Monday, October 9, 2017

TRAILER: The Last Jedi official trailer is here! And a new poster too!

Behold the latest poster for The Last Jedi. Let there be no question that this is still a Skywalker clan story!

And this now is THE trailer--not the teaser or a commercial! And it's squarely focused on Luke, Rey, Leia, and Kylo. Beware, there's mild spoilers.

This is the point of no return!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

TRAILER: Annihilation with Natalie Portman

Based on the first book in Jeff VanderMeer’s best-selling Southern Reach trilogy, Annihilation hits US theaters, February 23, 2018. I've not read the books (sshh! no spoilers!) but it appears as if they're in the sci-fi/horror camp.

Fellow RPG pal o' mine, John Till says they've got a lot in common (intentionally) with The Zones highlighted in the film Stalker.

If that weren't enough, the author's journey to publish the series all in one year sounds about as strange as the story itself!

Book synopsis from publisher, Farrar, Straus and Company:
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.
It remains to be seen what translates to the big screen, but that sounds positively fascinating Directed by Alex Garland (Ex MachinaAnnihilation also stars Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Gina Rodriguez.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Announcing TABLETOP TESSERACT! A full day of sci-fi gaming!

Our little game event is growing up! We're proud to announce our first game festival! Tabletop Tesseract is a FULL DAY of sci-fi and space opera adventure! Join us at The Source on the second Saturday of October (Oct. 14) for 19 games (12 hours!) of outer space excitement.

Tabletop Tesseract is a FREE event! 

We'll have games for kids, novice players, and veteran space marines. All materials will be provided--in many cases, than includes pre-generated characters so you can hop right into the game.

Feel free to bring your own dice if you like, but we'll have everything you need to get started.


We can't take reservations, but please let us know you're coming! Click the image below to RSVP:

Arrive early, stay late! 

Seating is first-come, first served. Plan to arrive before posted game time. Program schedule is subject to change. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

How I prep and run my games: RPG a Day revisited

Last month, I participated in the RPG A Day 2017 series of Q&A on Google Plus, and I thought I'd throw together a bit of the "best of" posts on GM process, etc. This here is a modified version of what I posted the for...

Day 27: What are your essential tools for good gaming?

A: I'll break these into two categories: game prep (as a GM, mostly) and at the table (as GM and as a player).


EVERNOTE for note taking
There are a lot of these types of programs out there but I like Evernote since it has the same support for both mobile and desktop. Mostly, I'll just hit the text icon, then the microphone and speak my idea directly into the phone. Then, I add tags/labels

If I get an idea from an article I just hit the SHARE button on my phone, choose Evernote and it saves the article. then I can go back and pin a few tags on it so I can quickly find it later -- and more importantly -- recall the context of why I saved it.

For example, if I find an article online that has a great character I could use for an NPC, I'll share to Evernote, tag it as "NPC" maybe even "Villain" and the [campaign] name. Later, when I begin the writing process, and I need to call up my notes for that campaign I'll easily find it when I click search one of those tags.

PINTEREST for image aggregation and selection
Pinterest allows me to create Boards by virtually pinning images or links. I've several private boards that I use to collect art and photos to help me sketch out the look of my games. It's a fantastic way to quickly visualize your worldbuilding.

I can search easily by keyword, artist name, or whatever else you think will help me find the right picture. Or I can Google search an image and pin it from there. It's great for making a "look board" for my games.

TRELLO for organizing GM notes
I don't know how I ever lived without Trello. Seriously one of the best online tools out there for organizing your game. With it, I'm able to basically create digital notecards that I can organize by category and color. I usally do the prep part on a computer, to speed up data entry.

For a Rad Astra game I ran a while back, I made different categories (think of them as "stacks" of cards) for things like Weapons, Items, Vehicles, Monsters, Villains, Other NPCs, etc. Then with each category, I was able to color them according to which location they were found.

Color coding made it super easy to correlate where stuff belonged and voilĂ ! An encounter takes shape. It's a more associative way of building your encounters and MUCH easier to mentally wrap your brain at the table.

I'll add a short description, maybe some bullet points with "rumors" or other clues. But at the very least, I'll enter all the stats I need so I don't need to look them up. I can even make a card with an empty stat block and copy/paste that as many times as I need -- filling in the blanks as I go.

Finally, I'll add in some images that I've now cherry-picked off Pinterest. Or maybe a map, that can be shown to players later.

Oh, and if there are any tables or charts you need for the game, I can just take a picture of that table, give it a title and then it's right there for me so I don't have to go searching for it in the book.

All the cards are searchable, FYI -- so if you've got a ton of them for your game, you can just search like you would any other website. 


TRELLO for Running Games
Here's where the mobile version of Trello comes in. I've got a tablet I use to run Trello which allows me to quickly access all of my game notes (just need to make sure it's got a wireless connection to grab all the updated cards -- something you can do before coming to the table if there's no wi-fi where you game).

I'll have the stats and descriptions at the ready. I might even have a clip of music linked. But the biggest/best part is being able to flip my tablet around for players to see an image or a map. It's right there! I can even pinch/stretch to zoom in on a map.


NOTEBOARD for quick map sketch-ups or tracking initiative
One of the best accessories I've found to be really useful at the table was this folding white board that's made exclusively for RPGing. It's got both a grid and hexes on one side and is blank on the reverse. It comes with one dry erase, but it will take any, really. And the carrying pouch doubles as an eraser! Throw in a d20 (like I have) and you've literally got yourself everything you need for a game-on-the-spot RPG!

Other stuff

  • Pencils? Check! 
  • Paper notecards and Sharpie markers for tabletop name badges (we do a lot of public gaming) Check!
  • Hand sanitizer? CHECK!

Yep. I'm a germaphobe. Well not really, but did you ever get sick after a convention? Congrats! You've had Con Crud, the staple cold bug that get passed around from gamer to gamer. I get it. Every. Time. At least I used to. With this stuff, you're warding off quite a bit.

Yes, yes DO tell me how I'm hurting my own immune system by not exposing myself to bugs. You'd be wrong, mostly because I have a preschooler and she's FAR more infectious than any gamers. This just reduces the amount of exposure and general grunge encountered at the game store. Also, I only use the alcohol-based stuff, so it actually KILLS germs. Don't get the triclosan stuff, it's proven to not work.

In any case, I throw a few bottles around the table so other folks can use it to. Or just make fun of me. I'm not afraid of a little ridicule. :-)

So there you have it, a few cool tools to help lighten the load when it comes to prepping and running games!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Best Father's Day yet--DIY Star Wars WITH DICE!

Last week I mailed my nephew's birthday present (he turned 11) which was a care package filled with Star Wars treats, including the Star Wars West End Game RPG rules, plus a few Micro Machine minis and dice.

While I was (gleefully!) packing the box, my daughter (nearly 4 years old) took notice and inquired as to what I was doing. She and I had just sat down the day before to watch her second viewing of Star Wars (ep. 4), which she LOVES. To her, the entire story is about Princess Leia and Darth Vader. She's not wrong--as much as Luke figures into the film, Leia is the one leading the Rebels (as far as she knows, anyway!). 

Her favorite scene is when Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie are trapped in he garbage compactor. I get a million questions every time that plays. "ARE THEY IN THE GARBAGE? WHY DID THEY GO IN THERE? WHAT'S THAT EYE DOING? WHERE DID IT GO?"

She seems to feed off the tension of will-they-or-won't-they make it out. By far, her favorite line--which she quoted to me a day later: "WILL SOMEONE GET THIS WALKING CARPET OUT OF MY WAY?" Yes, of course, your worshipfullness!

Anyway, I should have seen it coming, but she totally surprised me yesterday (Father's Day) by asking if we could "Play that Star Wars game of yours..." meaning the one I packed up for my nephew. 

Seriously, what greater gift can you give a nerd dad than to ask to play a tabletop game of his favorite franchise? ON. FATHER'S. DAY.

So I grabbed a case of Star Wars minis and some dice. Only, she's still learning her numbers. She can read them quite well, but I wanted something that I thought she could identify at a glance, so we went with Fate Dice (+, -, 0) for her first crack at tabletop gaming. I thought we'd run it as a Make Believe session and use the dice to figure out "who wins" an encounter.

A skirmish game!

Throughout our play session, I am, of course, crafting all these (pared-down) rules in my head. Doing my best to go slow and explain things simply and in as short a manner as possible, so as to satisfy the feverish temperament of a toddler's attention span. She seemed to "get it" just fine, but I wasn't sure she was having fun. 

Eventually, we just let the rules fall to the wayside. She laughed uproariously when our minis chased each other around the floor, pretending the the characters were in a back-and-forth game of tag. Soon it was bed time and she (naturally!) was not happy we had to put them away for the night. 

She asked to play again tonight before dinner. I told her "sure" but we can dispense with the dice--believing myself to be freeing her of unnecessary rules that might hamper imagination.  


Apparently she really liked using them. Even if she didn't get all my crazy rules--to her they added to part of the mystery of the game, and (I'm guessing wildly here) maybe even part of its magic. To be honest, it doesn't matter to me that she likes Star Wars. Or anything that I like. But I'm ecstatic to see her using her imagination. We could play games in whatever world she wants and I'll be happy either way. 

Sooner or later, she'll get those rules down...whatever they end up being. But for now, I think we're both just thrilled to be zooming around the room galaxy!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Blomkamp's RAKKA is fantastically weird and BRUTAL

Director Neill Blomkamp's Oats Studios released the first episode--in three parts--of his new experimental films. RAKKA tells the story of an alien-occupied Earth, now turned... you know what? I'm not going to say.

Just watch it. And know that it's not for the faint of heart. I watched this after mindnight last night and I'm certain I didn't sleep well because of it. (So you know it's good ;-)


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

TRAILER: Neill Blomkamp's new scifi project looks wicked cool!

As a fan of Neill Blomkamp's particular flavor of weird scifi, his next project called Oat Studios Volume 1, looks just as visually stunning as anything in his repertoire. I'm a big fan of District 9's stripped down approach to filmmaking and I really enjoyed Elysium's take on have vs. have-nots space-based society.

I'm looking forward to this latest endeavor, which will be a series of shorter films that will stream on Steam.

The first one is set post-apocalypse after an alien lizard invasion.

Check it out:

Bonus Game Idea: A mashup of District + Elysium + OSV1 would make a fantastic setting for Garske Games' Stay Frosty!

Blomkamp's grimy-high-tech future is a fresh alternative to the traditional Aliens/Predator/Terminator aesthetic we all know and love.

Via io9

Thursday, May 25, 2017

40 years ago in a galaxy far, far away...

I'm old enough that I can say I saw this in the theater. It forever altered my brain chemistry. In a good way! I recently sat down with my own kiddo to watch it with her for the first time (and she's the same age I was when I saw it!). For her, the Saga is only _just_ beginning. I envy her.

Here's the first few frames that started it all. I recall feeling even smaller than I was watching those ships pass over my head. Grand space opera indeed!

Thank you George and company for dreaming it up.

May the Force be with you...always.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Final trailer for Valerian debuts!

Here's our last look at the film before it arrives in theaters in July 21 (US). Have a look:


Click the Valerian tag in this post to see the previous trailers, images, posters, and more!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

FINALLY! Star Trek Discovery trailer emerges!

WELL IT TOOK THEM LONG ENOUGH! But the first trailer for Star Trek Discovery is finally here!

And ya know what? It's not bad at all. The visuals are actually really impressive--something you'd expect for a modern Star Trek TV program.

We get some great shots of Michelle Yeoh being all capable and stern.

But the real star is supposed to be the ship's first officer, played by Sonequa Martin-Green.

A few hints of the Klingons, which (spoiler, but not really, because you're about to watch it) look like the Klingons from the recently rebooted films.

I'm actually okay with that. They look more alien, which makes the political and social divide between Terran and Klingon cultures more believable.

Discovery has been plagued with development issues--the biggest of which was when producer Bryan Fuller left the project. Some folks have grumbled about the fact that it will only be available on CBS All Access for the first run of the episodes. I'm sure it won't be long after airing that the network pushes them out for wider distribution.

But with this new footage, we finally get a chance to be excited about the show!

Here's the trailer:

Star Trek Discovery airs, well, that's not entirely clear at the moment--but it's still technically listed as 2017 on IMDB, so there's hope!

UPDATE: Feast your eyes on the official poster...

Video and images: CBS/Paramount

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Alpha Star Moon Mission is a GO!

Found someone online selling a vintage Fisher Price Alpha Star moon rover (remember Adventure People?). It's missing a few pieces (the robot, alien creature and mechanical arm) but the geeklet didn't seem to mind--though I may hunt them down.

She played with it as soon as it arrived yesterday and went straight to it again this morning. Jesse from Toy Story and Rey from Force Awakens were assigned a lunar excursion mission and zooming across the floor  in no time.  

We'll make an armchair astronaut outta' that kid yet!

Monday, April 10, 2017

TRAILER: The Osiris Child

I've not heard squat about this before seeing the trailer, but this looks to be in my geeky wheelhouse of scifi action. The official title is Science Fiction Volume One: The Osiris Child -- which seems to hint at future installments (not sure if it's part of an anthology or what).

If this had been made in the 80s it might be more of a VHS B-movie actioner, but the effects definitely give this a polish not seen from these nondescript (read: non-IP) films.

Here's some sweet air vehicle battles:

Here's the full trailer:

It's an Aussie production and comes out there later this month. Doesn't yet have a US release, but definitely one to watch. It goes without saying this is ripe for RPG inspiration!





And did you spot this lil' bit of Kirby tech STRAIGHT OUTTA FANTASTIC FOUR COMIC BOOK?

And the official poster dropped on Instagram:

More info:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

TRAILER 2: Valerian trailer is SO GOOD

The new trailer for Luc Besson's grand space opera Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets  dropped. It's a fever dream of colorful alien worlds and rich futurism. Seriously, this looks like The Fifth Element x10.

The latest trailer has a more story points than the last and it's fashioned of almost entirely new footage, have a look:

July 21st can't come soon enough!


FEAR AGENT is coming to Savage Worlds RPG!

I don't usually post too many Kickstarters on the blog any more, but this one is just too good not to. To say that I've been a "big fan" of Rick Remender's retro space pulp comic, Fear Agent comic book would be a cosmic understatement. It's been (along with Remender's other work) a huge influence on my own game design the past few years.

If you've never read it, go find the trades because it's awesome. At first glance it might come off as a "retro" nostalgia space opera, but it's quite the layered drama, with a sort of hard-boiled, noir feel to it.

Anyway, Pinnacle Entertainment, the publishers of Savage Worlds RPG have acquired it as a license and are publishing a complete game along with bennies, plastic minis, and a handful of other awesome goodies.

Once a year I let myself splurge on a big Kickstarter and THIS is the one!

Back the complete game and you'll get:

  • Savage stats for the main cast of characters: Heath Hudson, Mara, Charlotte
  • Rules for spaceships, warp travel, alien worlds, time travel, alternate dimensions, etc. 
  • A gazetteer of the planets Heath Huston visited during his adventures 
  • Additional alien races and creatures 
  • A Plot Point Campaign that builds on the events of the comics, taking the heroes to the ends of the Commonwealth and beyond 
  • A series of flashback scenarios to let your players fight in the Anubis Conflict itself 
  • An adventure generator to create a terror-filled universe of encounters

Not to mention, poker chip-style bennies, a full complement of polyhedrals, plus two stretch goals: a form-fillable character sheet and pre-generated archetypes (character templates).

It's already cleared it's goal so it's worth a look. Check it out on Kickstarter!

P.S. If going full-in is too rich for your blood, you can always go for a PDF only version or the cool minis without getting soaked.

For me though, this is an easy one. ;-)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Another awesome Guardians poster design

The posters for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 have been fantastically colorful and cool. Here's another one to adorn the bedroom ceiling of your soul:

Baby Groot and the Gang are back in theaters on May 5!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New Guardians poster is the definition of gonzo space opera

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 director James Gunn has, perhaps, the best reaction to his film's latest poster:

A post shared by James Gunn (@jamesgunn) on

Nailed it. Between the poses, the colors, and the subject matter this here art is the embodiment of what wild & woooly, gonzo space opera from the Decade of Excess is all about.

Here's a nice super-sized version to hang in your bedroom, kids. Click to view the high-res, Ego-size!

TRAILER: Latest Guardians preview now with Kurt Russell!

It's a tad spoilery, so don't click if you don't want to know anything. Really though, just watch it!


Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 debuts in the U.S. on May 5, 2017.


Monday, February 13, 2017

VIDEO: Bowie backs up the Guardians

The latest commercial for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is set to David Bowie's Suffragette City to amazing effect.It's brief, but it has some new footage too. Enjoy!


You only get one chance 
to save the galaxy--TWICE.

Monday, February 6, 2017

TRAILER 2: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Super Bowl video (EXTENDED!)

If catching up to Starlord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot wasn't enough--we get several new members of the team in this extended cut of the super bowl trailer.

But first, an awesome new poster that captures the essence of the GotG movies. A selection of mix tapes!

Baby Groot there is full-on rockin' out. What? Okay, okay, here's your stinkin' trailer:

Groot and the gang are back in theaters May 5, 2017, just in time for fans everywhere to loose their damn minds over Free Comic Book Day weekend. Which, by now, should be a freakin' national holiday!

And you can bet your Infinity Stone we'll be playing some sort of Marvel space game that weekend!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Paizo launches STARFINDER this August!

By now you've likely heard about STARFINDER Paizo's approaching foray into space opera set in the faaaaar future of the Pathfinder universe. The artwork is pretty amazing. And while I'm not a Pathfinder player myself, I definitely see making use out of some of their books.

Here's a look at all cool stuff you can pre-order from them after the launch at Gen Con this August, including a massive 560 page, hard cover rule book, pictured above.

Great stuff!

Pre-order Starfinder from Paizo now