Friday, January 29, 2016

Top 5 Alien Invasion Movies That I'd Like to Game

I'm not sure if it's the upcoming Independence Day: Resurgence, or the impending alienation drama of Batman v Superman, but I've got invasion on the brain right now.  I've often wanted to play out an alien invasion scenario in game form - RPG, miniatures, boardgame, or whatever - but have never committed the time (and, in some cases, money) to make it happen.

When I do take the plunge, here are the movies I'll be looking to for inspiration:

Honorable Mention:  Transformers

I know there are plenty of big robot games out there, and at some point, I should indulge.  This one's just an honorable mention because I don't necessarily want to play it as an alien invasion...I just want Optimus Prime and Megatron to face off on my table.

What I really love about the idea of a Transformers game is that the toys traditionally come with their own tech specs...which are just asking for a gaming treatment.  I know some efforts have already been made to make the specs gameable; someday I'd like to take a shot at a d20/OSR interpretation.

#5:  Mars Attacks!

My intro to this franchise came with Tim Burton's excellent 1996 movie, and it needs to be included on a list like this because it defines so much of what makes me want to play out an alien invasion.  I'd put it higher except that I haven't yet put my money (and time) where my mouth is and actually played the miniatures game from Mantic Games, which looks absolutely amazing!

#4:  Superman II

I've certainly played superhero games, but never one focused on a comic book-styled alien invasion.  I'm a sucker for Kryptonian lore, so I'd probably want to go that route (and I'm pretty sure there were some nice Man of Steel HeroClix figures available), but I'd also like to expand it a bit, maybe in the style of DC's late 80s crossover, Invasion!

#3:  Plan 9 from Outer Space

I'm not sure what a game version of Ed Wood's classic would even look like, but it's just too wacky to pass up.  I think the movie is public domain anyway, so a fan-made supplement would be very feasible!  Apparently, this was remade last year, but I haven't seen the new version to comment...

#2:  The X-Files: Fight the Future

...or whatever you prefer to call the 1998 film.  The X-Files have pretty much defined a genre for a generation of science fiction fans and gamers.  Even on Wizards of the Coast's own website, I think I remember seeing a reference to playing d20 Modern in "an X-Files style campaign."

While there is no official RPG, there are a number of options for gaming in this style, including the similar predecessor Delta Green.  If I get to run a modern conspiracy game at some point, the X-Files alien mythos angle will be difficult to resist.

#1:  Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Now, this is one of my absolute favorite movies to throw on in the background of my day.  Heck, it might be one of my absolute favorite movies overall!  I keep imagining a miniatures scenario based on it and have come to a pretty solid would be perfect.

There seem to be plenty of creepy clown minis out there.  Paint 'em up with a bunch of pretty colors, throw in some normal townsfolk, pick a ruleset that can handle some wacky Killer Klown effects.

Yup.  Perfect.  (Oh yeah, and there's a sequel coming...!)

Friday, January 22, 2016

On the Ages of Superhero Comics

I've been doing a bit of skimming/research for the dream that I might be able to run an RPG campaign at some point in the near future, and I'm thinking of working with some sort of historical setting.  Looking over timelines for the various ages of civilization (both realistic and mythic), I can't help but find my mind wandering to the ages of superhero comics to which they've lent their names.

I've enjoyed superhero comics for most of my life, and I have a lot of thoughts on this subject.  I'll assume that some of the folks who happen upon this blog might be in the same I'm going to share those thoughts.

First, a review (and we'll let my commentary creep in slowly).  Most observers agree that the first two ages of superhero comics have clear beginning points:

The Golden Age

From the DC Comics Database

Superman got the ball rolling in 1938.  While superhero tropes were running around in comics and other media before this, Action Comics #1 codified them and laid the groundwork for decades of comic book adventures.  It might be fair to say that if Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster had named their hero Megaman or Amazingman, we'd be referring to megaheroes or amazingheroes today.

The popularity of superhero adventures dropped after World War II but was reinvigorated in the next decade with...

The Silver Age

From the DC Comics Database

Superheroes were vaulted back into the spotlight with a reimagining of the Flash.  We ultimately got a revamped Green Lantern, Hawkman, and Atom, as well as an entire new universe of heroes from Marvel Comics.  Marvel and DC would develop somewhat distinct company styles (although probably not as different across the board as many would have you believe), with DC focusing on straightforward superhero adventure, and Marvel incorporating more of a supers-as-real-people approach.  The Comics Code ensured that stories from both companies remained fairly sanitary.

As the Sixties came to a close, there was a definite effort to amp up the "seriousness" in mainstream comics, and we eventually got...

The Bronze Age

From the DC Comics Database

This is the point where folks find it harder to agree on a clear beginning.  I'm a pretty big Green Lantern fan, so I'll go with the issue above (dated April 1970), when GL is joined by Green Arrow, and their clashing philosophies lead to an exploration of turmoil across America.  Some people would probably point to Jack Kirby leaving Marvel and beginning his Fourth World saga at DC as a turning point, and others might even push the beginning of the Bronze Age back as far as Gwen Stacy's 1973 death in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man.  Comics got a little bit darker of the key buzzwords for the era...more "relevant."

The Comics Code was changed in 1971 to allow horror comics to thrive again.  Also important for readers of this blog, some of the most important fantasy comics in history came about during this era, with Marvel starting to publish Conan in 1970 and DC following with the pulpy Lost World adventure The Warlord in 1975.

Eventually, this superheroic seriousness (which I would argue began with the tone Marvel established in the 1960s) came to a head with full-on deconstruction of the superhero genre and a rejection of many ideas grounded in the optimistic Silver Age.  We moved into...

The Antiheroic Age

From the DC Comics Database

Now, this is where things get really hazy as far as starting points AND names of the Age.  Some will call this the beginning of the Iron Age, some will call it the Dark Age.  I think I've seen the Adamantium Age used, as Wolverine came to prominence during this time.  I'm feeling pretty clever in calling it the Antiheroic Age, although that's probably been used plenty of times.  I like the idea of following Hesiod's five ages, in which the Bronze Age is followed by the Heroic Age.  In superhero comics, however, it was the antiheroes who ruled this era.

In 1985-6, we got Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, and Crisis on Infinite Earths.  The Silver Age multiverse was no more in DC Comics, and we saw heroes' flaws step to the forefront.  Marvel began their more serious and realistic New Universe and carried the themes over to their main universe with books like New Mutants.  The Punisher and Wolverine stepped up to Tier 1 antihero status.  Eventually, the era progressed/degenerated into the formation of Image Comics, the rise of Rob Liefeld (whose work I appreciate, by the way), and the proliferation of badass supers like Spawn, Venom, Cable, and Deadpool.

Even as the Antiheroic Age was taking place, it was being lampooned in the pages of comics like Lobo.  What happened next is interesting...a rejection of the rejection of Silver Age themes...and a move into what might be called the Modern Age, the Neo-Silver Age, or...

The Iron Age

Superhero comics certainly maintained a great deal of diversity as the Antiheroic Age came to a close, but slowly, a return to embracing the ideals of a previous era began to make its way through the industry.  Some key transitions were Grant Morrison's run on JLA (which returned the team to a "Big Seven" format), Mark Waid and Alex Ross's Kingdom Come, Kurt Busiek's Astro City, the start of the Ultimate Marvel universe, and the gem pictured above.  Joe Kelly's 2001 story "What's So Funny 'Bout Truth, Justice & the American Way" is a straightforward indictment of the dark age preceding it and a call to appreciate what made us love superheroes in the first place.  (This story is nicely retold in the animated feature Superman vs. the Elite.)

So why do I feel comfortable calling this the true Iron Age? follow's Hesiod's chronology that way, for one.  Also, something crucial that happened during this age was the rise of the superhero film.  While there was plenty of darkness to be found in the leather of the X-Men and the Dark Knight saga, one could argue the crowning achievement has been the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, kicked off in 2008 by Iron Man and filled with Silver Age-y superheroic fun.  So, the Iron Age sounds good to me!

Which brings us to now.  2016.  Looking back over the ages as I've subscribed to them, we see a new era of superheroes beginning around every 15 years.  So, that would put us in a transitional period right now.  What is this new age going to look like?  I suppose we'll have to wait 15 or so years to get a good idea of that, but I'm curious to know if anyone reading has some ideas on the matter.

Personally, I'm hoping this moment isn't the key to kicking off the era:


Time will tell.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Underground Elemental Beastfighting

I have a dirty little secret as a nearly-40 gamer.  I wasn't drawn into the hobby by growing up playing D&D.  I didn't jump on these great new games Magic: the Gathering and Jyhad when I first saw them in the '90s, even though I had classmates who played them.  And for a long time, you probably could have convinced me that Tunnels & Trolls was a movie starring Tom Hanks.

No, my no-looking-back entry into tabletop gaming had a much more nefarious guide:  The Yellow Rat... 1999, I started a stint with AmeriCorps, working with kids who were crazy about Pokémon.  It was a great time to be a Nintendo stockholder.  Pocket Monsters were everywhere, and the trading card game, while not even played by a lot of the Pokékids getting the product, were a nice cheap buy-in to the Gotta Catch 'em All experience.  My roommate (who also worked there) and I picked up some cards to see what the fuss was about, realizing before long that the game was actually pretty fun!

Now, it also didn't take me long to realize that I have some serious concerns with the themes of Pokémon.  Call me crazy if you want, but the idea that we should be encouraging kids to trap animals for a bloodsport is a  My favorite take on this aspect is probably the fanfilm trailer Pokémon Apokélypse...well worth a watch if you haven't seen it:

Still, there's something about Pokémon that draws me in to this day...ethically sound or not, Pokémon media are often a lot of fun.

I'm surprised that we haven't seen more of the Pokémon theme (the Mon trope, if you will) find its way into RPGs.  It is interesting that World of Warcraft basically made it part of standard gameplay for the MMORPG.  I know there's been at least one unauthorized d20 take on the Poké-franchise, and BESM d20 has a Pet Monster Trainer class (with, I think, inclusion in the associated SRD).  Also, many of you may be familiar with S. John Ross's excellent (and free!) Pokéthulhu Adventure Game.

Still, wouldn't Underground Elemental Beastfighting be an easy theme for pretty much any RPG that has monsters capable of combat?  Give players a troupe of monsters to fight with...emphasize some of the darker edges of the idea...come up with some easy rules for catching wild ones...and there you have it.  We can probably even do quick-and-dirty translations of the TCG cards into RPG stats, especially for something basic like Swords & Wizardry White Box.  Take Pikachu up there...we can turn his level into HD (divide by 10 and round up), his TCG HP into S&W HP (divide by 5), and his attack damage into d6 damage (divide by 30 and treat remainders as modifiers).  Let retreat cost correlate to DEX to affect armor class.  Some rough translation of the details and we get:

2 HD (8 HP), AC 13
Attacks:  Gnaw +3 (d6-2), Thunder Jolt +2 (d6, 3 in 6 chance of doing d6-2 damage to itself)
Weakness:  Fighting

Hey, that was fun and easy!  So, when Pikachu evolves, we get...

4 HD (16 HP), AC 13
Attacks:  Agility +5 (d6-1, 3 in 6 chance of Raichu avoiding all attack effects until next round), Thunder +4 (2d6, 3 in 6 chance of dealing d6 damage to itself)
Weakness:  Fighting

[Yes, that's the infamously rare Prerelease Raichu, by the way...not mine(!), as I got these images from the excellent Pokémon wiki Bulbapedia...]

If I actually get a chance to run some games in the near future, I might have to pull these monsters to encounter, if not monsters to use in glorified dogfighting.

Ah, heck, one more (continuing the electric theme with one of my old favorites):

HD 4 (14 HP), AC 12
Attacks:  Thundershock +5 (d6-2, 3 in 6 chance of causing paralysis for one round), Thunderpunch +4 (d6, 3 in 6 chance of an additional damage, otherwise deals one damage to itself)
Weakness:  Fighting

This is getting scarily addicting.  Gotta stat 'em all?

If nothing else, I'm glad to get this dirty little secret out in the open...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Threepenny Space Opera

I'm intrigued by the idea of almost-but-not-quite human aliens.  The OSR game Starships & Spacemen even plays with the trope with a d100 random forehead table, which is a ridiculously fun idea.  My little tribute to these near-humans is this micro-RPG that I scribbled down a few years ago.  Maybe someone reading will get some enjoyment out of it; I have a minor goal to OSR-ify it at some point.

Threepenny Space Opera

Art by Louis Glanzman, taken from

Genre:  Space opera
Equipment needed:  Three pennies


It’s the far-flung future.  Or maybe it’s long ago, just nowhere close to this galaxy.  Or...somewhere in between.  Whenever it is, humans have conquered the stars, and space exploration is the wave of the present.  You don’t really care, though, because you’re not human.  However, you’re close.  You interact with humans all the time, in the Big Interplanetary Organization that you belong to, and they look a lot like you.  There’s something just a little bit different, though...maybe it’s your forehead, or your green skin, or those antennae.  In fact, if you’re a woman, geeks probably drool all over you and your pointy-eared hotness.  You also might have some special alien abilities or hindrances.  We’ll get to those later.

Character creation

Name:  Come up with a name for your character.

Species:  Name your character’s species.  If you want, name her home planet, too.

Stats:  Your character has two stats:  Mind and Body.  You get 2 points in one of them, and 1 in the other.  If your character is from a rough, warlike species, you’ll probably want to make him Mind 1 and Body 2.  If your character is of a more cerebral species, one that depends on science or art or deceit to survive, then you’ll probably make him Mind 2 and Body 1.

Skills:  You can pick four things that your character is good at.  Try to be fairly specific...instead of Being a captain, you could pick the skills Command, Astrogation, Negotiation, and Shooting a blaster.  Really, the possibilities are wide open here.  It’s your chance to really make your character who he or she (or it) is.

From Memory Alpha

Playing the game

Flipping:  As you venture through space, you will encounter a number of situations where success isn’t assured.  When this occurs, the Flipmaster (FM) must determine if it’s a challenge for the Mind or the Body.  You flip a number of pennies equal to your character’s value in that stat.  In addition, if the challenge involves a skill you possess, you flip one additional penny.  If you get at least one heads, you succeed at the task.

Combat:  Combat can be run two different ways.  There can be a series of flips as the characters attack, dodge, parry, etc., with the FM determining how each character is affected as the fight progresses.  Or, you can make things easy and just let the characters involved each flip for their Body stat (plus an extra if they have any relevant skills).  Whoever flips more heads wins the fight.  (And if it’s a tie...just bounce off of each other...)

Alien abilities:  Whenever you get three tails on a single flip, you’ve failed pretty miserably.  There’s an upside, though:  You now get to establish a special power for your character, which may immediately help you in the adventure.  Maybe it turns out you can breathe underwater, so that escape across the river is suddenly a lot easier.  Or maybe you can read other beings’ thoughts in certain situations.  (Don’t you wish you’d thought of that earlier?)  Feel free to be creative.

Alien hindrances:  It isn’t always great being an alien, though.  Sometimes your character’s anatomy becomes a problem.  Whenever you get three heads on a single flip, the FM gets to make up a weakness for your species.  There’s a good chance that breathing too much oxygen takes away your short-term memory, or that the next planet’s sun just happens to be of a color that weakens you.  Or maybe it’s just that nobody likes your species.  Nobody.  Again, creativity is key here.

From Wookieepedia

Advancement:  Seriously?  Okay, if your character survives an adventure, you can give her one new skill.

Other notes:  The freeform nature of this game lends itself well to roleplaying over email or message forums.  Honestly, you could probably play it without an FM; just take turns telling the story and flip when appropriate.  Also, be on the lookout for this game’s sequel:  No Quarter, the fliptastic RPG of pirates and parrots.  And coming later in the year:  A Fistful of Silver Dollars, sure to be an immediate classic in the Western genre.  Although, really, you can probably work those out on your own...

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Got Your Six (mm)

I've played a pretty nice variety of games in my time.  This has included some miniatures battle games, but until today, I had never really taken part in a proper miniatures wargame.  That changed when I was invited/allowed to sit in on a session with my wife's coworker (and my new buddy) Brian and his crew.  The battle was based on the scenario "Encounter at Buchenau" as presented by Bob Mackenzie, pitting Soviet forces vs. Germans using the I Ain't Been Shot Mum ruleset and 6mm minis.

It was awesome.  The experience sits at an interesting position between the somewhat freeform, narrative-oriented RPGs I enjoy, and the tightly rules-focused board and card games I play.  While I don't have much to compare it to, the rules seem pretty effective at what they're trying to do.  The "shock" mechanic is a nice way of modeling troop morale, and the card-based activation system (the first such game I've played) may even lend itself well to solo play.

I spent a while trying to absorb the basics of the rules and finally got to join toward the end of the encounter, in command of some T-34s that rolled in to reinforce the Soviet side.

I'm already looking forward to more WWII gaming, more 6mm gaming, and more fun with the IABSM rules.  Of course, as the focus of this blog probably indicates, I'm somewhat partial to monsters in my games, so I'm also wondering how far the rules might need to be twisted to run scenarios something like this:

(If you happen to be wondering, that monster is from the same set of cheap "dinosaurs" as the Rust Monster, as seen in this post that I like so much by Tony DiTerlizzi.  Apparently we weren't too far from seeing this guy as a D&D foe in the Monstrous Manual...but since it never appeared there, I'll be fine using it as a demon set upon the Allies through Hitler's use of the Spear of Destiny.  Stats still to come...?)

Many thanks to Brian, William, Mark, and Mark for letting me in on their session today!  Mark's miniatures and tabletop setup are top-notch and made for an amazing intro to the game!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Mustelid Matters

So, just over three weeks ago, I found this little guy in our backyard:

Yep, that's a ferret.  Probably lucky that our two dogs that actually found him weren't able to get all the way to him.

His name is Macaroni.  Previous to yesterday's first vet visit, her name was Macaroni.  A little hint if you're ever in need of sexing a ferret:  Don't just glance at an explanation and then go back to being amazed that you just found a ferret in your backyard.  It's actually pretty easy to tell the difference.  But if you're wrong, and then are corrected three weeks later at the vet's office, you feel pretty stupid.

You know what makes me feel better, though?  Watching this:

How about some RPG content to round this one out?

Level 1 Ferret Thief, 2 HP
Str 3, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 10, Cha 15
Attack:  Bite (1 damage)
Abilities:  Low-light vision, scent

Macaroni would like to hang out with your adventuring party but would rather not be an animal companion.  (Playing sounds good.  Fighting, not so much.)  If Macaroni is in your party, and one of your adventurers finds that something is missing, there is a 5 in 6 chance that Macaroni has it stashed away in his hidey-hole.  It would be a good idea to figure out where he hides stuff.

Here's the d20 SRD entry for a weasel if you'd like to see the "origin" of Macaroni's stat block...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Isn't it a fairly common trope in science fiction to have multiple parts of the same organism disagree on things?  I remember the two heads the Masters of the Universe character Two Bad bickering on the cartoon.  Even the old toy commercial had Two Bad talking to himselves...

There are some really cool roleplaying opportunities that emerge from this idea.  Maybe it's been done, but I would love to see an RPG mechanic that could actually model disagreements among parts of one being.  Maybe two players operate different halves of "one" character...?  A skilled GM, with sufficient commitment to roleplaying from his or her players, could probably set the goals of the halves at odds with one another.

This can even be expanded beyond two-headed examples.  At work, I study a bryozoan (or moss animal), a colonial invertebrate.  It's brain-warping to think about what it could be like to operate as an individual in a true colonial organism.  The bryozoologist Judith Winston delivered a very nice lecture on this sort of thinking entitled Life in the Colonies: Learning the Alien Ways of Colonial Organisms.  The entire article probably only interests scientists in very specific fields, but she does describe how her interest in SF influenced her appreciation for such an alien lifestyle:

Right here on Planet Ocean were creatures as bizarre in structure and unique in life-history patterns as any I had read about in science fiction. Many of them were marine invertebrates with clonal or colonial life histories, including bryozoans, the group on which I eventually focused my research.

I suppose people will often play a troupe of characters in would be interesting to see what would happen if these characters could be linked as a unit and presented with situations (and rules) that require a balance of altruism and selfishness.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Paleolithic Adventures

For a while now, I've really enjoyed the idea of playing an RPG based on early modern humans, toward the end of the Paleolithic Era.  Thanks to all of the stories I've encountered throughout my life involving "cavemen," the prehistoric human is one of the key archetypes in my imagination, right up there with wizards and cowboys and superheroes.

Illustration by Irma Deremeaux
There's an interesting period, somewhere around 40-50,000 years ago, where it appears that humans had reached a state of behavioral modernity with regard to abstract thought, use of technology, and maybe even social structures.  In other words, modern RPG players could probably be thrown into the situations of this time period and actually have a general idea of how their characters might react.

What really takes this time period to another level as an RPG setting, though, is the fact that multiple branches of the near-human family tree probably coexisted.  There's an article here that even compares the state of the world at that time to The Lord of the Rings (and that's coming from the statement of a geneticist)!  And then, of course, there's Homo floresiensis, the tiny prehistoric humanoid (which may have been around until about 12,000 years ago) nicknamed the Hobbit.

It all adds up to an easy re-skin of a basic RPG like Swords & Wizardry White Box to fit the time period.  Change up the weapons, of course.  Maybe give magic more of a shamanistic flare.  Then the non-human character races can be matched to the hominins around at the time.  Dwarves are hardy and work well underground...why not make them classic "cavemen" like Neanderthals?  Homo floresiensis would be halflings/hobbits, of course.  And the branch of humanity known as Denisovans, which hold a lot of mystery with regard to appearance and behavior, can be elves.  Heck, there's even evidence of another lineage having interbred with Denisovans at some point, so it would be easy to add in something like orcs and still feel like we're being prehistorically accurate!

I might even be okay with a dinosaur showing up in such a campaign.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Rust Monster

One of my favorite iconic Dungeons & Dragons monsters is the good ol' Rust Monster.  It's certainly a classic, even lending its name to an excellent Old School Renaissance RPG blog.  I was a latecomer to D&D; I didn't grow up playing it like many of my geeky ilk.  However, after becoming somewhat immersed in the game as an adult, I was delighted to find that there were some aspects of the game that I did grow up with.  Specifically, the cheap plastic toys that inspired some classic RPG monsters were a part of my toy arsenal as a kid.  Artist Tony DiTerlizzi has an excellent post on the background of the Rust Monster and some other D&D icons here.  And here's the one from my childhood that still hangs around in my home:

Icon of both D&D and my childhood.

For anyone who would like a little more background on the Rust Monster in RPGs, its SRD entry can be found here.  There's also a good entry for it on the Pathfinder Wiki, including some interesting tidbits regarding its anatomy and physiology.

In trying to apply some real-world thought to the Rust Monster's capabilities, there are two big things that stand out.  (1) When it touches metal with its antennae, the metal rusts extremely rapidly, and (2) the Rust Monster then eats the rusted metal.  Now, the Pathfinder entry linked above explains these aspects really nicely.  Apparently, the Rust Monster's antennae produce an electromagnetic field which rapidly oxidizes metal.  This may not be a huge stretch, as magnetism can apparently impact corrosion rate.  Then, the monster somehow absorbs the heat energy produced by the rusting process.  I guess this is part of "eating" the rust.  In the realm of D&D, this is all very plausible.

There are definitely some other explanations we could look to, though.  Rapid rusting is an interesting thought in itself.  It's just rapid oxidation of the metal, and we see rapid oxidation of materials all the time; we call it burning.  I like imagining some sort of enzyme produced by the Rust Monster's antennae that catalyzes the production of iron oxide, essentially "burning through" huge chunks of metal almost instantaneously.

As for rust consumption, there are some interesting examples in nature of bacteria using iron in respiration.  For example, check out Geobacter metallireducens, which basically breathes rust, using it as an electron acceptor in metabolizing its food.  I love the idea of the Rust Monster harboring some sort of symbiotic bacteria in its gut that require this rust to thrive.  Maybe the monster then gets energy, or organic building blocks, from these symbionts.

Of course, I don't really know if I should expect a Rust Monster to consume foods other than the oxidized metals it prizes.  Maybe rust is just an essential nutrient...?  The next time I throw a Rust Monster into an adventure, I may have to explore its diet a bit more.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Here we go...

...with the semi-obligatory first post, in which I note my plans for this blog.  Well, the title says it all!  Or...some of it.  This will be my space to share random thoughts and notes on (usually) fictional beasts, especially those from roleplaying games and other geeky sources.  I reserve the right, of course, to talk about science, sports, gaming, comics, or whatever else strikes me at the moment.  So...away we go...and let's see what this blog can bring in 2016!