Author | spikexan

An avid reader and gamer, Todd picked up his habit for the latter with TSR's Marvel Super Heroes. Since opening that box set, he has ran hundreds of games, co-owned and operated a game store way too huge for his hometown to manage, earned a degree, and contributed writings to Abstract Nova and Eden Studios.

At this time, he works a day job between meaningful freelance assignments. He's more than likely checking his e-mail right this very second.

He currently lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky with his wife, son, daughter, and possibly the least graceful cat in the Western Hemisphere.


Supernatural: Guide to the Hunted Review

Posted on May 17, 2010 by

It’s a big year for Supernatural. The tv show has been renewed for an unexpected sixth season (the original story arc only called for five), they are flirting with the GhostFacers webisode series, novel tie-ins are seeing print, and the rpg license remains strong. The newest addition to the line, Supernatural: Guide to the Hunted, is one of those supplements players need to complete their series. The corebook possesses plenty of material for game masters; however, this book adds flavor for those wanting to run something straight from the television series. I’ll get back to this later in the review.

The layout and artwork to this book understandably follows the format of the corebook, which is a clever look matching John Winchester’s monster bible. The fake Post-It notes, sketches, photos, and scribbled notes make for an eye-catching read.

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Saddle Sore RPG Review

Posted on May 6, 2010 by

There are some games I appreciate for their simplicity. Between a day job, two kids, nurturing a media addiction, and writing, I still like to squeeze a game into my schedule. Saddle Sore is a game that can help make things fit a bit easier for Marshals with hectic timelines. This tidy 34 page book is chock full of adventures that happen “between adventures.” It’s a nifty little idea I’ve seen before in an article, Game Chef entry, or indie-rpg (I think the title was “Something Happened on the Way.” I’d love to know the answer to this mystery if anyone can help).

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Wellstone City RPG Review

Posted on April 27, 2010 by

People like to play games and be things they aren’t. Sometimes it means playing an elf; sometimes it means playing a gangster. Games like Mob Justice, Haven: City of Violence, and even oddities like World of Darkness: Mafia or Marvel Super Heroes’ Deluxe City boxed set strived to bring various criminal elements to gaming. There are many more examples out there (some good and some, uh, not so good), but today we’re looking at the Wellstone City setting, which works with the Savage Worlds game engine. Get out your handgun, make sure you don’t hold it sideways (there are rules on why you don’t do this), and take a walk on the wrong side of the tracks as we see how a Savaged Mobster (or other gritty urbanite) looks.

Kevin M. Rohan wore many hats during the creation of this game. It’s a fact I found impressive, especially since he did such a solid job under each one.

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Revere: Revolution in Silver Comic Review

Posted on April 21, 2010 by

Just before I received this comic, I read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. In that book, history gets turned every slightly, so that readers can be treated to a vision of the Sixteenth President. It’s a fun game to play, which is evident by the flood of books related to this genre.

Comics, however, get to reveal Paul Revere’s secret story. His story proves equally fun.

Grant Bond’s artwork in Revere: Revolution in Silver is, for lack of a better word, wicked. His splash pages along with the sketchbook at the end of the book show an incredible range of style. He often crafted two-page splashes with incredible effect. The colors are mostly dark (red is used for blood and the British mainly). Lots of grays and blacks fill this book; however, it looks vibrant.

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Aposperos: Merchant of Souls Review

Posted on April 15, 2010 by

After a little over a year of writing RPG reviews (and one movie review), I’m dipping my big toe into comic reviews. I’m currently looking at two comics that are so off the mainstream path I find myself giddy. I love comics even though I don’t love where the Big Two have taken them in recent years. Independent writers and artists hold fresh characters that can take some surprising turns. My layout for my comic reviews will be different than my RPG reviews in that I’ll only focus on the writing and the artwork. There are more aspects–coloring, lettering, inking (or tracing according to Chasing Amy)–to comic creation; however, I will only focus on the two primary areas. Here goes.

There were moments in Aposperos (from Visionary Comics Studios) were the artwork, a style that is so far from what I like, worked for me.

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Serpent Scales: Happiness is a Sten Gun Review

Posted on April 12, 2010 by

I reviewed the Savage Worlds edition of The Day After Ragnarok a few months back. As a fan of bleak settings, Kenneth Hite’s dark little world is a contender. Atomic Overmind Press now releases Serpent Scales, which are meaty bits that focus on a specific (and I mean specific) aspect of that world. In this review, Hite takes on the British Sten Gun, which may be most deadly to its user.

I’m going to combine layout and artwork today. I mostly liked the layout with the exception of a sidebar on page two. The sidebar could have been a bit darker for readers.

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Savage Suzerain RPG Review

Posted on April 1, 2010 by

Have you ever discovered a game, but wish you found it earlier? Maybe your gaming group has changed and you miss a key player. Perhaps your group wished for a game about X, but no such game existed. Once the desire passed, out came game X. To a degree, that is how I feel about Suzerain. About five years ago, I started a campaign for two friends. They were excited about the premise; however, they were less than excited about the game engine–Savage Worlds in this case. Their problem (and mine too really) rested squarely on the advancement piece of the game. Characters in Savage Worlds feel pretty damn powerful after a few sessions.

Playing once a month for five years creates some incredibly potent characters with this system. I wrapped up that campaign last weekend, mere weeks after discovering this unique little game.

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Night Horrors: Unbidden Review

Posted on March 29, 2010 by

The Unbidden is Mage: the Ascension’s contribution to the Night Horrors line. For those who haven’t read my earlier reviews on this line, these books detail the kinds of monsters that monsters fear. You may be saying to yourself that the spellcasters in Mage aren’t really monsters. They are trying to enlighten the world, which isn’t high on many evil “to-do” lists.

What is horrible about these do-gooders? The authors address this question in the introduction. Magic is the horror that the typical Mage has to face. Magic is temperamental, akin to catching a tornado in a mason jar. Yeah, it may look cool in there, but there IS going to be a mess down the line. There are also antagonists in this book (great ones, I might add); however, they all boil down to the dangers of magic.

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Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Movie Review

Posted on March 19, 2010 by

I normally tackle book and RPG reviews; however, I thought I’d give a movie a shot. You may be asking yourself why this movie would even make it to a site dedicated to all things horror, but Percy Jackson fits just as easily as, say, Harry Dresden or Mercy Thompson or the many characters from the Kelley Armstrong novels. Urban fantasy is a fantastic genre, despite the fact too many authors seem to be jumping into its waters. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: the Lightning Thief may be the longest name for a movie in 2010, but it is a big movie in scope and promise.

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Geist: The Sin-Eaters RPG Review

Posted on March 3, 2010 by

We’ve reached the end of the road or, in this case, perhaps the river (I suppose ferrymen haunt both). Our trip within White Wolf’s underworld concludes with a look at the newest embodiments of death . . . the Geist. Before we get too involved in the newest World of Darkness line, let’s take a step back. The World of Darkness 1.0 saw five main entities–vampires, werewolves, magi, changelings, and wraiths–haunt their shadows. When the reboot happened, four came back.

This book is a return to Wraith . . . but only to a degree.

Wraith: the Oblivion is an amazing game that did some truly inspired things. White Wolf seemed to experiment more with the two bastard children of the five lines. Changeling had their dreadful cards (the art on those were beautiful though) and Wraith had the concept of the Shadow.

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Through the Ebon Gate RPG Review

Posted on February 16, 2010 by

I’m still six feet under only I’m under snow and it’s actually closer to six inches. What’s a little bit of exaggeration between friends? After all, you’re the one reading a RPG review, so it stands to reason that you like either telling or hearing stories. For those of you who missed my review of Book of the Dead, which you can read here (don’t worry I’ll wait), I’m in the midst of a look at White Wolf’s view of the Underworld. Today, we’re going to visit the Ebon Gate, a SAS adventure intended for Geist: the Sin-Eaters.

This adventure is 38 pages, although the first and second pages are full color and black and white versions of the cover. The layout follows the Geist format, which means subtle blues for color, more keys than you’ll find on a school custodian’s key ring, and big whopping numbered pages.

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Book of the Dead RPG Review

Posted on February 3, 2010 by

I’m looking at dead things, specifically games about dead things. My next three reviews are going to cover the World of Darkness’ shadowy afterlife and the things that sometimes make the doorway between worlds a bit more revolving than usual. These reviews will cover Book of the Dead, Geist: The Sin-Eaters, and Through the Ebon Gate. Today, we will take a baby step into the realm of the dead through the guise of the World of Darkness system’s Book of the Dead. This book intends to deliver an encompassing look at the underworld, although admits that having Geist makes things all the better.

Let’s talk about this book’s artwork. Artwork tends to have a direct relationship to the importance of the text. With that said, Book of the Dead must be a critical addition to the White Wolf line. The cover art, which features a Mercy Thompson look-alike, is exactly the kind of cover that prepares me to dig into a book.

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Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space Review

Posted on February 1, 2010 by

I have to make a confession. It’s not an easy confession to make since I’ve been a card carrying sci-fi geek all my life, but it’s best you all know the truth. The truth is this: I know next to nothing about the Doctor Who Series. Cubicle 7 games have decided to introduce me (and many others) to the good Doctor in a big way. Although I’m reviewing a full-color PDF of the game (thanks to Cubicle 7 for my reviewer’s copy), they have created a RPG rarity in this day and age–the RPG box set. Yep, for $59.99 game lovers will get three books–players, game masters, and adventures, a handful of blank and filled-out character sheets, and other bits of goodness. All of these are also in full color and look quite smart.

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Little Fears Nightmare Edition Review

Posted on January 18, 2010 by

Lots of guys have little black books, but mine is a mite bit different than most. The little black book on my shelf is full of monsters rather than phone numbers. It was intimidating because the majority of my friends prefer to play something superhuman than simply human. The idea of playing children is a tough sell to them when there are monster hunters, space pirates, and even anthropomorphic mice to choose from; nevertheless, the world of Little Fears has always intrigued me. In fact, the author’s own comments about playing children (play something you actually know) rings true to me. Well, the little book about children fighting the forces of Closetland has grown all up and I’m here to tell you about it.

When I look at the new edition (the Nightmare Edition) of Little Fears, I see some true growth. The artwork has improved, the material has expanded, and the direction seems a bit clearer.

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On Her Majesty’s Arcane Service RPG Review

Posted on January 12, 2010 by

Certain time periods are overused in RPGs. This game, which comes to us from Flying Mouse Games (thanks for the reviewer’s copy), actually works the opposite angle. We may see many takes on Queen Victoria’s reign; however, Queen Elizabeth’s tenure is a little bit more open to exploration.

The default setting for this RPG allows players to take on the roles of adventurers under the leadership of Queen Elizabeth and John Dee. That is the core to this book, its heart. This 234 page PDF offers a wealth beyond that singular idea.

In my Eclipse Phase review, I phrased the series of two-page overviews that were designed to give readers some quick insight into the game. OHMAS would have benefited from doing something similar.

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Supernatural Adventures RPG Review

Posted on December 17, 2009 by

The television show Supernatural may not be a holy experience for me; however, I hold it in high regards. While critics may pan its “model factor,” I hold that it’s one of television’s brightest shows about darkness. Being one of my favorite shows, I was ecstatic when the corebook was released. While it took awhile for that to happen, Supernatural Adventures followed in a timely fashion. A book of adventures proves to be a tall order for me. I like running my games, not the games somebody else created. Also, I love the series and find myself inspired by it regularly. These two factors play a huge role in my review for this book.

Let’s start with Digger Hayes graphic design. I think Hayes approach to the Supernatural line is the only approach to it. Just about all the hunters we see from the show seem to be a disorganized, messy lot.

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Critter Cache: Lovecraftian Bestiary Review

Posted on December 10, 2009 by

I’m surprised it took this long. I know there have been flirtations between Dungeons & Dragons and Call of Cthulhu in the past; however, the affair is now fully public. Two of the biggest games in the market now have a serious connection. This book offers nearly fifty pages of how to bring Lovecraft’s creations into your beloved fantasy game. It’s essentially a small book of monsters. It’s just happens to be a damn good book of monsters.

Erik Nowak’s graphic design and layout catches the reader’s attention towards exactly what you need. Stats are blocked out differently than the flavor text. Bold fonts and borders keep the reader wrangled into the material.

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Blood of the Innocent RPG Review

Posted on December 8, 2009 by

Say what you will about the Savage Worlds setting, but I find it possesses one of the more engaging mass combat systems. I’ve been guilty of not using it to its highest potential in some of my campaigns; however, that’s another story altogether. Blood of the Innocent links directly to the Tour of Darkness (‘Nam setting) for Savage Worlds (though only the core book is required to play this adventure).

This deadly little jungle romp comes in two flavors, which are “War is Hell” and “Life is Good.”

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Special Features (Slasher Flick RPG) Review

Posted on November 30, 2009 by

Okay, my last few reviews have been pushing the horror envelope rather well. I’m here to today to say that this puppy fits to horror like hockey masks and FOX News. What we have today is a mini-sourcebook for Slasher Flick. This system’s game focuses on slasher horror and its conventions, some of which are archetypical characters, insanely powered mad men (and sometimes women), and mayhem. This mini-sourcebook’s name comes from the special features bundled into DVDs Yep, you’ll require Slasher Flick before you pick this game up because there is precious little to mine from it that isn’t directly useful to the core material. Should you happen upon this first though I think you’ll find that you will want to pick up the source material.

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Giving RPGs as a Gift? Todd Recommends…

Posted on November 27, 2009 by

Being a wage slave at a retailer forces me to think a great deal about Black Friday, the holiest of Capitalism’s holy days. Since I’m trapped into pondering it non-stop, I thought I’d pass along the blessings to you all. I’d like to believe, however, that you’ll actually find these shopping guidelines more useful than a 600 count of pink bed sheets (no offense to those of you needed said pink bed sheets). I going to revisit some games I’ve reviewed over the past year (and some I didn’t) for the sole purpose of finding the best of the best. The holidays are afoot, so some of you will have free time over the next month to game. It’s also Winter, the best season for gaming (inmyhumbleopinion).

Being that you’re reading this on a horror-themed site, I’ll try to focus a bit on the Black Evil Darkness that is Black Friday rather than the post-Thanksgiving hooha.

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11 Tales of Ghostly Horror

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