Showing posts with label Star Trek. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Star Trek. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The New Golden Age of Star Trek

I have often thought that I was not doing a horror/old-school/vampire/witch sort of blog I'd be doing a Star Trek one.  I am that obsessed.  Thankfully for me there already is a great blog that does Star Trek and Doctor and more; TARDIS Captain.

Even so, I can't help but be excited for all the great new Star Trek heading my way.

Star Trek Day 2021

Here are the previews of all the upcoming Star Trek shows on Paramount+.



I am very excited!

Saturday, August 7, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 7 Inspiration

RPGaDAY2021 Day 7

Going with another alternate word today.

Day 7 Inspiration

Every so often I get asked what sort of things inspire me.  I usually half-jokingly say 70s metal, cheesy horror movies, and comics.

Only half-jokingly because there is a not-so-small amount of material in my bibliography of published material and blog posts that are exactly all of that.

Presently I am re-watching Star Trek Enterprise with my wife. We only saw bits and pieces of it when it was new, our kids were babies then, and keeping up on TV was not our main priority. 

So Enterprise takes place before The Original Series, thus the ship feels a little "low tech" and everything has a frontier feel to it.  While I am enjoying it for its own merits I am getting a ton of ideas for my two Star Trek campaigns; BlackStar and Mercy.  Season 1 deals with the Temporal Cold War and the Temporal Accords, which comes up later in Star Trek Discovery.  This is also putting back into the mood for a combined Star Trek/Doctor Who game which means FASA rules.  BUT inspiration aside I don't want to start YET another Trek game. I haven't even gotten the ones I am planning off the ground.

SO...maybe I can add some of these ideas to Mercy, BlackStar is a bit full as is.  Maybe I can add a character from the 31st century on my medical starship.  But why is he/she there?   Maybe I'll leave that to the player.  

Getting back to music for a bit, there is a song that has some solid Trek connotations to it.

One of my all-time favorite songs by the band Queen is '39.  Written by the guitarist, and Ph.D. in Astrophysics, Brian May.   The song deals with 20 astronauts that leave Earth on a one-year-long mission. One of the astronauts says goodbye to his wife and daughter, but due to the time dilation effects of moving near the speed of light, it is many, many years later when they return.  While he is "older but a year" his daughter is a grandmother now.   In the song, they had discovered a new world.

I have often thought it would be possible that later warp drive ships would run into older, slower relativistic ships with a crew that had left Earth decades if not a century before.  You see this played out really well in Arthur C. Clarke's The Songs of Distant Earth.   It was one of my favorite books of his and I loved the idea of "gritty" space travel and one very removed from the notion of warp drives.

Now we have seen visitors from the past in Trek before, TNG's first season episode "The Neutral Zone" has frozen humans from the late 20th century, the second season "The Emissary" with frozen Klingons, and the awkwardly named "The 37's" from Star Trek Voyager's second season with humans from 1937 found on a planet in the Delta Quadrant some 70k light-years from Earth. 

This would be an adventure for Mercy.  The starship Mercy gets a distress beacon from a ship that left Earth in 2139, just prior to the wide adoption of warp drive. Yeah, there are cargo ships that can go warp 1.8 or so, but most ships are going to be sleeper ships. Mercy, being Mercy, goes in to investigate and discovers a crew from 156 years ago.  Likely the ship, I might call the Arthur C. Clark, was headed to a planet that is now claimed by the Klingons, or Romulans, or some other species.  

I'll need to ponder this one a little more. In any case, I guess I'll keep looking for inspiration.


RPGaDAY2021


Friday, August 6, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 6 Explore

RPGaDAY2021 Day 6

Going to go with an alternate word again. 

Day 6 Explore

Back on Day 2, I talked about maps. So I figured today would be a good one to go with Explore.

Exploration is a key factor in a lot of games.  In D&D and other FRPGs exploration is a key element in Hex Crawls. Even in games like Traveler and Star Trek exploration is a key element.

In truth, I don't do a lot of exploration these days in D&D. Most, no rather, all, my D&D games have a goal in mind.  When I ran Vault of the Drow a while back I did a lot of reading on what others have done with it in the past. There is a ton of material out there on exploring the area around the vault of the Drow.  Dragonsfoot alone has more material than I'd ever use in a lifetime. 

For my BlackStar game exploration is the name of the game.  Well, that and horror.  I think that is because in BlackStar I really don't have anything like a "big bad" save for all the horrors of space. I am also not sure what my end game for it is, maybe part of the exploration will be mine as well. 

Dungeons

Also, this month is all about Dungeons at the RPG Blog Carnival and hosted this month by Plastic Polyhedra.  Certainly, the Underdark of the Vault of the Drow qualifies and it would be fantastic to go exploring there one day.  


RPGaDAY2021

RPG Blog Carnival

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Star Trek musings, BlackStar and Mercy

Been in a bit of a creative rut when it comes to D&D and D&D-like games lately.  I get my best ideas when running and I have not been doing that in the morning due to the day job.

In the meantime, I have been thinking about my two Trek games BlackStar and Mercy.

For BlackStar I spent some money and had a 3D model designed for my ship, the USS Protector.  I got the STL file from the designer and had my youngest print them out on our resin printer.  The results?  Well, I have to say I am thrilled to death with them.

USS Protector, various scales

Looking now I see the blue resin one is a little hard to see.  The green resin one I painted with a light-gray/off-white "Corax White" from Citadel paints.

The painted/green resin/smallest is the largest size we can print with the ship length on the y axis.  The blue is the largest we can do with the ship length on the z axis.

I am actually pretty happy with both sizes to be honest.

The Protector and the Reliant

You can see the blue resin one better here.  The front of the saucer section was where it was connected to the build plate.  Connor raised it by a couple of mm and it looks much better.  I gave that one to my friend Greg for his birthday and his own Trek game.

The blue resin also looks like it is the same scale as this little USS Reliant model I have. I also have an Enterprise A that is very nearly the same scale.

The Enterprise D and the Protector

The smaller one matches the scale (nearly) of the Enterprise D model I have too. 

If I compare to this sizing, the Protector uses the same space frame as does the Ambassador Class Enterprise-C.

The Starships Enterprise

I said originally that the Protector was 700 meters, that looks like a typo to me.  I am now saying 600 meters, so still longer that than the Enterprise C.  Most of that is in the nacelles.

It's kinda cool to have my own little starships coming out of what is this century's version of the replicator.

Speaking of centuries.  I have been discussing my Mystoerth Timeline with some others and it is a little like sticking a square peg into a round hole.  But it is still nowhere near as bad as trying to get my Star Trek timeline to line up.   I am not talking about trying to figure out how to work things like Discovery and Axanar into the mix, I am talking about trying to figure out how Trek and real-world history can co-exist!

One of the bigger issues comes from the episode The Space Seed, the one that introduced Khan.  In the episode Khan was supposed to rise to power during the Eugenics Wars in the 1990s. He then left Earth on a DY-100 sleeper ship around 2018.  

uh...Ok.  Look. The Space Seed aired in 1967. No one at the time thought people would still be watching Trek in the 1990s, let alone new Star Treks on the air at that time. 

How do I fix this?  Thankfully I stumbled on a video that neatly solves this problem (and some others) for me.

Moving it all to 2090?  Well, that works out great for me to be honest.  But I might even fudge it a bit more and say it happened in 2067, 100 years after the episode aired. Though that is only 46 years from now!

We know that  Zefram Cochrane made his warp flight on April 4, 2063, but there had to be sleeper ships still in use.  It works. It is inelegant in a way, there are other dates I'll have to move, but for *my* Trek universe it is fine.

In any case, it might not even come up in my games, though I am sure Mercy will deal with something from the Eugenics Wars. It's just too fruitful of a playground not to do something with it. 

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Star Trek Adventures

Star Trek Adventures from Modiphius
It's the start of May!  Let's begin the new month like I have been doing all year long so far with a new character.

My "soft" theme for May is going to be Sci-Fi games.  I am dedicating all month to it, but a good portion of the month to be sure.  So for this I am starting with a the character I played WAY back in the day under FASA Trek.   I wanted to pull out my FASA Trek rules I got as a gift, but I forgot how damn involved character creation was for that game!  So instead I am going to pull out the newer Star Trek Adventures from Modiphius.

Plus I like the Star Ship creation rules from Modiphius.

While I am still excited about the prospect of doing my BlackStar game set in the 2350s, right now it is my "Starfleet Doctors Without Borders" idea, Mercy, set in 2295 that has me excited today.

Plus I needed to work some of the details of the titular starship, the NCC-3001 USS Mercy.

The Game: Star Trek Adventures (and some FASA Trek)

Star Trek Adventures has a lot going for it right now including a ton of material out there, support by the publisher and the rules don't have me reaching for the Tylenol.   At the same time there is a nice feel of continuity here.  I do feel like I could play any era of Trek I wanted and these rules would cover me.  Plus the Modiphius Trek has the advantage of me being able to add some material from John Carter of Mars and Dune if I later choose.  

If my only game was BlackStar then I'd add in some of the material from their new Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 be done with it.   But Mercy needs something a little different and I am going to borrow heavily from FASA Star Trek on this one. BTW the 2d20 Achtung! Cthulhu looks amazing. I am going to grab it the moment I can.

FASA Trek had a more ship combat emphasis than Modiphius Trek does.  I think for my Star Trek Mercy game that will be important.  Not that the Mercy is going to fly into combat with phasers hot, but more like they will be needed in situations where there is plenty combat happening.  I am toying with the idea of the Orion Syndicate as the big bads, but no idea just yet.  

I do know that the captain of the Mercy will be a promoted FASA Trek Character.

The Character: Cmdr. Scott Elders, MD

Scott Elders was the CMO of the USS Andromeda, the last ship I used in FASA Trek all the way back in the later 1980s.  My game play covered the time between the TOS Movies and the TNG TV series.  So that is the time I like to think of him in. 

For Mercy he has been promoted to Commander and is now the "Captain" of his own ship, the newly christened USS Mercy, NCC 3001.  Second ship in the Asclepius Class medical starships.  Something of a cross between the Daedalus Class and the Olympic Class.  The ship is designed to be a state of the art (for 2295) medical transport and emergency response. 

Though I guess given the time the registry would be more like 25xx or something.

Before I get to the ship here is her Commander.

Scott Elders, Character sheet

I do like these character sheets.

The Ship: USS Mercy

The Mercy is a new ship. But unlike the Protector, she is built on tried and true technologies. 


Not a bad little ship.  


I'll do some more tinkering, but I like how these both are coming together.

Now I just need to kitbash or 3D print a Mercy starship!

Links


Star Trek Mercy


Thursday, February 4, 2021

Star Trek: Mercy and BlackStar Characters

One thing I wanted to accomplish with the recent Character Creation Challenge was to create characters that I could use in my War of the Witch Queens campaign AND get ideas for a multiverse of witches.

But that is not the only thing I wanted from it.

I also wanted to see the differences between various Star Trek-like systems in order to find good NPC for my BlackStar and Star Trek: Mercy games.

Of course, my main source is going to be the challenge founder Carl Stark at Tardis Captain's blog (and of course his Star Trek RPG page). 

Reading through all of these (and it has been great!) I am more convinced now that my Star Trek Mercy game needs to be a FASA Trek game while BlackStar can be something else; most likely Star Trek Adventures.

Star Trek: Mercy Title Card

Star Trek: Mercy

As I have mentioned previously Star Trek Mercy will take place aboard a Federation Hospital Ship.  Its mission is a bit like Doctors Without Borders; they fly into dangerous situations with the goal of helping.  While it is a Federation/Starfleet ship I am going to open up character choices to any and all Star Trek races.  So humans, Vulcans, Andorians will be expected, but also Romulans, Klingons, Deltans, even Gorn, and Orions if someone can give me a good reason.  These crew will not be members of Starfleet, they still belong to their respective worlds, but I also have to, want to, work within canon.  

For this, a few guidelines are needed.  No Klingon Starfleet officers. Worf was the first and the Federation and the Klingon Empire are at a period of cooled tensions.  They are not allies per see, but they are also not shooting at each other.  We know from the TNG episode "The Neutral Zone" that Romulans have not had any relations with the Federation since the Tomed Incident of 2311.  There is still a Romulan Ambassador on Earth in 2293.  That gives me 18 years' worth of gameplay.

I stated in my first post on this that 2295 would be a good year to set this in.  Seems like I was on to something.  I can even use the Plasma Plague of 2294 as the first mission of the Mercy. We even get a Stardate for it, 38235.3, though that date can't really work for 2294, it doesn't even work well for The Original Series Stardates. That date gives you Wed Feb 24 2360 for TNG and Tue Oct 28 2279 for TOS. Might need to use the FASA Trek Stardate calculations to make this one work!

Also since this is FASA Trek I can borrow some ideas from The Next Generation Officer's Manual.  In particular, the notion that there were a bunch of different uniforms in use. Gives me an excuse to use the ones I want.  These would be new here and old by the time the USS Protector and the Mystic-class ships roll out.

Star Trek Command Circa 2295

Star Trek Sciences Circa 2295

Star Trek Support Circa 2295

I am going to need a new ship design too.

What would also be nice is to work in some Original Series Apocrphya into my game; Saavik being half-Vulcan/half-Romulan, Chekov working for Starfleet Intelligence and a touring Chess Master (loosing to the Betazoids), Scotty as a Professor of Engineering at Starfleet Academy before getting lost near a Dyson Sphere in 2294, Sulu as the Captain of the Excelsior and Harriman as Captain of the Enterprise B. Uhura as Demora Sulu's Godmother. I would also like to find out more about Lt. Elise McKennah, played by Michele Specht in Star Trek Continues.

McCoy becoming an admiral, Spock continuing his role as Federation Ambassador, and Kirk disappearing on the Enterprise B. Though those are not really disputed. 

I like this idea since it is also the first Trek game my Star Trek loving wife has mentioned she would like to play.

Friday, December 11, 2020

The Golden Age of Wireless: Streaming Service Offerings

No. I am not talking about one of the most fantastic albums ever released (though I should probably spill some virtual ink on that someday).   I am talking about the number of options afforded to us in streaming entertainment.  

In this time of Covid-19 we are supposed to stay at home and avoid interaction with others. That is fine, but it means we are spending a lot more time at home.  So I have been enjoying a lot of what streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon, HBO, and CBS All Access are really trying to get our attention with more programming.  Since I am also saving a small fortune by not having to drive into work anymore I am enjoying all of them.

Spock plays 3d Chess with Beth
Not a real show, but I wish.

Since I have been spending my week categorizing over 350 different demons for my demon book I don't have much RPG content to share right now.  So what's good on streaming?

CBS All Access

Or the all Star Trek all the Time Channel. Star Trek Discovery Season 3 has been fantastic this year.  The crew jumped 900+ years into the future (3188 to be exact) to save a sentient AI from falling into the wrong hands.  It doesn't quite have the emotional connection that Season 2 (the search for..well...Spock) did BUT for a Trek fan like me it has been great on the fan service and easter eggs.  This is essentially Season 1 of the new 32nd Century Star Trek.   This gives the creative team so much more freedom to do the special effects they obviously wanted to do anyway but also gives them some good storytelling freedom away from the established Trek canon.  This is amusing because this season has had the most callbacks to previous versions of Trek outside of Season 2's TOS homages. 

image of Star Trek Lower Decks and Discovery

Additionally, we are getting new episodes of Picard, Lower Decks (maybe and second season is coming I have not heard), and new shows like Strange New Worlds (Pike's Enterprise) and Section 31, Starfleet's Gray Ops group.  For a Trek fan this is fantastic!  

Amazon Prime

My October Horror Movie Challenge would not have been possible without Prime.  We have been watching a lot of Vikings lately.  Don't confuse it for actual history (even though it was on the History Channel) it has been fun and has given me some ideas. 

The Second Age Middle Earth series is underway.  Casting has been announced, but I don't think filming has started yet. 

Hulu

Have not taken as much advantage of this one as I should.  But the really fun Helstrom was here (and not Disney+ for some reason) and it shows that when Marvel does Horror, it can do a great job of it.

In many ways, Helstrom and Satana (Ana in the series) was Marvel's answer to DC's Constantine even though Hellstrom (2 "L"s) premiered a decade before.  Hellstrom, Satana, Doctor Strange, Blade and Dracula were all part of the Marvel Horror universe that I loved as a kid.  The changes from the comic to series were needed and very welcome to me really.  It is still full of Marvel AngstTM, but it is also a lot of fun. 

HBO Max (or + or Go or whatever it is called now)

HBO has been around forever. It and Showtime were two of the very, very first "movie channels" out there.  But today HBO is better known for its series.  True Blood (which for some reason is getting a reboot) and Game of Thrones are two notable ones.  This past year I have been watching Lovecraft Country (which is fantastic!) and His Dark Materials, which is getting better in Season 2.  We also got the DC shows, Harley Quinn, Titans, Doom Patrol, and soon we will be able to see Wonder Woman 84 and the Synder Cut of Justice League.

I don't care. I am such a DC fanboy that I am excited about this.

Netflix

The Champion of the Streaming Channels, but it has had some serious competition from Disney+.  Let's see what they have been offering me.  Netflix will be forever fixed in Geek Heaven for Stranger Things.  We will be getting the 4th season of that soon; filming is underway.  Enola Holmes, based on the YA books was also a hit, even if it didn't exactly conform to the established Holmes canon. We also got The Witcher based on the video game and now R. Talsorian Games RPG of the same name.

Speaking of Season 4, we are getting the LAST installment of the Chilling Adventure of Sabrina near the end of the month. It looks like they are taking it where the comic also went, into dealing with Cthulhu and other Lovecraftian horrors.  It looks like it should be great.

I was a little disappointed in ChAoS when they killed off Dorcas played by the lovely Abigail Cowen. while it may have been part of the plot, she was quickly scooped up it seems by another Netflix production, Fate.  I saw the trailer for it today and thought it looked cool, THEN I saw what it was at the end.

Fate: A Winx Saga. Whaaat? Winx Club as a comic and then a kids Nickelodeon animated series.  I thought it was a poor rip-off of Disney's W.I.T.C.H. so did Disney in fact.  Turns out Winx Club was published and in production a full year before the W.I.T.C.H. comics came out.  This is by the same people and is supposed to be darker and more adult.  I happy to see Abby Cowen is something where she is the star, I thought she had great potential on ChAoS and this should be fun too.

Oh. If you have not seen The Queen's Gambit it is fantastic.


Disney+

What can you say about Disney+? I mean even before they acquired Lucasfilm and Marvel they had one of the deepest wells of titles and characters.  Honestly just between the Disney, Pixar, and ABC material they own they could have been fine as a streaming service.  But let's be honest, as great as Pixar is no one dropped the cash for Disney+ for that alone.  Disney+ has been moving along famously in the last year or so thanks to The Baby Yoda Show The Mandalorian.  It has been a fantastic show and Season 2 has been delivering an action-packed episode all season long AND with great storytelling AND with characters I never thought in 40 years I'd see on TV.  While I am a Star Trek fan deep in my DNA, I do love Star Wars.  The adventures of Not Boba Fett and Space Pikachu has been some of the best Star Wars I have seen.  Disney+ could honestly do a victory lap now, but that was until yesterday when they made their 2021 announcements.

I have no idea how many new shows and movies are coming out for Marvel and Star Wars now. Lots. More than I ever thought one studio would try to do.  Instead of trying to recap them all (lots of other sites are doing that) let me just focus on the ones that interest me. 

WandaVison

I have a love/hate relationship with Scarlet Witch in Marvel.  First, she was never really a witch so I often felt "lied" too, except the times she was a witch. And a mutant. She was a villain, she was a hero, she was depowered, she was overpowered. As a character, she was all over the place. And sometimes she was just that, all over the place. She suffered from bouts of insanity, deep depression, and loss.  

I will give the movies credit on a couple of things.  Divorced from her "mutant" background it gave her character more definition. Also for the first time, I bought into her's and Vision's love for each other.

The new series WandaVision looks like it takes the background of the comic's characters and really makes a good series out of it.

Seriously, this could be Wanda going mad and her powers acting out creating new realities or something else. Or both. Given the character, it is likely both. Elizabeth Olsen is also a great actress and she can pull this off.  Frankly, the riffs on "Bewitched" are enough to get me to watch it. 

Watching this new trailer really puts a different spin on the first trailer released.  

There certainly something else going on here. I am looking forward to it.

Marvel: What If...?

One of my favorite Marvel Titles was "What If...?" The comic would break off into different sorts of stories all under the "What If" question.  What if Spider-man joined the Fantastic Four? Was the first one. "What if Gwen Stacy had lived? was an interesting one as well.  The best may have been the introduction of May "Mayday" Parker as "Spider-Girl" and the Gwen Stacy arc eventually planted the seeds to give us "Spider Gwen".  If Barry Allen/The Flash is the center point of DC's multiverse, then certainly Spider-man is the center of Marvel's.  It seems a little odd to me then that Spider-man doesn't feature at all in the trailer of Disney+'s "Marvel: What If...?" series.

I am sure it is more shenanigans with Sony.  Though the rumor is now that Alfred Molina will return as Doctor Octopus in the third Spider-man movie. Additionally, we could get past Peter Parkers as well now that Disney owns what was 20th Century Fox and Into the Spider-verse was a huge success. 

Here we are.  Our geek cups run over and there is more to fill even more cups.

Never would I have suspected that we would have so much genre entertainment at our fingertips.  Which is good since we really should not be going anywhere.

Ok Prof. Dolby, play us out.

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.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Old School meets New Tech and vice versa

A couple of neat things happening here at the Ole' Brannan Family Game Dungeon this week.


My kids are missing their weekly D&D games in this quarantine time so tonight they will be running a D&D game over Roll20.  We took the plunge and bought a Pro account.  We will see how it will go.  If they like it I might even try it myself.

So while they are using new tech to run an "old" game. I just a new copy of an old game.
My friend Greg heard I no longer had my copy of the original FASA Trek game. Lost in one of my moves between college and grad school I am sure.  So here is what he sent me.




So looking forward to this! 

I am thinking I might have to recreate two of my earliest characters, Dr. Scott Elders, CMO and genetics expert, and his "Nurse" Friday who is, in reality, one of his experiments/creations.

They were created after a 1982 double shot of "Wrath of Khan" and the augments and reading "Friday" by Robert A. Heinlein.   I guess this fits in with the "old-new" theme as well.  This is a 1982 book about the 21st Century.  A Balkanized North America doesn't sound as improbable as it did then.


One of my favorite Michael Whelan covers.

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.