Friday, October 28, 2016

October Horror Movie Challenge: Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

Oh, what to say about this movie. I figured it was timely with all the clown "attacks" being reported.
Of course, I saw this when it came out, but wanted to watch it again with Connor.  He honestly didn't know what to think. But we were both laughing a lot.

Things I noticed/remembered.

Royal Dano as the farmer.  That was either inspired casting or lazy casting.
Suzanne Snyder as Debbie. She also played a "Debbie" in "Weird Science" and was from nearby Park Ridge Illinois.
Christopher Titus is in this movie too.  Wearing glasses I didn't even recognize them.

Though I swear there was a scene where the Dickies were playing in a concert.

A lot of the lines are really on the nose, no pun intended. It's not a great script. The movie is still a silly one.  The Klowns are scary though, but all clowns are scary.

2016 Movie tally
Watched: 28
New: 22

Reviews: Leagues of Gothic Horror Guides (and a Kickstarter)

Yesterday I went on (and on) about my love for the Triple Ace Games' Ubiquity-powered Leagues of Gothic Horror.   Today I want to focus on a few of the supplements from the Kickstarter.

In all cases, I am reviewing the dead tree and PDF versions of the books. I purchased these via the Kickstarter they had a while back.   All links are affiliate links. No review was solicited or expected outside of me emailing the author to say "hey,  I am reviewing your books" a couple of days ago.

Leagues of Adventure - Globetrotters' Guide to London
Softcover book. Full-color cover, black & white interior art. 78 pages.
A great sourcebook for the Leagues of Adventure game this covers the City (and County) of London in the 1890s.  The bulk of the book is devoted to a "tour" around London pointing out places of interest.  There are also sections on the police force, entertainment, and transportation.  The book is largely fluff free (ie not much in the way of games stats) so it immediately has utility for a wide variety of games. Even the adventure hooks for London are game-stats free. Most of the game-related material comes in the form of detailing various NPCs and archetypes, but there is enough flavor test to still make them usable in other games too.
This is a well-researched guide and extremely useful.  If you are playing a London-based Leagues of Adventure, Leagues of Gothic Horror or Leagues of Cthulhu game then I say pick this up.

Leagues of Gothic Horror: Guide to Black Magic
(currently on sale at DriveThru RPG)
Softcover book. Full-color cover, black & white interior art. 64 pages.
Set up in a similar fashion to all of TAG's "Guide to" books, this covers Black Magic and "Wickedness".  This book is fairly setting specific, so it has more game stats than some of the other guides.  I still found it to be a fantastic read and can't wait to try some of this out in my next Ubquity game.  The book covers a brief history of "black magic" practices around the world.  Later (Chapter 2) we move into why someone might take up this sort of power.  Fiendish lairs are also discussed since in the tried and true traditions of both Gothic and Pulp fiction every bad guy needs a lair.
The next three chapters I found the most interesting, they are respectively, Power, Demons and Evil NPCs.  So much great stuff here that I really could spend dozens of sessions working through all the ideas this has given me.  In particular, I have a Ghosts of Albion adventure that would work so much better with some of the ideas here. I am going to have to re-run now under Ubiquity to see.
For a small book it packs a lot of punch.

Leagues of Gothic Horror: Guide to Apparitions
(currently on sale at DriveThru RPG)
Softcover book. Full-color cover, black & white interior art. 64 pages.
Set up in a similar fashion to all of TAG's "Guide to" books, this covers ghosts and the damned.  Again, this is fairly setting specific but a lot of the material here is drawn from myths and legends from around the world, so first of there should be something in this book that everyone recognizes. Secondly there is plenty in this book that everyone can use.
The first third of the book covers why ghosts happen and their nature. This is followed by the means of disposing of these pests and some of the powers that they have.  The last third (more like half) covers new monsters and some very specific ghosts.  Frankly it is worth the cover price for the ghost of Lady Macbeth alone.
I once said in a game at Gen Con that are more ghosts in London than living people.  This book helps prove my point rather nicely.
Another really solid buy.

Also don't forget about TAG's newest Kickstarter, Leagues of Cthulhu.  Yeah the name is awkward, but it does tell you exactly what this is about.  My youngest son, who is turning into quite a Lovecraft fan, really wants this game.
You add on any other "Leagues of..." book you like.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Lords of Salem (2013)

I like Rob Zombie. I like Sherri Moon Zombie. I love anything to do with witches.
So yeah, I actually rather enjoyed this movie.  There is a lot about this movie that worked as far as I am concerned, though I do recognize the that there were some valid criticisms.

Unlike the Witch, which tried to play the witch stories of America with an even hand, this movie goes full on myth and fairy tale.

Not to be too much of a critic, Sherri Moon Zombie is not the best actress in the world, but she is good in this role.   The movie has a feel to it that reminds me a bit of Kubrick...or more to the point someone (Rob Zombie) trying to do Kubrick by way of Ken Russel.

The basic idea of this movie is a tried and true one; descendants of those wronged are not enacting their revenge/curse or whatever in the present day.

So far this movie has 100% more Rush than any other movie I have seen this challenge.

I am going to say this one was a good one.  Plus it had Meg Foster and Dee Wallace in it as witches, so how can that be bad?

2016 Movie tally
Watched: 27
New: 22

Review: Leagues of Gothic Horror

A while back I spent some quality time with the Ubiquity system reviewing a number of games including Leagues of Adventure one of my favorites.

Today I want to have a look at Leagues of Gothic Horror, the gothic horror (naturally) supplement to Leagues of Adventure.

Leagues of Gothic Horror (LoGH) is not an independent game but rather a "thick" campaign supplement with a lot of rule additions.  In it is designed to be used with Leagues of Adventure, but it could also be used with any Ubiquity game with a little work.  Actually with a little more work it could be used with any Victorian era game.   It is light on crunch really and full of flavor.

I am reviewing my hardcover and PDF from my Kickstarter backing.  The book is 158 pages, color covers with black and white interiors.  Again for my money black and white interiors are the way to go for both Victorian and Horror.

I am just going to come right out and say this.  This book is damn near perfect.
This really has everything I enjoy in one volume. Gothic horror, the Victorian era, black magic, science, horror, it's all here.

Chapter 1 covers new Archetypes for the LoA game.  These include some of my favorites of gothic and Victorian lore such as the mystic, the mentalist and an old favorite, the alienist.   There is even a subsection on how to play Ghost characters!  If I didn't love this book so much I might feel threatened that it was encroaching on Ghosts of Albion's territory!
There are also new talents, skills, and flaws for your character.  These are of course designed with LoA in mind so no idea how they might overlap with say, Hollow Earth (HEX) or other Ubiquity games. There are also new Leagues.  These are usable in any game.  In particular, I was thinking of Victorious the whole time.
Chapter 2 details horror and sanity mechanics.  Again this is expected. The sanity system is mostly relegated to phobias.  This is fine for me since this game deals more with heroic actions of daring-do.
This chapter also deals with more magic including black magic, pagan magic, ceremonial magic and ritual magic.  There is a great sidebar here on various Solar and Lunar eclipses during the late Victorian era.  Really handy to have.
The large section of magical texts, their translations and uses is also really great. Not just to use, but to read.  Many are based on real-world books too.  Along with that are new magics and magical/occult artifacts.
Chapter 3 is another great addition with new monsters. All the usual suspects are here; vampires, golems, werewolves, demons, even evil witches and a couple of different types of necromancers.  We get a section on major villains too, Dracula, Count Orlock, Brain in a Jar, Lord Ruthven, Varney the Vampire, even Rasputin.  Pretty much any Gothic-age or Victorian-age bad guy is here. Like the leagues presented in Chapter 1 there are some new sinister cults.
Chapter 4 takes us on tour to the Dark Places of the world. Great addition to LoA.  Reminds me a bit of the old AD&D Gazetteer to Gothic Earth.  Specific locales are given and more generic ones for use anywhere in the world.
Chapter 5 covers advice for the gamemaster and Chapter 6 has ideas for running games using this book. There is a great "Gothic History" timeline and list of "Who's Who" in the real world.  The last page has a nice list of references of Gothic literature, audio, movies and television.  I'll admit I had fun trying to guess the references from the material in the book.  I did pretty well if I say so myself.

I have already gushed over this book, doing so more will only make me look foolish, but I can't help it.  It is that much fun.  I call it a "must have" if you are playing Leagues of Adventure.

If you are playing other Victorian era games and want to add more Gothicness (as opposed to "Gothiness") then please consider this book.

This is going to be a lot of fun when Leagues of Cthulhu is released.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

October Horror Movie Challenge: Horror Rises from the Tomb (1972)

Have not done a Paul Naschy film yet this year.
This one has a warlock and his witch bride coming back from the dead as something similar to a vampire.  It's not bad but less blood, gore and nudity than I expected from a Paul Naschy film to be honest.

Alaric de Marnac is the warlock from this tale and he would later go on to appear in other Naschy movies.  I kinda like the idea, even if this movie was only so-so.

2016 Movie tally
Watched: 26
New: 21

Review: WITCH Fated Souls

I supported the WITCH: Fated Souls Kickstarter back when it was coming out and have been meaning to do a review for ages.  Given that Halloween is nigh and the PDF is on sale at DriveThruRPG this might be a great time.

+Elizabeth Chaipraditkul is a new name to the RPG biz, but one that is getting out there. In addition to being the lead hamster at +Angry Hamster Publishing she is also working with +Stacy Dellorfano on a new adventure for the upcoming Swords & Wizardry Complete 3rd Printing Kickstarter.  WITCH: Fated Souls though is her masterwork.

WFS is a modern supernatural game. It has elements of horror and universe destroying, or defining, magics.  Now lets be 100% fair here.  We all have several of these sorts of games.  I have more than I can count right now and I have written or worked on a few myself.  So any game in this field has some really steep competition.  For myself I am likely to compare this game to CJ Carrella's WitchCraft and to Mage: the Ascension.  I am also likely to compare this to Ron Edwards' Sorcerer.

Liz has an impressive RPG Playing career and you can see influences of D&D, Vampire, and Mage in her game.  So WFS can be judged as a setting and for her game mechanics.

As mentioned WFS is a Modern Supernatural game with elements of horror.  Not, "you fail a SAN check" sort of horror but more along the lines of "what are you willing to do, willing to give up, for power".  The characters of WFS are witches, also known as the Fated.  These characters have sold their soul to a "demon" for power.  In some cases, this is a fire and brimstone devil or it's a nebulous concept, the Horned Beast,  the Reynard, or it is something they don't even understand themselves.

For my review I am looking over my hardcover book and PDF from my Kickstarter package.  This included a GM screen and a deck of "Devil Deck Cards".  I also got a lot of images, character sheet package PDF and some desktop wallpapers.  The book is 208 pages, standard format with full-color covers and interiors, though the color palette is predominantly blacks, blues, and violets.

WITCH is divided up into nine chapters and an introduction.

Here we get some setting fiction and the typical "what are RPGs" section.  There is also a Chapter overview here.

CHAPTER 1: Character Creation
WFS is a character focused game.  One might even say it is a story-telling game, but it has more crunch than most storytelling games.  Regardless of what you might, or might not, call it, characters are the most important element.  What will your character do for power? What will they sacrifice and how much of their humanity is left when they are done?  In this respect, it has a lot in common with Vampire and Sorcerer.  You are expected to have a concept in mind when you begin your character creation.  To this end the various "Fate" or types of Witch you can become are presented. These include the Hecks, Druids, Djinn, Yokai, Sósyé, Liches, and Seers.  You can read about all of these and get details on who they are and what they do on AngryHamster's webiste,  Also detailed here are the types of demons associated with each Fate.
When creating a character the player needs to think about who this character is and what they are going to be doing in this world.  So there are prompts like "Before my Fating..." and "I was Fated because..." and "My relationship with my demon is..." Here, and throughout the book there are examples and story elements to help guide you.  There is also a step by step instruction guide.
Character creation, mechanically speaking, is a case of point-buy.  If you have played WoD, GURPS, Unisystem or other games then this will feel familiar.
Like WoD and WitchCraft we also get a couple pages, with character art, dedicated to each Fate.
The art in this game is really great.

CHAPTER 2: Vital Statistics
This deals with the stats of your character; attributes (nearly fixed qualities like Charisma, Dexterity, and Intelligence), skills (who good are you at driving, etiquette, social empathy), pursuits (things you own or are), and talents (akin to magical skills or qualities).
This is set up similar to many games so navigating what this is and how to use it are not difficult.  There is a LOT of room for customization so the number of potential characters is really great.  So there is no reason for every Sósyé or Djinn to be the same as the others.

CHAPTER 3: Magic
Now this is a fun chapter. An overview of the game mechanics of magic is given including the important "botch" roll.  Magic here has a bit of different feel than otehr games. The closest for me is WitchCraft, but with plenty of Mage added in.  Magic spells are grouped by Fate.  So the Djinn have different magic than the Hecks and so on.
All the fated also have access to Rituals, these are "longer" spells that take time and sometimes multiple casters.  Others are simple spells that are more rote.
In a similar cancept we are also given potions.  This is a true gem of these rules since it represents one of the best potion creation, use and mixing rules outside of the 1st Ed Dungeon Masters Guide.
It also has some of the most attractive art too.

The magic alteration section is great.

CHAPTER 4: Higher Spell Levels
This chapter is a treat since "higher level spells" are treated as something qualitatively different than the lower, more common magic.  The only thing I can compare this to is as if there was a new D&D book that covered 10th level spells.  This spells, known as Deireadh spells, can significanly alter the world and the character including, but not limited too, casting off their own demon.
Even if I never get a chance to use this chapter in a WFS game, it has given me plenty of ideas.

CHAPTER 5: Mechanics
The mechanics of WFS is pretty simple.  2d10 add the necessary mods and roll higher than a 13 (or 11 in some cases).  This makes many of the rule mechanics easy to abstract.  Sure if you roll higher (with mods) than a 25 then you get an Outstanding Success and a natural 20 is still good.  Botching is getting two "1"s.  So again, the feel here is very much like WitchCraft. Picking up these rules are a simple matter.  The rules have some special cases of course. Combat versus non-combat and using Talents. But nothing here will cause any experienced gamer any concerns.
There are plenty of weapons here too. Don't go into this looking for differences between various types of guns, the rules are simplified to "light revolver" and "heavy revolver".  But that is really all the game details you need.

CHAPTER 6: Expanded Mechanics
This chpater covers some specifics like wishes (we have Djinn afterall), Familiars, Artefacts, and using the Devil's Deck.  The Devil's Deck was part of the Kickstarter and it looks fantastic.  I think you can order one from AngryHamster, but a "Witches" Tarot deck would work out well too.

CHAPTER 7: Setting
This covers the setting and the history of the WFS world.  This is what helps set this apart from other games of it's genre. I say "world" but I also mean areas and places from beyond this world.

CHAPTER 8: Animals, Entities, and Foes
Pretty much what is says on the tin. Though there is a section up front on the various demons you can serve and what they are all about.
A lot of creatures are present here (and many more an be added).  There is also a good section of NPCs.

Covers running the game and how to set the tone for this game.

I have been picking at this book for months and maybe it because it is close to Halloween I now get what I want to do with it.  This is a great game and with the right group, it will be a ton of fun.
I'd love to try it at a con sometime, but this is a game of many sessions and developing plots and layers of story.  This is a game of investment.

I will be spending some more time with it.
Will it replace WitchCraft in my life?  No. But it will make a for a nice addition.

I really, really like this game and want it do well.  The potential here is great.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October Horror Movie Challenge: Carmilla (1989) & Styria (2014)

With the somewhat disappointing nature of The Unwanted, I went looking for some more Carmilla based movies.  Finding them wasn't the issue. Finding ones I have not seen was.

First up was Carmilla (1989) with Meg Tilly and Ione Skye.  This moves the tale to post-Civil War Georgia. The story is largely unchanged with Ione Skye and Laura and Meg Tilly as Carmilla.  There were some neat scenes but it was a Showtime Nightmare Classics episode, so there isn't the investment you see in a big movie production. Still though it was fun.  There isn't much chemistry between Skye and Tilly, which struck me as odd to be honest.  Plus you get the feeling in the end that Laura became a vampire after Carmilla was killed.

Styria (2014) or "Angels of Darkness" as it is known in the US, is also a retelling of the classic tale.  This time moved to 1986 and Styria, Slovenia.  This time Laura and Carmilla are played by Eleanor Tomlinson and Julia Pietrucha.  These actresses had more on-screen chemistry and the tale has a bit more terror.  Moving it to Communist-controlled Eastern Europe was an interesting twist and I liked it. Plus it gave them a good excuse to use music from Joy Division and The Jesus and Mary Chain.
Unlike the 1989 version or Unwanted, Carmilla is much more of a predator here and more of a classic vampire OR Laura is insane.  Could go either way. Of the three "Carmilla" movies I have seen this challenge so far, this is the best.

2016 Movie tally
Watched: 25
New: 20