Author | Billzilla

Billzilla

Bill Bodden has been writing professionally for more nearly a decade. A contributor to Madison Magazine, Geek Monthly, Scrye, Knucklebones and Games Unplugged magazines, Bill's writing was included in the Hobby Games: The 100 Best and the forthcoming Family Games: The 100 Best essay collections. Bill has also had gaming-related work published by Green Ronin Publishing, Fantasy Flight Games, Mongoose Publishing, and Games Workshop/Black Library. Bill works as the wholesale sales rep for Green Ronin, and in his spare time paints miniatures, reads, plays games and cleans up after four cats. Bill lives in Wisconsin with his wife, Tracy.


Billzilla

Kolchak Tales: Ghost Stories Review

Posted on December 16, 2011 by

Carl Kolchak, hard-bitten reporter of the supernatural from the TV series of the 1970s returns to action courtesy of an ongoing series of comic books and graphic novels from Moonstone Books. This time, Carl’s been fired by the owner of the newspaper that used to employ him, and he must find another way to make ends meet. He’s approached by a young couple, Otto and Mo Brerhahrer, who are ghost hunters in their spare time, and Kolchak can hardly say no, particularly when they offer to buy him lunch.

Through three related vignettes, the reader learns more about Kolchak, and why he has such a close connection to the supernatural. The first, titled “Fifteen Minutes,” find Kolchak at his wits end regarding where his next meal is coming from.

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Billzilla

Red Eye Of Azathoth Review

Posted on November 28, 2011 by

Red Eye of Azathoth, published by Wolfgang Baur and the Open Design LLC, is an unusual adventure for Call of Cthulhu. This campaign pack has the investigators following an evil madman through centuries of effort to summon the Daemon Sultan Azathoth to earth, an event that would cause our planet’s near-total destruction.

In a unique twist, players take on the roles of different characters in each separate scenario – each time battling the same villain, who has possessed a different victim to further his diabolical ends.

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Billzilla

The Grave Doug Freshley Review

Posted on October 12, 2011 by

There aren’t many tales where the undead are the good guys; say what you want about Twilight or True Blood, but those aren’t in the same league as an undead schoolteacher seeking vengeance for the dead family of his pupil.
Thus we have The Grave Doug Freshley, about a tutor – Doug Freshley – in the Wild West who witnesses the death of his friend and his friend’s wife, and manages to save their son – his student – from the family farmhouse as it goes up in flames. The crime has been perpetrated by the Delancey family – a band of thugs, each one worse than the last.

The Delanceys are trying to expand their stake the easy way – by stealing from the locals and killing them so there’s no one to dispute the claim.

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Billzilla

Speak Out: Bill Paints Minis

Posted on September 13, 2011 by

Among other things, I’m a gamer. One of my favorite aspects of gaming is painting miniatures. Whether it be an army of Dwarves or Goblins for Warhammer Fantasy Battles, or the Austrian 18th Regiment of infantry from the 1809 Campaign against Napoleon, painting miniatures is sub-culture of gaming I particularly enjoy.

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Billzilla

City of the Damned: New Orleans Review

Posted on September 1, 2011 by

Setting books are a tough sell in most role playing games. For one thing, if the game master opts to set the adventures of the characters in a different city then those offered – or the players’ characters find themselves drawn in another direction entirely – setting books become less than completely useful. Also, since they will only sell – for the most part – to game masters, more than three-quarters of the potential audience is already uninterested in purchasing it.

Such is the problem with city guides for the World of Darkness; despite aiming for fascinating cities with a great many points of interest besides vampires, werewolves and the like, they just haven’t sold well enough to justify others in the line. However, they are well worth a GM’s time and cash outlay to obtain; besides a wealth of interesting NPCs that might show up in one’s own game, the city books are filled with fantastic plot hooks and useful information that is easily adapted to any chronicler’s setting.

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Billzilla

Bill’s Month In Horror: Gen Con 2011

Posted on August 22, 2011 by

Another GenCon has come and gone – my eleventh straight as an industry professional – and I wanted to reflect a bit on why GenCon is important for the gaming industry – not to mention just a great time as an attendee/gamer. For one thing, nearly all the major tabletop game companies – and most of the minor ones – have a presence at GenCon. If your favorite local Game Store (FLGS) doesn’t carry something from one of these companies, odds are better than average it can be found in the dealers’ hall.

Gaming at GenCon? Yes, there’s lots. Most of it involves paying something extra to play, which is a bit of a downer, but still affordable. If you plan to go, registering for events early is a good idea; they fill up quickly and there’s no guarantee of a last-minute opening in the game you really wanted to try. Many manufacturers run demos at their booths in the dealer’s hall; these will be short, use pre-gen characters they provide, but are an excellent way to sample something new before buying.

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Billzilla

Chilling Tales Anthology Review

Posted on August 12, 2011 by

Horror is a subjective state; what one finds horrifying another might find merely gruesome or grotesque. It is within this ambiguity I find myself regarding Chilling Tales: Evil DId I Dwell; Lewd Did I Live. There was horror within to be sure; also within was loneliness, isolation, despair, and a lot of really good writing.

Standout stories for me in this collection included “Tom Chesnutt’s Midnight Blues” by Robert J. Wiersema and “404” by Barbara Roden. Both are among the first three tales and get the anthology off to a great start. “Tom Chesnutt’s” is about a philandering folk singer who inadvertently causes his wife’s death. She haunts him now, not actively rattling chains and moaning but rather showing up at his gigs – a phantom only he can see – as a reminder of his misdeeds. “404” is a distressingly familiar tale about office workers who discover their comrades simply disappear one day. As their numbers dwindle and their isolation increases, they each find themselves coming under the watchful eye of their supervisor.

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Billzilla

Kolchak: The Night Stalker – The Lovecraftian Horror Review

Posted on August 3, 2011 by

The 1974 television series Kolchak: The Night Stalker never got rave reviews from critics. Only twenty episodes of the show exist, plus two TV movie/pilot episodes: The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Strangler (1973). The special effects, even by the standards of the day, were cheesy and unremarkable, though the stories themselves were interesting and provided a wide variety of paranormal beasties from folklore the world over instead of rehashing zombies or vampires week after week. Unfortunately, the TV movies proved vastly more popular than the TV series they generated.

It should come as no surprise that a graphic novel treatment of Kolchak might spring into being as well, and at that before the reboot of the series. Enter Moonstone Books with their long-running Kolchak series, and lo, Kolchak has been brought back from the dead, like many of the creepy entities he faced as a reporter with a nose for the paranormal.

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Billzilla

SJGames Week: Zombie Dice Review

Posted on July 28, 2011 by

Steve Jackson has dominated the games industry lately with a seemingly endless supply of Munchkin-related games, accessories and knick-knacks. Just to prove there’s more going on at Jackson Labs than Munchkin, Steve Jackson Games released Zombie Dice last year to great acclaim. That acclaim is well-earned: Zombie Dice is fast, fun and addictive, and it’s cheap to boot.

Zombie Dice includes 13 dice, instructions, and a dice shaker/storage container in the package. The instructions are very simple: you (as the zombie) roll three dice at a time, and pick them out of the cup without looking at them. If a brain logo comes up, hooray! – you’ve successfully eaten some brains; set those aside.

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Billzilla

Talking About the Dead (and Undead) with James Lowder

Posted on July 18, 2011 by

James Lowder has been active as a writer and editor sine the 1980s, most famous perhaps for authoring the novel Knight of the Black Rose for TSR, and for editing the All Flesh Must Be Eaten fiction anthologies Book of All Flesh, Book of More Flesh and Book of Final Flesh. More recently, he edited the essay collection Family Games: The 100 Best, and fiction anthologies Curse of the Full Moon and The Best of All Flesh.

I chatted recently with Jim via email about some of his most recently completed projects: Triumph of The Walking Dead – a collection of essays on the longrunning comics series and AMC network’s successful TV series – and Silent Knife and Strangeness in the Proportion, two novels from White Wolf publishing currently being serialized on the White Wolf web site and awaiting print publication.

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Billzilla

Van Helsing Board Game Review

Posted on June 30, 2011 by

Let’s be honest; who doesn’t love Count Dracula? The cape, the sex appeal, the slick hair, eschewing modern dentistry – he did it all, including upsetting more than a few well-to-do British noblemen. In Van Helsing, one player gets to play the toothy Count, while the remaining one to four players take on the roles of Jonathan Harker, Mina Murray, Lord Godalming and Abraham Van Helsing – the Hunters.

The board is a loose grid of spaces showing three levels of Dracula’s castle. Hunters move around the board looking for Dracula and his brides. The object of the game for them is to destroy five of the eight brides, or destroy Dracula himself if they like doing things the hard way. For the Count, his goal is to either transform all four of the Hunters into his minions or kill them, or to get four of his potential brides to the coffin space in his castle.

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Billzilla

The Gaki and Other Hungry Spirits Review

Posted on June 20, 2011 by

Being an aficionado of folklore, I was intrigued by the title of this collection, The Gaki and Other Hungry Spirits, which refers to “hungry ghosts” of Japanese legend. While the stories themselves are decidedly Western in nature, they are no less interesting. A number of the tales do feature hungry spirits, so points to Mr. Rainey for holding to his theme.

This collection starts off with the title story, “The Gaki” in which we have a tale of a man searching for something to fill his life. He finds intrigue at a clandestine gathering of people by the Copper River, and what follows will lead him down a path he never knew existed. Ultimately, he finds what he seeks, but it isn’t what he expected, and it requires a high level of devotion from him in exchange.

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Billzilla

Pelgrane Week: The Black Drop Review

Posted on May 3, 2011 by

Set in one of the most remote places on Earth, the Black Drop is an adventure for Trail of Cthulhu. Investigators, for reasons of their own, are on hand to witness the dismantling of an unsuccessful colonizing effort in the bleak and largely inhospitable Kerguelen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean. There are rumors that the Kerguelens were once part of an ancient continent: a place of advanced learning and magic – Lemuria. Something ancient stirs beneath these islands – something unwholesome and hungry…

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Billzilla

Harlan County Horrors Review

Posted on April 21, 2011 by

Harlan County Horrors, edited by Mari Adkins, is billed as an anthology of regionally-inspired tales. With Harlan County being in the heart of coal country, one might expect a number of the tales to touch on aspects of mining, and that assumption is correct. However, there’s more to Harlan than the mines; for one thing there’s the people themselves, and where there are people, scary stories are sure to follow. These twelve stories are a showcase for tales of Kentucky coal country by a fine crop of writers, many of them with close ties to the state.

The lead story, “The Power of Moonlight” by Debbie Kuhn is a bitter lesson about a woman scorned and the folly of rash acts. It was a very good selection to kick off the anthology. Maurice Broaddus’ “Trouble Among the Yearlings” is a subtle tale that captures well the claustrophobia of being trapped in a mine. In “Spirit Fire”, Robbie Sparks weaves a tale that warns about making a deal that seems too good to be true.

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Billzilla

Dusk Graphic Novel Review

Posted on April 4, 2011 by

Originally published in 2009, Dusk is a graphic novel written by David Doub that follows the lives of Eve and Ash. Ash is a vampire, and Eve is a human who takes regular drinks of Ash’s blood that he provides to her. Ash seems a very thoughtful and considerate master, very much unlike many of the other vampires we encounter in these stories.

Ash’s blood gives Eve enhanced strength and speed after she consumes it. Eve needs the extra advantage Ash’s blood provides when going up against other vampires – she’s taken on the responsibility of being Ash’s right hand.

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Billzilla

Bill’s Month in Horror, March 2011

Posted on March 28, 2011 by

It may come as no surprise that I’ve been thinking about horror lately. It occurred to me recently that there has, at no point in modern US history, been such a vast array of horror material – across all media – available for consumption. Not only do we have a regular horror television series currently airing (Walking Dead) plus many more series no longer in production available in DVD collections, but also a ton of fiction, both in novel and in comic/graphic novel formats. It’s a great time to be a horror fan!

I was glued to AMC’s series The Walking Dead ever since I stumbled across a preview trailer online last summer. My wife complained about the amount of space it took up on our already full DVR, so I conceded and deleted the recordings. The DVD of the first season is available now; I’m waiting for the time to be right to buy a copy. As the highest-rated series to date on AMC, and one of the top five shows from 2010 in terms of ratings on basic cable, the Walking Dead has broken new ground as a continuing horror series.

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Billzilla

Revere: Revolution in Silver Review

Posted on February 22, 2011 by

Mash-ups are all the rage; whether it be Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, or any number of lesser-known works, putting two seemingly unlikely things together has become a literary obsession recently. Revere: Revolution in Silver carries on this growing tradition, positing that, in his spare time, Paul Revere was actually a werewolf hunter and member of an occult organization dedicated to defending the world against supernatural threats.

With the early days of the American Revolution as the backdrop, Revere: Revolution in Silver takes this premise and runs with it. Doing an interesting bit of world-building, writer Lavallee and artist Bond create a whole new mythology around the famous American revolutionary.

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Billzilla

Matt Forbeck tells us about Amortals

Posted on January 31, 2011 by

Matt Forbeck has been a staple in the RPG industry for many years. With stints working for Games Workshop, Pinnacle Entertainment and Human Head Studios, and with design credits from Deadlands and Brave New World to Mutant Chronicles and the Leverage tabletop role-playing game, Matt has enough experience that the title “veteran” hardly seems adequate.

Matt and I sat down to hash out a few questions regarding his most recent novel, Amortals, from Angry Robot Books.

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Billzilla

Amortals Novel Review

Posted on December 15, 2010 by

What would you do if you found out you had been killed? Further, what if the new you had to track down the old you’s killer?

This is the odd dilemma facing Ronan Dooley, Secret Service Agent and Amortal. The Amortals Project is a program that keeps people alive long past their normal lifespan, and is a sort of insurance policy against anything lethal happening to the rich and powerful. Ronan has been granted Amortal status because of his usefulness in protecting other Amortals – including the President of the United States. So when Dooley ends up murdered, his first assignment – once his new body is up and running – is to track down the ones responsible; they may pose a threat to other Amortals, and besides, killing Dooley in such a high profile manner – broadcasting his death scene – gives the Project a black eye and unwanted bad publicity.

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Billzilla

Zombie Week: The Cold Ones Review

Posted on December 9, 2010 by


The Cold Ones is a novella by award winning author Elizabeth Donald. In Cold Ones, we meet Sarah Harvey, small-town bookstore owner with a secret: she’s not really a bookstore owner. It’s her cover; she’s part of a secret organization doing who knows what in this small coastal town. At least one other shop owner is another member of her team; their jobs are to keep an eye on the town and cover the rest of the team. The story begins with a scream as someone is attacked in the street by what turns out to be a quick, ferocious, zombie-like man, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, it represents only the beginnings of the trouble ahead…

The Cold Ones is a well-crafted tale; I was instantly sucked in and stayed up too late reading it. Ms. Donald does a very good job making her characters believable while avoiding most cliches found in supernatural fiction these days. This team of covert operatives is skilled and fairly bad-assed, but they are also fallible – they screw up occasionally and sometimes make poor choices.

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11 Tales of Ghostly Horror

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