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.
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).
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.
We have a new soundpack! Drones and Atmospherics Volume One consists of two six-minute ambient drone sounds that GMs can use to underscore unsettling, creepy or otherwise dramatic scenes in their adventures. You can hear and download our new drones at toxicbag.com or drivethrurpg.com.
A blasted heath. An alien planet. Cyberspace. A distant moon orbiting a dead world. The End of Time.
Sometimes you don’t need a specific ambience. Sometimes you just want there to be something…ambient. A background, an atmosphere, a drone.
Whether you’re running a horror campaign, sci-fi opera, fantasy epic or anything in between, the Drones and Atmospherics series gives you a variety of creepy, mysterious sounds to underscore your most unsettling locations. Each drone is six minutes long. We’ve given them names, because “Drone 1” and “Drone 2” wouldn’t be very evocative. But don’t just take our titles as gospel – use them for whatever you like!
Drones & Atmospherics Volume One includes two six-minute creepy mood-setting drones.
Haunted Drone: an electronic hum supports random bursts of mystic energy that drift back and forth across an unearthly abyss.
The Ruins Drone: A wasted land? A devastated planet? The slow song of a dead people drifts across the shattered sky.
Have you been wanting to pick up our critically-acclaimed Game Masters Collection sound effects for role playing, but couldn’t quite scare up the extra dough? We feel your pain, and due to tight space in our warehouse you’re in luck. We’ve got a limited supply of Game Masters (and BATTLES) compact discs left in stock, and we’re blowing them out at $1.50 per disc. The Game Masters Complete Collection –over 200 sounds on 4 CDs– is available for $5.00! While supplies last; we won’t be re-pressing these CDs, so get them while you can!
“Are you one of those DMs who can mimic a fabulous array of voices and make convincing sound effects during the game? Me, neither. For those of us with a limited vocal range, Toxic Bag Productions has come to the rescue with a series of sound effects for your roleplaying campaign.”
“The discs feed the imagination by providing the auditory equivalent of flavor text, those long passages of description found in almost every Dungeons & Dragons module. The Game Masters Collection …provide[s] GMs with just the right sound for just the right moment. Diehard game masters…are going to love this collection.” –Kenneth Newquist, Scifi.com
“A pretty creepy collection…made the hair on my neck stand on end…a must have!” –Brian’s Small Press Picks, Knights of the Dinner Table
Battles CD: $1.50
“While I’ve obviously never been in the middle of a sword and sorcery melee or a Civil War battle, [BATTLES] sounds pretty much like I imagine it would.” –Kenneth Newquist, Nuketown
“One of the best…BATTLES is a top notch game aid. This one CD has so many uses, it’s really a shame not to own it.” –Brian’s Small Press Picks, Knights of the Dinner Table
“…all the war ambience you need.” –Sorting the Loot, Nodwick
*prices apply to physical CDs only. Downloads are still at the regular price.
Last weekend we had a nine-hour photo shoot to capture images for the cards in Specimen. We shot over 90 setups and took 3500 pictures. We’ll spend the next few weeks editing them into all the cards and promo materials. Thanks to our behind the scenes crew: Jill Vanc, Jodi Brown and Phil Freeman.
And now, we present the crew of the TCS Brown: Carly Joy, Steve Baldwin, Eric Neal, Eric Van Tassell, Ele Matelan, Alan Vuchichevich and Leena Kurishingal!