Author | Michael Holland

Michael Holland is a writer, a gamer and an avid reader. He recently graduated from IUPUI with a degree in English Literature with a focus on horror, fantasy and science fiction. He has been published in IUPUI's art and literary magazine Genesis and also writes about games and game related topics for Examiner.com as well as reviews for Flames Rising.


Gygax Magazine #1 Review

Posted on April 23, 2014 by

From the moment I opened up the PDF on my laptop I knew Gygax, a quarterly adventure roleplaying aid, was going to tap into everything that has made gaming great since the beginning. The cover was “classic” in every way and it reminded me of the many old Dragon magazines I have flipped through over the years. I immediately felt comfortable like I was meeting up with an old friend, one I had not seen in quite some time and someone I was very fond of. The cover art titled “Still Unlucky” by Daniel Horne depicts two poor adventurers being snuck up on by a nasty looking ettin and it made me laugh.

[...more]

I, Vampire Vol. 1: Tainted Love

Posted on March 13, 2013 by

When the New 52 launched I, Vampire was one of those titles I was recommending to everyone. Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov (Echoes) and penciled by Andrea Sorrentino (X-Files/30 Days of Night crossover) there was so much packed into the first issue I just knew this comic was going to be a big hit. And it was a big hit until issue #2 hit the shelves and nothing really happened. Then nothing really happened in issue #3, 4 or 5. Then something really bad happened in issue #6 but it was okay because I didn’t really care about the characters. I, Vampire Vol. 1: Tainted Love collects the first six issues of this disappointing series.

[...more]

Justice League Dark, Vol. 1 In the Dark Review

Posted on February 20, 2013 by

DC Comics’ New 52 has had about a year and a half to find its footing and one of the nicer aspects of the “reboot” is DC’s revived focus on supporting the supernatural side of the DC universe. Along those lines the famed Justice League has been divvied up into numerous teams (and titles) with each focusing on different aspects of the JL’s mythos. While Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and their closest friends handle the big threats the Justice League International team stumbles about handling other… less important… threats. So who handles the ghosts and goblins of the DC universe? That would be Justice League Dark.

[...more]

The God-Machine Chronicle Anthology Review

Posted on December 7, 2012 by

The God-Machine Chronicle Anthology is The Onyx Path’s opening salvo of a new series of products for the World of Darkness under the auspice of the God-Machine Chronicle. Since the launch of the new World of Darkness White Wolf/CCP has released a plethora of products as part of their toolbox approach to game design while shying away from developing an overarching “meta-book.” While some books have strayed close to the line between the two for the most part each product was a package of tools each troupe could play around with to build the World of Darkness they want to explore. Now Rich Thomas and the many creative forces behind The Onyx Path are stepping over that line and producing a chronicle book, a setting in which we can explore a particular vision of the World of Darkness (which some tweaks to the core rules to match). This anthology begins the exploration of that vision, wetting our whistle for the upcoming chronicle book which we will not get to see until sometime in 2013.

[...more]

Dungeons and Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness Movie Review

Posted on November 28, 2012 by

Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness was originally released directly to DVD in the UK in Aug 2012 and premiered in the U.S. on the Syfy channel this weekend. Writer Brian Rudnick (Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God) was joined once again by director Gerry Lively (Darkness Falls, Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God) to bring the third Dungeons & Dragons movie to life.

[...more]

Paranomal Activity 4 Movie Review

Posted on November 13, 2012 by

I would say “the plot thickens” but to be honest the fourth installment in the Paranormal Activity franchise doesn’t really add much to the mix. I will say that up front. At this point the writers (Christopher Landon, Chad Feehan) have pretty much phoned in the possibility of developing a growing plot and they’re playing with the dangling threads of the previous movies. We see this kind of treatment all too often in other franchises and it is usually a sign that the ride is coming to an end. If the box office is any kind of indicator the general audience is feeling the same as PA4 earned less than half of any of the previous PA films.

[...more]

The Book of Nod Review

Posted on November 9, 2012 by

I cannot tell you the naked fear I feel, putting down these words for once and for all. Perhaps I will regret them. Perhaps they will never see print. Yet, it is my nature to report this. It is, as they say, in the blood.

Thus wrote Aristotle de Laurent, Noddist scholar and vampire, in the preface of the Book of Nod. This book was special because it was published by White Wolf Publishing, Inc. in 1995 to be used as setting material for the Masquerade Mind’s Eye Theatre game as well as Vampire the Masquerade chronicles. Bound in black leather the book was the perfect prop for storytellers to hand over to their intrepid players. The stories began to write themselves.

[...more]

Hotel Transylvania Movie Review

Posted on October 11, 2012 by

Hotel Transylvania is a computer animated comedy produced by Sony Pictures Animation and Columbia Pictures. Dracula (Adam Sandler) built the hotel as a safe haven for monsters looking to get away from the dangers of the human world. He has invited all of his friends to the hotel to help him celebrate his daughter Mavis’ (Selena Gomez) 118th birthday which also happens to be the day he must fulfill a promise to her. On her 118th birthday she can finally leave the hotel to explore the world outside on her own. Of course, Drac has a plan to ensure she will come to fear humans and will stay in the safety of the hotel forever.

[...more]

We Are the Night Movie Review

Posted on October 8, 2012 by

We Are the Night is a German horror film about a young woman named Lena (Karoline Herfurth) living a lonely life of petty-crime on the streets of Berlin. Lena draws the attention of police detective Tom (Max Riemelt) while picking the pocket of a pimp that local law enforcement was keeping an eye on. Not surprisingly the pair finds themselves attracted to each other. When Lena sneaks into a rave she is spotted by Louise (Nina Hoss), the leader of a pack of female vampires, who immediately falls in love with Lena because she reminds the 250-year old vampire of her own creator (who died 150 years before).

[...more]

Time to Kill Some Zombies

Posted on October 6, 2012 by

“I want to kill some zombies.”

That is what my daughter said to me just the other day in the matter of fact kind of way which meant no matter what I wanted I was going to do exactly what she said. It doesn’t matter whether I had an opinion on the issue or not we were going to “kill some zombies.” I timidly said okay and did my damned best to choke down my geeky tears of pride and joy (which may or may not have looked more like a seizure). My little girl was growing up!

[...more]

Blood Sorcery Review

Posted on September 27, 2012 by

Blood Sorcery lures us back to the beginning of Vampire the Requiem and takes a long look at one of the most interesting aspects of the game. While blood sorcery has always been “good” it was probably not as well developed as it could have been in hindsight. The Storytelling system has matured and now Requiem is benefiting from years of experience with a revamp of blood sorcery, an alternative approach to the system and a plethora of interesting additions to your chronicles. Coming in at just under 70 pages of content this is one of the best new books available to fans of Vampire the Requiem.

[...more]

ParaNorman Movie Review

Posted on September 25, 2012 by

ParaNorman is a horribly delightful stop-motion animated film about a young boy who has the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. Growing up is already is a rough process and much like Cole Sear from The Sixth Sense Norman’s abilities do not make life any easier. Unlike Cole, Norman has been more open about what he sees which makes him the target of fear and ridicule in the small town of Blithe Hollow. Norman does not know it but he is not the first resident of this witch-obsessed town to have his gifts and he has a very important role to fill.

[...more]

Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Session Prep Review

Posted on September 20, 2012 by

Every gamer loves game night. We all gather around the game table with snacks and our beverage of choice ready to roll some dice and tell a story together. There is something magical about the tale that unfolds from a collaborative storytelling experience (also known as playing a roleplaying game) and the game master is the lynch pin to that process. It seems so effortless on the player’s side of the game screen but good game preparations are necessary to create that effect at the game table.

Game prep is not an intuitive process for most of us and there are very few resources out there for game masters wishing to learn it. Fortunately Phil Vecchione has come to our rescue with Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Session Prep his newest book published by Engine Publishing.

[...more]

Encounters ~ Plots ~ Places Review

Posted on September 17, 2012 by

Encounters ~ Plots ~ Places: Creatures, NPCs, Items, Places and Adventure Hooks for any fantasy system is not only an impressively long title it is also the creation of writer Benjamin Gerber, egg-lobbing world traveler, lover of zombies and game writer. Throw in some bits about IT, sock puppets and cats on fire and you have a writer’s bio that makes me grin from ear to ear.

EPP (for short) is a system independent sourcebook of inspirational material for game masters running fantasy roleplaying games.

[...more]

Vampire the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition Companion Review

Posted on August 31, 2012 by

Thanks to the efforts of the numerous backers who helped with funding the Vampire the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Companion (V20 Companion) has been completed. PDFs of the book have been distributed to backers and the leather bound copy is being shipped. The book is a companion to the V20 core book and it includes a lot of interesting additions to the core mechanics as well as a few tidbits which were left out of the first book.

[...more]

Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. Volume 1: War of the Monsters Review

Posted on August 28, 2012 by


When DC decided to reboot their entire universe there was a great deal of cheering and moaning heard around the world. Whether you consider the reboot to be a success or otherwise there are two things that most readers consider to be positive angles on the issue. One, the reboot has provided a decent place at which to introduce newcomers to the DC universe. Two, it is nice to see little used characters brought to the forefront with their own titles.

[...more]

Michael’s GenCon 2012 Adventure

Posted on August 24, 2012 by

This was nothing less than a monumental year for GenCon. Wizards of the Coast and Paizo Publishing put on impressive shows but it was the smaller publishers who stole the spotlight this year. As the gaming industry continues to evolve creative forces are emerging to bring gamers new and interesting ideas. These are the kinds of ideas that larger companies forgo in favor of their big ticket items allowing room for designers to fill those special niches in our gamer hearts. In other words I spent way too much money but these products are so phenomenal I don’t have a single regret. The best part of GenCon was getting to see friends we only get to see at events like this and sitting in on some of the most exciting seminars to date.

What’s Up with White Wolf? covered the evolution of the company since 2008 when they realized traditional publishing was not working for the company. They merged with CCP so WW could get off the product treadmill and focus on the next stage in the company’s life. This became White Wolf 2.0 as they tried to take emerging technologies and integrate them not only with new products but also with the enormous catalog of products they had already produced. This led to the partnership with Onyx Path Publishing.

[...more]

Falling Scales Chapter Two RPG Review

Posted on August 9, 2012 by

Denver was not such a great city after all. You’re out on the town one night and you get mixed up with some nightmare straight out of Filipino folklore. Then a cult which called itself the Unmasked “recruits” you and that doesn’t work out so well. They end up trying to kill you and get you into all kinds of trouble. In the end you were forced to kick their sorry butts to the curb. Well, at least it’s over now, right? No, not so much. Welcome to Falling Scales chapter two!

Four months have passed since the dark events which took place in Denver and your lives have become a living hell. Apparently Anna Christopher had friends in high places, the kind of friends who know how to screw with you in the worst possible way. Just when you think it can’t get any worse there appears a glimmer of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel. Freedom from this nightmare can be found in Washington D.C. if you can find it.

[...more]

Hell’s Door Opens Review

Posted on August 6, 2012 by

Prince Calgus found himself standing before a mirror, regarding his own face but seeing something alien; blood surrounded his mouth, his garments were torn and faded, stained with wine and food, his blond hair matted, and his hands coated in gore.

A story’s first sentence is always an important one. Although this is not the first sentence of the novel when you take the prologue into account this is the moment readers meet Calgus, Prince of Sept. It is also the moment when you realize that Jon Creffield is going to take the classic tale of swords and sorcery and turn it on its head. Hell’s Door Open is equal parts fantasy and horror with healthy doses of great storytelling.

[...more]

Falling Scales Chapter One RPG Review

Posted on July 16, 2012 by

The moment a happy resident of the natural world becomes aware of the supernatural is a scene that we are all familiar with. Whether this scene appears in literature, graphic novel, television or film we have witnessed the human drama of a character who has realized they no longer understand the world they live in, they are not the top of the food chain and they are not safe. What will they do? How will they cope with these paradigm shattering revelations? Will they survive?

Falling Scales Chapter One takes players deep into this kind of scenario and fleshes it out into a chronicle for characters in the World of Darkness. The characters see something they were not meant to see and they have no choice but to confront this new reality. They are quickly swept up by a group which calls itself the Unmasked, a cult which takes in those who have been exposed to the truth.

[...more]

11 Tales of Ghostly Horror

    Monthly Newsletter Sign Up

    join our monthly mailing list
    * indicates required

    The Devil’s Night WoD SAS

    Free Devil's Night | White Wolf

    Become a Fan on Facebook!

    Reviews Wanted!

    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...

    What do you get out of it?

    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.

    Note: We are especially looking for folks interested in reviewing eBooks (both Fiction & Comics). We have lots of great titles in digital format and even get advance copies sometimes.

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