Archive | August, 2009

Halloween 2 Movie Review

Posted on August 31, 2009 by

My experience watching Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 was similar to how I imagine it must have been when George Foreman discovered he was as adept at selling grills as he was putting people to sleep with his fists. In other words, it was not what I expected. In fact I expected to hate it. I was so disgusted with Zombie’s unfortunate stab at remaking, re-imagining, and regurgitating John Carpenter’s 1978 seminal slasher that for a while I became the elderly curmudgeon of horror movie journalism. I may have even yelled at some kids to stay the hell off my lawn.

However, this time it wasn’t long before I came to the slightly confusing realization that I wasn’t hating this dreaded sequel, an emotion I felt specifically entitled to given the majority of films I’ve suffered through lately, but rather I was riveted by Rob Zombie’s brutal, gritty, and most importantly, original chapter in one of horror’s most important and longest running series.


The Return of the Eden Studios PDF Sale! 50% OFF or More!

Posted on August 28, 2009 by

Back by popular demand, Eden Studios presents all lovers of PDFs with an incredible sale on all of their amazing products!

All Flesh Must Be Eaten, Conspiracy X, Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, C.J. Carella’s Witchcraft, Army of Darkness and more!

Enjoy 50% to 75% Off Savings on all Eden Studios Electronic Games for a limited time!

The sale ends Thursday, September 3rd so take advantage of this awesome sale! Price has been automatically discounted off the original (or sale) price so you’ll enjoy huge discounts. If you’ve ever been interesting in conspiracies, paranormal threats, zombies, ghosts, witchcraft or the other things that lurk in the dark — now’s the perfect time to check out these great games.

Eden Studios RPGs are available at the Flames Rising RPGNow Shop.


Flash Fire Mini-Reviews (Back from the Dead)

Posted on August 28, 2009 by

The Flash Fire Mini-Reviews series has crawled out of its grave and returned as a regular feature on the Flames Rising website.

To celebrate we’re going to be taking a look at several kinds of undead this week. We’ve got a mix of games, books and more. This particular edition of Flash Fire Mini-Reviews is going to feature a few different reviewers.

We’re going to take a look at Zombie Haiku, Vampire: the Eternal Struggle, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Geist: The Sin-Eaters and The Estuary.


Martians Board Game Review

Posted on August 27, 2009 by

Twilight Creations earns the distinction of being the first board game I review. I’ve been familiar with the company since Zombies, moved through When Darkness Comes, and looked forward to their Deadlands release (I didn’t get a chance to play a demo, but I did hover for a little bit while a quartet enjoyed a brief visit to the weird west. Today, I’m reviewing Martians.

Martians is a tile-based board game similar to Zombies. The game is intended for two to six players, ages thirteen and up. I should go ahead and point out that my five-year-old son, a board game enthusiast, wanted to try out this game. After reading the rules and deciding to go with the cooperative version, I told him he could try. Except for reading the cards, he quickly grasped the fundamental concepts of the game. He places little green men and tokens accurately; furthermore, he understood the turn sequence just as well as his dad (who had to sometimes look at the rules).


Little Fears Nightmare Edition Preview Door #6: Keys to the World

Posted on August 26, 2009 by

Welcome to the sixth of the 13 Doors: an exclusive look behind the door at the upcoming Little Fears Nightmare Edition – The Game of Childhood Terror.

Door #6: Keys to the World

lfnebutterflyWorld-building can be an incredibly fun part of the game creation process. It’s also what makes working on a game set in modern day, such as Little Fears Nightmare Edition, a strange creature. I mean, I’m not going to reinvent suburbia here. No one needs a detailed explanation of an apartment building or the function of an elementary school (I’ll leave that debate for another time and place). Cell phones, remote controls, video games, heelies, and strip malls are all part of modern American culture. While players can easily set a game in 1970s Africa or in a Victorian boarding house, that’s not something that I’ll be covering in the mainbook. You can set the game in their hometown (or their home country) where they will provide the detaiils. My job as the designer is to give folks the tools to take whatever reality they decide and twist it just the right amount for their game.


The Lifeless: A Zombie Novel

Posted on August 25, 2009 by

A school full of kids.

A mysterious yellow rain.

High school will never be the same.

They are outcasts and misfits, teenagers lost on the path to adulthood, living day-to-day inside a high school culture of taunts, humiliation, and isolation. They are the misunderstood, the neglected, and the abused. They are . . . The Lifeless.

For them, every school day is a nightmare.

But on Monday, October 2nd, they will discover the true meaning of terror.

Classes are cut short by news of explosions in the city across the river, part of a series of horrific terrorist attacks that paralyze the nation. But that is only the beginning: amber clouds fill the sky, burning rain pelts down, and the surviving students of Verlaine High learn that their tormentors have mutated into something far worse-reanimated corpses with a primordial instinct for murder.

It’s time to stand up to the in-crowd . . . or be consumed by it.

The Lifeless: A Zombie Novel is available at


Of Evil and Darkness #2 Review

Posted on August 24, 2009 by

Of Evil and Darkness follows a film crew to a mysterious island, where they are trying to find out more about the island and the mysterious murders that took place there long ago. The story starts off with humor, as even by issue two the story helps even a casual reader get adjusted to each character and their individual quirks. Upon arriving at the island, the crew is filled with a sense of nervousness from the stories about the island, and as the story progresses each character starts to become afraid. Soon they find that the stories about the island are very real, as they experience the events that took place many years ago, as a nightmare is resurrected on the island and it begins to hunt the crew down and murder them.

The film crew have unique personalities to them. From Henrick, the medium who travels with the cast and seems to foreshadow the evil events that are about to happen by his strange predictions, to the light-hearted nature of Jimmy as he tries to use humor to deal with the horror and anxiety around him.


Eclipse Phase RPG now available from Catalyst Game Labs

Posted on August 23, 2009 by

Your mind is software. Program it.
Your body is a shell. Change it.
Death is a disease. Cure it.
Extinction is approaching. Fight it.

Eclipse Phase is a post-apocalyptic game of conspiracy and horror. Humanity is enhanced and improved, but also battered and bitterly divided. Technology allows the re-shaping of bodies and minds, but also creates opportunities for oppression and puts the capability for mass destruction in the hands of everyone. And other threats lurk in the devastated habitats of the Fall, dangers both familiar and alien. In this harsh setting, the players participate in a cross-faction conspiracy called Firewall that seeks to protect transhumanity from threats both internal and external. Along the way, they may find themselves hunting for prized technology in a gutted habitat falling from orbit, risking the hellish landscapes of a ruined earth, or following the trail of a terrorist through militarized stations and isolationist habitats. Players may even find themselves stepping through a Pandora Gate, a wormhole to distant stars and the alien secrets beyond.

The Eclipse Phase RPG is available at the Flames Rising RPGNow Shop.


District 9 Mini-Review

Posted on August 22, 2009 by

Rocky Joe Shields dives in to District 9 for Flames Rising.

Based on the short film Alive in Joburg, District 9 is more than just a mere science fiction summer action movie. Director Neill Blomkamp has created an exciting new world; the basis for this world is an alien-landing. Called “prawns,” the aliens landed 20 years ago over the South African city of Johannesburg. In District 9, we learn what has transpired over the next 20 years through interviews filmed in a documentary style. The people of Johannesburg have had enough, and want the aliens out of their city.

The movie begins with geeky bureaucrat Wikus van der Merwe, played wonderfully by newcomer Sharlto Copley, who has been assigned the task of getting the aliens to leave for District 10. Unfortunately, when Wikus comes into contact with an alien cylinder and sprays himself with the fluid inside, his DNA mutates, then turns him into one of the alien prawns.


Day After Ragnarok Review

Posted on August 21, 2009 by

It’s a world where jetpack-toting heroes combat Fly-By-Nights (a combination of toad, bat, and gorilla). It’s a world where a 200-foot tall tidal wave decimated the North American East Coast. It’s a pulp setting full of Communists, Klansmen, Norse myth, and much more. It’s a world that comes from the twisted mind of Kenneth Hite, and it’s worth staking out. The Day After Ragnarok (DAR from here on out) is a new savage setting for Savage Worlds that takes place in a world where the line between World War II and Norse myth blur, permitting Jörmungander, the Midgard Serpent, entrance to our reality.

DAR’s layout proves Spartan. Cleanliness lends to divinity though in that the finished product looks smart. Instead of the usual two-column format, DAR primarily favors a single column. Neatly placed sidebars work to make an exception to this.


Post GenCon Indy 2009

Posted on August 21, 2009 by

GenCon Indy has wrapped up for another year and I’m making an attempt to get back into the work groove this week, which honestly isn’t easy this time around. I had a a great time at the convention, even though I over scheduled myself more than once. Several productive meetings and some good conversations later I’m already looking forward to next year.

Enough about that. A few highlights from the show. One of my first stops was the Pelgrane Press booth to check out the new Gumshoe books. The Esoterror Fact Book and Arkham Detective Tales are the only two I’ve managed to dig into at all so far, but Arcane Majicks and Hard Helix both look very cool as well.


A special message about JOHN DIES AT THE END

Posted on August 20, 2009 by

Hello Flames Rising readers,

Below is a very important message from David Wong, author of the soon to be re-released John Dies at the End. Please read it carefully as your life may depend upon the information it contains…

My most terrifying experience reading a novel was when I opened my copy of White Fang and a dead spider fell out.

I’ve always felt like that’s what a good horror novel should do. That is what I told Jacob at Permuted Press when it came time to put John Dies at the End into print a couple of years ago. My idea was to rig each copy with a plastic spider that would jump out at the reader when they opened page 42. It was as simple as cutting a compartment into the middle pages and rigging some kind of spring mechanism.


Witchfinder Cthulhu Live Review

Posted on August 20, 2009 by

Witchfinder, an adventure for Cthulhu Live 3rd Edition, is designed for a large group to explore some Nazi evil-doings. Stay with me as this is my first true LARP review, so my format may be a little different. This adventure is written for roughly thirty players; however, the writers do make concessions for larger or smaller groups. The PDF comes in several formats. For the purposes of this review, I worked from the grayscale option.

Witchfinder’s layout is really cool, even when toned down. Each page looks burnt and aged around the edges. For the pages of props (Morse Code transcripts), this style will look nice for players. The character sheet handouts also have this border, but are also inset with key information required for the game. The characters’ histories can be folded back or cut off after the information is gleaned. Also, icons for the various (there are quite a few) factions in the game highlight each character insert.


Practical Guide to Vampires Feeds Vampire Fans

Posted on August 20, 2009 by

Think you know all about vampires? Think again. Did you know that vampires can hibernate for decades, have stomachs the size of walnuts, and have a predisposition for jobs in real estate? Can you say, “I must feed?” in vampire language? A Practical Guide to Vampires (Mirrorstone) provides the in-depth information we all need to know about these dangerous creatures of the night. This comprehensive book follows the New York Times best-sellers A Practical Guide to Dragons and A Practical Guide to Monsters. All are lavishly-illustrated and fun for all ages.

A Practical Guide to Vampires is packed with thrilling, chilling and blood-spilling facts about these compelling monsters. Kids can read about vampire anatomy, intelligence, clothing, habits and habitats, as well as dangerous powers like shapeshifting, hypnotic persuasion, and superhuman strength.


Romero’s Survival of the Dead Trailer

Posted on August 19, 2009 by

As the sixth installment in George Romero’s zombie film series, Survival of the Dead offers a new storyline and (of course) more zombies. Debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in mid-September, the film’s announcement has been met with mixed results. Some zombie lovers are groaning at the thought of another film in the series; others are interested in the story about a group of survivors who leave their island to find a cure and save humanity.

There are a number of stills from the movie that have recently been released through the TIFF website.


Geist: The Sin-Eaters Available Now!

Posted on August 19, 2009 by

It’s a story that begins with death — with your death.

Why did the Reaper reach out for you before your time? Why was it that you fell between the cracks?

Do you remember the flare of the gun or the sharpness of the knife? Do you remember the gnawing emptiness or the choking thickness of disease? Did you fall across the Threshold alone in the wild, or in the heart of the city?

The story begins there — with the moment of death, and with the Bargain that reversed it. With the cold hand that brought you back to the living world, with the dry whispers that still haunt you, with the presence that has nestled in your soul. You’ve returned to a world where the living cannot see the shades that surround them. You drink rum to the dead, and you eat their remnants and legacies, taking their memories within you. Every night is the carnivale, because every night you walk with ghosts.

Geist: The Sin-Eaters is available at the Flames Rising RPGNow Shop.


Little Fears Nightmare Edition Preview Door #5: Rebuilding Closetland

Posted on August 19, 2009 by

Welcome to the fifth of the 13 Doors: an exclusive look behind the door at the upcoming Little Fears Nightmare Edition – The Game of Childhood Terror.

Door #5: Rebuilding Closetland

I knew from the beginning that I wanted Little Fears Nightmare Edition to be different than its predecessor. The original Little Fears was great, and I love it warts and all, but simply remaking the game held little interest for me. I figured, the original is out there, people have it and are playing it. I don’t need to do it again.

So when it came to creating Little Fears Nightmare Edition, I decided to go back to basics. The core premise of Little Fears is simple. My elevator pitch is, “It’s a game about kids fighting monsters.” Which it is. But that premise is open to a lot of interpretation. I took a long hard look at what that meant to me. I had an inkling already and as I pushed and pulled at it, it started to take shape. I knew I was going to have to kill a lot of darlings in order to give the Nightmare Edition its own identity and, frankly, to make the type of game I wanted it to be this time around.


Lovecraftian anthology CTHULHU UNBOUND vol. 2 is now available!

Posted on August 18, 2009 by

Imagine being free. Free from everything that defines you, that makes you easily recognizable as who you are. Inside you’ll find Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers alongside a knight of the Round Table. The stock market will crash in a whole new, terrifying way. You’ll follow along as heroes go head-to-head with eldritch horrors from Lovecraft’s universe. From Greek legends to Captain Nemo, from gangsters to brokers; from prisons to palaces, dead moons to South American jungles… No one is safe; nowhere is safe. This is a Mythos collection unlike any other. This is Lovecraft in many colors, many guises.

Cthulhu Unbound vol. 2 is available at


My GenCon in Review

Posted on August 18, 2009 by

GenCon this year was a world of difference from last year, partially because instead of running a booth I was on several panels at the Writer’s Symposium. This selection of panels, organized by Jean Rabe was structured so that budding writers and game designers could get the help that they needed on a variety of topics ranging from world-building to their careers. In my opinion, even with my late evenings, I thought that the panels went really well because they were focused and pragmatic. Some of the panelists included authors like: Anton Strout, Pat Rothfuss, Mike Stackpole, John Helfers and Kerrie Hughes, Jean Rabe, Paul Genesse, Jennifer Brozek, Kelly Swails, Chris Pierson and more!


Shambling Towards Hiroshima Review

Posted on August 17, 2009 by

The high concept of James Morrow’s novel Shambling Towards Hiroshima is, quite frankly, almost worth the price of admission by itself. Unbeknownst to most Americans, the Navy had a backup plan in case the Army’s A-Bomb didn’t work out in WWII — genetically engineer giant, fire-breathing lizards to devastate Japan. (But we were building the A-Bomb to devastate Germany, I hear you cry. Never you mind about that.) But unlike our secretive A-Bomb policy, we decided to demonstrate our monsters to the Japanese to give them a chance to surrender first. But (and here’s where it gets really good) we couldn’t devastate anywhere real for a mere demonstration, so the Navy hired the world’s greatest monster-actor, Syms Thorley, to get into a rubber monster suit and stomp around on a model of “Shirazuka” for the cameras. The plan was to show the film to the Japanese and horrify them into surrender.


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