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Showing posts from 2015

Superhero Team Up Issue No. 1

Tonight I trotted out Prowlers & Paragons for my kids to run them through a quick introductory session.  It worked out well, although the dice were all over the place.  Mac played Kroxigor, a monstrous reptile-man while Macy played Menagerie, a shape-shifter.

Kroxigor was one of the passengers on TransGlobal flight 246 which was attacked by the mysterious chemical gas.  Menagerie was actually a dog in the hold of the plane, now able to turn into a human.  Another passenger, a petty criminal, also gained powers which he used to burgle the nightclub where Kroxigor (prior to his transformation) was working as a bouncer.  In trying to stop the burglar, Kroxigor turned into his reptilian form and with Menagerie's help managed to recover the money, even though the burglar escaped using his elongating powers.

Need answers about what has happened, Krox and Menagerie seek out Dr. Tom Gilcrest, the scientist who investigated the initial attack and a employee of Equinox Labs.  While meet…

A Campaign Introduction

So I've been noodling around with the idea of doing a supers RPG campaign, possibly using Prowlers & Paragons, my most recent lightweight supers RPG purchase.  It's like Marvel Heroic Roleplaying with balance.

In terms of the campaign itself, I have been thinking that it might be interesting to provide a kickoff event that could serve as a shared origin and the beginning of plot gears turning.  But how to share that with all the players?


So I made this player handout.  I had to look around until I found a good picture (from a Flash comic book) that I could Photoshop to show the airline flight.  I'm still using Distinctions from MHR to help the players get a handle on certain things, like NPC's or campaign locations.
Now, to see how the game works...

The early 2015 Recap

It's highly unlikely that I am going to do any gaming in the next three days (especially with guests in my house) so I thought I would get an early start on the "year in gaming" posts out there.

Most of 2015 was spent with my trotting out the new fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons and running it in about every ethos you could imagine: mini-dungeons, mega-dungeons, wilderness adventures, urban adventures...  We are not done with the campaign yet, but it'll happen soon.

In addition to D&D I also ran a session or two of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying with the infamous Deathwish Brigade for the kids, and of course ran the homegrown RPG that is the hallmark of the annual EOW event.  I also trotted out Champions (Hero System, fourth edition).

What's surprising, when I looked over the last year, is how many RPG's I played.  Ultimate Hero, Cypher, Fate, EOW, D&D 5E, and Space d6.  What's really cool is that out of the seven different RPG settings in which…

My Christmas Present

It might look boring, but I'm pretty excited about this...




It is an Office Depot Portable Clipboard Storage Case.  Now I know office supplies are not the sexiest Christmas presents ever, but I am a sucker for a) cool office stuff, b) stuff that holds other stuff, and c) stuff I can use for gaming.

It also has this weird meaning for me about what would be the ideal amount of stuff to haul around for a gaming session.  My own personal disposition likes traveling light: not having loads of sourcebooks or a gazillion dice, etc.  Just pick up the case and off to wherever I'm running my game.  For whatever reason, that appeals to me.

Merry Christmas!

Friday night game recap: sometimes they come back!

Rachel is continuing to run her "Walking Dead" style story using the FATE system, although which each session more things that aren't very "Walking Dead" are making it into the game.  For example the zombies appear to be more cogent.  And they can metamorphose. And there's some kind of weird alien minotaurs running around.

This is kind of interesting for me, as a player, because it has that element of "what the heck?" that horror games should have.  I noticed in the last session that people were saying "well, we know what zombies are, right, because we've seen zombie movies.  So we shoot them in the head."  This is contrary to The Walking Dead series, where zombie is never used and there seems to be no pre-existing mythology, popular or otherwise, about zombies.

So it's not so much a zombie game, it's a wide-open horror exploration game, which is infinitely superior in my book.  Anyways, here's a few photos...




A Teaser...

A First Look at Prowlers and Paragons

For a long time I've been in the market for a new supers RPG.  Since running Marvel Heroic Roleplaying a few years ago, I've been looking at other games, including some that had been passed by the general public, e.g. DC Heroes Third Edition or Silver Age Sentinels.  This was based on the notion that supers RPG's are so niche and so under-performing as a general part of the RPG world that just because the game wasn't making a splash didn't mean it wasn't good.

Plus, I have my own tastes about what I like in a supers RPG, which I've touched on from time to time here, but to summarize I like a game that feels like a comic book, doesn't get bogged down in too much detail, but allows for PC growth and development in a tangible game-system way.  I also don't want to spend hours on character creation using a spreadsheet.  For that matter, it would be an added bonus if it could also accommodate a large number of players and didn't have glaring options…

Double feature gaming recap: Ladies' nights!

So pretty much since this gaming group began, all those years ago when I answered a flyer in my FLGS, there have been two GM's: myself and the guy who comments on this blog as "J Evans."
Not too long ago, my son decided he wanted a crack at running a game, first using a Free RPG Day module and then his own one-shot of a "Fallout" game using d6 Space.  Shortly thereafter, J Evans' son decided to take a crack at running an actual campaign, a D&D 4E campaign that has been meeting about once a month for the past few months.
That seemed to open the floodgates.  My daughter decided she wanted to run a fantasy one-shot, just to see what it was like, and despite being the youngest person in the group they went for it.  I served as her assistant, helping her run combats and citing relevant rules when necessary.

Then, Rachel, another member of the group, wanted to try a mini-campaign of a totally different genre: a "Walking Dead" style zombie game usin…

Friday night gaming recap: into the Cauldron

The last session had been a little rough, but nothing helps get me back in the right frame of mind for gaming like a long conversation with Adam from Barking Alien, which I enjoyed the afternoon before the game.  One of his best bits of advice was to talk to my players about where I was in terms of how I felt about the campaign.  I'm really needing to wrap this up, but I also don't want to just see it fall flat--there's been too much time and energy invested in it for that.
So last night was one of our gaming sessions where I'm gaming with the adults, and one of the youth was GMing the other youth players.  I was feeling a little more confident than last week when it came to set-up, and with a particular emphasis on interesting set design and some fun roleplaying the game went off pretty well.  The group took down (with more than a little help), the #2 gang in Grimfest, the Children of the Third House, which only leaves the PC's and the biggest, most powerful gang…

Listen at the door, check for traps

As is often the case, my friend Adam mentions something on his own blog which then inspires a lengthy response from me.  In this case, it was this post, entitled "An Inconsistent Truth."  In it he complains about this issues of pacing, and the way that players can slow play to a grind by being overcautious.

Unfortunately, they don't know how to police themselves (or so it seems). Many of them forego what would be the most interesting, exciting, or cinematic option, instead looking to the most logical option; often making certain it is the surest, safest plan, devoid of conflict, drama, tension, and sadly, emotional impact, and resonance. Right, because for some players, survival is the ultimate point of participating in roleplaying games.  Live to fight another day, get more stuff, etc.   Now that's not particularly heroic, it reflects a more picaresque style of play whose roots go back to the very beginning of RPG's.  Those were the days of Gygaxian lethal death …

Buiding a Fate Deck

One of the overlooked superhero RPG's out there is the Marvel SAGA game, which came out in between the FASERIP game and the weird diceless game that used beads.  It was released by TSR at a time when they were trying to find a way to rejuvenate the stagnating 2nd Ed. AD&D, and the SAGA system represented a huge break from the mold.  TSR did a Dragonlance version, then a Marvel version of the game.

What made it interesting what it required a deck of special playing cards, which was both an innovation and a huge hindrance for people wanting to get into the game.  Games with specialized dice or cards or something you NEED to play the game other than a gaming book seem to be a hard sell to the general public (there's some exceptions out there that I don't need to get into).

Anyways, the game also didn't have a point-buy system but rather went with a more "just think about what the character is like, and assign stats accordingly" which again for its time wasn&…

My Daughter's Fantasy Map

So in addition to all the stuff going on in my home game, my tween daughter decided she wanted to take a turn running a fantasy game session of her own. We worked on the session together with my helping stat out NPC's, etc. Since I also have been developing my cartography skills, I offered to draw up a map. She sketched out a rough draft, and I put it to paper.  

Not too fancy, just showing where various landmarks are in relation to one another.  I'm looking forward to Spell Familiar's game; I'll be assisting her insofar as I'll be on hand to help with running combat and clarifying rules.  Otherwise, it'll be her show.  Four members of the gaming group signed up to play, which just shows how good a group I have.

I'm gaming twice over the holidays: my home game on Friday, and this game on Saturday.  After action reports to follow!

The 400th Post and Friday Night Recap

I suppose it should be some kind of special occurrence to hit 400 posts for this blog.  Let me find some kind of graphic...


But enough of that, let's talk gaming!

Gamed last night, with a mostly youth gaming group, this one composed primarily of players who didn't play in the last session, so I decided to run them as if they were the ones left behind while the rest of the group went to rescue their captured teammate, Sign.  The group uncovered a conspiracy between the two largest gangs in Grimfest to wipe them out, and launched a peremptory attack on the #2 gang and their bizarre lair.


That sounds great, but in reality it didn't work out too well.  Two players kept sniping at each other the entire evening, and honestly my heart wasn't in it.  And if I'm not loving it, my ability to handle players who are clearly having an off night isn't that great as well.
Since the session, the two players have apologized to me and each other, but I think I may try to keep th…

Friday night game recap: the Arena!

After a month off from my home game we got back into things with a bang. The group launched an expedition into the depths of the earth to rescue Sign, who had been captured by Drow slavers to fight in an arena.  Rather than go in guns blazing (or the D&D equivalent) they decided to carefully enter the city under a pretense, enrolled several of the PC's in the arena, and managed to gamble Sign to freedom. 
It really was a great example of how the group has grown. There was a lot of in-character dialogue and even inter-party conflict, all done well. For my end I kept the plot careening around, the tension high, and the NPC's interesting.  It was a solid session.

An early map

I'm continuing to refine my fantasy cartography skills, this time bringing together some different elements: mountains, forests, a lake, and a couple of cities.  There's even a strange stone formation west of the mountains that bears some exploring.

Forests

More experimentation for my fantasy cartography skills, this time a forest.

Experimenting with mountains

I've been starting on learning to hand draw fantasy cartography.


I'm starting with mountains and hills.  It's just a start, but I like it.

What I want in my supers game pt. 1: Diversity

I think that Tumblr is the Wild West of the blogosphere, but there's a couple of tumblr blogs I really like, one of which is Superheroes In Full Color.  It's a blog that focuses on superheroes and comic book creators of various ethnicity.  There's been a lot of movement in Marvel to increase diversity among their roster of superheroes, both in terms of race, gender, and culture, and I think it's a good thing even if it is at the expense of some long-established characters (and honestly, it really isn't at their expense, since the original Captain America, Thor, and Captain Marvel are still in circulation).

A long time ago I read an article (perhaps in Dragon Magazine in their old Ares section, I'm not sure) about diversifying your superhero campaign.  It mentioned, among other things, that if you had about a 1:1,000,000 of superbeings to normal people, there would be over a hundred superheroes or supervillains from Mexico.  (I have read, believe it or not, the …

A quick note to the world

I want my Star Trek to be about solving problems not by jumping around a lot but by being an intelligent, principled human being, I want my Star Wars not to be about emo superheroes but about underdogs becoming swashbuckling heroes.  And for God's sake I want my superheroes not to be a bunch of post-modern crypto-fascist BS but contemporary myths about heroism.

End thought.

Mid-break thoughts: Heroism and Wonder

I decided to take a break from running RPG's through October, not the least of which because my schedule is jam-packed with work that precluded me from running anything if I wanted to.

During this break I've been thinking a lot of running a superhero RPG again.  There are many reasons for this, like the Flash TV series cropping up on Netflix so I can watch it with my kids (we are a Netflix-only household).  DC and Marvel both had universe-shaking summer events, although for the life of my I can not figure out what changed at DC, and can only begin to see the changes at Marvel, which appears to be mostly incorporating Ultimate characters into their main universe.  But in the mix was several really good stories.

I also picked up the rarely-mentioned Silver Age Sentinels, the Tri-stat version not the OGL version.



 SAS has a lot of Champions in it, including a two-page spread outlining the "if you're looking for this Champions power or ability, it is this in SAS."  L…

EOW 2015 Recap (with helpful GM notes) Part Three

So, I've been gradually getting around to writing about my three-day gaming weekend, with particular interest in what went wrong and right with each session. And now the final entry.

Session Three
Genre: Traveller, or more correctly "Traveller" since their game universe has gotten pretty far afield
What went right: a tense, exciting plot
What needs work: There might be too many vorpal swords lying around

This was the "campaign" session, the latest installment in a Traveller game that has gone on for years, but only four sessions a year.  It's important to know the campaign revolves between three GM's, each taking a single session then passing it on.  Over the years the campaign has expanded from a merchant free trader to a fleet of ships belonging to a corporation headed up by the PC's.  In the previous session, the GM of the day decided to take the campaign in a new direction and pare down the scale by having a single ship of the fleet try out an e…

EOW 2015 Recap (with helpful GM notes) Part Two

Author's Note: Part One can be found here.

Session Two
Setting: Star Trek, Deep Space Nine era
What Went Right: Some great roleplaying by the GM (if I do say so myself)
What Needs Work: Overestimating player knowledge

So this was my session, and happened on Saturday, which is always the best attended session for the weekend (in this case, nine players).  I had been hankering for running science fiction and Star Trek in general, so I figured the best way to ensure that everyone was relevant was to have the party split into two crews: Federation and Klingon.  With the help of some friends, we put together a DS9-era story rich with the classic elements of DS9: religious and cultural conflict, murky morality, and some Dominion ass-kicking.  I was pretty pleased with the scenario, but I also knew that the group was composed of a lot of die-hard Trekkies, so I crammed the last couple of months for this session watching old episodes, reading articles from online DS9 wikias, and talking t…

EOW 2015 Recap (with helpful GM notes) Part One

Most of my posts are gaming recaps, and overwhelmingly they get little to no feedback or comments.  This leads me to suspect that most readers are not that interested in reading about how someone else's game went.  That's cool.

But last weekend was the three-day End of the World mini-convention, and one of the few times I get to be a player, not to mention GM a genre I'm not running now, so I thought it might be interesting to look at less of what we did as a gaming session, and more of what worked and didn't work from a GMing perspective.  I'll do this in three parts, just to make it easier to read and digest.

For those who don't know, at each session we use a home-grown generic ruleset based loosely on the old FASA Star Trek system, altered to suit each session's genre.

Session One
Setting: Morrow Project (80's Post-Apocalyptic)
What Went Right: GMing on the fly
What Could Use Work: Fantasy vs. Physics

So the basic concept is that, in this go-round of…

Pre-EOW post and taking a break

Author's note: EOW is the annual three-day gathering of my friends where we spend those days doing three independent day-long gaming scenarios using a homegrown ruleset.  You can learn more about EOW by clicking on the EOW tag on the right-hand menu bar of the blog.

This year for EOW I'm doing a Star Trek scenario taking place in the middle of the Deep Space 9 series around the early part of the war with the Dominion.  I have no less than nine players, so I decided the best thing to do would be to break them up into two groups: a Federation crew and a Klingon crew, each with their own (underpowered) ship.  It is a complicated session for me.  For one thing, I'm not that familiar with DS9.  Two, there's the number of players, although they are used to being in a big group.  Three, the scenario is long and complicated in order to fill an entire day, but I'm worried because you never know when something will go off the rails and the whole thing grinds to an early stop…

The Moment in a Campaign

If you ask me why the Claremont era of the X-Men was so damn good, I would have to say that it wasn't the whole "Dark Phoenix" saga, or even "Days of Future Past" (although that was very good), it is the in-between moments in the series.  I'm talking about the moments between the fights where you would see the X-Men hanging around in their 70's turtlenecks and mod dresses shooting the breeze about being an unloved mutant superhero or who they have a crush on or whatever.  It was a moment when they were people and not just powers, and you the reader had the chance to actually experience the fullness of their lives.

The X-Men have since lost this.  Just look at any comic book and see how infrequently the X-Men are out of costume.  Our appetites now reflect a stronger desire to more action, more splash pages, and bigger conflicts.  And in my opinion, the comics books are less interesting as a result.  You can see this in other genres, that question of paci…

The Fruit Bat of Frustration (MHR)

For Adam....


The Fruit Bat of Frustration (real name unknown)
Affiliations: Solo d8, Buddy d4, Team d6
Distinctions: Annoying Little Twat, Relentless, Ambiguous Identity

Powers
CREATIVE ENERGY VAMPIRE
Flight d6
Claws d6
Enhanced Reflexes d8
Emotional Control d10
SFX: Sapping Your Mojo.  When creating a "In a Funk" complication, add a d6 and step up the effect die.
SFX: Right Where I Want You.  When the GM is trying to alter an Affiliation status of a PC in an encounter with the Fruit Bat of Frustration, step down the effect die necessary to do so, reflecting either effectively isolating the PC from contact with friends, or putting him in an unsatisfying gaming group.

Specialties
Covert Expert
Menace Expert
Psych Master

Friday gaming recap: the giant falls

After the Prophetess debacle in the last session, the group decided to use the chaos and carnage of the three-way battle between the Puppeteers, the Parliament of Bone, and the Children of the Third House to try to take at least one of the major gangs off the board.  After some research and intel collecting, the group decided the easiest group to neutralize would be the Puppeteers.  And, after shaking down a halfling named Greeble, they knew where to look.
The Puppeteers home base was a weird layout of cylindrical hallways filled with golems and in one chamber a pulsing magical furnace.  After Sign (the party's thief/fighter assassin) ganked the head Puppeteer with one blow, the entire compound began to move.  Or more accurately, stand up.
The whole base was a colossal sized golem with a hollow interior.  It also was about to self-destruct.  Alaric the monk, Corwin the cleric, and Roghanj the sorcerer all make it out before it exploded.  Sirdos the warlock made it down into one o…

What you want, what I want

So...Adam at Barking Alien wrote this.  And then some guy who actually thinks you have to type out accented English like you're Chris Claremont writing the X-Men Banshee commented on his post.

The issue, and I feel like I can say this without too much concern about misrepresenting Adam, is that over the years Adam has found that he has engaged in more interaction with his players when it comes to building his campaigns than he did when he was a wee lad and he felt more free to run what he was genuinely loved and players would just trust him that it would be good.

Slipped in there is a bit about how players sometimes ignore what the GM is proposing in terms of tenor and theme for a campaign and create something totally out of whack with the campaign.  I know exactly what he is talking about.  It's the guy who wants to play a werewolf in Vampire the Masquerade (happened) or a no-costume mercenary in a four-color superhero game (also happened, although it worked out).  Here's…

How to Soak a Gaming Group for 2,800 gp.

So there's a new force in the town of Grimfest--"The Prophetess," an ancient dragonborn seeress who claims to be able to answer any question as long as you give her 700 gp. and answer a question of hers first.  After impressing the four rival gangs of Grimfest (and getting four of the PC's to ask her questions), she announces that she will answer the question everyone wants answered--where is the tarrasque--but only to the highest bidder.  Three of the four gangs show up with tons of treasure in tow, while the PC's merely offer her a song and a holy book.  After announcing the highest bidder, violence breaks out among the three groups and in all the chaos and carnage the Prophetess appears to have escaped with all three gangs' bids while no one got the answer.  The PC's in the meantime manage to escape and then take advantage of the situation by going and knocking over a stronghold of the Parliament of Bone.

With all hell breaking loose (literally), the p…

RPG Review: Far Trek

So, as I mentioned recently, I've got a lot of sentimentality for Star Trek RPG's, and Star Trek in general.  Three actual honest-to-God licensed ones exist in history: FASA's, Last Unicorn Games, and Decipher's.  I own the first two and have heard mixed things about the third.

But there are also a lot of non-licensed Star Trek RPG's out there, and recently I saw that one of them, Far Trek, was offering a hard copy for a couple of bucks on Lulu.  Never one to let a deal go by I picked it up and thought I'd give you, gentle readers, my thoughts.



Far Trek is a light-hearted, even breezy take on the Star Trek universe, almost exclusively the original series.  There rules incorporate stats, skills, and talents.  There are four stats: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Charisma, with the stats ranging from about a -2 to a +2, reflecting their modifier on the die roll.  I actually like this mechanic, which I first encountered in True20.  It doesn't make a lot…

RPGaDay Bonus: Zak S's questions

Zak S (from over at the Playing D&D with Porn Stars) has his own RPGaDay questions, which were pretty interesting, and so here's my answers:

1. Worst game you ever played

"Played"?  Not just owned, or ran?  I mean for "owned" I could go with the Whispering Vault.  For "ran" I could say. um...Rifts?  Played?  I haven't played in that many RPG's, truth be told.  I'm more a GM.  And I've liked most of them.  Let's say TORG.

2. Interesting rule embedded within otherwise baleful game

While I'm not the biggest fan of hit location charts, if you want one the clear-plastic-overlay-on-top-of-body-silhouette from Millenium's End is a lot of fun, if just for the suspense of it.

3. Game you never played but you knew it sucked just looking at it

Zero

4. Game you most wish didn't suck

Rifts.  I'm pretty excited that Savage Worlds got a hold of the license, although it might count as a sign of the apocalypse.

5. Game about which…

RPGaDay 31: Favorite non-RPG thing to come out of RPGing

Darn it, I made this mistake of checking my blog feed and seeing people put down "all the friends I made in gaming," which is a good answer but then I'd just be ripping other people's creativity off.

Here's what I was actually thinking of putting down, mostly because I work with a lot of neuro-atypical people.

"How Dungeons & Dragons Saved My Autistic Son"


RPGaDay 30: Favorite RPG playing celebrity

Hey, I'm a day late on this one because I really don't have one.  Seriously, I need a celebrity that plays RPG's who is not a celebrity because of playing RPG's?

Who does that leave me?  Vin Diesel?  Okay, we'll go with Vin Diesel, because I am sure not going to pick "The Jar Jar Binks of Star Trek."


Taking Champions out for a spin

So, after Adam's post about the epic-length Champions game in which he played as a child, I got pretty sentimental about Champions, Fourth Edition (aka the Big Blue Book).  Rather than bring in my entire, huge group of players, I decided to start small.  So, I made PC's for both kids, Bubblegum (Champions edition) for the daughter, a guy named "Kroxigor" for the son.  For those who follow these things, Bubblegum is a low-level martial artist with Entangle and Flash, Kroxigor is a straight up light brick at 250 pts.
First, Bubblegum encounters Pulsar attacking the police.  She does a good job switching between her gum powers and her martial arts.

Then, Bubblegum finds Kroxigor fighting Bluejay, who is attempting to recapture him and return him to his creators.  They make pretty quick work of her.

Then, back at the defunct Ultimate Posse headquarters, the pair hear that GRAB is robbing a bank.  Three villains is a lot for them to handle, and they'll have to coordi…

RPGaDay 29: Favorite RPG website/blog

I don't play favorites with my friends, but three bloggers who consistently create content that I pick out of my massive feedly list are Barking Alien, Tower of Zenopus, and Cross Planes.

In honor of the fact that he and I have a ridiculously similar taste in RPG's (except for my heightened tolerance of fantasy) I present the following photo for Adam.




RPGaDay 28: Favorite Game You Are No Longer Playing

So, before I answered this question I read Adam's post on the subject on his blog Barking Alien.


So his point, for those who don't have time to read it, is that you should be playing your favorite game.  And to the surprise of few, I agree with him.  I don't have the snark factor he does, and honestly I get how GM's compromise with their players about what game to run for the simple fact that the GM wants to game with them.  And yes, good friends will entertain the notion that a GM might like a game because it is really good, or at the least (and I learned this a long time ago) a game the GM loves he or she will run very well, and that makes it good for everyone.

What's ironic is that I've been talking to my kids about one of my favorite games to see if they might be interested in taking it out for a sentimental test drive.  We'll see how it goes.

RPGaDay 27: Favorite idea for merging two games into one

First, let me just give credit to the guy who came up with the idea of merging Star Wars and Steampunk.




But for me, I think my favorite idea was to merge Mekton (giant anime robots) and Dune, a concept I floated back in my college days.  Somewhere in my long-term memory I have the concepts for giant robots for the Bene Gesserit, Houses Harkonnen and Atreides, the Sardukar, and the Freemen (who have both the small, still-suit robot frames and the giant kick-ass sandworms).

Why hasn't someone done the manga/anime version of Dune yet?  You'd think the way Herbert's kids have prostituted out their literary inheritance they would have done this already.

RPGaDay 26: Favorite inspiration for your game

In 2086, two peaceful aliens journey to Earth seeking our help. In return, they gave us the plans for our first hyperdrive, allowing mankind to open the doors to the stars. We have assembled a team of unique individuals to protect Earth and our allies. Courageous pioneers committed to the highest ideals of justice and dedicated to preserving law and order across the new frontier. These are the adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. 

My sister and I loved the animated series Galaxy Rangers so much my sister actually named her son after one of the characters.  The series, for those who have the misfortune of being unfamiliar with it, is a combination Space Opera/Superhero/Western featuring four main characters (Niko, Zachary, "Doc," and Shane, from left to right, above) who each possessed superhuman abilities (or at least gadgets, in the case of Doc) and used them to zip around the new space frontier solving mysteries, catching criminals, and battling the "Crown Empire." …