Tuesday, 31 October 2017

CR's Vampire two-shot

Critical Role: Thursday By Night ends with, among other things, non-vampire cosplay with fangs. Including a $14 Pac-Man costume.

Part One and a quick look at the rules.

“We go with the segues we have.”

Happy Hallowe'en!

Happy Hallowe’en! Be scareful out there.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Seasonal Planning: Not The Best

Halloween Night will probably not be out much earlier than, well, Hallowe’en Night. Still not bad for five weeks from “hey I should do this,” but yeah, starting the Christmas article ASAP.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Ragtag: Another lost Star Wars video game

An Uncharted-style game with a Han Solo type instead of an Indiana Jones type? Dang. That sounds like it would have been fun.

The article is long and thorough, and worth checking for the front page concept art of the crew alone. (Is that Doctor Aphra next to the very Michael Biehn as Johnny Ringo main character? And the giant naked mole rat guy in the back...)

Friday, 27 October 2017

Home Droiding Is Killing Music

Another Taylor Swift video, another genre setting hook. A very Ghost In The Shell cyberpunk future, with a revolutionary imprisoning one of her artificial copies... or is she?

While it has a lower overall Weird Level than the last one, this one has loads of cool-looking robot heads or helmets to borrow for an SF game.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Unexpected Hallowe'en Episodes

Hallowe’en is nearly upon us, and as I’m playing a Star Trek Adventures game at the moment I was reminded of Robert Bloch’s Catspaw, apparently the only time a Star Trek show ran a specific episode to suit its seasonal airtime, moving it out of its original schedule order to do so. You can see why - it’s full of witches, curses, fog, castles, plastic skeletons and a very unfriendly black cat.

“There is a curse on your ship! Leave this place... or you will all... die!

(The season one and three episodes originally broadcast nearest Hallowe’en were Miri and Spectre Of The Gun, both of which were creepy in their own ways with the rapid ageing and the rotting diseases and the surrealist Westerns and the floating brains with glowing eyes, but that’s just original Star Trek for you.)

Catspaw provides a functional Sufficiently Advanced SF explanation for its tropes, with racial memory as the source of imagery, but it’s basically magic. It’s hardly the only episode like that, though.

“Dust, cobwebs - Hallowe’en is right.”

Hallowe’en episodes, like Christmas episodes, often bend the reality and raise the Weird Level of otherwise mundane shows, or drop some horror or fantasy into SF and other genres. All involved just have to agree not to make a big thing of it when things go back to normal next week.

Are you planning a Hallowe’en special this weekend?

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Thor: Ragnarok

I think the Thor movies have shifted genre most of any of the MCU series. The first was a sweet little romance and a family drama with added town-smashing. The second was a universe-threatening Doctor Who story, a more conventional superhero kind of thing in many ways. The third is a day-glo sci-fi comedy. The first two had jokes, but this is pretty much all jokes. (Bringing back the theme from the more emotive original Thor at the end felt off to me as a result, a reminder of how different this is.)

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

This just in: I'm kind of a nerd

I may have, er, ever so slightly won the Cameo Film Quiz by myself.

Well, it was the Scary Movies special.

Quizmaster the Red Death was among those to congratulate me, having spotted I was in with a shot with a couple rounds to go. I did lose two of my three lost points out of forty-six in the last round, in fact. (The other dropped point was estimating the number of victims of the Salem witch trials too high. :/) See if you can get the missing words...

One-Shot Of Darkness

Justin Achilli on World Of Darkness one-shots.

I’ve always had a problem with Vampire-related one-shots for (potential) players who don’t know the setting, as it’s pretty complicated. How much to introduce?

Monday, 23 October 2017

TWH Ego Boost!

An RPG.net birthday request for gonzo gaming weirdness led me to repost The Fourth Wall, and lots of people said nice things about TWH as a result. Which is lovely.

Halloween Night cut content

1: A chunk of the piece about Clan Toreador hosting Grand Balls, because they’re held at Halloween but they aren’t really Halloween-y. There’s still a biggish bit in there, but broadened out to vampires in general holding Halloween parties away from mortal eyes.

2: This quote.
In our town, Halloween was terrifying and thrilling, and there was a whiff of homicide. We’d travel by foot in the dark for miles, collecting candy, watching out for adults who seemed too eager to give us treats.
Rosecrans Baldwin

Sunday, 22 October 2017

In The Bleak Midwinter

Halloween Night V20 book(let) largely done. On to Christmas!

Title pending, as it will also cover the Winter Solstice. My first thought was Red Christmas but apparently a film called that came out last year.

This will probably be it for this series. Valentine’s or Walpurgisnacht would be pushing it...

Saturday, 21 October 2017


Gunpowder follows Taboo in bringing period drama with added grime and murder (and Mark Gatiss!) to BBC1 on Saturdays just after the watershed. It’s the Gunpowder Plot, with Kit Harington as Robert Catesby - one of his ancestors, and the source of his middle name! - and the less central but much more famous Guy Fawkes appearing just at the end of the first episode, Tom Cullen playing him a big scary skinhead. The first episode also includes a death by pressing and a hanging, drawing and quartering to establish the stakes for the Catholic revolutionaries.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Noggin The Nog Miniatures

Such times we live in!

Thanks to Tim Knight for this rather surprising news.

Critical Role's VtM one-shot

Thursday By Night

Which may actually be a two-shot, but never mind.

Part Two

It uses an adapted ruleset, featuring Hunger Dice from the V5 playtests.

It was funny, lighthearted and very meta, but had some interesting and creepy post-human monsters, though the overall Weird Level was approaching Over The Edge. It certainly wasn’t close to a typical Vampire: The Masquerade session in my experience. (For something like that, check out Jason Carl’s demo.) They’d probably go less wild in a longer game, judging by how Vox Machina played out.

Need a new TIE Fighter?

Audi designer Jason Battersby presents the TIE-X.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Bitter Root

Harlem Renaissance monster hunters. In.

Cavaliers Of Mars Day

Today marks the successful completion of the Cavaliers Of Mars Kickstarter, on the sixth anniversary of the original plan to publish it via what would become Onyx Path. Let us commemorate it thus!

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Buffy idea of the week

Since the spell to empower slayers has gone from “last performed in the ancient times” to “used and improved on a few years ago” there must be a pretty decent market in bootleg slayer spells.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Calm Before The Storm

I pretty much missed the red sky caused by Hurricane Ophelia yesterday, but I did get to experience the calm before the storm, the stillness and slight breeze and drizzle coupled with the nervous sense that it might become so much more. In the end we got off lightly, but the wait and then the winds around the house all night were unnerving.

(I’m fine, by the way.)

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Unquenchable Thirst Of Dracula

The Unquenchable Thirst Of Dracula is, remarkably, not the maddest title that this unmade Hammer film could have had - Kali, Devil Bride Of Dracula wins, besting the working title Dracula, High Priest Of The Vampires.

It’s previously been adapted as a play, and now Mark Gatiss has adapted it for radio, keeping much of the staging as narration, to air around Halloween of course.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Star Wars: Screaming Citadel

Star Wars: Screaming Citadel (two issues of the current main comic, two of Doctor Aphra and an introductory issue) is a good example of adapting a story into a new setting. It introduces a new planet which, like most Star Wars planets, is based around a specific environment. This one is basically Planet Vampire Movie.

The planet and threat are new but it’s not entirely standalone, even beyond featuring Aphra and her gang (including the Evil Droids) as it involves a couple of other Star Wars comic characters and their interrelationships.

Friday, 13 October 2017

D&D class and species frequency

An extensive survey of data from D&D Beyond has revealed that the most common D&D character type is... the Human Fighter.

As someone who has played human fighters in three of the last four D&D games (and a fighter of another species in the fourth for setting reasons) I’m not hugely surprised, as it’s the combination that requires the least amount of rules knowledge. Stats, skills, weapon damage, a couple Feats, good to go.

Thanks to Steve Dee and Shawn Gaston for the link.

Friday The 13th vs October The 31st

Besides having a better film, Halloween is also easier to plan for than Friday The 13th.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Tradition isn't always traditional

Working on Halloween Night for the Storytellers Vault has reminded me that when I was a kid we had turnip lanterns instead of pumpkins. I can entirely understand why we adopted the American development here, because pumpkins are big and carving-friendly and turnips are too small for anything bigger than a tea light and slightly easier to carve than oak.


Similarly, NFL player Colin Kaepernick, and many others, kneeling during the American National Anthem is supposedly attacking a tradition... but they’ve only played it before NFL games since 2009.

I rarely see this kind of detail in worldbuilding. My favourite example (forgive me if you’ve heard it before) is in one of the Trinity setting/Order books where it’s established that mood-sensing jewelry which really works exists... and has been out of fashion for a few years.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Angels, Demons, Joan of Arc...

... all featuring in Time Of Legends, a miniatures board game currently Kickstarting...

And I suppose the Joan miniature having long hair is a minor point to get hung up on but there it is.

Borrowing a monster from reality

Also at the Zoo: Cassowaries, people-sized flightless birds with gigantic claws and horn-like stabby things sticking out of their foreheads. The Cassowary in the Zoo has a nasty uneven cracked edge which makes it look even more dangerous.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The Zoo

We went to Edinburgh Zoo today. It’s great. Pandas! Red Pandas! Otters! Sun Bears! Rhinos! Penguins! Things I’ve never heard of!

As a variation on the park or amusement park with the addition of various dangerous animals, zoos often appear in games as a horror setting.

Zoological societies also do a lot of good nowadays, preserving endangered species and protecting habitats, and PCs could go adventuring for specimens.

And yes I want a Red Panda as my animal companion.

It would be a bit of a commute to play this...

Justin Achilli is running a pre-Halloween World of Darkness oneshot:

Chicago, 1896 — three years after the World's Columbian Exposition. Three short years ago, the world marveled at the wonders of science, industry, and architecture on display at the expo. The now-abandoned fairgrounds of the grand exhibition harbor a darker side: The remains of the expo have become a stalking ground for a more insidious and decidedly less human horror — albeit one that poses no less a threat to the world of mortals. Into these long shadows steps a team of investigators, their fate as yet unknown....

Monday, 9 October 2017

The Last Jedi, the last trailer

This is not going to go the way you think.

Director Rian Johnson acknowledges that it’s somewhat spoilery but notes on Twitter that he didn’t blanket suggest not watching it. “I am legitimately torn. If you want to come in clean, absolutely avoid it. But it’s gooooood.....”


Northstar Military Figures have been previewing plastic trad/Tolkienish Dwarves, Elves and Goblins for a few months, and Osprey have now revealed they’re to go with a new mass battle game called Oathmark: Battles Of The Lost Age.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Small V20 update

One thing I’ve included in my Vampire: The Masquerade game is a representative of the Church of Caine. I’ve gone creepy rather than satirical.

I’m sure you can trust her.

(Photo credit: Sleep by Babak Fatholahi)

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Every game day is Hallowe'en

Three weeks to Hallowe’en one-shots. Not sure if I can actually make it. Still, running two games with Vampire in the title anyway so I could say I’ve done my bit.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Mirror, Mirror

Today is the 50th anniversary of Mirror, Mirror, the second season episode of Star Trek that became the archetype for evil parallel universes - goatees optional. Hands up who’s done one of those.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 is beautiful, chilly and kind of long. Director Denis Villeneuve’s previous film Arrival may be a better barometer of expectations than the original Blade Runner.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Star Trek Adventures Quickstart

A free quickstart and introductory adventure (Modiphius / DriveThru) for Star Trek Adventures. 6.7 MB, 33 pages including advertising, 7 page adventure and 6 pregens.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Puerto Rico relief bundle

Almost $500 of PDFs for $25, for a good cause. Includes the new Delta Green and the original Trinity rulebook.

Need some horror movies? Ask Stephen King.

Stephen King suggests films from the BFI archive. All in the horror area - apart from his continuing enthusiasm for William Friedkin’s suspense adventure Sorcerer, as mentioned back in 1981 in Danse Macabre. I really should get round to watching it sometime.

Thanks to CA Suleiman for the link.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

October plans

V20 begins tonight. More Buffy on Wednesday. Playing Star Trek this afternoon, although that’s less seasonal. (Although it did have Hallowe’en specials!) And possibly a circa-Hallowe’en one-shots event at GEAS too. If nothing else I’ll take the clingfilm off my copy of Betrayal At House On The Hill.

And prepping Hallowe’en Night for V20, essays and adventure hooks for what the Damned get up to for the holiday. Coming soon to the Storytellers Vault. If it ends up long enough and I can figure out the layout template.

Also, 31 Days of Horror on Twitter.