Archive | Articles


Eliot Pattison’s Ashes of the Earth

Posted on September 12, 2011 by

In Ashes of the Earth Eliot Pattison pieces together a new society after global annihilation. While most novels set in the future offer heavy doses of imagined science and technology, in his new novel Pattison constructs a more realistic society out of the ashes of apocalypse—with characters who sometimes became a little too realistic for the author.


Infiltrating Black Seven by Stew Wilson

Posted on September 7, 2011 by

Stew Wilson from Zero Point Information is here to tell us about his new game Black Seven. A modern espionage RPG, Black Seven isinspired by stealth-action games like Deus Ex, Alpha Protocol, and Splinter Cell.

Infiltrating BLACK SEVEN

BLACK SEVEN started life in my throw-away ideas file, a couple of notes for a system that, at the time, I wasn’t able to make work. That time was 2004, and I was re-playing Deus Ex for the fourth time. Under the effects of too much strong coffee, I hacked White Wolf’s Trinity so that I could run Deus Ex-like games. I never had a chance to try it, and I was left with niggling little ideas that wouldn’t go away that wouldn’t work in my proposed hack.


David and the Den of Thieves

Posted on August 30, 2011 by

The Flames Rising Design Essay series continues with a little something from David Chandler (Wellington) telling us about his new dark fantasy novel Den of Thieves. Most Flames Rising readers will know David from his excellent zombie and vampire novels, several of which we’ve reviewed here at the site. In this essay David also shares a little insight into his publishing history and what genres authors are told about they can and can’t write.

How I Ended up Writing a Fantasy Novel and Changed my Name

Hi. My name is Dave. I used to think I was a science fiction writer.

That was back in the ‘80s, a wild and wooly time for genre fiction. I was not exclusively a science fiction reader back then—nobody was, or at least, I knew very few people who identified themselves as just “science fiction fans”. When I went to Waldenbooks with whatever money I could scrap together I looked at the wall of books and could spend hours trying to figure out what to buy. There was fantasy, science fiction, and horror, typically all on the same shelf—and I wanted it all.


A Brief History of Magic by Michael Jasper

Posted on August 26, 2011 by

Author and comic scribe Michael Jasper is here with a new design essay about his novel A Sudden Outbreak of Magic. Michael tells about the genesis of the idea back in his teaching days and how that initial concept developed into the book that is available now. He even links us to a sneak peek at the follow up book, A Wild Epidemic of Magic, which is currently in development.

Magic is everywhere. You just have to look hard enough to see it.

Magic is contagious. You can get infected it by it just as easily as catching a cold.

Magic is dangerous. You start using it, and all sorts of powerful people will take notice. And they will hunt you down.


Dave Gross on Dark Fantasy in Kung Fu Movies

Posted on August 22, 2011 by

Dave Gross, author of Pathfinder and Forgotten Realms fiction, who Alana recently interviewed here at Flames Rising stopped by to tell us a little about how his favorite kung fu movies inspired his writing.

For inspiration in writing Master of Devils, the latest Pathfinder Tales novel, I steeped myself in dozens of kung fu movies. Some were straight-on martial arts stories from the heyday of the Shaw Brothers, while others were more recent blends of wuxia action with art-house photography. Among my favorites are the fantasy films of the 80s and 90s, many of which include a strong element of supernatural horror.

The first thing you need to know about kung fu movies is that any one of them can seem like five or six different movies crammed into one. Chinese screenwriters seldom stick to a single genre, so you’ll find elements of horror, romance, satire, political commentary, and even slapstick humor in what appears by the DVD cover to be a straight-up action film. Thus, when you’re looking for a “horror kung fu movie,” you shouldn’t expect a simple fright fest–although some of them have some great scary moments.


White Wolf 2011-2012 New Release Schedule!

Posted on August 4, 2011 by

Flames Rising is pleased to present the web version of the new release list that White Wolf is handing out at Gen Con Indy 2011. Several members of the White Wolf crew are on-site at Gen Con talking to fans about new and classic World of Darkness games. This is a look ahead at what new products are on the way and some news about the ongoing Now in Print program at


Bradley P. Beaulieu on The Winds of Khalakovo Debut

Posted on August 1, 2011 by

Thanks to Monica for letting me stop by Flames Rising. It’s always great to meet new people through different sites as I’m spreading the word about my debut novel. The Winds of Khalakovo came out this past April, and I thought it would be interesting to talk a little bit about the arc of emotions I’ve had along the way.

Any writer with a debut novel will tell you how exciting it is. (If they aren’t excited, they’re either lying or they’ve done something they’re not proud of.) It was wonderful to have The Winds of Khalakovo come out, and it was terribly gratifying seeing the kind of welcome it received. One of the most interesting things for me was how fun it was working with reviewers, not on the reviews themselves, of course, but on guest posts and interviews. It’s so nice to share beyond the bounds of the book. There are so many stories to tell.


SJGames Week: Kenneth Hite talks about GURPS Horror 4th Edition

Posted on July 28, 2011 by is pleased to present you with a peek inside GURPS Horror 4th Edition from its author, Kenneth Hite. For those of you familiar with his work, you might suspect Kenneth Hite is no stranger to writing about all things dark and terrifying. In this essay, Ken talks about the additions and influences he infused into the new edition.

A New Millennium Of Horror, And Of GURPS Horror

I started writing the Third Edition of GURPS Horror in very late 2000, right about the time that Final Destination, Scream 3, and Urban Legend: The Final Cut were finishing off (with one or another degree of skill and chill) the horror boom of the 1990s. No, wait, I lie. I actually started writing the Third Edition of GURPS Horror in 1998, only I called it Nightmares of Mine at the time, and I was writing it for Iron Crown Enterprises. So I began writing it during the Indian summer of clever, self-referential horror: The Faculty, Fallen, and Gods and Monsters were all part of that horror year. By the time I finished it, Iron Crown had gone bankrupt, and I had folded pretty much the entirety of the horror-gaming advice from Nightmares of Mine into GURPS Horror, Third Edition.


Exploring the Mythos Academy with Jennifer Estep

Posted on July 21, 2011 by

Our design essay series continues with a new essay from Jennifer Estep. Jennifer is the author of the Mythos Academy series (check out Alana’s recent review of Touch of Frost).

Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to thank the folks at Flames Rising for having me on the blog today. Thanks so much, guys!

Today I was asked to talk a little about the creative process behind Touch of Frost and the rest of my Mythos Academy young adult series. The series focuses on Gwen Frost, a 17-year-old Gypsy girl who has the gift of psychometry, or the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. After a serious freak-out with her magic, Gwen is shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendants of ancient warriors like Spar tans, Valkyries, Amazons, and more.

Monica Valentinelli

Inside the New Instant Antagonist, The Creepy Cottontail

Posted on July 11, 2011 by

Flames Rising is pleased to announce the latest release in the Instant Antagonists line. The Creepy Cottontail author, Monica Valentinelli (and Flames Rising project Manager) shares some notes on the design and writing process that went into this product.

Having conducted a lot of occult research for my writing — both game-and-story-related — there’s a particular concept that always stands out in my mind. Performing a ritual (both real and/or imagined) is work, but the end result of that “job” doesn’t always yield the same results every time. Take a basic love potion for example. Do you have any idea how many different types of love potions there are? In many cases, not only do you have to get the ritual down pat, but you also have to worry about backlash, timing and the integrity of the materials. Even then, there’s no guarantee that magic will function the same way twice because there’s one-too-many factors that you cannot control.

The “cost” of doing magic is something I feel is often overlooked because some view it as an obstacle that gets in the way of a story or a game. I look at it as a characterization of a protagonist or… in this case… Instant Antagonist.


Behind Plague of Shadows, a Pathfinder Novel

Posted on June 27, 2011 by is pleased to present a behind-the-scenes look at the birth of the Pathfinder novel Plague of Shadows. This novel, which was written by Howard Andrew Jones, is about a race against time set against a backdrop of treachery, magic and nightmares. Jones dives into the process of writing a tie-in novel with both feet. In his own words, you can read how this talented author came to be a part of the popular Pathfinder setting.

Round about the time James Sutter was given the greenlight to start up the new Pathfinder line word got around that I’d signed a two book contract with St. Martin’s Thomas Dunne Books for some Arabian fantasy swashbucklers. The first one, The Desert of Souls, was on its way through editorial when James contacted me to see if he could look at some writing samples. He must have liked what he saw, for he then asked me to shoot some proposals his way.


Have a Fang-Filled Day: 114th Anniversary of Dracula

Posted on May 26, 2011 by

To celebrate the 114th anniversary of the publication of Dracula, we here at would like to recommend your day is filled with blood and fangs. Over the years, we’ve offered reviews, interviews and recommendations of several vampire-related stories, comics and games. Today, we’d like to share with you a couple of new recommendations as well as a few from our archives either directly inspired by or based upon Dracula himself.

For starters, Top Cow has a comics series called Impaler, which is a re-imagining of the vampire tale. If non-fiction is more your thing, we recommend checking out Actual Factual: Dracula, which is a great resource for anyone who needs a compendium of reference material on the topic.


David Hill Jr tells us about The Forsaken Chronicler’s Guide

Posted on May 16, 2011 by

We have a new design essay from David Hill Jr. In this essay David tells us about developing the Forsaken Chronicler’s Guide, which is the latest supplement for the Werewolf: the Forsaken RPG from White Wolf.

We’re coming up on the release of the fourth volume of Forsaken Chronicler’s Guide, so I thought I’d give a bit of insight into the development process for this particular project.

A couple of years ago, I pitched the idea of a Chronicler’s Guide for Werewolf: the Forsaken to Eddy Webb. I knew Forsaken was a bit more of a niche game, so the Alternative Publishing model might fit a bit better than a traditional, full release.


Author Guy Hasson Discusses Why He Writes About Women

Posted on May 9, 2011 by

Secret Thoughts | Guy Hasson | Apex Book CompanyOn the heels of his new release from Apex Book Company, the multi-talented Guy Hasson drops by to tell us why he writes about women. This particular essay gives us insight into his intent behind writing three, distinct novellas and collecting them into a single collection called “Secret Thoughts.” For more about this author, playwright and filmmaker, be sure to visit Guy Hasson’s website. If you’re interested in checking out Hasson’s new release, you can pick up the Secret Thoughts e-book at, or visit the publisher’s website for previews, reviews, additional formats and more!


Pelgrane Week: That Old Black Magic: Writing The Big Hoodoo

Posted on May 6, 2011 by

Pelgrane Week continues with a new design essay by The Big Hoodoo author by Bill White. Bill discusses writing an adventure in 1950s California and other details for Trail of Cthulhu.

I’ve written two adventures for Trail of Cthulhu, a game of Lovecraftian investigation written by Kenneth Hite using Robin Laws’ GUMSHOE system. Both are unusual in that they are set in the 1950s, rather than TOC’s usual 1930s setting (itself one of the features that distinguishes Trail of Cthulhu from its more venerable cousin, Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu, which takes the 1920s as its canonical milieu). The first, called Castle Bravo, is set aboard an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific during nuclear bomb testing at Bikini Atoll. Its appeal is, I think, straightforward: an atomic bomb goes off and the PCs, as the naval and scientific personnel involved, must deal with monstrous emergences in its aftermath.


Pelgrane Week: Tracing the Origin and Development of The Love of Money

Posted on May 5, 2011 by

Pelgrane Week continues here at Flames Rising with a new design essay by Matthew Sanderson. Matthew tells us about writing the forthcoming The Love of Money scenario for the Esoterrorists RPG.

Looking back now, I think that best describes how the creative process began for me with The Love of Money. It all started with the hunt for an initial concept, a small seed, which then germinated and continued to expand into the final work. That hunt began with me asking myself one question: what would make this an Esoterrorist game? I’ve been playing roleplaying games now for about eleven years and in this time I’ve played in a great many games where I’ve thought it could work really well in another game’s setting. However, when I set about writing an adventure myself, I generally ask myself the question “why this game?” I like to feel that the story has a meaning, that it’s not a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.


How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Genre: the Mad Designs behind Open Your Eyes

Posted on April 23, 2011 by is pleased to present an essay from author Paul Jessup, who wrote a novella entitled Open Your Eyes, published by Apex Book Company. In this surrealist space opera tale that takes place on a ship with a mind of its own, Jessup explores the unusual, the weird and the bizarre. Today he’ll discuss what space opera means to him and his motivation behind Open Your Eyes.

Open Your Eyes

I’m a huge fan of Space Opera, wait, no, scratch that– I’m a huge fan of what I was told was Space Opera when I was a kid. Which was primarily one thing- Star Wars. Which was more like the monomyth in Space, with Samurais, but I digress for a bit. If you’re a kid from the 80’s, you know the score. This kind of Space Opera was everywhere, not just in Star Wars, but in cartoons, on the back of cereal boxes, in toys (and knock off toys), in books, all that fun stuff.


Gary Braunbeck’s Introduction from To Each Their Darkness

Posted on April 18, 2011 by

Explore the world of writing horror from a Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild award-winning author’s point of view. Gary Braunbeck uses film, fiction and life experience to elucidate the finer points of storytelling, both in and out of genre. This part-autobiographical, always analytical book looks at how stories develop and what makes them work-or not work-when they’re told.

Be warned: reality is as brutal as fiction. Rob Zombie, police shootings, William Goldman and human misery are all teachers to the horror neophyte, and Braunbeck uses their lessons to make To Each Their Darkness a whirlwind of horror and hope for the aspiring writer.

Flames Rising is pleased to present the introduction to this book by Gary Braunbeck.


Paths of Storytelling: Character Stats for Sapphire GoldenClaw

Posted on April 1, 2011 by

Paths of Storytelling, offered as a free download today on, is the latest product for the Vampire: the Masquerade line. According to this White Wolf announcement, it’s a long-forgotten manuscript that was rejected — and with good reason. Sure, on the heels of the Vampire: the Masquerade twentieth anniversary announcement we can understand why they’d want to keep up the buzz, but we all know not all V:tM fiction has been good fiction. Which is part of the reason why we were hoping they’d post a little more crunch. A new Giovanni adventure? Yet another awesome Bloodline?


Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition

Posted on March 17, 2011 by

White Wolf is making a 20th Anniversary Edition of Vampire: The Masquerade and we want your help!

Why are we? Vampire: The Masquerade changed everything! Exploding into hobby games in 1991, it evoked and inspired a generation of fans of which the game industry had never seen before or since. The gothic and punk subcultures from which it drew, previously unseen in the gaming world, created an unparalleled worldwide phenomenon that spanned novels, TCG’s, LARPs, video games, and television. But it all started with one RPG. The cultural significance Vampire left on not just the gaming world but on modern vampire-related pop culture can be seen and felt at virtually every turn and in every medium today. This combined with the unwavering sheer dedication of an unparalleled fan base is the reason this book is being published. Vampire: The Masquerade – 20th Anniversary Edition brings the entire World of Darkness experience full circle and will serve as the perfect anniversary milestone to celebrate two decades of gaming after dark.


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