I have been asked a few questions about other aspects of my blog. For example who is Goober? Why Vulcan Stev? I was writing a reply to these questions and getting ready to tag it as non-rpg blog post when I realized that answers to both of these questions involve RP after a manner of speaking. It was after this realization that I came to the conclusion that Role Playing is where my various hobbies meet. The skills I use in my puppeteering and creative writing serve me as player and GM as well and vice-versa. Thus the rewrite of a simple behind-the-scenes Q&A into a full blown article about RPG skills.
Goober is the lead character for my puppet team. He is at his core, a Dennis the Menace/Calvin type character. We don’t use scripts when Goober is on stage as dealing with Goober is a form of free associating role play. Most of the “skits” involving Goober are based on a one-line riff, with Goober and his straightman verbally sparring with each other building on the last line spoken. How is puppeteering role playing? I cannot “do” Goober unless I am physically talking in his voice. Once I’m doing the voice, Goober comes naturally.
Stev is a character that I write for the Starships of the Third Fleet writing club. The “Captain” writes a prologue and it is then up to the members to write their mission report. I’ve been writing Stev off and on for the better part of two decades. I’ll stare at the prologue and be unable to write unless I’m “in” Stev’s mind so-to-speak.
How do these two completely different pursuits tie-in to becoming a better player and/or GM? In both instances I am not the one providing the starting spot. With Goober, I’m usually riffing off of the Pastor’s sermon that morning, or along whatever “theme” we have for that night’s puppet show. In Stev’s case, the Captain provides the problem and I have to come up with the solution. Step outside the box for the moment. What difference other than tropes and semantics, is there between Goober talking about Pastor Gary’s sermon, my writing Stev’s solution, or trying to figure Nevets’ way out of the trap that the DM just described? Really? there is no difference. It’s all Improv, different disciplines to be sure. But in each I need to be quick on my feet.
Now flip the whole thing on it’s head. When Sergeant Steelflex of SG-21 suddenly wants to question the conductor of the train the team is riding, I need to be able to step into character quickly even if the character wasn’t supposed to do anything beyond collecting the tickets. I need to quickly find the Conductor’s voice and let my improv skills come to the surface. I have discovered over the years that I have a very strong talent in building off of another’s foundation. Every time I exercise my improvisational skills it only improves that talent for use. The three hobbies build on each other.
My advice for honing your RPG skills is to find something else that stretches your creative thinking. Creativity is creativity whether its puppets, RPG, writing, drawing, whatever causes you stretch your thinking. Stretch and excercies your thinking and your RPG skills will improve as well.
Stev, is definitely not a monster. He is an officer serving aboard the USS Phoenix as such I really couldn’t monsterize myself in that manner. What I did do is anagram Stev the Vulcan and have monsterized two of the more colorful results. I hope that these monsters are useful in your campaign. They have been statted out in Savage Worlds format but can be used with appropriate conversions in any setting.
Shaven Cult Vet– The Shaven Cult are violently opposed to body hair of any sort. Encountering a Vet, or high ranking priest while displaying any body hair is a show way to invite an attack. These cultists will first attempt to forcibly remove your hair. If you comply and let them remove your body hair they will attempt to convert you (opposed role vs spirit).
Attributes: Agility: d6, Smarts: d6, Spirit: d8, Strength: d6, Vigor: d6
Skills:Faith: d8, Fighting: d8, Persuasion: d8, Notice: d8, Stealth: d8, Streetwise: d8
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 5
Hindrances: Obligations to the Temple, Vow to remove hair
Edges: Arcane Background (hair related magic), Connections
Gear: Scythe-like hair remover
Velvet Uch Ants – These purpelish ants are 3x the size of normal ants and are so named for the cool and smooth feel to the touch. However touching these ants would not be adviseable. Not only is their bite poisonous but they leach toxins through the velvety hairs covering their bodies. The swarm covers a medium burst template and attacks everyone within the template every round.
Skills: Notice d10
Pace: 10; Parry: 4; Toughness: 7
Bite– Swarms of Uch Ants inflict hundreds of tiny bites every round to their victims hitting automatically and causing 2d4 damage to their victims within the template. Victims must make a Vigor role at -4 due to the poison in the bites
Split– Uch Ants are sufficiently intelligent enough to split into smaller swarms (Small burst templates take the place of the medium template) should the party split up
Swarm– Parry +2 because the swarm is made up of of hundreds of these large ants, cutting and piercing weapons do little to no damage. Area effect weapons work normally. A PC can inflict damage per his/her strength by stomping each round. Uch ants can only be defeated by inflicting damage normally water does not deter them, as Uch Ants are capable swimmers.
I’ve also statted out Aluminus, the Mountain Monster my imaginary foe at work.
Skills: Fighting d8
Pace: 4; Parry: 6; Toughness: 14 (4)
Armor – +4 due to metallic hide
Meld (10″):Aluminus can meld with earth or metal into or out of the ground or metal objects
Elemental: No additional damage from called shots, Fearless, Immune to disease and poison. Primary weakness is water.
Star Trek versus Star Wars. In my own unscientific background data search I have discovered an animosity between fans of Star Trek and fans of Star Wars. “Star Trek versus Star Wars: generated over 3,500,000 pages on Google. “Star Trek is better that Star Wars” had over 800,000 different sites. Slightly less but still over 800,000 sites for the reverse. I’m curious as to why.
I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since I saw the first one in the theaters for my 10th birthday. I have enjoyed all six movies, the comic books, novels, The Clone Wars cartoon from the Cartoon Network. I even enjoyed the malaigned recent Clone Wars movie. I can remember sitting in line for tickets for Jedi. I hauled my kids out of school so we could go the first showing of Revenge of the Sith. Am I a Star Wars fan? Yes.
I remember sitting down with my father in the early 70’s to watch Star Trek. The episode was Catspaw. The opening sequence scared me silly. I didn’t watch Star Trek again until TMP came out in 1979. I was intrigued. This didn’t happen a long time ago in a galaxy far far away; these were humans and their friends just 300 years from now. I came home from that (admittedly bad) movie hooked. Was this the show Dad had tried to share with me? I devoured reruns of the original series whenever I could. I eagerly anticipated every new movie. I subscribed to Starlog to get behind the scenes info on the next movie and discovered a whole new world of Science Fiction. Star Trek was my door to a whole new world of discovery. When TNG premiered on TV I called in sick to work to see the first episode. My daughter grew up watching Star Trek with her Daddy. I joined a creative writing club, Starships of the Third Fleet. My online identity comes from this club. Am I fan of Star Trek? Yes.
What I don’t understand is how some fans of either claim that the other is no good. Star Trek and Star Wars are (to be cliche) apples and oranges in the big fruit basket of Science Fiction. The each have their good points and an honest fan will admit that each have their faults as well. I for one cannot understand we a person cannot be a fan of both. I am sure I’m not the only one who likes both. but I welcome any fan to explain to me why one is better than the other.
I have been writing off and on for a creative writing club called Starships of the Third Fleet for the better part of a decade. Stev the Vulcan has been my character from the beginning. I thought I’d post this article with links to all of the recent stories I’ve written for the club.