Tag Archive | "cthulhu"

Flames

Interview with Author and Game Designer Robin Laws

Posted on March 24, 2011 by

Flames Rising is pleased to present an in-depth interview with author and game designer Robin Laws. An industry veteran, Laws has published role-playing games, supplements, novels and fiction for several companies. His works range from The Esoterroists, produced by Pelgrane Press, to his upcoming Pathfinder novel, which will be released through Paizo this spring.

Today, we sit down with Robin to discuss horror in role-playing games, his work on the GUMSHOE system, and his endeavors as an editor and novelist.

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Monica Valentinelli

Cthulhu Dice Review

Posted on March 3, 2011 by

Imagine sitting down at a diner and breaking out…CTHULHU! Well, to play this game that’s exactly what we did. Produced by Steve Jackson Games, Cthulhu Dice is a rapid descent into madness. You can literally lose your mind during this game or, as our waiter put it: your lunch.

We played with three people. To set up, each player gets three tokens which are included with the dice. Those beads represent your sanity. Then, the owner of the game (Moi, in fact) gets to choose who casts the first curse. Player A rolls to curse Player B and gets a tentacle. Player B loses one point of sanity to Player A and gets to roll a response. Player B rolls a Cthulhu. Now everyone loses a point of sanity. The turn has thus ended and the next player gets to go.

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Flames

Preview of Move Under Ground by Nick Mamatas

Posted on March 2, 2011 by

The year is nineteen-sixty-something, and after endless millennia of watery sleep, the stars are finally right. Old R’lyeh rises out of the Pacific, ready to cast its damned shadow over the primitive human world. The first to see its peaks: an alcoholic, paranoid, and frightened Jack Kerouac, who had been drinking off a nervous breakdown up in Big Sur. Now Jack must get back on the road to find Neal Cassady, the holy fool whose rambling letters hint of a world brought to its knees in worship of the Elder God Cthulhu. Together with pistol-packin’ junkie William S. Burroughs, Jack and Neal make their way across the continent to face down the murderous Lovecraftian cult that has spread its darkness to the heart of the American Dream. But is Neal along for the ride to help save the world, or does he want to destroy it just so that he’ll have an ending for his book?

Flames Rising is pleased to present you with the first chapter from Move Under Ground, a Lovecraft-inspired novel by author Nick Mamatas. Set in the 1960s, Move Under Ground is Mamatas’s debut novel about a character named Jack Kerouac who receives strange, rambling letters from Neal Cassaday. Will Jack successfully rescue Neal? Will they escape the Cult of Utter Normalcy? Or will they face Cthulhu himself? Dubbed an “ambitious” novel, read Chapter One and enjoy a fresh voice inspired by H.P. Lovecraft.

Move Under Ground is available now at Amazon.com.

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The Black Seal (Issues 1-3) Review

Posted on February 10, 2011 by

This collection of issues, originally released between 2001 and 2004, showcase a variety of Cthulhu goodness, especially for those interested in modern horror. One of the organizations from the Delta Green line, the British occult organization PISCES, takes the spotlight. Since the material within the magazines are basically alike, I’ll tackle the trio together.

The artwork in the magazines comes from a collection of artists and are rather fitting for the Cthulhu Mythos. The first issue has a small amount of artwork (nearly non-existent if not for the well-crafted cartography within it). By the third issue, artwork fills nearly every page and yet doesn’t get in the way of the writing.

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Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom Review

Posted on January 21, 2011 by

The place of the pastiche in fiction is mixed at best: August Derleth’s Solar Pons is but a pale shadow of Sherlock Holmes, and the less said about Derleth’s “posthumous collaborations” with Lovecraft, the better. But in his collection of linked novelettes, Trail of Cthulhu, Derleth had the happy inspiration to combine the Cthulhu Mythos with Fu Manchu, and the result is a propulsive series of tales considerably above his usual mark. In Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom, Tim Byrd goes Derleth one better; he combines Lester Dent’s Doc Savage (as clearly as the laws of copyright will allow) and the Cthulhu Mythos – in the form of a young adult adventure mystery.

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Megan

CthulhuTech Core Book Review

Posted on December 20, 2010 by

Enter a world rich and strange – even the cover art suggests this even before you read a word! But it’s stranger – and scarier – that you might imagine. The opening piece of fiction sets the scene: a heady mix of warfare, implacable enemies, fighting machines… and yet at the core human beings, maybe a bit different but still real people who care, who love, who hate… and have nightmares afterwards.

Then Chapter 1 bids us Welcome. Welcome to a near-future alternate world in which giant mecha, magic, technology and unspeakable horror are melded together mixing That Which Should Not Be with hopes, harbored by all who go to war, that better times are just around the corner. It begins by explaining unfamiliar terms, both those of role-playing and those specifically for this setting. Now obscure references in the opening fiction become clear – not, alas, the sidebar text, small black text on a strident and messy dark pink background is not conducive to clarity: rather a shock in a work where excellent design is otherwise evident. Many of the references are familiar if you happen to read Lovecraft – Cthulhu himself, and many of the cults and dark gods that lurk around – and others if you care for anime and mecha in general.

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Cthulhu Tales Issue 11 Review

Posted on September 24, 2010 by

Boom Studios started publishing Cthulhu Tales as a series in 2008. The first time I came across these comics, a little over a year ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find that each story within an issue (of the ones I’ve read so far, at least) is contained and delightfully bizarre.

Issue #11, which came out in February of 2009, features four tales that range from the insanely funny to the apocalyptic. The first story — written by Christopher Sequeira, artwork by W. Chewie Chan — tackles the corporate world. In “Incorporation,” money-hungry and power-hungry Glenda can’t wait to start pushing people off of the ladder as she climbs her way up the ranks at her new employer, Wilcox-Gammell. She soon finds that the job is tougher than she thought and the perks aren’t exactly as advertised. The artwork is good. Nothing that really stands out, but it delivers the story well. There’s some creative use of the panels, especially toward the end. It’s a good read and not exactly the cautionary tale that it appears to be at first glance.

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Dear Cthulhu, Have a Dark Day Review

Posted on September 8, 2010 by

Dear Cthulhu, Have a Dark Day: The Collected Columns, Volume One by Patrick Thomas is a collection of humorous advice. Taking on the persona of the Elder God, each piece of guidance is based on the concept that Cthulhu is actually very conservative. He abhors those that like to break rules. He discourages cold-blooded killing, because killing is “a right which should be Cthulhu’s alone” or at least saved for official sacrifices.

There are a lot of funny letters contained in the volume. For instance, a young woman writes in to ask for advice regarding peer pressure to give up her virginity. Cthulhu’s response? She should keep her virginity, because “it is better to be a leader of men than a follower.”

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Our Ladies of Sorrow RPG Review

Posted on August 26, 2010 by

There are many ways to put together a Call of Cthulhu adventure, although so many of them have the same trappings. Our Ladies of Sorrow truly comes from a different place that is part Greco-Roman myth, part psychology (some of the game involves a common psychological condition), and, of course, part Lovecraftian Mythos. It feels so much more like older Cthulhu adventures mainly because it is so ingrained with investigation work. As the author suggests, a small party (3-5) is ideal for this adventure. The story centers around three sisters, be they the Fates, avatars of Nyarlathotep (for keeping with traditional Mythos flavor), or several other well conceived possibilities. This large adventure (154 pages/7 pages are ads) consists of a brief foreward and introduction before jumping into the first of four chapters.

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Flames

Cthulhu Week: Deconstructing Realms of Cthulhu

Posted on August 22, 2010 by

Throughout Cthulhu Week we’ve discussed Mythos tomes in comic books, fiction, movies and more. We’ve even offered up a Campaign Frame for the Trail of Cthulhu RPG and vivisected elements of the Call of Cthulhu RPG as well.

Yet there is another Mythos RPG and game designer Sean Preston is here to tell us about his dark work on the game called Realms of Cthulhu

Deconstructing Realms of Cthulhu

Hello there. I’m Sean Preston, and I’m a game designer, writer, editor, publisher, and an avid gamer as well. I like to talk and write about games (when not playing them) as much as most of us in this industry, but before we get going let’s have a compact. Since we’ll be talking about Lovecraft, it’s only natural that blood enters the scene, so let’s make it a blood compact. Shall we? My digital blood is being spilled before you, pixel by pixel. I trust you’ll smear some about at some point or other, so the compact is made. What I’ll be talking about is the philosophy of writing Lovecraftian horror for games. I shall not deviate. If I do, I pray the Hounds of Tindalos find a lovely angle from which to spring upon me in the dead of night. As for you, if you enjoy the article, share it about. Fair enough? Good. Now, let’s get started in earnest. The clock is ticking.

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Billzilla

Cthulhu Week: Madness One Die Roll At A Time

Posted on August 21, 2010 by

Continuing the adventures of Cthulhu Week we have a series of reflections on some of the Call of Cthulhu RPG supplements by reviewer Bill Bodden.

Pay close attention, however, as Bill does sneak in a note about his favorite Trail of Cthulhu adventure as well…

I’ve been a devotee of the Call of Cthulhu RPG for more than 25 years. Along the way there have been some excellent adventures created, and in celebration of Cthulhu Week, I’d like to share a few of my favorites. Hopefully, they’ll intrigue you as they did me, and you’ll consider adding them to your own campaign, or running them as one-off adventures for your gaming group. Be warned that a few small spoilers may be found in what follows…

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Jason Thorson

Cthulhu Week: The Lovecraft Movie Dilemma

Posted on August 21, 2010 by

Next up for Cthulhu Week we asked reviewer Jason Thorson to tell us about his favorite Lovecraft-inspired movies. Not an easy task to say the least, but we were certainly willing to risk his sanity for this investigation.

Read on to learn of the challenges he faced…

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to give you some background on what you’re currently reading – what’s now become a ranting blog on H.P. Lovecraft film adaptations. My initial intention was to write a feature about the nature of Lovecraftian flicks and then list the five best examples. However, I immediately anticipated some difficulty. My original thesis was that most of these films don’t work, but surely there have been so many attempts to adapt Lovecraft’s work that I’d certainly be able to find five movies worthy of recommendation. Right?

Wrong.

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Billzilla

Cthulhu Week: Cthulhu Tales Comic Review

Posted on August 20, 2010 by

The works of H.P. Lovecraft have inspired hundreds of other writers; in the 1970s, his stories became popular material for the growing underground comics movement, and that popularity, though it waxes and wanes, has yet to vanish completely. Currently enjoying an upsurge in interest, one of the latest offerings, Boom Studios’ Cthulhu Tales, brings brand new Lovecraft-inspired material to the graphic novel format. I was excited to see these when I attended C2E2 in Chicago, and purchased volume one of the series with great anticipation.

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Cthulhu Week: The Tentacles That Bind

Posted on August 19, 2010 by

Next up for Cthulhu Week is a little something from Flames Rising reviewer Eric Pollarine. Eric takes a look at some of his favorite fiction, music and movies and talks about how these folks have been influenced by H. P. Lovecraft and just what that means to him as a horror fan.

H. P. Lovecraft.

The name alone sets the stage in your mind, if you are a fan of horror, or even if you are not -to a place in time that is alive with the nightmares of the industrial revolution and arcane secrets hiding in dusty old texts. A place of extraordinary psychological terror, a time in which we were a young nation, exploring the limits of our capacity to both destroy and create -the modern, and the profane; the forbidden knowledge of the Garden of Eden, the limits and expectations of Fate and above all else the limited resources of man faced with the fact that he is in and of himself the primary cause for both guilt and civilization’s current state.

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Flames

Cthulhu Week: Curse of the Yellow Sign, Act II RPG Review

Posted on August 19, 2010 by

This book is the second in the series that began with Act I: Digging for a Dead God. The front cover artwork is exactly the same, title aside, being of a large Yellow Sign on a dark, blood spattered background. Instead there is a longer piece of introductory copy on the back cover that delivers the mood to you straight off the bat. “At the turn of the century,” it begins, “In an abandoned hotel / In the dead darkness of winter / Six sit to read a cursed play.” Any Call of Cthulhu pro will, at this stage, be nodding sagely at this point, correctly indentifying the play The King in Yellow, the horrific drama around which many (recent) Call of Cthulhu adventures that focus on Hastur cultists have tapped into. However, in much the same way as the previous Act, the lines between player and character are deliberately blurred.

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Flames

Cthulhu Week: Inmates by Robin D. Laws

Posted on August 18, 2010 by

Cthulhu Week continues with a new Campaign Frame for the Trail of Cthulhu RPG from Pelgrane Press written by game designer and author Robin D. Laws.

This series concept uses the Trail Of Cthulhu Campaign Frame format. The idea can easily be ported to your Cthulhu RPG of choice.

Inmates

Setting: Play begins within the confines of Butler Hospital, a Providence, Rhode Island mental institution. This real-world facility was founded in 1844 and is still operational today. H. P. Lovecraft’s father, Winfield Scott Lovecraft, died there in 1898 after succumbing to psychosis in a Chicago hotel room.

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Monica Valentinelli

Cthulhu Week: Cthulhu’s Reign Anthology Review

Posted on August 18, 2010 by

Sometimes, when I’m itching for a story, I’ll pick up an anthology and check out some of the short stories that lurk within. To me, a good anthology has a broad range of stories; some will appeal to me, and some won’t. Released in April 2010, CTHULHU’S REIGN is a collection of tales edited by Darrell Schweitzer that gives authors like Jay Lake, Ken Asamatsu and Gregory Frost the opportunity to describe what happens after the Old Ones appear.

My interest in this anthology is more curiosity than anything, because so much attention is often placed on summoning Cthulhu or the Old Ones. So what happens after they appear? Well, if these stories are any indication, humankind wouldn’t last long. Such Bright And Risen Madness In Our Names by Jay Lake is a great story that meshes the first person voice so common in Lovecraft’s stories with a post-apocalyptic feel.

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Flames

Cthulhu Week: A Note from the Editor at Innsmouth Free Press

Posted on August 17, 2010 by

Innsmouth Free Press Issue Number 4Flames Rising is pleased to present you with a guest post from Silvia Moreno-Garcia, the publisher at Innsmouth Free Press. According to the “About Innsmouth Free Press” page, this webzine is “a fictional newspaper publishing faux news pieces – lovingly called Monster Bytes – in a Lovecraftian/Cthulhu Mythos universe, as well as original short fiction stories.” Uncover the sordid details behind these Monster Bytes, how Silvia fell in love with Lovecraft’s work, and how you can be a part of this Mythos-inspired ‘zine:

Every few months Innsmouth Free Press will get an earnest e-mail from someone who thinks Innsmouth is a real place. Oddly enough, it actually exists, at least in our collective minds.

Innsmouth Free Press is a zine that publishes daily articles, interviews and reviews about all things horror and speculative. Three times a year, we produce a free issue of Lovecraftian fiction.

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Cthulhu Week: The Calling: Cthulhu Chronicles 1 Comic Review

Posted on August 17, 2010 by

This is a great looking issue. While it’s not rich in detail, the character designs have a great look and feel to them. They are nice and consistent from panel to panel, and there are even some great details in the backgrounds. The colors work well to showcase the mood and even help get the fear flowing with the gruesome images. Overall a great looking issue.

The story is by far the selling point on this issue. I can’t go too deep into it, but how freaking scary is that ending! So the start of the story had me a little confused, but as it went on I start to get a good feel for it. Nice character building throughout, you get a good sense of most of the cast. But all of that is just on hold when you reach that final page.

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Flames

Cthulhu Week: Your Top 20 Cthulhu Mythos Reviews

Posted on August 16, 2010 by

Cthulhu Scribe by Drew PoczaWhat do you and Cthulhu have in common? A love of the mythos, of course! In this post, we take a look at your favorite reviews of Cthulhu and other Mythos-related music, games, comics, books and films that you’ve enjoyed over the years. While we have an extensive selection of Lovecraft-related reviews and articles on the site, we chose these twenty not only because you really enjoyed reading these, but also because we felt that they were definitely worth a second look during Cthulhu Week. After all, who better to recommend something Cthulhu-related than your fellow cultists readers here on FlamesRising.com?

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11 Tales of Ghostly Horror

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