One of the things that took a big hit with the death of my wife was my writing. Now that I’ve finished up the estate, got the taxes done, and have the kids back in school, I’m dusting off some of the work that has been relegated to the back burner.
What really entertains me is the notion that my stories about a Vulcan who tries to experience his emotions is written in a similar style that is as much comedy as it is science fiction. I feel somewhat honored.
Anyway, I’m getting back into the saddle. I’ve got a really nice story in the works. However I thought it’d be nice to provide a little bit of a Stev primer. As well as a chronological listing of the stories I’ve finished.
Stev is a Vulcan who served in Starfleet aboard the USS Intrepid before becoming an agent of October (a loosely veiled reference to Section 31). He has a pet tribble named Phread (rhymes with bread)
Stev has logically deduced that the complete suppression of emotions is contrary to the teachings of Surak. He believes that Surak taught that emotions should be mastered. Looking at the success of Spock (a Vulcan with insight into the human emotional spectrum) as Kirk’s second-in-command, Stev decided that he should experience his emotions.
Stev was then exiled by the Vulcan High Command for this “radical” belief.
Stev served onboard the USS Intrepid for a number of years before a mission that brought him to the attention of October (Section 31). While on board the USS Intrepid he met and fell in love with T’Aiya Llire, a Vulcan/Romulan/Antosian. The two were bonded and served aboard the Intrepid until Stev left to become an Agent of Section 31.
T’Aiya underwent mental conditioning to believe that Stev had died. She suffered some severe emotional problems due to the unexpected depth of their bond.
Stev and his tribble underwent some genetic modifications. Phread was given some technological improvements and during the procedure it was discovered that tribbles are sentient creatures. Phread is now able to communicate using a computer interface.
After 10 years, one of Stev’s missions ended badly. His superior officer broke protocol and ordered the USS Thunderchild into the area to rescue his officer. Unknown to the Section Chief of Station, T’Aiya was now serving aboard the Thunderchild.
Unwilling to put his wife through the pain and suffering of leaving her again, Stev worked out a compromise with his superiors. Stev now serves both the Thunderchild as one of her intelligence officers and uses the ship as a base for his continued activities as an agent of Section 31.
Completed Steve stories: (in chronological order)
Return to Glory: Stev meets for the first time the officer who will later recruit him as a Section 31 agent
Shore Leave: Stev proposes to T’Aiya
The Stitch: Stev undertakes a mission into the past to clean up someone else’s mess. This story introduces Stev’s protege
Found!: Stev is rescued by the USS Thunderchild
Blindsided: Just as Stev begins to settle into his new life, the Breen attack
Down Time: While the Thunderchild is docked at Starbase Earhart, Stev remembers his ‘shuttle accident’
Believe it or not, Bob and I concocted this little guest spot last year. Many things happened including more hours at work for me. Bob forgetting to actually send his play, my mis-filing the response because of PIT #1’s graduation from Basic.
Bob I’m sorry it took so long but here at long last is your guest spot.
Bob’s roll: a person sleeping, a hand, a tree, a bemused face, a parachutist, a question mark, a crescent moon, a magnet, and a cane
Strange things have been happening in a local village. People have been disappearing during the night never to be heard form again. Objects are going missing and pets and livestock are being slaughtered or disappearing. He had been sleepwalking and when woken had no idea where he was or what he was doing. He insisted the dream made him do it. When questioned about his dream all he could remember about it was a ghostly hand guiding him through the town, showing him what to do. He felt as though he was falling the entire time and kept getting glimpses of an ancient tree sitting in the middle of a meadow.
The local wise man recognised this horrible dream and sent out for a group of adventurers to track down this tree that was pulling these people to it in their sleep. They must find the tree before the next new moon when it is a crescent high in the sky. It and it’s servants must be destroyed and with the staff of the local holy man they must show the fallen villagers the light.
Do you want a shot at a Dungeon Drama? I finally got my action cubes in the mail. Drop me an e-mail or leave a comment.
My good friend Dr. Checkmate issued this challenge to Uncle Bear and myself using the Savage Worlds setting Necessary Evil, create a super powered being named The Dungeon Master. Uncle Bear’s take on The Dungeon Master is quite unique. However, due to the “Heroize Yourself” thang discussed by other network bloggers. I couldn’t help but make mine a hero. So thanks to Dr. C and Uncle B. for the inspiration for the hero version of STEVe (just an FYI Dusty Rhodes is the DJ name I used on the air at the college radio station during the late 80’s)
Name: Dusty Rhodes/The Dungeon Master
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d8, Healing d8, Knowledge (RPG) d10, Knowledge (Computers) d10, Notice d8, Repair d10, Spellcasting d8
Charisma: 10; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 5;
Hindrances: Power Negation (needs access to electricity), Weakness (water can short out power), Quirk (tends to monologue), Loyal
Edges: Arcane Background (Super Powers), Dodge
Gear: Wireless computing devices on utility belt
Super Powers: • Absorption (4) • Ageless (1) • Matter Control (4) • Super Sorcery (5) • Teleport (1)
Dusty is a nerd in the classical sense. He spent more time with his beloved computer and RPG rulebooks than he did in actual social situations. One day while sitting at his computer statting up his teh kewl new monster he was struck by power surge. Instead of frying, Dusty found himself charged with electricity. Dusty then discoverd he suddenly was able to channel electricity and manipulate matter into the forms of his creations for his various RPG games.
With more experimentation, Dusty was able to bring his creations to a limited form of life. The constructs are fairly mindless and attack whatever Dusty instructs them to attack until they are destroyed or destroy what they attack.
Dusty has what appears to be a teleportation ability when in reality he travels the electrical grid. He carries his mobile devices on his belt to keep tabs on “trouble” spots because Dusty loves to help his fellow heroes. How much help? Well that’s debatable. Dusty will give the heroes cryptic clues on how to defeat the villains and provide them with Teh Kewl Attack Assistance before leaving for the next trouble spot. If Dusty leaves before the battle is done, the heroes have just as much chance of being attacked by Dusty’s creatures as do the villains they are fighting.
Dusty’s main weakness, due to the electrical nature of his power, is of course water. Water attacks will disrupt the electrical cohesion of Dusty’s constructs. Also Dusty will be unable to “transport” out if sufficiently wet. Without access to the electrical grid Dusty’s powers are limited. Dusty is loyal to a fault to the entire hero community. He will leave one battle if he thinks other heroes need his help more. Dusty also tends to monologue, “Now face the power of my Dire Bear.” (think Silver Age platitudes).
Dusty is trying to figure out ranged attacks using his electrical powers but as yet is still unsuccessful.
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.
This month’s topic being hosted by A Butterfly Dreaming is one with which I’m very comfortable. My children and I all have a very warped sense of humor. We are constantly spouting puns, pointing out absurdities, poking fun at the universe, whenever we do ANYTHING together. I actively encourage this behaviour in my kids. However we do know that as a family what we consider amusing is not everyone’s cup of tea. That said, imagine my surprise when my daughter introduced me to her DM. Bill and I are cut from the same cloth. Our sense of humor meshes like compatible gears.
Bill not only encourages ad-libs in character but he’ll incorporate them into the game on the fly. A couple of for instances…
The first time I gamed with my daughter’s group, Bill introduced my character to the party when they entered a brand new dungeon, “You see a badly injured Gnome in a healing trance huddled in the corner.” After some investigation by the party Bill told them that the door into the next chamber was booby trapped. He then mentioned that the door trap was responsible for the decimation of Nevet’s party leaving him as the sole survivor. I quipped that Nevets was suffering “Doorphobia” after seeing his party completely destroyed by the trap.
Bill immediately told me to write that on my character sheet. I play it up big time whenver we come across a door. Nevets is NEVER the first person to go through a door, archways and openings are different matters entirely. When we finally found the exit to the dungeon it was a hologram. As it wasn’t a door, Nevets made a beeline for the exit.
Another time one of our PCs did something incredibly stupid and got himself stuck inside a puzzle box. I made the comment that what the party really needed was a monkey that would come slap the PC whenever he did something stupid and then maybe he’d learn. Sure enough the next game session a monkey walked up to our Kender and started following her around. The Ranger again did something stupid. The monkey walked over to him and flung poo in his face.
The most recent incident resulted in some homework on my part. We had just defeated a demon and we were divvying up the treasure. I had Jazz sitting on my left and Jordan sitting on my right. While I was talking with Jordan, Jazz excused herself and I missed her saying that. Without my realizing it the DM’s dog jumped up into Jazz’s chair. Without turning, I asked Jazz a question, no response. I turned and looked and was surprised to see the pooch, I quipped that Rayne, Jazz’s character, must have found a cloak of canineability.
Bill looked me straight in the eye and grinned, “Write it up and she has it.” So now I’m in the process of writing up a Cloak of Canineability.
Humor and gaming. If you and your DM mesh it’s fun for everyone.
From our D&D 2e campaign.
On the 12th Day of Dungeons our GM rolled this call
Twelve Toasted Goblins,
Eleven Mighty Drow,
Ten Empty Pockets,
Nine Stardust Arrows,
Eight Holy Symbols,
Seven Thieving Bandits,
Six Undead Wall Arms,
Five Encased Souls,
Four Rabid Bats,
Two Shiny Knights,
And a Dwarf to barbecue them all
Introduction for The Eerie Exploits of Ranger Company X, a Risus setting by Hank Harwell – GM notes are in italics
Five encrypted telegrams from Ranger Captain Earl R. Buchanan of Company X were sent out. Four telegrams went out to Jack Macher, Vic Abruzzo, Gabriel Cooper, and James Freeman. The decoded message instructed each to meet Ranger Chris DeHartat the Santa Fe Depot in Galveston Texas. Chris received a message telling him to pick up the other four. After meeting at the depot they are to meet with Detective Charlie Sorenson at the Galveston Police Department, who will brief them on the assignment.
CHRIS DEHART: Chris’ 57 Chevy purred as he drove it down the road. Chris, however, was fuming. The telegram he got this morning meant he wouldn’t be able to prevent the upcoming silencing of Astronauts, Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee. While Chris agreed that the astronauts needed to be “shut up”, as the CIA hack had so eloquently put it. He did not agree with drastic measures the CIA was obviously thinking about. He knew the CIA was planning something big to discourage the rumblings within the astronaut corps. That’s what Chris had hoped to prevent.
Scientists at NASA as well as the astronaut corps were chaffing at the government’s cover up of one of the greatest finds of the 20th century. Grissom, White, and Chaffee were planning on going public after they successfully returned from their launch. The three astronauts figured they would have the undivided attention of the nation at that point. Many of the scientists and other astronauts agreed with them. Chris knew the CIA was planning something drastic to keep NASA quiet but now he was headed to Galveston and figured he could stop it when he got back.
Still fuming, Chris kept the speedometer at 75. He knew he wasn’t going to be pulled over for 5 miles over the limit. He also figured that if he did get pulled over by some rook, his Ranger Badge would take care of any problem. ‘What could be more important than the lives of at least three astronauts’, Chris thought as he drove.
Less than 45 minutes after he’d left Houston, Chris pulled the candy apple red car into the parking lot at the Santa Fe Depot in Galveston. A little calmer after venting his frustrations through the gas pedal, he walked inside the depot and picked up a copy of Life magazine from the newstand. Walking over to the lunch counter he sat down on the second stool and opened the magazine, that was the cue for his fellow Rangers from Company X. Chris knew the names of who he was picking up but aside from his friend Jack he’d never worked with any of the rest them before. Well he’d find out who the were just as soon as they arrived and acknowledged his signal.
GABRIEL COOPER: The bus ride from Brackettville to Galveston was 8 hours of unadulterated boredom. Gabriel was seated in the back of the bus, and no one sat near him. He was wearing civies, blue jeans and a fairly nice white button up shirt, but his hair still had that clean cut soldier look. He had his guitar out of the case, and he plucked at strings practicing a new song, but without an amplifier, there wasn’t much in the way of sound. He could still hear it in his mind, but practicing this way caused those sitting near him to glance at him as if there was something wrong with him.
He was used to the stares, but he still didn’t like them. As a black seminole, he was part of many worlds, and not all of them seemed to get along as well as they should. Gabriel had hopes of helping to change this with his music, but so far, he hasn’t played for more than a few drunks at the Broken Wheel. Someday he’d catch a break, but not today.
He was enduring the bus ride to Galveston because of a telegram. The Rangers thought they could use him for something. He was off to meet with someone named Chris DeHart(a fellow Ranger according to the telegram), and from there to meet witha Detective of the Galveston Police Department. Gabriel was sure what this was about, but he was nervous about meeting withthe detective. His last run in with police was right before he shipped out to VietNam. He was out withhis buddies, and when one of them got into a fight at whatever hole they were drinking at (he didn’t remember the name of the place), Gabriel finished it. They had taught him quite a few techniques for getting out of trouble while he was learning to be an advanced scout, but the trouble in the bar didn’t amount to anything compared with the trouble caused by the police when they showed up.
Gabriel was brought out of his memories when the bus bumped up over a curb. It had arrived. Gabriel packed up his guitar and grabbed his ruck sack (he didn’t own proper luggage and had learned to travel light in the Army). Gabriel made his way to the Santa Fe Depot.
It didn’t take long to spot Chris DeHart. He was already seated at the second stool of the lunch counter flipping through a magazine. Gabriel took a deep breath and moseyed over to him.
JAMES FREEMAN: James Freeman rode a city bus through Galveston to the Santa Fe Depot. He was just following the telegram request to go meet Ranger Chris DeHart, but he had a hunch that this could be very important anyway.
The ride on the bus was more facetious than actual. There were no seats free in the back, and he wasn’t raised to disrespect the older ladies seated there by kicking any of them out; they likely had challenges just to GET a seat because they weren’t white! Supposed ‘equality’ was a joke… he stood the entire ride holding a strap handhold. His legs were tired, but he didn’t complain.
He reached his stop. Other passengers failed to hide relief on their faces to have one less black man among them. Galveston folks were a lot sillier than N’awlins folks; badges weren’t clues enough to them of the good nature of their fellow riders. James just shook his head and rolled his eyes, then stepped out.
DeHart was easy enough to recognize: not only did he have the regulatory cowboy hat of the Rangers in front of him, but he had many others coming over to him.
VIC ABRUZZO: Vic spent his time on the short trip down Old Galveston Road thinking, “Rod. Rodrigo Vargas. Rod. How’s it goin’, I’m Rod Vargas. My former associates who keep trying to plug me call me Vic, but you can call me Vargas. Rod Vargas.”
He expected somebody to ask why a guy in Texas with a Spanish name didn’t know that language, so he had memorized a convoluted story about where his forefathers had moved around Europe and New England. Since he started using this cover, a few people had started talking Spanish to him, but when he said he didn’t know Spanish, nobody grilled him about why.
Vic liked the pickup the Feds had loaned him for the witness protection thing. A green, two year old Ford with all the bells and whistles. It was nice, but he’d trade it in a heartbeat for not having to hide.
A healthy level of paranoia stirred in him again, and he pulled off at a gas station. Vic eyed the few cars that continued towards Galveston. None of them pulled off behind him or exhibited suspicious behavior. It should have set his mind at ease. Instead, he worried that someone might be following who was too good to be spotted.
He comforted himself by thinking of the one familiar thing the Rangers had given him: a six-shooter in his boot. The territory was new to him and he had to adjust to some new rules, but some of the tools were the same for this job as his last job.
The rest of the drive passed with fewer glimpses in his rearview mirror.
Vic strode up to the Rangers gathered at the lunch counter in the Santa Fe Depot. “How’s it goin’? I’m Rod Vargas.”
JACK S. MACHER: “No one should have to ride that far in a bus,” thought Jack, as he watched folks get off in Galveston. He had gone home for a couple days to be with his Mom and the lawyers as they tried to decide what to do. Dad would be home soon, was all Mom wanted to hear. But, she did agree to let Jack have the pickup truck and see to the pile of mail Dad was still receiving.
The telegram was interesting. He and Dad had played with ciphers while camping in the Grand Canyon when… God… How old was Jack? 12?! So many places; seemed like it had to be longer ago than that. But, this? Official, encrypted, addressed to Dad… Hell, he was surprised the courier had let him sign for it. And, then to find it was one that Dad had taught him?
So Jack packed a thermos of coffee, a box of Oreos, the M1, and his trusty goalie stick (almost made the varsity team at the private school, twice before he graduated) and drove to Galveston. By the time he got there he was very thankful for Dad’s Obsessive-Compulsive care for the truck. Also glad to be in Texas where no one looked twice at the rifle, but instead raised an eyebrow at the hockey stick.
He knew no one would recognize him, not with two inches of hair on his head and a semester of fuzz on his chin. Dad would not have approved, but since he wasn’t home, Jack just hadn’t bothered. After the drive though, he was considering making a stop in the rest room. So, knowing that under the hair he looked a lot like his Dad, he hoped the disguise would be successful and scanned the crowds coming and going for Galveston PD.
After a half hour of that, it occurred to him that, A) his Red Sox cap probably stood out like a beacon, and B) a detective probably would not be wearing a uniform. So plan B.
Jack took a seat at the lunch counter, ordered steak and eggs and a bottomless cup of orange juice, and pulled out a large card board sign reading, “J. Macher.”
An off-hand comment on Twitter spurred a lot of creative juice recently. Folks were riffing over our friend, The Chatty DM’s online ID. The question then arose what would happen if we all had monsters based on our online handles. Below are the results:
Chatty gives us the monster that started the whole thing off, The Chatty Den Mother
Ravyn over at the Exchange of Realities gives us a look at the Ravyn
The Newbie DM has posted a guest blogger’s Squach the Tome Host
The Art of the Near TPK weighs in with Gregor LeBlaque and the Chaotic Black Sheep
The Dice Bag gives us the story behind Bojira
Joshua over at Tales of the Rambling Bumblers has statted out The Monstrous Majyc
A Butterfly Dreaming presents the Dreaming Butterfly, naturally.
Fellow Dire Paladin, Andrew Mordo initializes his new blog with Werdna Odrom
Here at the Database, I’ve statted out a Vet from the Shaven Cult, Velevt Uch Ants, and Aluminus the Mountain Monster
I don’t have lots of fond memories of playing D&D as a teen. D&D in my home was subject to parental objections due to the “Satan’s Game” scare of the mid-80s. I’ve just recently begun playing the game again with my daughter (PIT #1) and her gaming group. Since we’ve only had three sessions, I can’t wax eloquently on the many fun times I’ve had due to Sir Gygax’s work. That said, I do thank Mr. Gygax for the work he did as I have spent enjoyable afternoons crawling through dungeons with my children.
In honor of Gary and and his creation I have composed the following:
A tribute to one,
Gary Gygax is his name
He gave geeks status
Special thanks for the
Original Dungeon Master
We’re here ‘cuz of you
He has left us for
The eternal dungeon crawl
Godspeed, Sir Gygax
Has it been a year
Since Gary Gygax left us
What would the gnomes think?
Photo removed due to threatened lawsuit
Inspiration, The Muse, that sudden flash of “Ah-ha”, where does it come from? Mine is hard to find. I’m amazed at the consistency that I can immediately see possibilities in the ideas created by others but have difficulty coming up with my own ideas. Dr. Checkmate came up with a RPG setting that combines elements of Robin Hood with your favorite post-apocalyptic settings. I immediately saw how I could rework some of my Car Wars material into this setting. But coming up with the original hook awes me. I could list a number of my on-line buddies who have come up with ‘orginal’ concepts or mash-ups that I could immediately see how to implement but I have difficulty arriving at the same flash of inspiration.
I marvel at the ability my Captain over at Starships of the Third Fleet has in coming up with new prologues every three months. I can immediately grasp how Stev will handle the proposed problem. I’ve written a number of Stev stories but haven’t been able to write a successful prologue as yet.
My GMing experience runs the same gamut. My gaming group wanted to run a Stargate game. I spent a lot of time working with Ron Fricke’s conversion of Stargate to Savage Worlds. The I picked up a copy Sean Preston’s RunePunk for Savage Worlds and have successfully used that as a major Stargate campaign. I’m doing something similar with the Serenity RPG and Slipstream.
My inspirational forte seems to be in seeing how I can best use the work of others to achieve what I want on my own. How about you?