Tuesday, April 21, 2015

BY GRABTHAR'S HAMMER! A Galaxy Quest TV series!

It's entirely possible that Galaxy Quest is the best Star Trek movie ever made. It wasn't a huge draw in theaters but it reveled in Trekdom's greatest assets--it's fans. What seems to be satire on the surface is also a love-letter of sorts to nerds of every stripe. Now Paramount has plans to turn the 1999 film into a regular series:

I wonder if they could get Tim Allen to be the show's Shatner and Tony Shalhoub to be the groovy-with-himself engineer again? I'm not sure they could get Alan Rickman, but that would pretty much be the necessary trifecta.

One of the things I loved about the film, was it relished its exploitation of Trek, but also every other TV trope in fervent detail--right down to making a mockery of meaningless plot devices (Beryllium Sphere? Omega 13, anyone?). With successful scifi comedies like The Venture Bros., Futurama, Danger 5, and Archer, the show's producers would have their work cut out for them, but they have the potential to really make something wonderful.

More details:

All images: Paramount Pictures

TRAILER: Some real chemistry going on in Fantastic Four

Somehow they snuck this one in over the weekend, amidst all the Star Wars and Bats v. Capes trailers out there. This looks much improved over the previous trailer that really didn't seem too connected to the famous quartet.

This new trailer though has some real spark to it--and while I won't say it makes me think of the comics, the characters seem to have something driving them, other than scenery this time. Maybe going younger with the main characters wasn't such a bad idea after all.

We get a glimpse of their powers, the Thing in full rocky-regalia, and finally a peek at Dr. Doom!

Monday, April 20, 2015

D6 Star Wars Space Heist recap: PART 2

Well, best laid plans are sometimes blasted to tiny particles by turbolasers. In the previous play report, I talked about how a big action scene was skipped (though plenty of other action still took place). This time around, things got down right methodical.

We had two new players join the group, while one from the previous session was unable to attend. That character (Hera) was on a "side mission" for Daelu. Her astromech, was conveniently left behind to assist in the mission.The new PCs included:
  • Thall Joben from the DROIDS tv series! He's a speeder racer, which woulda' been PERFECT for the previous game. But whaddya gonna do?
  • A Mon Calmari first mate. I can't recall his name while I write this, but he's sort of a technical dude (starship repair and gunner) who's well versed in bureaucracy. So pretty much like a GM certified mechanic, I'd imagine.

The new players added a great dimension to the game in the way of strategy--especially when it came to determining how to approach the base. This is the "figuring out how they're going to pull the job" part of the adventure.


PLAYER PRO-TIP: If you spend a session on investigation and strategy when the big action scene was supposed to go down and you don't play for another month, you've just given the GM more time to think up more nastiness to revisit upon you on your next session. Game wisely!

Of course, this is all in jest. I did ramp up their timeline--instead of a week in game-time, they get 72 hours to get their gear and get on with the mission. A quick side trip to see if they can find out find out the source of the cargo vessels.

Anyway, blah, blah....


  • The PCs were given the layout of the base, per some of Daelu's Bothan spy brothers. Since the last session, he's begun getting more of his pals on board with the rebels. The Bothans are building their spy network.
  • The plans confirmed that the base is heavily protected, though some of the Empire's signature vehicles like the walkers aren't present due to terrain and giant vines. Instead there are several squads of jungle scout troopers and speeders. 
  • The facility is essentially a super secure IT building for the Empire, housing the plans and beaming a constant stream of updates through a secure channel of linked probe droids. The data is easier to manage and now protected by killer robots. If one should self-destruct or be taken out, it drops off network and the Imperials are immediately alerted.
  • So the PCs, fearing detection decide to test the cloaking device and do a scan of the gas giant's system and check out the moon the base is on. 
  • Melaku (the gas giant) has a weirding field of electromagnetic flux. Several large iron core asteroids have been towed into place by the Empire and fitted with sensors. Their high metallicity ends up reflecting the gas giant's field back into itself. It's one giant E/M blanket. Any ship that flies inside the orbit of these satellites--and doesn't have a cloaking device--is immediately detected by Imperial sensor scans. The entire field magnifies sensors! 
  • The jungle moon, where the base is located has a single centurion probe droid that acts as majordomo for all space transport to and from the planet. It actually travels back and forth between the base to relay data. Any transmission from the droid would be likewise picked up by those big reflectors on the other moons and the Imperial armada would be there to take care of any unwanted guests. 
  • They do a flyby of the moon to get a close look at the base, which looks to be exactly as the plans they've recovered.
  • So how does the base relay it's real-time holonet code of the DS plans to Imperial contractors? A hyperspace transmitter! Works on the same principles as a hyperdrive, but it's beaming info directly to a network of probe droids hidden in hyperspace that then relay encrypted data almost instantly. It's the transmitter's control computer--a sentient A.I.--that needs to be hacked to get the code. 
    Bothan brandy makes Lobot's circuits all tingly
  • The computer core is split into 3 "personas" and it takes 2 to get a complete code. Communicating with the cores requires a protocol droid with unique modifications. Only 3 known individuals are said to know how to make the upgrades. One is one is dead. One is on Coruscant. The other is on.....BESPIN!
  • Thinking (correctly) that there wouldn't nearly the Imperial presence on Bespin as Coruscant, our heroes depart for Cloud City.
  • Dalelu says it might be a good idea to bring along a little "incentive" so Chin Duo loads a crate of his best Bothan brandy in case they need to grease the wheels in negotiations. 
  • When they're introduced to the city's administrator, LANDO CALRISSIAN, the gift make for smooth introduction and he agrees to lend out the services of his assistant, the top A.I. expert in the quadrant: LOBOT! The cyborg makes the necessary mods to "Spare" so he can talk to the cores.
  • Calrissian says he wants in on whatever the PCs find. He needs leverage with the Imperials should they decide to interfere with his Tibanna gas mining operation. He lets them know that the Imperials have indeed built this "superweapon" they keep hearing about and intend on testing it...in the next 48 hours!
  • NEXT TIME: The team is off to Melaku to begin their mission, now with a working cloaking device and a suped-up protocol droid. 
  • Hopefully, the intelligence they've gathered is correct....
SPAR-3 gets an upgrade
Lessons learned:
So I failed to deliver on the "Big Damn Heroes" aspect I'd managed in the previous game. The "exciting conclusion!" is postponed for one more session. But I assure you, the PCs are now painted into a very tight corner, so it's do or do not (there is no try!) for Part 3.

And if they live through that session, I have an even more exciting "bonus" adventure, so it could stretch to a forth session. We'll have to see because we're now running into scheduling issues with the next few SNSO events.

We've got a "make-up" game for this coming up, with the exact date and time to be decided. But I'm looking forward to throwing the players into the deep end with a combat-heavy session!

UPDATE: Part three has yet to be scheduled. Stay tuned for the thrilling (for real this time) conclusion!

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Here's the latest trailer for Star Wars: Episode 7: The Force Awakens, that just debuted at Celebration (the big fan convention). Oh, the feels are strong with this one. Lots of action too!

Looks like the Empire has fallen to dust. Or...has it?

UPDATE: io9 has posted a nice shot-by-shot breakdown.

Flash Gordon movie in development!!!

It's happening! As in really happening. We've been left heartbroken before--like when Mummy director Stephen Sommers was the director of the moment, and poised to take the big screen reins. But the project lingered too long, then fizzled completely.

Now, it seems, 20th Century Fox is finally ready to make a new Flash Gordon movie a reality.

They've picked the right director, Matthew Vaughn has proven himself to a more than capable handler of well-known genre franchises, like when he rebooted The X-men. He's good with fast-paced action and ensemble casts. And his most recent film, Kingsman: The Secret Service was a huge success last year.

A recent report had quoted the last man to play Flash, Sam Jones, stating that a new movie would be a sequel. I really, really hope that's not true. I love the 1980 film. But its place in pop culture is firmly seated in camp. The Mike Hodges movie, the 70s animated series, the 50s live action series, and the old movie serials before them--they're all fantastic in their own way. It's time now for something new. But that doesn't mean we have to start from scratch.

I'm really hoping this is what we're in for:

A Flash that's full-on swashbucker...

A Dale that finally gets her due as a fully-realized character, with wit and wry humor of her own...

And swoopy rocketships...

And close encounters with strange beasts and weird technology...

The 2014 run of Flash by Dynamite comics with Jeff Parker (writer), Evan "Doc" Shaner (pencils) and Jordie Bellaire (colors) was one of the best iterations in years. A live action version of that run, or even something in the spirit of it, with Parker's snappy dialogue and Shaner's sublimely classic feel but still thoroughly modern. 

Vaughn would be wise to hire them--as well as Flash's other comic caretaker Jim Keefe--to get some perspective on handling the Mongoverse and its cast of characters. 

Parker and Shaner have done an incredible job with their run and Keefe had Flash for years in weekly and Sunday newspapers. Together they'd make a formidable creative team.

In any case, the keys to Flash's rocket cycle to the movies seem to be in good hands.

Yes Vultan--very much so!

More about Flash:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

TRAILER: Comic "Dark Matter" turned into space opera thriller for SyFy

Wow! It's literally RAINING SPACE OPERAS TODAY! At least I'd heard about this one. Dark Matter is based on the Dark Horse comic of the same name by writers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie. I've got the entire series (stored somewhere!) and thought it was...okay. The concept was pretty awesome, but the comic didn't hold my interest over time (I probably should give it a re-read). But I have to say, this trailer breathes new life into that initial concept, so I'm really looking forward to it.

In Dark Matter, the crew of a derelict spaceship is awakened from stasis with no memories of who they are or how they got on board. Facing threats at every turn, they have to work together to survive a voyage charged with vengeance, betrayal and hidden secrets.  
"Their Memories are Gone, but the Truth Survives."

As with Killjoys, the show's cast looks to be largely Canadian. It seems SyFy is (smartly) relying on our neighbors to the north for fresh faces and likely huge production discounts. They're also heavily promoting that it's from the producers of Stargate--another smart move to woo back SG-1 and SG-U fans, in particular.

And is this show also gameable? Yes, totally! In fact, I've run something with a similar hook, a few years ago at Con of the North. Same basic concept: a team of specialists awakens aboard a spaceship--stocked with massive firepower--already en route to an unknown planet. Though, for mine, I gave them a captain who knew what was going on. :) (What do you want, we only had a 3 hour time slot!)

Dark Matter premieres Friday, June 12 at 9pm central.
That makes me wonder actually if Killjoys and Dark Matter going to be back-to-back space opera anchors (!!!) 

Another unanswered question--does this mean Dark Horse is continuing the comic (which was initially a miniseries)?

Add a few more to the pile: previous articles on space opera projects (at SyFy, other networks):

TRAILER: "Killjoys" a new bounty hunter space opera from SyFy!

"From the producers of Orphan Black." SOLD. Looks like sorta Firefly-ish too me, as well, which is always welcome.

Killjoys follows a fun-loving, hard living trio of interplanetary bounty hunters sworn to remain impartial as they chase deadly warrants throughout the Quad, a distant system on the brink of a bloody, multiplanetary class war.  
"Keeping the Peace, Keeps Them in Business"

So that's a great set-up for a space opera campaign right there. Stars mostly Canadians and British (I think?) so not well known actors in the US (a plus!). Makes sense since it's a joint production between SyFy (an American company owned by Universal/NBC) and SPACE, a Canadian cable network. Also, that's not Shawn "Iceman" Ashmore in the video. It's his twin, Aaron. Weird.

Anyway, looks awesome! I look forward to mining all the potential inspiration for games!

Killjoys premieres Friday, June 19 at 8pm central.

Previous articles on space opera projects (at SyFy and other networks):

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Coming soon: "Retro Raygun" tabletop mini game (Video)

I've long been a fan of Hydra Miniatures retro space figures--I've got several of their space ranger-y dudes. I even ordered a bunch of their War Rocket spaceships from the Source (say, that order never did come in...). That game has it's own rulebook for staging rocket-and-saucer style space battles a la Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers. They're a smaller shop, who's work cannot be celebrated enough.

Earlier this month, they've announced their next tabletop game--a set of rules to go along with their character miniatures line. Here's a video preview:

So it sounds like the game will be more of a goal-oriented adventures, not so much "this army vs. that army" which sounds like a lot more fun to me.

While I wish there was a separate blog post to link to, they've put up an update on their main webpage (so this will be outdated as soon as they put up a new one). But you should go there now while you can and see the book layouts they've posted, plus a bunch of new mini designs.

Here's a few of their current Retro Raygun figure offerings:

Good, old-fashioned space pulp fun! Check out their full range of Retro Raygun miniatures.

Monday, April 13, 2015

TRAILER: This is how you do ANT-MAN right!

Whatever your impression of Ant-Man was from the first trailer, let it go. Because this one is MUCH more thrilling--and hilarious--than its predecessor.

Ant-Man stars Paul Rudd, Michael Douglass, Evangeline Lily, and that guy from House of Cards. Opens July 17.

Here's Ant-Man running endlessly in circles with his pals, enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Guardians of the Galaxy take over SNSO on Free Comic Book Day!

Well look at that--the very next Saturday Night Space Opera lands smack dab on FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! John and I have chatted many times about what we think the perfect game would be for that day and the answer has always come up:

...because obviously. But Mr Till is also a fan of the old Guardians--the ones before Star-Lord and his merry bunch of a-holes. So we're throwing these guys in too:

...and then we thought why get some Avengers on board, plenty of them have fought along side the Guardians at one time or another. And of course a dozen or X-men who've been in space. And who could forget the Fantastic Four--who BEGAN their adventures in space.

When you think of it, who really hasn't been a part of the Marvel Cosmic Universe?

So come FCBD, there's gonna be an all-out space brawl at the Source Comics and Games! It also seemed totally obvious that in the spirit of all things from the 80s, we should be playing the TSR version of Marvel Superheroes.That's right, FASERIP BABY!

Bring on the totally tubular colored charts!
Speaking of the Source, co-owner Bob has been mega supportive of us playing that night. He's a righteous dude and we're super grateful to him for letting us be a part of the celebration at the Source!

One final thing, to attend you gotta RSVP on the SNSO CONTACT page. Include some contact info (email or phone) so we can confirm your seat prior to the event and ensure we have enough GMs. It's gonna be BYO 2d10 and pre-gens galore will be available to choose from. 

Starts at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 2
Source Comics + Games


D6 Star Wars Space Heist recap: PART 1

I'm SO behind on posts these days, but hopefully this will get folks up to speed on my "steal the Death Star plans" mini campaign (designed to be a two-parter) that I'm running for Saturday Night Space Opera.

Before you go any further, check out the opening crawl, which sets the scene and time in the Star Wars universe.

So in our first session, which took place in March, we had three beginning PCs (all played by veteran roleplayers though admittedly, none of us have played WEG Star Wars in a loooooong time).
  • Chin Duo - Human smuggler, captain of The Betsy (modded YT-2000ish series freighter)
  • Hera - Twillek pirate and her astromech companion R2-B3
  • Zexy - Human cyborg pirate with protocol droid SPA-R3 (a.k.a. "Spare")

"The reward will be...more well than you can imagine."
They're individually recruited by a podracing team franchise owner named Daleu H'rndhar, a Bothan businessman turned spy. His team is competing in a race on Malastare (yes, Qui Gon, the races there are indeed very dangerous). The PCs are being hired to become part of his team to pull of the biggest heist in the galaxy--stealing the plans to the Death Star! He's offering competent takers a spacecruiser full of credits to join his crew.

After bribing, charming, or conning their way into the VIP lounge to meet their future boss, they get a few details about their mission and then get their first test--chasing down a would-be assassin attempting to take out Daleu. See, there are a LOT of people trying to get these plans--including a rival Hutt cartel, run by Neku the Hutt. She's as ruthless as they come and keen on taking out the competition.
A much better racing movie, BTW.

After some EXTREMELY lucky rolls, they catch up to her (something that was supposed to happen AFTER a really exciting chase which spilled into the giant, orbital corkscrew raceway filled with in-track booby traps and involved the characters taking over pods in mid-race to apprehend her ...BUT WHATEVER.).

Instead, they catch her almost immediately. :-( She offers up only clues to a deeper conspiracy (a strange tattoo, and a warning that "more are coming". The assassin bites down on a cyanide pill and dies, like a true professional.

The PCs have attracted a lot of attention and more of Neku's gang are on their way, plus racestation police. The PCs, uh, "hide" her corpse, in hopes of avoiding blame...in a space ficus plant. (What do you want? They caught her in a large, well-lit hallway!)

"We're in a bit of a rush, so if you'll be so kind to step aboard, it would be appreciated."
The Betsy
They make it to Chin's ship, The Betsy - only to find more of Neku's thugs. Playing coy in a confrontation of scumbag posturing, the PCs take Neku's band by surprise--out scoundreling them to get close enough to set their blasters under the chins of the thugs.

Neku's crew is forced to disarm, give up their credits, their IDs and the keys to their ship in another hangar. Again, time is of the essence, so they board quickly and make their way out of system, leaving the Neku gang tied up with their own clothes.

The PCs hyperspace the hell out of there on their way to Daelu's private offices on an asteroid, picking up more mission details from him on the trip. When they arrive they begin making a list of the gear they'll need for surveillance on the secret base--a moon orbiting the gas giant Melaku. The base is heavily fortified and remotely placed in the middle of a giant megaflora forest of supervines and enormous bramble patches.

Daelu's technicians work for hours to install a state-of-the-art (that means untested) cloaking device on The Betsy. Along with some speeder bikes in case they run into Imperial entanglements on vineworld.

Daelu's homebase
Before too long, another assassin happens along--the Bothan base has been compromised! This time the assassin gives up more details, but not before being "spaced" in a pressure suit with one hour of air. Pirates and smugglers know how to interrogate! The Bothans, being Daelu's gambling and race pals, of course take bets on how long the unlucky chump will last.

"I have a bad feeling about this."
Enough information is gained that they now know there's not much time to lose--they'll need to get to the moon and do some quick recon before the rival gang gets the prize. And worse, all these antics have attracted a big name bounty hunter, Bossk smells blood in the water and he's on his way!

Not a nice lizardman

But is he working for the Imperials? Neku? Alone?

NEXT: Part 2 - New team members!

A few things I am (trying) to accomplish in every game:
  • Fast character generation, using templates (sorta successful, but helped that the players were knowledgeable). 
  • Big damn heroes, doing leaping-before-looking action, preferably with blasters.
  • Some scoundreling skills (bribing, conning, etc) to stay true to the Ocean's Eleven style of the premise.
  • Name-dropping if not cameos from movie Characters to give the story a sense of connection and "bigness" while still including...
  • Stuff you've never seen in the movies...like giant corkscrew raceways that are filled with all sorts of cool cinematic speeder action (sigh...).

Friday, April 3, 2015

Opening Crawl for Star Wars heist, a.k.a., stealing the Death Star plans

I'd meant to post this earlier, but it's good that I'm doing it now because it's jogging my brain while I finish up the adventure for tomorrow night's Saturday Night Space Opera.

Following is a version of the scroll I read aloud to the players at the beginning of the March game. I'll read it again as a recap for returning and primer for newer players.

Episode 3.95


It is a time of galactic oppression! The newly formed Rebel Alliance has intercepted Imperial transmissions from Grand Moff Tarkin himself that speak of an incredible super weapon with which to terrorize the galaxy.

Reports from all over the galaxy have been streaming in for months: nearly a third of the Empire's military resources have pooled together to construct something beyond imagination.

Rebels spies have located a research facility in the mid-rim of the galaxy. On a secluded moon of the gas giant MELAKU, in a dense jungle of giant foliage and twisted vines, hides a stronghold where the purported blueprints were developed-- codenamed: DIANOGA.

The rebels have put out a galaxy-wide call for bounty hunters, code slicers, mercenaries and spacers of fortune to find a way inside and steal the plans. Only you and your team of scoundrels can break into the heavily guarded facility and prevent annihilation. 

Your adventure begins in the MALASTARE SYSTEM, aboard an orbital repulsorpod raceway. Your contact, Bothan racing team owner DAELU H'RNDHAR, will have your mission details.


Note: I'd really hoped to use the Star Wars Crawl Creator for the first time, but it's not very customizable. :(

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Vision was always my favorite superhero

So glad he's finally getting his due in the new Avengers movie. Awesomely spoilery picture of a Paul Bettany-fied Vision below the fold.