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Monica Valentinelli

Bats about Bats

Posted on May 16, 2012 by

On Saturday, we headed to the Wisconsin Bat Festival where we not only learned about bats, why they are endangered, and why that’s bad for the environment — but we got to see a few live and in person as well. Here are some pictures of bats from the festival!

The Bat Festival featured live bat programs with bats from around the world, including Wisconsin’s backyard bats. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources experts were on-hand with information about bat habitats, predators and white-nose syndrome. Several authors were also at the event, including Brian Lies, author of the children’s books Bats at the Beach, Bats at the Library, and Bats at the Ballgame.


Vampire Retrospective: Crystal Mazur

Posted on March 16, 2012 by

The Vampire Retrospective Project continues today with an essay from Crystal Mazur. Crystal is an active member of One World by Night and tells us how Vampire was her introduction to RPGs.

Vampire the Masquerade has been a part of my life for about 13 years now. It was my introduction to roleplaying games, and no game has yet to bring what VtM has to offer. VtM has a lot of aspects that games tend to shy away from and themes even the most grotesque horror novelists would find deplorable.

So why has this game become such a sub-cultural icon? To me, it has to do with several factors. The first being the Theme of the game. VtM is all about personal horror. Yes there are monsters under the bed, but over time you become that monster.


Vampire Retrospective: Craig Oxbrow

Posted on March 5, 2012 by

The Vampire Retrospective Project continues today with an essay from Craig Oxbrow. Craig tells us about his experiences with Vampire: the Masquerade 1st Edition.

I had been playing and GMing roleplaying games since I was eleven or twelve, and I’d always wanted more focus on the players’ characters than most RPGs and adventures encouraged. Too many missions where it didn’t really matter what you were like as long as you could pick locks or use a sniper rifle. I was approaching seventeen and already jaded.


The Vampire Retrospective Project Continues…

Posted on February 29, 2012 by

When I first launched the Vampire Retrospective Project I had intended it to be a short run to the end of the year and that was it. The response has been very positive from fans, developers and freelancers that have worked on various editions of Vampire: the Masquerade and other RPGs over the years. I’ve also had a few people contact me that wished they could have taken part, but missed the deadline due to work or other conflicts.

So…I’m making the project an open-ended event here on Flames Rising. Especially now that Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition is out and people are starting up games all over the world. If you missed out on sending in an essay, here is your chance, I’d love to hear about your experiences with Vampire (any and all editions or variants).


Horror GMing by The Weirding

Posted on February 20, 2012 by

The “How to run Horror RPGs” series continues today at Flames Rising with an essay from About C. Harris Lynn from

Horror roleplaying games are among the most difficult tabletop RPG to run for several reasons. The most important of these are the GM’s relationship to the players and characters, and the general hopelessness of the characters’ situation in many scenarios. Horror PCs are outclassed from the start and often remain so to the end, and this can make horror RPG difficult to play as well as run.

But there are a lot of tips for the budding horror GM, as well as the player (though this article does not offer tips for players). You do not have to incorporate all of these into every session or campaign – just being aware of them can help you in your process.


Stygian Jim’s Horror Game Advice

Posted on February 17, 2012 by

Flames Rising recently put an open call for essays and articles on the topic of “How to run Horror RPGs” and we received several great submissions (hint you can still send yours in too). We’re starting off with this post from Stygian Jim…

Horror is the genre of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the monster lurking just out of sight, fear of the dead rising again with a hunger for human flesh. Fear is very personal, and horror can be as much an internal struggle as a reaction to an external source. Fear is a huge motivator, in gaming it can be a great motivator for heroes and villains alike, but how does one cultivate it at the table? Horror games can be much harder to craft than your standard sword & sorcery delve. Also, it can be difficult to inculcate your players to the kind of thinking that the genre entails, when they’re used to kicking down doors and busting heads. There are some advanced techniques as well that you can use to build a sense of tension in your players, and make the story an even more eerie experience. Lastly of course you can use props, sound effects and lighting to set the mood for your own tales of horror.


Haunted Reviews and an Award!

Posted on January 25, 2012 by

Who willingly walks into a haunted house?

Our readers do!

Since we launched Haunted: 11 Tales of Ghostly Horror in October we’ve received some excellent reviews and recently we won an award for the anthology. We also just found out that Haunted: 11 Tales of Ghostly Horror won the Best Anthology category in the Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll. The P&E Readers’ Poll is an annual event hosted by the Critters Writers Workshop where readers and fans can vote on their favorite books, authors and publishers. Thanks to our readers we took the top spot in this year’s event and we’re honored that so many would vote for our little collection of horror.

Haunted: 11 Tales of Ghostly Horror is available in eBook (PDF, ePub and Mobi/Kindle) and Print formats at It is also available at the B&N Nook Store.


Streets of Bedlam: One Day Left, New Milestone, Soundtrack?

Posted on January 12, 2012 by

When the Streets of Bedlam Kickstarter launched at the end of November, I had modest goals for it. I just wanted to cover the cost of illustrating and producing the first book. But now, thanks to your support, the Kickstarter blew past that goal and is on its way toward five figures!

As a last-minute push toward that number, I’ve decided to add a new milestone and with it a new incentive to back the project.

If the Streets of Bedlam Kickstarter reaches $10k, acclaimed composer and sound designer Ed Lima will create an original soundtrack for the game!


New Edition of Dungeons & Dragons RPG

Posted on January 9, 2012 by

Wizards of the Coast has announced a new edition of the Dungeons & Dragons RPG:

Charting the Course for D&D: Your Voice, Your Game

As you may have read in the New York Times, it’s an exciting time for Dungeons & Dragons. We are happy to announce today that we are developing the next iteration of D&D, and will be looking to the legions of D&D fans to help shape the future of the game along with us.


Vampire Retrospective: Frederick Bell

Posted on December 23, 2011 by

The Vampire Retrospective Project continues today with an essay from Frederick Bell. Frederick tells us about how much he initially did not like Vampire and walked away from it for some time. He then re-discovered the game through online play. He goes on to tell us how playing the game online was one of the most rewarding gaming experiences of his life.

At first, I absolutely hated the Vampire the Masquerade game.

I hated everything about it. The haughty audacity of the game concept, the glorification of monsters, the hipster arrogance of the players, the model-perfect character art, and even the overly ornate layout of the game-books just grated against my sensibilities. My first attempts at playing in a chronicle were clumsy, confused and brutal affairs that always descended into sociopathy and sadism.


Organizing Author Readings

Posted on December 17, 2011 by

Being a fledgling author, I had often pondered what it would be like to participate in a public reading of one’s own work. I recently had the chance to find out. I agreed to assist in the promotion of Haunted: 11 Tales Of Ghostly Horror (Flames Rising Press, 2011), particularly since, as a contributor to the anthology, I have a personal stake in how well the book sells. Knowing that readings could help us immensely by generating interest and word-of-mouth advertising, I cast about town looking for likely venues.

It turns out that bookstores are good choices for readings, as one might expect. Also good, and perhaps not as obvious a choice in our Internet-driven culture, are public library branches.


Vampire Retrospective: Adrian Stagg

Posted on December 13, 2011 by

The Vampire Retrospective Project continues today with an essay from Adrian Stagg, a reviewer over at DriveThruRPG. Adrian tells us about discovering Vampire at age 15 and how the World of Darkness has influenced his games and more.

Since I was fifteen, there has been a vampire lurking in background. Green marble and red rose, the book was to change very much how I approached role-playing and really, certain aspects of my life. I had been playing D&D, WEG’s Star Wars, Shadowrun and a dash of Cthuhlu before I discovered Vampire: the Masquerade. Compared to the other games, it held a slightly different allure.


Vampire Retrospective: Tyler Ray

Posted on December 5, 2011 by

The Vampire Retrospective Project continues today with an essay from Tyler Ray. Tyler tells us about discovering Vampire at a convention in Las Vegas and the artwork and mood of Vampire have changed how he plays RPGs even today.

Vampire The Masquerade brings up so many thoughts and images since it was brought to my attentions at convention in Vegas. The first soft cover green book showed that 16 year old the first time it was more about the character than the action. Those pages bound inside the book talking about the fight between man and the beast, are you really in control of your fate, and can you live in the structure of society or rebel against it.


More White Wolf Books Back in Print at DriveThruRPG!

Posted on December 2, 2011 by

One of the tasks I have as Publisher Relations Manager at is working with publishers to get their books into the Now in Print program.

One publisher that has embraced this program as part of their new publishing model is White Wolf. Not only are they releasing all of their new titles in both PDF and Print, they are working with us to add all of the out-of-print World of Darkness and Exalted titles back in print and available again. The process has certainly had some challenges and taken much longer to get rolling than everyone involved had hoped, but the books are great and the fans have (mostly) been excited about these developments.

Some of the challenges with a project of this size include formatting issues. Some of the books are rather old and access to the original production files is hit-or-miss, meaning some of the books will be built from high-quality scans rather than digital production.


Vampire Retrospective: Kelley Barnes

Posted on December 1, 2011 by

The Vampire Retrospective Project continues today with an essay from Kelley Barnes, who has been onvolved with Vampire a number of different ways over the years ranging from Camarilla Club Director to White Wolf’s Marketing Director and contributing author on Paths of Storytelling: Vampire and so much more. Kelley tells us about her experiences with LARP, the Gehenna announcement and the 20th Anniversary Edition of Vampire.


Vampire Retrospective: Joshua Alan Doetsch

Posted on November 28, 2011 by

The Vampire Retrospective Project continues today with an essay from Joshua Alan Doetsch, author of the novel Strangeness in the Proportion for World of Darkness. Joshua tells us about discovering Vampire: the Masquerade in 1995, exploring the World of Darkness and how his novel is “my love letter to The Masquerade and all of its ghoulish siblings.”


Holiday Recommendations for Horror Lovers

Posted on November 27, 2011 by

Perplexed about what to get, or ask for, this Holiday season? Well, if you or someone you know loves horror, here are a few suggestions:

+Horror Library+, Vol. 1 – 4: These anthologies would be a treat for any lover of the macabre. Packed full of stories by some of the best writers around. See my review of Vol. 3 for a taste.


Todd’s 2011 RPG Shopping List

Posted on November 25, 2011 by

Flames Rising game reviewer Todd Cash has some suggestions for those looks to buy RPGs as a gift (or even pick up a little something for themselves). Most of these are items he has reviewed this year, so we’re going to link back to those reviews so readers can find more in-depth information if they wish.

Buying for Your Favorite Gamer 2011

It’s that time of the year again. Everyone’s wish lists are being compiled while retail stores scramble to offer the same crap they did last year only without making it seem that way.


Vampire Retrospective: Michelle Webb

Posted on November 23, 2011 by

The Vampire Retrospective Project continues today with an essay from Michelle Webb, author of the recently launched Life Imitates LARP column here at Flames Rising. Michelle tells us about her joining a Vampire LARP, being a member of the Camarilla fan club and the friends she has met along the way…

When I went with my friend Scott to play in a Vampire game he’d heard about at his (now wife’s) school, I had no idea my life would be forever changed. At the time I was in my first marriage and working at jobs I hated, making just enough scratch to keep my head above water. Little did I know when I showed up at Angsthaus that night that I’d be here writing this all these years later. I’m now happily married and living the nerd dream of working in the gaming industry and being able to be a part of the game that changed my life. That game was Vampire the Masquerade.


Vampire Retrospective: Todd Cash

Posted on November 17, 2011 by

The Vampire Retrospective Project continues today with an essay from Todd Cash, one of the more prolific RPG reviewers here at Flames Rising. Todd tells us about his first experiences with Vampire, moving on to other games and now looking to start up some old characters once more.

I wouldn’t be gaming today if Vampire the Masquerade failed to exist. It sounds more melodramatic than the situation really is. I started gaming in 1987 with TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes and Top Secret. I loved comics and horror movies, wanted to be the heroes I read about, and found that outlet through gaming. While there were great horror games on the market, my exposure to them was limited (they didn’t advertise in comic books and Waldenbooks didn’t carry them).


11 Tales of Ghostly Horror

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