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

Friday, May 13, 2022

Plays Well With Others: Horror in Space (BlackStar)

In space no one can hear you scream
It's Friday the 13th! Something of a holiday here at the Other Side.  

May is SciFi month and for the first two weeks here I have dedicated it all to Classic Traveller. I find myself at a bit of a crossroads.  Do I continue with the Classic Traveller OR do I go along to the progression from Classic to Mega Traveller and beyond?  Choices. Choices. 

In the mean time since today is the scariest day outside of October 31st (well, than and Walpurgis Night) let go to a discussion you all know I LOVE and that is horror in Space.  In particular, the Mythos flavored Cosmic Horror of Lovecraft AND the exploration of Space ala Star Trek.

Since I am going to look a few ways to do this I am going to put it under the banner of Plays Well With Others.

My "Star Trek meets Cthulhu" campaign is known as BlackStar and I have detailed the ideas I have had here.  

The game started out as a combination of various OSR-style games because that is what I was playing a lot at the time. But as time has gone on I have given it more thought and explored other RPG system options.  Every combination has its own features and its own problems.   Let's look at all the options I have been considering.

Basic Era/OSR

The first choice was the easy one really.  I went with the two main books for their maximum compatibility, Starships & Spacemen and Realms of Crawling Chaos.  Both are based for the most part on Labyrinth Lord.   This gives me a lot of advantages. For starters, and the obvious one, there is just so much stuff for this.  If I don't like the Cthulhu monsters from Realms, I can grab them from Deities & Demigods, Hyperborea, or so many more.  The Lovecraft/Cthulhu stuff is covered.  The "Weakest" link here is Starships & Spacemen.  Well, it's not weak, but it is not my favorite set of Trek-like RPG rules.

Starships & Spacemen & Shogoths

Given the rules, I could add in bits of Stars Without Number. That *might* fill out some of the rough spaces (for me) of S&S.  There is a lot, I mean really a LOT I can do with all of this.

It would also make running The Ghost Station of Inverness Five much easier. 

The Ghost Station of Inverness Five

D20 Systems

I'll admit it. I like d20. I enjoyed d20 games. There are LOT of options if I want to go 3.x d20.

d20 Games

Pathfinder, Starfinder, d20 Call of Cthulhu, Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos.  All of these are great and at least 90% compatible. Again, I am sick with riches when it comes to Cthulhu/Lovecraftian materials here. Starfinder is good...but it is not Star Trek.  In fact my preferred Sci-Fi d20 game is the Wizards of the Coast Star Wars.  I know. I am strange.  

Certainly, the d20 Cthulhu books would be easily converted to OSR, but they already have analogs in the OSR world.   But having all of these is certainly helpful.

Since my weakest link seems to be Trek-like rules, maybe what I need is a good set of Trek rules.

Star Trek RPGs

Currently, my two favorite flavors of the Star Trek RPG are the classic FASA Trek and the newest Mōdiphiüs' Star Trek Adventures.  Both are great. Both are really fun. AND there is even a Mythos/Lovecraftian game using the same system, Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20.  Now this game is set in WWII, but that is not a problem. 

Trek and Cthulhu

Here I have exactly the opposite issue.  There is a LOT of great Trek material and limited on Cthulhu/Lovecraft material.   I could add in material from Call of Cthulhu as needed. Also, I have the PDFs for Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 but none of the physical books. The 2d20 system is also much newer for me and I don't know it as well as some of the others.

Traveller

I have been talking about Traveller all month long and it would remiss of me not to try something with that.  Thankfully things are well covered there.

Traveller and Chthonian Stars

So I have not even touched ANYTHING yet regarding the Cepheus Engine or new Traveller, but to jump ahead a bit there is a game setting for Traveller Chthonian Stars. It takes place in 2159 (a date I can use!) and there is a lot to it, but the basic gist is Humankind has begun to explore the Solar System and that is about it.  Then we introduce Cthulhu Mythos material to that!  Sounds a bit like BlackStar: The First Generation.  I'll get a proper review up later in the month, but there are a lot of great things in this setting.  Reading over it it really makes me want to try this using just Traveller.  They really make it work well.  Plus I could still use the Classic Traveller system, more or less.

This provides me with a solid sci-fi game with great mythos support too. The publisher has since updated this game to their more inhouse version called The Void. Not sure if it uses the same system as their Cthulhu Tech RPG or not. 

The Expanse RPG
AGE System

I really love Green Ronin's AGE system. I also LOVE the Expanse.  So I grabbed their Expanse AGE-based RPG and am hoping to do a lot more with it.  So imagine my delight when they ran a Kickstarter for Cthulhu Awakens an AGE-based Mythos game.   The Solar System spanning of the Expanse is nowhere near the Galaxy spanning of Star Trek, but maybe I could run it as a "Prequel" game.  Get a ship out to Pluto to discover something protomolecule-like but instead make it mythos-related.  A prequel to my Whispers in the Outer Darkness.  A Star Trek DY-100 class pre-warp ship would fit right in with the ships of the Expanse.  I should point out that the Expanse takes place in the 2350s, the same time frame as my proposed BlackStar campaign in the Star Trek timeline. 2352 for the launch of the Protector and 2351 for the Expanse RPG.

Maybe this "First Mission" might explain why Star Fleet is building its experimental ships at Neptune Station and not Utopia Planitia.  There is something they discovered on Yuggoth/Pluto that makes the Warp-13 engines work. There is my protomolecule connection!

It is possible I could retweak my "At the Planets of Maddness" for this system/setting. Though in my heart I really wanted Shoggoths and Elder Things for that adventure.  Pluto and Yuggoth clearly imply the involvement of the Mi-Go.

--

I have all those choices listed above and that is also not counting games like Eldritch Skies that also combine space travel with Cthulhu/Mythos.

Chthonian Stars might have an answer for me.  What if this story is not being played out over a single campaign, but multiple lifetimes?

I could do something like this.  Note, this is only a half-baked idea at this point.  

Victorian Era:  Scientists work out the means of travelling the Aether to the stars. (Ghosts of Albion*, Eldritch Skies, Space: 1899. Using Ghosts to make the Protector connections a little clearer).

1930s: Scientist found dead with brain "Scoped" out. Investigate. (Call of Cthulhu)

2150s: Travel to Yuggoth discover an advanced civilization was once there.  Items from 1890s and 1930s are there. (Expanse, Chthonian Stars, Cthulhu Awakens)

2290s: Star Trek Mercy (this one is pure FASA Star Trek). Maybe this can be the one with the Klingon Skelleton ala The Creeping Flesh.

2350s: These are the Voyages of the Experimental Starship Protector. (OSR or Mōdiphiüs 2d20)

I could even do an epilogue in the far future of the Imperium.  

And some other stuff to include all my BlackStar adventures.

Maybe all of these are tied to the "Black Star" an artifact that makes space travel possible and is at the core of the Asymetric Warp-13 engine?  Some was found on Earth but there is a bunch of it on Pluto.

Too many ideas, too many systems.  Gotta narrow it all down at some point.  But one thing is for sure, the system used will depend on what sorts of adventures the characters will have. Mōdiphiüs 2d20 is best for adventures and exploring. OSR games are good for monster hunting. FASA Trek does a little of both.  AGE would be suit the New Adventures in Space theme well.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Kickstart Your Weekend: Cthulhu Awakens Roleplaying Game

This week Other Side Favorite Green Ronin is up with a new AGE game and a new Mythos game.  Lucky for me they are one and the same!

Cthulhu Awakens Roleplaying Game

Cthulhu Awakens Roleplaying Game

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/greenroninpub/cthulhu-awakens-roleplaying-game?ref=theotherside

Funded in 40 minutes it is currently sitting at about 6x its funding goal. 

This game, powered by their A.G.E. system (ModernAGE, The Expanse, Blue Rose) covers "The Weird Century" from the 1920s til today.  And the mythos talked about in stories and tales are only a part of the picture.

Do we need another Cthulhu/Mythos game?  Maybe, maybe not, but I do like what I see here and I find this more exciting than some of the Mythos-related RPGs that have come out in the past. 

For my home games I can see us using this a lot. For starters there is all the new background details and I like having new life breathed into my Mythos every so often.  Sure I do my own stuff, but it is nice to get a fresh perspective.

My son plays FantasyAGE so I am sure I'll do something with that.

I have been trying out The Expanse (spoiler I love it) and I love mixing space travel with the Mythos (see BlackStar) so what if the protomolecule is related to the Old Ones?  It could be the start of my BlackStar game! Or at least give me some fun ideas. 

The design team for this looks great and I am looking forward to seeing what they can come up with.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Mail Call: Victorian, Tasha and League of Malevolence

It's a month since Christmas, so I can buy things for myself again.  And this is what the mail has given me this week.

Mail Call

Vis Imperium Victoriana is a Victorian RPG using the same rules as Pendragon Chivalry and Sorcery Essence (thanks for the corrections!).  So you know I am excited for that!

Enoch's Wake is from Richard Ruane. Game designer, co worker at my day job, and all around great guy.  Can't wait to get into that as well.  I am totally planning on stealing ideas from this for my BlackStar game.

I got a League of Malevolence figures which include my favorites Skylla and Kelek.

League of Malevolence figures

Skylla and Kelek

Skylla and Kelek

They look pretty good and compare well to my HeroForge ones I had made a while back.

Kelek

Skylla

Skylla and Kelek with Zybilna

I also treated myself to a signed photo from Ginny Di as Tasha.

Ginny Di as Tasha

That one is either going to be part of my D&D5 DM's Screen or be part of my Tasha/Iggwilv/Zybilna character folder.  Either way I am happy to have it!

Happy...uh...January to me!!

Friday, November 19, 2021

BlackStar: The Ambassador Curse

Ambassador Class Starship
Last night was the premiere of Star Trek Discovery Season 4.  Not only that we also had a new episode of the Kid-focused (but adult enjoyed) Star Trek Prodigy.  Two new Trek episodes from different series on the same day.   That has not happened since Voyager and DS9 were on the air in 1999.

Both episodes had a similar plot element, though dealt with in very different ways.  On Discovery they are recovering from "The Burn" which destroyed all dilithium in use a little over a hundred years ago.  The new Federation president (who looks like she might have some Cardassian DNA) mentioned that there were ongoing Warp Drive developments.   She mentioned a new version of Discovery's Spore Drive and that a new Pathway drive had been developed and placed into the new Voyager.

Over on Prodigy, which shares the Voyager connection, we learn that the USS Protostar is more than just a neat name.  Its warp drive is not just powered by an anti-matter reactor, it has in its heart an actual protostar. 

There is a constant level of warp drive development going on in Star Trek. But the Spore Drive has proven difficult to get right or recreate, Trans Warp was a failure, and slipstream conduits are difficult to navigate.   

All of this and one other bit of information I recently unearthed sets the stage very nicely for what is going on in BlackStar.  

Let me restate something I said back in 2019. 

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

This is also why there are 21 decommissioned Ambassador class ships outside of Neptune Station. Here, Commodore Peter Quincy Taggert, with a signed order from Admiral Nyota Uhura (who had been fond of the Ambassador class and hated to see them go to waste), began work on the Mystic Project. The NX-3100 (mislabeled on the hull as NX-3000 due to a clerical error) was developed at the Klatuu Nebula Yards in conjunction with the Theremin Science Council and launched to Earth on SD 30007.21. (2351 or there abouts)

We have 21 (or 22) decomed Ambassador ships over in the "junk yards" of Neptune Station. A prototype (the Mystic) was b

uilt at the Klatuu Nebula Yards by the Theremins.  A desire by Starfleet to work on new types of warp drive, BUT all available engineers are working on the super-sexy new Galaxy-class project over a Utopia Planitia on Mars.  This is why CDRE Taggert gets them.  No one else wants them. But why are they here?  I said due to a flaw in the nacelle arrangement.  I said this because I replaced the warp nacelles on my model.  But is there more?  

Enter my "I have too much work to do, but instead I am watching Star Trek Starship videos on YouTube" moment earlier this week.

Enter TriAngulum Audio Studios on YouTube. They have a series called "Truth or Beta" that discusses Star Trek "Alpha" content (for Memory Alpha, or cannon material named for the Memory Alpha planetoid that is the Federation Library and the first stop for the USS Protector) vs. "Beta" (for Memory Beta, non-cannon material that appears in books).  This series collects various bits of Alpha lore and select bits of Beta lore to make for a fuller picture of what is going on.  

Here is their series on what went wrong with the Ambassador class ship.


The premise is basically the same.  After the destruction of the Enterprise-C, the Ambassador class was given a top to bottom inspection.  Where I claimed it was the warp nacelles, here it is an issue with the new warp core and other systems with the older duotronic computers. If you look at the Enterprise-C computer screens you can see they look more like the ones from the Enterprise-A and B eras.  Whereas newer Ambassador class ships have the isolinear computers and the LCARS OS. 

That works for me too.  In any case it explains why we never saw a lot of the Ambassador class ships in the TNG Era despite the class having had an Enterprise among its numbers. It also explains why I can have a couple of dozen just sitting out by Neptune waiting to be used for something else.

Now I just need to get my reviews up of Star Trek 2d20 and Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 from Modiphius up. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

BlackStar: Whispers in the Outer Darkness

Mi-Go
Soon after I posted my discussion on Aliens and Horror for use in sci-fi horror and in BlackStar in particular I found a wealth of information.  Here are the fruits of those findings.

Whisperer in the Outer Darkness

I see this as the "second" episode of the season after the two-parter "The Stars Are Right" that introduces the Cthulhuoid Horrors we share space with. 

The crew gets new orders from Starfleet.  They are to pick up a professor Alyson Wilmarth.  While setting up a new subspace relay on Pluto the Starfleet Corp of Engineers uncover two startling discoveries.  The first is the remains of a Tellarite survey team that dates back to the early 20th Century, circa 1930-31.  The second is what the Tellarite's were investigating.  The remains of a small outpost of any unknown civilization that dates back to 12 million years ago.  Among the remains are a frozen Danuvius guggenmosi, a human ancestor from the Miocene.   Artifacts from the civilization bear a resemblance to other artifacts found on Earth in the Andes, Appalachians, and Himalayas mountain ranges.  Dr. Wilmarth is an expert on these.

Naturally, Starfleet contacted Tellar Prime about this to see what they knew, and maybe figure out what they were doing on Pluto in the 1930s.  This puts Dr. Wilmarth in contact with Dr. Akeley, her counterpart in the Tellarite College of Exoarcheology.  Dr. Wilmarth was scheduled to take a sabbatical and head to Tellar Prime when the term was done.  Dr. Akeley, in typical Tellarite fashion claims he can't wait for her and takes their data and heads out to a remote system he thinks has the answers.

Once on Tellar Prime, we learn that the Tellarite name for Pluto is Yuggoth, though they claim that name was not one they made up, but what they were able to decipher.  Much like Earth, there is evidence of this unknown species having lived on Tellar Prime, the 5th planet on the 61 Cygni/Tellar system.  The Tellarites wanted to know how artifacts from Yuggoth got to Tellar Prime.

The crew, with Dr. Wilmarth still in tow, head out for the remote system discovered by Dr. Akeley.

<<I'll add some bits about getting to the planet, the tech on the planet here.>>

They discover Dr. Akeley, but he is acting with a flat affect is very polite to everyone (should be a dead giveaway that something is wrong).  He claims to have been in contact with the civilization, the Mi-Go, and they are friendly and only wish to share their secrets of over 70 million years of space travel with the Federation.  Akeley of course has stayed hidden in the shadows this whole time.  When he is confronted they will discover the entire back of his skull has been opened and "scooped" out.  His brain and eyes are gone.  The look is similar to the original Tellarite masks on The Original Series that made their eyes look like they were missing.  Only a tiny device is left in his otherwise empty skull.  It is apparently "piloting" the body.

Here the ship is attacked by Mi-Go.  They can't appear on sensors and are only known by the gravity they displace when they land on any deck with artificial gravity. 

I am certainly going to use some ideas from Forbidden World even if it is just to model a Mi-Go creature from the movie poster.  I like the idea of a human/Mi-Go hybrid that can talk.  Maybe it will have Dr. Akeley's or even Dr. Wilmarth's face.  Recreate the poster art, but not the movie, Galaxy of Terror.

I still need to come up with a resolution for this. What do the Mi-Go want? How does the crew "defeat" them? Still need to work out those details as well.

This will be a good test of Star Trek Adventures mixed with Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 both from Mōdiphiüs.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

BlackStar: Horror in Space. Children of Earth, Cardassians, and Aliens

Plain, simple Garak
Plain and simple Garak

In many RPGs, the enemies are easy to figure out.  In *most* horror RPGs the bad guys are the supernatural creatures.  If you are playing Buffy for example then you are going to be hunting vampires.  Now it is also fun to "flip the script" so in the various World of Darkness Vampire games you are the vampire.  You are still the monster, but you have some more control over that evil.  In "Ordinary World" in NIGHT SHIFT you can play a supernatural creature, but you are not the bad person, you are "just a person" trying to get by in a world full of mortgages, jobs, oh and neighbors that might want to kill you.

In many fantasy games there are plenty of other monsters that want to kill you. We might be getting away from orcs (thank goodness) and goblins (have not used them as "bad guys" in over a decade or two) but there are still plenty of evil dragons, beholders, and of course demons and devils. 

Sci-Fi games tend to fall into the same sort of tropes.  Only this time it is whatever aliens are the focus.

I want to talk about three different sorts of aliens, all considered to be enemy species, but handled in different ways.

First are the Cardassians.  Introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation and really got the focus in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  The Cardassians are humanoid (this is important later) and come from the world of Cardassia.  They had occupied the nearby Bajor in a very clear analog to fascist Germany occupying France.  The Cardassians are never painted as irredeemably evil. Yes, many of them are in fact evil, but there are some that are not.  They are also depicted as highly intelligent, organized, and utterly brutal.  For most of the seven seasons on DS9, they were the bad guys.  Each step forward (oh look they love their kids) is reversed (oh, but they slaughter Bajoran orphans).  They are richly detailed and complicated, but always a foe to stand up to.  They are not an existential threat though to anyone but the Bajorans.  They are not even "supernatural" threats until the very, very end when Gul Dukat (a Cardassian and our main bag guy since Season 1) is possessed by the Kosst Amojan, the literal Bajoran devil. 

The 456
The other alien race is known only as the 456, for the frequency they contact Earth on in Torchwood: Children of Earth.   The Nazi connections with the Cardassians are intended, and not designed to be subtle.  These aliens are also not subtle; they steal human children and graft them into their own bodies because the chemicals the children create feels good to them.  They are back because they want more kids.  These creatures are never seen clearly, we never learn their name, their language, or even where they are from. Only that they want our children and they have the means to get them.  They are properly scary.  But. Do they make for a good "big bad?"  I don't think so.  They have one trick; stealing children.  While that is good enough for a fairy tale witch, the witch usually gets tossed into the oven at the end.  The 456 get sent back to their planet/ship or are destroyed much in the same manner when Capt. Jack Harkness feeds their communication signal back on them and killing his own grandson in the process.

The last is the Xenomorph from the Aliens franchise.  Alien is a true horror film in space, right down to a monster stalking everyone to a "final girl" in Ellen Ripley.  Aliens is sci-fi adventure.  I have lost track of how many Traveller games I saw in the 80s that were more or less a riff on the Aliens movie.  Again these guys are properly scary.  One on a ship is a true horror. Hundreds on a planet can take out a bunch of Marines.   The trouble with the Xenomorph is there is little to no mystery about them anymore.  In the original movies they were mindless, insectlike killing machines.  In future movies they...well I am still not 100% sure what Alien Covenant was about or Prometheus, though I did enjoy them.  The "Shared universe" of Alien, Blade Runner, and Predator though does give me a lot to game with. 

Use In BlackStar

The issue for me is not just "do these aliens make for a good scary monster?" They do.  The real question is "will they work for me and my particular game?"

I mean this is no different than any other game or setting.  Let's take an odd example.  Orcs in Ravenloft.  I originally did not want to do orcs, a classic D&D/Fantasy monster, in my Ravenloft games.  When it came up that I needed an orc-like monster I went with something more akin to a Grimlock or even a Neanderthal-Troglodyte (in the classical sense of the word) creature.  I made it work AND it also made me want to redo the troglodyte from D&D to make them more "devolved" human. Like the old Homo Sapiens Troglodytes. Maybe even a cross between H.S. and the Pan Troglodytes

But what about BlackStar which happens in a Star Trek universe. Well oddly enough that rules out the Cardassians. We know what they were doing at the time in Universe, they were at war with the Federation.  So I will have that going on, but in the far background.  They are on the far side of the Alpha Quadrant. My action is closer to home and might even take tiny little excursions into the Beta Quadrant.

The Xenomorphs would be fun for an "Episode" (what I am calling a single adventure) but not a "Season" (a campaign).  Same with the 456.

Originally I WAS thinking the 456 would be my focus as the bogeyman alien in the background.  But having a couple of conversations with my oldest he was like "why not just use the Mi-Go?"

He has a point.

There are a lot of great reasons to use them not just for the Lovecraftian origin.  They would have had an outpost on Yuggoth/Pluto that I absolutely LOVE.  It fits in with my ideas when watching the Thing and the various horror movies on Mars

I mean if I am going to do "Cthulhu meets Star Trek" then I kinda need to have appearances by the Mi-Go, Elder Things, Shoggoths, and Yithians.  They were described as "Alien" but I think I want to use them in the "Alien" sense of both Lovecraft AND of Trek.   The Mi-Go could take the place of the Borg in terms of a lifeform that can't be reasoned with and have their own, completely separate, morality. 

Given that my preferred version of Trek for this is Modiphius' Star Trek Adventures this makes things pretty easy for me.  I can now use ideas and stats from the new Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 system. 

But system and stats are only the start of the conversation, not the end.  I have to make sure these guys are scary.  Mi-Go landing on the hull of The Protector while not wearing EV suits and cutting through (like the Borg did) is scary.  Leaving behind dead crew with their brains surgically removed (not unlike "Spock's Brain", but less...bad) is a little more horrifying.   Finding crew members whose livers have been altered to create a sort of super-acid that eats through their bodies but keeps on working is more horrifying still. The Mi-Go don't communicate. Their chitterings are unable to be translated.  Since they are reported as not being able to be filmed or photographed they are largely invisible to sensors; having natural stealth abilities. 

I could introduce them much in the same way we saw in "At The Mountains of Madness" only this time they are discovered on Pluto/Yuggoth.  This leads to discoveries of bases on Earth, millions of years old, in the Andes, Appalachians, and Himalayas mountain ranges. How to get the crew out into deeper space to encounter them is the bridge I have not built yet.  

Frankly, I am overwhelmed with the potential. 

ETA:  I have found some more data that puts the Mi-Go origin, or at least another base of operations, at 61 Cygni, about 11.4 light-years away.  64 hours at classical Warp 9, but only 19 hours at The Protector's Warp 13.  In Star Trek, this is also the home of the Tellarites.  So obviously the Mi-Go visited them as well.

I will take a completely different approach in my Star Trek: Mercy game.

The Aliens

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Science Fiction and Horror

Mary Shelly, the Mother of Science Fiction
This week I am working my way through a bunch of Sci-Fi/Horror movies.  I thought then that today would be a good day to see how I use both genres together.

Science Fiction and Horror have had a long-standing relationship.  Where horror stories are some of the first stories ever told, Science Fiction, or Science Romances, are newer.  

For me, and many others, the Modern Age of Science Fiction began with Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's "Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus" in 1818.  While considered by many to be a Gothic Horror novel, it only has the trappings of a true Gothic Horror. The work is pure science fiction of a brilliant man, the titular Dr. Frankenstein, and his attempts using science to reanimate dead tissue resulting in the creation of his monster, who is NOT named Frankenstein. 

Like all good science fiction, it is far looking and attempts to tell us something about our society or morals.   Which is why when people ask "When did Sci-Fi become so woke?" I say "In 1818 when it was invented by a Regency-age, teenage feminist."  This was 10 years before Jules Verne, the so-called Father of Science Fiction was born and almost 50 years before H.G. Wells was born.

It would be disingenuous to ignore the horror elements of Frankenstein in favor of its Sci-Fi elements.  They go hand in hand.  The story was conceived from a nightmare, the same night that John Polidori gave us "The Vampyre."  

Almost a century later we would get another popular horror/Sci-Fi mix in H.G. Wells War of the Worlds. This give us the popular and potent combination of Sci-Fi, Horror, and Mars. 

Sci-Fi tends to organized into two large camps; the hopeful and the dystopian.  YES there is more, I am not talking about ALL of sci-fi right now.  But you make some clear demarcations alonge the line of Hope.

Star Trek for example tends to be on the side of hope.  Hope for what the future can bring and be.  Again "Woke" since 1966. Star Trek is about hope in the face of all sorts of diversity.  But what about hope in the face of fear?

"Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence."
 - Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, Star Trek (2009)

The goal of Star Trek: BlackStar very early on was the horrors of space.  Often times, especially in the TNG days, space travel was depicted as fun, and easy (ish), and the horrors were the ones we brought with us.  While that made for great TV in the 90s, I was still left wanting something more.  Star Treks Voyager and then Enterprise got back to the idea that space travel was not easy nor always fun.  BlackStar I hope delivers on the "in space no one can hear you scream" angle.  I opted for mythos monsters and settings with the idea that "in space the stars are always right."  Even though that was also the same time I was lamenting you can't just slap Cthulhu on something to make it sell.

Well. I am not "selling" anything with BlackStar save for my own home games. Still, I feel I owe it at least to myself not to "just slap Cthulhu onto Star Trek." 

On the flip side of this I have my Star Trek: Mercy.  Which is nothing if not about hope.  A Starfleet full of various species from across the Galaxy, even ones the Federation are not allies with, all working together to run a hospital ship to save lives. Not that I can't run into horror elements, that is not the goal here. 

I have, thanks to many of the October Horror Movie Challenges had the chance to watch some great Horror/Sci-fi.  I have also had the chance to read a lot of horror sci-fi over the years, but sadly nothing recently.

It is a topic that I would love to explore more in depth and find stories that are unique to this combined genre.   Much like how Sci-Fi lead me to Fantasy and Fantasty lead me to Dark Fantasy and Horror, Horror is bringing me full circle back to Sci-Fi.  

I think it would be fun to get back to some sci-fi games.  Even if I have to add horror to them. 

I am not sure where this is taking me, but I am looking forward to finding out.  Hopefully I'll have some more insights later this week.

Monday, October 11, 2021

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Fourth Kind (2009)

The Fourth Kind (2009)
Going to start my week of Sci-Fi horror with one my wife picked.

The Fourth Kind (2009)

This one seemed like it had a lot going for it. First, we get the notion that this is all based on a true story and actual events.  There is some "found footage" of the "actual people involved" and then we also get Milla Jovovich, who I adore, and Elias Koteas who is always great. 

The movie has some genuine scares involved too.  Even the found footage is good.  The footage of course are also just actors and none of this ever happened.  BUT it does turn out that this area of Alaska does actually have a history of missing persons.

While I went into this one with the idea of mining it for ideas for a BlackStar game (I always wanted to an Alien Abduction plot where humans and aliens are on more equal footing) instead I was given ideas for my NIGHT SHIFT Valhalla, Alaska game.   Valhalla though runs closer to "Resident Alien" than this one's mix of "Close Encounters," "Fire in the Sky," and "Blair Witch."  

The ending left us feeling a little empty. No resolution, but some good jump scares and weird special effects.  

Still, Milla Jovovich is still great. This was one of director's Olatunde Osunsanmi first movies.  He would go on to direct and produce episodes of New Trek and the series "Falling Skies."   So sci-fi is certainly in his wheel-house.

Maybe I should do an Alien Abduction night.


2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 21
First Time Views: 9.5

Sunday, October 10, 2021

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Thing (1982, 2011, 1951)

The Thing
There are two movies in my mind that set the bar for Sci-Fi Horror.  The first is Alien (1979) and the second is 1982's The Thing.  Both use science fiction as a back-drop to tell a very claustrophobic monster story.  Both had fantastic directors.  Both also took us to a place of "not Star Wars, not ET."  

It is also the perfect juxtaposition of horror and SciFi from a Lovecraftian perspective.  While the origin of The Thing is drawn from the sci-fi/horror short story "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell Jr., the fingerprints of Lovecraft, and in particular "At The Mountains of Madness", are all over this. 

It also makes it a perfect tale for a BlackStar adventure. Maybe I'll tweak my "At the Planet of Madness" adventure a little more.

Tonight I watched John Carpenter's The Thing from 1982 for the first time in, well, I don't know how many years.  Since High School to be sure.  And then I decided to watch the 2011 remake of it.

The Thing 1982
The Thing (1982)

It has been so long since I have seen this I had forgotten about the space-ship at the beginning. For the time the special effects were amazing and frankly, I think they hold up well today.  Though the blood looks more like raspberry jelly.  My son works in a bakery now, I see a lot of raspberry jelly on clothes these days.

I remember watching this one back in 83 or 84 and I remembered I had come up with a very convoluted theory that this creature was a crashed Zygon from Doctor Who.  Fits with them crashing and being found under Loch Ness.  We would get almost this exact same story for Doctor Who in 2013 with Cold War, only at the North Pole not the south. 

The version I watched on Amazon Prime was in HD and it looked fantastic. It looked like it could have been filmed in 2020 to be honest.  It is making me look forward to seeing the Remake/Prequel made in 2011. 

The Thing 2011
The Thing (2011)

This one is a prequel/remake of the 1982 movie.  Even the starting title sequence is similar.  This time we deal with the Norwegians from the first movie.  Interesting way to start the movie, to be honest.  It has Mary Elizabeth Winstead in it and I am a fan, so I like that. It also has Kristofer Hivju, better known to us today as Tormund Giantsbane from Game of Thrones.  He is just as fantastic in this. 

I wish I had paid more attention when the 82 version was on to the Norwegian base, named "Thule",  to see if they were the same.  In truth, it more reminds me of the American one. The spaceship looks the same, but a lot larger.  I also am enjoying that some of the reasons for "dumb decisions" in the first movie get some sort of explanation here.  We even see where some of the damage comes from and an explanation of some of the remains.

The trouble with this movie is there is no new ground for it to cover; it is almost the exact same movie.  Though in this one, bits of the creature can break off and attack others. 

Like the 1982 we have two survivors and it is unknown whether or not they survive. 

The Thing from Another World 1951
The Thing from Another World (1951)

This is the original movie and the one that John Carpenter set to emulate.  Even the opening credits are similar. And WOW is it old.  Typically I steer clear of the 50s except on very rare occasions. 

The opening credits again look like the the 1982 version, or more to the point they all look like this one.

In this one the action is set at the North Pole, but largely the same story. Well...typical for the 1950s there has to be a romance angle. The movie also takes forever to get anywhere.

We get a better description of the creature. It is plant-like, but it still looks like a humanoid of some sort.

There is much less death in this one, no surprise, and the monster is not a shapeshifter at all. 

This one has a lot of survivors and then let the whole world know what happened.   It's funny. For a time full of Red Scare paranoia there is very little of any sort of paranoia in this movie, at least compared to the 1982 and 2011 versions.  

--

It is easy to see the elements that all three movies have in common. Given that it gets remade about every 30 years we can expect to see a new Thing in 2041.

I still would love to work this into a BlackStar game somehow.  Either the discovery on Earth of this craft and pilot that leads to an investigation to its native world, or a getting to the native world and discovering a ship full of human specimens from over 100,000 years ago.  Though 100,000 years ago the Earth would have been populated by hominids like Homo ErectusHomo Floresiensis (the Hobbits), and Homo Sapien Neanderthalensis


2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 19
First Time Views: 8.5

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 28, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Heavy Metal (1981)

Few movies are as "D&D" to me as 1981's Heavy Metal.  It mixes sci-fi, fantasy, horror, with a great soundtrack and more than a few members of SCTV.  

Heavy Metal (1981)
Heavy Metal (1981)

I picked up the Heavy Metal Blu-Ray a while back and frankly the transfer is fantastic.  Hearing the music in Dolby 5.1 surround is amazing.  It is hard to properly critique a movie that made up so much of my teenage years imprinting that instead for tonight I wanted to talk about how Heavy Metal is the perfect movie for NIGHT SHIFT.

Before that let's take a moment to take in that poster.

Taarna. Resplendent on the back of her mount, flying, sword aloft. While her armor might be more 80s stripper, she obviously is a warrior. It is some of Chris Achilléos' best work.  I have talked about how White Dwarf always had a Heavy Metal feel for me.  This is one of the reasons. 

Ok. On to NIGHT SHIFT.  Heavy Metal is an anthology. Many stories linked together are a semi-related arc. NIGHT SHIFT is like this in its "Night Worlds" connected, but their own thing.  If this is also the vibe you get from "Twilight Zone" or "Tales from the Darkside" then you are on to what was going on in our minds as we put this all together.  The Night Companion only adds to this.

"Soft Landing"/"Grimaldi"

Our opening sequence and framing episode let us know what is going on here. This is SciFi, and Horror, and Magic.  Astronaut Grimaldi lands on Earth with his Corvette to bring a gift to his daughter.  A gift that kills him and traps the girl showing her images of horror.  We learn that it is the Loc-Nar an object/power/intelligence of timeless evil. 

"Harry Canyon"

The crankiest New York cabbie this side of Corbin Dallas picks up a girl who has a strange object.  An alien artifact, the Loc-Nar from the opening sequence. While it is taking place 50 years after the movie was released, it is only 10 years from now.  No aliens, no flying cars.  We are never getting flying cars. We also get the first indication about the sex and violence this movie has. I remember the discussions about it in school, "It's an R-RATED cartoon!"

Of note for me, some great Stevie Nicks here. One other, but I am saving that one.

While the setting is "futuristic" there is nothing here that could not be done with NIGHT SHIFT.  The Loc-Nar is described as "alien" but there is a solid magic vibe about it.  In fact there is also a lot here for my Black Star game.  More on that as well.

"Den"

Is Sword & Planet to the letter.  OR at least how we always suspected it would be.  Here the Loc-Nar is a small meteorite that transfers Dennis across time and space into a muscle-bound, hairless barbarian Den. He rescues a girl about to be sacrificed to Uhluhtc (yeah read that one backwards) and gets paid with the only reward she has.  Den gets pulled into a power struggle between a Queen and Ard. Both want the Loc-Nar. Ard gets Den to steal it back, the Queen seduces Den into keeping it with her.  In the end, they both betray Den and try to sacrifice the girl anyway.  Den defeats them not with his strength, but his geeky knowledge of electricity to kill them both.  The Loc-Nar tells us that some are strong enough to walk away from it.  It flies off into the sky and lands on a space station orbiting Earth.

"Captain Sternn"

In the future, there is a trial for Federation Captain Lincoln F. Sternn. He is charged with a laundry list of crimes and his lawyer is hoping he gets his sentence reduced to "burning his body in secret so no one desecrates his corpse."  Sternn has an angle though he has paid off a shulb, Hanover Fiste, to testify on his behalf.  Fiste found the Loc-Nar, now the size of a marble, and slowly he comes a hulking brute that attempts to destroy the station to get to Sternn. Eventually, Sternn pays off Fiste and jettisons him out of an air lock. His severed hand, still holding that Loc-Nar lands in a B-17 bomber during WWII.

The Loc-Nar here shows more ability to change size and travel in time and space as it needs. It can also mutate those as it sees fit.  I have to admit I have ALWAYS wanted Capt. Lincoln Sternn in a Star Trek adventure as a corupt captain.

"B-17"

This was for the longest time one of my favorites. WWII and zombies.  The Loc-Nar turns all the dead airmen into zombies to attack their former crew. What is not to love. This one is pure horror.

"So Beautiful & So Dangerous"

This one has the Loc-Nar and it is assumed that there is a related cause with all the "mutations" being reported.   While this is a fun one, it is really just an excuse for robot sex, drug jokes, and the animators to draw naked women.   Though it can also be seen as a palette cleanser before the ultimate story.

"Taarna"

Honestly, I could do an entire post on this one.  Taarna is absolutely a "Chosen One" from NIGHT SHIFT. The scene where she flies to the temple and puts on her armor and retrieves the sword of Taarak might be some of the most-watched animated sequences in the history of animation.  I admit it. I still get chills when I hear the voice of Taarak start "To defend. This is the pact..."

In this segment, the Loc-Nar is showing the young girl his final triumph. It has grown huge and crashes into a mountain on some distant planet.  Pilgrims go to seek it out, but they are buried in green lava, only to come out transformed into homicidal monstrous barbarians.  They attack a city and kill everyone, but not before the council of elder can psychically summon Taarna, the last of the Taarakians. 

Taarna never speaks. But she hunts down the barbarians with the intent to kill them all.  She manages to get a few, but she is captured and tortured by their leader.  Taarna escapes, reclaims her mount and manages to kill the leader. But she is gravely wounded and she, and her bird, are dying.  In a final act of sacrifice, she flies up, holding the Sword of Taarak high she plunged into the Loc-Nar, destroying it there and back on Earth with the little girl watching.  The girl runs for safety as her home and the Loc-Nar explode.

A new bird mount lands in her yard and as she mounts it to fly away her hair turns white and another Taarakian is born.  Go ahead. Tell me Buffy didn't crib notes from this. 

If your characters can't be as epic as Taarna are you really even PLAYING?

Heavy Metal

One of the best songs in a stellar soundtrack is Blue Öyster Cult's "Veteran of the Psychic Wars."  The song is about Elric of Melniboné or Hawkwind or any Eternal Champion.  A solid case is made here that the song, here, is about Taarna.  The Veterans of the Psychic Wars might be Eternal Champions, but the Veterans of the Supernatural Wars are Chosen Ones.

Don't forget NIGHT SHIFT The Night Companion is nearing its last few days.  Give us some support. If we hit the stretch goal I will give a new Night World and this will keep me out of trouble for a while.

--

Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters.


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 22, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Forbidden World (1982)

Forbidden World
More Roger Corman fun! This one is a repeat from an October Horror Movie Marathon from 2018.

If I had thought about it I should have done this as a double feature with last week's Galaxy of Terror.  I think a lot of the starship interiors were reused. The movie starts with some starships attacking another ship. A robot (straight out of Star Frontiers by the look of him) wakes up the commander out of cryosleep to deal with them.   After the battle, we learn that the captain, Mike Colby played by Jesse Vint, has been asleep so long his son is older than he is now.  Also, he has been re-routed to the planet Xarbia which Colby thinks is a joke.  It is an experimental research station and something got loose. Something they call Subject 20. June Chadwick stars as Dr. Barbara Glaser, who is best known from V and This is Spinal Tap. Dawn Dunlap also stars as Tracy Baxter.  Dunlap is better known as "Laura" from the quasi-erotic film of the same name when she was only 16 and from Corman's Barbarian Queen

Another Corman recycle are the two suns rising on the planet. Same shot is used in The Warrior and the Sorceress.  Wonder if it is the same planet? What happened to it I wonder. I was already running low on water in David Cardine's time.  Maybe it died out leaving only the Proto B bacteria the scientists are studying. 

So we have a mutant monster in a lab out in space.  What can go wrong?  Well, I sure you can guess.  The movie is not great, but it is also not really terrible. Like a lot of Corman's stuff, there is a core here, a kernel of a really good idea here.  This movie very, very effectively combines "Alien" and "The Thing" into one movie and puts the whole thing on a station in space.   It is Corman, so yeah the women take off their clothes at the drop of a hat. They also run around in high heels and shower together. The future is weird. 

The movie is fairly uneven, going from the tension of the escaped mutant in one scene to everyone turning in for the night in the next. 

The monster picks people off one by one, you know like a monster will. Until we are just left with just Tracy and Mike.  Though the idea of feeding the monster a cancerous tumor to kill it is a novel one. 

It was a fun flick, but I got really tired of Tracy's screaming in the last half of the flick. 

Gaming Content

Same as you get from Alien or The Thing.  Hunt the monster before it hunts you. I suppose that I will have to do a "monster is loose in a research facility" adventure at some point.  But I would need to make it different than either "Ghost Ship" or the "Ghost Station of Inverness V." This would have to be a flesh and blood abomination. NOT just an alien, but a creature of humankind's hubris.

--

Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters.