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Monica Valentinelli

Horror Reveals Male Insecurities? Some Guy’s Fantasy? I Disagree.

Posted on November 6, 2011 by

A letter came across my feeds today written to film critic extraordinaire, Roger Ebert. In this letter to the editor, the writer states that:

Ever ask yourself what gave birth to the horror genre in the first place?

A: You’re a horny teenage boy and girls terrify you — which you find exciting: the combination of fear and the erotic. Almost every horror film taps into it and that’s why it’s a genre watched mostly by males.– A Reader’s Letter to Roger Ebert


A Look Back At Speak Out With Your Geek Out

Posted on November 6, 2011 by

Speak Out With Your Geek Out week has come and gone. Created by Monica Valentinelli, it was an Internet-wide phenomenon, prompting hundreds of people from all over the world to submit their tales of wonderful geekdom. I missed contributing my own geek-out post, which is a shame because there are a lot of things I geek about. From horror movies of all kinds (zombie movies and 80s cult being among my favorites), to Buffy and Angel, comic books, genre fiction, Anime, and gory foreign films. The list goes on.


Life Imitates LARP: Isn’t that a kind of fish?

Posted on November 4, 2011 by

Flames Rising is happy to announce the launch of a new column! Michelle Webb is here to talk about Live Action Role Playing and she wants to hear from you! Life Imitates LARP will explore the hobby, offer up some advice to Storytellers and Players and generally discuss this hobby. Michelle brings years of experience in running large-scale and local games. So, take it away Michelle…

Life Imitates LARP

When people hear the acronym LARP (Live Action Role Play) a number of images come to mind. Possibly it involves dressing up in medieval clothes and beating up each other with foam swords. It could also involve something that looks like this. When I got into LARP, it all started when a fellow Rocky Horror cast member said, “Hey, there is this Vampire game flyer. Why don’t we go check it out?” What I experienced that first night was the best combination of Table Top and acting in which I had the pleasure of indulging.


Vampire Retrospective: Eddy Webb

Posted on November 1, 2011 by

The Vampire Retrospective Project continues today with an essay from Eddy Webb, Lead Developer for Vampire 20th Anniversary Edition and many other World of Darkness titles. Eddy tells us about the special dedication from the 20th Anniversary Edition book.

To Michelle. Without you, I would not have Vampire. Without Vampire, I would not have you.

Those sixteen words in Vampire: The Masquerade – 20th Anniversary Edition were mentioned to me more than any others as I walked around The Grand Masquerade in 2011. People seemed pleased, confused, and even close to tears as they read them back to me over and over again. Those words really explain the most important thing about Vampire to me – it brought me the woman I love.


Vampire Retrospective: Shane DeFreest

Posted on October 27, 2011 by

The Vampire Retrospective Project continues today with an essay from Shane DeFreest, the former Community Developer for CCP/White Wolf Publishing. Shane tells us about his early introduction to Vampire and his experience being part of the fan community. Shane’s role may have changed, but his commitment to the fans has not.

If you were to go back in time 20 years and tell me that the funny weird looking green book I was putting on the shelf in the section with all the other non-D&D “weirdo role playing games” at the local comic and game shop I worked at would be the single most defining thing in my life, I would have laughed at you and pointed to the X-Men #1 hanging on the wall and said “that defines my life”. Because, for ten years prior to Vampires release, and for as long as I could remember, comics did that for me, not role playing games. Sure, I loved playing D&D for the acting escapism (did theater from a young age) but I was a comic guy and expected that my life journey would forever be tied to superheroes. How so very wrong I would be. That strange green book ironically came out the same year I graduated from high school and my first year of adulthood. I didn’t know it then but my journey into darkness had just begun.

Monica Valentinelli

Check Out Legends and Lore by Monte Cook!

Posted on October 26, 2011 by

On September 27th, Monte Cook took over for Mike Mearls as a columnist on the Wizards of the Coast website. Penning “Legends and Lore,” the series dives deep into the core of Dungeons and Dragons to explore the essence of this game. I recently had the chance to pore through these articles and he brings up some great points that I hadn’t thought of. What I feel this column does, is open the door to community-focused discussion and feedback from all gamers, not just players who prefer a particular edition of Dungeons and Dragons.

I really liked some of the subjects Monte addressed when he talked about Magic and Lore in Dungeons and Dragons. In the article, he posed these questions: “What if the game assumed no magic items? What if magic items really were just hard-fought-for treasure that made characters better?”


Vampire Retrospective: Pauline Benney

Posted on October 24, 2011 by

The Vampire Retrospective Project continues with a little something from Pauline Benney, former designer at White Wolf and now at DriveThruRPG. Pauline tells us how she started playing Vampire and how she started working at White Wolf.

I first encountered Vampire: The Masquerade in 1993…But to tell this correctly, I should give a little background. I had gotten my certificate in Graphic Design and had completed school just as digital design started taking root. Most of the practical knowledge I had acquired at school was not in practice anymore by the time I graduated. In January 1992 I moved to Florida for no good reasons. After a couple of months, I got a job and made friends. One of them, Jinx, asked a group of us to play a new tabletop RPG with him. I had not role played since I was quite young…I didn’t want to spend hours rolling dice and reading charts just to make a character before we could even get started…I had flashbacks of my dad and brother trying to explain to me why my wizard could not carry a sword. After some pestering and promises that it wouldn’t be like that because “this system is sooo different,” I agreed.


Vampire Retrospective: Jacob Bjørnø Klünder

Posted on October 21, 2011 by

The next entry in the Vampire Retrospective Project comes from a freelancer know for his work on Dark Ages: Vampire and other classic World of Darkness titles. Jacob tells us how he got his start with Vampire.

Funnily enough, it actually started with Mage: the Ascension.

I’d made a new friend in High School, a guy named Thomas, and he had Mage. I was getting tired of my old group and our games and so I got together with this guy and some other friends and we used Mage as a generic game. The result was a number of fun one-shot games and a great horror campaign. We’d also found out that the company that did Mage had done another game, this one about vampires, and so Thomas and I went to visit my cousin in Copenhagen and pick up some books at the gaming stores in the “big city”.


Vampire Retrospective: Yair Robinson

Posted on October 18, 2011 by

The Vampire Retrospective Project continues this week with a new essay from Yair Robinson, a Rabbi who tells about the search for a game that explores a character and the first time playing Vampire: the Masquerade.

It was 1992 or so when Vampire: The Masquerade entered my life. I was a sophomore in high school, knee-deep in the kind of existential crisis that only arises when you’re 15, when my friend Amber and her boyfriend Keith asked me if I wanted to try a new game out called Vampire.

Initially I was unconvinced. I had played role-playing games before, and hadn’t been impressed. Oh, some of them had been amusing: Marvel Superheroes in Middle School (with appropriate ‘pew-pew’ noises); AD&D and MERP, which always struck me as a math textbook pretending to be a game; TORG (not going there), all provided a good laugh but never really moved me, never were more than a vaguely amusing board game. Oh, there was something called ‘character development’ in each of those games, but the rules surrounding them always seemed arcane and overly complex, with most of the effort spent on stats and figures rather than the nuances of the character himself.


Vampire Retrospective: Steve Wieck

Posted on October 12, 2011 by

Our next Vampire Retrospective Essay comes from Steve Wieck, former CEO of White Wolf and current head of DriveThruRPG. Steve tells us about some of the early days when White Wolf was dealing with printers, distributors and retail stores.

White Wolf in the early days of Vampire

“Steve, we have a problem with the Tzimisce book,” Rich Thomas, White Wolf’s head of design said, “but we think we have a solution for it.”

“Ok,” I said with some trepidation.

“Josh did the art piece for the back cover, and well, it’s probably going to be seen as a little inappropriate by some distributors and retailers.”


Vampire Retrospective: Morgan A. Oviatt

Posted on October 9, 2011 by

The Vampire Retrospective continues with an essay from Morgan A. Oviatt. Morgan tells us about his first character and making friends with “a guy in a beret playing an Assamite” which certainly sounds cool to me.

Vampire with Moon

My initial forays into the World of Darkness was a boy in my NASA-funded school in Texas nicknamed “Satan”. He was a goth, had sharpened nails and carried the Vampire Player’s guide everywhere but played with nobody. He struck me as a bit of a git, and so I was initially hesitant to consider Vampire as a real game.


Vampire Retrospective: Andrew Peregrine

Posted on October 6, 2011 by

Our next entry in the Vampire Retrospective Project comes from Andrew Peregrine, developer of the Victoriana RPG by Cubicle 7 Entertainment. Andrew tells us about hist first experiences with Vampire, joining the Camarilla and the friends he has made along the way.

Masquerade and Me

Have I really spent 20 years playing vampire? Not only is that half my life, but twice as long as I’ve been with my partner. Is it wrong that Masquerade is one of my longest relationships? It isn’t even the first role-playing game I played. Like so many other gamers, Dungeons and Dragons claims that dubious honor, and Call of Cthulhu was my first horror game. So why do I feel like I owe Vampire anything special? In my case, it’s because I owe so many friendships to this game.


Vampire Retrospective: Michael Holland

Posted on October 4, 2011 by

Our first entry in the Vampire Retrospective Project comes from Michael Holland, who is one of the Moderators on the White Wolf forums. Michael tells us about his first discovery of Vampire: the Masquerade.

It is not every day that a game like Vampire the Masquerade comes along and changes everything. For the most part, the list of revolutionary role playing games is a very short one. In 1974, Dungeons & Dragons served as the veritable genesis of the table top role playing game phenomena. In 1977, Traveller successfully brought the subgenre of the science fiction role playing game into its own space so to speak. The work of H.P. Lovecraft had always been a major influence on role playing games, but in 1981 Call of Cthulhu took us deeper into the realm of horror than we had ever gone before.

Monica Valentinelli

Need Your Help! Feedback on Speak out with your Geek Out

Posted on September 16, 2011 by

Speak Out with your Geek Out began with a single drop of creativity. Today, from where I sit, I’m floating happily along in an ocean of laughter, smiles and friendship. For that? I thank you muchly. (See: the answer to why is a raven like a writing desk.) The majority of the responses have been […]


Speak Out: Bill Paints Minis

Posted on September 13, 2011 by

Among other things, I’m a gamer. One of my favorite aspects of gaming is painting miniatures. Whether it be an army of Dwarves or Goblins for Warhammer Fantasy Battles, or the Austrian 18th Regiment of infantry from the 1809 Campaign against Napoleon, painting miniatures is sub-culture of gaming I particularly enjoy.

Monica Valentinelli

25 Blog Post Ideas for Speak Out with your Geek Out

Posted on September 8, 2011 by

Today’s post is to give you some ideas to blog about. If you want to help, please share your ideas for blog post ideas in the comments below or contact me to do a guest post. Before I do, I want to share with you one of the debut posts encouraging people to sign on. […]

Monica Valentinelli

Speak Out with your Geek Out FAQ, Tumblr and Logo!

Posted on September 5, 2011 by

We surpassed 500 committed bloggers for Speak Out with your Geek Out this weekend. If this keeps up? We’ll hit 1,000 by Thursday. For today’s post, the logo is revealed, a few questions are answered, and the Tumblr is unveiled. You are encouraged to share the logo and spread the word!

Monica Valentinelli

Calling all Geeks! Operation Speak Out with your Geek Out

Posted on August 31, 2011 by

The other day, an article went viral around the internet. The writer decided to write about her dating experience in a very negative way to illustrate her point that people stereotype. The guy in question? A world champion Magic: the Gathering player. Unfortunately, the article was extremely mean and, as I later found out, the […]


Looking back at the Design Essay Series

Posted on August 26, 2011 by

The Flames Rising Design Essay Series started in 2008 when Preston DuBose and I were chatting about different projects we’ve worked on (including Buried Tales of Pinebox, Texas which we had recently released) and I asked him to write a little something about the next project on his agenda, you can find the essay below. Like other parts of the site, this series started out in RPGs, but soon expanded to include Fiction, Comics and we even have one essay about Film.

The series continues to evolve and has become an ongoing project where authors, game designers and others can tell Flames Rising readers about the creative process that went into a particular project. We have no plans on stopping this series, but I thought I’d take a moment to look back at some of the essays we’ve posted so far:


Bill’s Month In Horror: Gen Con 2011

Posted on August 22, 2011 by

Another GenCon has come and gone – my eleventh straight as an industry professional – and I wanted to reflect a bit on why GenCon is important for the gaming industry – not to mention just a great time as an attendee/gamer. For one thing, nearly all the major tabletop game companies – and most of the minor ones – have a presence at GenCon. If your favorite local Game Store (FLGS) doesn’t carry something from one of these companies, odds are better than average it can be found in the dealers’ hall.

Gaming at GenCon? Yes, there’s lots. Most of it involves paying something extra to play, which is a bit of a downer, but still affordable. If you plan to go, registering for events early is a good idea; they fill up quickly and there’s no guarantee of a last-minute opening in the game you really wanted to try. Many manufacturers run demos at their booths in the dealer’s hall; these will be short, use pre-gen characters they provide, but are an excellent way to sample something new before buying.


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