Friday, June 29, 2012

Forehead Friday...rolled 21

The command crew gathered in the teleporter room. They took their positions and managed to stand at complete attention, despite wearing their itchy dress uniforms. Captain Reed wasn't looking forward to another diplomatic mission. He felt he was pulled from a much more important...and interesting...mission to investigate reports of a giant living space entity harassing ships near the Videni border.

But such is the life of a Space Fleet Officer. So now he and his crew had to babysit a Lacoathan delegate on his way to negotiations over shipping rights in Nurean space. The Lacoathan's were a friendly race, but their amphibian-like biology and taste for anything raw from the ocean always filled the decks of the ship with unpleasant odors.

"Shall I bring a bottle of Videni wine to the dinner party tonight, Captain?" Lieutenant Trotter whispered in his typical mischievous manner. Everyone called him Trot; he was well known for his antics. And he knew full well that Videni wine wouldn't agree with their guest and the odor problem.

The Lacoathan ship signaled that they were ready for transport. Captain Reed ordered with a sigh, "Ensign Ivankov, initiate."

Ivankov locked onto the diplomat's position and activated the transport sequence. Two forms began to materialize on the teleporter pad. Reed was looking at an interesting painting on the wall--a rare psionic mood-enhancer from a primitive planet they had visited for shore leave. A shore leave, Reed thought, that was far too distant in the past.

His officers were shifting anxiously in their positions, drawing the Captain's attention back to the pad. Reed's eyes widened with confusion and sudden amusement.
Standing next to the squat, brownish amphibian diplomat was a tall, very beautiful woman.

"Please, let me welcome you both to the SFS Drake." the Captain announced, having found new enthusiasm for the mission.

The figures stepped from the teleporter pad, and the frog-like humanoid said, "Thank you, Captain," its voice a mixture of croak and wheeze, "Please forgive my unannounced guest, my daughter Arana."

"Not at all, Ambassador Reichluund." Reed pronounced with some difficulty, masking his confusion.

"Daughter?" Reed thought in amazement. "Of course!" Reed recollected that the Lacoathan moon was home to a native humanoid race, almost extinct. An all-female race that reproduced via parthenogenesis. Arana must be adopted.

"Ambassador Reichluund, you must be famished. We have arranged a buffet of many sea-dwelling delicacies. Lieutenant Trotter would be delighted to escort you to the dining hall and instruct you in the choices." Reed explained with great satisfaction, catching Trotter's downtrodden expression in the corner of his eye.

"Captain, my daughter has seen me eat for her entire life, but this is her first time on an SFS cruiser. Would you be so kind to provide her with a tour?" Reichluund asked. The last sentence was encapsulated in a burp.

"It would be an honor, Ambassador." Captain Reed smiled with delight as he took Arana's arm and led her from the teleporter room.

"The mood-altering painting seems to have worked," Reed thought, "This assignment might be interesting after all."

This has been another Forehead Friday! Please see previous installments here and here and here.

If you would like to support the indiegogo project to fund the production of Starships & Spacemen 2e, please visit the website.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

Forehead Friday...rolled 44

Commander Silek screamed in pain, an outburst unusual for the Tauran Science Officer. He clutched his head and fell to his knees, scattering crumbling humanoid bones across the cell floor.

"Stop it!" Captain Reed demanded, stepping aggressively toward the cell door.

Silek's screams diminished as the alien captor lost concentration, taking a step back from the bars. The large-brained alien grinned with thin lips, it's orange eyes staring hard at Reed. It viewed Reed as nothing but an animal.
Reed heard not with his ears, but in his mind, "We will break you, Captain." the alien's contempt was clear even in this non-vocal communication, "When you reveal the location of your ship, we will transport your crew to the surface of our planet, where they will be willing slaves and breeding stock for our people. Humans are tragically inferior, but we will harvest the DNA we need."

These were the Mind Masters of Zeta Herculis--a stagnant, decadent race that over the millenia had lost all genetic diversity from cloning. They had searched for hundreds of years for a compatible race to reinvigorate their species, and at last had found that opportunity in the humans who had investigated their planet.

Reed tried to empty his mind, hoping the Mind Master wouldn't detect his intentions. The Captain leaped at the alien, his suspicions confirmed as he passed through the bars that were only in his mind, and he grasped at the neck below the disproportionately large head...

This has been another installment of Forehead Friday! Forehead Friday will continue each Friday until the finale of the indiegogo project to fund the Starships & Spacemen Second Edition rule book.

You can find previous Forehead Friday posts here and here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Awesome LL adventure comic!

Came across this blog post. It's for a group that's playing Labyrinth Lord, and one of the players made a short comic about their game session-hilarious!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Starships & Spacemen 2e: New Perk Level Added!

Due to several requests, I’ve added a Perk level at $25—Sub-Lieutenant. This perk comes with the PDF and a perfect bound copy of the book (instead of a hard cover).

What this also means if is if you have pledged at the Captain or Admiral level you will also be receiving the perfect bound book!

Several people have also asked me how to upgrade their Perk to a higher level. The way to do that is to click any Perk as if you are making a new pledge, but scroll down to where you can enter your own dollar amount. Add the amount of money for the difference between your current Perk and the Perk you would like to upgrade to. In the notes section please note your intent so that I can sort that out at the end of the funding campaign.

As of this writing we are about 60% toward the goal! Thanks you for the support, everyone. If you can continue to spread the word it would be much appreciated!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Forehead Friday...rolled 81

In Starships & Spacemen, if the referee chooses to roll a random forehead when a new alien race is encountered, the forehead might not just give an appearance to the alien, but also suggest something about the aliens and how the encounter should be carried out. It can be as much a game adventure seed as an aesthetic device.

"Captain, nuclear drives are gone. We're dead in the water!" the com buzzed with the voice of a frantic Engineering Officer.

"I need maneuvering ability now, Lieutenant!" the Captain shouted, "Helm, arm beam weapons."

"Beam banks are inoperable, Captain." Ensign Cho explained, as calmly as his Space Fleet training allowed, "Captain, we're receiving a visual from the enemy ship."

"Put it on screen." said Captain Reed.

The screen sluggishly came to life, flickering from beam fire damage inflicted by the alien vessel.

Several humanoid figures became visible, on a ship deck with many tube structures gurgling fluids of various hues.

Behind the Captain, the Communications Officer gasped. "Captain, its brain..." she trailed off.

"...we've heard of these aliens," Reed whispered, "they call themselves..."

"We are the Cerebrophones." a machine-like voice pronounced through the crackling sound distortion of the damaged communications equipment, "You will surrender your vessel. Many of our people are in need of your bodies. You will surrender them to us and your brains will be placed in cold storage. Forever."

"Commander Silek," Captain Reed said, looking meaningfully toward the Tauran Science Officer, "I need your command codes for the self-destruct mechanism..."

I am seeking preorders for Starships & Spacemen to fund the final art and printing of the book. I will be having Forehead Friday each Friday until the end of the indiegogo campaign. We're already 50% there about one week into the program. Be sure to check out the miniatures available with the book!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Comments on the Prometheus Movie (Spoilers)

For the last few years I've been frustrated with the types of movies Hollywood has produced. The endless stream of remakes, for one, is especially disappointing. The fact that they are remaking Total Recall bothers the hell out of me, but I digress.

I'm a big fan of Alien and Bladerunner, so for the first time in a long time I was excited to go to the theater. It was a mixed bag. I'm going to whine and complain a bit, so bear with me!

I wouldn't say it's horrible, but it wasn't that great either. Too many things went unexplained to the point that parts were incomprehensible. Leaving something of a mystery is fine, but it wasn't handled well. For example, in the beginning scene, what was up with the alien guy dissolving? Why did he kill himself? Was that CGI animation of his DNA dissolving into the water significant in some way, and if so, how? My wife suggested that his DNA "seeded" the Earth, leading to humans, but if that were the case why were their pictograms around the world indicating people worshiped the aliens? Clearly they contributed more than just their DNA.

I also didn't get how one of the alien-movie-type creatures emerged from the alien guy at the end...weren't we dealing with a different alien menace earlier? Did it mutate? What the hell is going on, anyway? Ok, so they created us, and they want to destroy us. Given that they started making this alien bioweapon when humans were still using bows and arrows, wouldn't it have just been easier to swing on by the ol' planet earth and carpet bomb it? Is it that complicated?

Also, I realize over-the-top action is probably to be expected, but come on. You can't have an emergency cesarean, staple up your stomach after all those muscles have been severed, then go running around, leaping across crevasses, etc. in that condition.

But probably the biggest disappointment for me is the origin explanation for humans. By and large I don't like it when this type of thing is done to explain human origins, though I did like the more recent way it was done in the Battlestar Gallactica series.

I've heard that some cops can't stand to watch crime shows because of the way crime scenes and police behavior is depicted, and that lawyers often have a hard time watching courtroom shows. Similarly, since I am an anthropologist who specializes in human evolution, it is painful to me to see them setup a totally implausible scenario for the origin of humans. I get it, this is sci-fi, but it ruins my ability to suspend disbelief. There is too much evidence for the evolution of humans on Earth to just say we were plopped down here by aliens. Without going into technical detail, that is the long and short of it. It is lazy writing, not to mention an overdone concept.

So in the end it was an ok way to spend a couple of hours if you have no expectations. I liked the synthetic's character. I don't mind the philosophizing about what it means to be human, (I'm a big fan of Philip K. Dick) but the way the movie handled it was sophomoric. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a movie elitist, and I generally like movies that are not supposed to have deep meaning, but if you're going to tackle this issue at least add something new to the conversation.

I've read a lot of reviews that say the movie tried to do too many things. In general I agree, but the bad taste it leaves is that it doesn't do any one of those things very well and it feels like this is a movie written specifically to spawn sequels. So while it sets up a bunch of things to explore in later movies, right here and now the movie doesn't do much for you. I think a movie should stand on its own, and this one IMHO doesn't.

Apparently they are in the early stages of making a Bladerunner sequel (still working on a script I think). Thinking about that makes me feel a peculiar mix of hope and dread. I'm afraid of what they'll do in a sequel.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Forehead Friday...rolled 03

Every Friday between now and the completion of the IndieGoGo to fund the Starships & Spacemen Second Edition game I'll feature a random forehead!

Coming up with new alien races can be a challenge, which is probably why a certain...ahem...generation of science fiction invents forehead shapes to differentiate alien races. In Starships & Spacemen 2e there is an optional section to include this component to your game.

Steve Zieser illustrated 100...yes, 100 forehead configurations so that you can roll a d% each time you encounter a new alien race. When I came to Steve with this concept I think he thought I was a bit nuts, and I know he found it challenging to illustrate that many unique foreheads. But he pulled it off beautifully.

The foreheads are included in the playtest document, which you get access to as a contributor to the IndieGoGo project. Get your voyages underway!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Starships & Spacemen IndieGoGo is Live!

Carry Out Missions in the Final Frontier!

The IndieGoGo project to fund the Starships & Spacemen Second Edition rule book is now live!

Starships & Spacemen was first released back in 1978, only the second science fiction RPG ever to be released.

This second edition of the classic game is compatible with Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future. The best elements of the first edition have been kept--the classes and subclasses, the excellent starship rules, and the space adventuring rules. Classes, races, and abilities have been made more in line with Labyrinth Lord.

This second edition has elements that let you customize the style of play whether you prefer an "original series" feel, a "next generation" feel, or something in between.

You won't be bogged down by an over-complicated and detailed galaxy. That's one of the difficulties sometimes when trying to play in an established licensed universe. With Starships & Spacemen get just enough information to get going, and plenty of advice for designing your galaxy. Galactic space will be yours to customize.

Much like in Labyrinth Lord, in Starships & Spacemen you design your milieu. This is adventuring in space, not History 101!

Pledging at any level gives you access to the playtest draft and the playtest forums!