fed, bad when trying to separate signal from noise.  

Mars in general has fascinated us since we started looking up to the skies and noticed this one reddish-looking point of light was a bit different than the others.   I suppose it is hard to let go of some ideas after they have been ingrained for so long, even with the best data out there.

Of course, all the data in the solar system won't change the minds of those that feel that NASA is lying to them. 

Area 51

I talked a bit about this in "Night Companion: A Sourcebook for Night Shift: VSW" in my "Weirdly World News."  Area 51 is neat and all, but it is likely nothing there save for advanced aircraft. Advanced, sure, but not alien.   Besides, I have my own ideas for Area 51.


Nothing in particular that I have not mentioned already.  Save I want to do some more sci-fi style games with NIGHT SHIFT.  Come back in two week when May starts off Sci-Fi month here at the Other Side!

The NIGHT SHIFT RPG is available from the Elf Lair Games website (hardcover) and from DriveThruRPG (PDF).

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

October Horror Movie Challenge: Mars Night

What is it about Mars that both fascinates us and horrifies us at the same time?  Even long before H.G. Welles and "War of the Worlds" Mars has had a hold on our collective consciousness.  

Doctor Who has visited horror on Mars many times, most recently with "The Waters of Mars" (2009) and "Empress of Mars" (2017).  Notably, one of the few times we see the Doctor truly afraid is when he learns he is facing the Martian Grand Marshal Skaldak in "Cold War" (2013).  

Even the optimistic Star Trek is not immune, with one of the greatest terrorist acts committed against the Federation happening on Mars' Utopia Planitia

Mars has gotten to us. 

So it is not a big surprise that there are still today sci-fi horror movies featuring Mars.

Angry Red Planet (1959)
The Angry Red Planet (1959)

One would assume I would start with War of the Worlds. At least the classic or maybe even one of the remakes.  But I want movies ON Mars and for better or worse, this is a classic. I have seen it before, but it is a good one to start the night and it is on every streaming service I have.  This one takes place sometime after the first moon landing. No date is given but you can assume it is the 1970s as seen through the eyes of the 1950s (Time Delta, 11 or so years).

Again, while I typically avoid movies from the 1950s, there are exceptions.  A couple of things make this one stand out.  The giant wolf-bat-spider creature being one and the "CineMagic" effect used when they were on the surface of Mars was another. The CineMagic could look cheap by our standards of today, but I actually thought it had some charm to it. 

The acting isn't bad, though it suffers from all the casual sexism of the time, though to it's credit it has Naura Hayden as biologist Dr. Iris "Irish" Ryan. She isn't so much there as eye-candy (plot wise) and has a role.  It is also noted that only Americans seem to bring guns into space. It does avoid the trope of one of the scientists being secretly evil or wanting to establish his own empire on Mars. 

The film is a bit silly for our times, but there were what appeared to be some good (for the time) scares.  The CineMagic effect really covers up a lot of special effects shortcomings. 

I am sure I have seen this one before, but there are a lot of parts I don't remember.  I am only giving myself ½ a credit for this one.

Star Crystal (1986)
Star Crystal (1986)

I actually started this one first. Stopped it because it was just not  good and came back to it tonight. While there is 30 years between this one and Angry Red Planet, it sure has improved much in attitudes.  This one takes place in the year 2030 to 2033 (Time Delta 44 to 41 years).

Let's be entirely upfront about this.  This one is bad.  I spaced (heh) out a lot writing other things.  Here is the gist.  Two dufuses bring back some rocks from Mars expecting some of them will give them a good payday.  One of the rocks cracks open and something slimy comes out.  Fast forward to NASA on Earth in the later 2030s where everyone is smoking like it's...well 1986. The first crew is dead so they send another crew after them.  

After some not-scares and other nonsense we learn the alien, named Gar, used the computer to learn about humanity including reading a Bible, and has decided to depart in peace.  What the actual fuck? Anyway, that's the movie.  There is more like the shitty effects, the toy Millennium Falcon used for close-up shots of the starbase and the misspellings on the computer screen.  An aside, here in the real 2021 I am using more computer power than they displayed in their fake 2033 just write these words. I also have the benefit of a spell check.

Anyway, I am embarrassed I watched this movie. 

By the way, this site Explore Mars wants us on Mars in the 2030s. I don't think they saw this movie.

Ghosts of Mars (2001)
John Carpenter's Ghosts Of Mars (2001)

2001 should have been a bigger year for sci-fi movies.  Just saying. This one takes place in 2176. The Time Delta on this is 175 years now.  As we move further and further away from the Apollo missions our optimism about colonizing nearby space is waning.  Or maybe we just have a better understanding of how bad the void of space really is. 

I also admit this is the one I was looking forward to.  I mean John Carpenter right?


The pluses. The film stars Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Jason Statham, Pam Grier, Clea DuVall, Robert Carradine, and Joanna Cassidy. All of whom have delivered good performances in the past.  The key with any movie with Ice Cube and Jason Statham in it is you never take their characters seriously. Jason Statham has more or less likened all his characters to cartoon characters.  

The soundtrack is great, if for no reason other than the inclusion of Stevie Vai whom I have been a fan of since his days with Frank Zappa

Some interesting bits.  Mars' government appears to be a Matronage or rule by women.  The Mars here reminds me of Total Recall or Doom before the Demons arrive.

The story revolves around a group of police officers attempting to do a prisoner transfer of James 'Desolation' Williams, played by Ice Cube.  They get to the boomtown to find him but instead, they find everyone dead and Williams still locked up.  They find a couple of people still alive but possessed.

Turns out the ghosts of dead Martians are possessing people thinking the humans had killed all the Martians.  They decide to blow up the nuclear reactor thinking they can nuke all the spirits.  Sure. Why not.  

The ghosts just repossess other humans and attack the city.

The Martian possessed humans reminded me a lot of the Futurekind from the Doctor Who episode Utopia.  In fact, the scenes of Mars at night also remind me of the planet Malcassairo at the end of the Universe. 

2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 25
First Time Views: 12

Monday, May 17, 2021

Monstrous Monday: Marching to Mars

It's still Sci-Fi month here at the Other Side and I wanted to do a monster today with some solid sci-fi and old-school roots.  I just couldn't get it to jell the way I wanted. 

Essentially I wanted D&D/OSR/Sci-Fi versions of  Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoomian Martians. I was going to give them a few twists, give them a Clark Ashton Smith twist or two, and a dash of Jack Vance. 

Here is what I have so far.

Red Martians

Warlike, intelligent. Most "Human-like" of the Martians.  I am even toying with the idea of making them Matriarchal as my homage to the great Dejah Thoris.

Red Martian
Red Martian, ePic Character Generator

White Martians

Psychic and the only truly evil Martian race.  Rulers are a caste of priests.  Borrowing heavily from Warhammer 40k, UFO myths, and a little bit of DC Comics.

White Martian
White Martian, ePic Character Generator

Green Martians

These guys are essentially my Tharks, but also are a noble race. They are violent and will kill you, but they can be reasoned with.  My goal here is not to make them Space Orcs, Space Dothraki, or Martian Klingons.

Green Martian
Green Martian, ePic Character Generator

There might be others.

All are genetically compatible with each other, more or less.  I'd love to work in "War of the Worlds" into this somehow too. 

For my OSR/D&D-style games, this might be a world within Spelljamming distance or even some sort of Astral Travel.  Adding in bits of Dark Sun might help smooth out some of the rough bits.  It would all work great for an Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea game

For BlackStar I would want the civilization dead and only recently had xeno-archeologists having discovered the ruins of an ancient and vast Martian culture. The horror will come in when they can't figure what it was that killed them all. 

Links to Mars Related Posts

Monday, February 10, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Green Martians for AS&SH

No gaming for me this past weekend.  One game for Connor and two for Liam though, so I was left to my own devices.  Those devices were going over my Mōdiphiüs Star Trek and John Carter of Mars RPGs.  Both use the same 2d20 system, or close enough to make conversions and blending easy.   And Mōdiphiüs is also doing the new Dune RPG.   This has my desire to run an epic Space Opera up into hyperdrive.

BUT.  Let's be honest. There is no good way, thematically, to combine John Carter and Star Trek.  Their Mars' are too different.    The problem is, I love Mars.  Both in terms of fiction and back when I was studying to be an astrophysicist.   Scientific/realistic Mars would be great for a Trek game, especially with all the things going on on Mars in the new Picard series.  But what about my need for fantasy Mars?

I have talked about Clark Ashton Smith's Mars in relationship to BlackStar and my love of the various pulp games for Mars.  So I am not lacking in desire, or material, I just need a home game for it.  So this idea hit me over the weekend.

Why not Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Barsoom?

AS&SH is obviously more Clark Ashton Smith and less Edgar Rice Burroughs, but both are there.  While I enjoy the works of CAS much more, ERB's Barsoom captures my attention much more.  Besides, in a game I can mix and match as I please, especially in a game like AS&SH.

I am not planning, yet, to send any characters to Barsoom, but it makes perfect sense to bring some Martians to Hyperborea.

These Martians are designed for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (Compleat Second Edition) and heavily based on Warriors of the Red Planet (which you should get if you love everything Mars, like me.)

Martian Princess by Will Nichols
Martian, Green
No. Encountered: 1 (1d3)
Alignment: Neutral
Size: L
Movement: 40
Dexterity: 16
Armour Class: 5
Hit Dice: 4+4 to 6+6
Attack Rate: 4/1 (sword x4 or radium pistol x4)
Damage: 1d8 (×4) or 1d8 (x4)
Saving Throw: 14 to 12
Morale: 12
Experience Points: 400 to  850
Treasure Class:  Nil (see below)

Green Martians are tall, 8' tall, humanoids with green skin and four arms.  The males are bald and have huge tusks. The females are just as tall but appear more human.  Some even have ancestry related to the ancient Red Martians.  Many of the Martians found in Hyperborea are these Green with Red Martian blood to adapt better to the Hyperborean world.
It has been assumed that came here centuries ago and have been able to return to Barsoom.  Those sages in the know claim they are here as advanced scouts prior to a Martian invasion.

Green Martians are a warrior race and adapt to the weapons found in Hyperborea with ease.  Green Chieftans, the Jedaks, also wield radium pistols that fire a bolt of burning radium.  The range is the same as a crossbow.

Martians eschew armor of any kind and rely on their dexterity and natural toughness.  They also do not keep any treasure they find.  The exception are any weapons. They have a 20% chance of having a magical sword, short sword or dagger.  They do not use bows, but will have a 10% of having a magical crossbow.

I like this. Can't wait to give it a go.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Reviews: OSR Mars

I have always been fascinated with Mars.  Not just the Mars I used to look at through my telescope as a kid, but also the worlds of Burroughs, Wells, Smith, Heinlein, and more.
I have often, very often, wanted to run an OD&D game on Mars, or rather a mix of Barsoom, Wells, and the Mars of DC Comics.

So one of my "Holy Grail" items has been Gygax & Blume's Warriors of Mars game. Though every copy I have ever seen is so far out of my price range.  Usually over $1,000 and one I have seen for $4,000!

I like Mars, but not that much for something I am also going to house rule a bit on. 

Thankfully, we have many talented people in the Old-School games scene that can help me with my Mars obsession.

Warriors of Mars - Barsoom by "Doc"
Up first is a fan reproduction of the Warriors of Mars book.
This is from the OD&D Forums by a user named "Doc".  The PDF was reformated by Jason Vey and done up to look like an OD&D book with permission from Doc.   The book also called Warriors of Mars uses the art from the original and naturally feels like an OD&D book with better typesetting.  At 28 pages it covers the basics and the focus is more on D&D than the original 56 pages TSR Warriors of Mars which also used a lot of Chainmail rules.  I am happy this one is out there since it gives me a basis of comparison for future books.  Plus it lets me know that I really don't need to spend 1000 bucks.

Now getting to ones you can buy.

Warriors of the Red Planet
by Al Krombach with art by Thomas Denmark and published by Denmark's Night Owl Workshop.
The PDF is digest-sized, single column, with black & white art from Denmark (so you know it looks great). At 128 pages it is a good-sized volume.  And all for $8.00.  They could have made it $10 and still it would have been a great price.  Overtly the book is for Swords & Wizardry.
This game is more inspired by Burroughs than actually being Barsoom.
There are five races to play, Ancients, Elevated, Exotic, Humans and Unliving. And four classes, Fighting Men, Scoundrels, Mentalists, and Scientists.   Each class goes to 10th level.
Mentalists have powers, Scientists have gadgets and they both work roughly like spells.
There are rules for character creation, equipment (including swords and rayguns), and several examples of play. 
While I said it is overtly for S&W, there is Ascending and Descending AC and "Basic-like" saving throws.
There are some great monsters added to this as well.  Any of which can be ported over to any OSR games if you wish.  Many are recognizable from Burroughs, but there are plenty more as well.
Some of the races get more detail in the appendix.  While an Exotic can nearly be anything (with random tables to boot!) some of the more common types are listed here. As per Burroughs we have Red, Green, Black, White and Yellow Martians.  Earthlings on Mars are also discussed.
Appendix A covers all sorts of random terrain, building, missions, and the unexplained along with weird science artifacts.
Appendix B adds the eldritch to Mars with the Sorcerers of the Black Gate.
Appendix C adds an optional skill system.
Appendix D covers ship to ship combat.
And finally, Appendix N (yup) covers suggested reading.
Again, this is a great book and 100% compatible with other "old-school" books from Night Owl Workshop. And easily worth twice the cover price in my mind.

BX Mars
This is a newer book from Michael Gibbons who also does the illustrations.  Here we get a full (8.5" x 11") PDF at 104 pages with Black & White art.  The author makes a note that the B&W art fits the mood of the game and I can't say I disagree.
This book also is more inspired by Burroughs, but the DNA is a little more obvious here.  Also, the book is designed to be used with B/X style games, this also goes to level 10 (not level 14 as some B/X games).  That's also great by me. 
The classes and these are race-classes, are Princess, Warrior, Thark! (no idea why the ! is there), Menton and Terran.  The classes are pretty much what you think they are. A couple of points. Princess is only open to Red Martian women; there is no Prince class (and sadly no Purple Martians).  The Menton is a psionic using class with powers detailed in the book.
There is also something called "Mastery" which works a little like Feats from 3/4/5e but has a solid B/X/Old-school feel to them. They work quite well here.
There is a Campaign/World-building history here.  It is some good background and fun to add to any game whether you are playing as straight-up Barsoom or something else.
This book has a completely different feel than the other Mars books out there.  While all the books I have looked at list mostly the same sources as inspiration, this one comes closer to Heavy Metal than most.  Also if I ever wanted to play a Herculoids game this would be the first book I'd grab.
The art has a really cool style that I don't often see in modern RPG books, but it fits this one perfectly.

If I wanted to describe the differences between WotRP and BXM, I would say WotRP was later Led Zeppelin and BXM is Blue Oyster Cult.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

BlackStar: The Influence of Clark Ashton Smith

For the past month, I have been reading all the stories of Clark Ashton Smith in roughly chronological order.  In many ways, I like his works more than I do of H.P. Lovecraft's.  I find CAS easier to approach and his protagonists more relatable. '

Recently I just finished Marooned in Andromeda first of what is commonly called "The Captain Volmar Stories". The next one was A Captivity in Serpens and a third, which I have not gotten to yet, The Ocean-World of Alioth.  What struck me was how much they were like Star Trek.  Add in the Lovecraftian like horror of Marooned in Andromeda and you practically have a blue-print for what I want in BlackStar.

Indeed, the Trek connection has not gone unnoticed.  Ronald S. Hilger and Scott Connors the editors of the Night Shade collection in which all three stories appear make not of the similarities between Captains Volmar and Kirk.  Captivity in Serpens presages the Next Generation episode "The Most Toys" with it's crew member in captivity for a personal collection.

While doing some research this morning I came across the beginning of an adventure I had started back in the late 80s / early 90s for the then Next Generation version of FASA's Star Trek RPG.

I mentioned this last month as the adventure "Ghost Ship".  As time went on it was the Enterprise B (lost according to my notes in 2329, the Enterprise C was launched in 2332), but before that, it was the USS Excelsior.  In my document here it predates even that and it was the USS Necromancer.   Astute readers might recall that the NX-3113 USS Necromancer is one of the "Ships of the Line" of the Mystic Class.   The Necromancer seems to be a bit on the nose for this.  Instead given the writings of CAS and the main representative of his work in the OSR world,  Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, it seems best to call the ship the NX-3102 USS Sorcerer.

I was thinking that maybe I could use the events of the CAS Capt. Volmar stories to give my Horror Universe a bit more of a backstory. Volmar's ship was called Alcyone.   The Alcyone system is about 445 light years from Earth, so not sure if I could say Volmar is from Alcyone. So I going to say that the Alcyone was his previous command.  His name is Howard Solomon Volmar since he has been compared to Robert E. Howard's creation, Solomon Kane.

There is so much more here too.

Seedling of Mars deals with an alien craft that lands in California in 1947 (the future from CAS' then perspective) that carries a group of scientist to Mars where it's one lifeform is a planet-wide hybrid of plant and animal that is near god like.  While CAS' martian is a benign entity, it does have the look of a Lovecraftian monster.  One could imagine a great Cthulhuoid beast in its place.  The deal that makes with humanity is less for their benefit and more Faustian in return.  Indeed in CAS' tale, the being wipes out much of the Earth's population but it's ok since those are the ones that were not scientifically minded.  The rest of humanity is relocated onto Venus. Still, while this story is more Science-Fantasy it just needs a nudge to push it out of the light and into the dark of Horror.

Clark Ashton Smith in My Games
It is fair to say that CAS has had more influence on my games than Lovecraft has, save for the effect Lovecraft had on CAS himself.
In my regular D&D 5 games (and before that) CAS has had a huge effect on my game universe as detailed here:

For these, I made a special effort to reread or in other cases re-read all the Averoigne stories to get a good feel of Medieval Horror.  It was great.

These days the Atlantis and Hyperborea tales of CAS are well handled by Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.   Actually, I would love to use AS&SH as the system for a Zothique game.  I have already taken ideas from it for BlackStar and plan to have the PCs travel to Yamil Zacra: The Infernal Star.

Depending on how my BlackStar game goes I could conceivably pull another "Where No One Has Gone Before" and send the poor crew of the Protector to Earth, 250-300 Million years in the future.

I could combine this with the "Ghost Ship" idea above. Though that might be too much.
Alternately, I could alter my Starcrash on Hyperborea adventure idea to Starcrash on Zothique.  I kinda like that idea. Shades of "The Time Machine" here too.  It would also give the option of something I wanted to try in some other games.  I have wanted the PCs to run into their future-incarnations; their reincarnated souls as it were in new bodies.  The excuse I would give is that the Earth is so old now that old forms are being reused.

If I wanted to bring in some Atlantis I could just use some of my ideas for Doggerland.

The Black Gate ran a fantastic series on Clark Ashton Smith.  I won't link all of them here, just ones that are germane to this discussion, but they are all good.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Ubiquity Month: A Tale of Multiple Mars'

One of the reasons I was so keen on doing an in depth review of the Ubiquity system was to look at both Revelations of Mars and Space: 1889 in depth.  In particular I wanted to look at both versions of their Mars.

Both have some very fun and very interesting ideas for their Mars.  I think if I were to merge these into one game, say my "1901: An Æther Space Odyssey" game, I would have to make some choices.

For starters I might jettison BOTH sets of Martians in favor of something more Barsoomian.  Why?  Well a couple of reasons.  I really enjoyed the John Carter novels and liked the Martians in those books.  The Revelations of Mars book is the closest to that. Don't me wrong, I like the Space 1889 stuff too, but even back in the GDW days it didn't grab me.  Now the Space 1889 Venus, that is something I can get behind.

As interesting as I find the Space: 1889 Martians, the Revelations of Mars Martians seem to fit the idea of "Barsoom" better.

Martian Princesses

Also the other reason is that I have ALWAYS wanted to play a pure Sword and Planet game on Barsoom using either OD&D or Spellcraft & Swordplay.  It would be nice to fully develop one Mars than to do two half-developed ones.  I have toyed with the idea of playing one using Castles & Crusades too, mixing in bits of Amazing Adventures, but I think I owe it to myself to play it under OD&D.

I would also love to figure out a way to get "War of the Worlds" mixed up in this.  The Martians of that book are very, very different than any of the above.   I could take a page from Mars: The Home Front on how to mix them.  Though I like the idea of the Therns using the Sarmaks (the creatures from H.G. Wells Mars) as advance troops for the conquest of Jasoom (Earth).
I also like the idea that the dwarf planet Ceres is somehow involved.

In some ways I like Space: 1889's solar system better and RoM's Mars better. I have not gone over the histories of both with a fine tooth comb, but I can say that mechanically they will work with each other rather nicely. There is more to the solar system than just Venus, Earth and Mars.

I think I would also want to have a Moon more similar to H.G. Well's moon than to  Edgar Rice Burroughs' Hollow Moon from the Moon Maid.  Though it would be the natural choice given the parallels to ERB's other works (Pellucidar and Barsoom).  Heck, I could almost lift Space:1889 Martians off the planet and replant them on Venus/Amtor.  That would work for me.

I have not given much thought to the other planets yet.  The four large Jovian moons are a good place to start, as is Titan.  I think I am contractually obligated to use Pluto and make it into Yuggoth.

It's nice to have so many options really.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review: Revelations of Mars

Ubiquity month continues with a return to Mars in Revelations of Mars.

Revelations of Mars (RoM) is the newest book in the Ubiquity universe and the newest from Exile Game Studio. Like Space: 1889 I got in on this one via the Kickstarter.   I am going to spend some time looking at both games, but today I want to focus on RoM by itself.

Revelations of Mars is a nice thick tome.  Or it will be when my hardcover comes in next week.  The PDF is a healthy 224 pages.  Color covers and inserts, but mostly black and white interior.  Like it's older brother, Hollow Earth Expedition, this works well for the style and feel of the book.  What is that style?  Overtly it is Pulp Action, like HEX, but there is a good helping of "Sword and Planet" and "Planetary Romance" action here as well as, and this is fun, 50s sci-fi mentality.  In fact while reading this I kept thinking more and more of the staples of 50s UFO invasion movies.  I am not sure if that was the author's intent, but it is what I got.  I had ideas for this game, but now I am thinking "Day the Earth Stood Still" and "Journey to the Seventh Planet" (ok that was early 60s). The Mars of RoM is closer to the Barsoom of Edgar Rice Burroughs than say War of the Worlds.
This book is also a sourcebook for Hollow Earth, so you will need the Core HEX book to play.

Chapter 1 covers Characters which gives more material for Mars based and Mars travelling characters.  We get the expected run of Martian nobles, nomads and even robots.  There are plenty of new Talents and Flaws.  Everything from four arms, dual brains, Vrii-based talents and more Atlantean-based ones.  Looks like we are in for a treat here!  There are also Robot and Alien creation templates.
The Sample Characters/Archetypes are in beautiful full color and done really, really well.

Chapter 2 Supernatural Powers is another chapter I was eager to devour.  This covers psychic powers. Everything from psychic healing, precognitive powers and pyrokinesis.  Mix in with the Hollow Earth books and you have quite a bit of psychic powers to cover most situations.

Chapter 3 details more Equipment and weapons.  For you fantasy role-players out there here is your list of swords, maces, flails and spears.  Everything required by a Sword and Planet story.  Not to worry, there are still "blasters" and "ray guns" to be had as well. Naturally.   There is even Martian Red Steel that can be used in some weapons.

Chapter 4 Vehicle Combat covers all the new craft one can find on Mars.  My favorite are the sky ships.  Not a huge fan of pirates, but these are cool.

Chapter 5 is all about Martian Natives.  Several races are covered. There is the expected four-armed "green" Martians (the Dheva) but there are plenty of others. There are insect-men (well, beetlemen), Grey Martians which do remind me of "Greys",  Apemen, Purple Martians (that new!), dinosaur men, the Vrii, which are like giant crystal formations and finally the Red Martians.   In a interesting choice the Red Martians are related to Atlanteans.  There is a lot here and I am not doing it justice by any means.

Chapter 6 follows with The Red Planet, background on Mars.  Mars is very much a dying world.  That is the same story we get in the Barsoom books and even in DC comics, so that much is familiar.  There is also a feel of Vance's "Dying Earth" here too.  First we cover how to get to Mars.  There are your standard weird science rockets, but also projection from the Astral Projector, Atlantean Portals (which I rather like to be honest) and the good old fashioned abduction.  The bulk of the chapter details various locations on Mars and the inhabitants.  Very nicely detailed.

Chapter 7 Atlanteans details these ex-pats on Mars.  Not only their involvement on Mars, but also their involvement in the greater Solar System. Even if you don't want to play on Mars but want more information on the Atlanteans for your Hollow Earth Game then this is a great, must read chapter.  Several Atlantean "Gods" are also detailed and how their affairs affect Mars.

Chapter 8 Friends and Enemies covers the various peoples of Mars and what Earthlings can expect. Several unique characters are also discussed.

Chapter 9 Bestiary is exactly that, the beasts and monsters of Mars.  We have a number of "Earth-like" creatures, some different sorts of Dinosaurs and lots of insects. There are some near-humanoid creatures as well. There are even "sand worms".   There is some more modern influences here as well. The bestiary is more "Avatar" than it is "This Island Earth".  There is nothing wrong with that, though with the lack of water and plants I don't see many of these creatures, save the bugs and scavengers, living long at all.

Next is a Sample Adventure, Revelations of Mars.  I won't say much (spoilers!) but it is for human characters coming to Mars.  That makes good sense really.

The appendix covers some inspirational books of the Planetary Romance sort.  The usual suspects are here; Herbert, Vance, Howard, Burroughs, Zelazny and Wells.  But there are others worth looking to.  Comics, movies and TV shows are also mentioned. As with the other games in this line books are given the most attention.

There is a good index and list of Kickstarter backers.
A few full color "ads" and a full color map of Mars.

Honestly there is so much in this book that you could easily make a completely Mars-based campaign.  Just traveling from city to city would be adventure enough.  Thankfully the book covers more than just that.  Exile really has something nice here and I hope to see more in this line.  Could a Venus book be in the future?  Hope so.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

1901: An Æther Space Odyssey

All month I have been talking about Ubiquity and all week about the ether space of Space: 1889.  But while I am off in a world of fantasy the real world of science and space has done some really great stuff.  Below are some artist renditions of the recent New Horizons photos of Pluto.

Then combine that with this video that appeared on my feed today showing the Magnus Effect.

Which lead me to read about the Rotor Ship. All of this has combined to produce something new(ish) in my mind.

1901: An Edwardian Æther Space Odyssey

January 1901. Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, Jedak-Regent of Parhoon, Mars has died.  Her son Albert Edward, now Edward VII, has picked up production of the empire's fleet.  He has decreed the 20th century to be the new dawn of the "Space Age".
Aiding this is a new invention by Nikola Tesla, the Tesla-Magnus Rotor.  This new form of ether space propulsion threatens to make the Edison engines obsolete.  They offer better maneuverability in close quarters to smaller celestial objects and now thanks to super conducting magnets found in the asteroid belt they can be pushed to speeds of up to 4.5 mm/d!

The first of five new ships, The HMS Victoria, has been equipped with this new drive and it will begin the race to the outer planets.  Now the fabled diamond mines of Jupiter and the cloud cities of Saturn are within reach.  Even the mysterious planets of Uranus and Neptune are now within a two year journey.  Who knows what lies beyond? A ninth or even tenth planet!

The Victoria is a long range ship with a crew of 50 and supplies for 2 years.  The ship features 12 Tesla-Magnus rotors. Two each on the fore (bow), aft (stern), dorsal, ventral, starboard, and port sides to affect three dimensions of movement. It is also equipped with a main sail and two secondary sails for normal ether flight.

I never claimed to be an artist.
Now if Tesla can only figure out how to make the radio work at the same time the engines are going.

What is "Space 1901"?
Well there are some very, very obvious things going here.
First off it is a nod to the classic Arthur C. Clarke book 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Like that book, this will deal with mankind's first attempt to reach Jupiter. Though this time with a background of Imperial Colonialism.
Also as much as I enjoy the Victorian setting of Leagues of Adventure and Space: 1889, I wanted to move out of the Victorian setting.   I also was not overly wedded to the Pulp action of Hollow Earth.
The Edwardian period of 1901-1910 seemed like an untouched area in gaming.
And of course Tesla.  How could I not do something with Tesla?
There would be a bit of "Star Trek" to this (strange new worlds) and "Space: 1999" (cut off from Earth).
I am sure I will have more ideas when I am done reading Revelations of Mars.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Review: Space 1889 - Red Sands (Savage Worlds)

Another very quick side-step from Ubiquity to look at another version of Space: 1889.

Space 1889: Red Sands

This is the Savage Worlds update to the classic Space 1899. Like it's fore-bearer this is a game where brave men and women from Earth brave the Ether to travel to a dying Mars or a Venus covered in lush jungles and dinosaurs. Loosely based on the works of Burroughs and Verne this is a space travel game with a twist. There is plenty of room for adventure and the opportunity to plant the flag of the British Empire on a new world or even find adventure of your own.

It is the Savage World rules and you need the core rules to play this. It is great fun and it is to date the best reason given to me to play Savage Worlds.
The only downside to this is that there is no conversion notes from the old Space 1899 to the new system. But that is minor compared to all the material you get here.

The book itself is 193 full color pages.
The "value add" for this book is that it focuses completely on the Space: 1889 universe.  The character creation rules, combat and the rest are all in the main Savage Worlds book.
This leaves room for the "Savage Tales" chapter which is full of adventure hook, ideas and mini-scenarios. Note: There is nothing stopping you from using these with any other edition of Space: 1889 you might own.

This is also a time to address the Pachycephalosaurus in the room.  Why choose Ubiquity over Savage Worlds?

Ubiquity vs. Savage Worlds

Both systems are designed to "generic" systems.  I also associate both system with Pulp-era action.  In fact I might have even said here at some point in the past that Savage Worlds was my "go to" system for Pulp Era Action, but I think I have to give that nod to Ubiquity now.

Though both seem, on paper anyway, of handling the the type of adventure found in Space: 1889.  The Space: 1889 - The Strange Land adventure even comes in both flavors, Ubiquity and Savage Worlds.
I suppose then it is a matter of taste.  Savage Worlds gives you access to things like Rippers and Gaslight.  But Ubiquity gives you access to things like Hollow Earth Expedition.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Review: Space 1889 - GDW Edition

Not taking a break from Ubiquity month here, but I am taking a side step.  I want to look at the the other version of Space: 1889 and talk about their utility with the new Ubiquity version.  Plus there is a lot of material out there that can be found in book stores and at DriveThruRPG for the original version that can, with some tweaking, be used with the new version.

So like the song says, let's start at the very beginning.

Space: 1889 was originally released in 1988 by Game Designer's Workshop.  I am reviewing my old GDW hardcover from the time and the new PDF by Heliograph, Inc..  The are identical in most respects, save for copyright information.
The book is 225 pages with covers, ads and maps.  The maps are also really nice featuring the three faces of Mars and of Venus.

The book lacks proper chapter numbers, but instead goes with titles.
The Introduction covers the basics of what Space: 1889 is all about.  This includes a brief history of the last few years and some of the events of the modern day of 1889.
Characters covers basic character creation.  Today a point-buy system is the defacto means of character generation for most games, but in 1988 it was a new-ish idea.  Characters have six attributes, Physical attributes of Strength (Str), Agility (Agl), and Endurance (End). Psychological attributes are Intellect (Int), Charisma (Chr), and Social Level (Soc).  Like Ubiquity and Unisystem these are ranked 1 to 6.  Characters are given a total of 21 points to distribute among these attributes.
Characters also have 24 skills they can train in either via Careers or training aka purchasing extra skills.    Also detailed is Wealth, which is a function of Social level and what career you may or may not have.
A few guideline careers are offered with suggestions on what attributes they should have.

Up next is the Victorian Age.  While I didn't get to play this game much back in the day, I devoured this chapter. It is the Victorian age, but not exactly like the one we know from history.  Afterall the British were not fighting on Mars back then.
The chapter is largely Anglocentric, which is to be expected really.  There is not a lot here we have not seen before...except that this is one of the first Victorian Sci-Fantasy games on the market.  Even Masque of the Red Death would be another year off and Cthulhu by Gaslight was still not everywhere yet.
Note: Those three games, Masque, Cthulhu by Gaslight, and Space: 1889 made up a sort of holy trinity for me back in the late 80s and early 90s.  So much I wanted to do with them all as one campaign.  College though got in the way...

The Referee section covers basic rules, NPCs, adventures and experience.  The system is largely a Attribute/Skill Dice pool vs a Target Number.  Not too difficult really, and in fact still playable by today's standards.

Equipment is predictably a large chapter.  More so than the Characters and Referee chapters combined. But it also has nice illustrations of various equipment including weapons.  Heck it is worth looking just for the picture of the rail gun! This is also one of the chapters that has utility for other games.  I have not compared the prices or other stats of the weapons with other versions of the game, but they seem consistent.  Indeed, the prices and stats (range, rate of fire) are useful for plenty of other games too.   I have not run down the lists in all the games, but it looks like there are more weapons in this version.  The PDF and the hardcover includes the original color inserts.   I love the designs of the Martian ships. Wery cool.

The follows right into the Science chapter.  This one is of course just fun.  Flying through the ether and other weird science.  This covers building your own equipment and inventions.

Combat covers... well combat.  All sorts of conditions are covered, ground, aerial, missile, melee, and heavy weapons.   There are even sections on explosives and animal combat.  Color inserts here too.

The next two chapters cover Travel.  The first is Travel and Exploration and Space Travel.  Personally the meat of these two chapters is the Space Travel.  Several points of interest in the Solar System are discussed, mostly the inner planets and the asteroid belt.

The next chapters cover the various locations in the Solar System. Luna, Mars and Venus. Each deals with the unique flora and fauna of the planets. The most detail goes to Mars of course.

We end with some useful charts.

The art throughout the book is a mixed lot.  Very much a part of the times of the late 1980s.  Though I noticed some good Jim Holloway and Jeff Dee illustrations.  Judging it by today's standards though isn't really fair.

The game is still surprisingly playable today.  Though in my heart the newer Ubiquity version has eclipsed it.

I have not come up with a conversion between this and the Ubiquity one yet, but it looks like it would be pretty easy to be honest.  They are roughly scaled the same, skills might be a problem but for the most part it seems pretty easy.  The nice thing is reading this version (again) I can take adventures and supplements designed for it and use them with Ubiquity easy...or rather, easier.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Review: Space 1889

Space: 1889 was always one of those games that I wanted to play, but never found the time or the group to play it.  I remember picking up a copy back when I was in college and was...well odd to say the least, but still I loved the idea.  It was very much Jules Verne meets H.G. Wells meets Nikolai Tesla meets Weird Science.   The book sat on my shelf for years though unplayed.

Fast forward to Summer 2013 and there is a new Space: 1899 in the works, this time as a Ubiquity game. At the same time the makers of HEX are giving us a Ubiquity-based Mars game.  Seemed like a good time really to jump onto the Ether-ship to Mars.

Space: 1889
This review covers both the PDF and the hardcover book.  The book is 260 full-color pages, with some black & white art.   The hardcover comes with a ribbon bookmark.

It is a gorgeous book really and one that really captures the feel of the original GDW game.  For the first time a Ubiquity book (this time published by Clockwork Publishing) breaks with tradition and gives us some of the background and setting first.

The first few pages, Prefaces, The World of Space: 1889 and  Storytelling in Victorian Space, cover a bit of background and set the stage for what it to come.

Now. Let's be fair.  While this is a science-fiction or science-fantasy game, a lot of real science is ignored to make it work.  Just go with it.  Think about this from the point of view of the Victorians. Many who thought electricity still had "divine" attributes.

Earth (there are no proper chapter numbers) covers Earth. In particular it covers the space exploration of the time and the Alt-Victorian timeline.   If you are using League of Adventure with this, then you will need to figure out which alternate timeline you want to use.  Or just make up your own.  It also covers a little bit on adventuring on Earth. But with all this I am sure you are not going to stick around.  Stats for various creatures are presented throughout.

Mars is next.  This is not Barsoom but the Mars of Space: 1889.  It has influences from various Sci-Fi stories, but this is all new to many.  This chapter covers Martians, the lands, flora and fauna.  I have toyed around with the idea of scraping this Mars in favor of a John Carter version of Mars, but that would really be wasting a lot of good material here.

Venus is our next chapter.  This Venus is the lush, tropical jungle filled with dinosaurs. Not the planetary hellscape we know it is today.  This I am inclined to keep as is.  I read a lot of sci-fi from the 60s and 70s that still described Venus like this, complete with dinosaurs and too me that is just too much fun.  Something like Jurassic Park meets King Kong only on a planetary scale.  The day of Venus is modified to fit more Victorian understanding of science and is not the 117 day long days we know it to be now.

Mercury is not very long, but still a fun read.

The Ether might be the funnest, and most important, chapter in the book really.   This deals not only with the mechanism of space travel, but also the medium.  Here we really get into the Jules Verne-ieness of it all.  This is fun chapter for me because I can see uses of this in other games.  For it's also about having my cake and eating it too.  I love RPGs, but my first love was and still is hard science.  I think that is one of the reasons I have trouble finding a good Sci-Fi game but can play any fantasy game. The Ether is a way for me to hand wave all the scientific inaccuracies and just focus on the fun.

Next we get into the "rules" section of the book.

Characters covers character generation.  This is pretty much the same as other Ubiquity games and that is a nice plus.  I know my League of Adventure characters can now travel to the Moon or Mars.
Now the nice part of this chapter, and something that can be used in other Ubiquity games, is the "Variation on Starting Points".    Your core-book standard is known as a "Promising Character" now. But you could also start as an "Unlucky Fellow" with almost half the starting points or as a "Veteran" with a few more points.  This is something that the Unisystem game system does in all their games and it works out brilliantly.  I expect it would work just as well here.
The Archetypes section includes a nice variety including a couple of Martians. There is no special Talent to buy to be a Martian. Nice change of pace really.

Rules covers rules.  Combat, Damage, and Healing cover that as well.  Again this is a Ubiquity game so these rules are not very different than other Ubiquity games I have read and played.

The main differences in these chapters is the focus on space travel and the planets characters can travel to.
The Equipment chapter should be noted for the shear number of new items this adds to the Ubiquity body of work.

One of the funnest chapters is the Inspiration one.  This is no mere list of Victorian era sci-fi.  Books of fiction and non-fiction alike are listed, with an accompanying paragraph on why they are inspiring. Even a handful of comics are discussed.   TV shows and movies are just listed.  This is afterall, a literary time.

The Glossary is rich and very useful. The Index covers topics and rules.
We end with one of the best looking Ubiquity character sheets I have seen.

In the hardcover the maps of Mars and Venus are on the liner pages.  In the PDF they are seperate wide pages.  In both cases the maps are gorgeous.  They would look fantastic as framed art prints.

This game is a guilty pleasure and I wish I could play it more often.

I might spend some time this week discussing the other versions of this game.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

July is Ubiquity Month

This July I want to spend some quality time with the Ubiquity system.  This is a "generic" system that goes after the same sort of games and crowd that Savage Worlds and Unisystem target.
I tend to like Ubiquity a bit more than Savage Worlds, but a little less than Unisystem.

The Ubiquity System was created by Exile Game Studios for their Hollow Earth Expedition game.  It has since been used in other games by other companies.

These are the games I am going to be looking at in detail:
Hollow Earth Expedition RPG (Exile Game Studios)
Hollow Earth Expedition: Secrets of the Surface World (Exile Game Studios)
Leagues of Adventure (Triple Ace Games)
Space: 1889 (Clockwork Publishing)
Revelations of Mars (Exile Game Studios)

I am also working on a couple of NPCs to help feature some of the game rules.  A few I really want to do are Dracula and Sherlock Holmes.

When I first was getting into Ubiquity I started with Leagues of Adventure, which is like an alternate universe "Ghosts of Albion".  While in GoA magic is supreme, in LoA it is weird science and steampunk.   I like to think that every character in GoA has an LoA counterpart and visa versa.
In fact I ran my Ghosts of Albion: Dinosauria adventure under Leagues of Adventure with no problems.  I had to fudge the magic a little, but now I think I could a much better job.

I will talk more about Leagues later in this week, but suffice to say I am rather fond of it.

Hollow Earth Expedition is a game I knew I was going to love, but one I did not buy till very recently.  I was working on a Hollow Earth book for Battlefield Press and I didn't want it to enfluence me.  I am happy to say that the HEX book I picked up was both similar and very different than what I did.  It was obvious we drew from the same sources but went in different ways.

Space 1889 and Revelations of Mars were both Kickstarters I gladly backed.  I am not getting the PDFs buy am missing the hardcover of Mars at the moment.

All of these games together have given me a lot of ideas on various games.  One is one I have mentioned before, "1901: An Æther Space Odyssey".  HEX is firmly Pulp Era but LoA and Space 1889 are Victorian science fantasy.  I am going to take the median here and go with the dawn of the Edwardian Age as one of Space Exploration.  Despite the implied settings in Space 1889 and Revelations of Mars, I am likely to go more Barsoom with my my Mars; though I am leaving War of the Worlds open.

Looking forward to it! Hope you are too.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Space Age Love Songs

Welcome back to Friday Night Videos! Sci-Fi Edition.

All week I have talking about Sci-Fi games and sci-fi themes.  All of this has sent me back to the late 70s / early 80s when I was hard core into scifi and playing Traveller.

I had so many ideas back then for games. Most I'd never use or even admit to today.  But back then they were awesome. You just have to take my word on that!

Again. This time was ripe for ideas in gaming. Anything seemed possible.  I was already associating D&D and Star Wars together so when the 80s dawned, I threw MTV into the mix.

No one (except one other artist on my list tonight) looked more like a futuristic alien than Mike Score of A Flock of Seagulls.  "Space Age Love Song" was a lesser know, or at least lesser charting, song from their self titled album.  But I always thought it was a great ode for the classic space age hero like Flash Gordon or John Carter.

Who was my idea of a Space Hero?  It varied, but I knew his name.  Major Tom.

Here is the other Alien artist on my list, David Bowie, in his Ziggy Stardust best, singing about our hero Major Tom in his "Space Oddity". This song appeared on his 1969 album of the same name. It was written as an homage to both Apollo 11 and 2001 A Space Oddity.

German born artist Peter Schilling heard "tell my wife I love her very much" and took his own stab at the story of Major Tom in "Major Tom (Coming Home)".

Major Tom finally made it into my games, but not till much, much later and as a riff on the movie "Lifeforce".  Major Tom comes home but he is carrying a virus that starts a zombie plague in All Flesh Must Be Eaten.
You can also here/watch the original German version, Völlig Losgelöst and the really-cool-even-though-it-is-a-commercial version by Shiny Toy Guns.

Back to Bowie for bit.  The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars just BEGS to have a game made from it.
Ziggy played guitar...

Call me crazy. But I always wanted to write a game called "Space Truckers". It would be the unholy fusion of late 70s sci-fi and late 70s "trucker chic". It has not been an easy sell. Regardless of how the game comes out in needs to play like Deep Purple sounds.

Few rock acts can speak credibly on matters of scifi, let alone science.  Few acts are Queen.
Brian May, the lead guitarist, writer and sometimes singer of Queen is also Dr. Brian May. He has a Ph.D. is astrophysics.  "'39" from 1975's A Night at the Opera is song that grabbed me from the first time I ever heard it.  The story of the song is that a man and 19 other astronauts leave on a spaceship to discover a new world.  They return with good news of a new world. For them it's only been one year, for the Earth and his family it has been much longer.  His wife is dead, his daughter is an old woman and his own grand children are there to meet him.
"Ne'er look back, never fear and never cry."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

1901: An Æther Space Odyssey

I got to click another Kickstarter off my list!

New and Original

The new Ubiquity version of Space 1889 is now in my hands!
It is a great looking book. I really enjoyed the original Space 1889 (also available in PDF).

This new book captures the feel of the original rather nicely and the Ubiquity system is easy to use and adapt.  The book itself is gorgeous and well worth the wait to be honest.  It really envokes the feel of the original which was quite an original idea back in the day.

New and Original
I love Victorian games, weird science and space exploration.  So this really is right up my alley.
At first I have to admit I didn't like Space 1889, but as I played it I really began to enjoy it.  Once I started doing research on what the Victorians believed about space and the solar system then I REALLY started enjoying it.

For me then this new version is distillation of everything I enjoyed about the concept.

Recently I went on an "Appendix N" bender and read everything I could get my hands on from the pulp era.  So I read all of Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars books, the Pelucidar books, and the Moon Maid series.  I still want to read the Venus books.  I also read years ago Jules Verne, so the idea of a Scientific Alt-Victorian Time really appeals to me.

The best thing about Space 1889 is that the Ubiquity system that powers it is the same as Hollow Earth Expedition and Leagues of Adventure.    So you can pull them together for a high action Victorian fun.  Throw in Revelations of Mars (when it is done)  and you have a Solar System spanning game of adventure.

1901: An Æther Space Odyssey 
The idea behind this game is to split the difference between the Victorian period and the Pulp Age.  Still focus on adventure, or more to the point, Adventure! and space travel but shake it up a bit.

Set it in the Spring of 1901. King Edward sits on the throne and he has declared that explorers of all sorts must head to the planets for the glory of the British Empire.  Adventures run into Barsoomians, Selenites and giant reptiles and snake men on Venus.

Not sure when I'll work it in, but it will be a blast!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

PWWO: Calidar

Calidar is out and I reviewed the PDF a couple of days back.  It really is awesome, but I am struck by how well it can be used pretty much anywhere.

Plus look at these awesome maps.

So for this edition of "Plays Well With Others" I want to focus on what you need to do to make Calidar work for your current favorite system.

Calidar and D&D 5
This is kind of a cheat really. One of the implicit design goals of D&D 5 was "D&D your way".  So given that Calidar works well with Pathfinder, working with D&D is not a stretch.  Plus the "default" world of D&D 5 might be the Forgotten Realms, but enough Greyhawk, Dragonlance and even Mystara names are thrown around  it should be obvious that you can play this  on any world.  D&D 5 does a much better job of capturing that high fantasy feel than previous edition's "Points of Light" or "Dungeon-punk" attitudes.  So does Calidar. Plus both D&D 5 and Calidar are new and can "grow up together" in the inventive mind of a DM.

The best thing about this marriage is you don't even the "full" version of D&D 5!  You can use the free D&D 5 Basic edition. The races are the basic four (human, elf, dwarf, halfling) and the basic four classes (cleric, fighter, wizard, thief).  This stripped down version of D&D5 works perfect with Calidar.  The races all have their own respective planets and the classes cover all the bases.

Calidar and Original D&D
Or you could go the other direction and use the original D&D rules. The same reasons apply from D&D 5, but I have something specific here in mind.  I would play Calidar more as a Planetary Romance.  One thing I always to do was play OD&D as a Barsoomian game.  I loved the Edgar Rice Burroughs books and I always felt that OD&D and Barsoom would be a perfect fit.  Calidar would be the glue that holds it all together.
Plus Calidar has a Mars-like planet now, but sadly not a Barsoomian one.  Barsoom would be a nice fit and give the Calidar game something a little bit different.
Here are some links I have been using to get my Mars/Barsoomian fixes.

Looking forward to trying this out with my current game.