Author | Matt-M-McElroy


Matt acts as the “Editor-in-Chief” of Flames Rising, which usually means writing reviews, setting up interviews, posting news and checking out the latest Horror & Dark Fantasy products from a variety of publishers. He also recruits reviewers, posts previews and works with publishers to explore new ideas for promoting the genre.

Matt occasionally dabbles in freelance writing and game design. Recently he worked on the Ghostories Enhancement Pack for Precis Intermedia and the novella "Time to Burn" in the Tales of the Seven Dogs Society collection from Abstract Nova Entertainment.


An Interview with the authors of City in the Sand

Posted on August 3, 2009 by

City in the Sand is a new Mind’s Eye Theatre product from White Wolf using the Storytelling Adventure System. This is the first MET product using the SAS format and I was immediately curious about how the format would work in a live-action environment. Let’s just say I was impressed with the overall quality of City in the Sand and at the amount of cool stuff that was included in this product.

I contacted the folks at White Wolf and had the chance to talk to the authors (Eddy Webb, Kelley Barnes and Jess Hartley) about the design of the product and a bit about Mind’s Eye Theatre in general.


Undead in Chicago, First Meeting

Posted on July 26, 2009 by

We recently started a new game of Vampire: the Requiem set in Chicago. Interestingly the players decided early on that they would all be members of the same Covenant in the setting, allowing for some common interests and history for the group at the start of play.

As the Storyteller for the game I’ve been reading and making use of the published material in World of Darkness: Chicago and the Invictus Covenant book.

Of course, I will be adding a few twists and turns to keep things interesting and more fitting to our personal style of play. I’ve built up a list of interesting NPCs and ongoing plot threads throughout the city. The player characters’ goals are the main stage of this story, but nothing happens in a vacuum either. The other Covenants have plots going on in Chicago (not to forget about other members of the Invictus as well).


2009 ENnie Awards – Matt’s Picks

Posted on July 24, 2009 by

Voting for the 2009 ENnie Awards is about to begin. Lots of excellent titles this year so choosing among them is going to be very difficult in some categories. Let’s take a look at the Nominees one more time…wow, what a list.

You can click the “details” link on each one for more information about the particular products. I’m going to go through and pick one (or two) from each list that I think deserves a little extra attention. A lot of these categories have several titles I enjoy so this certainly is not going to be an easy task…


A Deal with the Dead, taking a look at Geist: the Sin-Eaters

Posted on July 17, 2009 by

Everyone that knows me knows how much I love a good ghost story. When the living meet the dead things get all kinds of interesting. What does a ghost want? Why are they haunting this place (or person)? There are tons of possibilities to explore…

Geist, the latest addition to the World of Darkness, gives us a chance to answer those questions. I’ve been waiting, rather impatiently, for a new ghost game from White Wolf for some time. World of Darkness: Ghost Stories was an excellent book that I’ve made good use out of already. Yet, it wasn’t quite enough and did not offer the chance to play a character connected to the world of the dead. Geist certainly offers that and more.


Ready Made What?

Posted on July 11, 2009 by

So, White Wolf has been releasing a series of “Ready-Made Player Characters” for each game line in the World of Darkness. Todd Cash already reviewed the Vampire: the Requiem set called Slaughterhouse Five here at Flames Rising and had some interesting things to say about why he likes the concept.

I’m going to do a little more of that, especially now that I’ve had the chance to check out a few more of them. It seems that some folks are wondering why anyone would buy such a thing. I’ve seen a couple of posts on the White Wolf Forums to this effect and had at least one IM conversation about it. To me the idea seems like an excellent one. Not all gaming groups have lots of free time to devote just to character creation. Some groups only get together once in a while and would much rather dive into playing the game, rather than working up a backstory and stating out individual characters. These products are exactly what they say, “Ready-Made” and are good to go out of the box (so to speak).


23 Hours Fiction Review

Posted on June 16, 2009 by

The latest book in the ongoing saga of vampire hunter Laura Caxton, 23 Hours details the most harrowing and dangerous battle yet. Laura has to not only deal with savage vampires and the violent “half-deads” that serve them…she has to do it with almost no weapons, no back-up and an ever dwindling time-line.

While this book does change in scene from the previous books, Laura still gets to hunt vampires while outgunned and lost in the dark. This time she is confined to a maximum security prison that has been overrun by the monsters. She hardly has any weapons and no communication with the outside world. To make things more interesting, she made “friends” with some very nasty inmates early on the story…naturally, they are on the loose as well during the battle and they don’t want to make things any easier for Laura or her allies.


Send a Friend to Gen Con Indy 2009!

Posted on June 10, 2009 by

In its 42nd year, Gen Con: Indy will be a convention to remember. Perfect for fans of anime, science fiction, gaming and a whole lot more, be sure to check out the GenCon: Indy 2009 Events to see why this is one of the country’s best conventions!

Flames Rising has been attending Gen Con for several years and we’ve always had a great time. Last year, Flames Rising won a 2008 ENnie Award, too!

Now we want to share the fun with one, lucky Flames Rising reader. This year, Flames Rising is pleased to announce we’re hosting a Gen Con Indy 2009 contest to celebrate this year’s event. We have a very cool prize pack that includes a free, 4-Day pass to the convention and some gaming gear from some awesome publishers.

Since Gen Con is centered on friendship and fun, we want you to recommend a winner for our contest!


Little Fears: Nightmare Edition at Madison Games Day

Posted on June 8, 2009 by

I had the chance to play in a short demo of Little Fears: Nightmare Edition at Madison Games Day on 5/30. I thought I’d share a little about my character and the game.

The game sessions at MGD were about 2 hours long each and all of the characters were pre-generated by Jason and Caz.

I played Jackson, a 10 year old who liked to swim and was taking Kung Fu lessons at a local Dojo. Jackson is Big For His Age, but he has Trouble Fighting When Small Kids Are Involved. This was a fun character to play because he had some cool personality quirks and interesting skills, but he also some specific limitation that were fun to work into play.


Madison Games Day May 30th, 2009!

Posted on May 22, 2009 by

Play New Games. Meet New People.

Madison Games Day is a chance for gamers in and around the Madison, Wisconsin area to meet new people and play new games. Bring your friends, bring your game group, but while you’re here, sit at a table with folks you barely know—or don’t know at all—and try some games that you haven’t played before but maybe have always wanted to.

We invite everyone in the area (or willing to make the trek) to come and play some games! There will be indie and mainstream roleplaying games, card games, and board games. If you have something you’d like to play, bring it!


Interview with Ari Marmell, author of Agents of Artifice

Posted on May 15, 2009 by

It is the dawn of a new age in the Multiverse. The balance of power is shifting and Agents of Artifice brings readers to the heart of a planeswalker struggle.

In Agents of Artifice, Ari Marmell re-imagines Planeswalkers, taking fans deeper than ever into the lives of the Multiverse’s most powerful beings.

In this interview Ari tells us a little about the creative process that went into the writing of Agents of Artifice and what it was like exploring the worlds of Magic: the Gathering. We also ask him about the Ravenloft serial novel Black Crusade and even get a question or two about some upcoming Dungeons & Dragons books in before we wrap things up.


Vampire Zero Fiction Review

Posted on May 11, 2009 by

Vampire Zero is the third volume in David Wellington’s vampire hunting series featuring Laura Caxton. I was hooked from 13 Bullets, enjoyed 99 Coffins on and couldn’t wait to get this book started.

Laura Caxton and her partner (one of the survivors from the battle of Gettysburg) are on the hunt for the last two vampires. The previous battle had been costly, but they had somehow managed to dispose of a huge group of vampires before they wiped out the town. Several police and national guard had died during the fight, but the heroic actions of the group had saved the day (night?) and managed to get Caxton a small budget to form a permanent vampire hunting division. It only had enough funding for her and her new partner, but they had access to other officers when they needed them.


Turn Coat (Dresden Files) Review

Posted on April 17, 2009 by

Turn Coat is the latest chapter in the ongoing adventures of Harry Dresden, Wizard for Hire. The book description above sets up some interesting possibilities and hints at some deeper character development (not to mention more exploration into the White Council).

We do get some of those things in this book. For example, find out a lot more about Morgan’s past and the things that drive him to act the way he does regarding Dresden. Morgan has always been an interesting character for me. He is one of those guys you love to hate because of the way he treats our favorite wizard. There was always something about him that made me wonder just why he was so untrusting, so ready to kill in the name of the White Council. I never thought he was stupid or rash, the writing always hinted at a fierce loyalty and strong determination. Of course, for this series we readers are only getting Harry’s view on things and that rarely, if ever, painted Morgan in a favorable light (not that you could really blame Harry for that, I’d be less than charitable regarding a guy who wanted to behead me too).


Announcing Madison Games Day

Posted on April 14, 2009 by

Meet new people. Play new games. Madison Games Day, May 30th 2009.

Matt M. McElroy (of Flames Rising and and Jason L Blair (designer of Little Fears) announce Madison Games Day, a ten-hour event dedicated to introducing Madison-area residents to meet new people and play new games.

Madison Games Day will take place on Saturday, May 30th 2009 at the Pizza Oven on Monona Drive. From 12p until 10p, Madison-area gamers are invited to stop in, meet local players, and try new games. A variety of games are slated for play and attendees are urged to bring their own as well. Have a game you want to try but your regular group isn’t into? Bring it! Have a hankering to dust off an old favorite for one more spin? Bring it! Want to give a game you weren’t sure about another shot? Bring it! There is an official event schedule but pick-up games are encouraged. If you have something you want to run or play, bring it along!

For complete information on Madison Games Day, join the Yahoo! Group or you can register an event, or view the existing event line-up, visit the official website at


Wizards of the Coast Stops Selling PDF RPGs

Posted on April 6, 2009 by

Posted on the front page of

Wizards of the Coast has instructed us to suspend all sales and downloads of Wizards of the Coast titles. Unfortunately, this includes offering download access to previously purchased Wizards of the Coast titles. We are in discussions with Wizards about their decision to change their approach to digital sales of their titles and will post more information as we have it. If you would like to let Wizards know your opinion on offering D&D titles for download, we suggest the D&D Message Boards found here.

This…did not go over well with folks who regularly purchase pdf versions of Dungeons & Dragons from these websites.


Player’s Handbook 2: A Look at the Shaman

Posted on March 13, 2009 by

From the bright towns and darkened wilderness they come: mighty heroes intent on exploring dungeons, slaying monsters and battling evil.

The Player’s Handbook 2 offers Dungeons & Dragons players new options with new Races, Classes and more. This book introduces the primal power source, which draws on the spirits that preserve and sustain the world. Wizards of the Coast has offered up a handful of previews and excerpts on the Dungeons & Dragons website and a few lucky gamers out there have already received their pre-ordered copies of the book (some have even posted spoiler threads if you have the energy to dig through them).

Flames Rising was lucky enough to get an advance copy of the book for review and we are teaming up with a handful of other websites to explore some of the new options being made available to players of Dungeons & Dragons. Specifically we are going to be taking a look at the Shaman Class today. After our Look at the Shaman you will find a series of links to other sites examining other sections of the book.


Watchmen Cover Art Display at Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art

Posted on March 5, 2009 by

Wizard Entertainment Chairman Gareb Shamus has loaned from his personal art collection all 12 original Watchmen covers by artist Dave Gibbons. The covers will be put on display as part of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art’s special exhibit called “The Art of Watchmen.” The exhibit coincides with this Friday’s much-anticipated opening of the Watchmen film, which promises to be one of the biggest movie events of 2009.

“These covers haven’t seen the light of day together in more than 15 years,” said Shamus. “It’s a huge honor to be able to share them all at once with an audience discovering this groundbreaking story for the first time. Everybody in the world is finally learning about Watchmen, and this is a great place to see the exciting roots of this phenomenon.”


Cover Preview of the Buried Tales of Pinebox, TX Anthology

Posted on February 17, 2009 by

The Buried Tales anthology of horror and supernatural fiction transports you to the rural town of Pinebox, Texas, where secrets are buried but the dead don’t always stay that way. Join us for a dozen killer stories by David Wellington, Shane Hensley, Jess Hartley, J.D. Wiker, Monica Valentinelli, Charles Rice, and more.

Buried Tales of Pinebox, TX
Published by: 12 to Midnight
Edited by: Matt M McElroy
Retail Price: $11.99
Stock#: TWL6001

Buried Tales of Pinebox will arrive summer 2009! Stay tuned for more previews here at Flames Rising!


Mean Streets Fiction Review

Posted on January 29, 2009 by

The best paranormal private investigators have been brought together in a single volume—and cases don’t come any harder than this.

This book offers something a little different from the several Urban Fantasy anthologies that have hit the shelves over the last couple of years (Blood Lite and Many Bloody Returns for example). Instead of a collection of short stories by a bunch of different authors, this book has four novellas. The novella allows the authors a chance to develop the plot a bit more and occasionally drop a few more twists and turns into the mystery.


Magic: the Gathering Conflux Preview

Posted on January 23, 2009 by

A powerful and infinitely sinister force is conspiring to reunite the Shards of Alara. This reunification will come with a deadly price – sheer chaos, as realities begin to overlap. Thus begins the Conflux.

Wizards of the Coast is releasing a new expansion to their popular Magic: the Gathering game. In addition to Puzzles, Launch Parties and other events, the company has handed out a few preview cards to show off.

Here at Flames Rising we are happy to reveal this new card:


The “Death” of indie comics?

Posted on January 22, 2009 by

Steve Bennett posted in his Confessions of a Comic Book Guy column It Was Fun While It Lasted and then Michael Churchill of Pulp Nouveau Comix responded with Stop with the Doom and Gloom. Basically Diamond has raised its minimum order level quite a bit and many of the small press/indie comics don’t sell enough […]


11 Tales of Ghostly Horror

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    The new Review Guidelines have been posted on the Flames Rising website. We are currently seeking a few good reviewers to help us expand our collection of horror and dark fantasy reviews. RPGs, fiction, movies, video games and more are all welcome on the site...

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    Beyond helping out fellow Flames Rising readers by letting them know what you think of these products, we're giving away some pretty cool stuff. Regular Reviewers can earn free products to review, which is their to keep after the review is submitted to the site.

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    Use the Contact Page to submit reviews or let us know if you have any questions.