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

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.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Monstrous Monday: Marching to Mars

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

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

Here is what I have so far.

Red Martians

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

Red Martian
Red Martian, ePic Character Generator

White Martians

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

White Martian
White Martian, ePic Character Generator

Green Martians

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

Green Martian
Green Martian, ePic Character Generator

There might be others.

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

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

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

Links to Mars Related Posts

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Galaxy of Terror (1981)

Something a little different tonight, an 80s sci-fi horror movie with a solid Sword & Sorcery feel to it. It's from Roger Corman, so I guess that is not a huge surprise.

Galaxy of Terror (1981)

This movie has everything! My favorite Martian Ray Walston, Erin "Joanie" Moran, Grace Zabriskie, Sid Haig, pre-Freddie (and really young looking!) Robert Englund, a space witch, tentacle rape monsters! Wait. What was that last bit again? Another Roger Corman offering. I have to admit the cast is something else really. 

The movie starts with the crew of our spaceship, the Quest, headed to planet Morganthus by the order of some mysterious dude called "The Planet Master." We never see his face due to the glowy red energy around it. He is playing some game with our Space Witch. Our pilot, Captain Trantor (Zabriskie) was the only survivor of some famous disaster that has left her a little worse for the wear.  We learn Alluma (Moran) is a psychic sensitive and she detects no life on the planet they all but crash land on.

The Quest crew investigates a crashed ship, the Remus, where all the crew seems to be dead. Soon the first crew member, Cos, is killed by some sort of monster with claws.  The crew looks for more survivors and finds a really creepy ass pyramid.  The mission Commander, Ivar, is lowered into the pyramid but he gets attacked by some blood-sucking tentacles.  Quuhod (Haig) is killed by one of his own crystal throwing stars.  Dameia (played by Taaffe O'Connell), in one of the most controversial bits in the movie, is attacked by a giant maggot/worm/tentacle beast who manages to get all her clothes off before it rapes/eats her.  

We find out that Core, the cook (Walston) is some sort of spy. He had been in the disaster the Captain had been in.  She seems to be hallucinating an attack.  We next see her trying to leave the ship but she bursts into flames.   The remaining crew regroup and head back to the pyramid.  They get separated, of course, and picked off one by one until only Kore and Cabren remain. We learn that Kore is really the Planet Master and this pyramid is part of a game. Cabren manages to kill Kore, but becomes the Planet Master in his place.

I'll give the writers credit, there is some background going on here.  I am not sure that it all translates well on the screen though. I like the idea of the pyramid causing fear, but there is no reason why The Master/Kore would actually be interested in it. 

The movie has a solid Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986) feel to it. No surprise really, James Cameron served as Production Designer and Second Unit Director on the film would five years later direct Aliens. 

But, and let's be honest here, the movie is not good. I am not sure why we never saw it then but Erin Moran is terrible in this. Taaffe O'Connell is in it only so she can take off her clothes.  Even mainstays like Robert Englund and Sid Haig are wasted here.  Ray Walston and Grace Zabriskie were obviously here for the paycheck.

Gaming Content

The idea of entering an ancient and abandoned pyramid is as old as...well, the Pyramids.  This one just happens to have a sci-fi horror feel to it.  There are a lot of ideas I could steal for BlackStar. Watching this after reviewing Stars Without Number I am more convinced now that my BlackStar game must have psionics. 

--

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.

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.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Space Age Slap Jack and the Lords of Faerie

space age slap jack card deck
A few months back I was digging through a bunch of old notes.  We were cleaning up my game room and as typical of me, I took the opportunity to reorganize my accumulated notes. 

One of the things I found was some hand-written notes on various personages from my games.  A couple that had a very strange genesis and how I worked around to get them to where I have them now.  Vague? Yeah. But let me start at the beginning and work my way back up.

Let's go back to Christmas 1982.  I was full-on in my Star Wars fandom.  I had seen Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back a couple of times. I had read everything I could my hands on about Star Wars and I was hungry for more.  Also at this time, I was really getting into D&D. My introduction three years prior and my gift of the Basic and Expert Sets had kept me going for a long, long time.  Anyway Christmas. We would always go to my mom's sister's house for Christmas eve or close to that. Here we would get small gifts.  Nothing huge, my mom had a big family, and getting something for everyone was expensive.

This year (and I don't remember many other gifts we got to be honest) I got something that was very strange to me.  I got a deck of Slap Jack cards.  I thought it was an odd gift really, I was 13 and this was a game for little kids. But this set was different.  At least my Aunt or whoever bought it knew of my love of Star Wars and this was a "Space Age Slap Jack."

Space Age Slap Jack. Cards laid out

While I might have played it as RAW once or twice that Christmas, that is not why I grew to enjoy this set. It was the art and the overall concept.

Jack, The Lord of Aggression was an obvious Dollar Store Darth Vader.  He may have been the "star" but he was also the least interesting.  There were cards named "Interstellar Demon" and "Guardian of the Oathbreakers" and "Orbital Guardians."  The art is not fantastic, but it is very compelling.

But it was the Queen of Goodness that captured my attention.

Queen of Goodness from Space Age Slap Jack

She was a Queen. She had a glowing sword. Not a "lightsaber" a glowing sword. And she looked profoundly sad to me. I wanted to know more about this deck, the story it was trying to tell me. But what was it? It was 1982, there was no Internet, BitNet was still new and no one had access to it. So I did what I always do.  I made a story up.

jack lord of aggression cards

In a way, these cards became an ersatz tarot deck.  I would deal out the cards and whatever came up I created a narrative in my mind.   Jack was what I'd call today a Warlock. He was the great traitor of the Galactic Peace. The Queen was the young ruler of the Galaxy, now in charge after the untimely death of her father the old King.  She ruled, but Jack strove to take it away from her.  In this tale, my Galaxy had both high tech and old magic. If this sounds familiar, then yes I have adopted some of these broad strokes for my BlackStar game.

I don't think I ever wrote any of this down. The material I found was recycling some years later. 

Fast-forward a couple of years. Now I am in my hardcore AD&D phase.  While I had been listening to music my whole life I was actually "listening" to the music instead of just "hearing" it as my late brother Mike would tell me.  One of the albums (tapes really) that also captured my imagination was Led Zeppelin's Four, or IV.   The song "Battle of Evermore" on side A, right before "Stairway to Heaven" grabbed a hold of my imagination with its epic Tolkienesqe imagery. But what really grabbed me more than anything were the haunting vocals of Sandy Denny.  I found the voice of my Queen.

But by this time I had moved my sci-fi fandom and my fantasy fandom further apart. Another little tidbit. While listening to the Battle of Evermore for the first time I misheard the lyrics (as we often did in the 80s).  The lyrics go:

Queen of Light took her bow
And then she turned to go,
The Prince of Peace embraced the gloom
And walked the night alone.

But I heard: Queen of Lies and Prince of Beasts.  These names took over the meta-story of the Queen of Goodness and the Lord of Aggression, but of course, they had changed a little.  The Queen of Lies was the Queen not because of lying, but because of the only lie she ever told, a lie that caused the death of her father (remember she was sad).  The Prince of Beasts, the former Lord of Aggression was also changed into a character that was aggressive, but not due to evil, but because he was protecting the wild spaces he lived. He became more of a Beorn-like character. Their stories are linked. And don't get me started on the Angels of Avalon or the Dragon of Darkness. Though my Orange Dragon from the Pumpkin Spice Witch certainly fits that.

The Queen of Lies and the Pince of Beasts eventually became something akin to faerie lords in my games. Both are sad figures and represent the melancholia of certain heroes in various tales.

The Tale of the Queen of Lies and Prince of Beasts

A long time ago a Faerie King had a beautiful daughter. Her mother had been human and died in childbirth.  The King, being a wise King, did not blame the girl as other monarchs might have, and instead of bemoaning the lack of a son he raise his beautiful, but sad daughter to be ready to rule in his place one day.

The King's lands were beset by all sorts of beasts so much so that his Kingdom and the surrounding lands became known as the Wild.  While the King loved his daughter, his people did not. In their minds, she was the cause of her mother's death and the reason the King would not remarry to have sons.  Over time the King's advisors suggested he marry her to the local Lord who had control over all the wild beasts.  The King saw the wisdom of this and prepared the marriage.  His daughter however did not want to marry the Prince, whom she felt was an uncouth savage, even if he was a Faerie Lord.

On the night before the wedding, there was a great feast. The daughter though, not being able to stand it any longer, broke hospitality and claimed she was already betrothed to another.  When it was discovered that the girl had done something no other fey in the kingdom could do. She had lied, but no one knew this or suspected it. 

The Prince, insulted waged war on the Kingdom. The war lasted for what felt like forever. Until a fateful day when the Prince was ready to kill the defeated King did his daughter admit her wrongdoing. 

The Prince, realizing his war was built on a falsehood, left the Kingdom and was never seen by it's inhabitants again, though he could be seen roaming the wilder places of the lands.  The princess, shamed, sat by her father's side. He forgave her and within a few nights had died from his wounds.  The girl, being the only one of royal blood, became the Queen.  She has been ajust, if unloved Queen, but her subjects still refer to her as The Queen of Lies.  Her lands are now known as the Kingdom of Rain.

Queen of Lies
Faerie Lady
Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Neutral [Lawful Neutral]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: -1 [20]
Hit Dice: 14d8+28** (91 hp)
Attacks: Sword or by spell
Damage: 1d8+4 or by spell
Special: Witch spells (13th level), damaged by magic weapons
Size: Medium
Save: Witch 14
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: NA
XP: 3,250
The Queen of Lies rules the lands known as the Kingdom of Rain. Named so for rain that always seems to be falling or threatening to fall at any moment.   She called the Queen of Lie because it was a lie that put her on the throne when her father died. 

The Queen is a beautiful, but sad and lonely Faerie ruler. She is a fair and just ruler and her people thrive, despite the weather, but they openly dislike her. She has gained the enmity of the Prince of Beasts, lord of the neighboring kingdom, an enmity that has earned her the attention of both the Erlking and the King of Goblins. While she has no interest in either suitor she knows she must choose one faithfully or the curse of rain her kingdom is under will not be lifted.

The Queen possesses her father's great Sword of Light, which provides her protection as well as magical fighting prowess. However, she prefers to use her magic when needed.  The Queen turned to sorcery and witchcraft to be able to lift her Kingdom's curse. She has not but can cast spells as a 13th level Faerie Witch.

Despite her name, the Queen never lies. She is half-human and can lie, but now she chooses not to.

Prince of Beasts
Faerie Lord
Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Neutral [Chaotic Neutral]
Movement: 240' (80') [24"]
Armor Class: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 11d8+33** (83 hp)
Attacks: Fists or by animal type
Damage: 1d8+4 x2 or by animal type
Special: Beast form, damaged only by magic weapons, summon beasts
Size: Large
Save: Monster 11
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: NA
XP: 3,500

The Prince of Beasts is an odd fey lord in he does not like the company of other faerie lords and ladies, or faeries of any status. Instead, he prefers to spend his time in the wild running with the animals and communing with them.  

The Prince appears as a huge elf lord, standing 8' tall. He is broad and muscular. He is often mistaken for a large human or even a smaller hill giant. He wears simple animal skins though nothing can hide his regal bearing. 

Like all faerie lords he has a personal weapon, a sword, he can use. But the Prince prefers to fight with his bare hands or by transforming into any natural animal.  He can shape-shift into an animal and back 3/per day in the daylight hours.  At night he chooses a shape and sticks with it till the dawn.

He can summon any animal as per the Druid spells, Animal Summoning, they will obey his calls till the death.

The Prince of Beasts is on good terms with the various Animal Lords, but doesn't belong to their numbers. He ignores most of the Faerie Lords when he can.  He has a special enmity with theQueen of Lies, though he would rather avoid her at all costs.  He is also the enemy of the Erlking.  The Goblin King fancies himself as a rival, but the Prince does not take the Goblin King seriously.


NIGHT SHIFT Content

In NIGHT SHIFT the Lords of the Faerie continue into the modern-day.  The Queen of Lies is a real estate developer living in Seatle.  She has plans for the wild areas surrounding the Pacific Northwest.  The Prince of Beasts is a Wildlife conservationist.  Their battles are less about sword and claw and more about permits and lawsuits.  Both though are still powerful in their respective realms.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: Space Vampires of 1980

Bit of a cheat tonight. But I always want to do a Doctor Who episode.

Doctor Who, State of Decay (1980)

I picked up the Tom Baker Doctor Who, Season 18 Blu-Ray a while back and I wanted to re-watch the episode State of Decay.   It has been a few years since I had seen it, but it was and still is one of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who.

The idea of the race of great Vampires as the ancient enemies of the Time Lords is, in my mind a great addition to the vampire lore.  Something that I even added to my games at the time, though obviously from a more fantasy and horror elements.

The episode is 100% Hammer Horror.  I would not have been surprised to hear that the crew stole items from sets of the various BBC horror films and TV shows, in particular, the late 70s Dracula.  We get everything though here. The "Hammer Hamlet" with the scared villagers, the castle with the evil Lords (and Lady), even the warnings "not to go to the castle".

Of course, watching the special effects 40 years later have not aged well, but it is Doctor Who and you can't expect a lot. 

The great vampire reminds me a bit of the Beast from the 10th Doctor's "The Satan Pit" so that is nice bit of continuity.  The Great Vampires come from the "early times" from "even when Rassilon was young."  Easy to see a connection.

The horror elements are light, but still good for Doctor Who episode.

The behind the scenes features of the Blu-Ray are also great.  I guess at the time it caused quite a stir.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: The Space Vampire (1980)

The year is 2491 and Capt. William "Buck" Rogers is back at Earth from 1987, battling a...well...space vampire.  Ok, so I watched this one when it was new and enjoyed it. But I was 10.  BTW did you know all the episodes of Buck Rogers are free to watch?  The plot is thin really. Buck and Col. Dearing are going on vacation and they stop off at a space station to get Twiki repaired. I do like the idea of a vampire on a space station sadly the vampire here leaves a little to be desired. 
The story borrows heavily from Dracula, with the ship crashing into the station named "Demeter" and one of the passengers is named "Helson" as opposed to "Helsing".
One of the things that bugged about BR:25C is how Col. Dearing went from being a strong character in the pilot movie to such a weak one in later episodes. 
The vampire going after Wilma makes a lot of sense really, even if it is also a little clichéd.  Though it did give Erin Gray a chance to stretch her acting muscles a bit, which is good.

Watching both of these from the same time period is interesting.  BR:25C had better effects, but the story in Doctor Who was better.  I will even go on a limb here and say the acting was better in Who as well.

The real question is not who did the better vampires (Doctor Who) but which sidekick was more annoying, Adric or Twiki?

Watched: 25
New: 15

NIGHT SHIFT and BlackStar Content.
Ever since Doctor Who, Buck Rogers, and Lifeforce I have wanted to do a "Space Vampire."
Even in a later Doctor Who novel they had a vampire couple leave the earth by hitching a ride on a satellite bound for deep space. So I guess it is possible to have any half-crazed idea work.
Not 100% sure how I would do a Space Vampire in NIGHT SHIFT, but I think I owe it to my 10-year-old self to give it a try in BlackStar.