Tag Archives: Writing

Journal of the Emerald Specter 89: The Rook Disaster

Wait, another Journal entry so soon? I told you I was going to be writing a few entries while I looked for time to record the Specter Show.

Content is king. This content is another “tale from the past” that was about something other than eWrestling… this one is about SIMming.

A SIM, for the uninitiated, is a simulation. I’ve tagged Obsidian Fleet more than once, but that is really what SIMming is (and has turned into) and I can summarize it as a “collaborative writing effort to tell a story guided by the Captain.”

My first SIM was the USS Sovereign, based on the Enterprise E from Star Trek: Insurrection. I played the role of a medical officer (Allison Blair) and added a little twist of having a witchcraft heritage in her family. I was slowly expanding that story until a change in command (a new, or rather returning, story leader came in… someone I’d never met) shifted how the SIM ran to the point I wasn’t really enjoying myself. I was also told to nix the witchcraft and I did by deciding to leave.

I found a couple of other SIMs, learned the ropes of how to really do things both as a player and even as a storyteller. That’s when I started in on being a captain of my own ship.

This isn’t about that first ship. It’s not even about the second ship. It’s about the third ship, the USS Rook (a ship that was created at my request, though I hadn’t realized I made a request at the time).

I’ve run my fair share of roleplaying games throughout the years. I was good enough to run Werewolf: The Apocalypse without the books, I’ve run lots of Vampire: The Masquerade AND Vampire: The Requiem games, and my old favorite of Wraith: The Oblivion got some play as I ran some games, too. All that table top RPG experience led me to believe that some of my techniques in RPGs would work well in SIMming.

When Obsidian Fleet has a new captain, they run them through a sort of boot camp to teach them the ins and outs of how to run a SIM. I had been through their boot camp and since I was returning, I got to go through the refresher version for the Rook. Once you finish the prep work, you run an “episode 0” as a sort of a “take the ship out to test it” game so that all the players can get used to the ship. Once I got through with that, the “fun” began.

Each and every player had written up a background for their characters, as they are supposed to, and I noticed a pattern when I was reading through them. Almost every single character had a person in their backstory with a past that was either shady, undeveloped, or otherwise attached to some sort of crime. While we were still in episode 0, I began heavy duty development of episode 1.

The story was ingenious. I patted myself on the back so hard and I thought that there would be record posts recorded on the Rook because of how deeply I’d developed this single story!

I took every single one of my characters from old SIMs and introduced them, coyly, into the Rook roster. Each one of them was introduced into their different departments as “advisors” without a rank. I’d had a variety of characters in different departments (because I wanted to play different roles through the years) and them all coming on the ship at once was to invest the players in their presence.

How? Well, I purposely held everyone’s rank to Lieutenant JG or lower, except for the XO. The mission that this advisor crew were brought on for was to investigate a ship that was lost in the line of duty. While we traveled there, though, that was where things were going to really take root for the actual mission (the lost ship was going to be episode 2).

The advisor crew were tipped off by a father/uncle/cousin figure from the crew’s past, who was working with others of similarly shady repute from other species than human, to the presence of a roboticist who was wanted by the Federation for (banned) eugenics experimentation to create an alternative to the Borg threat (basically creating an anti-Borg). The “advisors” were brought on because only the newly commissioned Rook had the technological advancements available to help this sinister roboticist complete the final stages of the first anti-Borg, which meant they were going to mutiny and take the ship straight there.

When the transmissions from a ship shadowing the Rook were detected by the crew, it was revealed that this father/uncle/cousin figure, along with his cohorts of other species, were involved in a nefarious plot (as was suspected by their histories). The mutiny was initiated and the movement towards getting everyone super invested into the story I’d weaved was underway! The posts were destined to start flooding in!

Posting dropped by more than 50%.

I was so confused. As a captain should, I put out a plea that we needed to keep active and get the posting up… and I had several players transfer off the ship without any notice. Posting continued to diminish and some people just flaked (which means they didn’t respond, didn’t post, and just generally stopped playing without notice).

My Task Group CO, the person I reported to as the captain, contacted me and told me that there were some complaints that I’d overstepped a little. Overstepped? I was told that I had messed with some backgrounds that players were upset over, and rather than them coming to me about what I’d tried to do.

Episode one was dead. A whitewash story was made up over the story that had been used as a reason the Rook had been brought back to dry dock. I’d contacted the TFCO and let them know I was stepping down as the captain, and someone else stepped in to keep the ship from disappearing completely.

I was completely blindsided. Absolutely none of the players who complained said anything to me. None of them bothered to mention that they had plans for anything, none of them seemed to think to say something to me about this plan I thought was magnificent… I could have recovered from someone giving me direct feedback, but I didn’t get any.

A tactic I use as a GM in a table top RPG is to take the character’s backstories and weave them into the story. I thought that by using everyone’s backstory in the SIM I’d get everyone interested in the SIM and want to move forward as one of the highest posting SIMs in the fleet. Instead, I was crapped on and left out in the cold.

I don’t actually know what the true issue was. I know that I haven’t SIMmed since on a Star Trek based SIM and I haven’t done anything more than lurk on the Obsidian Fleet site.

Just like the last story, my memory may not be as solid as I thought. Memoir over biography.

I don’t run great ideas by the people who would experience those things. That would be akin to an author running their story idea by you, their reader, before writing the book. Things like that don’t work. What’s the point of playing a game where you already know what’s going to happen?

Someone will refute my claims above. Honestly, it probably wasn’t as dramatic as I made it out to be… but it wasn’t that far off, either.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 85: Projects, Projects, Projects

There has been a question about what the hell is all the stuff I’m working on in the background and how much time is actually being put into each of these projects. I have a hierarchy of what needs to be done before other things that come on board and I decided to write a little bit about everything I’ve been working on, have previously worked on that is still being considered, what projects have been added as future fillers, and what this all means for all the talking about doing things and seemingly not doing things that I’ve done on this site.

THE top of the pile, THE main project, THE thing that I’m interested in finishing is the BuJourneyRPG basic ruleset. The link there is the category, which is everything that has been tagged with BuJourneyRPG specifically. If you haven’t been paying attention, I invented BuJoRPG and BuJourneyRPG is the next step in that evolution. If you have been paying attention and you’re waiting for me to drop that ruleset, I’m not ready to release it. With another, related, project involved, I have to make sure that I’ve got all my ducks in a row rather than release with a headache of fixing things in post-release.

What’s that related project? Physical bullet journal items that I’ll be selling. Time is money, folks, and if I can’t make money off this then I have to work to make a living and work on this as a side deal. I’d like to have some BuJoRPG-related income (including BuJourneyRPG), which means I could cut some hours at work and put most of my free time into working on the two systems and physical items. The physical items project is being done in small bits. Progress is being made and when I have something to release, I’ll probably announce that with links and such when the time comes, but know that I’m not stalling for the sake of stalling, I only have so much time to work on stuff at the moment.

In the last column, I announced I’m considering revisiting the ESPL. That is a distant thing, really looking for a 2019 restart of that. How can I add this into the mix without having the above two items taken care of? The key is: I haven’t added anything. Once the ruleset and accompanying physical products are out there, I’ll have “fiddle around time” to work on logos again. Read the post if you want more information, but just know that I have this on the list but not on the “active” list.

Something that is going to be happening more regularly is the Specter Show. On episode 50, I mentioned that I’m interested in “catching up” with my releases and get back to where I actually SHOULD BE with the episode/date. Having said that, I rolled back my lofty goal to look at more of a “two per week” or “three per week” option, instead of going for the original three to five per week I’d mentioned. The readings that I tested have ate up WAY more time on my end and I’m hoping that I get better at that for future releases. What readings? Listen to the episode.

Speaking of podcasting, let’s look at the Greatest Show. I attempted to turn the show into more of a seasonal offering, not overtaxing the hosting troupe with a show per week (meaning 52 shows a year), or running like we used to with a “if anyone else can be on, we’re having a show.” I stopped updating that schedule and haven’t decided how long that page will remain up… the idea now being different with what I’m trying to do. I have wanted to have more guests on and that will allow us to move the recording times/days to whenever necessary. We will still broadcast on a Saturday night now and then, while having an episode in the middle of the week with a special guest or whatnot.

The bullet journaling and the podcasting is at the top of my active list. I just wanted to drop a note here to say that.

There is another podcast that is coming, for sure, that is tied to another project that I’ve been leaving stale for about eight months now. The project can go forward because I’m ready to fill you in about what I’m wanting to do… this deserves a banner to change gears (the first of two banners you’ll see before the end of the column).

The project’s working title (like an OS codename, so less a working title and more codename) is Stellaris. There are several components to this particular project, and I’ll detail each one a little here before moving on to the next one. But first, a little history… brief history.

I’ve written short stories in the past (if you visit the way back machine, I’m talking my school aged years around 1989 to 1994). One of the most prolific “series” I wrote was my version of Star Trek, which would be more relatable as a version of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica or a combination of the two. (Keep in mind the reimagined series didn’t air until 2003, so I’m not claiming credit for that… but I am stating that my idea was much like it.) I wrote somewhere in the neighborhood of two million words (at best guess). There were several “crews” that basically crewed a line of starships with the same name, creating a universe around their adventures. I did have a “revival” of my writing late in my Naval career (let’s say 1996 or 1997), but those never really went anywhere.

Using that as the basis, I have sort of been building up a mythology and background for new fiction. I’d also like to have a SIM fleet, like I’ve mentioned in the past like Obsidian Fleet, running in this universe. That’s a “further down the road” segment of this project, let me get back on track.

The podcast that will be born of this project is that of the history of the planet of origin for Stellaris. There are multiple species, almost 10,000 years of “recorded” history, and a wealth of background that can be translated via voice to the listeners interested in the “how the hell did we get here” portion of the fiction that I’ll be eventually writing. The podcast will be formatted much like Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast, with the obvious change that I’m relating fictional events from a fictional location to the listener. I haven’t decided on how often the podcast would happen, but know that it is unlikely to be weekly.

When the history gets to a certain point, I’d start writing the fiction because you’d have enough background to know why certain characters are the way they are. The fiction would be serial fiction, with an intention to release in a novel format. The serial version of the fiction would be run as if the website was HBO and there would be a goal of 13 episodes per “season,” which means 13 installments within the book.

Speaking of serial fiction… 

I’ve talked about writing serial fiction in the past and I’ve decided to start writing it. I’ve got lots of “series” that I’d like to write and they’re all literally sitting in a file somewhere not getting done. So, I’m going to go ahead and start writing.

Will the series fit the above mentioned format? I’d like to believe so, but I’m not going to tie myself entirely down. I’m going to start writing a series based off of a short story I wrote for a college project, and I’m going to “revamp” the mythology behind that as I start writing. There will be installments, they’ll be released as they get completed, and I plan on working the mythological rework as I write.

That means NO “big write up” before writing. I’ll just keep track of things as I go.

Once I get a few installments released, I will consider doing other series. I may even try doing some background informational write ups for those before hand, but no so detailed I never get moving forward on the stories themselves.

The other big thing I wanted to move towards is… 

My goal of creating a comic book from start to finish before the end of the year is looking like that isn’t going to happen. I’m not done with the year, obviously, but I’m a realist. So, that leads me to giving a little bit of background with what I’d like to turn this into.

Yes, Specterverse.

So, when I started collecting comics in 1988 (beginning with Amazing Spider-Man #303 and branching out to many Marvel titles from there, as well as adding DC titles after that and I jumped in with both feet to Image when they launched), I had created my own superheroes and many of them, I’ll admit, were thinly skinned versions of some of my favorite heroes.

Since their initial conception, I’ve worked on my heroes to fit more of an original bent rather than be skins of other heroes. I’m basically telling you that I’ve been working on my own comic book universe for the better part of 25 years.

Yes, for real.

Since I’m unlikely to be a comic book writer, since I can’t even get seem to follow through with my goal of producing a comic book in a full calendar year, I’m going to aim to work towards JUST writing scripts. I’m intending to write them as Graphic Novels, so that there is no presence of a “monthly” release.

Using Marvel’s Cinematic Universe as a template, I’d love to write a graphic novel, or two, annually. My art is what I feel is holding my progress on this particular project back.

This is not high on the active list, but I wanted to detail it here.

I have announced in some form or another doing things that have less intense involvement on my part. These include Specter of the Galaxy, Specter of the Octagon, and Final Fantasy XV SpecterQuest where I play these games (No Man’s Sky, UFC 3, and Final Fantasy XV) and release the gameplay in installments. None of these are high priority and neither my wife have the time to play these at the moment.

So that is a rough rundown of some of the projects I have in the making. Some are nothing more than an announcement, a planning stage, etc… others are, as listed, active and noted, in the column.

There are some that weren’t mentioned at all and those are not on the active list but are under consideration. One thing I can do is talk, those things are podcasts, and that means I could just talk more… but I would need to be able to keep up with what I’m already doing, first.

Anyway… I’ll type at you next week.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 83: Building Bigger

The title of this blog doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to be changing a bunch of things up. I wanted to leave the title vague enough to be able to accommodate a lot of options, while I’m not necessarily going to be speaking about making anything actually larger, the idea is that I’m going to be talking about what I’m doing and where things will be going.

If you haven’t listened to the Specter Show (episode 49), then maybe you want to… I explain a little bit about things.

Since this is a readable blog post, though, I’m more interested in where I’m going to be pointing for the majority of the topics here. I’ll be covering a lot of stuff here, so why don’t I go ahead and get things rolling.

I tried something new with the naming scheme of the Specter Show but it didn’t take when I downloaded the episode myself. The next time I’ll have to rename the entire post to see if that works, which means the graphics identifying the episode will need to be spot on for the download. The idea is to remove the show name from the title and just have the episode number and episode title.

This isn’t the only thing I want to talk about with this particular section.

The Specter Show has long not really had a focus. I’m going to be catching up on the numbering of where I should be after more than a year of recording and to do that I’m going to be doing some different types of episodes. There will be a little bit of BuJoRPG and BuJourneyRPG updates, which have become the centerpiece of the podcast, but there will also be some fiction read by myself (which fulfills the hope that I might someday get to record audiobooks).

Those will start as short story readings of public domain properties and possibly morph into (hopefully) writing and reading my own fiction.

Will the fiction reading take over the podcast completely? No. If things go well enough, or if there is enough interest in me continuing, then I’d spin the podcast off into its own thing.

Included with those above things, I’ve got two other projects that I’m looking to include into the rotation that I’m super interested in developing. The first one is a “funny news” podcast that I’ve written a script for (the first episode only), and as long as the news still isn’t out of date, I’ll be including that one real soon. Assuming that there is interest in continuing that, it would also eventually get its own podcast feed.

The second one is a little bit more complicated. Rather than having a weekly feed for this particular idea, I’m angling at more of a monthly show release schedule instead. What I’m talking about will require a somewhat in depth explanation… so here it is:

The Freemasons have a slogan that has always interested me: “We take good men and make them better.” In order to accomplish this, they have a set of lessons wrapped in allegory to teach those men how to be more well rounded. They call it “finding more light,” but whatever you call it, they’re teaching people about ideals and virtues that everyone should generally have. I’d like to research these allegorical lessons and turn them into a long form informational podcast.

Before you roll your eyes and start thinking about baby sacrifices, Illuminati plots, butt sex rituals, or any of the other conspiratorial things you associate with the Freemasons. None of that is true and believing it without proof makes you silly and ridiculous for believing things without proof. If you want to believe in conspiracies, then what I just laid out isn’t going to be for you, anyways. Just 15 minutes of research on Freemasonry without paying any attention to the Satan linking idiots out there taught me a hell of a lot, maybe others wouldn’t be so taken with conspiracies if there was some common sense involved in the research.

What I’ve laid out are items that I’d like to include JUST in the Specter Show, and if they’re interesting enough to folks, spin them out into their own podcasts.

I’m also going to talk about the Greatest Show. With all the hosts but myself, my wife, and Metal Jesus showing up on a regular basis, I’m trying to figure out how to adapt the show into the future. This means the infrequency of the podcast will continue until I figure that out.

The guest rotation thing, including people that I want to interview of just generally have a conversation with will be on the show at irregular times while I try to figure out what’s next.

I play the Sumo Game, where you pick who will win and lose each day of the 15 day sumo tournament (or basho). I’ve only competed in three bashos so far and I’ve managed to have a kachikoshi (more wins than losses) each time. The goal is to eventually become a Yokozuna (Grand Champion), just like real sumo.

I’d like to get more people playing, more people interested in sumo, and more attention to the sport that is far more nuanced than most people understand. Personally, I’ve only really followed THE true sumo in the Japanese Sumo Association, where the best of the best compete.

Much like Kintamayama, where I catch most of my “digest” style recaps of each day’s action, I’d like to have my own little sumo competition going on like he does on his own site. He was a Yokozuna for a time on the Sumo Game site, I don’t think he needed to start his own but it always helps to have a system for building up something from a common source.

Speaking about bashos, the Emerald Specter Chess Club on chess.com is the place for a merger of sumo and chess.

The first basho was a hit, the second basho was a hit… there have only been two people to sign up to be a part of the “permanent” rotation, so the cycle will continue to happen with the two other members, myself, and a slew of random folks.

The goal, of course, is to have a steady group of “top division players” to then start expanding out in order to build up a regular competition and maybe even get some attention of some big time players to want to compete (and by “big time,” I’m talking about titled players who aren’t in the top 100 but want to do something that is a little different than “normal.”

I’ve been jotting a few things down in the last few weeks. Some of those jottings have been about things to include into the website, and of course, some of those jottings have been about fiction. I’m not going to do a lot of talking about the things to include on the website, so this will be more about the fiction.

The “Journal of the Emerald Specter” that is currently on it’s 83rd iteration, has formed out of the original “Emerald Specter” column that I was writing and has evolved over the years that I’ve been writing it… what it currently is and where it appears to be going doesn’t really seem to fit with what things were way back when. If you went back to read the original column, then you’d see that there was more of a commentary going on than anything informational. I also had some legacy things going on from other columns I had written in the past (see: Think on it.).

With writing fiction, I’d like to have some of that see the light of day. Serial fiction is a big deal these days, see SerialTeller and SerialBox for examples, and if I wrote some short stories, I could release that on the site. I’m going to start by writing short stories and include those into a column rather than releasing them separately (or maybe separately AND inside another column).

I’m rambling a little on this because I’ve contemplated either renaming this column with a focus or, in the fashion of both Marvel and DC, relaunch the new column in a “new #1 issue.” I still like that idea, but we’ll see if that catches any traction with me over the next week.

I’m going to be hiring someone to work on this website. It’s going to remain a WordPress site but I’m going to be getting a custom framework built that I can update the graphics on periodically to keep things fresh. While what I have going on right now isn’t terrible or in need of updating, I am looking into the future for the next version of this site.

The thing you do as a web designer (which I can’t technically say I am anymore since I haven’t physically coded one in over a decade) is change things and that normally involves planning ahead. I’m simply talking about planning ahead.

See you.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 81: Audio from Written Word

Plans, plans, and more plans. Things start up, things fall through. Things don’t get started and life tends to get in the way.

“If something is important to you, you make time.” ~ Captain Montgomery Scott to Captain James Kirk in Generations.

I guess I have to start making time for the things that are important.

I’ve been talking about writing and completely producing a 22-page comic book before the end of the year. If I don’t actually start doing that I won’t ever get it done. By this time, I should have had a full script written and working on the layout for the book.

Have I done that? Nope. I have a script started but it hasn’t progressed.

There are tons of other writing projects I want to be knee deep in right now, too, but that falls into the “time isn’t happening” category. that’s also going to be grinding to a halt.

I produced a story for a writing class when I went to college back in 2005. The story was just the beginning of a much bigger venture and I’ve often thought about where that story goes. There are details within that story that I’ve long forgotten about and if I dig the story up to freshen the whole thing up. With a rewrite and some additives with the new details, I think it’s ready to be brought out to the world.

I am going to accomplish these things because I have a lot of stories I want to tell and I’m going to tell them.

I’ve been lax with getting out the Specter Show lately. Not that I’ve really meant to not record or to release shows, with the last episode being on the pathetic end of the scale, I’ve just allowed life to push me around.

Yep, there it is again… life pushing me around.

I’m going to start doing some experimental things with the Specter Show. There is another podcasting idea I’ve had that I wanted to try out and while I will definitely be producing at least one full episode of that idea WITHIN the confines of the Specter Show and if I enjoy it but don’t want to fully make a new feed that is also not going to be getting a ton of attention, I’ll produce a few more.

There is also a “research project” that I’ve been meaning to write up and produce into a podcast. Once again, I don’t want to produce a podcast that gets left to flap in the wind on it’s own feed while I struggle to keep up with what I’m already doing. What’s the idea? It’s going to be me producing long form content about a series of subjects all related to self improvement. That’s as far as I’ll go with the reveal so far and just like above, I’ll probably release the stuff WITHIN the confines of the Specter Show once, maybe twice.

Why within? Well, the Specter Show intro and outro would still be in the episode, and with these two ideas I would basically have a “this isn’t a normal episode” warning. If the content is popular or interesting enough, I’ll break it out into it’s own feed and release the episode sans Specter Show bookends.

I am stating right now that I am going to be getting back on the Specter Show wagon and producing content again, and really working to make content that doesn’t suck.

Moving along to the Greatest Show, I don’t see the group sticking to a “season” format… mainly because only one person outside of everyone in my house shows up regularly. This opens up the Greatest Show format changing into two different format options: a roleplaying session that only Metal and I are part of or me running an interview style show at irregular times with the guests I’ve been unable to work on getting on the show due to (you guessed it) life.

Both of those things are going to be a thing and that is where I’m trying to take the show. Unless the old crew comes back together, or Bob is able to make a regular appearance with me to have a reunion to the “old school Greatest Show.”

I said all that in the writing section to get to the meat of this column. The title, so far, hasn’t made a ton of sense in this column and that is about to change.

Let’s say I’m writing a serial fiction series about a school of wizards… and let’s say that the series gets a little attention from readers who would like more. Let’s also say that the series gets some feedback about people who like the premise but don’t have the time to read all that to get the information.

Well, here is where we come in with the title: Audio from Written Word.

I have software that will combine mp3 files into a large m4b file. If you don’t know what an m4b file is, that’s what an audiobook file is (at least through Apple). I am saying that I’d record the serial fiction into an audiobook format.

There are several things that I need to state about this before I go on. First, my time is not free and I’d be asking for a fee. If you consume even a fraction of the audio that I consume (because constant movement at work allows me to hear things but not really to sit and read things), then you’ll appreciate that paying someone to listen to a reading of fiction isn’t a terrible thing. Second, the audiobook files would be complete “seasons,” like the entirety of the series (season 1, season 2, etc) as one single file… this keeps me from seeing to basically having to produce a podcast release schedule to keep up and I can provide a bigger “hoopla” if I just do the bigger release. Third, I could also start writing the serial fiction as just written word and produce an “audiobook” to compile the season… or after a certain number of seasons I can simply produce and release the audiobook “seasons” after a free launch.

The idea is that if I want to start doing things I want to do instead of just doing things I have to do in order to kinda do the things I want to do then I won’t get 50% of what I want to do done.

My wife is a fantastic business woman. She takes an idea, develops the idea, and starts producing product for sale. In a few months, tops, that idea is now a viable business process that works and earns her a living. These ideas also keep her busy and doing things she enjoys.

I’d like to take my ideas and do the same thing.

The funny thing is that I just showed my wife those last two “paragraphs” and she said it would be nice if I did any of my ideas. Like, for example, my bullet journal ideas (I said I’d like to make stickers for the BuJoRPG… primarily the templates for the first version and the templates for the second version, too). That is first on the list.

I deleted Facebook and Google+ from my phone recently and I’ve been less consumed with anger and frustration as a result. I’ve also had a ton more free time to do other things and I know that is a better thing.

I am also going to be removing one of my two regular games from my phone because I’ve progressed to a point where I don’t think I’ll be getting much farther any time soon. Without progress, I don’t really want to keep grinding because the game isn’t that important AND is getting in the way of doing what I want to do.

See, things are getting better already.

The Specter Show 048: Somewhat Damaged

Short and to the point, DJ runs over a bit about BuJourneyRPG struggles, getting out a Greatest Show, comics both writing and reading, what’s been going on, and a hopeful push to get back to normal all on this episode!

Host: DJ Allen
Intro Music: The Idea of You by Nine Inch Nails (from Not the Actual Events)
Outtro Music: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails
Intro Lead in: Theo Rossi

Contact:
Website: www.EmeraldSpecter.com
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Support Emerald Specter at Patreon!

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 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 70: Building Something Wonderful

Welcome, welcome, welcome!

There is a little bit different look to things, if you haven’t noticed, as I’m launching the new look by replacing graphics over the course of the next few days (or weeks)… I’m not going to wholesale switch everything immediately, as that tends to stress me out and I don’t need that right now.

BUT… the time has come, and with this, the time has come to discuss an upcoming project in the detailed manner to which you’ve come to expect from the Journal entries as of late… 

I’m heading this one with the Storytelling banner because it really doesn’t fit much of anywhere else. Basically, this IS a story about storytelling.

Let me start at the beginning.

I’ve mentioned this on the Specter Show many times, but I’ve got the entire history of an entire planet that I want to tell the story of in pieces, thus I break down the story into “eras” and I would like to tell that story to the world at large. The part of that history I’d like to go over at this particular moment is the “future” part.

The basics you need to know, though: there are eight sapient (meaning sentient, intelligent, and peacefully existing) species on this world, there is almost no religion to speak of (due to the atrocities in the “past” that led to some pretty terrible results), the technological advancements of the combined species led to quick development into space flight (despite there being multiple factions on the surface of the world itself, they largely work together towards advancement… the species intermingle, the governments don’t necessarily do the same), and it is this “future in space” era that I’ll be discussing.

I know you’re probably wondering what the eight species are, I’ll not be divulging them all, but some will be discussed in this article.

With this future era of this planet, that I’m calling Dhumin (yes, that is a reference to the Cthulhu Mythos deity), there will be a space fleet that will be doing space fleet things… and I’d like to turn this into an opportunity to include others in this fleet.

How does one participate, you might ask? Look at Obsidian Fleet for an example.

What I’m proposing is beginning a fleet, in this universe that I’ve created, with a single SIM. One single SIM (or in this case, a “ship”). If you weren’t sure, that is basically what makes up the Obsidian Fleet: ships.

In Dhumin’s future, which I guess I’ll stop referring to as the future and start referring to as the Space Age, there are fleets of ships doing things in space that are interesting. There are three branches of the military, of the “primary” government that will be the focus of the fleet. Those branches are Fleet (the Navy, space Navy, etc), Flight (the Air Force, or space Air Force), and Force (the Army, Marines, and basic security/ground troops).

While I intend to write fiction about the “main plot” of this world, I’m realistic enough to understand that the SIM fleet will probably be far more productive in collaborative writing than I ever could.

So, what exactly is the plan?

A SIM is run by a game master, or Captain if you’re on board a ship, and that Captain runs a story for everyone to essentially collaboratively write within the bounds of, for all intents and purposes. Unlike a traditional RPG, a SIM is more about telling a story than rolling dice.

As the first Captain, I’d run the crew of whatever initial ship I would choose (“space” aircraft carrier, destroyer, stealth ship, transport, freighter, etc) and hopefully get a couple of the crew interested in captaining their own ships… thus the single SIM would expand to two or three (someone would take over the initial ship, too). I would move up in rank (mayhaps Admiral?) to keep the stories consistent with the world I’ve created, since I’m really the only one that knows what the hell is supposed to be going on at the present.

Overseeing a larger fleet (as Admiral), I’d be answering questions from the Captains about what they can and cannot do (story wise). I’m interested in heading off things that would “break immersion” in the universe, not stifling storytelling. If a Captain wants to invent a new form of FTL, that may come with some heavy restrictions, since there is an FTL present already and further development could grab the attentions of unwanted universal entities. There ARE future stories that will be told that will “break open the bonds” of the restrictions.

All of this comes from a single ship, though.

Maybe I start with an aircraft carrier, that spawns a special forces Force unit AND a squadron of Flight detached from the original aircraft carrier… that involves all three branches of the military right away.

Will there be bits and bobs we come across as we get through to the point where the doors get blown off? Yep. There isn’t a big “surprise” moment, there are clues leading to the big reveal… and there is a larger story being told, I just want to include the vision of others in along the way.

Do I have anyone interested?

I’m a big fan of SIMming. I’m a big fan of Star Trek, but the two have run into an issue that I am hoping I can provide some resolution. Most of the fleets online today rely on the “advancement into the future” from the end of Star Trek Nemesis, which by my count has made the SIM community stagnant because Nemesis came out in 2002. That is 15 years of running in a world that is never going to see another update.

If you pay attention to these sorts of things, new ship classes were developed all the time in the franchise. Uniforms were updated periodically, certainly more often than not at all in 15 years. The connective tissue to role-playing in such a distant time makes things less solid, in my opinion.

The world I’m offering is wholly original and ripe with opportunity. There is a roadmap and a man steering to get us there… me, by the way… and I’m interested in including others vision in this, too, as long as we don’t break the world I’ve created.

Join me?

Journal of the Emerald Specter 66: Resurrecting Awesome IPs

The title will be a little misleading but I wanted a means of drawing your eye in to read a little more, so hopefully you’ll forgive me a little. I will actually be talking about a great many intellectual properties (IPs) but that talk will be done in a little bit different way than you might be expecting.

In order to ride a little bit of the “nostalgia factor” that everyone is experiencing with Stranger Things, I wanted to talk about turning those IPs I love into RPGs or prose fiction.

Yes, this may technically be another “RPG” centric column but I’m going to label this one in the more broad sense of being… 

If you can’t see the title, there, it’s “Storytelling.” I guess I shouldn’t just let that be without explanation.

There are a lot of IPs that I’d love to see brought back, or continued, that are sitting in development hell, are already completed (as far as the story goes), and didn’t have the “multiples of billions of dollars” made in their one attempt so they just put it on the shelf.

I’ve got a little bit of a history of making a fairly entertaining version of a property that I would never be able to gain the rights to, so I made my own… this was when I was younger, much younger, and I would like to resurrect that piece of my history to give something like this another run.

Let’s start with Tron (as well as Tron: Legacy).

Creating this particular IP back in the early 1980s, Disney took the “computing terminology and technology” of the era to come up with a digital world where games were real and programs were humanoids with real problems. This all fell under the control of the company’s “overseer” program, which in the digital world was the “big bad” of the story. In the sequel, many of the terms (which were long out of date) were still being used and the general concept was similar in nature to the original, just updated for the new technology to make everything look prettier.

That being said, I love Tron and I loved Tron: Legacy… so much so that I really wanted there to be more sequels to Legacy that are just never going to happen because Disney didn’t make a bazillion dollars and had to settle for a few hundred million. What will they do now? Reboot it, most likely, and try again.

What I’m considering doing with one of my solo RPGs is run in a world very similar to Tron. Yes, I said similar.

I’ve spent a bit of time coming up with how I wanted to run this thing. I’m going to concentrate on the story, rolling a set of dice with the Mythic Game Master Emulator as the GM, to determine the outcomes and general direction of the story. I am literally going to “wake up without a clue as to what is going on.”

Like Tron, there will be (generally) black clad programmed entities that will glow with a light or color and my goal is to figure out where I came from and whether or not something more to be discovered in this digital world. Unlike Tron, I’m not going to have an “outside world” component to the story. This will be more “program dealing with programs,” though I’m probably going to update the terminology to be more like what we actually use today.

No “User,” now it’s Developer. No “Program,” now it’s Application. No “Grid,” now it’s probably going to be something witty that I haven’t come up with, yet… but you get the picture.

And the beauty of this is that I don’t have to come up with a vast amount of history or anything because I don’t know any better as a character, I get to discover this along with you (because I’m publishing the results in a prose-like format).

Before I move on to the next IP, what if my “Tron” ends up being somewhat like The Matrix? I love the Matrix, all of them, and I wouldn’t mind if that ended up going in that direction… but I’ll let play determine that.

Moving right along, let’s talk about the Bourne series.

Derived from a series of books that are as blandly written as one can experience, the film series features a super spy who is seeking out his origins and a means of freeing himself from the ones who put him into the position he’s in of being a super spy. We even had a single “non-Jason Bourne” movie that delved a little into a spy who wasn’t the titular character, which much like the Disney “Tron: Legacy” example above, didn’t perform as well as they’d hoped so they scrapped all future editions that didn’t feature Jason Bourne.

I’ve loved the idea of being a super spy, amnesiac or not, and working my way through a world who is out to get me because of one reason or another. This also technically fits into the John Wick mold, being in a world that is awesome and having awesome skills as I try to get the hell out of my predicament! If I go with the amnesiac angle again, sure it’ll end up being somewhat of a trope, but I can discover the world along with you, the reader.

Or I can develop a little bit of the basics and move along from there… which is far more likely than the not remembering thing… but we will figure that out before play actually begins, I just know I’d rather be more Jason Bourne than James Bond.

How about going with a property that you might not expect from a grown ass adult? I’m talking about Centurions: Power Extreme.

The cartoon was a “far off future” where technology was running rampant over the globe and a special force of three guys wielded awesome weapons against a cyborg evil doer and his dolt of an apprentice.

In no way, shape, or form does the premise or the technology hold up, but the overall idea has lasted… and this fits into another wonderful solo RPG idea, where I would play as one of the weapons specialists fighting against something more sinister than a couple of inept cyborgs to save the planet… and the weapon systems would have to be far more generic and be far more diversified than they were in the cartoon.

Yep, this was a cartoon, dear readers… go watch the five part series opener and the five part series conclusion to experience some of the most awesome parts of the show.

My version wouldn’t be called Centurions, they’d be fighting something more realistic (or at least more along the lines of what G.I Joe: the Rise of Cobra did as opposed to the actual cartoon’s “far future” premise)

Sticking with the cartoon factor, I’d like to hit on Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light.

As with all hokey 80s cartoons, a planet of highly advanced technology did something to screw themselves in some way and magic returned to their world, controlled by a wizard who granted a bunch of Medieval-esque knights the ability to change into animals and whatnot.

My own concept would be more akin to Samurai, as I’m a bigger fan of Eastern settings than Western settings, and the magic would have already been there and not gone away… maybe the wizard is someone who is actively removing the magical abilities and the Samurai have to go and knock the crap out of him so they can retain their hard earned magical abilities.

Yeah, that sounds like an idea I wouldn’t mind running through. No amnesia, which means I’d have to have a basic understanding of the background of the setting, but that shouldn’t take too much of the fun out of the adventure of going up against a nearly omnipotent foe for the greater good.

What about a space themed adventure? I could go with a Star Trek-like experience, or a Star Wars-like experience… but I’m going to actually delve a little more closely into a Firefly experience.

But DJ, you hate Firefly! Yes, I do… but that’s because it’s a Western… that happens in space, and I don’t care where a Western happens, I don’t like Westerns (generally, there is always an exception to the rule).

The basic idea that I’d be interested in exploring is a crew on a ship, doing something innocuous like shipping freight from one location to the other, but belonging to some form of official government in a limited setting (like the Solar System) and getting drawn into some sort of conflict that is a little bit bigger than the crew of the ship.

I like the idea of a small crew, of a military nature, operating in a “small but powerful ship” that is doing things and gets called into service. Star Trek, in this case, is too vast as far as space as well as ability. Star Wars is a little to fantasy for the science fiction I’d like to be doing, though I’d take away the “ships just do stuff” aspect from the Wars. As much as I don’t like the series, the Firefly move Serenity was great, and I really do like the “comfy little crew” aspect of the dynamic.

Since I mentioned the franchise earlier, I’d like to draw from the G.I Joe: Retaliation installment of the seemingly dead movie franchise.

The idea I’m going with, here, is the idea of a military unit being hunted for a reason and that unit being forced into action to defend itself.

Well, this kind of relates to the Bourne idea above, as in there is probably a secret we (as the unit) know something about something that we go into hiding for, only to be flushed out by over zealous people who just can’t let sleeping dogs lie… and that forces said unit back into action, exposing that secret while killing all the bad guys in the process.

This is actually a story I developed for a prose novel I wanted to write and never did… if I turn this into an RPG setting, I can leave the secret up to the game emulator. I gave a link earlier, and it’s the one I’d use because it’s the one I own.

Since I love me some Vampire the Masquerade and Vampire the Requiem, why don’t I look a little bit at the Underworld franchise for the next idea?

I’m looking at the “war versus another supernatural creature” aspect of the vampires in my own solo RPG experience. I’ve toyed with the idea of the “brand new vampire discovering the world they actually live in” angle, and I’m not necessarily ruling that out, but I’ve also recently wanted to do the “ancient vampire rejoins the world and discovers they’re really an overpowered child learning the ropes of the society they’ve created” angle…

One of my favorite series of novels from the VtM line was the Masquerade of the Red Death Trilogy of books, which were almost immediately made “non-canon” because of whatever reasons… they are a damn good story, a little on the long side, but at no point are you sitting there thinking “when are we going to get to the damn action.” They also contain all of the major supernatural splats from the game lines (vampires, werewolves, and mages, though I don’t think the werewolves did a whole lot in the story now that I think about it).

I won’t spoil the story for you, but there is a ton of stuff in there to mine as far as story possibilities… but that doesn’t relate, necessarily to the Underworld aspect.

One thing I didn’t like about Underworld is the lack of super powers by the vampires. The lycans had all kinds of abilities (well, the ability to transform into a monstrous killing machine) and I would want to expand on that a bit… which means the “new vampire discovering the 411” is probably the best angle for this one, as well as one of the VtM or VtR splats being the best place to host the story in (at least the framework of how vampires and other supernaturals work).

There IS another variation of this, which I’ve created a vast and wonderful world around, that I could do and have some form of “random learning” going on… and that is a werewolf version of Vampire Diaries or True Blood but with more focus on the wolves than anything else. I have named this venture Moonrise, because the story was originally about the heir to the werewolf throne in a time when the politics of the society are starting to unravel… and that would be what I’d consider using as a basis for a story along these lines.

I’ve covered a lot of IPs… not all of the ones I was thinking, but with a column word count over 2,000, I think it’s time to wrap this edition up and consider a sequel (once I write down another series of possible IPs I would love to turn into my own little creations as possible solo RPG options).

The biggest reason for my concentration on solo RPGs is that I can’t get anyone else to play with, reliably. There are groups in my area but I’m not super interested in playing D&D, Pathfinder, or anything like that… I don’t want to necessarily physically go somewhere, either. Online, I don’t have anyone who can meet regularly enough in order to run a game more than just a week (see Greatest Show episode 109), where I reference Green Team that ran exactly once… and the entire cast has never been all on at the same time since. Hence, my point.

So, until I find a crew (hopefully containing a GM so I can be just a player once in a while), I will look into the solo RPG avenue.

Stay tuned for a second part if I have enough material!

Thanks for reading.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 61: The Chess Story

I’ve told a chess story from the fifth grade on my websites for years, one might even say more than a decade, and I continuously end up coming back to revisit that topic from time to time. I’m not going to recount that story here, again, so don’t worry about that… but I wanted to talk a little bit about what I mentioned on the most recent Specter Show (episode 39) about integrating this concept in with a solo RPG experience.

I’d like to flesh that concept out a little bit here. Won’t you come on this adventure with me?

The roughest concept of what I’m going to talk about is my fifth grade chess club running itself like the WWE. Replace WWE with “UFC” or “poker on TV” if you need to not have glazed eyes at a professional wrestling reference, but that is the basic idea. We were 11, so give us a little break.

In my solo RPG research, I came up with the idea that I could integrate this concept (for adults) in with playing actual chess games to include in the “episode posts.” Bear with me, here.

Let’s create a quick character concept in a man I’ll call David Charles Price, who is a (roughly) 1100-1200 rated chess player and is aged somewhere between 35 and 40-ish. David is my character who is approached by John Smith (yeah, all that work to name the very next person John Smith) about recreating their “fifth grade chess experience.” After some discussion, the concept that anyone rated above 1700 wouldn’t like this idea and wouldn’t participate, so the rating limit is made at 1400 (initially).

Player invitations happen “in character” and test games are run (by test games I mean games played to familiarize everyone who is playing together gets familiar with each other’s style). The players who need help to compete are taken aside and taught to get better, while David C. Price and company continue into creating “personalities” and getting ready to compete “on camera.”

All of this would be character interactions in this RPG that I, DJ Allen, would be using to play the “Chess Story” scenario. Dice would be rolled and different strengths of players would be determined in their character creation.

The stage would now be set.

As David C. Price, whom has adopted the moniker “DCP” as his persona, I would begin using my own Chess.com games against real people as the chess games in this Chess Story to advance the DCP character into the story. I’m taking actual chess games to integrate them into my chess RPG story that I’d be telling.

Centered around the fifth grade chess club concept. The “What Would That Look Like” column discusses the idea of no restrictions and introducing this to the world at large.

I’m taking that column bulk and restricting the situation to chess players under a certain rating level. Someone who isn’t really following “profession chess” can even understand that someone rated 1400 will more than likely beat someone rated 1100 with some ease. This would have to be eliminated as our “rating system” for this RPG to be more interesting and to be presented more like the UFC than the actual FIDE chess federation. As a replacement, because I’m creating this around the concept of “under 1500” rated players, I’m suggesting using a martial arts style belt system (as an example, here’s one of the pages that gave me the idea).

You, as a potential chess spectator, are more likely to watch a game between two green belts (not really knowing which one might win) rather than a game between a 1412 rated player versus a 1356 rated player.

In the game, advancing from one belt to the next would require performing on the board at a specific level or maybe beating someone from the higher belt color. That can be determined through the playing of the solo RPG elements of the game, but everything would be outlined on the site for reference.

Would there be a specific career path in this Chess Story RPG? No, that would come out as part of the play. Maybe DCP ends up advancing until he reaches a wall that he can’t beat a specific player, or maybe every time he gets an opportunity at a championship he fails miserably (on the bright stage of the “main event.”). Maybe DCP becomes the strongest player in the league and becomes legendary player for others to aspire towards (or to aspire in defeating).

Obviously, if my actual games are the ones being presented, I’d have to be getting better along the way to be that “best player in the league,” assuming any of the characters end up being closer to the 1400 rated player, because I have my issues playing them at my paltry 1100 level.

But you wouldn’t know that if it was DCP (Blue Belt) vs. Giant Pawn (Blue Belt) for the League Championship… see how that modifies the scenario a little?

I’m not 100% positive that I’ll be running this exact thing as a solo RPG, but since the basic elements are present and possible, why not throw a little actual chess into the mix to make things a little more fun in my RPG?

The content will be produced and published on the site and I think that I’d have a grand old time playing the game (and the games). Hopefully, you’d find the story interesting enough to follow along, too.

That’s all for this week, see you again next week!