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Vulcan Stev Family Review: Stargate Universe season 1.0

Starring:

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

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

Game Night 3-27-09: Stargate SG-21

stargate1Col Winston and Sgt. Sassy escorted the prisoner they captured in last week’s game out of Scatterpoint across the wastes and to the Stargate.

Meanwhile, Maj. Johnson along with Sergeants Kyle, Emo, Mystery, Steeleflex, and Meeker took the Spiral to Black Shackle to rescue Sister Canondale.  Enroute Sergeant Steeleflex attempted to make the trip on the boarding platform outside the car.  The conductor told Sgt Steeleflex to sit down and politely ordered his party to keep an eye on him.

Major Johnson ordered Steeleflex to sit down.  Just as Steeleflex sat down the team heard the rending sound of the rear door of the car being ripped from its track.  Twelve Malakar marauders spilled onto the train and began demanding money from the passengers.  Sergeant Kyle had the brilliant idea to pull her Zat, put it against the floor and sending a stun pulse through the metal of the car.  Sgt Kyle called for her team to get up off the seats and then fired the Zat against the floor.  She managed to stun the first three quarters of the car but not the Malakar.

Steelflex successfully taunted that Malaker causing them to focus their attention on the team instead of their intended helpless victims.  During the ensuing battle the team discovered three things.  They discovered that Malakar have claws, ineffective against their Kevlar but claws nonetheless.  They discvoered that their P90s don’t deal out quite as much damage against the Malakar as the team is used to.  They also discovered that Zats are completely useless against the Malaker.

The team did manage to finally defeat the invaders and rescued the other passengers.  After the conductor regained consciousness he surveyed the damage to his train.  The team feared the worst having already become a thorn in the side of many of Scatterpoint’s residents.  They were pleasantly surprised when they were given free passes on the conductor’s train.

Next: Rescuing Sister Cannondale

March 29, 2009 Posted by | Gaming Notes, Other Systems, Play, RPG, Savage Worlds, Stargate | , , | Leave a comment

Game Night: 3-20-09

Last night all six of my regular players were there.  One player who had previously only attended long enough to make a character brought along two new folks.  So we had a total of nine.  There was some disappointment as I had stated earlier that we’d try to play Necessary Evil last night.  However due to Mrs VS chemo treatments and a long day at work I never got NE prepped correctly and I won’t run a game completely off the cuff.

The article about my efforts to homebrew RunePunk into a Stargate campaign is still in the works but one thing that needs to be brought out.  The Andari in RunePunk have become who they are from mishaps through accidents of the ring doors.  I have replaced the far doors in RunePunk with ring transports from Stargate.

Last week the team successfully helped out Lady Winterwood and received her recommendation for some work in Scatterpoint.

Last night Chancellor Peak IV summoned SG-21 to a meeting.  Lady Winterwood had informed him and (I hope that none of my players are reading this) unknown to the players hired them out as mercs to the Chancellor.  Chancellor Peak summoned them to Grey Mesa and “asked” them for their help in the mysterious disappearance of Sister Cannondale.  SG-21 accepted the job as Chancellor Peake dropped clues that the team might discover the identities of some of Scatterpoint’s government.

The team was directed to the Royal Crown Bar to a meeting of the Entropy Society, which is the last place Sister Cannondale was seen.  The team received a letter of recommendation from Chancellor Peake’s friend Lord Topper and off they went.

Gaining entrance to the bar the team began their investigation.  The new sniper, Chief Master Sergeant Meeker, climbed a building across the street to keep the bar under surveillance.  The team cautioned their leader to not pull a gun on the bartender.  After some quiet investigation the team determined that Lord Angst and Lady Ennui, the leaders of the Entropy society were upstairs.

Sergeants Mystery and Sassy bluffed their way upstairs with a forged note as the guard was not too bright.  Sgt Kyle bribed the bartender to allow her to bring drinks upstairs to the VIP lounge.  Sgt Steelflex attempted to taunt the guard after Mystery and Sassy had made their way past.  He succeeded and managed to get picked up one handed by the neck.  Major Johnson used the ensuing chaos to sneak past the guard.  All this happened while Colonel Winston continued to question the bartender.

The upstairs team was able to determine that Sister Cannondale had been moved to Arthur Shaw’s flat in Black Shackle.  The team downstairs continued to have fun with the guard as they discovered that stabbing him in the arm did not slacken his grip on Sgt Steelflex.  The guard kicked Sgt Emo away and finally threw Sgt Steelflex across the bar.

Sergeant Meeker tried to take out Lord Angst when it appeared that the upstairs team was in trouble due to Maj Johnson’s direct questioning of Lord Angst about Sister Cannondale’s whereabouts.  Lord Angst took a gut shit and direct shot to the head and still managed to call out for the guards to deal with the infiltrators.

Major Johnson jumped out the window.  Sgts Sassy, Mystery and Kyle ran back downstairs.  Colonel Winston ordered a retreat.  Sgt Emo dragged Sgt Steelflex’s unconscious form outside.  The team regrouped and made their way to the Spiral for the trip to Blackshackle.

March 21, 2009 Posted by | Gaming Notes, Play, RPG, Stargate | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Game Night 3-13-09

Open Game Night @ the Youth Center ( I REALLY need a cooler name for that).  We had 22 folks show up.  The RPG table ran our ongoing Stargate campaign.  Below is a synopsis of Friday’s game.

Stargate SG-21– The team has gated to P4X-514 or Scatterpoint as it is known by the locals.  Led by Lt. Col. Winston, the team consists of Major Johnson, Sgt. Emo, Sgt. Mystery, Sgt. Sassy, and Sgt. Kyle.  The gate on P4X-514 is located in the mists approximately 10 miles SE of the city proper.  The world is rich in Naquadah.

SG-21 is tasked with determining who the planetary ruling body is and then negotiate with them for the mining rights.  The problem? SG-1 spent a week on planet and was unable to determine if the was a unifying planetary government.  SG-21 is on extended assignment to determine as much as possible about the planet.

Sg-21 gated in and made their way to Pitchpit.  After determining what the local currency was and discovering that the local law enforcement is not all that observant, they hopped the Spiral to Grey Mesa.  The team determined that the best way to learn about Scatterpoint was to go to a local bar.

Sipping their drinks in the Broken Arm Bar, the team witnessed a nicely dressed woman come into the bar and then leave by the back door.  Four thugs followed immediately behind.  Major Johnson and the four Sergeants immediately stood to render assistance.  Col. Winston gave them permission to go while he stayed inside to question the bartender.  Three of the thugs were attempting to separate Lady Winterwood from her amulet.  The team rescued Lady Winterwood in the alley while Col Winston pulled a gun on the bartender.

While Col. Winston discovered that pulling a gun on a bartender in Scatterpoint is not a good idea, twelve Bluecoats demanded that Lady Winterwood give them her amulet.  Before fleeing the scene she threw her locket into the trash and told the team that if the returned it to her she would reward them.

After defeating the Bluecoats and finding the amulet, SG-21 found Lady Winterwood and returned her locket.  SG-21 now has a lead on ‘work’ on the planet so they can earn some of the local currency.

I’m using Reality BlursRunePunk as the setting for P4X-514.  I’ll be commenting further in upcoming game logs about my homebrewing this setting for use in my Stargate campaign.

March 14, 2009 Posted by | Gaming Notes, Other Systems, Play, Stargate | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Game Night 2-27-09: Stargate SG-21

I have been waiting to to write this up for three weeks.  After the first open game night at the youth center in town we had some setbacks.  The second week was scrubbed due to a basketball game between the two high schools that account for 90% of the teens who hang out at the youth center.  The following week the youth center was open for a Valentine’s Day Dance, no game night.  Last week was inclement weather that kept most everyone at home.

Last night, I had six of the original thirteen interested players show up ready to play.  We played Ron Fricke’s Savage Worlds adaptation of Alderac’s Stargate SG-1.  I had two main reasons for using the SW ruleset; the first was that I find SW to be one of the easiest systems to explain to new players and two I’ll be able to use Reality Blurs’ Rune Punk SW setting as a Stargate world.  I’ll explain that more in a later blog.

The players ranged in age from 10 – 17.  The youngest is PIT#3, through a fore-knowledge of the hook the GM (me) was suing to determine rank in the SGC ended up being a Lt. Col.  The other players weren’t happy with it but are at least giving him a chance to prove he can be the team  leader.  Kudos to the other players for showing the maturity necessary to keep the peace.

SG-21 teamed up with SG-18 and went off to provide backup to SG-1 who had been overrun by Jaffa.  Upon exiting the Stargate, SGs 18 & 21 faced off against 24 Jaffa wielding staff weapons.  Showing a remarkable unity for a team that had just been brought together, SG-21 along with the NPC team of SG-18 defeated all 24 Jaffa with only minor injuries.

Just as the last Jaffa fell to a tossed hand grenade, Colonel O’Neil’s face came across the radio, “Col. Winston, dial up Earth we’re coming in hot.  Jaffa on our tail.”  SG-1 appeared over the rise on the run followed by another two dozen Jaffa.  The PCs secured the gate and wiped out another platoon of Jaffa.  After returning to the SGC, General Hammond told then job well done.

48 hours later SG-21 was called to the briefing room.  Daniel Jackson and SG-1 had retrieved a parchment containing the gate address for a planet rich in Naquada.  SG-1 made a first contact to the P4X-514, designated Scatterpoint by the natives.  SG-21 has been ordered to Scatterpoint to determine the societal mores and ruling body of the planet so as to strike a bargain for the Naquada.  Next week we go through the gate.

Scatterpoint is of course the world in Reality Blurs’ Rune Punk.  I’ll talk more about how I’ve home brewed that setting into the Stargate universe.

February 28, 2009 Posted by | Observations of a Noob GM, RPG, Stargate | , , | 3 Comments