John Keel

John Keel (1930-2009) wrote several classics of Fortean literature* dealing with UFOs, cryptozoology, poltergeists and various other anomalous data. He came from a newspaper and radio background and brought that charismatic energy to his research, often playing a role in the events he described. His approach to these subjects changed drastically over time. Originally Keel backed the nuts-and-bolts theory that says UFOnauts are natural, fleshly denizens of some other solar system [Zeta Reticuli?] -- popularly termed the Extra-Terrestrial Hypothesis. Eventually -- like his contemporary, French researcher Jacques Vallee -- Keel began to notice that other sorts of unexplained phenomena occurred in tandem with UFO flaps. For example, cases where poltergeist-like activity occurred in the homes of UFO witnesses preceding and/or following the UFO event. This approach lead to the idea that perhaps UFOs and abduction experiences, bigfoot and dog-man sightings -- that all these things are modern manifestations of the same principle that revealed itself as ghosts, fairies, angels, demons and gods in the past [also supported by Vallee in Passport to Magonia].

* The Mothman Prophecies, Our Haunted Planet, Disneyland of the Gods


Music Video: Dubstep Dispute

Join this lovable crew of droids as they solve their differences the only way dubstep robots know how.

A 3d animated short set to music by Nostalgia.


Star Wars Design Term?

Q: What is the term used to describe the "chunky" surface texture of Star Wars spacecraft designs?

Gygaxian Star Wars: Random Idea Dump

Some random ideas for your perusal:
  • Exercising force abilities requires a CON check modified by character experience level
  • Players check to see if their characters will be "force sensitive" at chargen (and thus eligible to be Adepts, Jedi or Sith)
  • Rogues and Bounty Hunters are assigned a random (d3) underworld connections at chargen
  • All characters speak/write Basic plus a local language (+ INT mod random spoken languages)
  • Protocol droids are the exception to the above -- they speak/write 3d6 random languages and can acquire many more in-game
  • Most weapons have alternate damage rolls for Organic and Mineral targets
  • Jedi and Sith have the option to parry energy blasts with their lightsabers, effectively improving their AC but reducing their chance to land a hit next round
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
M.P. suggests:
changing saving throw vs. psionics to vs. force.
The Force vs Psionics
The approach to Force abilities in GSW is essentially

Force:Psionics :: Fire:Pyrotechnics

Force is the medium, and Jedi/Sith use psionics to manipulate it. Use the Force = Use your latent psychic power. 

Batgirl Pictorial


Gygaxian Star Wars: Type vs Class

Type vs Class
Including droids -- a pretty much inorganic bunch -- as a character type option has consequently changed the way GSW PCs will develop over time.

In D&D your character's Hit Dice and Saving Throws are tied to his class. As he gains XP and moves up levels his Hit Point pool grows and his saves get better according to his profession.

GSW will deviate from this practice. As your character increases in level, his Hit Dice and Saving Throws will change according to his Type ["Race" in D&D terms]. Thus a 7th level Twi'lek Bounty Hunter will have the same Saving Throws as a 7th level Twi'lek Sith warrior and their HP totals will share a specific range.

Fighting ability and a host of profession-specific abilities [a few for each class] will still be tied to character class and will develop according to class descriptions. And class will ultimately still play a role when it comes to HP and saves because different classes require different XP totals to advance from level to level.

I think this will create some interesting advantages and disadvantages to playing certain types. For instance, Droids will have a static number of HD that will only change through some in-game modification. In other words, 1st level Droids will start the game with more HP than other types, but they will not aggregate more Hit Points as they gain levels in the manner of the organic types.

Gygaxian Star Wars: A Glance at Character Types

The number of what might be considered playable character types[1] within the expanded Star Wars universe is utterly gigundous. Like scary big. What I've attempted here is to sift out what I believe is a diverse-yet-familiar cast of core PC types. Humans, Droids and Wookiees were obvious. Twi'leks and Rodians were suggestions that hopefully fill in the gaps and promote well-rounded parties.

Core Types
  • Human -- As ever the standard PC type. Cyborgs are considered a sub-type.
  • Droid -- Comes in three flavors: R2 Unit, Protocol Droid and Basic Combat Droid.
  • Wookiee -- Star Wars equivalent of the Half-Orc.
  • Twi'lek -- Elf-like in terms of intellect and agility.
  • Rodian -- Aggressive and equipped with super-human senses.

[1] Types = Races + Droids


Gygaxian Star Wars: Lightsaber Thoughts

There's a bit more to the lightsaber than your average long sword +1. As far as fictional technologies go, there's quite a bit to consider when translating this iconic weapon into D&D-esque terms. Not only are there numerous forms of sabers, there are a number of ways to alter their effects. 

Essentially what we're looking at is an array of lightsaber types as well as rules for modifying their plasmic output.

An Aside: Power Consumption
A lightsaber gets its juice from a Diatium power cell that -- under the right conditions -- need never be replaced. However, like every good referee I can't resist putting limitations on this kind of thing. For example, what happens when PC the Jedi decides to slice his way through a dozen or so metal walls and barriers? You're telling me that a melee weapon can moonlight as a massively powerful drill for an extensive amount of time and not suffer any kind of adverse reaction? No no no no no no. There has to be a breaking point or the lightsaber becomes a little too useful, if you catch my drift.

Some Basic Lightsaber Types
  • Standard: "The standard lightsaber consisted of a straight hilt approximately 20 to 30 centimeters long. As it is the standard make, it has no defining features other than details on individual hilts, as each weapon is often self-fabricated by the wielder and customized to suit their specifications."
  • Double-bladed: "Also referred to as saberstaffs and Sith lightsabers, double-bladed lightsabers consisted of a single hilt that projected a blade from both ends, resulting in a deadly staff-like weapon. Most saberstaff hilts were of increased length, as they usually consisted of two separate lightsabers connected at the pommels."
  • Pike: "Resembling pole-arms in many respects, lightsaber pikes featured extremely long handles, up to two meters long, with a somewhat shorter and thicker lightsaber blade. The handle was machined from phrik alloy to prevent it from being cut in two, as the purpose of the weapon was to provide increased range in close combat." And what Gygaxian game would not have pole-arms? 
  • Shoto: "Essentially, a shoto was a short lightsaber. Featuring a shortened blade length and diminutive handle, it was basically a miniaturized lightsaber. Shoto's were usually used as the secondary weapon in dual-blade combat, as their smaller blade length resulted in a less intensive gyroscopic effect, making the weapon easier to handle. Shotos were also used a primary weapons by some duelists, most who did so being of diminutive size, making a full sized lightsaber impractical, though this is not always the case."
 Adjusting the Saber's Output
  • Length: Vader famously carried a dual-phase saber that could be adjusted to a maximum length of three meters. This is not a standard feature of most lightsabers and could potentially be a costly modification.
  • Power: All sabers should be able to regulate how much juice they're putting out. A lower setting might do fine when it comes to severing an opponent's limbs, but in order to hack through thick metal obstructions (i.e. denser material) a higher setting would be necessary. What happens when PC the Jedi raises the power output on his laser-sword? I would imagine it would become harder to wield (modifiers to attack rolls) and of course would inflict more damage.
Other Limitations
  • Most sabers don't work in water.
  • Certain exotic metals (Mandalorian iron, phrik, Sith alloys, cortosis, etc.) effectively block or negate sabers' plasmic energy.

Gygaxian Star Wars: Project Update

Mike D. of Sword +1 and Ruins & Ronin fame has signed on to our Gygaxian Star Wars project and will be handling the booklet's layout. Someone at Kenobi Analog Games needs to send that man some swag! If anyone is interested in becoming an official proofreader, please send me a line: flowthrake AT gmail DOT com


Jaime Lannister vs Eddard Stark (with lightsabers)

Gygaxian Star Wars: Outline

The seed for this whole project comes from two personal disappointments:
  1. My disappointment that the systems within Traveller were so different from the basic framework of D&D. (Probably unfair because it's a cool game in it's own right.)
  2. My disappointment with the thread of developments within the Star Wars universe after Return of the Jedi.
I've never really been keen on the d6-based system of WEG's  Star Wars RPG either, come to think of it. It just seemed like a natural fit to apply the Star Wars milieu to the basic mechanics of D&D in a way that avoided over-complication and allowed for maximum referee creativity and idiosyncrasy.

To accomplish this I know I have to limit myself in terms of page-count. I want 32 pages of essential rules for running Star Wars campaigns and nothing more. Something that breaks down like this (or nearly so):
  • Ability Scores section [2 pages]
    • Strength
    • Dexterity
    • Constitution
    • Intellect
    • Perception
    • Charisma
  • Character Types (in lieu of the term "Races" because droids are non- or only semi-biological and do not normally self-propagate) [5]
    • Human
      • Standard
      • Cyborg
    • Droid
      • Protocol Droid
      • R2 Unit
      • Basic Combat Droid
    • Rodian
    • Twi'lek
    • Wookiee
  • Character Classes [5]
    • Bounty Hunter
    • Force-user
      • Adept
      • Jedi
      • Sith
    • Rogue
      • Ex-Soldier
      • Smuggler
  • Experience Tables [2]
  • Saving Throws [2]
    • vs Chemical
    • vs Disease
    • vs Psionics
    • vs Radiation
    • vs Trauma (physical)
  • Combat Procedures [2]
  • Equipment and Weapons [4]
  • Space Travel [4]
  • The Force [4]
  • Bestiary Tables [2]