December 3, 2016
Greetings fellow gamers! Hope you had a fun and happy Thanksgiving! Besides consuming unhealthy levels of turkey and stuffing, the lads from Toxic Bag were fortunate to attend all three days of the Chicago Tardis Convention. This show, held in Lombard, IL, is one of the largest Doctor Who conventions in the midwest. Here’s a quick recap of the 72 hours of all things Who.
LOCATION: Westin Lombard Yorktown Center
TIME: November 25th through November 27th
Michelle Gomez (Missy, 13th Doctor)
Frazer Hines (Jamie, 2nd Doctor)
Louise Jameson (Leela, 4th Doctor)
John Leeson (K-9, 4th Doctor)
Wendy Padbury (Zoe, 2nd Doctor)
Peter Purves (Steven, 1st Doctor)
Deborah Watling (Victoria, 2nd Doctor)
Anneke Wills (Polly, 1st/2nd Doctors)
It was really great to get a chance to meet all of these folks from the early days of Doctor Who. All of them had great stories about William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Tom Baker. Most of them are currently working with Big Finish to produce new Doctor Who audio adventures as well!
We were able to load up on autographs from all of these lovely folks! I had them sign my vintage Spirit of Light portraits while Joe had a cool picture of all the incarnations of the Tardis. Our friend Jodi presented them with an actual Tardis for signing.
The highlight of the autograph sessions was a moment where Jodi and I made uncomfortable small talk with Wendy Padbury. We had just gotten Wendy’s autograph and both had tickets for Deborah Watling. However, we had to wait for her to finish up. So there we were, staring at Wendy Padbury. After a few seconds of painful silence, Wendy finally said “So…are you from around here?” Since both Jodi and I felt that this wasn’t the time to launch into a complex Doctor Who question, we just responded with “yup, Chicago.” Before Wendy could ask us what our favorite cheese is, or something equally trivial, Deborah finished up and we thankfully moved on. Wendy handled it great, and made the best of a truly strange moment! I can’t believe that I got to make uncomfortable small talk with Wendy Padbury; Zoe of Doctor Who! So I got that going for me, which is nice…
There were several really cool panels. We got to hear some great stories of how 1960’s television was made and the problems these actors and artists had to deal with. Peter Purves, who was on the show for the third season back in 1965, told us that back then, they didn’t have the budget to stop the action and edit. So, they basically had to perform these shows like a stage play. No stopping, if an actor forgot a line, they had to get back on track on their own! It’s almost hard to believe that they did it that way, but that’s the BBC in the 1960’s for you!
The Big Finish guys also had a great panel where they broke down how they produced their audio adventures, and also discussed the future of Big Finish.
Of course, what would a Doctor Who Convention be without cosplay! Here are some of the highlights.
All in all, it was great show that flew by way to fast. All we can do now is get ready for Chicago Tardis 2017. The show runners gave us a hint on what to expect for next year: Think 1980’s!
Better start working on that Adric cosplay now!
December 21, 2015
Here’s the link to that article in the New York Times on the Star Wars fans that are going to camp out in front of their movie theater.
Hope everyone has a safe and happy Holiday season, and enjoy Star Wars!
See you in 2016!
April 20, 2015
It’s been over a year since we made Specimen available in print-n-play form. Since then we’ve continued to work and improve it. Right now we’re working on an expansion for Specimen as well as a brand new companion game involving the rescue mission sent from DeLeo-Kaga.
In order to do these things, we needed to find out what happened to our Ship, Crew and Specimen in universe.
Now, we could have just made it up, cause we’re clever about stuff like that. But instead, we decided to play the game and have the results be what happened. So, we decided to run a special Specimen tournament, with the final game being used to determine the history. In honor of the NCAA men and women’s basketball tournament, we’re calling it Specimadness.
First, we got in touch with seven really good Specimen players (cause there are seven crew members in the game – get it?) and asked if they were interested.
Once they were all on board, we put together this nifty bracket and started scheduling the games.
It should be a lot of fun. We’ll be posting AARs of the games, so stay tuned faithful readers!
April 20, 2015
Here’s a cool trailer showing what’s coming up at the end of the season on The Flash. Some exciting stuff from one of the truly great new shows.
p.s. More Grodd!!!! How cool is this gonna be???
January 11, 2015
Back in December of 2014, I was lucky enough to be a finalist in Wildclaw Theatre’s Deathscribe 2014 festival. Here is a review of the night’s activities that we found on line. These guys do a really good job of reviewing all five stories as well as saying who they would have selected as the winner and why. They also have some really nice things to say about my story, which is a plus!
Check it out at:
December 17, 2014
Check this out! I’ve only seen three of them. Guess I’ve got some film watching to do!
How many of them have you guys seen?
November 18, 2014
I’m humbled and honored to have my script selected as one of the five finalists for Deathscribe 2014. It’s going to be an awesome night. If you’re going to be in Chicago on December 1st, and are looking for some spooky fun, please check it out!
PLEASE STAND BY
written by Steve Baldwin
directed by Kevin Theis
THE WOLF AT THE DOOR
written by 2011 Bloody Axe winner Jessica Wright Buha
directed by Anderson Lawfer
written by Kevin Alves
directed by Shade Murray
DOWN BY THE LAKE
written by Ignacio Zulueta
directed by Mary Rose O’Connor
written by Christopher M. Walsh
directed by Sara Sevigny
If you go, stop on by and say howdy!
March 26, 2014
One of the most satisfying parts of designing Specimen was coming up with the different attributes of the monster. Many players have told us that they thought building their monster was one of the most fun parts of playing. Constructing your monster is something that should be done carefully and with some forethought. There are twenty-five attributes to chose from. So what combination will produce a winning Specimen?
Attributes cost 0, 1, 2, or 3 Attribute points. You have to take three attributes, but you can only spend three points. (yes, I know that if Attribute 25 Mutation is chosen, then that’s the only attribute you take – but in every other situation, you take three!) Usually, the more expensive the attribute, the more exotic or powerful it is. But don’t kid yourself; a 1, 1, 1 or 0, 0, 0 Specimen can go through a crew like swiss cheese just as well or better than a 3, 0, 0 Specimen. In fact, all of the Attributes will give your beastie an advantage in one way or another. The secret is recognizing those advantages and using them to their maximum potential.
0 AND 1 POINT ATTRIBUTES (1 thru 9)
Since you normally have to take three Attributes, you will be usually pulling two cards from this group every game. Don’t dismiss them just because they only cost zero or one point. These Attributes can definitely swing the game in your favor. Another advantage to this group is that you can use these Attributes right at the start of the game (chosen Attributes aren’t available until the Specimen life cycle stage is equal to or greater than the Attribute point cost). The first couple of Attributes like #1 Armored Exoskeleton and #4 Razor Sharp Talons give either a +drm to the Specimen combat roll, or a -drm to the Crew combat roll. Attribute #3 Chameleon Ability and #5 Polarized Carbon Cell Structure make the Specimen harder to detect. The next three, #6 Pheromone Emitter, #7 Hypnotic Gaze and #8 Sonic Screech all give the Specimen a special attack or defense, while #9 Goo Emitter allows the Specimen to leave goo in room sections, which can severely hamper Crew movement. All of these can help your beastie, and potentially leave a nasty surprise for the crew.
2 POINT ATTRIBUTES (10 thru 20)
You will only be choosing one Attribute from this group, but they’re all pretty good! Just look at Attribute #10 Spiked Tail. This Attribute gives you an additional combat die – a very powerful Attribute. Many of our playtesters used this one to great advantage. The other eight all give some sort of special ability to the Specimen. You can build a Lair on the ship, (and get a +3drm in Combat there!) or be able to emit an EMP which will disable all of the ship’s electronics. You can be Harder to Kill and take an extra wound before being killed. There are Attributes in this group that will negate one specific crew weapon, or allow your Specimen to move through the airducts or emit toxic blood when wounded. Again, some very powerful abilities that can help you win the game.
3 POINT ATTRIBUTES (21 thru 25)
This last group is what we refer to as the ‘exotic’ Attributes. Attribute #21 Faster Evolution lets you evolve one turn faster than normal. Attribute #22 Life Force Drainer gives you an extra roll in combat to drain the life force from a crew member (resulting in either wounding them or killing them!). #23 Embryo Implanter gives you the ability to create a whole new Specimen. We’ve had games that ended up with two beasties running amok on the ship! #24 Regeneration gives you the ability to heal wounds while #25 Mutation lets you draw a random attribute card in combat and see if it helps you. All of these are pretty powerful! With the exception of #21, which is available at the start of the game, these Attributes will not be available until your beastie reaches life cycle stage three.
Now you just have to build your monster. Here’s where you have to make some decisions on how you’re going to play the game. If you take Armored Exoskeleton (0), Razor Sharp Talons (0), and Spiked Tail (2), you’ve built a lethal killing machine. Your goal should be to shred the crew. Once you’ve reached Level Two and gotten the extra combat die from Spiked Tail, you shouldn’t be afraid to wade into 2 or 3 crew members at a time.
If you choose Thermal Vision (0), Chameleon Ability (0), and Walking EMP (2), your Specimen has been designed to operate in the dark. You would use your EMP to take out the lights and then stalk your prey as they bump around in the dark.
Playing a Specimen with a three point Attribute (Except #21 Faster Evolution) will require some patience on your part. You’ll have to avoid any major combat in the early turns and concentrate on damaging the ship and possibly striking against solitary crew members. Once you reach Stage Three, then you can unleash your exotic Attribute on the unsuspecting crew.
All the Attributes are fun. Some are harder to win with than others, but that’s the cool part. You get to play ‘mad scientist’ and try to build the perfect beast. Happy building!