Author | Billzilla

Bill Bodden has been writing professionally for more nearly a decade. A contributor to Madison Magazine, Geek Monthly, Scrye, Knucklebones and Games Unplugged magazines, Bill's writing was included in the Hobby Games: The 100 Best and the forthcoming Family Games: The 100 Best essay collections. Bill has also had gaming-related work published by Green Ronin Publishing, Fantasy Flight Games, Mongoose Publishing, and Games Workshop/Black Library. Bill works as the wholesale sales rep for Green Ronin, and in his spare time paints miniatures, reads, plays games and cleans up after four cats. Bill lives in Wisconsin with his wife, Tracy.


Dusk Graphic Novel Review

Posted on April 4, 2011 by

Originally published in 2009, Dusk is a graphic novel written by David Doub that follows the lives of Eve and Ash. Ash is a vampire, and Eve is a human who takes regular drinks of Ash’s blood that he provides to her. Ash seems a very thoughtful and considerate master, very much unlike many of the other vampires we encounter in these stories.

Ash’s blood gives Eve enhanced strength and speed after she consumes it. Eve needs the extra advantage Ash’s blood provides when going up against other vampires – she’s taken on the responsibility of being Ash’s right hand.

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Bill’s Month in Horror, March 2011

Posted on March 28, 2011 by

It may come as no surprise that I’ve been thinking about horror lately. It occurred to me recently that there has, at no point in modern US history, been such a vast array of horror material – across all media – available for consumption. Not only do we have a regular horror television series currently airing (Walking Dead) plus many more series no longer in production available in DVD collections, but also a ton of fiction, both in novel and in comic/graphic novel formats. It’s a great time to be a horror fan!

I was glued to AMC’s series The Walking Dead ever since I stumbled across a preview trailer online last summer. My wife complained about the amount of space it took up on our already full DVR, so I conceded and deleted the recordings. The DVD of the first season is available now; I’m waiting for the time to be right to buy a copy. As the highest-rated series to date on AMC, and one of the top five shows from 2010 in terms of ratings on basic cable, the Walking Dead has broken new ground as a continuing horror series.

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Revere: Revolution in Silver Review

Posted on February 22, 2011 by

Mash-ups are all the rage; whether it be Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, or any number of lesser-known works, putting two seemingly unlikely things together has become a literary obsession recently. Revere: Revolution in Silver carries on this growing tradition, positing that, in his spare time, Paul Revere was actually a werewolf hunter and member of an occult organization dedicated to defending the world against supernatural threats.

With the early days of the American Revolution as the backdrop, Revere: Revolution in Silver takes this premise and runs with it. Doing an interesting bit of world-building, writer Lavallee and artist Bond create a whole new mythology around the famous American revolutionary.

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Matt Forbeck tells us about Amortals

Posted on January 31, 2011 by

Matt Forbeck has been a staple in the RPG industry for many years. With stints working for Games Workshop, Pinnacle Entertainment and Human Head Studios, and with design credits from Deadlands and Brave New World to Mutant Chronicles and the Leverage tabletop role-playing game, Matt has enough experience that the title “veteran” hardly seems adequate.

Matt and I sat down to hash out a few questions regarding his most recent novel, Amortals, from Angry Robot Books.

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Amortals Novel Review

Posted on December 15, 2010 by

What would you do if you found out you had been killed? Further, what if the new you had to track down the old you’s killer?

This is the odd dilemma facing Ronan Dooley, Secret Service Agent and Amortal. The Amortals Project is a program that keeps people alive long past their normal lifespan, and is a sort of insurance policy against anything lethal happening to the rich and powerful. Ronan has been granted Amortal status because of his usefulness in protecting other Amortals – including the President of the United States. So when Dooley ends up murdered, his first assignment – once his new body is up and running – is to track down the ones responsible; they may pose a threat to other Amortals, and besides, killing Dooley in such a high profile manner – broadcasting his death scene – gives the Project a black eye and unwanted bad publicity.

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Zombie Week: The Cold Ones Review

Posted on December 9, 2010 by


The Cold Ones is a novella by award winning author Elizabeth Donald. In Cold Ones, we meet Sarah Harvey, small-town bookstore owner with a secret: she’s not really a bookstore owner. It’s her cover; she’s part of a secret organization doing who knows what in this small coastal town. At least one other shop owner is another member of her team; their jobs are to keep an eye on the town and cover the rest of the team. The story begins with a scream as someone is attacked in the street by what turns out to be a quick, ferocious, zombie-like man, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, it represents only the beginnings of the trouble ahead…

The Cold Ones is a well-crafted tale; I was instantly sucked in and stayed up too late reading it. Ms. Donald does a very good job making her characters believable while avoiding most cliches found in supernatural fiction these days. This team of covert operatives is skilled and fairly bad-assed, but they are also fallible – they screw up occasionally and sometimes make poor choices.

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Zombie Week: Nox Arcana’s Zombie Influx Review

Posted on December 7, 2010 by

Zombies: the kids love ’em. Now you can have your very own zombie film soundtrack album thanks to the good folks at Nox Arcana; their Zombie Influx album is just the ticket to put a person in a brain-chomping mood.

All kidding aside, Nox Arcana has done some great work producing albums of evocative background music suitable for gaming and often inspirational for writing – whether fiction, gaming adventures or scenarios, or what have you. With Zombie Influx, Jeff Hartz of Buzz Works and Joseph Vargo of Nox Arcana explore new musical avenues of horror. There is a fairly solid level of cohesion at work on this album’s 19 tracks; however, many of the cuts do not necessarily evoke zombie sort of horror. Most evocative here of a mob of zombies wandering aimlessly in search of food are the tracks “Ground Zero” and “Flesh Eaters,” with a chorus of hoarse, moaning voices winding through the opening strains of both.

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Invite Only (Vampire) RPG Review

Posted on November 29, 2010 by

White Wolf Publishing seems to have covered everything possible for Vampire the Requiem; it helps they had a previous edition of the RPG – Vampire the Masquerade – to hash out what players though was useful and what they didn’t want. Along comes a small tidbit like Invite Only, and I for one am left wondering “Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner?”

Written by David A. Hill Jr. and Chuck Wendig, Invite Only is a guide to parties — more specifically, parties hosted or attended by the Kindred. Besides giving the less combat-oriented Kindred something interesting to do, parties are also the focus of a lot of deals and surprises in the V:tR world. A Kindred who pays attention could learn a lot at a party – if she survives long enough to make use of this knowledge.

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A Touch Of Dead Review

Posted on November 3, 2010 by


With the new season of Trueblood beginning soon, I thought it was a good time to take a look at the books that inspired the popular HBO series, starting with a collection of short stories – an excellent way to evaluate the world of Sookie Stackhouse for one’s self.

For those who may not know, True Blood is based on a series of novels by Charlaine Harris. The main character of these books, Sookie Stackhouse, is a barmaid in a fictional Northern Louisiana small town called Bon Temps. Sookie has a rare talent; she’s a telepath. As much curse as blessing, her telepathic ability meant she always knew what everyone around her was thinking – both god and bad. Sookie had resigned herself to a lonely existence when “V-Day” happened. Japanese scientists perfected a synthetic blood, and vampires – no longer needing to attack humans to survive – one day formally announced themselves to the world, along with their intention to live side-by-side with humans.

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The Best Of All Flesh Anthology Review

Posted on October 12, 2010 by

Let’s get this out of the way first thing; zombies scare me. The mindless violence and relentless, insatiable hunger and lack of pain response of the George Romero-style walking dead creep me the heck out. So when Jim Lowder handed me a copy of The Best of All Flesh at GenCon to review for Flames Rising, I admit I approached it with some trepidation.

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The Invictus (Vampire: the Requiem) Review

Posted on October 6, 2010 by

The vampires of White Wolf’s World of Darkness are consummate predators. Predators – generally speaking – don’t often suffer the company of other predators, particularly those that compete for the same food source, and rarely willingly when it does happen. One of the few things that encourages vampires to interact with each other is affiliation within a covenant. Such affiliations tend – by the very nature of their members – to be relatively loose ties, but they are not fleeting; vampires in the World of Darkness take a very dim view of those who willingly sever their connection to their covenant-mates. In The Invictus, White Wolf takes a look at the feudalistic covenant envied by many and hated by most – even by some of those within.

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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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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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Curse of the Full Moon Review

Posted on July 30, 2010 by

While the full moon rarely has a dramatic an effect on most people, there are some who will admit that they can feel the pull of the moon, at least in subtle ways — and crime statistics bear this out year after year. For those rare few for whom the moon activates a profound curse, the world becomes a different place entirely – a world filled with soft, slow creatures to be hunted, attacked and devoured. Give thanks that those with such a curse are still a rarity…

In Curse of the Full Moon, James Lowder has collected 19 tales from an impressive collection of horror luminaries: George R.R. Martin, Ursula LeGuin, Ramsey Campbell, Charles DeLint, Michael Moorcock and Neil Gaiman are just a few of the names any fan of contemporary fiction will recognize, but the list doesn’t end there. Joe R. Lansdale, Nancy A. Collins, Peter S. Beagle, Gene Wolfe and Harlan Ellison also contribute tales to this collection.

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Flash Fire Mini-Reviews: Luck of the Draw

Posted on July 2, 2010 by

This week we take a look at some horror-themed card games that deserve more attention. All are card or card/board hybrid games and all can be played in a relatively short (one hour or less) period of time.

The Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow by Asmodee Editions

WoMH is a party game, and follows the lead of popular convention games like Mafia. In Werewolves, players are dealt a character card – either villager or werewolf – which is kept secret. During the day turn, the players discuss who might be a werewolf and designate someone, suspected of being a werewolf, to be “executed.”

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Vampire Week: Daeva: Kiss of the Succubus Review

Posted on June 25, 2010 by

From their beginnings in ancient Sumeria, the Daeva have specialized at blending in with human society. In game terms, Gangrel may be the most overtly kick-ass clan due to their mastery of the Protean powers of shape-changing — able to sink into any patch of earth at sunrise, or to instantly grow claws and throw down. Daeva, on the other hand, have mastery over social skills, and the most efficient character builds tend to reflect this and play to that strength. Daeva may not be quite the combat powerhouse that a Gangrel can be, but they excel at manipulating others, inspiring desire, devotion and need.

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Gangrel: Savage and Macabre Review

Posted on May 25, 2010 by

In my previous review of Nosferatu: The Beast That Haunts the Blood for Vampire: the Requiem, I made the claim that Nosferatu was arguably the best clanbook of the series. I still stand by that claim, though Gangrel: Savage and Macabre is definitely a very close second.

Gangrel follows the same basic pattern as Nosferatu; a low-status vampire – probably a novice – is recruited to write a journal on the nature of the clan, along the way interviewing a number of clan members for their thoughts and insight. In this case, the book begins with a note that the author, Alice, has apparently gone AWOL. She eventually left this journal on the chest of a dead man, and as time goes on has been taking fewer and fewer pains to cover the tracks of her kills. She seems to be slipping deeper into the arms of the beast that afflicts all vampires – the thing that stirs within them, driving their animal impulses to hunt and kill without thought or care.

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Nosferatu: The Beast That Haunts The Blood Review

Posted on April 16, 2010 by

I’ve been a recent convert to White Wolf’s World of Darkness system, and have enjoyed immensely playing Vampire the Requiem. My initial character was of clan Ventrue – almost by default – but after reading through the Nosferatu clan book, I think I know what clan affiliation my next character will have.

Nosferatu describes the most repellent of the Kindred clans; the most disquieting vampires in the whole World of Darkness. No matter their sire, the vampires of this clan – Haunts, Freaks, and any number of less pleasant terms – have characteristics that set them apart from everyone else – even other Kindred. Their deformities may be physical, or they may tend toward having a powerful odor following them.

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The Battle For Slaughter Gulch Board Game Review

Posted on April 6, 2010 by

Deadlands, a mix of classic Western, science fiction and alternate history, has gone through a few changes and several editions in its 14-year history. A miniatures battle game and a pen-and-paper RPG of the Deadlands setting – the Wild West with magic and the supernatural in an alternate history timeline – have both been popular and successful, and last year a new addition has been added to the fold: a board game of the Deadlands world, produced by Twilight Creations.

Deadlands: The Battle for Slaughter Gulch pits two to six players against each other in a struggle for control of a small town. Each player leads one of the factions in town: The Agency (think precursor to the Secret Service), The Texas Rangers, The Blessed (Missionaries bringing the Good Word to the uncharted West), Hucksters (spell-slinging dudes from back East), Shamans, and Mad Scientists.

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Keep Your Friends Close: and Your Enemies Closer

Posted on March 28, 2010 by

As the evening’s action opens, Blake and Lavender have a discussion about moving the recovered treasures out of Stickney. While we trust Regent Czarnecki – our mentor – implicitly, he is not the only Nosferatu there, and certainly not the only one with access to the stuff. The Regent has suggested that while he’s fine with keeping it safe for us, he would ultimately like the stuff moved, and the sooner the better.

We debate the fate of the Canopic jars; they are a powerful, ancient artifact, but also dangerous. We know several Mekhet – a clan with ties to ancient Egypt – who could possibly help us find someone who knows what to do with this stuff. We agree that someone we know – Jed Holyoak, master of Blood Magic and high-ranking member of the Circle of the Crone – seems a likely candidate. We drive out to Stickney to look over the loot, possibly discuss things with our mentor and decide how to proceed and what – if anything – we should take away with us tonight. On the way, a Black SUV tries to run us off the road; we are suspicious, but draw no specific conclusions.

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