Vulcan Stev's Database

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

Demotivational Poster: No Mr. Bond

Sadly Mr. Bond failed the vehicle defense roll.  Quantum had gotten to Mr. Bond’s D20s

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November 24, 2010 Posted by | Demotivational Posters | , , , | Leave a comment

Ask me Anything: Dreams, Favorites, & Cancer

Questions Asked, Questions answered.  Ask me anything, seriously.

Q. Have you ever dreamed of flying? Having your teeth crumble or fall out? Taking a test at school…and realizing you haven’t studied or even attended class? That you can’t fit in your car comfortably, or suddenly can’t see through the windshield?
A. You just described last night’s dream.

Q. Can you describe three ways to measure the height of a building with a barometer? If so, what are they?
A.It’s been 25 years since High School… How about this; climb to the top of the building. Tie a very long string to the barometer. Throw the barometer off the side of the building. When the string stops moving measure the string.

Q. John de Lancie or Desmond Llewelyn?
A. Q vs Q? Two completely different alphabets so to speak. I’d rather have Desmond’s Q on my side. But I wouldn’t want to do anything to pop on John Q’s radar.

Q. Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day or Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow! You cataracts and hurricanes, spout?
A. 
Is there a level beyond “Blow winds…?”  I have ALWAYS loved storms.  The more thunder and lightning the better.

Q. Embarrassed I even know my sign or I’ll get back to you after I check my horoscope?
A. I was born under the sign ‘Hospital’

Q. Complete the following phrase: “It’s all in the…” 1.) way you make me feel; 2.) wrist; 3.) Game; 4.) reflexes.
A. reflexes – Jack Burton

Q. Ambiguous questions?
A. purple onions

Q. What would be a good name for a band?
A. Anxiety in the Hallway

Q. Do you have a stupid joke that never gets old?
A. Why did the man put the car in the oven? No it’s not because he wanted a hot rod it’s because the cake was in the garage. That’s for all the Floppy fans out there.

Q. When’s the last time you visited a museum, and which one? What’s your favorite museum?
A. Don’t know the last time I actually visited a museum, but my favorite is a toss-up between the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and Living History Farm in Des Moines

Q. Sushi y/depends/no way!?
A. If it’s part of a buffet then maybe… but I don’t go somewhere just to eat sushi

Q. What is your wife sick with? Sorry if this brings up pain.
A. Last year my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a complete mastectomy and months of chemotherapy she was declared cancer free and taken off the chemo. Now 8 months later we have been informed that the cancer has returned and overwhelmed the liver. Doc says it is both incurable and inoperable. No worries about the pain, I’m still in shock.   The complete chronicle of blog posts is here.

Q. Ok, so it’s Pizza. What toppings?
A. I used to work in a Pizzeria. I came up with a pizza I named the Cannonball “Pepperoni, Italian sausage, Black Olives, Mushrooms, and Onions.

Q. You have the opportunity to build (or re-build) your house. What type (and size) structure do you opt for?
A. Something roomy enough for the family and occasional gaming group but small enough to easily keep clean

Q. Funniest show you ever saw?
A. M*A*S*H

Q. A stranger walks up an offers you a briefcase containing $10 million, no strings attached. Would you accept? What would it depend on?
A. Right now? no strings attached? Yes! I’ve got medical bills to pay.

Q. Favorite cheesy movie?
A. It depends on your definition of cheesy, but “Big Trouble in Little China” would probably be at the top.

Q. Three Stooges: classic comedy, they have their moments, or people who find this funny have something wrong with them?
A. Classic comedy nyuck nyuck nyuck

Q. Do you enjoy any weird combinations of food (not just exotic for your locale)?
A. Green olives in cottage cheese

Q. What kind of music do you listen to most frequently? What’s your favorite kind of music (if different)?
A. I listen to Christian Pop most frequently. My favorite style is classic 1950s Rock-n-Roll.

Q. Godzilla or Gamera
A. Godzilla all the way.

Q. What was the answer to all math questions at in school?
A. 42

Q. Happiest memory?
A. January 21, 1989 Virginia said, “I do!”

Q. Marx Bros.: the funniest thing ever, the pinnacle of human civilization, or I wouldn’t know I don’t have a sense of humor?
A. I’m actually not to familiar with the Marx Brothers. What little I’ve seen is pretty funny.

Q. How many languages do you speak?
A. English and ASL

Q. Gadget you can’t do without?
A. My Laptop.

Q. Book that makes you happy whenever you read it?
A. The Starrigger trilogy.

Q. Favorite Star Trek series and episode?
A. TOS: The City on the Edge of Forever TNG: The Inner Light DS9: Far Beyond the Stars VOY: The Killing Game 1&2 ENT: In a Mirror Darkly 1

Q. What kind of computer(s) do you use?
A. At work I use a Mac G4 at home I run a Dell laptop with Windows Vista.

Q. What is the next cartoon to live action movie you’d like to see?
A. M.A.S.K (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand)

Q. You’ve been given the opportunity to design fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons what do you do?
A. I make character generation as easy as Savage Worlds. I add the Role Playing aspect back into the game. Then I make it easier to play… Oh wait Shaintar already did all that.

Q. Drink of choice, if any?
A. Soft drink – Cherry Coke 0. Alcohol – Mike’s Hard Lemonade

Q. All things in moderation, or nothing succeeds like excess?
A. Too much of ANYTHING is bad for you.

Q. Do you commit art?
A. Commit Art? like graffiti? no. But I have taken up sketching again.

Q. Smart phone, dumb phone, land-line only, or how barbaric, I write letters…longhand.
A. If I could get net access at home without the land-line, I’d get rid of that. But I don’t want a phone that thinks it knows more than I do.

Q. Food that you could eat every day and not tire of? (Not necessarily exclusively)
A. Pizza. I actually do tend to eat that more four times a week. Such is the nature of living with teenage boys.

Q. Is there a character you’d like to be, assuming the world would cooperate?
A. I’ve been attempting to answer this all morning. I’ve tried cute, trite, whimsical… Anyway, I enjoy MY existence to much to trade it in on something else.

Q. Is there a fictional character that you emulate, intentionally or not?
A. Peter Parker, no matter what goes right in my life something bad usually negates it.

Q. Are you more like Batman (I have a plan for every contingency, and three back-up plans), MacGuyver (I’ll improvise) or Gladstone Gander (Nothing bad ever happens to me)?
A. McGyver, Life happens to fast to plan for contingencies.

Q. Do you have pets?
A. Me personally? Not currently. I used to have a hamster named Tribble. However living in my house is one dog named Blacktop, one cat named O’Malley, and a parakeet.

Q. Who’s your favorite character actor?
A. It’s a toss-up between Vincent Schiavelli or William H. Macy

Q. Now that we’re 10 years into the 21st Century, what innovation would you like to see come to fruition in the next decade?
A. I want flying cars. According to Back to the Future they should be here soon.

Q. Do you cook?
A. No.

Q. What’s your favorite restaurant?
A. Great Tastes Buffet in Waterloo, Iowa

Q. Weekend: Woohoo!, Awww, Meh, or What, already?
A. WooHoo! already?

Q. How do you take your coffee or tea? Or, if you don’t, what do you drink in the morning?
A. I usually need my caffeine cold and carbonated. Cherry Coke 0 when I need something in the morning.

Q. Do you buy yourself birthday presents?
A. Usually and Christmas as well. However, because of my short-term memory problems, I usually forget about them and my children give them to me. I am usually surprised by what I get.

Q. Who was the all-time villain you loved to hate in an RPG? In other words, who was Moriarity to your Holmes?
A. Azmodius. He breaks out into cold sweats at the mere mention of my character.

Q. Are there any holidays or celebrations that you really can’t stand?
A. I no longer see the need to stay up until midnight to ring in the New Year. It’ll still be there in the morning.

Q. What do you have for breakfast?
A. 2 Sausage/egg croissants and a bottle of orange juice.

Q. Right here, right now, is there any other place you’d rather be?
A. Let’s see I’m taking care of this before I clock in at work… Only in as much as someone would rather be at home instead of at work.

Q. Do you do karaoke?
A. No, fortunately for the rest of civilized society.

Q. How many years have you been playing RPGs?
A. 1983-1987 (long hiatus) 2005-2010 8 years

April 26, 2010 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Vulcan Stev | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gaming in the Universe of… Super Spies

spy-vs-spySpy movies reviewed by the family:
Quantum of Solace
Get Smart
The World is Not Enough

Victory Games published the James Bond RP in the mid-80’s.  When I think of gaming with super spies this is the one I remember.  Although out of print, I have found copies still for sale at online RPG stores.  I also found the basic game available as a pdf.  There is a Savage World conversion of the Victory Games Bond RPG.  Top Secret, the super spy game from TSR ceased production in 1992 before TSR was bought out by Wizards of the Coast.  Sadly I could not find any RPGs based off of The Wild, Wild West; The Man from U.N.C.L.E.; Get Smart; Jason Bourne, or any other spy genre.  I’ve heard rumors that Evil DM Productions has a Savage Worlds spy genre scheduled for this summer.

Spies as a concept are timeless.  Your side/country/kingdom is always wanting to know what the opposing forces are up to.  Going back to the Bible (whether you accept it as historically arcurate or as an example of literature), we find that Joshua sent spies to scope out the tactical situation for the upcoming battle with Jericho.

So how to include spies in your adventure, aside from running a spy game that is?  One way that I’ve always wanted to try.  If one of your players is becoming dissatisfied with their character, you could take them aside and tell them that they are a spy for the opposition.  Between you and the player start dropping subtle clues that not everything is kosher.  Don’t think this works? Star Trek Deep Space Nine went for a few episodes in which Doctor Bashir had been replaced by a Changeling.  It might be a way for the player to become interested in the character again.

Agent Barret, Stargate SG-1’s reccurring CIA Agent is proof positive that I could easily add spies to my ongoing Stagate campaign.  Natasha Romanov, the Black Widow and Nick Fury are recurring characters in the Marvel universe and could be dropped into any superhero campaign. 

Another method of incorporating spies into your campaign is to have your PCs infiltrate the opposition for a game or two.  It might be fun to see if the PCs can pull off an infiltration.

Savage Worlds stats for not one but two super spies for you to use.

james_bondJames Bond: Legendary
Race: Human
Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d12, Spirit d8, Strength d10, Vigor d10
Skills: Boating d6, Climbing d8, Driving d10, Fighting d12, Gambling d12, Guts d10, Intimidation d10, Investigation d10, Knowledge (about whatever the scenario is) d10, Lockpicking d10, Notice d10, Persuasion d10, Piloting d8, Shooting d12+2, Stealth d10, Streetwise d10, Survival d10, Swimming d6, Taunt d10, Throwing d8, Tracking d10
Charisma: 30; Pace: 6; Parry: 8; Toughness: 7;
Hindrances:  Arrogant, Overconfident, Heroic, Quirk – Womanizer
Edges: Charismatic, Alertness, Very Attractive, Marksman, Level Headed, Steady Hands, Harder to Kill, Nerves of Steel, Trademark Weapon (Walter PPK), Connections
Gear: Walter PPK, Hi-Tech Aston Martin (with the usual refinements), whatever Q has given him for thmission at hand

maxwell_smartMaxwell Smart: Veteran
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d8, Spirit d10, Strength d8, Vigor d8
Skills: Driving d8, Fighting d8, Investigation d6, Notice d6, Shooting d6,
Charisma: 10; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 6;
Hindrances:  Overconfident, Clueless, All Thumbs, Quirk – catch phrases “Sorry ’bout that Cheif” – “Missed it by that much” – “That’s the second biggest …. I’ve ever seen”
Edges: Great Luck
Gear: Shoe Phone, Hi Tech Swiss Army Pocketknife

March 31, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, Gaming in the Universe of..., Other Systems, RPG, Savage Worlds | , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Vulcan Stev’s family movie review: The World is Not Enough

world_is_not_enough_ver2Starring:
Pierce Brosnan …  James Bond
Sophie Marceau …  Elektra King
Robert Carlyle …  Renard
Denise Richards …  Christmas Jones
Robbie Coltrane …  Valentin Zukovsky
Judi Dench …  M
Desmond Llewelyn …  Q
John Cleese …  R
Maria Grazia Cucinotta …  Cigar Girl
Samantha Bond …  Moneypenny
Michael Kitchen …  Tanner
Colin Salmon …  Robinson

Synopsis from IMDb: After British oil tycoon Sir Robert King is killed in a bombing at the MI6 headquarters, his daughter, Elektra, inherits his fortune which includes billions of dollars worth of oil deposits in the Caspian Sea…and James Bond as a bodyguard. Her new wealth attracts international interest. But she has also attracted the attention of her father’s killer. His name is Renard. A bullet lodged in his brain has rendered him unable to feel physical pain, and he has but only one reason left to live – revenge. There’s only one man who can take the heat between a beautiful heiress, a malicious sociopath and his final diabolical plan. For the world’s most famous secret agent, when the stakes are high and the danger hits too close to home, it is not just professional; its personal!

Reviewers: VS, PIT#1, PIT#2, PIT#3

VS: 1.6 pointed ears
This is my least favorite of the Brosnan era of course that’s like saying plain chocolate is my least favorite flavor of ice cream.  It’s still ice cream, it’s still Bond.

However, Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist?  Sorry but after I caught Wild Things on cable one night I’ll never be able to see Denise Richards without remembering that scene.  Kudos to the producers for taking the bold step of making the main villain a female.  Sorry to see Hagrid.. er.. Zukovsky get killed off in this movie.  Having a recurring sympathetic Russian character showed that James doesn’t kill EVERYONE he meets.  Fighting onboard a sinking nuclear sub was a fresh idea.  The theme song is still in my rotation on iTunes.  I especially liked the video that went with it.

Brosnan, to me at least, had a good handle on the Bond character.  I preferred his portrayal over that of Roger Moore.  It was a crying shame that Remington Steele kept Brosnan out of the role for as long as it did.

Just remember even a faulty Bond movie is better than 90% of the crap that comes out of Hollywood.

PIT#1 – 1.9 pointed ears
Kinda confusing.  A Bond girls is also the villain?  Why did Elektra King fall for her captor?  It took me  a few viewings to catch that she was the one who masterminded the whole thing and was not just a pawn of Renard.

PIT#2 – 2 pointed ears
It’s Bond, what more can you say.  Fighting on sinking nuclear sub was an inspired touch.

PIT#3 – 1.9 pointed ears
You can never go wrong with a Bond movie.  Expect the gratuitous kissing scenes.  It was too bad about Q’s boat.

7.4 pointed ears out of 8.  Not the best Bond but it’s still a watchable flick.

March 21, 2009 Posted by | Movie Reviews | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gaming in your favorite cinema universe

I’ve been writing movie reviews for my blog here and over at the Dire Cafe for the past year.  When Uncle Bear asked for some guest bloggers over at his blog I adapted one of my movie reviews to be used as an RPG centered blog rather than a straight movie review.  This got me thinking, how would I adapt the settings and play in the universes of some of my favorite movies.  I realize that there are a lot of RPG adaptations of movies I’ll touch on a few of those here.

My goal here is to write up an RPG synopsis of the universe for each movie (or series) that the family reviews.  The Pirates of the Caribbean RPG overview is in the works.  Harry Potter will be done once we’ve reviewed all five movies.

How would I game in my four favorite universes?

Star Trek: There are actually RPGs already set in this universe.  FASA’s Star Trek RPG, Decipher’s Star Trek, and Task Force Games’ Prime Directive were some of the more widely recognized.  Wikipedia lists several others as well.  I have not actually ever used or played any of those games.  Though, I actually do role play in the Star Trek universe but not in a way you might be thinking.  I belong to a creative writing group called Starshipsof the Third Fleet.  The captain authors a prologue every three months or so and it is up to the crew members to write a mission report on what their character would do during the mission.

If I were to run a Star Trek game I’d run it where the GM was the Captain of whatever ship the PCs served on and run it in a similar manner to the Third Fleet doctrine.  I guess I’m seeing the Star Trek universe as more TNG era where the captain stays with the ship and allows his officers to actually do the dirty work.  I’d steer clear of the “Heroes” of the Federation.  It’s a big universe and not everyone gets to meet Captain Picard.

Star Wars: This isn’t news to anyone but Wizards of the Coast has the current license to Star Wars.  However West End Games’ Star Wars material provided much of the material for the expanded universe.  The one time that I did play in a Star Wars game, the GM had us playing Luke, Han, Leia, et all.  I can’t say as I particularly enjoyed that.

If I were to run a SW game I’d skirt the events that happened in the movies or explore how the events in the movies affected my PCs.  Ideas which I’d like to explore in SW; a garrison of Storm Troopers on a backwater planet after the Emperor’s demise,  Bounty Hunters (but then who wouldn’t?), an enclave of Jedi that managed avoid Palpatine’s genocide are just some of the possibilities that I’d like to play.

James Bond: Victory Games held the license during the mid-80s.  I forget my agent’s name but he was able to successfully conceal a sniper rifle (he was 6’5″).    This was one of the more enjoyable games I played in high school.  The GM we first had insisted on our agents running into EVERY Bond villain that had ever made it to film.  It wasn’t until I started gaming with the college crowd at SMSU that I ran into a GM who created his own villains.  That is when I started really enjoying the game.  I wanted my own arch-Nemesis not 007’s.

Super Heroes: Champions, Mutants & Masterminds, Marvel, DC; I’ve played Champions and in both the Marvel and DC universe.  My preference is Champions.  Though from what I’ve read, I’d probably enjoy Mutants and Masterminds as well.  I dislike playing established characters.  I don’t mind interacting with Batman, or Spidey, but to quote the old song “I just gotta be me” or least a character of my own creation

What is the common thread here?  If I’m gonna play in someone else’s universe, I’m gonna do my own thing.  I enjoy RPGing in established universes because there’s less exposition that GM has to do.  However, I’ve seen every Star Wars movie and read most of the books.  I don’t want to be Luke.

Your mileage may vary of course.

February 17, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, Observations of a Noob GM, RPG | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment