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

Zombie Week: Nox Arcana’s Zombie Influx Review

Posted on December 7, 2010 by

Zombies: the kids love ’em. Now you can have your very own zombie film soundtrack album thanks to the good folks at Nox Arcana; their Zombie Influx album is just the ticket to put a person in a brain-chomping mood.

All kidding aside, Nox Arcana has done some great work producing albums of evocative background music suitable for gaming and often inspirational for writing – whether fiction, gaming adventures or scenarios, or what have you. With Zombie Influx, Jeff Hartz of Buzz Works and Joseph Vargo of Nox Arcana explore new musical avenues of horror. There is a fairly solid level of cohesion at work on this album’s 19 tracks; however, many of the cuts do not necessarily evoke zombie sort of horror. Most evocative here of a mob of zombies wandering aimlessly in search of food are the tracks “Ground Zero” and “Flesh Eaters,” with a chorus of hoarse, moaning voices winding through the opening strains of both.

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Billzilla

Invite Only (Vampire) RPG Review

Posted on November 29, 2010 by

White Wolf Publishing seems to have covered everything possible for Vampire the Requiem; it helps they had a previous edition of the RPG – Vampire the Masquerade – to hash out what players though was useful and what they didn’t want. Along comes a small tidbit like Invite Only, and I for one am left wondering “Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner?”

Written by David A. Hill Jr. and Chuck Wendig, Invite Only is a guide to parties — more specifically, parties hosted or attended by the Kindred. Besides giving the less combat-oriented Kindred something interesting to do, parties are also the focus of a lot of deals and surprises in the V:tR world. A Kindred who pays attention could learn a lot at a party – if she survives long enough to make use of this knowledge.

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Billzilla

A Touch Of Dead Review

Posted on November 3, 2010 by


With the new season of Trueblood beginning soon, I thought it was a good time to take a look at the books that inspired the popular HBO series, starting with a collection of short stories – an excellent way to evaluate the world of Sookie Stackhouse for one’s self.

For those who may not know, True Blood is based on a series of novels by Charlaine Harris. The main character of these books, Sookie Stackhouse, is a barmaid in a fictional Northern Louisiana small town called Bon Temps. Sookie has a rare talent; she’s a telepath. As much curse as blessing, her telepathic ability meant she always knew what everyone around her was thinking – both god and bad. Sookie had resigned herself to a lonely existence when “V-Day” happened. Japanese scientists perfected a synthetic blood, and vampires – no longer needing to attack humans to survive – one day formally announced themselves to the world, along with their intention to live side-by-side with humans.

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Billzilla

The Best Of All Flesh Anthology Review

Posted on October 12, 2010 by

Let’s get this out of the way first thing; zombies scare me. The mindless violence and relentless, insatiable hunger and lack of pain response of the George Romero-style walking dead creep me the heck out. So when Jim Lowder handed me a copy of The Best of All Flesh at GenCon to review for Flames Rising, I admit I approached it with some trepidation.

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Billzilla

The Invictus (Vampire: the Requiem) Review

Posted on October 6, 2010 by

The vampires of White Wolf’s World of Darkness are consummate predators. Predators – generally speaking – don’t often suffer the company of other predators, particularly those that compete for the same food source, and rarely willingly when it does happen. One of the few things that encourages vampires to interact with each other is affiliation within a covenant. Such affiliations tend – by the very nature of their members – to be relatively loose ties, but they are not fleeting; vampires in the World of Darkness take a very dim view of those who willingly sever their connection to their covenant-mates. In The Invictus, White Wolf takes a look at the feudalistic covenant envied by many and hated by most – even by some of those within.

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Billzilla

Cthulhu Week: Madness One Die Roll At A Time

Posted on August 21, 2010 by

Continuing the adventures of Cthulhu Week we have a series of reflections on some of the Call of Cthulhu RPG supplements by reviewer Bill Bodden.

Pay close attention, however, as Bill does sneak in a note about his favorite Trail of Cthulhu adventure as well…

I’ve been a devotee of the Call of Cthulhu RPG for more than 25 years. Along the way there have been some excellent adventures created, and in celebration of Cthulhu Week, I’d like to share a few of my favorites. Hopefully, they’ll intrigue you as they did me, and you’ll consider adding them to your own campaign, or running them as one-off adventures for your gaming group. Be warned that a few small spoilers may be found in what follows…

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Billzilla

Cthulhu Week: Cthulhu Tales Comic Review

Posted on August 20, 2010 by

The works of H.P. Lovecraft have inspired hundreds of other writers; in the 1970s, his stories became popular material for the growing underground comics movement, and that popularity, though it waxes and wanes, has yet to vanish completely. Currently enjoying an upsurge in interest, one of the latest offerings, Boom Studios’ Cthulhu Tales, brings brand new Lovecraft-inspired material to the graphic novel format. I was excited to see these when I attended C2E2 in Chicago, and purchased volume one of the series with great anticipation.

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Billzilla

Curse of the Full Moon Review

Posted on July 30, 2010 by

While the full moon rarely has a dramatic an effect on most people, there are some who will admit that they can feel the pull of the moon, at least in subtle ways — and crime statistics bear this out year after year. For those rare few for whom the moon activates a profound curse, the world becomes a different place entirely – a world filled with soft, slow creatures to be hunted, attacked and devoured. Give thanks that those with such a curse are still a rarity…

In Curse of the Full Moon, James Lowder has collected 19 tales from an impressive collection of horror luminaries: George R.R. Martin, Ursula LeGuin, Ramsey Campbell, Charles DeLint, Michael Moorcock and Neil Gaiman are just a few of the names any fan of contemporary fiction will recognize, but the list doesn’t end there. Joe R. Lansdale, Nancy A. Collins, Peter S. Beagle, Gene Wolfe and Harlan Ellison also contribute tales to this collection.

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Billzilla

Flash Fire Mini-Reviews: Luck of the Draw

Posted on July 2, 2010 by

This week we take a look at some horror-themed card games that deserve more attention. All are card or card/board hybrid games and all can be played in a relatively short (one hour or less) period of time.

The Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow by Asmodee Editions

WoMH is a party game, and follows the lead of popular convention games like Mafia. In Werewolves, players are dealt a character card – either villager or werewolf – which is kept secret. During the day turn, the players discuss who might be a werewolf and designate someone, suspected of being a werewolf, to be “executed.”

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Billzilla

Vampire Week: Daeva: Kiss of the Succubus Review

Posted on June 25, 2010 by

From their beginnings in ancient Sumeria, the Daeva have specialized at blending in with human society. In game terms, Gangrel may be the most overtly kick-ass clan due to their mastery of the Protean powers of shape-changing — able to sink into any patch of earth at sunrise, or to instantly grow claws and throw down. Daeva, on the other hand, have mastery over social skills, and the most efficient character builds tend to reflect this and play to that strength. Daeva may not be quite the combat powerhouse that a Gangrel can be, but they excel at manipulating others, inspiring desire, devotion and need.

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Billzilla

Gangrel: Savage and Macabre Review

Posted on May 25, 2010 by

In my previous review of Nosferatu: The Beast That Haunts the Blood for Vampire: the Requiem, I made the claim that Nosferatu was arguably the best clanbook of the series. I still stand by that claim, though Gangrel: Savage and Macabre is definitely a very close second.

Gangrel follows the same basic pattern as Nosferatu; a low-status vampire – probably a novice – is recruited to write a journal on the nature of the clan, along the way interviewing a number of clan members for their thoughts and insight. In this case, the book begins with a note that the author, Alice, has apparently gone AWOL. She eventually left this journal on the chest of a dead man, and as time goes on has been taking fewer and fewer pains to cover the tracks of her kills. She seems to be slipping deeper into the arms of the beast that afflicts all vampires – the thing that stirs within them, driving their animal impulses to hunt and kill without thought or care.

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Billzilla

Nosferatu: The Beast That Haunts The Blood Review

Posted on April 16, 2010 by

I’ve been a recent convert to White Wolf’s World of Darkness system, and have enjoyed immensely playing Vampire the Requiem. My initial character was of clan Ventrue – almost by default – but after reading through the Nosferatu clan book, I think I know what clan affiliation my next character will have.

Nosferatu describes the most repellent of the Kindred clans; the most disquieting vampires in the whole World of Darkness. No matter their sire, the vampires of this clan – Haunts, Freaks, and any number of less pleasant terms – have characteristics that set them apart from everyone else – even other Kindred. Their deformities may be physical, or they may tend toward having a powerful odor following them.

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Billzilla

The Battle For Slaughter Gulch Board Game Review

Posted on April 6, 2010 by

Deadlands, a mix of classic Western, science fiction and alternate history, has gone through a few changes and several editions in its 14-year history. A miniatures battle game and a pen-and-paper RPG of the Deadlands setting – the Wild West with magic and the supernatural in an alternate history timeline – have both been popular and successful, and last year a new addition has been added to the fold: a board game of the Deadlands world, produced by Twilight Creations.

Deadlands: The Battle for Slaughter Gulch pits two to six players against each other in a struggle for control of a small town. Each player leads one of the factions in town: The Agency (think precursor to the Secret Service), The Texas Rangers, The Blessed (Missionaries bringing the Good Word to the uncharted West), Hucksters (spell-slinging dudes from back East), Shamans, and Mad Scientists.

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Billzilla

Keep Your Friends Close: and Your Enemies Closer

Posted on March 28, 2010 by

As the evening’s action opens, Blake and Lavender have a discussion about moving the recovered treasures out of Stickney. While we trust Regent Czarnecki – our mentor – implicitly, he is not the only Nosferatu there, and certainly not the only one with access to the stuff. The Regent has suggested that while he’s fine with keeping it safe for us, he would ultimately like the stuff moved, and the sooner the better.

We debate the fate of the Canopic jars; they are a powerful, ancient artifact, but also dangerous. We know several Mekhet – a clan with ties to ancient Egypt – who could possibly help us find someone who knows what to do with this stuff. We agree that someone we know – Jed Holyoak, master of Blood Magic and high-ranking member of the Circle of the Crone – seems a likely candidate. We drive out to Stickney to look over the loot, possibly discuss things with our mentor and decide how to proceed and what – if anything – we should take away with us tonight. On the way, a Black SUV tries to run us off the road; we are suspicious, but draw no specific conclusions.

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Billzilla

Keep Your Friends Close: Catching Kate

Posted on March 22, 2010 by

So Lavender and Blake were forced to skip a week thanks to the GM’s business-related trip. THIS week, we needed to spend time talking minutiae; we all feel we’re getting too bogged down in little details and not concentrating on specific character goals and more important plot threads. We spent some time going over the recovered files kept by Raphael LaDue, self-proclaimed Regent of Cicero. These files were primarily for blackmail purposes, but also contained significant information on Kindred in and around the Cicero area. LaDue, currently sentenced to a year in torpor for defying the Prince, kept files on everyone of interest to him; mortals he could blackmail for services and influence; Kindred who live in Cicero; and Kindred of general interest in the Cicago area.

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Billzilla

Imperial Gazetteer RPG Review

Posted on March 5, 2010 by

A number of entities have carved a successful niche for themselves creating support products for D&D. One of these, Open Design LLC, operates under an interesting model; direct patronage. They produce material, in part or in full, based on what their sponsors wish to see and are willing to finance. One of their more recent products, the Imperial Gazetteer, describes the region containing the Principality of Morgau and Doresh. This realm was once like any other, but is currently controlled by vampires and ghouls. As one might expect, most of the adversaries presented within are of considerable power; this region is not one on which 1st level characters could expect cut their teeth, by any means.

The book begins with a brief introduction to the subject material by co-author Wolfgang Baur. The first chapter details the history of the principality, giving a brief overview of less recent events while covering more current history a bit more closely.

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Billzilla

Keep Your Friends Close: Inside the Box

Posted on February 28, 2010 by

This week in our ongoing Vampire:the Requiem game, Blake and Lavender are on their way to the Chicago suburb of Stickney to consult with their mentor, Regent Mike Czarnecki, Nosferatu and Invictus elder. The batch of assorted crates and containers we recovered from under the Chicago River were waiting to be opened. Upon our arrival in Stickney, we were led by the Regent through a series of hallways and tunnels to what appeared to be an empty parking lot – until the Regent canceled his Obfuscate, and we saw a smallish, corrugated metal building the size of a two-car garage. because we had enlisted the aid of the rival Carthians, it had been suggested to the Regent by McLean that the boxes recovered from under the Chicago River should be moved to a safer place. How much safer a hiding place could one get than a building that normally couldn’t be found? The Regent mentions that few outside of his own clan knew of this building; Blake felt honored to be brought into the Regent’s confidence in this way.

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Billzilla

Keep Your Friends Close…Treasure Hunting?

Posted on February 26, 2010 by

Picking up from where we left our coterie last week, we find Lavender, Blake and the rest about to look for sunken treasure. Having learned that the body of “The Old Man” (an Invictus elder) was in torpor at the bottom of the Chicago River, Blake immediately assumes we need to retrieve it and put it in safe storage. If the diablerists were to get their hands on it, the results would be bad no matter what happened. The diving expedition consists of Blake, Filthfoot (Nosferatu bound to our coterie under first-stage viniculum as punishment for misbehavior) and Garret McLean, Gangrel Seneschal to the Prince and all-around bad dude. Lavender will remain in the boat as look-out and back-up, along with Carpenter (Blake’s ghoul), Butch (Filthfoot’s buddy) and the boat captain, who thinks we’re diving to recover lost treasures of Al Capone.

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Billzilla

Keep Your Friends Close: An Ongoing Campaign for Vampire: the Requiem

Posted on February 19, 2010 by

Last week Monica filled everyone in on Lavender the Daeva; this week I’m here to tell you about the next member of the coterie: Blake Porter, Ventrue bon-vivant.

Most of this week was taken up in getting a prospective new player up to speed on the setting and situation of our game. As a result, not as much happened as usual this week, but here are some of the highlights:

The Prince held court this week, as is usual for the last Friday of the month. Lavender took her young ward Kyle — also a Daeva — along with us to court, and he was dressed to the nines. Several of the prominent female Kindred at court proclaimed Kyle the “best-dressed man in the room.”

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Billzilla

A Very Scary Solstice Review

Posted on December 7, 2009 by

Many people try to find some solace in seasonal music at this festive yet emotionally draining time of year. After years of hearing the same classic carols — or more recent covers with no soul and even less imagination — if you’re like me you’re looking for something a little different to inspire the holiday spirit. A Very Scary Solstice by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society fills the bill nicely, with 25 Mythos-inspired takes on classic Holiday songs.

Warning: If you are particularly sensitive about the sanctity of holiday traditions, or if your sense of humor has rather rigid and narrowly-defined limits, stay away from this album. My largely abandoned Catholic upbringing suggests that these songs border on the blasphemous, despite their obvious playfulness and good humor.

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