Posted on February 1, 2008 by Matt-M-McElroy
Welcome to the second installment of the Flash Fire Mini-Reviews series on Flames Rising!
This week we’re talking about ghosts, werewolves, alien slugs and fantasy kingdoms in a mix of books, games and even a movie. Some of these are brand-new releases and others are items that caught my eye for one reason or another this week.
The prodigal son leaves the big city to return to his dearly departed parent’s house in North Carolina only to find, now that he’s home, that something is trying to make damn sure he stays there–even if it means burying him out back.
In a small town with dark secrets, one man struggles to find a way out before the spirit of the town can find a way in.
I’ve been a fan of Rich Dansky’s for some time. I’ve read his work in Wraith, Dark Ages and Mind’s Eye Theatre products. You can even read an interview I did with him about those games way back when here if you are interested. This new book is from the “Discoveries” imprint at Wizards of the Coast. Firefly Rain is a creepy tale that you won’t want to put down. Great storytelling and interesting characters make this a book I’ll gladly recommend to anyone looking for a “new” favorite author.
Firefly Rain is available at Amazon.com
REIGN expands the frontiers of fantasy gaming by elevating the action to an international stage. Monarchs, mercenaries and merchant princes gamble armies and fortunes to win nations in a rich and vibrant fantasy setting. REIGN’s simple but complete rules model the triumphs and disasters of societies as small as a village or as large as a realm-spanning religion.
I was able to play in a short demo at GenCon with Greg as the GM and it instantly sold me on the game. Simply put, REIGN is a lot of fun to play and offers up some new twists on the One Roll Engine found in Godlike, Nemesis, and Wild Talents. The system is easy to learn (even if you have never played any of those other games) and allow you to play “The Personal and the Political” elements of REIGN in a cool setting.
There are plenty of resources available on the REIGN website including errata, character sheets, a wiki and more. All of the supplements are available using the “Ransom Model” as well, so once the donations are in the supplements are free for everyone. As of this review there are five free supplements already available and a sixth ransom going on currently. That is a lot of cool support material for your next game of REIGN.
REIGN is available at Lulu.com
With laughs and gross-outs aplenty, Slither is the best horror comedy since Shaun of the Dead. Having written for the jubilant trash-mongers at Troma Films before scripting 2004’s well-received remake of Dawn of the Dead, writer-director James Gunn crafted this hilarious splatter-fest as an homage to the comically violent horror films of the 1970s and ’80s, and he gets it just right with a low-budget look, perfect casting, grisly make-up effects and judicious use of CGI gore.
I’d never be crazy enough to consider Slither a “classic” horror movie in any way, but it was a lot of fun. Nathan Fillion is great as the bored Sheriff of Wheelsy having to deal with some “interesting” locals before (and during) the invasion of alien slugs. You see a lot of Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly in his performance (or is it you see a lot of Fillion in both?). Anyway, if you want a good laugh, a few squirming aliens and plenty of confused, zombie-like townsfolk, Slither has plenty of each.
Slither is available at Amazon.com
When her former boss and mentor is arrested for murder and left to rot behind bars by his own kind, it’s up to shapeshifting car mechanic Mercy Thompson to clear his name, whether he wants her to or not. And she’ll have to choose between the two werewolves in her life-whether she wants to or not.
Iron Kissed is the latest book in the “Mercy Thompson Series” by Patricia Briggs. I got turned on this series somewhere between Kelley Armstrong’s “Women of the Otherworld” and Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files” and I would rate these books as some of the best Urban Fantasy fiction you can find.
There is plenty of mystery in Iron Kissed and a lot of good writing. Ms. Briggs is building a great setting that just gets better with each book. I do think someone should read Moon Called and Blood Bound to get a complete look at the characters, but Iron Kissed makes it worth it. I think my biggest complaint with this book is the cover (and some of the marketing I’ve seen), it suggests more of a Paranormal Romance than it really is. This book definitely belongs in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section of your favorite bookstore.
Iron Kissed is available at Amazon.com
Ghostories (Ghost Stories 2) includes everything you need for edge-of-your seat, paranormal mysteries. Explore the paranormal as innocents, investigating ghostly encounters, possessed victims, or freakish constructs. Or, delve into the arcane pursuits associated with empathy, faith, magic, the occult, science, or vigilantism. Tangle with a variety of ghosts, embodied spirits, phantoms, and banes — or mortal threats, such as rogue sorcerers, diabolists, mad scientists, and endowed cults. Ghostories includes special rules for investigations, fear and dementia, paranormal powers, and using connections, as well as four scenarios, numerous story ideas, reference sheets, and fifteen ready-to-use character templates.
I had the chance to interview Brett M. Bernstein way back when this just starting the development/idea stages. I was a big fan of Unbidden (and other PIG games), so I was pretty excited to see what he would come up with this time around.
Ghostories is an 84 page pdf with a fun system and plenty of good ideas for horror gaming. Gimmicks remind a bit of Merits & Flaws from the World of Darkness crossed with Qualities & Drawbacks from various Unisystem games. They add a few details to your character without bogging the system down very much. There are plenty of ghosts, phantoms and other nasties, called “Horrors” to keep characters busy for some time. Ghostories comes with some sample scenarios and pre-generated characters (that can just as easily be used as NPCs)…it even comes with “Disposable Dice” that you can print out and fold up for quick play. So, get your group together, download the eBook and tell some scary stories!
Ghostories is available at RPGNow.com
Douse the fire…
That should just about wrap things up for this week’s mini-reviews. Stayed tuned for more books, games, movies and maybe even a CD or two in upcoming weeks.
Next week will probably be the first in a series of “theme” or “mood” mini-reviews. I’m thinking zombies for the first one, probably vampires for the next. Feel to post a few suggestions or e-mail me, using the Contact page.