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Specimadness!

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.

tourney_bracket

 

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):

 

tourney_bracket_b

 

What do you think will happen? Send your predictions to podcast@toxicbag.com.

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New film project: Capt. Tyler’s Ex!

Captain Tyler's Ex poster

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.

End of the year Lists!

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 podcast@toxicbag.com or drop a note on our Facebook page!

podcast_square_EP212

New sound: Steampunk Dirigible

You stand at the floor-to-ceiling windows at the back of the gondola and watch the city fade into the distance. In a mere 50 hours, you’ll be at your destination. Behind you, the steady hum of the airship’s propellers becomes a soothing drone, and only occasional gusts of wind remind you that you’re thousands of feet in the air. This is the only civilized way to travel, you think to yourself.

 

The Dirigible track is a 10-minute ambience that loops seamlessly, and features a constant sound of multiple propellers and occasional blasts of wind. This is a perfect background sound for airship travel in Steampunk, early 20th-century Cthulhu games and…is there a “Fringe” RPG?

 

Dirigible
Our first sound effects CD, released in 1996, was The Game Masters Collection: Vol. 1: The Twentieth Century. Aimed at modern and modern-ish RPGs like Call of Cthulhu, it featured a variety of background ambiences including towns, cities, bars and nightclubs in several decades, a couple of battlefields…and a dirigible. The dirigible soon became a customer favorite – we almost got more compliments on that track than the whole rest of the disc.

 

Recently we were asked to create a longer, loopable version of the dirigible track for a LARP event, so we dug out the original track, remixed and remastered it, and have now released it as a ten-minute loopable mp3. You can pick it up for $1.50 at toxicbag.com, DrivethruRPG.com or D20pfsrd.com.

Wayne Foundation Charity Bundle

This week, we’re taking part in the 4th annual Wayne Foundation Charity bundle on DriveThruRPG. You can get $240 worth of RPG stuff for $20, including several Toxic Bag products. Proceeds go the Wayne Foundation.

“The Wayne Foundation is committed to spreading awareness of CSEC (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) and DMST (Domestic Minor Sexual Trafficking) occurring within the United States. Our organization is survivor led. Our goal is to provide young women in the United States who have fallen victim to DMST with a means of leaving the sex industry for good by providing a safe home environment with rehabilitation services.”

From the DriveThru page:

On  sale  June  22   through  June  29,  exclusively  through  DriveThruRPG,  this  bundle  offers  over  $240  worth  of  RPG   products,  fiction  and  artwork  for  just  $20!    You’ll  be  paying  just  under  9%  of  the  total  retail  value,   and  every  cent  of  profit  made  from  the  sale  of  this  bundle  goes  directly  to  The  Wayne  Foundation   –  a  501(c)(3)  charitable  organization.  The  Wayne  Foundation  is  committed  to  spreading  awareness  of  CSEC  (Commercial  Sexual   Exploitation  of  Children)  and  building  a  rehabilitation  facility  for  victims  DMST  (Domestic  Minor   Sexual  Trafficking).

They’re  working  hard  to  get  child  sex  workers  the  help  they  deserve  to  live   normal  lives.  What  do  you  get  for  your  $20?  You  get  all  of  these  products  listed  below  (in  no  particular  order),   and  more!  Visit  tiny.cc/TWF-RPG  to  purchase  the  bundle!

Here’s  what  you’ll  be  getting!

• Melior  Via  –  Hope  Prep,  Accursed,  Universal  Space  Combat  Battle  Map

• Evil  Hat  Productions  –  Don’t  Read  This  Book

• Imperfekt  Games  –  Invulnerable  –  Super  Hero  RPG:  Vigilante  Edition

• Mount  Zion  Press  –  All  for  me  Grog

• Ennead  Games  –  Campign  Chunk,  Cult  Name,  Fantasy  Feats  IV

• Mithril  and  Mages  –  Three  different  Name  Spaces

• Rocks  Falls  Games  LLC  –  Dungeons  by  the  Level,  2  Studies  of  Decay,    2  Adventures  in   Awesfur

• Toxic  Bag Productions  –  Battles  of  the  Zombie  Apocalypse,  Ghosts  in  the  Graveyard,  Horror  Soundpack,   Fantasy  Dragons

• Steve  Keller  –  Generala

• Wargaming  Recon  Podcasts  –  a  few  hand  picked  episodes

• Brent  P.  Newhall’s  Musaeum  –  Murderhobos,  Mystery  of  the  Shattered  World

• Crooked  Staff  Publishing  –  Megadungeon  Level  1  Map  Pack

• Critical  Hits  Studios  –  Criminals  Print  and  Play

• Zero  Point  Information  –  Aeternal  Legends

• Cumberland  Games  –  Risus:  A  Kringle  in  Time,  Sparks:  Dan  Smith  Stockpile,  HexPaper,   Points  in  Space  1:  Starport  Locations,  Uresia:  Grave  of  Heaven  and  Caravel

• Ashe  Rhder  –  Black  Briar,  Sounding  Fury,  Sunburn  (Original  Art)

• Dilly  Green  Bean  Games  –  Ka-­‐Pookie  Theater

• Eric  Orchard  –  Marrowbones  Double  Issue

• Khairul  Hisham  –  Four  pieces  of  original  RPG  Artwork

• Troll  in  the  Corner  –  Various  and  sundry  RPGs,  expansions,  Print  and  Play  games  and   Fiction

• Soap  Box  Productions  –  Lost  on  the  Road,  Train  Ride  into  Darkness

• FableForge  –  Enter  the  Shadowside,  Greater  Thelema  Society,  SCaV3NG3R

• Studio187  –  Rogue  Chess  Decks  1  &  2

Specimen Print on Demand Cards!

Steve with cards

The captain and his card.

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).

The Print-on-Demand decks cost $9.99 + shipping. The Specimen print and play download costs $9.99 from Drivethru and $9.00 from Toxicbag.com.

 

Attribute deck

25 attribute cards

Character cards

7 Character cards

Crew deck

45 Crew strategy cards

Monster deck

45 Monster strategy cards

Print-on-Demand card set from DriveThruRPG

Print-on-Demand card set from DriveThruRPG

Science Fiction toolkit

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!

scifi_toolkit_square1

Tracks Include:
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

 

The Science Fiction Toolkit is available from toxicbag.com and DrivethruRPG.com.

More SPECIMEN: podcasts and videos

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’ve also started putting up how-to strategy videos about Specimen at the Specimen page. The most recent addition deals with the Tracking units and can be seen here.

Game Masters iPad app update

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.

Free Sound for April: Matter Transporter

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!

 

Get the Matter Transporter sound here.

 

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:
laser guns
disintegrations
force-field impacts
super-agile battle robots that can move faster than the eye can see
magic spells cast by cartoon wizards

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