Posted on March 21, 2008 by Matt-M-McElroy
We’ve covered vampires, zombies, magic and more in past Flash Fire Mini-Reviews. This week we’re going to take a look at a genre that often blends Sci-Fi with Horror and Adventure with Mystery…sometimes all at once.
Post-Apocalypse stories often show a bleak future, but can offer a bit hope as well.
The civilized world has come to an end, in the rubble the survivors battle horrors and each other in an attempt to gather resources and perhaps to rebuild their world. Post Apocalyptic settings are the subject of this week’s Flash Fire Mini-Reviews.
We’ve got a mix of games, fiction and a movie to explore this week. Each with a different spin on just what Post-Apocalypse means…
In the heart of America, in the world’s most secure prison, something horrible is growing in the dark. A wave of cannibalism and fear is sweeping across the heartland, spreading carnage and infection in its wake. Captain Bannerman Clark of the National Guard has been tasked with an impossible mission: discover what is happening — and then stop it before it annihilates Los Angeles.
In California, he discovers a woman trapped in a hospital overrun with violent madmen. She may hold the secret to the Epidemic but she has lost everything — even her name.
If you’ve had the chance to read my review of Monster Island, the first part of David Wellington’s zombie trilogy, you’ll know I’m a pretty big fan of his work. While I don’t think Monster Nation is as much fun to read as Monster Island, it is still a great book. Zombie fans will find plenty of chaos, heroics and flesh-eating undead to keep them entertained. As a bonus we get to discover the cause of the zombie uprising and meet some new characters along the way.
Monster Nation is available at Amazon.com
Monte Cook’s World of Darkness
This book includes a complete setting: a new vision of the World of Darkness. Characters play as vampires, mages, werewolves, demons, or Awakened. They wield frightening supernatural powers against their own kind. The world is the one we know, but now much darker: destruction in the central US, nightmares coming to life, and beasts roaming shattered cityscapes. Uses the most popular roleplaying game system in the world.
Not only did this book rework the World of Darkness setting into a nightmare world of monsters, cosmic malevolence and demonic magic, but it also introduced it to a variation on the popular d20 system. Monte Cook was offered the chance to do whatever he wanted with the WoD…this 360 page monster is the result.
You can play as vampires, werewolves, mages and more in this setting, but they are quite a bit different from those featured in the other World of Darkness titles. This is a good thing. This allows this new post-apocalyptic setting to stand on its own and offers folks a chance to try something different from their other horror games.
Monte Cook’s World of Darkness is available at Amazon.com
Reign of Fire
When workers in a London tunneling project awaken an unearthly fire-breathing beast from centuries of slumber, all hell breaks loose. Twelve-year-old Quinn sees his mother, one of the workers, die trying to escape this new terror. Twenty years later as a “fire chief,” he tries to keep a group of refugees alive with fierce dragons dominating the air, burning the land and feeding on the ash. Unexpectedly, Van Zan, a hotshot American militia leader, shows up with a ragtag group of slayers on a perilous crusade to hunt down and destroy the beasts. Tempers flare when there is a struggle for leadership — until both men realize only one species is getting out of this alive.
After thousands of years hidden in secret and dreaming of fire, the race of Dragons is accidentally awakened once more. They rain destruction all over the world. Mankind responds with nuclear weapons, devastating much than the Dragons could ever do on their own. This is an excellent set-up for an adventure movie.
The Dragons make for a frightening enemy, even with a few modern weapons that the humans can use in the fight. The effects are well done, the blasted London landscape and burned countryside of England in 2020 adds plenty of emotion to the tale. Matthew McConaughey’s character is absolutely crazy and he plays it well. Christian Bale’s reluctant hero is a character you can’t help but like.
This movie also has one of the greatest Star Wars parodies ever made.
Reign of Fire is available at Amazon.com
Avenues & Alleyways
‘Avenues & Alleyways’ brings to life a whole host of new places for exploration and adventure.
Welcome to more of The City.
This bumper a|state supplement featues 30 brand new city areas to explore and use in your a|state games, as well as a host of essays on everything from health and disease in The City to law and weather.
In our reviews of a|state and The Lostfinder’s Guide to Mire End we explore the setting and the system a bit, learning the ways of the world that the folks at Contest Ground Studios have created. Avenues & Alleyways takes us a bit deeper into The City, offering up tons of new locations, interesting personalities that characters can interact with as allies or enemies and more.
Like all CGS products, Avenues & Alleyways is amazingly well done. The writing is top-notch, offering plenty of moody setting along with information any GM will find useful. The art and design are among the best in the industry. This is one of the best setting books I’ve seen in years.
Avenues & Alleyways is available at RPGnow.com
After three years of exile from humanity’s war against the Kurians, David Valentine returns to battle. The Lifeweavers, Earth’s allies in the conflict, have all but vanished, and without them mankind cannot possibly stand against their alien enemies.
Many of the Lightweavers are held captive by a Kurian overlord. To free them, Valentine must convince the Marshal, a legendary resistance fighter with a grudge against the Kurians, to join his cause. But the Marshal is something of a dictator himself, ruling over his men with an iron fist-and giving Valentine a new enemy to fight.
Way back in ’04 we posted a review of Way of the Wolf. Well, the Vampire Earth series has come a long way since then. In this new book, Valentine continues his battle against the Kurians (and other foes). I think each book in the series has been better than those that came before, Valentine’s Resolve is no exception.
The Kurians are great antagonists (find out more about them in our Interview with E.E. Knight) and they are deadly enemies for the resistance. The humans in the series are a mixed lot of good, bad and ugly. Knight offers up plenty of detail in this post-apocalyptic setting, the damage done to the world and the hard choices the characters living in it make for some excellent story telling.
Valentine’s Resolve is available at Amazon.com
Dousing the fire…
That does it for this week’s Flash Fire Mini-Reviews.
Be sure to let us know what your thoughts on these entries is when you get the chance. What topics or products would you like to see next time?