Vulcan Stev's Database

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

Demotivational Poster: Superhero

I’m not having an identity crisis. Why do you ask?

January 5, 2012 Posted by | Comic Books, DC, Demotivational Posters, Fluff/Inspiration, Marvel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The View from my Chair: A Shared Universe?

Recently there’s been some talk around the blogsphere about shared universes and continuity porn.  This is something that the VS family has played with for years.  The recent spark of the debate was lit when i09 asked why the Siffy Channel (SyFy) doesn’t have it’s shows all set in one shared universe.

The easy answer to this is that these shows are produced by different companies, unlike the shared universes of Marvel or DC comics which are housed under big corporate umbrellas.  The logistics of having some Go’uald technology show up in Eureka or the teams for Sanctuary and Warehouse 13 teaming up together are pretty insurmountable.  Corporate brand identity and the question of who owns what portion of the story would prevent that from happening.  Witness the failed attempt for a Spidey cameo appearance in X3, Sony balked at the idea because they held the rights to film adaptations of the Spidey-verse.  A shared universe on a cable channel, unless intentionally built isn’t gonna happen any time soon.

That said, we (me and the P.I.T.’s) have long-held the belief that unless explicitly proven otherwise, our favorite TV shows and movies DO exist in one self-contained shared universe.  Obviously the universes of ‘2012’ and ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ are mutually exclusive.  But the universes of ‘Mission Impossible’ and ‘Star Trek’ need not be.  (OK I am not even going to throw open the door of the multiple quantum universes postulated by the Star Trek episode ‘Parallels’ or the Heinlein novel ‘Number of the Beast’).

We never quite put it down on paper before but the theory is basically “Unless the world depicted by the entertainment contradicts some other aspect of a different universe, the depicted universes are in the same quantum space.”  Simply put, Agent Mulder has somewhere in his files data on Alf, Mork, Uncle Martin, the unexpected flyover of Los Angeles by the USS Voyager, and Dr. Solomon.  The crew of any Federation starship could in fact through any number of time travel effects have an adventure with James Bond, Spider-Man or the Mission Impossible force.  Indiana Jones could very well be the great-great-(you figure it out)-great-grandfather of Cyrano Jones.  I know the folks at Hogwarts don’t concern themselves too much with the happenings of the muggle-world but would they consider Herbie the Volkswagen and enchanted beast?

What does this mean for your game, creative fiction, night at the movies?

What this means for your game night is that as a GM you can throw in whatever characters you deem appropriate and not feel guilty about it.  Do you want your party of Elves to have an encounter with Spock?  By all means if handled correctly it could be a blast.

What this means for your creative fiction (another means of role play IMHO) is that if you can come up with a “LOGICAL” reason for another character to appear in your story then by all means run with it.

What this means for your geek-gasm night of movie watching is that you can fantasize that the information on the screen of Mulder’s computer is listing of Gordon Shumway’s recent activities (bonus points if you get that reference).  You can hide the smirk or laugh out loud because you know that the gods of Olympus will eventually leave Earth and Percy Jackson  behind and settle on Pollux IV.

Would it be cool if the was one big shared universe?  Yes.  But, then to my way of thinking there already is.

*editor’s note*  The DC Universe and the Marvel universe were revealed to be two separate quantum universes in the Marvel vs. DC limited series.  As such by our theory there at least two combined shared universes; one with DC super-heroes and on with Marvel heroes.

April 16, 2010 Posted by | Comic Books, Fluff/Inspiration, Movies, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG, Star Trek | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gaming in the Universe of… The Watchmen Part 7: Rorshach

watchmencharactersThe Watchmen as reviewed by the family

Part one: Tropes from the movie
Part two: Doctor Manhattan
Part three: The Comedian
Part four: Nite Owl
Part five: Silk Spectre
Part six: Ozmandyus

The Watchmen are not super heroes (with the exception of Doctor Manhattan).  The characters in this series of articles were built using standard Savage World rules and as such can be dropped into any campaign without much difficulty.

Walter Kovacs had a very traumatic childhood.  The son of the village whore, he was picked on by the other children.  Walter developed his fighting abilities from an early age to defend himself against his childhood tormentors.  Due to his upbringing, Walter sees the world in black and white.  There is right and wrong, and he is serving the right.

The defining moment in his career came when Walter was attempting to rescue a kidnapped little girl.  Failing in his attempt to rescue the child and instead discovering only her remains and her killer, Rorshach killed the perpetrator.  Rorshach continues his fight from behind his enchanted mask.  The encounter with the rapist/murderer unhinged Walter Kovacs.  He now believes Rorshach to be the true indentity and Kovacs to be the mask.

watchmen-rorschachIf you bring Rorshach into your game, you’ll want to describe Kovacs as a non-descript background NPC and make sure he’s there whenever possible.  If and when he’s ever unmasked, your PCs can have an *a-ha* moment.

Name:Walter Kovacs/Rorshach
Race: Human
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d6, Fighting d8, Guts d6, Intimidation d6, Investigation d8, Notice d6, Stealth d8, Streetwise d6, Survival d6, Taunt d6
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 5;
Hindrances:  Heartless, Delusional, Ugly
Edges: Investigator
Gear: Enchanted Mask, Grappling Gun

May 1, 2009 Posted by | Comic Books, DC, Fluff/Inspiration, Gaming in the Universe of..., Other Systems, RPG, Savage Worlds | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gaming in the Universe of… The Watchmen: Part 5 Silk Specter II

watchmencharactersThe Watchmen as reviewed by the family

Part one: Tropes from the movie
Part two: Doctor Manhattan
Part three: The Comedian
Part four: Nite Owl

The Watchmen are not super heroes (with the exception of Doctor Manhattan). The characters in this series of articles were built using standard Savage World rules and as such can be dropped into any campaign without much difficulty.

Laurie Jupiter is a second generation hero who is primarily involved in the heroing life to please her mother.  She captured the attention of Doctor Manhattan when his first love began to age.  When the Keene Act was passed, Laurie happily packed up her costume and moved with Doctor Manhattan to his government laboratory.  She later leaves Doc when he begins to grow distant from her.  Laurie re-enters the sporting life to be with her new love, Dan Drieberg.

In your game Laurie is the reluctant woman behind the power.  She’s the person who keeps the wizard focused.  She is the woman who convinces the hero to go on one more adventure.  She’s the woman who is on the adventure to please her parents.

watchmen-silk-spectreName:Laurie Jupiter/Silk Spectre II/Sandra Hollis
Race: Human
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d6, Fighting d8, Guts d6, Healing d4, Persuasion d6, Throwing d6
Charisma: 3; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 5;
Hindrances:  Curious, Quirk (does not like the hero life, gets involved over the men in her life), Wanted
Edges: Attractive

April 28, 2009 Posted by | Comic Books, DC, Fluff/Inspiration, Gaming in the Universe of..., Other Systems, RPG, Savage Worlds | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Creating Characters for a 10-Year Old

s2p10011mediumI’m starting a Necessary Evil campaign (in addition to my weekly Stargate campaign).  In addition to my children we’ve got two additional players, folks I know very well but have never gamed with before.  Before my friend Grey Wulf suffers an aneurysm over my not using Mutants & Masterminds, let me say that currently, when playing with PIT #3 it’s better to use a system with less crunch.

So Sunday we began character generation.  PIT #1 wants to be a tech-enhanced assassin.  Styx is a woman I wouldn’t want to meet in a well-lit alley, let alone a dark one.  PIT #2 comes up with a Thing-like character who also has Kitty Pryde’s powers.  The other two players are developing a martial artist assassin and a cross between Storm and Gambit.

PIT #3 is having trouble coming up with a concept.  I ask him what kind of powers he wants.  “I want him to fly, shoot fire and able to do other cool stuff.”  Well you only have 15 points to spend on powers he is reminded.  “I know Daddy, but I want him to be completely different from everything else.”  OK, as a father I want to give my son what he wants, as a GM I don’t want Superman suddenly walking around in a Novice campaign  (that I could not build Superman with only 15 points to is completely beside the point).

So we sat down and gave “Heatwave”, as he was immediately christened, flight, ranged attack, and earthquake.  All at relatively low power levels to make sure we got it all in.  After spending 8 of the 15 points, I was then prepared to go back and extend some of Heatwave’s powers.  When PIT#3 got a gleam in his eye, 7 points what other power can we give this guy?  Don’t you want to make the powers you do have a little better?

“No Daddy, look.  If we give Heatwave a device that can mimic all the other powers than he could have every power in the book.”  At this point if I had brought this idea up with a my GM he’d have told me “No! absolutely not.”  But I’m Daddy as well how can I make this work using the points we have left and not have “Superman” in the game.

The concept we cam up with is similar to Ben 10’s Omnimatrix.  Basically this device stores any 7-point power that’s left in the book.  When activated, the device over-rides the current power set and gives at random one of the stored powers.  PIT #3 is happy and now I had a backstory to justify this thing to invent.

With input from PIT #3, we developed this.  His character, Sam Lacker was a research assistant for one Dean C. Simitts.  Dean was working on a way to have super powers while remaining undetectable to the V’sorii.  Dean developed the Supero Facultas with the idea that he’d be able to walk around as a normal human being until he activated the device.  Realizing that he’d need a bodyguard for the times he was de-powered, Dean convinced his lab assistant, Sam to undergo some genetic modification.  Sam, eager to fight against the V’Sorii as well, agreed.

During the modification process, a power surge caused the laboratory to explode, killing Dean.  Sam survived the explosion as he was in the sheilded modification chamber.  Emerging from the chamber, Sam found the Supero Facultas and placed it on his forearm.  It immediately bonded with his flesh.  Sam discovered that he had the power to fly by controlling air currents.  He could shoot fire from his hands.  When standing on the ground he could cause minor earth tremors.  When he was in the water he could form small tsunamis.  Sam is still experimenting with the Supero Facultas he does not know the extent of the powers contained therein.  He does know that when activated his “real” powers are superseded by the device.

What did I learn from this exercise?  First, that it’s worth the effort to find reasons for doing what your players would like to do.  Second, that it’s worth effort to bend the rules slightly as long as game play is not affected.  Finally, a good backstory can explain away almost anything.  I’m looking forward to our first game.

April 18, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, Observations of a Noob GM, RPG, Savage Worlds | , , , , | 1 Comment

RPGBN Heroes: Watchmen of the Justice Avengers – Role Call!

When the world needs saving who do you call? The Watchmen of the Justice Avengers is the RPGBN’s own Superhero Group.  This stalwart band of heroes is ready to defeat your villain, fight the injustice, protect the innocent, but more importantly spice up your hero campaign.

The WJA’s headquarters are located in Ayuhwa on the RPGBN Shared world project.  However with dimensional hopping abilities, the WJA are ready to help in your own campaign.  This project is not closed.  Leave me a link and I’ll add your hero to the roster.

Founding Membership in alphabetical order:
Ambrose – Home Base: The Nameless Kingdom
The Dungeon Master– Home Base: Vulcan Stev’s Database
Elder Lehman – Home Base: Unclebear
The Grey Wulf – Home Base: Greywulf’s Lair
Mad Brew – Home Base: Mad Brew Labs
Ravyn – Home Base: Exchange of Realities
Virii – Home Base: The Bard of Valiant

Founding Roster is now closed.  Your Hero can still be a member.  Just leave me a link.

April 10, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, Other Systems, RPG | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

RPGBN Heroes: The Dungeon Master.

dugeonmasterMy 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
Race: Human
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.

April 10, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, Gaming Notes, Other Systems, RPG, Savage Worlds | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: Superman IV


Christopher Reeve …  Superman / Clark Kent
Gene Hackman …  Lex Luthor / Voice of Nuclear Man
Jackie Cooper …  Perry White
Marc McClure …  Jimmy Olsen
Jon Cryer …  Lenny
Sam Wanamaker …  David Warfield
Mark Pillow …  Nuclear Man
Mariel Hemingway …  Lacy Warfield
Margot Kidder …  Lois Lane

Synopsis from IMDb: Superman does a lot in his newest adventure. Arch villain Lex Luthor, determined to make the world safe for nuclear arms merchants, creates a new being to challenge the Man of Steel: the radiation-charged Nuclear Man. The two super-powered foes clash in an explosive screen extravaganza that sees Superman save the Statue of Liberty, repulse a volcanic eruption of Mount Etna, rebuild the demolished Great Wall of China and perform many more spectacular feats.

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

VS – .5 pointed ears
The problem with Superman is that he only has two weaknesses (three if count a writer’s inability to come up with plausible movie that the average person would understand) and one major villain.  Superman’s vulnerability to Kryptonite becomes boring when used over and over and downright stupid when misused (see Superman III).  Superman’s vulnerability to magic is probably not something the producer’s of the movie want to deal with.  Lex Luthor works best as villain as a manipulator of events, one of the few things that Superman IV did well.

The idea of a “super”man/god on Earth trying to fit in with his adopted home is something that the comics deal with on a regular basis.  QFP did not succeed in its attempt to cover the same ground.  Superman displays some rather unique abilities in this film, Super-hypnosis (kissing Lois to make her forget), Super-telekinesis (putting the Great Wall back together).  Physics takes a beating in this movie when Superman is able to talk in space and carry the Statue of Liberty by the tablets without it breaking or bending.

The main problem with adapting comic book heroes to the big screen is that a comic book has approximately 24 pages per month to set up subplots, villain backstory, and motivation.  A two hour movie is not always the best media for an ongoing character.  The script for this movie was too ambitious for the time allotted.  People expect a certain amount of action in a super hero movie.  Superman’s internal struggles with being a god among men is good drama when done correctly but makes for lousy action.  This movie didn’t even do a decent job of portraying the internal struggle.

Given the less than stellar script, the hookiness of the villian ( a clone of Superman would’ve made for a GREAT Bizarro as in John Byrne’s “Man of Steel”), and the funky abilities, this movie deserved to die a foul death at the box office.  The one good thing that came from Superman IV is that its box office failure kept the Cannon Group from making an equally crappy Spider-Man movie.

PIT #1 – 0 pointed ears (can I give it a negative rating?)
This movie made no sense.  There are cuts in the movie that felt like the producers left important scenes on the cutting room floor, either that or the script was poorly written.  Superman had some pretty strange powers in this movie as well.

PIT #2 – .01 pointed ears (actually I wanted to give 1/1,000,000th of a pointed ear but Dad insisted on as few zeroes as possible)
The idea behind the script was a good idea but the execution was pretty poorly done.

PIT #3 – 0 pointed ears
This movie did a good impersonation of a Hoover vaccuum cleaner.  It sucked, Daddy.  Why was Superman able to repair the Great Wall of China by waving his hand? 

.51 pointed ears out of 8.
I got this movie out of the $5 bin at Wal-Mart only because our local video store didn’t have it to rent and my kids didn’t believe me when I told them this was a lousy movie.  “Dad it’s Superman, how bad could it be?”  You can see from the ratings, that they now agree with me.  Don’t buy this movie unless you’re a completest and have all the other Superman titles in your collection.  Don’t waste your time on this flick.  Seriously, it’s not even a “good” bad movie (like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes).

March 3, 2009 Posted by | Comic Books, DC, Movie Reviews | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments