Vulcan Stev's Database

It's a BLOG Captain, but not as we know it.

Naval Battle: a paper family game

My extended family sat down last night after Thanksgiving dinner and decided to play a game rather than sit and watch mindless TV. We played a paper version of Battleship that my dad hastily drew out on paper as remembered from his youth. He asked if I could use my skills to make cleaner version for future family game nights. It was a nice family time. I present Naval Battle for you to download and use for your own family gathering.

This isn’t technically an RPG but it is a paper-based game that only requires printing and pencils to play. Rules follow the Battleship game from Hasbro.

November 25, 2011 Posted by | Alien Graphics, Other Systems, Play, RPG | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Demotivational Poster: Fan Mash-ups

Burn the land, Boil the sea, You can’t take the Boldly Going away from me.

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Demotivational Posters, Firefly, Fluff/Inspiration, Science Fiction, Star Trek | , , , , | 1 Comment

Demotivational Poster: Summer Glau

I count six so far.  Bonus points if you can name them.

February 15, 2011 Posted by | Demotivational Posters, Firefly, Fluff/Inspiration, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Vulcan Stev Family Review: Stargate Universe season 1.0


Robert Carlyle …  Dr. Nicholas Rush
Justin Louis …  Col. Everett Young
Brian J. Smith …  Lt. Matthew Scott
Elyse Levesque …  Chloe Armstrong
David Blue …  Eli Wallace
Alaina Huffman …  Lt. Tamara Johansen
Jamil Walker Smith …  Sgt. Ronald Greer
Patrick Gilmore …  Dale Volker
Peter Kelamis …  Adam Brody
Julia Benson …  Lt. Vanessa James
Jennifer Spence …  Lisa Park
Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman …  Sgt. Darren Becker
Mark Burgess …  Jeremy Franklin
Ming-Na …  Camile Wray

Series premise from IMDb: The Previously unknown purpose of the “Ninth Cheveron” is revealed, and ends up taking a team to an Ancient ship “Destiny”, a ship built millions of years ago by the Ancients, used to seed Distant galaxies with Stargates. This team, led by Dr. David Rush and Colonel Everet Young, are trapped on the ship, unable to change its programmed mission, and encounter new races, new technology and new enemies, as the runaway ship takes them to the far ends of the Universe.

This is the second (third if you count the animated series) spin-off of the popular and successful Stargate franchise.  Contrary to all the naysayers posting their drivel in forums and blogs, the series is still too new to be written off completely.  The Vulcan Stev family has faithfully watched every aired episode on SyFy (that’s pronounced siffy) and we just got done re-watching the first 10 episodes (really 9 as the first episode is a 2 hour intro that has been split for subsequent airings).  Two initial observations: for all of MGM’s hype that Sargate is the ‘most popular, longest-running, science fiction tv series’, Stargate sure seems to follow Star Trek’s footsteps very closely (Star Trek TOS & TNG the main universe, DS9 a far flung outpost, Voyager – a ship with a combined crew at odds with each other stranded far from home; ) and SGU sure has not delivered (to date) on it’s promise of new aliens or new enemies.

VS: 1.4 pointed ears
First to the rabid fanboys (and girls) crying on the forums that “this isn’t Stargate”.  No, it’s a different show set in the same fictional universe.  *Wah* it doesn’t Col O’Neil or Dr. Jackson and no T’ealc, one of the bigger problems I had with SG-Atlantis is that is WAS too similar to SG-1.  Universe has a strong premise but 10 episodes is nowhere near enough aired footage to kill or praise the show.  Universe is Stargate mainly because MGM says so.  At least we’ve got the correct creative team behind the show, Robin C. Wright and Brad Cooper delivered some of SG-1’s best moments.  They’re not out to kill the franchise.

My biggest problem and biggest praise to date is that the producers have spent so much time with the problems on board the Destiny; power, water, air, and the problems back home that there has been very little in the way exploration.  These issues needed to be dealt with and I applaud the producers for doing the episodes, but personally I think ten episodes was a little too much time to spend on “broken ship’ episodes.  Again we’ve only seen ten episodes, so I hope the writers are taking care of the “we don’t know how to run the ship” episodes early on and leaving us with the promised new adventures for the rest of the series.

I’m also trying hard to accept the fact that this premise is a blatant rip-off of Star Trek Voyager; two crews with radically different goals, one military, one not are trapped so far from home that the possibility of seeing home again in their lifetime is remote.  The difference between this show and Voyager  is that Voyager spent wa-a-ay too much time with the Kazon and Universe is spending way to much time on the broken ship.

I had a difficult time figuring out who was who during the initial airing of the 10 episodes  this is a very large cast of characters, watching the episodes back to back helped that problem.  The Kino webisodes and other extras included with the DVD make this a nice addition to the collection.

Mrs. VS: 1.2 pointed ears
This show was confusing when I watched it with my family (editor’s note: Mrs. VS caught the episode “Time”).  It was a very professionally done show.  Watching it I can understand why my family enjoys this series so much.

PIT #2: 1.7 pointed ears
I understand the need to have shows were the characters are figuring out a new strange existence.  It seems that every show this season is about a problem with the ship.  I really hope that season 1.5 delivers on its promise of new aliens and new threats.  I don’t like it that Dr. Rush is one of the sources of conflict.

PIT #3: 1 pointed ear
The whole season was about the broken ship.  I like the characters, especially Lt. Scott.  I don’t like all the kissing and junk.  If the show could actually be about something other than the broken ship, like the episode “Time” then the show will start to be better.

6.3 pointed ears out of 8
Not a bad show.  The series needs to find its own identity.  We’re going to give it a shot as Cooper and Wright haven’t let us down yet.

A must have if you’re a serious Stargate fan.  If you’re thinking of picking up the DVD as an intro to the series because you missed the episodes, the $29.99 price tag would suggest watching episodes on Hulu first to see if it’s your cup of tea.

March 3, 2010 Posted by | Movie Reviews, Movies, Science Fiction, Stargate | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gaming in the Universe of… Night at the Museum

akmenrah-tabletNight at the Museum 2: Battle for the Smithsonian as reviewed by the family:

The Night at the Museum movies are set in our modern world.  There aren’t any superpowered beings.  Larry, the night watchman, is a normal guy who happens, according to his son, have the coolest job in the world.  The whole kernel of inspiration in both movies is an extended dungeon crawl.  The one unique thing from this film series is the tablet of Ahkmenrah.

 The tablet of Ahkmenrah, however, is a pretty powerful artifact.  Based on the events of the movies, the table brings to life mummified remains, skeletal remains, stuffed remains, sculpted representations of living organisms, paintings and sculptures.  The tablet also turns photographs into portals to the period being photographed.  Properly used it can open other portals as well.

Having statues come to life is nothing new to D&D.  This concept has been used by more than one DM, I’m sure.  However you could send your PCs out on a quest to recover the tablet.  Some evil wizard may want it for his own nefarious purposes.  Or a Lawful/Good wizard may want to safeguard this powerful artifact.  Whatever you as a DM decide, make SURE that the PCs enter the dungeon housing the artifact after the sun goes down.

Tablet of Ahkmenrah: A Magical Artifact
After sundown the Tablet of Ahkmenrah is capable of bring to life the remains of any living creature.  Skeletons will become animated.  Stuffed and mummified remains will regain their full undecomposed bodies.  Manufactured, carved, or constructed representations of life, will be given a sentient personality.

All creatures/humanoids revert to their “unliving” state when the sun rises.  The life cycle is similar to our wake/sleep cycle, for all intents and purposes, daylight is when they sleep.  Constructed representations of specific entities retain the knowledge of the entity they represent as well as the knowledge of what they actually are.  It is unknown whether a representation of a superhero or a monster would have the abilities as the original.

Artistic representations become animated and interactive.

Photographs (if they exist in your setting) become portals to the era/place/time being photographed.  Residents of the photographed period are not aware of the portal but can and will interact with the PCs once they have entered.  It is unknown what happens to the PCs if they do not return through the portal before sun-up.

June 25, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, Gaming in the Universe of..., Legacy D&D, Other Systems, RPG | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Foxbat for President: What if that annoying geek from high school took over?

foxbatFoxbat a Supervillian from the Hero Universe is running for president.  You’ll need the fifth edition Hero Rules to play it straight out.  Though the set-up will work well for any Super Hero RPG.

For those you who are unfamiliar with Foxbat, imagine Bruce Wayne as a spoiled comic-book geek.  Instead of becoming a hero, Foxbat becomes a villian because it is more fun.

This setting follows the whole campaign from start to finish.  Reading through the book I was reminded of DC’s 2000 campaign to get Lex Luthor elected.  Superman had to stand idly by while his arch-nemesis took control of the country.  Your heroes won’t standing by on the sidelines but they might feel just as helpless as Supes.

Foxbat reminds me an awful lot of someone I went to school with.  I’m going to call him Happy.  Happy tried wa-a-y to hard to fit in with our geek group.  Happy tried to hard to be a geek.  Happy was never successful at being a geek.  Every female in group was groped at least once by Happy.  Happy didn’t make many friends in our group.  We tried desperately to get away from him.  However because ours was an after school club we were open to any student.  We were geeks and proud of it.  Happy was a geek-wannabe and an annoying one at that.

I can just picture Happy putting on a Foxbat costume and running for president.  Foxbat strikes me as just the annoying, petulant, pain-in-the-posterior, that your heroes would be sorry every time they have to save his butt.   Will your heroes save Foxbat as his own past comes back to haunt him during the campaign.  Would I do the same for Happy?  Would you?

Foxbat for President with enough plot hooks and adventures to run a whole campaign (no pun intended).  Foxbat’s minions are all statted out and ready to use with the Hero rules.  Foxbat for President sounds like fun, for your players, not necessarily their characters.

Want to learn more about Foxbat for President? Read on…

Drop by BlackWyrm Games and order Foxbat for President today!

June 19, 2009 Posted by | News, Reviews and Culture, Other Systems, RPG | , , , , , | 7 Comments

RPG Blog Carnival: Gaming in the Universe of…. Steampunk

rpgblogcarnivallogocopyThis month’s topic of Steampunk & Klockwerks is being hosted by Mad Brew Labs.  I’m currently running Reality Blur’s Rune Punk as a Stargate Scenario for my Friday night game group.  This is a quintessential Steampunk setting that goes into quite a bit of detail.   We’re enjoying it, but I will admit that Steampunk is not my first choice when it comes to gaming scenarios.  I prefer High Fantasy (D&D) or SF (Star Trek, Stargate).  However this month’s topic got me thinking what it is about Steampunk that appeals to so many folks.

Before I started writing this post I didn’t think I was very familiar with the genre.  So, I started with a search of Steampunk on Google and came across this list of American films that utilize Steampunk:
(1958) The Fabulous World of Jules Verne
(1979) Time After Time
(1999) Wild Wild West
(2001) Atlantis: The Lost Empire
(2003) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
(2004) Van Helsing
(2007) The Golden Compass
I’ve actually seen and enjoyed a few of these films.  Maybe I’m not as much of Steampunk noob as I thought.  As I pondered this list I though of something I like to add to this list, the 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Although Chitty is not strictly speaking a steampunk setting, Caractacus Potts is clearly a steampunk inventor.

I have seen four of those films Wild Wild West, League of Extraordinary Gentleman, Atlantis, and Van Helsing (five including Chitty) and have enjoyed each of them.  Wild Wild West could easily be played using the Savage Worlds Deadlands.  Van Helsing can be dropped into a D&D campaign with no difficulty.  The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is begging to be run as a Mutants and Masterminds game.  Carracticus Potts can be dropped as is into your steampunk setting.  Admittedly, the search for Atlantis is something I’d probably run as a campaign instead of a setting.

What it is it about steampunk that appeals to some folks but not to others?  Few of the films on that list (except Chitty) was ever considered a hit.  In fact Wild Wild West, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Van Helsing were all planned as  a series of movies but the poor box office showing of the originals scuttled planned sequels.  I have discovered that as a general rule my fellow bloggers really enjoy these films in this genre (Wild Wild West being an exception). 

Why as a general rule are RPGers able to suspend their disbelief more for this Victorian Sci-Fi as opposed to the mainstream audience that cannot?  It cannot be the sci-fi angle as there have been many true science fiction hits.  My belief is that we as RPGers are able to disassociate alternate realities.  We are constantly playing in altered or alternate universes.   We as a group aren’t “tied” to history, the general audience cannot let go their perceptions from “what happened” to enjoy what is being depicted on screen or in your game.

Because RPGers are constantly placing themselves (and characters) in alternate realities,  we have no problem imagining a world where Jules Verne actually invented the things he wrote about.  We can wax eloquent on how current technology could have been built using clockwork gears and steam power.  This, I believe is why Steampunk is more of hit amongst RPGers than it is amongst the general public.  As such I present the following Savage Worlds Wild Card NPC.

van-helsingVan Helsing, a Steam Punk Fighter/Cleric
Name: Van Helsing
Race: Human
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d8, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d6, Driving d8, Fighting d8, Guts d8, Knowledge (Arcane) d8, Knowledge (languages) d6, Notice d6, Shooting d8, Stealth d8, Survival d6, Throwing d8
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 5;
Hindrances:  Heroic, Code of Honor
Edges: Combat Reflexes, Arcane Background, Arcane Resistance
Gear: Large variety of items used in fighting the supernatural

June 11, 2009 Posted by | Blog Carnival, Fluff/Inspiration, Gaming in the Universe of..., Other Systems, RPG, Savage Worlds, Stargate | , , , | 6 Comments

Gaming in the Universe of… Star Trek

ncc-1701-aStar Trek as reviewed by the family

Gaming in the Universe of Star Trek guest post by Uncle Bear: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Uncle Bear offered some very nice world-building tips and thoughts on how he’d run a game set in Roddenberry’s universe.  These were helpful and I appreciate his efforts on my behalf.  However it would be illogical for me to not offer my own thoughts on gaming in my favorite universe.

Star Trek has had a long history of association with RPGs.  FASA published quite a number of books in the 1980s.  From 2002 – 2007 Decipher picked up the license to produce the RPG.  This was produced after their successful run of the Star Trek CCG.  I found more Pbem Trek RPGS than I’d care to list.  I also found Groknard’s Blog, which is very useful compilation of Star Trek blogs and associated RPG materials.  My own personal favorite Trek related RPG is the Starships of the Third Fleet creative writing club.

I have been playing Lt. Stev off and on for the better part of two decades.  Through Stev’s eyes, I’ve infiltrated the Romulan Empire to rescue Federation operatives.  I’ve traveled through time to Earth’s past.  I have encountered evil doppelgangers of Stev and his fellow crew mates.  Stev and I have had a lot of adventures and that is one of the nice things about the Star Trek universe.  It is fully realized and ready for you to play in.  With over 40 years of world building development it is one of the better sandbox settings that has ever been developed.

Star Trek has a long history using other genres in the stories told; westerns (Fistful of Datas), gothic horror (Catspaw), war (Most of the later season of DS9), time travel (at least one from each series), gangsters (A Piece of the Action) and many more genres that have been adapted.  If I factor in the stories (games) I’ve participated in Third Fleet, you can add High Fantasy, Murder Mystery, and Prison Break to that list.  Star Trek is rife for just about any kind of game that you want to run.

How would I run a Star Trek game?  One shot scenarios would be run off a starship.  I’d plan a nice dungeon crawl, using the meta-dungeon of the entire planet’s surface.  I’d run it with the Captain of the ship being played by the DM.  The first officer would be the party leader and the players would be members of the away team.  Something would interfere with the ability to just beam the PCs off the surface until they finished the dungeon crawl/mission.

For an ongoing campaign, I’d run either a Voyager based game or DS9 styled game.  Just about any adventure module published for any other game could be adapted.  TOS: Orcs=Klingons, Demons=Romulans, TNG: Orcs=Cardassians, Demons=Borg  just for thumbnail conversions. 

The ONLY problem I’ve ever had in wanting to run a Star trek game was in convincing players that they’d want to play in Star Trek game.  PIT #1 has been the only one of my players that ever wanted to play Star Trek.  That said should I ever get the chance to run a Star Trek game, I’d take my friend Nuke Havoc’s suggestion and use the Savage World’s Pirates of the Spanish Main setting for the rule set.  Intrigued? he’s writing a guest post about how to do just that.  I’m getting ready to use his idea.  Stats for Kirk, Spock and certain Vulcan Lieutenant. 

CaptainkirkName: James T. Kirk 
: Human
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d8, Driving d4, Fighting d8, Guts d8, Notice d6,  Shooting d8, Survival d6, Throwing d10
Charisma: 5; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 5;
Hindrances:  Quirk (cannot find a beautiful woman without attempting to bed her), Heroic, Loyal
Edges: Combat Reflexes, Block, Command, Strong Willed, Attractive

spockName: Spock
Race: Vulcan
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d10, Spirit d6, Strength d8,
Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d6, Driving d8, Fighting d8, Guts d8, Knowledge (computers) d8, Knowledge (Logic) d12, Knowledge (science) d8, Notice d6,  Shooting d8, Survival d6
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 5;
Hindrances:  Quirk (strives to block his emotions), Quirk (seeks logic above all else)
Edges: Combat Reflexes, Block, Command, Vulcan Nerve Pinch

stev_small1Name: Stev
Race: Vulcan
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d10, Spirit d6, Strength d8,
Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d6, Driving d8, Fighting d8, Guts d8, Knowledge (espionage) d8, Knowledge (Terran Rock and Roll) d10, Knowledge (computers) d8, Knowledge (languages) d10, Notice d6,  Piloting d8, Shooting d8, Stealth d8, Survival d6, Throwing d10
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 5;
Hindrances:  Outsider amongst Vulcans, Curious, Quirk (translates ancient Terran poetry {Rock and Roll})
Edges: Combat Reflexes, Investigator, Scholar

June 10, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, Gaming in the Universe of..., Other Systems, RPG, Savage Worlds, Star Trek | , , , , | Leave a comment

Gaming in the Universe of… Tron

Tron as reviewed by the family:

tron03I’ve done some searching across the web for Tron RPGs.  I’ve found one abandoned forum and an abandoned PBP RPG site.  Given that it is a Disney movie and an old one at that I wasn’t expecting much.  I do remember playing the coin-op video game back in the early 80’s and have watched my children avidly play the Kingdom Hearts 2 for the PS2.  Although geared very well towards video games, Tron is not a universe that immediately conjures RPG scenarios.  That said I”ve come up with some themes and inspirations for your game.

Tron is at its heart a Messiah story, the story of a god coming down amongst its creation.  Unlike the accounts recorded in the Gospels, Tron is the story of a reluctant god who does not understand the rules governing the rules of its creation.  This could be gamed from either side of the coin.  You as the GM could introduce a new NPC to the party.  This NPC demonstrates some unusual powers while at the same time displaying an unusual amount of lack of common knowledge.  This NPC is there to help the party for some unknown reason but does not know why.  It’s up to the party to figure things out.

The flip-side of that coin is to have the PCs transported to a realm where they understand very little of the social mores and customs.  They quickly discover they have abilities far beyond those of everyone else.  They’re there to help their new friends but have to discover the reasons for themselves.  Why have they been transported?  Who transported them?  All things to play out in this type of campaign.

Another plot hook that can be drawn from Tron, the party is participating in an increasingly difficult series of challenges or games.  These games eventually end with party finally facing the local champion.

tron-flynn-ramName: Tron Race: Program treated as Human for most games
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6,
Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d6, Driving d8, Fighting d8, Guts d8, Notice d6,  Survival d6, Throwing d10
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 5;
Hindrances:  Wanted, Vow to free the System from control of the MPC (Local Overlord), Servitor of his User (Land owner)
Edges: Combat Reflexes, Block, Command

Name: Flynn Race: Human treated as godlike for most games
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d6, Driving d8, Fighting d6, Guts d6, Intimidation d6, Knowledge (Programming) d8, Notice d6, Piloting d6,  Survival d6, Throwing d6
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 5;
Hindrances:  Clueless to his new environment, Overconfident
Edges: Archane Background (matter control), Charismatic

Name: Sark Race: Program treated as human for most games
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d4, Driving d8, Fighting d6, Guts d6, Intimidation d8, Notice d8, Piloting d6,  Survival d6, Throwing d8
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 5;
Hindrances:  Servitor of the MPC, Heartless
Edges: Combat Reflexes, Block

June 9, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, Gaming in the Universe of..., Other Systems, RPG, Savage Worlds | , , , , | 2 Comments

Nobis: Looking at the Religion.

nobisNobis is a new game coming out soon from Pantheon Press.  The Database is participating in a pre-release overview of some of the aspects of the game.  The Database is looking at the Religions used in the game.

The gods of Nobis are powerful beings native to the planet who have ascended to godhood.  These beings went to war with each other and sundered the pantheon back in Nobis’ past.  This sundering has fractured the pantheon and caused a great power loss amongst the gods of Nobis.

The role of religions in Nobis is more of a reflection of our own 21st century.  After reading the book I can only assume that this was intentional.  The gentler aspects of faith, are people who provide help in times of disaster and shelter those in need, just as we see in today’s world.  The followers of the crueler aspects of a deity can and will perpetrate atrocities in the name of their god.

The unique thing about religion and deities in Nobis is that each god has a duality.  For example:

Geranda, the goddess of knowledge is split amongst the duality of beneficial knowledge and the secrets that men keep in their souls.  The Lawful Neutral clerics and priests of Geranda love Knowledge and education.  Her Lawful Evil followers revel in the gossip, lies and destructive knowledge that lurks in the hearts and minds of man.

The gods of Nobis are still at war with each other.  They fight with each over the one thing they value, followers and true believers.  This in-fighting keeps the pantheon preoccupied.  It also keeps them from interfering too much in the day-to-day affairs of the common-folk.

The churches of each deity cover the range of social stratus and reasons for being in church.  The truly faithful gather together for worship.  The socialites gather together to be seen.  The government infiltrates to spy on them both.  The government wants to keep the churches open for the benefits they bring to society but does not want the churches or the gods gaining or regaining too much power.

I’ve read through the rulebook.  My first take on Nobis is a high-fantasy D&D-like game set in the early to mid 20th century.  I look forward to playing in or running a game.

June 5, 2009 Posted by | News, Reviews and Culture, Other Systems, RPG | , , , | 6 Comments