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.
Workplace romances can be challenging. But when your workplace has been invaded by a violent and predatory creature from a genetics lab, it’s downright impossible.
In “Captain Tyler’s Ex,” the new romantic comedy from Toxic Bag Productions, Science Officer Franklin (Eric Van Tassell) and Navigator Whitaker (Ele Matelan) try to keep their relationship on track while being hunted down by the mysterious Specimen. The fact that one of them used to date Captain Tyler (Steve Baldwin) just makes matters worse. Also starring Alan Vuchichevich and Carly Joy as Engineers Booth and Douglas, a working couple with challenges of their own. Co-starring Leena Kurishingal (Gibson), Eric Neal (Palance).
Written and directed by Steve Baldwin and set in the world of Specimen, “Captain Tyler’s Ex” will begin filming in August 2015, with a direct-to-DVD release planned for Valentine’s Day 2016.
As 2014 draws to a close, you’re no doubt inundated with “Best of” and “Worst of” lists all over the place. Try as we might, we couldn’t resist the urge to try a couple of those ourselves to see what the fuss is about. So, we sat down with our good friends Eric Van Tassell and Ele Matelan (both of Specimen fame, among other things) to list our top genre movies and television shows of the year. We had a couple of great in-depth chats and the results are here in our two bonus year-end podcasts!
Best Genre TV shows of 2014 Podcast
Best Genre movies of 2014 Podcast
And of course, everyone’s got an opinion, so let us know yours! Send us a note at email@example.com or drop a note on our Facebook page!
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