Tag Archive | "Reviews"


Looking For A Particular Demon? Look No Further!

Posted on September 8, 2015 by

Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures by Theresa Bane
There have been an awful lot of demons mentioned in the bible, the Koran, the Torah, in classical literature, and elsewhere. You practically need a scorecard to keep track of all of them. McFarland & Company Publishers has produced a massive volume cataloging the numerous evil entities from the void, The Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures.

Collected by Theresa Bane, this work includes a vast array of not only demons, but includes references to and entries for angelic entities, as well as a few with less clearly defined loyalties. These entities were written about in the religious texts of such diverse faiths as Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Ashurism, and from such ancient cultures as Sumeria, China, Scythians, Mayans, and many African cultures.


Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Session Prep Review

Posted on September 20, 2012 by

Every gamer loves game night. We all gather around the game table with snacks and our beverage of choice ready to roll some dice and tell a story together. There is something magical about the tale that unfolds from a collaborative storytelling experience (also known as playing a roleplaying game) and the game master is the lynch pin to that process. It seems so effortless on the player’s side of the game screen but good game preparations are necessary to create that effect at the game table.

Game prep is not an intuitive process for most of us and there are very few resources out there for game masters wishing to learn it. Fortunately Phil Vecchione has come to our rescue with Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Session Prep his newest book published by Engine Publishing.


L5R: Imperial Histories Review

Posted on August 9, 2012 by

Each of the previous editions of Legend of the Five Rings was connected to a specific time period. The first edition was set before the events of the CCG. The second edition bumped the timeline to the Time of the Void. The third edition came out current with the CCG story at the time. The fourth edition opted to be timeless to allow fans to use whatever time period they wanted. This left a lot of the game’s history out of the core book. This makes the fourth edition versatile, but left out a lot of the player created history and backstory. Imperial Histories was created to fill that void.

Imperial Histories is a guide to various points in the history of Rokugan. Many of the periods have been seen in other sourcebooks or editions. Some have been referred to in historical accounts. And a few are brand new to the book. Each of these is set ups as a campaign possibility with new rules, new schools and, in some cases, modifications to the existing rules for different eras of the Empire. This book is aimed at GMs looking for campaign ideas or fans wanting historical information in one place.

Steven Dawes

Never Unprepared Review

Posted on August 7, 2012 by

Due to being a full time student for the last 18 months, I’ve not been very active in writing reviews for Flames Rising. I’d also retired from gaming for more than a year due to said schooling, but recently I’ve come to realize that gaming is too much a part of my being; it’s far too hard wired in me as a creative outlet to be able to give it up forever, much less for years at a stretch. So for the last few months I’ve been trying to make it work again, taking up the gauntlet as a weekly Game Master. But I couldn’t do it like I used to; changes in how I managed my Game Master duties needed to be made, and so I’ve been trying different things to varying results.


Carnacki: Heaven And Hell Review

Posted on August 3, 2012 by

I’m a fan of Carnacki. The somewhat stuffy British paranormal investigator, whose adventures were first cataloged more than a hundred years ago in Carnacki The Ghost Finder by his creator, author William Hope Hodgson, have fascinated me since I was urged to read them by a good friend. I was curious, therefore, when I discovered that another author, Scotsman William Meikle, had taken up the mantle of telling some new Carnacki tales in Carnacki: Heaven and Hell by Dark Regions Press. I tried to be objective going in, but my fondness for the character had me pretty excited to read some new adventures.


Designers and Dragons Review

Posted on June 18, 2012 by

Let’s say you’re going to teach a course on the history of role-playing games. You have the diploma and teaching certification. You have the tweed jacket. You have everything, but a textbook. With Designers and Dragons, you have a hulking 442 page textbook that examines this specific gaming culture since its creation in 1974. You’re ready to teach.

I’ve been playing RPGs since 1987 put TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes: Advanced Set into my local Waldenbooks, which means, according to this book, that I missed a massive amount of gaming history. I’ve played lots of games, read lots more that were not worth playing, and read about tons more through reviews or blurbs. I know a bit about what is going on in the industry.


INTO THE DARK: John Carter Film Review

Posted on March 9, 2012 by

Before he secured his place in the annals of international pop culture with the Tarzan stories, Edgar Rice Burroughs offered up the initial adventure in the far more interesting and inventive Barsoom series. “Under the Moons of Mars,” later to be retitled A Princess of Mars for book publication, first saw print in the Munsey pulp The All-Story, from February through July of 1912. The six-part serial chronicles the adventures of Confederate veteran Captain John Carter, who stumbles across a cave in Arizona through which he is transported via psychic projection to Mars, or as the locals call it, Barsoom.

Once deposited on Barsoom, Carter treks across the dying planet and encounters an imaginative assortment of races and creatures, from the four-armed warrior Tharks to the super-speedy dog-lizard things called calots (one of which, naturally, becomes the hero’s faithful companion), to the humanlike red Martians.


Designers and Dragons Review

Posted on December 20, 2011 by

This is a monumental work, a comprehensive and scholarly history of the role-playing industry from its inception in the early 1970s to the present day. The focus is interesting, concentrating on the individuals and companies that have made role-playing what it is today rather than looking at the games themselves.

Whilst detailed, the writing flows well, making it eminently readable and often entertaining, a fascinating survey of the companies and people who have shaped role-playing and are responsible for most of the books on my shelves (or, these days, lurking on the RPG hard drive) – and who have provided me with years of entertainment and passion. If your interest in role-playing goes anywhere beyond the next dungeon delve, if you like to know the background and history of the games you enjoy, you should find something here catches your attention… and once caught, be warned, it may be a while before you can tear yourself away!

Monica Valentinelli

Shadow Fall Review

Posted on September 19, 2011 by

SHADOW FALL is the third book in the Shadowchasers series by Seressia Glass. You can read my review of SHADOW CHASE, the second book in the series, here at Flames Rising.

An exhibit at an Egyptian museum and a dark mystery is the focal point for Kira Solomon and the other characters in SHADOW FALL. The events that happen in this book dive into Kira’s murky background and the reactions of all those around her — which aren’t always positive.


City of the Damned: New Orleans Review

Posted on September 1, 2011 by

Setting books are a tough sell in most role playing games. For one thing, if the game master opts to set the adventures of the characters in a different city then those offered – or the players’ characters find themselves drawn in another direction entirely – setting books become less than completely useful. Also, since they will only sell – for the most part – to game masters, more than three-quarters of the potential audience is already uninterested in purchasing it.

Such is the problem with city guides for the World of Darkness; despite aiming for fascinating cities with a great many points of interest besides vampires, werewolves and the like, they just haven’t sold well enough to justify others in the line. However, they are well worth a GM’s time and cash outlay to obtain; besides a wealth of interesting NPCs that might show up in one’s own game, the city books are filled with fantastic plot hooks and useful information that is easily adapted to any chronicler’s setting.


The Last Four Things Review

Posted on August 30, 2011 by

This is poetry! Even when it is prose… I mean, that the writing flows smoothly, honed turns of phrase that draw you in and create pictures in your mind.

The plot continues to follow, in the main, the exploits of Thomas Cale, who is now brought to prominence as the recognised – at least by some – embodiment of God’s own anger, his innate talent for violence being viewed as divinely inspired, and thus admired by an organisation as partial to using force to impose what they see as the will of God on others. Given privileges surprising to one of such young age and lack of experience, he is given battlefield command of Redeemer forces where his unorthodox tactics and personal leadership bring results… mirrored by turbulance in the higher echelons of the church hierarchy as plotters seek power and even the Pope’s throne.


Chilling Tales Anthology Review

Posted on August 12, 2011 by

Horror is a subjective state; what one finds horrifying another might find merely gruesome or grotesque. It is within this ambiguity I find myself regarding Chilling Tales: Evil DId I Dwell; Lewd Did I Live. There was horror within to be sure; also within was loneliness, isolation, despair, and a lot of really good writing.

Standout stories for me in this collection included “Tom Chesnutt’s Midnight Blues” by Robert J. Wiersema and “404” by Barbara Roden. Both are among the first three tales and get the anthology off to a great start. “Tom Chesnutt’s” is about a philandering folk singer who inadvertently causes his wife’s death. She haunts him now, not actively rattling chains and moaning but rather showing up at his gigs – a phantom only he can see – as a reminder of his misdeeds. “404” is a distressingly familiar tale about office workers who discover their comrades simply disappear one day. As their numbers dwindle and their isolation increases, they each find themselves coming under the watchful eye of their supervisor.


The Snow Queen’s Shadow Fiction Review

Posted on July 19, 2011 by

How do I start a review of the final book in a series that I love, which had me sobbing for about three chapters of the conclusion? As it turns out, by avoiding the issue:

I feel sorry for Prince Armand.

There, I said it. Three kick-butt heroines of the whole series and this review starts off with some compassion for the guy who is always first in line to get cursed, kidnapped, and just generally gets the short end of the deal. In a series about princesses who don’t need to be rescued, someone else has to be — and once again, nice-guy prince Armand (who seems reasonably capable) suffers some of the very first consequences to evil becoming a threat in the kingdom of Lorindar.

This time, the threat starts close to home, with Snow White, who has been set up for this kind of fall from the beginning of the series, overstretches her magical abilities and ends up releasing a demon from her mother’s magic mirror. Worse, the demon corrupts Snow herself, meaning that our three heroines are no longer on the same team.


Touch of Frost Fiction Review

Posted on July 13, 2011 by

Gwen Frost, a gypsy, doesn’t know where she fits in, and she doesn’t really want to. She came to Mythos Academy after the death of her mother — for which she blames herself — and doesn’t understand what she’s doing there. She’s no warrior, and her gift of psychometry, the ability to read emotions and history off of objects, mainly helps her find lost things. She doesn’t really believe in the Pantheon or the Reapers, and she’s got no interest in fighting those battles even if they are real.

But then Queen Bee Jasmine gets brutally murdered in the library, where Gwen works, and everything changes. Unwilling to let Jasmine’s death go unmourned — when not even Jasmine’s friends seem to feel grief at her murder — Gwen is determined to discover the identity of Jasmine’s killer. And in the meantime, she ends up finding out a lot about what it is that brought her to Mythos Academy in the first place.


Van Helsing Board Game Review

Posted on June 30, 2011 by

Let’s be honest; who doesn’t love Count Dracula? The cape, the sex appeal, the slick hair, eschewing modern dentistry – he did it all, including upsetting more than a few well-to-do British noblemen. In Van Helsing, one player gets to play the toothy Count, while the remaining one to four players take on the roles of Jonathan Harker, Mina Murray, Lord Godalming and Abraham Van Helsing – the Hunters.

The board is a loose grid of spaces showing three levels of Dracula’s castle. Hunters move around the board looking for Dracula and his brides. The object of the game for them is to destroy five of the eight brides, or destroy Dracula himself if they like doing things the hard way. For the Count, his goal is to either transform all four of the Hunters into his minions or kill them, or to get four of his potential brides to the coffin space in his castle.


The Gaki and Other Hungry Spirits Review

Posted on June 20, 2011 by

Being an aficionado of folklore, I was intrigued by the title of this collection, The Gaki and Other Hungry Spirits, which refers to “hungry ghosts” of Japanese legend. While the stories themselves are decidedly Western in nature, they are no less interesting. A number of the tales do feature hungry spirits, so points to Mr. Rainey for holding to his theme.

This collection starts off with the title story, “The Gaki” in which we have a tale of a man searching for something to fill his life. He finds intrigue at a clandestine gathering of people by the Copper River, and what follows will lead him down a path he never knew existed. Ultimately, he finds what he seeks, but it isn’t what he expected, and it requires a high level of devotion from him in exchange.


Ace of Hearts RPG Review

Posted on June 7, 2011 by

Ace of Hearts is another of the lighthearted, ‘beer and crisps’ games by James Desborough. I’ll admit, you do have a certain type of humor to enjoy his products. But, if you do have a slightly skewed sense of reality then this will be a worthy role-playing game to take a look at. This particular product is definitely for adults. It has and deals with mature themes.. besides.. what is a kid doing drinking beer and eating pretzels.. err.. crisps anyway while role-playing? They should have school in the morning and be in bed sleeping. If they don’t have something to do, then I am sure the parent can assign some chores to keep them occupied. Chores are good like that, they can keep the child busy and it builds character.. well.. character and resentment. Anyway, back to the review.


Nightlife RPG Review

Posted on June 2, 2011 by

What would happen if the cult classic “The Warriors” was set in the early 90’s with all the gangs being various super-natural creatures? You would have the role-playing game Nightlife. Nightlife was released in 1990 and 1991, with two editions and several supplements. It is hard to tell why one game fails to catch, and another game spreads like wild fire. It is also hard not to compare Nightlife with White Wolf’s World of Darkness, even though the two have very few similarities.

Both have vampires and werewolves and both games are set in a punk setting with horror elements. They use d10’s as their die of choice and super-natural creatures have strange awe inspiring powers. However, the similarities end there between the two games.


Scenes from the Second Storey Review

Posted on May 23, 2011 by

Each story in this anthology was based on a particular song by the band God’s Machine, and in particular the album Scenes from the Second Storey. Being utterly unfamiliar with either I was at a loss to see how each work coincided with it’s assigned song. I simply read each story as it was presented.

My interest was heightened when I discovered that the writers were either from Australia, or near that region. As I read I picked up subtle differences between ‘American’ writing and that of their homeland, I am sure this affected my expectations within each tale and my eventual opinion. I delighted in this look at another part of the world and how they write and construct a story. Several of these authors interested me enough that I wrote their names down for my next visit to a bookstore; though it appears that most do short stories I hope to find their other works.


Apocalypse World RPG Review

Posted on May 20, 2011 by

While at PAX East this year, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a panel on developing independent RPGs. Vincent Baker was among the panelists, and I was incredibly excited to see the man who had created the well-known and critically acclaimed Dogs in the Vineyard. Immediately after the panel I went to his booth and saw that he had another game for sale, Apocalypse World. Its cover, featuring a nude, ambiguous form in a gas mask, haunched over and lit from behind, intrigued me– I had just finished my thesis on Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and was on an apocalypse kick, so although I had gone to the booth expecting to pick up DitV, I came away with a game I hadn’t even heard of before.

With Apocalypse World I didn’t really know what to expect. I admit, I don’t have very many systems under my belt– I’ve read far more games than I’ve actually played, and I don’t like to pass judgment on a system without actually playing it. But just from the get-go, Apocalypse World had a lot going for it.


11 Tales of Ghostly Horror

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