Archive | November, 2011

Steven Dawes

Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows Review

Posted on November 16, 2011 by

Blair Witch 2 holds a special place in my black heart. No so much because of the movie itself, it happens to be the first movie my wife Lilly and I went to see together (somewhere along the lines of a 3rd of 4th date.) We were both fans of the 1st film (me more so than her), and as it was the autumn/ Halloween season so seeing a scary movie seemed like the thing to do at the time. It was incidentally the inaugural “dinner and a movie” date ritual that became a cornerstone of one of our favorite things to do together to this day. During the few times I’ve watched it since, I get a twinge of nostalgia, and did so again during this last watch for reviewing purposes. But does nostalgia a good movie make?

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Flames

Interview with author Ray Wallace

Posted on November 15, 2011 by

Escape from Zombie City (A One Way Out Novel) by Ray Wallace has been released in Trade Paperback (the eBook is coming soon!) by The Zombie Feed Press, an imprint of Apex Publications. Below in an interview with Ray by The Zombie Feed.

The Zombie Feed: Who is your biggest literary influence, and why?

Ray Wallace: That’s a tough one. There are so many. But if I was forced to choose just one then I guess I’d have to go with Clive Barker. The Books of Blood are still some of the best horror collections ever written. I’ve always loved the way he merges the beautiful with the grotesque. And his ability to describe utterly fantastic worlds and creatures is truly awesome at times. Whenever I read one of his stories it makes me want to sit down at the computer immediately and start writing.

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Shadow Hunters #1 Review

Posted on November 15, 2011 by

“Shadow Hunters is the new supernatural comic book that revolves around the lives of 3 teenage girls. As they seek vengeance on the dark demon that wiped out hundreds of lives, they encounter both a vast array of darkness that dwell around them and a shadow army that combats it. This is a new series from Scattered Comics that is written by Jason Dube and drawn by Benjamin Jordan. It is a comic that is recommended for more mature reader with its heavy themes of death, mature subject matters, and violence.”

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Flames

Vampire Retrospective: Dave Martin

Posted on November 14, 2011 by

The Vampire Retrospective Project continues with a new essay from Dave Martin. Dave is the leader of the Wrecking Crew demo team. The Wrecking Crew ran a number of Vampire tabletop games at this year’s Grand Masquerade in New Orleans.

I am a better therapist because of Vampire.

I know this sounds crazy but it’s true. I run specialty groups for men in prison and on probation – between two jobs I run twelve of these groups every week with each group consisting of six to twelve men. It is my job to confront or challenge them in order to help them grow and meet their own goals.

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Ashen Stars RPG Review

Posted on November 14, 2011 by

The Gumshoe mechanic gets tested on a new genre: sci-fi. In Ashen Stars, players enter the Bleed where they play Lasers, law enforcement of sorts. This heavy (305 pages) book is a stand-alone game that fully details Law’s sci-fi setting and delivers the Gumshoe rules. I have enjoyed the previous Gumshoe setting, particularly Mutant City Blues and Esoterrorists, so I was intrigued to see what the future held.

The layout and artwork of the book holds the same feel as Trail of Cthulhu and MCB. Bordering is neat, but doesn’t attract much attention. Sidebars are tight. The artwork has more hits than misses, though nothing really stands out as excellent. One thing I do like is the full color splurge on the book. It makes reading a volume of this size all the more pleasurable.

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Flames

Dust to Dust for Vampire: the Masquerade

Posted on November 12, 2011 by

When the ashes cool, all that remains is dust…

Dust to Dust is a story supplement using the Storytelling Adventure System designed for use with Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition, and it acts as a spiritual successor to the classic story Ashes to Ashes. It includes all the characters and information you need to tell a complete story, as well as notes from the Wrecking Crew, the demo team that ran the story at The Grand Masquerade 2011 in New Orleans.

Dust to Dust is available now in eBook format at the Flames Rising RPGNow Shop.

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Flames

Vampire Retrospective: Tiphanie Gammon

Posted on November 11, 2011 by

The Vampire Retrospective Project continues with a new essay from Tiphanie Gammon. Tiphanie got her start with Vampire as part of an online forum game. Here she tells us about that experience and her recent return to the night.

My story with the World of Darkness started back in 2005, when a friend asked me to join a forum role-play with him. I was in eighth grade at the time, with seemingly endless free time, so of course I joined. And that moment, that choice to join, changed my life.

I was never into traditional table top role-plays — a horrific experience the one time I ever tried to purchase dice in my teens left me scarred and unwilling to leave the comfort of Japanese RPGs and manga until college — but I gave London by Night a chance since Jon thought it was cool. Why not, right?

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Totems of the Dead RPG Review

Posted on November 11, 2011 by

This ambitious Savage Worlds setting mixes Norse and Pre-Columbian Native American lore into a sword and sorcery setting I find damn interesting. First, the artwork and layout of the book is an outstanding mix of watermarked images, detailed artwork, and fresh creativity. I’d love to see this book in color, which is really my only complaint about the book. Consider me spoiled.

There are few times that a supplement supersedes the production value of its core work. This is one of those times. The artwork of this book easily bests the majority of Savage Worlds releases, including the core book. The writing is excellent, providing a rich background for players to explore.

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Samhane Fiction Review

Posted on November 9, 2011 by

A man’s purchase of a used computer leads to an unfortunate discovery. Soon, he’s on a mission to save his fiancee from the clutches of a madman and an insidious cult. But in the small town where she’s held captive, he discovers that nothing is exactly as it seems. Once he crosses paths with a father and son monster-hunting team, his world unravels. Death and dark magicks lurk around every corner.

The characters are pretty solid. Donald, the protagonist, is believable as an ambitious and caring, if somewhat bumbling, man that eventually finds the strength to fight evil.

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Flames

Designing the Macabre Tales RPG

Posted on November 8, 2011 by

We have a new design essay from Cynthia Celeste Miller. Cynthia stops by to tell us about the development of the brand new Macabre Tales RPG. Macabre Tales is the dominoes-based RPG of Lovecraftian horror from Spectrum Games.

Designing the aspects of Macabre Tales

Designing Macabre Tales was a labor of love. In fact, when I first conceived the game, I had no intention of releasing it commercially. Rather, the plan was to use it solely for my own gaming groups. Once I began putting the pieces together, however, it became clear that others might enjoy this drastically different take on Lovecraftian horror gaming too.

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Taxidermied: The Art of Roman Dirge Review

Posted on November 8, 2011 by

“A stunning full-color celebration of the eye-catchingly original artwork creator Roman Dirge, the first anthology of his work available anywhere. This lavish hardback includes an introduction and background commentary information on the imagery by Dirge himself, plus previously unpublished artwork, covers and strips, and paintings. The book also includes fold-out pages, displaying Dirge’s work in its full glory, and some brand-new pieces created just for this book!”

I have never reviewed an art book before, so I guess it is only fitting that I start with an artist whose work I love. Now being an art book please note that this book contains tons of GORE-Geous pictures.

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Flames

Vampire Retrospective: Brian Petkash

Posted on November 7, 2011 by

The Vampire Retrospective Project continues today with an essay from Brian Petkash. Brian tells us about his short time working at White Wolf, which in part led to him working with the National Association to Protect Children and becoming a teacher.

Fate is a curious thing

One doesn’t know what is planned out ahead of time, of course—God or the three old ladies or the oracle or the Flying Spaghetti Monster isn’t that open—but with hindsight it’s easy to see the willful hand, or paw, as it is in this case, of the cause-and-effect chain of fate.

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The Unspeakable Oath 20 Review

Posted on November 7, 2011 by

Anthologies like The Unspeakable Oath are a mixed bag. Dragon, Dungeon, White Wolf Magazine, Eden Studios Presents, and others are testament to this. Sometimes a great collection of talent can make the uninteresting (to me) fascinating. The other is likewise true. No particular title is safe. You have to take each edition as a singular creature.

First off, I find that the included art to #20 is top notch, particularly the cover artwork by Todd Shearer. The interior illustrators offered a surprising volume of artwork to the collection. The layout ranged from the scribbled nonsense (fine for the subject matter) to smooth looking black bars. Some ads are scattered throughout the book, even put into the columns of articles. It’s a smooth fit.

There is a terrific amount of material in this installment, much of which is aimed at Delta Green (fine by me).

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Monica Valentinelli

Horror Reveals Male Insecurities? Some Guy’s Fantasy? I Disagree.

Posted on November 6, 2011 by

A letter came across my feeds today written to film critic extraordinaire, Roger Ebert. In this letter to the editor, the writer states that:

Ever ask yourself what gave birth to the horror genre in the first place?

A: You’re a horny teenage boy and girls terrify you — which you find exciting: the combination of fear and the erotic. Almost every horror film taps into it and that’s why it’s a genre watched mostly by males.– A Reader’s Letter to Roger Ebert

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A Look Back At Speak Out With Your Geek Out

Posted on November 6, 2011 by

Speak Out With Your Geek Out week has come and gone. Created by Monica Valentinelli, it was an Internet-wide phenomenon, prompting hundreds of people from all over the world to submit their tales of wonderful geekdom. I missed contributing my own geek-out post, which is a shame because there are a lot of things I geek about. From horror movies of all kinds (zombie movies and 80s cult being among my favorites), to Buffy and Angel, comic books, genre fiction, Anime, and gory foreign films. The list goes on.

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Life Imitates LARP: Isn’t that a kind of fish?

Posted on November 4, 2011 by

Flames Rising is happy to announce the launch of a new column! Michelle Webb is here to talk about Live Action Role Playing and she wants to hear from you! Life Imitates LARP will explore the hobby, offer up some advice to Storytellers and Players and generally discuss this hobby. Michelle brings years of experience in running large-scale and local games. So, take it away Michelle…

Life Imitates LARP

When people hear the acronym LARP (Live Action Role Play) a number of images come to mind. Possibly it involves dressing up in medieval clothes and beating up each other with foam swords. It could also involve something that looks like this. When I got into LARP, it all started when a fellow Rocky Horror cast member said, “Hey, there is this Vampire game flyer. Why don’t we go check it out?” What I experienced that first night was the best combination of Table Top and acting in which I had the pleasure of indulging.

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Vampire the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition Review

Posted on November 3, 2011 by

Where has the time gone? Knowing this game has been out for twenty years seems wrong to me. There are gamers in my group who were ONE when I was thumbing through my
first copy of the original edition. Wrong, so wrong! Rather than share my Vampire recollection here, I’ll instead talk about this massive (529 pages) winner of the (I assume) 2012 Origins award.

One aspect to the book that is unchanged is it’s layout. The book looks identical to the 2nd release in terms of fonts and structure. Mixed with art both new and old, this makes for a strong sense of nostalgia. The look of the book–fenced in borders, eye-catching headers, and more–was excellent twenty years ago and has aged well. If anything, they have enriched it by adding much-needed color to the mix.

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Green Hills Fiction Review

Posted on November 2, 2011 by

Story: A desperate pilot takes a shady job from an even shadier employer. Before long, he realizes that there’s a not-too-pleasant future in store for him. It kind of reminded me of a segment out of the original HEAVY METAL movie. A scared pilot and weird locale = an interesting mix.

Characters: Solid. The dialogue reveals a lot about the personalities of each individual, without being tiresome. Descriptions of mannerisms, etc., are vivid but minimal, allowing the story to flow naturally.

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Flames

Sword & Sassery: The Source of Skullkickers

Posted on November 1, 2011 by

We have a new design essay from Jim Zubkavich about the Skullkickers comic series which is published by Image Comics. In this essay Jim tells us about his love of Dungeons & Dragons, bonding with his brother and how the game inspired the series.

Skullkickers, the action-comedy comic published by Image that I created, is the sarcastically loveable bastard child of many different sword & sorcery sources. From Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber to Tracy Hickman and Terry Pratchett, there are a slew of fantasy books by amazing authors that boil and bubble together in the cauldron I’m stirring, but above and beyond those literary sources is good ol’ Dungeons & Dragons.

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Flames

Vampire Retrospective: Eddy Webb

Posted on November 1, 2011 by

The Vampire Retrospective Project continues today with an essay from Eddy Webb, Lead Developer for Vampire 20th Anniversary Edition and many other World of Darkness titles. Eddy tells us about the special dedication from the 20th Anniversary Edition book.

To Michelle. Without you, I would not have Vampire. Without Vampire, I would not have you.

Those sixteen words in Vampire: The Masquerade – 20th Anniversary Edition were mentioned to me more than any others as I walked around The Grand Masquerade in 2011. People seemed pleased, confused, and even close to tears as they read them back to me over and over again. Those words really explain the most important thing about Vampire to me – it brought me the woman I love.

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11 Tales of Ghostly Horror

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