Wednesday, December 30, 2015

TWO SNSO Games in January!

We've got a TWOFER in 2016. That's two Saturday Night Space Opera sessions--one this coming Saturday (the 2nd) and another the following weekend (the 9th).

Study up on the deets below, space cadets. Click the images to learn more and RSVP:

STAR WARS - January 2nd game at Source Comics and Games:

STRANGE STARS - January 9th game at Fantasy Flight Games Center:

Save the dates and come join us!

Monday, December 14, 2015

TRAILER: Phasers set to kill the Enterprise for Star Trek Beyond

There won't be a shortage of big space opera franchises next year--the third Star Trek film with the rebooted cast is on it's way with Star Trek Beyond.

The franchise is taking a new direction after receiving mixed reviews from its predecessor, Star Trek Into Darkness. Justin Lin, the mind behind several of the Fast and Furious films has taken over the director's chair from J.J. Abrams. You'll notice the trailer is decidedly bereft of lens flares!

I know some folks aren't fans of the reboots. Personally, I loved the 2009 film, but was lukewarm to the follow-up. This one has something the others didn't though--a man on the inside. Simon Pegg (Scotty) was passionate about wanting the third film to succeed so he signed on as a writer! Pegg is famously a nerd himself (and a bigger fan of Trek than J.J. ever was) so this bodes well.

I think this looks like a solid entry into the series, highlighting a lot of the action the previous two films have become known for. The storyline is supposedly focusing in an all-new, boldly-going direction, which is what Trek--at its heart--is all about.

The studio believes so much in this next one that this summer it collared the cast for a fourth.My wife will be especially pleased to see the return of our own, two-person meme: "Karl Urban's Cranky Face."

One thing that did rub me the wrong way--things don't look good for the Enterprise herself. How many times are we going to that well?

Well, anyway--fingers tightly crossed for this one! Here's the trailer:

Star Trek Beyond opens July 22, 2016.

Friday, December 11, 2015

TRAILER: The end is nigh! First X-Men: Apocalypse preview is here!

The first trailer for the latest part of the rebooted X-men saga is upon us! Seems to give us a good idea of the mood and general storyline (run for your lives!). The cast looks to be the biggest since the X-Men: The Last Stand. Here's a look at the end of the world:

X-Men: Apocalypse opens on May 27, 2016--nearly 10 years to the day that Last Stand debuted.

UPDATE: Check out the new poster just released for the film:

Top image courtesy: Entertainment Weekly

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

TRAILER: CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR trailer 1 is here, already??!!!

YES...and it looks AMAZING! Finally get to see Cap and Tony finish that tussle in the woods from Avengers 1. And this time--Bucky is in the mix!

No Spidey yet though. I'm guessing he'll pop up in a later trailer. CANNOT. WAIT!

UPDATE: Cool scene-by-scene breakdown by io9, highlighting what you missed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

GALLERY: Feast your eyes on the spaceships of THE EXPANSE

SyFy has released a cargo hold-size cache of white-hot spaceship and space station art for The Expanse TV series. There's some seriously fantastic designs here--plenty to drool over and get excited for the first season, which officially starts Monday, December 14. SyFy already released the first episode though, which you can watch right now!

These also serve as great inspiration for your next hard scifi campaign or interplanetary space opera. Click to enlarge!

Images courtesy: SyFy

VIDEO: Watch the first full episode of THE EXPANSE right NOW!

SyFy has released the first episode of The Expanse for your viewing pleasure! Sounds like it's pretty close to the books. Come check it out!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Dec. Saturday Night Space Opera: FASA TREK!!

To coincide with the recent CBS' announcement about a brand new Star Trek TV show in 2017 we're going out in style--FASA STAR TREK!! 

One of the game masters in our group, Erik Mornes, will be running a thrilling adventure he's calling WITHOUT A TRACE. It'll be old school FASA rules, set in The Next Generation era. (At least, post-Kirk and company.)

The mission takes place aboard the U.S.S Excalibur, an Ambassador Class Federation starship. Astute Vulcans will recognize it as the same class as the Enterprise C, highlighted in a few episodes of TNG.

It started out as just a friendly conversation--until suddenly there was no one left to talk to! The crew of Deep Space 39 has disappeared. You and your crew, the U.S.S. Excalibur, must find out why--before they too are among the vanished.

6:00 pm / Saturday, December 5
Source Comics + Games
RSVP now and let us know you're coming!

  • No previous experience with FASA rules necessary
  • BYO dice (2d10)
  • Character templates provided
  • As always, this event is FREE


Image: Enterprise C model by Propstore.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

New Star Trek series to premiere in 2017!

In stunning out-of-nowhere-but-also-not-totally-surprising-news CBS is launching a brand new Star Trek TV series, January 2017!

No word yet on what era--or "universe" (traditional vs. reboot) this will be set in. J.J. Abrams' collaborator, producer Alex Kurtzman will oversee the series. My guess is that if Kurtzman is involved they're going for setting planted in the reboot or "Abrams-verse".

I'm pretty okay with that, being that I enjoyed the '09 reboot (which was more wa-hoo space action than Trek normally identifies with). I'm a lover of all flavors of Trek: original, TNG and beyond, NX-01, you name it.

What I'd like to see...
I'm optimistic regardless, so at the very least my hope is only for a compelling storyline with great characters doing what Starfleet does best--seeking out new life and new civilizations...going where no one has gone before!

But if I had to pick the top five elements to appear in the new series? Hmmmm....

1. A fancy new spaceship. Something definitely "Starfleet-y" but not necessarily the Enterprise. We've seen that old gal so often. Let's keep it as something special for occasional guest appearances and the movies. The new vessel should be sleek and well-prepared to voyage into the unknown, but also designed with a modern perspective. We use touch screens now--something that was predicted with the '88 Next Generation series. Trek is all about the futurism, so it MUST be bleeding-edge, STATE OF THE ART.

2. Alien crew members. Let's throw into this category "artificial" too, since we're well-acquainted with Data by now. A healthy mix of human, alien, and robotic and/or cybornetic beings gives us a diverse cast of unique personalities. I'm not saying a Borg, a Cardassian, and an Andorian on the bridge will make things better. But a fully commingled crew made of up old rivals and new allies would make for some pretty interesting drama if and when we're leaving home territory. Which brings me to...

3. Boldly going strange new places. Please, please, please--no more origin stories. No more, filling-in-the-gap histories. Those are already covered with existing storylines in both official and unofficial entries in Trek lore. We need--no, we DESERVE--something completely fresh. I recall reading a rumor a while back about a possible intergalactic Trek where the Enterprise, uh--errant-unnamed-starship--would have entirely new worlds to seek out as it zoomed between galaxies. While the reality of this is sort of insane (the Milky Way is plenty big!) from a story perspective, I can see how giving the writers a fresh slate on which to work would be a welcome change both creatively and for the audience. Either way: NEW worlds, NEW civilizations.

4. Optimize, learn from past mistakes. Too many alternate reality stories gives Spock the sad-sads, so let's keep those to a minimum. The best storylines were often the personal ones--The City on the Edge of Forever (TOS), Inner Light and The Offspring (TNG), In the Pale Moonlight (DS9). And when they touched back on Trek history, they did it with care--Trials and Tribble-lations (DS9). Not every episode can be so focused as these, but it's worth mentioning how well each of these examples relied on the outstanding acting ability of the cast to bring some deeper meaning to character arcs. But there's one final element that needs to tie this all together...

5. A crew we can feel a part of. This one is all about the feels, as the kids say. I grew up watching original Trek re-runs which then rolled right into The Next Generation. I graduated on to DS9 (falling away partly through Voyager)--and all the while was hooked into the movies. I feel differently about each crew and the members that made them up.

While #2 is important, it's absolutely essential for there to be a real chemistry with the cast. Firefly, Star Wars, Stargate are all examples of media where the casts are the most memorable element. I'm not sure that's the case for all of Trek's crews (I know I think so about my favorites, anyway!), but it will be the single-most important piece of the puzzle, if there's any hope of keeping an audience engaged. So let's shoot for nothing less than the best cast possible.

The best episodes were the ones where (to borrow new Spock's lingo) the crew performed admirably in the face of danger, chaos, disaster. Everyone did their duty to their utmost to get the engines back on line, to beam back to the ship, raise shields, and fire photo torpedoes. Sometimes in that order. But in the end, what mattered most was: the crew, the crew, THE CREW.

Enough blathering on my end of the comm! What do you think?

So, what era would you like to see the new Trek take place? 
Let's assume this is in the Abrams-verse for now. To the transporter--er, comments!

Top image: Enterprise concept illustration by artist Christopher Doll, created as a personal tribute in his #spaceshipaday series and in celebration of the announcement. My thanks to him for his permission to reproduce here.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

TRAILER: No Man's Sky gets a drop date!

It's been quite some time since I purchased a video game--even longer since I bought a console (Wii Sports, anyone?). But No Man's Sky really has me considering a Playstation, because it is SPECTACULAR.

The release date is set for June 2016. Check out this latest trailer:

A rich and diverse universe to explore

And I'm not just talking the look of it--the developers are reviving procedural-based world building, but on a scale and breadth never-before attempted.The game has been in development for years (first posted about it here) while they've worked on the algorithm that creates each star system and planet. Approximately 10% of the planets will have life (which might seem low, but remember there's still plenty of worlds inhabited and being fought over by sentients!).

And there's a method to the program's genesis. Here's one of the developers giving a tour of how the NMS universe works:

Via IGN 

And another quick behind-the-scenes overview:

More visuals to whet your appetite!

Here's some incredible stills from actual game play (right click to enlarge):


I'm really digging the sleek and vaguely Z-95 look of the spaceships. Finally, here's a supercut of some previous trailers. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Psions and mysteries take over November Saturday Night Space Opera

Psst, hey kid! Here's your chance to preview a game we're hosting at the 2016 Con of the North. This is a super not-so-secret preview of an original adventure by gamemaster Jenifer Doll titled AMONG STARS AND WOULD-BE GODS! This one-shot mystery adventure uses the Monte Cook Games' new Cypher system (the same rules as Numenera and The Strange).

You’ve never seen the world outside the walls of the Project Psion Research Center. Its mission--to improve humanity--has dominated your entire life. You’re used to the automated nature of your world, but you haven’t seen the researchers in weeks and something feels very wrong. It’s been long enough now that you and your fellow subjects have no choice but to try and escape the facility.
6:00 pm / Saturday, November 7
Source Comics + Games
RSVP now so we know you're coming!
  • BYO Dice (d6, 2d10, and d20)
  • Character sheets will be provided
  • No prior experience with Cypher System is necessary

Monday, October 19, 2015




Opens December 18, 2015!!

Right click to enlarge all images.

UPDATE: io9 has a shot-by-shot breakdown of the trailer!

UPDATE 2: Geek news site ScreenSlam has woven together a mega "Franken-trailer" of all three trailers! Watch now:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


We're seeing the resurgence of quality hard, sci-fi and it looks fantastic. Great action and plot set-up, but it also looks very character focused, which is something that's been missing from previous efforts about the goal to explore Mars.

In the story, astronaut Mark Watney and crew make their way to Mars aboard the Hermes, the large spacecraft outfitted to endure the years-long-trek to the red planet. It's recognizable design is patterned after the very real International Space Station. Here's a look at the Hermes from the film:

 Click to enlarge

A while back, the studio released a viral video to show off some of Damon's character and the interior of the Hermes.

Looking forward to October 2, 2015!

Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Donald Glover, Mackenzie Davis, and Chiwetel Ejiofor

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Next Saturday Night Space Opera: Charles Stross' Laundry Files!

We've got another new spin on the Cypher System! Regular SNSO player and awesome gamemaster in his own right, Matt Towle will be running DARK SIDE OF THE MOON based on Charles Stross' Laundry Files.

It takes the world of Stross' books (think Lovecraft meets an underfunded Ministry of Magic) and mashed them with the Cypher rules (of Numenera and The Strange) from Monte Cook Games.

The result is a spy-fi thriller through the lens of an overburdened British bureaucracy. Players take up the role of a special agents sent to investigate supernatural on the moon...but without the resources of a well-funded special ops ministry. As Matt puts it:
Space:1969. While NASA spends millions on cutting-edge rocket technology, your cash-strapped ministry just gave you a wetsuit and a subway token. Next stop: the moon!
6:00 pm / Saturday, September 5
Source Comics + Games
RSVP now so we know you're coming!
  • BYO dice (d6, 2d10, and d20)
  • Character sheets provided
  • No prior experience with Cypher rules necessary

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Wargons space warlord race for X-plorers

WARGONS: Heavy Metal raiders of the void! 

I love what you've done with your ridge Gordak! Are you using a new conditioner?

Wargons are the galaxy's most-feared space pirates seeking fortune, glory, infamy, and bent on unleashing such woe unto their enemies so as to be told for generations. They organize into tribal units called "prides" with a parental matriarch or patriarch as captain. They hunt their spacefaring prey--migrant convoys, freighters carrying cargo, passenger liners, and even military frigates--aboard smaller assault ships with crews of a few dozen. For larger hunts, they employ heavily armed battlecruisers.

But sentient forms are not their only quarry. The Wargon hunt the megafauna that live in the void--space kaiju! They consider this their greatest challenge and most dangerous prospect. To slay a massive monster and live is to become an Exalted One for ages to come.

Ferocious Starships

Wargons do not kill for merely sport--they render every piece of their prize into usable goods--famously fashioning the bones and heads into the very structure of their wildly eccentric spacecraft. The process is ritualistic and highly technical, resulting in constructs that only accentuate their already terrifying reputations.

Because of the varied and random nature of their hunts, no two Wargon vessels look exactly the same. There are basic sizes and functions, but some may employ giant insect wings, filleted reptillian frills, beheaded space demons or dragon, unfurled giant bat wings or other body parts. The fantastic and fierce-looking craft designs are greatly determined by the relative variety of exobiologic game they have encountered. And the more exotic the quarry, the more they thirst for it to become their latest creation.
"Balrog Class Dreadnought" by Katase6626 on deviantART 

  •  Vangjar Class (pictured) raider ships (bird of prey) are the most common type of Wargon vessel. Crew of 25-60.
  •  Bagkar Class destroyers are a medium-sized (think classic Enterprise) and are an equal or better match for comparable ships. Crew of 200-300.
  • Drakmir Class battlecruisers are the big mama-jamas, think STNG sized. Crew of 800 or more.

Physical Characteristics

Wargons are relatively the same size as humans, though their skin is more leathery and even hardens into sharp, bony protrusions on the front and top of the skull. Their skeletons are more dense and therefore stronger than normal humans. And if you think that makes them slower, you'd be mistaken--their muscles more than compensate for their fortified interiors, giving them surprising agility.

In general, they are:
  • Stronger than humans (Physique +1 per level) 
  • More intimidating (Presence +1 per level)
  • Possess of enhanced abilities: Initiates are also trained in Wargon Martial Arts with extra significance placed on the use of the Dam'eth sword (Weapon Specialization +1 per level), one of which every Wargon possess.  

Rage Ale and its effects

When they render the carcass of a felled kaiju, the single-most prized organ is the beast's pineal gland. From it, Wargons distill and brew into one of the most potent concoctions in the known universe: Rage Ale! The substance hyper-activates the Wargons' own anger-prone tendencies (see Melee Madness below), often imbibed just before hand-to-hand combat ensues in order to push them even further into blind aggression.

Exposure is not without some lingering after-effects. Because they're ambitious pirates, Wargons are consuming large quantities of the stuff and therefore experiencing physical changes as well, including the growth of horns, hardened skin and bones, blood-stained scelera of the eyes, and sharpened hand and foot digits. It's not know if these effects are reversible.

Melee Madness

"The Madness" is a direct effect of consuming Rage Ale, which gives Wargons enhanced strength and stamina during combat. Every Wargon carries a personal cache (flask or ampule) of the potion to chug just before contact with the enemy. Non-Wargons have been known to die or at least fall extremely ill should they ingest any. Rage Ale enhancements are as follows:
  • Physique/Strength & Constitution +2/per level
  • Hit Points +1d/level
  • Intelligence -2
  • Wisdom/Presence -2

Wargon "Blessed One"

Blessed One

Every Wargon warship Fafnir class and larger has a "Blessed One", a crew member selected for genetic mutation to turn him into a berserking freak--basically de-volving him. They usually keep them in a large cargo hold and assign another crew member (a former comrade) to look after the lucky fellow.

Nasty rumor: Wargons might be descended from rancors, not primates. That might be just a scary story, but it explains why they're so cranky.

Size: Large Monstrosity at 5.5 meters!

Agility: 10
Intelligence: 3
Physique: 20
Presence: 3

Attacks: Grasping claws and chomping bite. Don't worry about damage stats, if one gets a hold of you it's time to roll up a new character.

Society and Ritual

The life of a Wargon is defined by the harsh vacuum of space. They call it "the sea" and each soul upon the inky black "a sailor". Both males and females fight for their pride's honor. They are an ornery bunch, so they seem to work best in small tribal crews aboard their hunter ships.

Wargons worship RAGNULK!, God of the Great Thermal Death and live aboard ships that resemble flying heavy metal concerts crossed with outer-space megafauna. Ships are crewed by their own kin. Their "prides" are ruled by a father or mother figure (their captain). When a rival rises through the ranks s/he may try to assassinate her/his liege (this is never done during combat with an enemy--which is cause for instant execution). But a challenger that successfully topples the reigning captain, takes over command of the ship.

If the attempt fails, the would-be challenger is put through a gauntlet by peers in the ship's' Great Hall. Should they survive, they would be expelled from the pride--but with good intention. The erstwhile challenger is given a barely-working launch from which to begin their own pride. This is how the Wargon proliferate their kind.

A Wargon captain introduces him or herself through a string of surnames, relaying their lengthy and belligerent heritage--each name is usually more intimidating than the last.

"Beware preyling! For I am LORP, droplet of WEGAT THE BEMUSED, a kinsmen of WERDAR OF THE WASTE, and kinsfolk to VORDAM THE SKULL-SCRAPER!"

What their poor victims don't know is that Lorp was a cranky radio operator, Werdar is a sanitation officer and Vordam was really the ship's barber, heh!

Wargon High Chiefs are the highest authority in their society. They give orders to the many raiding parties, organize reconnaissance and patrol missions, and lead fleets in battle. The current high chief ruler sitting at the head of the Onyx Pentagram is know is MAD MELEANATH. No one has seen their visage in years, but it's said they are actually a were-creature, turning into some sort of rapacious space wolf whenever their bloodlust goes un-sated.

Vocation and Station

Wargons take service aboard a ship of their kinsmen and are divided into groups by skill. This is usually done based on Agility or Dexterity. The highest scores fly the ship and fire weapons. Lower scores are sent to work other systems. Intelligence isn't valued that highly, except among the highest echelons of society. 

All technology, at this point, is stolen and reconfigured to fit the Wargon motif. They stopped innovating eons ago. Wargon scientists are the worst kind---never intentionally employing the scientific method but very adept at reverse engineering. 

Ship crew compliments are typically divided into fifths of 1/5 ship control and command officers, 1/5 tech engineers, 3/5 soldiers and basic crew--with the understanding that when it comes to down and dirty combat, everybody fights.

Weapons, Armor, Equipment

The Wargon soldier is heavily armed, but only moderately armored so they can quickly dispatch enemies in hand-to-hand combat. In addition to carrying a personal energy carbine or blunderbuss, they carry at least one signature melee weapon, which can include:
  • Great axe, oversized, oversharp, heavy metal!
  • Double throwing axes, these are still quite huge, weighted at handles to provide maximum spinnage...
  • Spiked mace or flail, swingy, spikey--make sure not to sit on them
  • Gantlet covered in spikes, gives edged damage to punches as well as a little knockback
  • Cat O' Nine Tails, embedded with razors, also used in corporal punishment
  • Dam'eth sword, double-bladed swords or giant butterfly-handled swords, often curved or barbed but require a special touch to wield as they're mounted via fast-access, swing mechanism 
In addition, they'll usually wear some sort of padded armor or leather equivalent. They will don ornately decorated helmets with openings that allow their Rage Ale-infused horns to protrude through, as well as all manner of overwrought shoulder armor in battle, but find these restrictive aboard the confines of a ship. They will wear them however to intimidate enemies over viewscreen confrontations. Helms and pauldrons vary highly and are decorated or adorned as a sign of individual expression. 
Finishing off the Wargon look are any assortment of ritualistic tattoos, scarring, tramp stamps, big heavy stompy boots, toothy grills, and other extravagantly badass accouterments.


Warlike races in space opera are no longer a foregone conclusion--it's practically an expectation. Klingons have had many iterations over the years. Who could forget the great "head crest vs. no head crest" debate? To me they always epitomized of the greatest warriors in history, like the surliest pirates, Vikings, or Mongol warriors. Aesthetically, I'd believed their onscreen depiction in the original Trek films was based on the latter.

I always liked that they were best in small crews aboard BoPs and with a tribal command structure. They raiders who conquer through intimidation and cunning in battle. It's no wonder that they have become iconic in the decades since their appearance on the original series.

Monday, July 27, 2015

It's the new Cypher system for August Saturday Night Space Opera!

I'm so excited for the August SNSO--we've got another new GM running the barely-out-of-shrink-wrap Cypher system from Monte Cook Games. It's the same story-driven rules as Numenera and The Strange, which I've played and LOVE. In fact, our June Numenera game has taken off as a regular campaign on a different night.

Now one of the players in that game--and a GM herself--Jennifer Doll, is running an original hard sci-fi space adventure called RUNNING COLD.  

On a moon orbiting a gas giant planet, workers mining a rare and valuable element used to initiate cold fusion begin to go missing. You're part of a team of investigators sent to determine the truth. Dive into a rich world of interstellar mystery, action, and suspense! 
6:00 pm / Saturday, August 1
Source Comics + Games
  • BYO dice (d6, 2d10, and d20)
  • Character sheets provided
  • No prior experience with Cypher rules necessary

Check out this free preview of Cypher rules