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

Friday, December 29, 2023

Kickstart your Future! Thirteen Parsecs

It's the end of the week, the end of the month and the end of the year. So lets look to the future!

Thirteen Parsecs

13 Parsecs

https://tinyurl.com/13psignup

Thirteen Parsecs: Adventures Beyond the Solar Frontier is the latest tabletop role-playing game project from Elf Lair Games, producers of Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars and Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age. It forms the third of our trilogy of core games - we've given you modern and fantasy, and now we bring sci-fi to the forefront with the same rules, completely customizable and ready for you to build exactly the type of science fiction gaming you want. As always, it's your game your way when it's Powered by O.G.R.E.S.!


I am so excited for this.  I have been dying to work on a solid sci-fi game since forever.

What is Thirteen Parsecs?

Like our other games, NIGHT SHIFT and Wasted Lands, Thirteen Parsecs is an O.G.R.E.S.-powered game. So if you have played a classic RPG then you know how to play this one already.

Also like NIGHT SHIFT, Thirteen Parsecs will be a "toolbox game."  We are going to give you the basic rules and structure for all sorts of Science Fiction style role-playing. So whether you want to play heroic characters in an epic space opera, explore strange new world with a group of explorers, battle alien threats, deal with a post-apocalyptic hellscape, or tackle humankind's first leap to the stars, then this game is for you.

BUT that is not all. Like NIGHT SHIFT we will encourage you to make your own worlds and setting to make it the sci-fi game YOU want. 

I have been talking for years, decades even, on how there has not been a sci-fi game that connects with me. Thirteen Parsecs will change that for me. Here are the worlds I am planning to bring you as my contribution in one form or another.

Space Truckers

This one began as a bit of joke and I have tried in different systems. It is "Smokey and the Bandit" meets "Blake's 7" with a dash of "Red Dwarf" and "Quark."  It is supposed to be silly fun about the lives of long-haul "truckers" on the edge of the Solar Frontier. The Colonies need their light beer too. I am planning on designing this to work with any of the other settings we have.

Dark Star (formerly BlackStar)

I have talked about this one a lot, my "Star Trek meets Cthulhu." The deal here is that Jason also has one he wants to do and so does our other member Derek. So it is very likely they will all get combined somehow into something new and better.  The basic idea here is "In Space, the stars are always right."

Völlig Losgelöst

My love letter to 80s sci-fi horror. This one might appear later due to space (heh) issues. If you enjoyed movies like "Lifeforce," "Galaxy of Terror," and "Xtro" then you will find a lot to love here. This one is explicitly a NIGHT SHIFT/Thirteen Parsecs crossover game, so I might wait until after the core rules are published. Essentially I want to create the future as we saw it from the mid-1980s. 

I have more ideas and these are only mine. Jason and Derek have a ton as well. 

So please sign up and watch for more details!

https://tinyurl.com/13psignup

Want to know more? Just ask!

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Coming in 2024: Thirteen Parsecs

 You know how I have lamented how I never have found the perfect sci-fi RPG?  Well. That all might be changing.

Thirteen Parsecs

13 Parsecs

https://tinyurl.com/13psignup

Thirteen Parsecs: Adventures Beyond the Solar Frontier is the latest tabletop role-playing game project from Elf Lair Games, producers of Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars and Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age. It forms the third of our trilogy of core games - we've given you modern and fantasy, and now we bring sci-fi to the forefront with the same rules, completely customizable and ready for you to build exactly the type of science fiction gaming you want. As always, it's your game your way when it's Powered by O.G.R.E.S.!


I am so excited for this.  I have been dying to work on a solid sci-fi game since forever.

A bit of background, I think I have mentioned in the past that prior to switching gears to become a psychologist I had actually started out in physics, and astrophysics in particular. I got to a point in calculus where I just stopped understanding it, so I had to switch. BTW this makes my former Actuary (with degrees in math) wife laugh her ass off all the time. 

So it will be wonderful to put all this knowledge I have about astronomy, space, and science to good use.

Launch is not till later in the year, but Jason is already working out all sorts of great things. I hope to resurrect Space Truckers, get some more mileage out of Dark Star (formerly BlackStar), and more.

So please sign up and watch for more details!


Friday, November 10, 2023

Friday Sci-Fi interlude

 I interrupt this non-stop talk of Gods and Monsters to look towards some sci-fi ideas I have been playing around with.

The FASA Star Trek Facebook Group has been a huge source of ideas lately.  

Poster Greg Price had some uniform ideas that would be perfect for my Trek games set between the TOS movie area and the Next Generation. This would cover my Star Trek: Mercy (2295) and Star Trek: BlackStar (2352).

Star Trek Uniforms

Star Trek Uniforms

Star Trek Uniforms

Star Trek Uniforms

They work rather great to be honest.

Kevin McCaig in the same group, also shared his HeroForge Klingons.  They look like tweaks to the Klingon design floating around the HeroForge groups a bit back. They look great.

Klingons!

Mercy

Speaking of Star Trek: Mercy. I just learned, or re-learned, that there was a short-lived TV series called "Mercy Point."  IT was on the UPN back in 1998 to 1999. I am sure I saw it advertised, but never watched it. My wife and I were expecting our first born at that time and we were a little distracted by all the work we needed to do before he was born.

But anyway the show takes place on a hospital space station ("Mercy Point"), it was a medical drama in space, in the future. Or pretty much everything I am thinking of doing with my own ST: Mercy. It even takes place in 2249, so a few years before my games.

I'd like to watch it, but it doesn't seem to be streaming anywhere I could find.

Doctor Who: The Lost Children of Time

The 60th Anniversary of Doctor Who is less than two weeks away now. I am quite excited.  

Completely unrelated to that my wife and I just COVID binge-watched Bodies on Netflix. It was a fun little time travel show that reminded us both a little of Dark.

I won't spoil the ending for you, but suffice to say there is a character at the end who is someplace she should not be, time-wise.  This reminded me again of Dark where there two characters disappear due the paradox falling in on itself.  

This got me thinking about a Doctor Who adventure.  Something I am calling, The Lost Children of Time.  In it these various people find themselves together despite the fact that they should not even exist at all. I figure I'll find a few others, maybe even grab one of the characters from Manifest! (my wife and I like to mock that show, but we watched every damn episode.)

Might make for a silly-fun Convention game with the right people. 

Back to Gods and Monsters here in a bit.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

BlackStar: It's Been A Long Time...

Recently my wife and I have rewatched Star Trek: Enterprise. We have been and are huge Trek fans, but we didn't watch it much when it first came out because, at the time, we had small children, and I had just started a new career track after leaving academia.  So free time was not something we had a lot of.

Much to our delight, we discovered it was not only good Trek, but it was great Trek.  I had not considered making it a part of my "BlackStar Universe" until recently. And by that, I mean last week.

The Protector and another NX class ship

We had some returns from Christmas still lingering, so with a gift card in hand I picked up another model.  Yeah my arthritis is going to make this a little more difficult (thankfully this is a "kids" model) I am still going to have some fun!

I am going to opt for the refit design, something we didn't get to see on TV.  I just have to figure out if the ship is supposed to be white or stay gunmetal gray.

My oldest has been running a Trek game in addition to his D&D games and he has been setting it in my BlackStar Universe.  So my motivation for this is also pretty high.

The scale on the box says this is 1/1000th scale and my Protector is 1/1400 scale, but holding them up side by side they look about right.

Two NX ships

The Protector is over 650 meters (if I remember right) and the NX-01 is 225 meters. 

Of course this won't be the NX-01 Enterprise. This is a later Starship that came out of space dock with the refit in place. So it could be longer. 

Following the history of the Space Shuttle the first NX Warp 5 ships were Enterprise (NX-01), Columbia (NX-02), Challenger (NX-03), Discovery (NX-04), Atlantis (NX-05), and Endeavour (NX-06).  We later see the USS Franklin (NX-326) with similar weapons and defenses. 

The NX-01 was launched in 2153, NX-02 in 2154.  The Franklin was actually an earlier ship, launched between 2141 and 2151, and was capable of Warp 4.  

This gives me some room to play around.  

I had originally thought to set Star Trek: Mercy as a Post-Enterprise (2151) and Pre-TOS (2265) era game. But instead, Mercy ended up in the equally fertile time period between the last of the TOS movies and the start of TNG.  I do like it better at that time since it gives me a little more flexibility.

This new NX ship can then be set anytime after 2161, likely after the foundation of the United Federation of Planets.  I might even work in some ideas with UESPA. Given the events in Star Trek: Enterprise I will likely say this is a Warp 6 or Warp 7 ship. But in truth, I know nothing about this little ship yet! It could even become my Ghost Ship at some point.

One thing I do know, it gives me an excuse to use Fleet Admiral Lucille Ball, Commander of Starfleet Operations.

How Lucille Ball Helped Star Trek Become a Cultural Icon

Will my new NX ship be connected to Mercy? Will it be connected to the Protector?  I like the Protector connection, but the big deal with the Protector is that it is it's Warp-13 engines that bring the Cthulhu horrors into our universe. Mercy is largely a peacetime mission.

Here is my working timeline with select items from the cannon:

2123: The SS Mariposa (NAR-7678) leaves Earth (DY 500 class)
2139: NAR-7539 SS Inspiration leaves Earth (DY 500 class)
2151-2161: Enterprise
2156-2160: Federation-Romulan War
2161-xxxx: My New Ship
2164: USS Franklin reported lost
2167: The USS Archon and USS Essex both reported lost (unrelated)
2168: USS Horizon lost

2247-2250: First Klingon War
2256-2258: Discovery
2256-2257: Second Klingon War
2259-2264: Strange New Worlds
2265-2295: Star Trek: TOS & Movies
2295-xxx: Star Trek: Mercy, USS Mercy NCC-3001

2351-xxxx: Star Trek: BlackStar, USS Protector NX-3120
2352: Protector is sent to the Inverness system
2363-2378: Star Trek: TNG, DS9, Voy
2380-xxxx: Star Trek: Lower Decks
2384: USS Protostar (NX-76884) lost
2399-2401: Star Trek: Picard

I can't help but notice that there is a large number of ships lost in the 2160s. The Archon, Essex, and Horizon were all Daedalus class ships. Franklin was a Freedom class.  What was going on then?  So my refit is part of the NX-Class. But let's nod to the FASA Star Trek RPG and The Wrath of Khan, and say they were renamed the Enterprise class. Certainly, the refit could be an Enterprise-class, though a solid argument could be made to call it the Archer-class.

Personally, I like the idea of the refits as the Archer-class. I can see Jonathan Archer NOT wanting it but Starfleet Comand saying it would be to honor him and his father. I can see the Andorians being more forthcoming; if you want our weapons systems, you will name the class after a member of the Andorian Imperial Guard. The Vulcans would see it as the logical choice.  I can also see Archer conceding if one of the ships is named "The Beagle" after the ship that Darwin made famous, but mostly because of his favorite dog bread.  I could call it the NX-31 or even the NCC 831; for 1831 the year Darwin set out on the HMS Beagle.  I'll need to see what numbers I have in decals.

Maybe that is my ship! The NX-31/NCC 831 USS Beagle.  An exploratory vessel launched at the end of the Romulan War to return to Starfleet's first mission. To explore strange new worlds. 

I can do far worse, to be honest.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Star Trek: Ambassador Class Enterprise-C Build

Quick one today. Well, quick for me, but a bit of work for the original content creator.

I have not talked about my BlackStar game in a long time. I have not played any of it for a long time, to be honest. But I do have some new plans coming up, and my oldest has some ideas he wants to try out too.

Ambassador Class Enterprise-C Build

Before I get back to all of that I found this great modeler on YouTube, Epyc Models. He builds an Ambassador Class Enterprise-C, which puts my meager attempts to utter shame

Have a watch.






Seriously cool, right? I need to check out his other videos after this for more ideas. 


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

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!