Tag Archives: Column

Expecting a Journal of the Emerald Specter?

With the re-release of BuJoRPG and my diligent work on the next version’s “base,” I was unable to get a column written up. I’m hoping that the new BuJoRPG book is sufficient for this week and I’m also hoping that I’ll have something similar to release NEXT week, as well as a proper journal entry… or two, since I am not entirely sure I want to fall behind on this one.

Stay tuned!

Journal of the Emerald Specter 76: Radio and Podcasting

Before 2000, the real way that people could be heard in large numbers really deals with two mediums: TV and radio. Since TV was infinitely difficult to get on, mainly due to the fact that you needed to look prettier than average to even be on the boob tube, radio was the best means of getting your name out there is “bigger than average” numbers. Even radio was a high bar to get on because stations wouldn’t just bring anyone in… they’d have some “established talent” or people that knew people to get in.

Podcasting really started taking off in 2004 or 2005, putting radio on notice… and now anyone can get their voice out there.

Why the history lesson? Because I’d like to discuss a little something about radio, podcasting, and me.I technically started podcasting in 2001, when I had a wrestling column that I used to write and for four mighty episodes I turned that column into a “radio show on the Internet.” In 2003 I ran a 35 episode “actual play” / informational podcast called the Podcast of Darkness with two “players / cohosts.” A few years later I had a whole slew of podcasts that all eventually died, some of which I want to resurrect, and others which never will. Now, I have the Specter Show, the PRO Chess League Podcast, and the Greatest Show.

Now we’re all caught up.

I moved to Portland in 2014 to get the hell out of North Dakota. When we lived there, though, I did try to get on a morning radio show (my own, really) for an hour that would have had me on the air before work (the post office) Monday through Friday. I asked, was told I’d have my sample podcasts I’d given reviewed, and they were never reviewed. I kept pushing and pushing to get an answer and I kept getting told “we’ll get to it.” It’s over 5 years later and I still haven’t been given a response.

The main reason I chose to podcast is that I could get better at being on the audio format (and some cases in video) in order to build myself up to the point where I could talk about nearly any subject. There are a few things I stumble over, like the PRO Chess League Podcast episode 4 disaster, and I’m still getting my ducks in a row to do something that I’ve been thinking of doing… I’ve been thinking of it for some time now.

I listen to the Geek Out Loud podcast… Steve Glosson has been doing both radio and podcasting for about a decade (maybe longer?) and he’s got a plethora of shows. One of these is the Big Honkin Show, which is the podcast version of his radio appearances (which, when no longer on the radio, continued as a solo podcast).

What does this all have to do with you, DJ?

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a “multiple times a week” podcast… a single show that happens two, three, or five times per week.

If I can’t consistently do a single show, or three, once a week (each), how can I possibly do a show multiple times a week? Well, there is where the tricky part comes in, then I’ll discuss a little more about the process.

Right now, I would normally record the Specter Show and the PRO Chess League Podcast on Sundays (back to back). The Greatest Show is normally on Saturday nights, though our idea would be to record on a more flexible schedule so that we can get more varied guest list to join us from time to time. If something happens on a Sunday that leads me from home, the recordings normally get delayed or cancelled all together… if I get off late or can’t get anyone else to jump on as a cohost, the Greatest Show normally gets cancelled, too. That variable schedule means cancelling is easier than it sounds.

Having a steady two to five days a week means that I’d more than likely be getting up earlier than work on the days that I’d record… or broadcast, since I’m actually thinking of “being live” when I’m actually “recording.” That’s another reason why having a steady multiple day show going on would be something I could do more often, I’d have a live audience. The ideal location for the live show would only be two places that I can think of right off the top of my head: YouTube and Mixlr.

As for what I’d talk about, I already have some ideas. I have always wanted to address “strange news” type of show, commenting on the absurd and weird. There’s always the weekly “each day is a different theme” option… New Comics Wednesday, Throwback Thursday (for some sort of topic about the past, obviously), “Who”sday (for Doctor Who news, thinking of Tuesday), and that type of thing… a regular schedule means I could do weird news along side those other options.

I’d ask for some feedback, but almost never get any when I call for it. If you want to send some, emeraldspecter.com@gmail.com is the email address.

Options are being weighed. Wondering whether I want to short myself 30 to 60 minutes every day of sleep is another thing being considered.

Time will tell.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 75: BuJoRPG… My Head Hurts

Bam! I’m just doing this right from the very beginning and I’m going to take you on a trip, so hop into this imaginary car and enjoy my dulcet tones as I explain to you (in this column) a little journey of what I’m doing and how this is going to work… 

The 2018 Bandit Edition Trans Am… yes, it’s real.

If you’ve been reading along, the last column, the podcast, and now this column, you’ve seen in near real time a thought process as I’ve thought about things (since I’ve had the time to think about them). This is ALL BuJoRPG related, so don’t worry about things that aren’t related to that…

TLDR? Read this column.

I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole recently… literally, about an hour before I wrote this column, I fell into something I wasn’t looking for in order to accomplish something I didn’t know how to put into words… and I am going to be pushing my own bullet journal to accomplish the goals I’m about to lay out for you.

First, I’m not renaming BuJoRPG (version 1)… it will remain as JUST BuJoRPG (“The original, you might say.” ~ Richard Hurndall from Doctor Who: The Five Doctors). I do plan on coming up with a “quick skin” template so that I can do a minimal amount of work to make your templates (i.e. Wuxia, Star Trek, Doctor Who, etc, etc) without spending inordinate amounts of time toiling over these.

If it takes an inordinate amount of time, it isn’t really worth doing, wouldn’t you agree?

Second, I’m jumping up to “BuJoRPG3” and I’m telling you that this isn’t a thing… I’ve got some preliminary ideas but I’m jumping back and letting this one sit until the “2” is complete.

Third, let’s discuss BuJoRPG2… or what I’m now branding as “BuJoRPG: Journey.” I don’t have any graphics made up for this yet, but BuJourney (shorthand?) is going to be the (primary) focus of the bullet journal efforts for 2018 on my site. The “rabbit hole” I fell into is a colored paragraph, if you don’t want to follow that part of the journey, skip the color.

~ This leads me to the rabbit hole… ~

Discovering the wonderful world of the Internet, I needed a printable dotted paper page and found one on Savor + Savvy… and it is in two sizes, which is exactly what I needed. On the page was a “do it yourself” video using those printable pages to make your own journal (which I would love to do), located on ChristineMyLinh’s YouTube channel.

Using just what I listed in the above paragraph, I was going to create a few “template pages” for the BuJourney or BuJoRPG and make them into a DIY book. Specifically for the BuJourney, I was thinking that this would also be usable as the “adventure” booklet (the instructions, in book form, of the “places” you visit to learn the lore of the land that I’d promised) and that would be cool to make. The other item (in DIY journal form) was going to be the modules I was talking about on the podcast linked above, meaning it would be “lore” and an “adventure” book, while teaching you how to get moving on a specific “quest” (like learning a language, doing a “couch to 5K,” etc).

Still with me? Good.

My wife and I ate out earlier in the day (on the day that I wrote this) and we ended up stopping at a fabric store, where I sat in the car to play on my phone. Since I belong to a bullet journal group (many, actually, but the one in question is Bullet Journal Beginners) and someone posted something about loving Boho Berry stuff, I did a search and found her YouTube channel… and the first video I saw was her Unboxing, which leads me to the next step of this rabbit hole.

I had mentioned wanting to put together a “BuJoRPG Box,” complete with instructions, examples, a couple of pens, a couple of dice, maybe some stickers, and an empty journal for you to begin your BuJoRPG or BuJourney in… the Unboxing video made me realize that I was overthinking the entire box idea. I also realized that this might be an opportunity for me to release my modules, specialty spreads (like the TARDIS themed February spread that I created in my own TARDIS themed journal this year), and even release custom “month specific” journals that I was toying with how to implement.

With the way Boho Berry has a “subscription” service, which is all the rage lately, I thought this would work perfectly for BuJoRPG (or BuJourney, or whatever comes next). There would be exclusives in the subscription box, special items from time to time, and even some specially curated items from my favorite BuJo suppliers.

This is just a little bit of something I’m thinking about once I get moving forward on the actual creation of the systems and information to put into the journals as the RPG elements.

~ Now back to our regularly scheduled column. ~

What I’m doing is going to put my biggest effort into getting the BuJoRPG and BuJourney stuff built out as quickly as I can (with a quality I would expect in a finished product) to get the RPG stuff moving again. I go back to work tomorrow (this is the last day of my first week of vacation) and I am confident I can actually get back into a routine starting tomorrow.

I’d really like this thing to end up being more of a business rather than just a hobby… I’m interested in helping people be entertained and getting some improvement done in their own lives, and having the income from this endeavor allow for me to put 100% of me time into this would be spectacular.

Since my columns seem to be heavily laden with BuJoRPG related items (overall), I’m going to break out topic into a bullet journal column (with videos on YouTube, also… maybe), covering general ideas and themes that I’ve come up with. There are a few folks out there doing this and I’d like to melt into the fray, coming up with my own brand of elaborate and useful bullet journal tools.

Hopefully this is something that interests you, too.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 74: BuJoRPG and 2018

Wait, wait, wait… hold on! Whoa! What is this?

An entire column dedicated to the BuJoRPG? Well, yes and no. It’ll be bullet journal related, heavily centered on the goings on for the BuJoRPG, and I’ll keep on track.

When I started bullet journaling, I was all over the place and having a hard time coming back over and over again to the journal. It’s what led me to come up with the idea of making journaling into an RPG. That led to the BuJoRPG, highlighted on bulletjournal.com… but you aren’t here for a history lesson, you’re here to hear about the system, the future, and what the hell is actually going on at this very moment.

The last column talked a bit about the possibility of a BuJoRPG3 replacing my BuJoRPG2 efforts… wait, what? I didn’t talk about BuJoRPG3? Funny… I guess I’ll let that idea out of the bag.

But before I do that, let’s talk about the first two iterations and how they fit into the future of the system as a whole.

As much as I may have alluded to such a thing, BuJoRPG ver 1 is not actually dead in the water. I created this to center around a martial arts theme (with plans to release other skins) and concentrate 100% on self improvement. I dropped Rise of the Iron Garden as if I mic dropped and walked away from the version in favor of the “new shiny.” Keep in mind the concentration on the “self improvement” aspect of Version 1 while I move to briefly discuss a little more.

BuJoRPG 2 broke out with an open beta, which absolutely no one jumped on board for, and stopped being worked on because I dropped the thing right before the postal “peak season,” which is Christmas, and I’m just now starting to see the light at the end of that tunnel. The actual idea behind this was to make the original version a little more structured and actually create a world/lore for the user to explore in the “down time” between actual self improvement bits. So, if Version 1 was the “self improvement” version, BuJoRPG2 was the story heavy self improvement version with a more “game like exploration” feel.

Now we enter the phase where I talk about what the future is for what is already here and what lies in store for the only teased BuJoRPG3.

I am going to be creating several new skins/templates for BuJoRPG1. Very little is going to be done with the structure of the set up or running of the game. There may be a little refinement, so the version numbers might change with each new template, but I’m going to actually do what I promised to do in the first place… and I’m going to come up with some sort of better explanation for quests, goals, and all kinds of things that have been asked of me through PMs and email while people use the original BuJoRPG.

The complete and entire focus of the BuJoRPG1 will remain solely focused on self improvement. Sure, all of BuJoRPG is really focused on that, but the heart of what BuJoRPG1 is actually revolves around the small steps to improve oneself, learn a language, get organized, or whatever. There won’t be a “story” component in BuJoRPG1… and that’s because you’re more likely interested in BuJoRPG2 for that.

Since the open beta hasn’t really gone anywhere, and I actually haven’t even gotten a chance to finish the rewrite of the tutorial… and I haven’t completed the teased “map” I made for the tutorial, I’m going to fix that by completing both of those components… BuJoRPG2 will have the first step of the tutorial completed and the map, the only one I’ve made, released in conjunction with that (as it will be included in the tutorial PDF). There are also bits that need to be added to what I have to release to get this version to be something more than a hollow shell of a version.

One of the features in the “story” version of BuJoRPG are the Skill Tree, Attributes explained and  advanced, as well as the prospect of future map bits for the world to explore. Yeah, I’m going to work on the mechanical aspect first and then start poking out the story bits… because the mechanics will actually need to dictate what the story will actually reveal. Will there be more maps released? That’s a possibility, but if I’m spending hours and weeks making a map instead of working on the mechanics of the system, the maps are going into the trash and I’ll make my efforts in the form of actual content instead of visuals.

I’m also going to write up some things that make this the version of the BuJoRPG for the creative personalities. Writers, artists, and the like will want this one… rather than just play a game, as a passive third person participant, the user will be able to create their own world along with the game so that they are creating their own content. I’ll briefly discuss something similar to this in my own bullet journaling for 2018.

That leads me to the enigmatically alluded to BuJoRPG3…

When I knew that the peak season was ending, I started coming up with the concept for version 3 of the BuJoRPG and what I actually wanted to make the BuJoRPG into in the first place: a collection tool.

I’m not deep into any sort of planning, mapping out of mechanics, or anything like that… I have broad, and I mean BROAD concepts jotted down, where I wanted to change the self improvement from statistical based rewards to a collection system (much like the Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes game has you collecting heroes and ships). This one will set up a framework to work towards very specific improvements with an aim away from experience points, leveling just yourself, and work more towards the collecting aspect of what I wanted in the first place.

This one will be worked on here and there but not until I get some of the other stuff listed above done. I want to hook BuJoRPG up to jumper cables and get this thing back on the road.

Which leads me into a little bit of other site related news…

I had mentioned on an episode last year that I would be alternating the Specter Show with a new show based on only BuJoRPG updates… I’m just going to keep the Specter Show periodically updating you on BuJoRPG instead of starting a new podcast… because I really don’t need another project to keep up on, even if I won’t be overlapping at all.

The show is going to have the familiar “updates here and there” stuff that I’ve done in the past, but now I’m going to be tossing in some experimental material from time to time. There are things I’ve wanted to turn into podcast but didn’t have enough material, or the belief in that spinoff, to actually move forward with a separate podcast.

What this means is you may download an episode and it’s a dramatic reading of a story, or a “what if” line of thinking on a series (movie, TV, book, etc), or something I haven’t even conceived of yet to explain here… I want the Specter Show to be interesting and a bit more random.

Back to BuJoRPG now… or rather, my own bullet journaling.

This 2018 bullet journaling for me is the year of Doctor Who. I have themed my own bullet journal with Doctor Who elements (a TARDIS decal on the cover, my monthly spreads contain TARDIS console elements, etc), and this year I’m going to create some story synopses for my own version of a Time Lord, the Specter. I’m the Emerald Specter (that’s the site you’re on) and therefore I’m running Specter Who.

I’m going to be releasing cover images (I’m toying with mocking up Big Finish versions of the covers or altering them to be something a little more original)… and will feature the actor (or actress) I’ve chosen to represent “me” as the Specter in the story being told. I haven’t decided to acknowledge the existence of the Doctor or to pretend the character doesn’t exist… and yes, I started one version of my plan only to have a change of focus for February to make something better than what I was doing.

I don’t know how many stories I’m going to come up with or whether I’ll keep this going in my bullet journal after 2018. Time will tell, but I think it’ll be an interesting thought experiment, and is the source of the concept of creating the BuJoRPG2 for creative types.

Lastly, on the BuJoRPG subject, I’m interested in knowing who is interested in what I’m calling a “BuJoBox”? This would be a package put together by myself that would contain some page templates (a series of stencils I’m currently working out), a couple of bullet journal friendly pens, a set of dice, a rulebook for whatever version of the BuJoRPG your box would be for, a journal, and perhaps some stickers for the theme of the box selected… would that be something you’d be interested in? Yes, there would be a fee for such a thing, but you’re basically paying for the price of everything on top of shipping, but you’ll get everything you need for the theme you’re looking into as well as a hard copy of the “rulebook” of BuJoRPG. Email if you’re interested.

So, I’ve got a really long column almost exclusively about the BuJoRPG. I hope you enjoyed it, I hope you’re rejuvenated by my desire to return to every version of BuJoRPG, and I hope you’re ready for 2018 like I am!

Journal of the Emerald Specter 73: What’s Coming in 2018?

As you read these words, it is my birthday. I decided to take a look at what is supposed to happen with me, things, and all the other stuff in 2018.

That was a terribly put together sentence.

The Emerald Specter 2018 Winter Basho is fully underway and things are flowing way better than I could have imagined. The speed at which game play is happening (required one move per day) means I could probably expand the tournaments from four to six without much of an issue. I’m sticking to four for this inaugural year.

There were lots of folks who joined and then unjoined the tournament before I decided to launch the thing a couple days early. I am the weakest player in the tournament, according to our chess.com ratings, by no less than 250 points. Knowing this, I’m probably not going to win any games… especially considering that two players have already crippled my offense to the point I may not survive to 20 moves. Two players have already scored wins (one player scoring FOUR wins), and we’re less than four days into the tournament as I write this.

How many of these folks will return to compete in the Spring Basho? That is a good question, because if no one comes back, then I’m just holding tournaments and spinning my wheels, which was not the point of this little experiment.

The point was to emulate sumo with chess.

Speaking of sumo, we’re several days into the Hatsu Basho and I am once again participating in the Sumo Game. I lost my first two matches and with any luck I’ll have rebounded by the time you read this to be competing for a kachi-koshi. I need some sort of scouting before the basho so that I can avoid always starting out with a loss.

Harumafuji, a former Yokozuna, is not participating this year because of his assault on another rikishi at the last basho. In case you don’t understand what this means, he smashed a bottle over another wrestler’s head and has been forced to retire from sumo. The Japanese do not allow their sport to be besmirched.

The action thus far has been good watching and I can’t wait to see Ura get back into the top division… because sumo is better with Ura.

I wanted to have a nifty transition like I did from before but I didn’t want to face this one.

We are in the 25th year of the UFC’s existence and I happened to catch the Stephens-Choi event on FS1 and was glad that I decided to watch the whole thing. I would normally have been leery of watching anything more than the “lady fights,” but the hype machine encouraged me to stick with it and the best fight of the night was the main event, in my opinion.

Looking at the schedule for the foreseeable future, I’m really interested in seeing the UFC 220: Miocic-Ngannu event this coming weekend. I don’t often get to witness two good heavyweights clashing and I’m really interested seeing this one live… and getting some buffalo wings to eat while I watch, which means getting to a Buffalo Wild Wings early enough to get a seat.

Other than that, I see that there are two events with more than one set of ladies battling it out, both UFC Fight Night: Jacare-Brunson 2 and UFC Fight Night: Cerrone-Medeiros have some potentially good lady fights I want to see. In that first one, I am hoping to see Tonya Evinger get whooped again, as I don’t think she’s anywhere near UFC material.

And now an aside that doesn’t get it’s own header.

I discovered a couple of spreadsheets on Sunday, January 14 that have been enthusiastic for doing something that I’ve always wanted to do… but first, a spot of history.

In 1998, I discovered e-fedding. That, for the uninitiated, is “electronic federation” or slang for wrestling on the Internet. Basically, you create a character and compete against others in a variety of ways to “pretend to be a wrestler online.” I ran a couple of federations in the past and really wanted to have a longer term future than I did.

The obstacle in that longer future was that I was getting tired of the “real thing,” which was WWE run amuck over anything resembling competition, and the same ideas being rehashed over and over. Basically, if Vince McMahon would step down and let the younger generations start running things it might freshen up the product… substantially.

Moving along, though, I wanted to have the same type of thing for boxing after my wrestling stint… and WeBL does that… sort of, but in my opinion, it doesn’t really do what I was hoping because it concentrates on the “short attention span achievements” that modern expectations have online. WeBL is more like an eFed and I was looking for something closer to emulating the real thing (like reported on by The Ring, including the alphabets WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO).

Since I started really giving my attention to the UFC, I wanted this to be more of an emulation of MMA rather than boxing… so, I made some spreadsheets of my own but got bogged down in tracking things that I just didn’t have time to program into the spreadsheets.

Well, I came across a tracker for something related to keeping track of an “in universe” EA UFC 2 simulation… and I can now use it in conjunction with what I wrote many moons ago to simulate an MMA experience!

I’m going in the direction, and really always have, of “digital fighters,” and I’ll be using single names (not a given plus surname, more like Seal or Madonna). I’m also instituting that both male and female fighters will be in the same competition, giving it a little depth.

This is sort of like the ESPL, which I cancelled after two seasons, but without downtime in the middle of the year… the digital fighting would be running more “year long” than seasonal. If this works out, I may end up resurrecting the ESPL with the new model and moving forward. I enjoyed doing the ESPL, and modifying the spreadsheet for the digital fighting would work wonders if I decided to program one again.

Smoothly transitioning into creating things, I wanted to write a 22 page comic for 2018… well, not just write, but actually fully produce.

One of my heroes, Dirk Manning, suggests when getting into something like this for the first time to go with an eight page story. The theory is that you aren’t overloading yourself with trying to do something giant but you’re getting enough room to tell a story that is interesting.

With my stated intent, I’d have to alter that (and considered doing so) into 3 eight page stories, meaning I’d end up with 24 pages total. I had one really fleshed out story I could add, then I was kind of struggling to come up with two other fleshed out stories to add to that one…

And I came back to my original intent. The story I’m going to tell is action packed, interesting, and I know exactly what happens, so I can progress in the direction I need to progress.

Thus, I’m back to producing a full 22 page comic book. I have about two pages written as I write this and I’m moving right along. 

I have not ceased working on BuJoRPG… I may be done with BuJoRPG2, though.

Work has been terrible and I haven’t really gotten back into the full swing of doing anything off work… because I’m working so much.

There has been some working out of ideas for the next bit I want to work on and I’ll get to it… but I need to have a normal work schedule again and that has failed to materialize as this has been written… and I’m really, really tired.

Podcasting is the last bit I want to address and since this is the end, I’ll address it under Final Thoughts.

I will be restarting the Specter Show (though I had never intended stopping) on my week of vacation coming up (starting tomorrow). I’ll record an episode, maybe two, and send them out into the world to get that show back up on it’s feet with all kinds of updates.

The Greatest Show will be returning next Saturday, too, as I’m trying to watch the UFC this Saturday. I’m going to be getting in touch with some guests and we’ll be explaining the future of the show when we get back up and running. As for the shows that haven’t been put out as audio, or put up on Channel 1 as edited final products, that will come when I get my week off and have time to do it.

All in all, things are starting to return to normal and I’m hoping that I can get back into everything I enjoy doing rather than doing nothing but work, work, work, work…

Journal of the Emerald Specter 72: Star Wars

I have a bit of house keeping to put up here… then we’re on to the column.

The Greatest Show is having some issues getting back up and running. I am exhausted from the holiday season and several of the others have their own things going on and that means we’re trying to get things back on track. Bear with us.

On to the column!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been out for about a month now and reactions are, oddly, mixed. Everyone has had their say and I’d like to throw my thoughts behind the situation to see if I can explain who wants what, why, and where we go next from here.

George Lucas created Star Wars, the entire saga. He came up with the idea, used themes and symbolism from multiple sources, and created what some people call “modern mythology.” Star Wars: A New Hope (titled such when he made a sequel) amazed audiences because they were treated to something new, a lived in science fiction-esq universe with weird aliens and awesome space ships.

Then came Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and audiences were split. Yes, split. Some people HATED the movie, thought it was too dreary and there was blow back from people who thought that Lucas was a one hit wonder. Go on, I dare you to find universal love from 1980… you won’t be able to, because this was not universal loved (at the time).

Lucas then went on to create Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and we again had people who weren’t universally behind the movie. The lightning rod of hate for this one went strongly towards the Ewoks, which were the Jar Jar Binks of 1983. This ended the trilogy and we were left without anything new for a great long time… yet, there was something interesting that happened.

ANH was loved. TESB was split, though people eventually came around to the movie being one of the best ever made. ROTJ wasn’t as good as TESB but fans eventually came around to hold all three Original Trilogy movies up on a pedestal.

In 1999, we were witness to Star Wars: A Phantom Menace… and the reaction was more than mixed, with hate for Jar Jar Binks as a character leading the way. Die hard OT fans decried the unveiling of midi-chlorians, the biological means by which the Force is manipulated. Forget about what was good in the movie, there was a largely negative response to the movie… from adults who grew up watching the OT.

Kids? Loved the movie. THIS is their trilogy beginning.

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones came out and there were a lot of problems with what went on, but we have ourselves another split on the general fan reaction to the movie. Adults were less than pleased, kids were more than pleased, and despite some really stilted dialog, this one exists and has one of the best lightsaber battles in any Star Wars movie (Yoda vs. Count Dooku).

In the finale of the Prequel Trilogy, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith gave us everything we could ask for in a Star Wars movie… and you either like this one or hate it, though if you ask the denouncers, they hold this one up as the pinnacle of the PT.

Largely, if you grew up during the OT you hate the PT. The PT generation doesn’t necessarily hate the OT, which the OT crowd uses as fuel to point out that the OT is more popular and “doesn’t suck.”

George Lucas was dumped on because he went and made the PT to show us how Darth Vader became Darth Vader. Original Trilogy fans cried out and wanted George gone because he made the Prequel Trilogy in the same way he did the Original Trilogy: for fans of all ages. OT fans thought the medium should have “grown up” with them and not been for the wider audience, but as we move into the future, the Prequel Trilogy is more accepted because the generation that grew up watching them is showing their kids and they are being accepted for what they are: part of the saga.

When George sold Lucasfilm to Disney, the OT generation started celebrating because even though the whole Star Wars saga came from the mind of George Lucas, they all thought he shouldn’t be allowed to do anything with the saga anymore… because of what they believed were terrible movies in the prequels.

Disney announced that there would now be a Star Wars movie every year and they would start focusing on “the future.” Original Trilogy fans rejoiced and rejoiced even harder when Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out.

In my opinion, the movie is fan wank and the reaction of the OT generation proves, time and again, that my assessment is right. I don’t totally hate TFA, there are some bits in there that are interesting and intriguing, but overall, this was nothing but fan service (or wank, as I keep calling it), because the OT generation thought this was the second coming.

Mainly, the ones I’m talking about are the “purists,” the ones who claim that if it isn’t exactly what the OT was then it isn’t worthy. How can you hate half of something and be a fan of it?

Now we come to the latest installment of the saga, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Fans are once again split.

TLJ doesn’t do the fan service/wank of TFA. There is multiple references to letting go of the past and moving forward into the future, like Disney said when they took the reigns. There is a new direction for the characters who are ported over from the OT and the OT generation can’t accept that their idealized concept of Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie isn’t matching up 100% with what they imagined.

Honestly, their issue is that the Expanded Universe didn’t just pan out onto the screen, which is really what the OT generation wants.

If Star Wars is going to survive as a property then that property is going to need to evolve. If fans won’t let it evolve then it will die. Plain and simple. In order to evolve, we need to move FORWARD and away from the OT.

Rey doesn’t need to be related to anybody. Snoke’s origin isn’t important. Speculating on which Ewok one of the Pretorian Guards is does nothing to further the story. It is a BIG galaxy, though if we keep the connections so tightly wound, it’ll feel like we’re only dealing with a single cul-de-sac worth of characters and their trials in dealing with lawn care.

I skipped over Rogue One, the impending Solo movie, because these are accomplishing something that the OT generation will applaud without even realizing what is happening.

What IS happening?

Rogue One, while telling us a great “heist” movie, started the franchise down a path we really shouldn’t want to go… it fills in part of the “in between.” Solo? Does the same thing. If there is a Boba Fett flick, that will do the same thing. How is that a bad thing? Well, pretty soon, we’ll be seeing movies about what Luke was doing while traveling between Tatooine and Alderaan… did he brush his teeth, play some holo-chess, or was he reading up on how to cook nerf steaks?

If we map out every second of the past, then we lose something. We lose a lot, actually. We lose the mystery and we lose the point.

The EU was interesting enough for me to read right up until the end. Would I love it if they kept writing more? Yeah, but there isn’t going to be anymore “Legends” novels. Do I think they should have just taken the novels and made them into movies? No. Despite the novels being good, they were boring and slow. Movies, at least the Star Wars movies, aren’t boring or slow.

Let’s move FORWARD. Nostalgia is a word that means “unable to get out of the past,” and if you’re one who is super into nostalgia, then I’ll see you later… because I’m moving into the future.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 71: Bring on the New Year

Shut your mouth, it’s 2018!

Yeah, yeah… I know, “hey DJ, you probably wrote this last year and we are only just seeing it now.” Well, that is true… but I’m a lot closer to the actual release date than previous articles have been over the course of December, so I’m nearly real time.

But enough talking to myself, it’s time to look at a “New Year’s roundup” of sorts.

So, it’s time to start thinking about the BuJoRPG again. I’ve been overwhelmed over the course of the last two months and haven’t had a chance to put any effort into the bullet journal at all… like, I mean if I was bullet journaling steadily all year I wouldn’t have a single entry for November or December.

Work hurts.

When I last left off from working on the system, I was deep into creating a map for one to explore a “storyline,” more information on the “Jade Realm” that I’d pseudo-created for the BuJoRPG. Well, having had a chance to really give that a thought over the last couple of months, maybe I want to step back from world building to actually just build the basics. I’m reevaluating the approach, and I’m not starting over, I’m just going to hold off on the world building part. BuJoRPG2 may see some upgrades, slight rewrites, or things of that nature… but I’m going to be working on it again.

Speaking of bullet journaling, I wanted to start a new journal for 2018 and I had previously wanted to power through my original journal before I did that, but I’ve decided to use that journal as a testing ground for the BuJoRPG stuff and just start a new journal entirely. On January 1, 2018, I will have started the new year with an attempt to get re-organized and hopefully that leads me to a better chance at 365 days of journaling.

This month, the inaugural “basho” begins for the year as the Emerald Specter 2018 Winter Basho kicks off as previously announced. As I write this, there are four competitors out of 12 that will be participating in the event and I’m hoping that the rest of them jump on board before the actual kick off day.

The time controls are one move per day, which is as fast as I can guarantee I’ll personally be able to play. With my working schedule, several life unknowns, and just not really wanting to tie the event down to a single day or something like that, I’m hoping that the play is fast enough to ramp up the basho schedule from four to six for 2019, though we’ll see how this all actually plays out.

Realistically, I’m anticipating half of the players in the 2018 Winter Basho to not participate in future bashos. While I’d love to believe that the gimmick of chess crossed with sumo is enough to bring back people to compete for the “titles” that are involved, I’m enough of a realist to understand that to build a steady “roster” of players, this is probably going to be a two year plan. Some people will get it right away, some will pop in and check it out before deciding it isn’t for them.

This is one of those years where I haven’t payed as much attention to the NFL as I have previously. There have been years where I’d watch all three games on TV on Sunday, then watch the Monday game and when it was available, the Thursday and Saturday games.

This year? Pfff… I can’t tell you how many Sunday mornings I’ve woken up and just didn’t realize football was on TV. Hell, there have been days where my wife and I went out to eat and the only reason I knew I’d missed football is because it was on in the restaurant.

I’m mentioning this specifically as an NFL subject, but I’ve also slacked on watching the Premier League and the MLS, too, as 2017 hasn’t been a good “sports year” for me.

In 2001, I made a spreadsheet that was able to track the “picks league” I’d run for the people I worked with. The NFL schedule came out and I went to work ensuring that you could just input the scores of the games on the appropriate sheet and everything would update automatically. You could track up to 20 people in this league making the selections and while the coding of the spreadsheet was a little time consuming, I really enjoyed making it.

I’ve only made one similar since that year. When the 2018-2019 NFL schedule comes out, I plan on doing that again. I’m not sure I’m going to include places for people to keep track of their picks but if I build the basic sheet, I’ll be happy enough with myself.

Sticking with sports, the UFC has had a damn good year in 2017. I’m looking forward to seeing what they have in store for 2018, too, as I’m going to start watching more of the events that I’m interested in seeing. I’m a big fan of the women and would guarantee to see the “lady fights” that were on whenever they were on but 2017 didn’t really let me get into UFC as much as I’d wanted.

Going out to watch UFC is something of a problem, as nearly all the bars and restaurants in the area that show the fights are packed to the hilt and have waiting lines out the door. Watching the fights at home is a costly endeavor, too, but if I can find out who at work likes to watch the UFC and is willing to split the cost, I’ll order the fights and none of us will take a giant hit on the price.

Yeah, I know that isn’t how the UFC intends these things to be watched, but we’re still paying to watch the fight and the groups aren’t going to be bigger than five or six people, so it isn’t like I’m hosting a public showing.

The last month or so, you’ve been treated to the “resurrecting old IPs” columns for possible future solo RPG adventuring. I’d even gone so far as to say I was going with my “Tron” idea and started figuring out what system I was going to use…

Then the holiday rush started and everything went to the back burner. EVERYTHING.

Well, if I’d have started RPing that scenario back in November or December, I might be supercharged to keep on with that storyline until some sort of “break” or “conclusion” came along… but since I haven’t even gotten to start the thing, I’m deciding whether I want to use another scenario or just move forward with the Tron one. Finding others to play with has forced me into using solo RPG as the only option I have.

Hey, DJ, what about the last column? You mentioned building some sort of fleet?

Yes, I did, and I’m glad you mentioned that.

Right along side working on the BuJoRPG2, I’m also going to be writing articles for the new fleet. The world that I’m creating does need some explanation and these articles can basically be used as the “training” for anyone wanting to play in the fleet.

Things I need to write up (generally speaking): biological information on the available and known species, a brief history of the planet from which the protagonists hail, how space travel works in this fleet, cultural backgrounds of the different nations on the planet, military structure, and basic things like how to run a SIM.

There is a lot to write and I’m really the only one that can write them up. I’ve got someone lined up to help design starships for the graphics side of things and with any luck, they won’t all look like a single person designed them (similar to what Star Trek ships look like).

I’ve attempted to write prose for a long time. There have been many, many false starts, and even fewer endings. The sad thing is that the “space series” short stories that I used to write are all in the past and I’ve seemed to have lost the ability to keep doing that sort of thing. So, I’m going to give myself a year to accomplish a goal that, if I don’t actually start doing it, I’ll never do.

I’m going to write a single issue, 22 page story, comic book script.

Not only am I going to write 22 pages of comic script, I’m going to then draw the damn thing, ink it, color it, and see how long the whole process takes me. There is no illusion that I can get this task done to completion in a single month, but if I’m going to write the script I want to see the end result.

I’ve talked about, pined over, and romanticized creating comic books since I started collecting them way back in 1987. There were six issues of a homemade comic that I made that have long since been lost that I even made, though I would tell you right now that they are horrible and the stories wouldn’t hold up at all under any scrutiny.

If I don’t do this in 2018, then I cam put that dream away and forget about ever doing it because talk is cheap and I’m tired of not doing anything about it.

The whole goal is to finish this project in 365 days, have a finished product by the end of 2018. I think that is a realistic goal and I’m hoping that it will inspire me to make more if I can complete one.

Wouldn’t that be great?

I’ve seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi. There has been both super positive and super negative reaction to it, and I’d like to throw my two cents in as well.

“Old school” fans will proclaim from the mountain tops that the Original Trilogy (or OT) is really the only Star Wars there is, claiming it to be untouchable for its greatness. The majority of these fans are over the age of 40.

The younger generation of fans, the ones that grew up during the Prequel Trilogy (or PT) are the ones who understand that the OT is good but really love the PT and hold that as the standard to which Star Wars should strive.

We also have a few fans out there that like all of the saga, none of one of the trilogies aforementioned, and there are even still more with other variations of likes and dislikes.

The OT fans that hold up that trilogy as the best profess to wanting more stories with those characters and we are getting that with this Sequel Trilogy (or ST), but things aren’t working out exactly as they’d hoped. The OT super fans are also the ones primarily upset over the loss of the Expanded Universe (EU) that was turned into “Legends” by Disney after the purchase of Lucasfilm.

When Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released in theaters, OT fans initially went orgasmic because they could now ignore the prequels entirely and just focus on moving “forward.” Well, you either seem to really like TFA or really dislike TFA, I haven’t really seen any “in between.” The movie was basically an entire “fan wank” rehash of the OT condensed into a single movie. Yes, there are redeeming bits and interesting beats in the movie, too, but overall, it’s the OT retold in a single movie.

Now that TLJ (The Last Jedi) has taken us into new territory, officially, the OT fans are crying super hard that this new movie isn’t their Star Wars. I have mentioned in some Facebook posts that I felt the movie didn’t really feel like Star Wars but I accept that things need to change in order to not continuously rehash the same story over and over again.

My question to the PT haters has always been: how can you hate half of something and claim to be a fan of it?

If I rank the Star Wars movies, and I’ve done this before TLJ came out, I’d have a different order if I included the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story into the mix… I don’t normally add that one because it’s not a numbered episode, so after putting thought into what I really think about TLJ, the order I’d rank the films in the saga are as follows:

  1. Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith
  2. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
  3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  4. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
  5. Star Wars: A New Hope
  6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  7. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
  8. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

With a prequel toping the list, I can feel (through the Force) millions of “fans” cry out in agony. RotS is a superior movie, although the film suffers a little from some lumps, it isn’t as “hole filled” or terrible as the OT people want to make it out to be…

I’d probably slot Rogue One right behind The Last Jedi if you made me add it to the list… but since I’m not going to rank the Solo film (as I have zero interest in it) or a Boba Fett film (as I also have zero interest… and as an aside, the character did literally jack shit on screen and he’s super popular? Why? He has literally done nothing to warrant the popularity), I leave Rogue One off that list as well.

When George Lucas made the prequels, the OT fans cried that he ruined their childhood. Those same fans rejoiced at the purchase by Disney, leaving GL out of the mix entirely… and now they’re crying about the fact that Disney is actually doing something interesting, albeit not what they wanted, with the franchise.

You can’t hate and love the creator simultaneously. Pick one.

Star Wars has a bright future. Rian Johnson was given the green light to have his own trilogy, divorced from the Skywalker saga entirely. What have I heard fans think the new trilogy will be about?

  • Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • Mandalorians
  • Knights of the Old Republic

Really? These are completely divorced from the Saga? I don’t think so, McFly.

The key words are “divorced from” and people are having a hard time grasping that concept.

I want to end this segment by boiling down a little 411 for the kids reading this: Luke Skywalker, son of Anakin Skywalker, with R2D2 and C3PO, are what the Saga is about. This links them to Rey, Kylo Ren, Snoke, Darth Vader, Darth Sidious (Emperor Palpatine), Padme Amidala, Chewbacca, Yoda, Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Leia Organa, Lando Calrissian, Admiral Ackbar, Mon Mothma, Jabba the Hutt, Biggs, Wedge, Mace Windu, BB8, and more characters than I can continue to name before I have to start looking them up… If Rian Johnson is going to tell a trilogy that is original and new, then there can be no connection to these characters aside from a passing mention.

Speculation ran rampant about Rey’s parentage and it comes down to the fact she’s a nobody. Why does everyone in the galaxy, read GALAXY, have to be related? Let’s do something new, something different, and let’s stop living in the past.

Nostalgia is for people who don’t know how to move forward.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 69: Pump Up The Volume

Here’s a little bit of a different column, I’m going to be writing about two topics (with one obviously taking the majority of the column). There was a movie that I wanted to discuss, sort of in the vein of the nostalgia trip I took with the last three weeks, but without the solo RPG angle. I mean, literally, this movie defining something that literally isn’t a thing anymore.

I’m talking about Pump Up The Volume.

In Pump Up The Volume, Christian Slater players a teen named Mark Hunter who is an introvert and doesn’t really socialize a ton. He’s got a lot of pent up rage and discovers that his shortwave radio allows him an outlet to rant against the injustices of society. He’s got himself a post office box under an assumed name to receive mail, his voice is obscured with some technical mumbo jumbo, and he’s doing all of this as an airwave pirate, something that was quite illegal.

I bet you can tell where I’m going with this already…

Everything that happened in Pump Up The Volume is literally happening right now. Podcasting is allowing anyone to put out anything and they don’t get arrested for it. In fact, there is no FCC involved at all and that, I find, is hilarious, because this movie now is not only terribly dated but it is quite anachronistic, too.

Using the music of others without paying royalties, like apparently is alluded to in the movie (it’s been close to 30 years since I’ve seen the movie, that would catch the FCC’s attention (along with the use of profanity, which I do remember is quite prevalent). The broadcasts that Hard Harry, the alter-ego of Slater’s Mark Hunter, are limited in range and wouldn’t really catch a large scale attention because they were so limited in range.

Put this in same category as Footloose, as in the premise is slightly ridiculous and over the top. This was a typical 80s thing, where they came up with something and made it plausible, then resolved it within the confines of a two hour movie. Unlike Pump Up The Volume, though, Footloose is a totally ridiculous premise.

Podcasting has busted open the idea that anyone can say anything at any time and there is an audience for that. If you look at iTunes, Google Play, or other podcast aggregators, there are thousands of podcasts (I have three of my own) where people are talking about all kinds of subjects, using whatever language they want, and some even are clouded mindedly pretending to be ON the radio, giving weather and station identification… between their playing of music that they aren’t paying for and don’t own.

Now, I’m all for using a clip of some music for some theme song stuff, but to play the entirety of a song without giving any props to the artist is downright stupid.

Watching this moving now would feel completely confusing, like watching Smokey and the Bandit and wondering why the Enos Brothers couldn’t just go pick up some Coors at the store. The world was a very different place 30 years ago, and is hard to understand why people did things the way they did them.

In fact, when someone wants to “relive the good ‘ol days” because they remember it being awesome, I like to point out that sometimes those memories are heavily shaded with the rose colored lenses that they’re wearing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie. I haven’t watched it in a long time and after writing this, I don’t think that I could get over how awkward things were back then. It’s just nice to know that we’ve advanced and evolved to a place where our options aren’t limited by an “overseer” like the FCC.

I used to play a game called Ingress, and technically I still play that game but I haven’t really done much of anything in the game for the better part of a year. As a recap, Ingress is a location based game where you are trying to either free or enslave the minds of humanity in order to create peace or free will options.

As I’ve said in a previous column, and actually several previous writings on this website, I belong to the Enlightened (the green team) and I’ve made quite a few friendships over the time I’ve played, though my ability and/or desire to play the game recently has waned because of a lack of time and difficulty achieving the next few levels I need in order to be “at the top.”

There is a problem with bias and cheating in the game, though, and I’m going to be talking about that aspect of the game.

I’ve met a lot of players, and of those players, I’ve come to understand that there is a problem with cheating going on in the game. The thing I’ve noticed about all the cheating of which I am fully aware is that the Resistance (the blue team) is responsible for the majority of that cheating.

I’m stating that I am positive the Enlightened have cheaters as well but I’ve not personally met any of them. As far as Resistance cheaters, I’ve met more than I care to talk about.

The first instance in which I understood cheating was happening ended a long run of my holding a portal, which provides a badge in game. I was within 10 days of meeting the highest badge possible for holding a portal. My streak was ended when a player, who was living in Maryland, spoofed his location to take over my portal and end my (at that point) current streak. His account was banned less than 2 days later due to having been caught spoofing, since one cannot go to Bismarck (North Dakota) to Shanghai (China) to Buenos Aires (Argentina) in the course of less than 24 hours. Despite this banning, I had to start all over with my Guardian.

When you play Ingress, you often meet up with players from “the other side,” participating in mini-games and what not to build a little community. I’ve met several Resistance players who are completely above board with their game play, but even in North Dakota, I met just as many who were spoofing their locations, using apps clearly outlined as illegal per the terms of service, or using the game to stalk certain people. The fact that I’ve met so many players on the same team that do this is, in my opinion, highly disturbing.

I won’t limit this to just outright “cheating,” either. Many of the members of Niantic, the company who makes and runs Ingress, are Resistance players, unbalancing the “hub of arbitration.”

There have been a few instances of unfair decisions coming down from those “on high” that have tilted the game in favor of the blue team, mainly the core team “taking care of their own.” I’ve no examples of this for this particular column, I’m just saddened that the creators had to choose a side and neglect a chance for balance to be present at even the highest levels of the game.

If you can’t guess, the above items are a big part of why I don’t want to play Ingress anymore. I’m sorry if someone thinks that this outlook is unfair, but honestly, I don’t care. I call it like I see it and I see the cheaters and unbalanced decision makers ruining what was once something I really looked forward to doing.

That’s all for now, though… thanks for reading.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 68: Resurrecting Awesome IPs (Part 3)!

Well, in this column I’m going to talk a lot about the history of dirt and really dig deep in on the subject…

Naw, just kidding. It’s part three of the “IPs as solo RPG settings” series… and I will do my best in order to get into the setting descriptions a bit more, like fleshing them out.

I have some good ones!

I’m going to kick you right in the face with this first one… playing in a setting like Mortal Kombat! Yep, the ultra-gory fighting game that revolutionized the genre!

You can certainly look at Street Fighter, Tekken, King of Fighters, and Killer Instinct as examples, but the grandest of stages I want to examine are those in Mortal Kombat’s storyline.

A series of warring “realms” that were created by some Elder Gods formed a tournament, known as Mortal Kombat, for control of said realms. On these many different realms came a variety of combatants, some having different appendages while others having fantastical powers, each with their own stories coming into the tournament… and that’s only the surface!

I’d be interested in this type of setting, as it fulfills the “what the hell is going on” factor, has built in combat, and the story is literally as deep as I would want to take it. In evaluating the original revelations about the MK storyline, Shang Tsung was on the cusp of winning the tenth (and final) required Mortal Kombat tournament to take over Earthrealm, Liu Kang won in favor of Earthrealm… Shao Kahn was then revealed as pulling Shang Tsung’s strings and was really wanting to be the one to rule Earthrealm, and failing a second time Shao Kahn lures Earth to Outworld for another one (failing again). Shinnok then tries his hand at it, resurrecting the Dragon God Onaga for another installment, and things spiral out of control from there… basically, the stakes were raised with each installment but without doing what movies fail at doing (by going so large in the first installment that there was nowhere else to go).

They are in the process of a “soft reboot” of the franchise, but the idea is that I (the warrior of whatever origin I decide) would have my own interest in completing when I’m dragged into some sort of weird tournament that draws me into something much larger (like a tournament for the fate of the realms), but still needing to resolve my own issues in the process… perfect!

Moving right along, I’m going to dive head first into Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra as the next stage!

A long time ago, I was privy to a conversation between a dude who was going to formulate a way to create a “Last Airbender” RPG set about 10-25 years before Aang was found… and that was something I was very much interested in participating in! Unfortunately, said dude turned out to be a vindictive, unreasonable asshole who decided to steal from the very business he was so proud to have “helped run” in which he suggested this game…

But now I am taking that idea, and digging into it!

While the impulse is to play as the “Avatar,” or the world’s grand superpower individual, I wouldn’t necessarily like to be the center of all the attention. There are other things that could be interesting to develop and this is probably the first of the ideas that I’d actually run IN the actual setting… I’d also probably go closer to the Korra era (or after), which means I’d be simply wandering around the world that was already established…

During this whole journey, I’ve been talking about remaking the IPs in order to produce a setting that would be original (or very closely modeled after) so that there wouldn’t be any sort of worry about the owners of the IPs getting in the way of producing results… basically, I have been proceeding with the intent of “owning” the property I’m creating. The “Avatar” setting is the only setting I’d be willing to go into without worrying about that. Then again, I could make my own and discover it from scratch like the audience did way back when…

Enough of that dwelling! Let’s talk about the next “big idea” to expand on: Assassin’s Creed!

If you’re new to the Creed saga, then the idea is basically that a progenitor alien species have all kinds of highly advanced technology that two secret societies formed to find and control: the Templars and the Assassins. Basically, the Templars want to remove free will from humanity to create peace… and the Assassins fight for free will to allow humanity to make their own choice.

My broad stroke concept I’m looking at here isn’t being an assassin, far from it… though murder may be involved, I’m actually concentrating on the opposing secret societies idea. Both groups basically move around in the shadows, manipulating world events or searching for some mystical super thingy that grants them whatever they, as a whole society, actually want to achieve. The Templar/Assassin balance is actually kind of present in Ingress, where the Resistance is fighting to enslave the minds of humanity for peace and the Enlightened are looking to expand the human consciousness. I’m on the green team in that one.

With the opposing societies, it really wouldn’t matter what they’re called unless a “usually deep undertone” could be thought up in the process, would basically both be fitting into that mold. One to enslave and the other to remain free. CrossGen comics signature “Sigil” embodies that in a simpler form: red is selfish, yellow is selfless.

I’d take the role of a member in one of these societies, becoming (more than likely, as treasure hunting is something I love) a sort of expert at finding whatever it is we’re looking for, and in the process battling the opposing society’s agents after the same things. The possibilities are wide open and since I’ve included CrossGen and Ingress as references, you have also probably already mentally equated this same thing to other properties I didn’t even mention (like the Jedi/Sith from Star Wars, another great example).

This entry is going to be a little on the shorter side because I don’t want to get into another property with the deepest focus I’ve already applied to the ones above. I do want to dive deeper in what I’m looking at but I’m also interested in actually playing in one of the settings I’ve talked about in these three parts.

I do have more entries to add to this one in the future and I’m sure that I will go ahead and do further expansions, maybe even going back for a deeper dive on the settings I’ve already mentioned, too… in any case, since I actually want to get playing one of these I’m looking at formulating some basic information to start.

If you’re wondering, as I write these words the “Tron” setting (my own version) is where I’m looking first. I do have some other ideas I’ve never even mentioned as settings but this is the one I’d like to begin with, I think.

More to come as things develop and next week I’ll hopefully have a topic that doesn’t revolve around what I’ve covered over the last three weeks!

Thanks for reading!

Journal of the Emerald Specter 67: Resurrecting Awesome IPs Part 2!

After writing the last column and stating that I would love to continue with this line of thinking (basically converting IPs I love or a no longer “a thing” into solo RPG settings), I started making a list of what else I wanted to cover…

That list is very long.

Not only do I have a few more to add to the mix, but I came up with some other examples of ones I wish I would have included in the previous column. There are enough of these that I might have a part three, too, and if I keep coming up with them, a part four!

First, the “space series” that I mentioned in the previous column (the one more Firefly than Trek or Wars), another great property that is long since dead but much beloved by me is Earth Star Voyager… this one is about a ship heading to a new planet for colonization, but it was designed as a series pilot that was never picked up. There are so many questions left unanswered: why is there an OTZ? What reason do the ships have for weaponry being installed on them? What exactly was the reasoning behind the Triton Corsair’s master plan?

There’s also a similarity with Interstellar, which could fit into the puzzle nicely, too.

On to the rest of this column!

Continuing on with my look at properties that can be used for settings, I came up with Final Fantasy… a perfect video game franchise that, while not dead, presents itself as a “world that is unveiled through play” that would be well suited for my solo RPG purposes.

In some installments, the characters kind of know what is going on with the world and basically have their “railroad” to follow to the end of the line. There are examples of the “I don’t know what is going on” scenario (in two of my favorite installments of VIII and X), with a world of fantastic possibilities to delve into (summon creatures, Chocobos, etc).

This is a setting I can use to flesh everything out with minimal preparation (world background, historical information, power limits, extras, etc). I can literally start rolling die with the Mythic Game Master Emulator and get to moving in the right direction… of playing an actual game.

The Final Fantasy franchise is large and would allow for a lot of expansion as far as a solo RPG goes, but that can also tie into another franchise that runs with a large “amnesia” angle through many of the installments… that being Legend of Zelda.

Digging back into the “I was going to write prose” options, Heroes is a great place to point at for ideas.

The direction I’d go in, rather than having the “secret society after secret society” layered on without much of a plan, I was thinking more along the lines of the 4400, where the super powers come out and people are challenged in moral and ethical ways on how to use that power. You’re going to have a nut job who wants to rule the world and you’ll have other strange things going on around you that are tangentially related to the goal of stopping the “big bad,” but will ultimately reveal what the hell is going on.

What I was essentially going to prose write was something happened, globally, that gifted a lot of people super powers… while there were a few characters who really wanted to use their abilities for good, there were a large set of groups that wanted to fight to control vast stretches of population across the globe. There were strange things going on around the world, too, like a half sphere-sized hole in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a suddenly tropical location in Antarctica that is impenetrable by modern scanning devices, strange creatures running around altering DNA, and more. Hell, the very reason people got the power was geared towards a specific end goal (something like an alien invasion).

In this setting, the world is already technically fleshed out (because it is our world) and the powers would be discovered along the way. The Walking Dead uses a definitive formula that would fall right in line with how my Heroes-esque version would be: survive, discover civilized folk, discover those folk aren’t so civilized, destroy, move along… that is the Walking Dead model. How many times can that be done before people stop being interested?

What about the lovely Black Sails?

Living on the high seas, as a pirate (not terribly unlike Pirates of the Caribbean), experiencing the pirate life and fighting for survival. Black Sails is specifically a “prequel to Treasure Island,” which mixed real and fictional pirates together… I liked that version better than Disney’s because it is more grounded in realism.

Unless I could really come up with a few “grand scale” ideas about a long arc, the story would be mainly about plundering the odd ship’s stores, sinking the enemies of piracy, and just living through life that way… interesting, yes, but is it solo RPG worthy? Sure is!

Continuing with a “treasure hunting” theme, I present Indiana Jones!

I love me some treasure hunting movies. I love the National Treasure series, the Robert Langdon series, Goonies, and basically I’m saying if there is a treasure to be sought out through figuring out of clues, I’m probably going to like the property.

As a character, obviously I’d come across some long lost thing that leaves me a clue to go somewhere, which leads me to more clues, which lead me to more places, and I eventually come to the end of the line where I find the treasure (or whatever that treasure ends up being) at the end. With Last Crusade being my favorite installment of the Jones series, I think that finding a “Grail Diary” type prop would be a great way to start out that type of adventure.

Moving right along, I will dive back into the “I had a series idea” pool… with Knight Rider.

This idea was fleshed out in the late 90s and early 2000s… where a team of scientific types designed some artificial intelligences to helm vehicles to aid with crime fighting. We’ve advanced well past the point (technologically speaking) where my original premise for the story would work (plausibly), and that leads me to look for a means of making it work in today’s world a little better. So I decided that maybe taking the Airwolf model would benefit the story.

If you are unfamiliar, a top secret helicopter was stolen and two operatives were tasked with retrieving the chopper. Once they get it back, they decide that the technology shouldn’t be in the hands of reckless government types and they opt to use the helicopter FOR that government if they deem the situation bears the necessity of using Airwolf.

Tying that in with the Knight Rider idea, there would be a special operations group that runs missions with the aid of artificial intelligences that can transfer between all kinds of vehicles (choppers, cars, etc). This ties in with the military unit style game that would interest me and it could always branch out as the “the government shouldn’t have this, we’ll go on the run” type storyline.

Speaking about “going on the run,” how about Doctor Who?

I have, many times and in many ways, created alternate versions of the Doctor (and Doctor Who universe) to tell stories in. First I named the main protagonist the Stranger, then Inspector, then Agent, back to Inspector, then to something else and so on… always existing in the same general backdrop with the stories being “rejiggered” to work with the new mythology that was modified.

Always those ideas ended up failing… but there were points that I continued to use and have developed into something that I’d dip my toes into here with you.

One concept was the possibility of regeneration into either sex (something Doctor Who finally did with the Time Lords). Other ideas related to more “investigating mysteries” without so much of the science, leaning me always towards the “Inspector” role… which was ruing in parody for me with Inspector Spacetime on Community.

My most recent iteration, though, ties all of the ideas I’ve ever had into one… continuing through my “adventuring time traveler.” I won’t name that traveler, as there is a distinct possibility that will come up in play during one of my solo RPG games, which I would love because then I’ve tied another thing into that item… which would then allow me to flesh out that character in detail through the same means of discovery!

I wasn’t sure how to broach this particular subject, but the idea of not being an amnesiac and discovering the setting through play relates to two properties I love: Terra Nova and Lost.

The premise I’m looking at exploring is the “I end up someplace I don’t understand, which looks familiar, but isn’t what I think it is” type game. No amnesia. Lost uses the plane crash as a means of getting people corralled on an island, where weird crap is going on and no one really understands what is happening… then they go exploring and they discover the secrets of this magically impossible island.

As far as Terra Nova goes, fleeing the future (which is in a state of disrepair and destined to cease existing), people travel back 65 million years to set up a new civilization and save the human race… except, there are weird things going on here, too, with random factions, rogue future elements that are altering the course of things, discovering they aren’t the first civilization to end up in the past like this (due to a boat being found), and finally learning that the past they are in isn’t the same past they thought they were in…

Fun times! Sadly, Terra Nova will never be explored out and I’ll never learn where the weird boat came from, but that doesn’t stop me from using the same basic premise as a game setting to play in.

Next I’ll draw way back from science fiction and get into police drama, like the Chicago Code.

I’ve long liked good police dramas. One series of books I was fond of (until the author changed) was the Badge of Honor series by W.E.B. Griffin. The focus is crime fighting with a good helping of understanding about the cops involved doing the job. While you could also include Hawaii Five-O in this listing (I haven’t watched the original), my hope would be to be as exciting as the Shield without the untoward shenanigans going on in the background.

Police drama these days, though, concentrates a little heavily on murder… which is all well and good, but there is so much else out there to explore. What about what Miami Vice did without needing to rely heavily on homicide? How about Nasty Boys? Hell, even CHiPs managed to have several great seasons of entertainment without needing to have a dead body every week. I love the NYPD Blue aspect but I think having a far more well rounded “not just homicide” department would work better for my gaming needs.

Finishing up with one more property, I’d like to explore the ideas in Smokey and the Bandit.

Generally speaking, Bandit (who is a trucker) is approached by two rich guys who make a bet whether or not it’s possible to bootleg beer from Texas to Georgia in a specific (technically short) amount of time without getting caught. Bandit gets his friend, Snowman, to run the rig while he drives the iconic 1977 Pontiac Trans Am as a “blocker” to attract all the cops his direction. While there were two sequels and a TV series that loosely followed the same logic, I’m going to concentrate on the original film. (Note, in finding the link for the movie I learned that Edgar Wright is doing a reboot in 2019 of this movie, so with any luck, it’ll stay basically the same premise rather than it being some modern version of the same story, ruining the entire thing.)

Having someone who is running illegal things from point A to point B is a great idea for a game. The concept allows for an episodic feel, or can expand out to the “big screen” feel of the movie. The setting will be key, whether it’s in the 1970s bootlegging or running moonshine like the Dukes of Hazzard was originally supposed to be about… the setting will inform the types of things being done.

This would definitely be a different type of game and would allow for more action than dialog, keeping the pace of the chase up throughout. I don’t think I’d want to have this as some sort of government operative escaping with things from other countries, I would really want to have the looming threat of being imprisoned for doing things I shouldn’t be doing at speeds which attract a lot of attention… in the end, the idea is heavily under consideration.

Again, I’m over 2,000 words already and I still have more properties I’d like to cover. Sure, some of what you read has devolved into less about what the original column was and more speculation, but I can get back on track with the next edition.

If you’re curious, the list I made is currently sitting at 17, with me remembering other properties I’d like to include on that list. These are all settings for RPGs, basically, with my own spin on making them as great as they can be…

Hopefully you’re enjoying the ride.