Posted on February 29, 2008 by Matt-M-McElroy
The Flash Fire Mini-Reviews are back with a mix of fiction, games and comics this week. Mages, Wizards, Witches and other spell-slinging heroes, villains and monsters make appearances in this collection of reviews.
We’re looking at a variety of magical styles, ranging from the dark and evil to the divinely inspired. I’m not talking about spellbooks here, but magic wielding characters or plots about magic in the world around them. We’ve got Harry Dresden, Willow and Redcloak alongside some Live-Action Mage and the Unwanted.
Anyway, let’s get on with those mini-reviews…
Mind’s Eye Theatre: The Awakening
•Expanded political mechanics and revised spellcasting systems designed for the unique aspects of live-action roleplay
•A variety of optional rules and Storyteller advice to help develop your chronicle the way you envision it
•For use with the Mind’s Eye Theatre Rulebook
Based on Mage: the Awakening, this book is the latest Live-Action product from White Wolf Publishing. This is also White Wolf’s first Print-on-Demand product. Eddy Webb, the new Alternative Product Developer (and author of this book), talks about that a bit in my interview with him here on Flames Rising.
I’ll be honest, I never really had the chance to dig too deep into the new Mage line of books. There were plenty of cool elements, but it wasn’t until I read this book that I really got hooked. The writing is top-notch, the system conversions are easy to understand and the overall presentation of the book is incredibly well done. Mages in a Live-Action setting works really well, whether as a stand-alone game or one mixed up with the other Mind’s Eye Theatre books.
Mind’s Eye Theatre: The Awakening is available at RPGNow.com
Storm Front (Dresden Files)
Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things–and most of them don’t play too well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a–well, whatever.
There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting.
Magic. It can get a guy killed.
Hopefully you’ve had the chance to read some of our other Dresden Files reviews, which include some of the more recent titles and the DVD collection. Storm Front is where it all began. Sure, Harry had a few adventures before the events described in this book, you can even read Restoration of Faith for free on Jim Butcher’s website.
Storm Front introduces us to some of the great characters that have developed over the course of the series, and unknown to us at the time, several important plot threads that are still in motion 9 books later. There are some dark magics in this book and some real heroism that shines through. A great beginning to a great series.
Storm Front is available at Amazon.com
Start of Darkness (Order of the Stick)
The Order of the Stick: Start of Darkness is the second all-new, print-exclusive volume in the popular Order of the Stick collection of comedic fantasy roleplaying game comics. The companion volume to On the Origin of PCs, this book delves back into the past to explore the genesis of the Order of the Stick’s archnemesis, Xykon the lich sorcerer.
Learn how Xykon became a lich, how he met Redcloak the goblin cleric and the mysterious Monster in the Darkness, and how he totally killed Roy’s dad’s master, like right in front of him. Ouch.
I’ve been a fan of Order of the Stick for a couple of years now. I was pretty excited to learn that Rich Burlew would be releasing the series in graphic novel format.
Start of Darkness is label with -1, meaning it comes before book 0 (the prequel book called On the Origin of PCs). This book details some of my favorite characters in the series, the bad guys. We find out how Xykon and Redcloak teamed up and started their quest to bad stuff. We even get to find out how Xykon went from annoying Sorcerer to destructive Lich. Between the two of them they have some pretty powerful magic to kill lots of Paladins with.
Start of Darkness is available at Amazon.com
The Magic Box
With ancient and powerful magicks on your side, you don’t need to be able to bench press a car to fight evil with the best of them. Whether you’re a witch, a warlock, a dabbler in the dark arts, a psychic or even a superscientist, you have powers granted to few mortals. ‘Course, there’s a potential downside . . . but bad stuff never happens to the good guys. Right?
Here you’ll find all the info you need to master your powers and learn how to introduce the monsters to a world of magical hurt. Oh, and there’s also some talk of the dark side . . . just in case . . .
This is probably the most useful and fun book in the entire Buffy: the Vampire Slayer RPG line-up. The history of magic, organizations, new Qualities and Drawbacks, magical addiction, new Archetypes, superscience and lots of spells. As with all of the Buffy and Angel books from Eden Studios this one is full of funny quotes, character images and other elements from the show, making it an enjoyable read for any fan. Even if you are not running a game set in the Buffyverse you’ll find plenty of useful material in this book.
Magic Box is available at RPGNow.com
When a foolish antique collector reads the inscription on the back of an ancient Chinese amulet, she unleashes the ultimate evil. “The Unwanted” follows the saga of a group of streetwise teens trapped inside an inescapable juvenile detention facility, facing a relentless predator that will stop at nothing to consume them.
Beautifully illustrated by reknown international horror artist Juan Romera, “The Unwanted” is already being hailed by reviewers as the next horror classic.
This a dark and brutal graphic novel about demons, black magic and lost souls. These teens are caught in an isolated place with a horror that kills without mercy and can possess the bodies of those who are supposed to protect them. Elements of dark magic and brutal violence are spread throughout the book. When they get almost no help from the adults of the story, the kids take it upon themselves to fight back.
The art in The Unwanted is gritty and stylish, the writing hectic and intense. Put together they keep the story moving and entertaining. There are a few scenes that could use a clean up or some more clear-cut explanations of the events, but as a whole the story keeps the pace of a decent horror film, you’re never quite sure if the good guys have won or not…
The Unwanted is available at Cafepress.com
Dousing the fire…
That wraps up the magic session of this week’s Flash Fire Mini-Reviews.
Let us know what you think of the series and what you would like to see reviewed next time. Don’t forget to get your entry posted in our Favorite Horror Game Contest for a chance to win some great prizes.