By now you’ve probably heard about Specimen, our board game which pits a space freighter crew against a genetically modified super-monster. If you haven’t: it’s a two-player game, and one of the twists is that the monster changes with each game because players can custom-build their “specimen” from over 20 different attributes.
As we were playtesting and demo-ing the game around the Midwest, people would ask if we were going to make Specimen into a movie. Never say never, we said, though it’s probably a long way off. But we got to thinking: how would such a movie play out? With so many different possible monsters, which one would we feature? Would the crew survive? How many? Would we follow the tried-and-true “final girl” model of so many horror films and watch Whitaker become the last person standing?
We decided that the way to find the answers to those questions was to let the game decide. So we assembled seven of the best Specimen players we know, ranked them and built brackets. We invited some of our cast members to participate, as well as some of our more outstanding playtesters. The last two players’ game would determine the official, canonical sequence of events in the world of Specimen. Whenever possible, we’ve been playing these games at Geek Bar Beta in Chicago.
Here are the brackets for the first round, which we played last week. Eric Van Tassell was given a bye in the first round, for no real reason other than an eighth player wasn’t available.
The first round is now complete. We had three really good games. Only one of the top seeds advanced. In the first game, Jodi Brown (playing the Specimen) narrowly defeated Alex Hunt. The second game saw Amy Hopkins (playing the Specimen) win on the fifteenth and final turn by blowing up the ship against Lonnie Harris. The last game had Ele Matelan (playing the Crew) defeating Alan Vuchichevich’s collapsible spine Specimen.
We’re now ready for Round Two. Here’s the bracket as it stands (and yes, we’re about a week behind):
What do you think will happen? Send your predictions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our new sounds for this month are tied in with a common horror trope: trapping the demon in a circle of enchanted flame. The binding ceremony usually involves drawing symbols on the floor in blood or salt, and setting the circle on fire once the demon steps inside.
Our Demon Fire soundpack comes in three varieties; the differentiating factor is the ignition source for the flame. ‘Cause, let’s face it – you don’t want your players asking, “hey, if we’re in a medieval setting, why am I using a Zippo to light this fire?” Or alternately, in a modern game, “where the heck did I get a torch?”
And in addition, each download comes with a ten-minute loop of magic flame with no ignition sound, so if you just want continuous fire, you can do that too at no extra charge!
Of course, these fire sounds don’t have to be used exclusively to depict demon traps. Really, you could use them for just about anything your players feel like setting on fire. And if your players are like ours, that’s a lot of things!
The daemon has walked right into your carefully-laid trap; directly into the center of the circle of blood sigils on the stone floor. In the dim light of this dank dungeon, it was easy to conceal it with some hastily-arranged dirt and pieces of rat dung. You touch your torch to the edge of the circle, and the floor erupts in a magical flame.
Now, daemon, we will talk.
This effect is the sound of a torch igniting a magic flame that burns for ten minutes.
You have the demon right where you want it. It’s just walked right into the center of the circle of blood sigils you painted on the floor. Before it knows what’s happening, you light a stick match and touch it to the blood. The circle erupts in a magical flame that spreads out to both sides and surrounds the demon in a second.
Shall we begin our conversation, hellspawn?
This effect is the sound of a wooden stick match igniting a magic flame that burns for ten minutes.
You’ve got the demon right where you want him. The smug sonofabitch just walked right into the center of the circle of blood sigils you hid under the throw rug. You smile, just a little, and spark up the chrome lighter in your hand. You throw it to the floor, and the circle erupts in a magical flame. Now old blackeyes there is trapped until you say so.
Before I gank you, you’re gonna spill, buttwipe.
This effect is the sound of a modern lighter igniting a magic flame that burns for ten minutes.
Demon Flame Loop
Now that the demon is trapped within the blood circle, the flame will continue to burn and he won’t be able to leave. This ten-minute loop of magic demon fire will allow you to question him all you like.
We’re tremendously excited to announce that we’ve set up all 122 cards for the game as a Print-on-Demand product, available from DriveThruRPG.com. Now instead of printing out, cutting out and pasting together all those cards, you can have a professionally printed deck delivered straight to your mailbox (You will still need to print out and assemble the map, counters and screen, but this does save you an awful lot of work).
You’ve crafted your universe and created the PCs. Everything is in place to begin your epic RPG Campaign for galactic domination. All that’s left is to add that final element: sound. Toxic Bag’s Science Fiction Toolkit gives you the audio building blocks to help create worlds that, before now, the players had only imagined. Designed for use with any RPG system, the toolkit will help make your sci-fi games better.
Over 45 minutes of Sci-Fi Sounds!
Sci-Fi Battle *
Jump to Lightspeed ¥
Time Machine Interior (10 minute ambience) ¥
Self-Destruct Sequence ¥
Cyberspace (10 minute ambience) ¥
Starship Bridge (10 minute ambience) †
Star Cruiser Rumble (10 minute ambience) †
Red Alert (6 minute effect) †
GM Soundpack: Blasters & Deflector Shields (click for description)
* Previously available on the Battles Collection
¥ Previously available on the Strange Places Collection – remastered for this set
† New Sound
I may have mentioned it before, but we’ve started a monthly podcast to talk about sound effects stuff, genre stuff, movies, etc. And we also talk a lot about our new board game. This month we continue a conversation we started last month with Eric Van Tassell and Alan Vuchichevich, who are two of the actors in the game. They’ve also done loads of playtesting on Specimen and have some great insights on how to play the Specimen and how to play the crew. You can get all of our podcasts at toxicbagpodcast.wordpress.com/ or through iTunes.
We’re pleased to announce that version 2.3 of our Game Masters Collection app for the iPad is now available at the Apple Store. The new version includes in-app purchase access to several of our recent soundpacks, including:
Eldritch Horror: Cult Ceremonies is a collection of 9 different mystical cult ceremonies. Now you can let your players hear that pesky cult eagerly summoning their icky dark lord to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world.
Fantasy: Dragons: a collection of 20 growls, hisses, roars and breath attacks. Now you can let your players hear one of the most iconic creatures of the fantasy genre!
Fantasy: Traps: a collection of eleven sinister traps for you to install into you perilous fantasy campaigns.
Horror #2 – EVP: Electronic Voice Phenomena. These mysterious recordings are believed by some to represent the voices of the dead. Now Toxic Bag introduces a collection of creepy EVP phrases for you to use in your modern horror game.
Sci-Fi: Blasters & Deflector Shields: a collection of 16 energy weapons and shields for you to equip your party as they enter your Galactic Sci-Fi Operas.
Changes and fixes –
Optimized for iOS 7.
Changed the iPhone main view to a tableview menu.
Fixed scrubber to resize properly after rotating.
Resized main tableview icons to line up the text.
Cleaned up the startup screens.
Cleaned up actions when app goes into background.
Added a microphone access request for iOS 7 devices.
The Game Masters app is a free download; additional sounds are available via in-app purchase.
Our Free Sound for April is a Matter Transporter that sounds like it came from one of those spaceships we saw on TV in the 1950s and 60s. If you’re playing a retro sci-fi game, this might be the thing for you!
The Matter Transporter. A quick flash of energy into which a person vanishes, to (hopefully) appear elsewhere in a fraction of a second. Invented in the mid-twentieth century on Earth to avoid having to film costly spaceship landing sequences, it quickly became a staple of televised science fiction from Star Trek to Doctor Who. This month’s Free Sound is not a precise recreation of either the Enterprise’s transporter or the Trans-Mat of Doctor Who fame, but rather calls to mind the early electronic sound techniques of the 1950s and 60s. If your game has a whimsical element to it, or if it’s set in a “Forbidden Planet”-type future, this sound will definitely come in handy!
This sound can also be used for:
super-agile battle robots that can move faster than the eye can see
magic spells cast by cartoon wizards
We’ve created a site specifically for our new board game, Specimen. There you’ll find articles about how to play the game; good strategies for playing the crew or the monster; videos about different strategy cards and the development of the game; and selected game images. There are also some downloads of living rules and (soon) other goodies, as well as an exploration of the world in which Specimen takes place.
Visit the site at https://specimengame.wordpress.com/