Search Results for: short film

SHORT FILM: DEAD ISLAND – TRAILER (2011)

Before the review, let’s get the two elephants out of the room.

  • Elephant One. This is not a short film. It is a video game trailer. That said, for a video game trailer, it does an amazing job of being a well-considered short film.
  • Elephant Two. I’ve never played the video game because reviews indicate that it does not live up to its trailer’s potential. This review is just for the short film/trailer.

***SPOILER WARNING***

If you broke this film down to hashtags, they would read:

  • #FamilyVacationGoneZombie
  • #FamilyThatSticksTogether
  • #NotWithoutMyDaughterUntilDadThrowsHerOutAWindow
  • #LastFamilyPhoto

Dead Island Logo

A young mother, father, and their tween daughter are on an island vacation when zombies!

[If you type “zombies” is there a need to type “attack”? What else will zombies do? “When zombies text.” “When zombies channel surf.” “When zombies vote.” No zombies do those things!

… er… hmm…]

The film’s premise is straight-forward which allows the storytelling to be intricate.

The film is wordless but not mute. The emotion is built by the soundtrack and well-acted characters (“well-acted” within the limits of six year old CGI. What looked triple-A in 2011 looks unpolished today). The storytelling is a reverse chronological order tale – it literally runs backwards – intercut with flashbacks.

It’s an unfolding action-horror sequence but the amazing part is, for so brief – 3 minutes and 6 seconds – a tale, it pulls hard at the heartstrings with more skill than many productions. That’s because of the star of this film, the editing. The editing elevates the storytelling from a straightforward horror scene to an emotional story worth seeing.

Dead Island

Not sure I’m right about the storytelling and the editing being the stars? Compare the original cut to IGN’s chronological edit that runs from the logical start to finish. Seeing the story from different perspectives triggers different emotions. Watch them both and you decide which is better?

The movie has one glaring plot question (not a plot hole, just a question that goes unanswered) – Why was the tween daughter out of the parent’s room while the zombies were rampaging across the resort? The parent’s room only has one bed so it’s easy to assume they got their daughter her own room to sleep in but… where? That answer may be way the girls was running down the hall in the first place.

Dead Island – Trailer (2011)

Original cut:

IGN’s chronological edit:

 

 

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Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links to DriveThruRPG.com and Amazon.com.

Savage Worlds: Fast, Furious, and Fun! - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

 

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

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Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).

Steampunk Fridays – Short Film – Eye of the Storm

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!

Technically this is a music video, but if after watching it you don’t feel like you want to see a whole movie made in this style… well, I don’t have words for you. It’s done well enough that I think it’s ok to call it a film.

“Eye of the Storm” – By Lovett, from the album Highway Collection, 2011 – Directed by Christopher Alender

The story centers around a sky captain making his way across the sky, making peace with what came before and steadying himself on what may come next. Accompanied by a large dog-sized dragon, he sees the green glow just past an oncoming storm and must make his decision on how to deal with it. Whether he should avoid it or push through to the other side.

This feels like the end of his journey. Whether that implies his death or simply his last grand adventure, I’m not entirely sure.

Using a technique that reminds me a bit of Sin City with that mixture of animation and stylized actors. His goggles remain on his face, the orbs acting as two beacons in the dark night. They are our proxy to his eyes, able to still convey emotion even without being able to see what lies beneath.

This film has no spoken dialogue, but the song itself acts as our emotional center. It builds slowly, quietly, a simple peace. And then, when the storm crashes into the ship, and he is fighting the currents, the volume raises… crashing into the listener. Once through the rain and the wind, he sees the green light in the distance and pushes his machine directly toward it.

On my second watch, I brought up the lyrics and listened to the song only, allowing my memory of the scenes to supply the visuals.

For all that it cost

In the end there was no price to pay

For all that was lost

That storm carried it away

The storm carries all the mistakes he made. It carries the past away. And then it carries him onto his next (final) destination.

Or, perhaps he rids himself of those things. And by unburdening, he allows himself to actually become truly free.

 

 

Check it out and you tell me. Is this the end or the beginning?

***

You can find more music from Lovett on his website, as well as a behind the scenes for this video.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

SHORT FILM: THE BIRCH

The Birch movie poster

The Birch movie poster

Happy 2017!

In the tradition of Amanda Makepeace’s short film reviews, I am sharing and reviewing:

The Birch (2016) – Horror Short Film

Sword and sorcery speaks to me. Those never-existed fantasy worlds and characters speak to me. In my regular blog series, I write about my quest to buy a resume that will elevate me from a tabletop role-playing game wanna-lancer to freelancer. I want to enter that field because I have sword and sorcery stories that I want to tell.

Where does The Birch fit into that? [SPOILER WARNING – The film is linked below so skip ahead, watch the short and then come back for my thoughts.] The movie takes place in the modern-day UK so you have to squint just a bit to see it as fantasy sword and sorcery. If you squint you’ll see a spellbook and magic and an elemental and the enemy uses a knife and the final battle takes place in the woods. Sword and sorcery veiled by modern clothing and backpacks and streets and a bedroom.

In D&D* terms, The Birch is about a young wizard who is given a spellbook by his dying mother in order to protect him. He is being bullied and she cannot save him but she knows a secret that can. After studying the spellbook, he uses magic to summon an earth elemental to be his protector and surrogate mother.

The Birch

The Birch

If this were D&D, it would be an excellent backstory of what drove a character to become a wizard. It delves into the origin of their spellbook, their mystical lineage, what motivated them to cast their first spell and why they can never turn back from that path.

This origin story leaves open future campaign plot points. Did the boy get away with the murder? What happened to the birch? Does it still obey the wizard or is there a darker, more tragic end to their relationship. The deepest reach might be, what killed mother? There are worlds of possibilities generated by 4 minutes and 31 seconds of story. Need a bit of horror magic for the New Year? I recommend:

The Birch (2016) – Horror Short Film
Directed by Ben Franklin and Anthony Melton
Written by Ben Franklin and Anthony Melton and Cliff Wallace
Full credits and production details at BloodyCuts and at IMDb.

4 minutes and 31 seconds of horror:

*For sword and sorcery, Tolkien and Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) provide so much of the glossary.

Short Film: Code 8

You are in for a treat today! Code 8 is a short film that was created as a proof for a feature film. The creators ran an IndieGoGo back in March of this year–a mega successful crowdfunding campaign. This is a movie I want to see! Here’s a description from that campaign:

The film takes place in a world where 4% of the population are born with some type of supernatural ability. Instead of being billionaire superheroes, most ‘specials’ live in poverty and resort to crime, forcing the police to become more militarized.

The story follows a young man with special powers (Amell) struggling to find work as a day laborer. After a dispute over payment, he finds himself in a confrontation with a police officer (Kang) and the autonomous robots backing him up.

Gate 128 – Short Film By Henry Ceiro

Gate 128, a mysterious place, promising salvation from the extinction of the female species, draws two struggling survivors (Rose and Camilo) in a post-apocalyptic world. The last known female on earth, and her protector must finish their dangerous journey past the world outside of Gate 128.

Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Gate128


 

Gate 128 (PG-13) is a little weak in spots but I like the premise–post-apocalypse with a touch of Children of Men. It’s a diamond in the rough. Let me know in the comments what you think!

Short Film: Dark Origins

One of the highlights from Dragon Con 2014 (besides being in the art show!) was taking some time out to enjoy the Dragon Con Independent Film Festival. I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t even know there was a film festival. Dark Origins is from the Horror track (Demons, Ghosts, Aliens, & Monsters). This 12+ minute film was one of my top three.

A psychologist discovers the terrifying trauma haunting her young patient may in fact lurk beyond the girl’s fractured mind.

Directed by Evan Randall Green; Produced by Evan Randall Green; Written by Evan Randall Green

 

DARK ORIGINS – Short Horror Film 720p from Evan Randall Green on Vimeo.

Short Film: Spoiler

Spoiler

Another great short from my personal archive… Spoiler.

The zombie apocalypse happened — and we won.

But though society has recovered, the threat of infection is always there — and Los Angeles coroner Tommy Rossman is the man they call when things go wrong.

5 Animated Short Films Everyone Should See

Special Friday Edition!

So

I watch a lot of movies.

A LOT.

Let me clarify. From the comfort of my couch, I watch about five grown-up movies every week (Latest top picks: Gone Girl. The Wolf of Wall Street.  Latest disappointments: Foxcatcher. Monuments Men.) But in that same one-week span, I also gobble up about seven kids’ movies. Minimum. You name it, my 4-year old and I have seen it. I look at my DVD collection these days, and my favorite Scorsese flicks are buried under an ocean of Wreck-it Ralph, How to Train your Dragon, and Big Hero 6.

This is not a complaint.

Look. I like most of the kids’ movies these days. I even love a few. But the real treasure, and something both junior and I have recently discovered, are the awesome mini-movies appearing at the ends of almost every Disney and Pixar title. These things are amazing. For me. For the kid. For everyone.

And here are five of the best. Click each one to follow the Youtube link:

LaLuna

La Luna. About a little boy, his dad, and his grandpa. They go to the moon. With brooms. And beards. No one says a word. It’s beautiful.

Paperman

Paperman: my personal favorite. Another short during which no one says a word. I’m the world’s biggest anti-romantic, and yet this one somehow budged my black little heart.

Legend of Mor Du

The Legend of Mor’Du: It might help to watch the full film ‘Brave’ before seeing this, but it’s hardly mandatory. My kid loves this little 6+ minute short more than more feature films. Not surprising considering how dark it is.

Feast

Feast: About a dog, his owner, and tons of good food. I think maybe 10 words are spoken. If dogs were always this fun, I’d have one.

Silly Symphony

Silly Symphony. This one goes wayyyyyyy back. It’s ridiculous fun. And naturally, being full of dancing, prancing skeletons, it’s more than a little weird.

Seriously. Check these out. They’re as good as the feature films they appear with. And sometimes they’re better.

PS: Tessera is currently looking for weekly and bi-weekly bloggers to contribute.  Interested? Need free exposure? Get in touch!

See you next week!

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Author of the Coffee Table Philosophy series

My Favorite Films of 2015 (two days too late)

sicario_header
I don’t live in Los Angeles anymore. I’m reminded of this all the time, of course. Whenever I board this city’s competent mass transit. Whenever I eat Bay Area “Mexican” food. Whenever I look off in the distance and see a big red bridge that for some reason is called “golden”.

I miss Southern California for lots of reasons and I could list a hundred of them, but that’s not what this is about. But one thing I miss very dearly, that is relevant here, is film culture. Not “The Business.” Not the Hollywood Community. Film Culture.

Los Angeles is a town that makes movies but is also a town that loves movies. Especially the movies that not everyone loves. The ones not in English. The ones with small budgets and big ideas. The ones that are not deemed marketable enough to open in thousands of theaters but still need to be seen. A lot of these films make it to other cities, but they ALL play in L.A. And not just the new ones. Several theaters, including the legendary and place-I-miss-most New Beverly Cinema, specialize solely in playing older films. Golden age masterpieces. 70s grindhouse. Silents. Cult classics.

One of the things I miss most about living in Los Angeles is that fact that there was always a movie to go see. Not on TV. Not on Netflix. Not at home. But a movie to go out and see.

I’m typing this while watching the Academy Awards (Chris Rock took an angle on the #OscarsSoWhite thing that I did not see coming) and I usually like to put out my Best of the Year list before the Oscars air. Not that anyone cares, but that’s just usually my deadline. But this year it was harder to see all the films I thought I needed to see. It’s just not as easy up in here in the land of Giants, Warriors, and 49ers. I’ve still missed a few things that I think might have had an impact on the list, but I’ll catch them when I catch them. So, after some pointless rambling, here’s my list of the best films of 2015.

(Oh, note: Star Wars. I liked it. I did not love it. I have too many problems with it to name it one of the best films of the year, despite its success, despite people’s love for it. It’s the film from 2015 that I will probably see a hundred times before I die, but it was never close to making this list. So consider this an honorable mention for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (J.J. Abrahms), I guess.)

I: THE GREAT

sicarioSICARIO (written by Taylor Sheridan, directed by Denis Villeneuve)

My first instinct when beginning to write about Villeneuve’s Sicario was to just rattle of a list of adjectives, but they were all just synonyms for one word: bleak. This is a dark, dark movie. You will not walk out of it with a jaunty spring in your step. You won’t call your mom to tell her “you NEED to see Sicario!” You can watch it on a date, but don’t expect it to put anybody in an amorous mood. Sicario is (and I say this as a man with a degree in film therefore know the terminology better than anyone) a fucking bummer, man.

It’s also extraordinary.

Chilling.

Beautiful.

Sobering.

Knuckle-whiteningly tense.

Okay. I found some more adjectives. And made up an adverb.

Sicario is a film you think is one thing then you find out it’s another and then “whoops!” it’s a completely other thing and it’s frustrating and confusing and you can’t stop watching it. On the surface, it is about the futility of the drug war. Benicio Del Toro is not officially reprising his Oscar-winning role in Soderberg’s Traffic, but it’s not hard to imagine a sequence of horrible events that would change 2000’s beleaguered Tijuana cop into 2015’s mysterious government operative.

He’s equally great in this film as he was in Traffic. Blunt is fantastic. Brolin is amazing. It looks great. It sounds great. It will have you scratching your head and gnawing your nails. I know I’m being vague but I really think the best way to see this film is in the complete dark.

And some people will come out into the light hating it. It is a polarizing film, mostly due to its stunning last act. I come down on the “pro” side; I think the whole point of the movie is the last act. But the last minutes of the film leave you feeling pointless, impotent, and oh so small. That makes it hard for some people to enjoy. And I totally get it. This movie so absolutely fucking frustrating.

But I absolutely fucking loved it.

creed

CREED (written by Ryan Coogler & Aaron Covington, directed by Ryan Coogler)

Here’s the thing about Creed. There are a million ways to do this movie wrong. A million understandable decisions that could have produced a piece of shit movie. But Ryan Coogler found all of the ways to make this picture absolutely right. It is reminiscent of Rocky without being a complete rehash. It jumpstarts the franchise (I hate to use the word but it’s the world we live in) while honoring what came before it. It rewards you if you’re a Rocky fan but doesn’t punish you if you aren’t. It’s nostalgic without being fan service. It’s young and fresh and fun without being cloying or alienating to older fans.

(Actually, as I write this, I’m realizing that the makers of Creed and The Force Awakens had nearly identical missions laid out before them: and Creed, I really do feel, was more successful.)

But what really makes Creed work is that, despite its new protagonist and indie feel, is a straight-up, no bullshit, Rocky movie. And probably the best one this side of the 1976 original.

Oh, and Stallone is great here. (note from the future: he didn’t win the Oscar. The guy who did is a phenomenal actor but I really wanted to see Sly win this one). And Michael B. Jordan is a big giant motherfucking movie star. I would say it made everyone forget the travesty that was Fantastic Four, but that would be implying that people actually saw that garbage. Mr. Jordan is going to be just fine.

I love, love, love this movie. Thank you, Ryan Coogler. My favorite moment in any movie in all of 2015 is in Creed. If you’ve seen it you know it: the last round, the bell rings… and the music comes.

For that moment and many more, I can’t help but put Creed in my Top Three. It’s the most crowd-pleasing movie I’ve seen in years. If you didn’t see it in a packed theater, you missed out.

machinaEX MACHINA (written and directed by Alex Garland)

This past December, millions of people around the world understandably fell in love with a dashing X-Wing pilot named Poe Dameron and the handsome actor who portrayed him. But more savvy film goers have been a fan of Oscar Isaac for some time now. I first noticed him as Prince John in Ridley Scott’s lackluster Robin Hood, but it was the quirky 2013 Coen Brothers gem Inside LLewn Davis that made me fall in love. The following year he starred opposite powerhouse Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year, a movie I really wish people had given a chance. And earlier in 2015, before Isaac became the new Han Solo, he appeared in Ex Machina, the directorial debut of acclaimed screenwriter Alex Garland.

Ex Machina is smart, minimilist science fiction that treats its audience like adults. I’m noticing that several films on this list heavily feature smart people doing smart things. The Martain. Spotlight. Bridge of Spies. Steve Jobs. As well as my favorite film of 2014, The Imitation Game. In a world that sometimes feels like it’s on the express train to Idiocracy, there’s comfort to be found in stories that romanticize knowledge and intelligence.

I really don’t want to say any more about this film. Just watch it if you haven’t. If you already have, you know. You don’t need me telling you.

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II: THE EXCELLENT

aANOMALISA (Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson)

Praise be to Jebus. The most unique voice in American cinema has finally returned to the screen. Seven years after his heartbreaking directorial debut Synecdoche, New York, Academy-Award winner Charlie Kaufman returns with an animated film that can only be described as, well, Kaufman-esque. As much as I loved this movie, in a real, deep down way, I know that I’m going to like it even more the next time. Because no one rewards repeat viewings better than Charlie Kaufman.

victoria (1)VICTORIA (Sebastian Schipper)

Turn the lights down. Silence your phone. Close the laptop. And just watch Victoria. Don’t have it on in the background. Don’t second-screen it. WATCH IT. This film wants to take you on a little trip. Take it up on its incredibly generous offer.

'Room' is a journey out of darkness, director saysROOM (Lenny Abrahamson)

If you’ve managed to not know ANYTHING about Room, keep it that way until you see the film.  When I sat down  I had no idea what it was about (with a small part of me hoping it had something to do with Tommy Wiseau) and was better off for it. I suggest you do the same if you can.

deadpool_107447DEADPOOL (Tim Miller)  NO! WE’RE TALKING ABOUT LAST YEAR. GET OUTTA HERE!

insideINSIDE OUT (Pete Docter)

Whenever we want to count Pixar out, they come up with a masterwork like this. Their most mature film. I’m not even sure how much it appeals to children. But as the father of a nearly three-year-old girl, this movie, on multiple occasions, conjured up a weird moist substance that leaked from my eyes. I should probably see a doctor about that. Inside Out is so smart. Clever. But it’s also honest in a way that “family entertainment” rarely is. Painfully honest. I wish the movie was longer; kind of wish there was more to the story. But it’s a wonderful film and a tough yet beautiful sit for any parent.

Mad-Max-Fury-Road-Guitar-Player-Doof-WarriorMAD MAX: FURY ROAD (George Miller)

Do you know how good Mad Max: Fury Road is? I like it less than almost everyone I know, and I love it. I think it’s overrated and amazing. I’m on the low end of people who liked this movie and I can’t wait to watch it again and again. That’s how good this movie is.

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III: THE VERY GOOD

spotlightSPOTLIGHT (Tom McCarthy)

martianTHE MARTIAN (Ridley Scott)

carolCAROL (Todd Haynes)

deadpool-emma-insert-6DEADPOOL (Tim Miller) NO. I TOLD YOU, WRONG YEAR!

tim-roth-walton-goggins-hateful-eight-xlargeTHE HATEFUL EIGHT (Quentin Tarantino)

artisans-thumbnail-the-revenant_cleanTHE REVENANT (Alejandro González Iñárritu)

ST. JAMES PLACE

BRIDGE OF SPIES (Steven Spielberg)

socSTRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (F. Gary Gray)

deadpool-trailer-2-56-163948DEADPOOL (Tim Mil  STOP THAT!!!

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Also worth checking out: DEADPOOL, STEVE JOBS, THE BIG SHORT, MI: ROGUE NATION, TRUFFAUT/HITCHCOCK, FURIOUS 7, DEADPOOL, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, TRUMBO, ANT-MAN, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, AND DEADPOOL.

Apologies to: THE DANISH GIRL, JOY, CONCUSSION, BEASTS OF NO NATION, DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE, AMY, SPY, CRIMSON PEAK, 99 HOMES, 45 YEARS, BROOKLYN

Oh and the best Television Show of 2015 was Season Two of “Deadpool”:

Deadpool-Reading-Screenshot-Movie-2016-Wallpaper

I mean “Fargo”:

fargo

Now that I’m done, I’m going to tear up the fucking dance floor, dude. Check it out.

55014d5a94e57e4d05baa219a079db85

Creative Interview with Filmmaker/ Screenwriter Gabrielle Aliké Hawkins

I’m going to be straight up with you guys and gals, I’m kind of biased on how much I respect the subject of today’s creator interview. She’s talented, driven, and she’s my lil’ cousin.

Who I’m unabashedly proud of. 😀

Gabrielle Aliké Hawkins has studied the craft of film making internationally in London, on our own shores in the great NYC, and has honed her craft working on such indie productions such as “Alto” and “Global Tides”.  In addition to being an accomplished photographer, Gabrielle is currently conducting an Indiegogo campaign for a sci-fi dystopian short film she’s written and will direct called “Criminals”.

The filmmaker recently took the time to speak with the Tessera Guild about her career, the campaign, and indie film.

Can you start by telling us a little about yourself, your background in film, and just being a creator overall?

I became drawn to the arts at a young age, focusing on dance. After suffering a severe dance injury, I decided to continue my passion for arts and focus on filmmaking. I have always been drawn to films and when I was about 12 years old, I used to write stories that I wanted to see on the big screen. At that time, I wanted someone else to direct them. Then, I realized I could direct the stories I wanted to see.

I have a B.A in Film Production from Brooklyn College and a Certificate of Completion from the Met Film School in London where I studied film producing. I started working as a Production Assistant on music videos and feature films. I recently worked as an Assistant Director on a wonderful feature film called “Alto” directed by Mikki Del Monico.

What drew you to filmmaking? What about the medium drives you to create film?

Filmmaking is such a beautiful and powerful medium. It influences our society. As a teenager, I didn’t realize how much film and media influenced me. How I saw myself on screen or if I didn’t. What I watched influenced how I interacted with people without me even knowing.

That is one of the reasons that I became a filmmaker because I would like to see more diversity on screen. Not just in terms of race but also telling unique stories. I feel that watching a great film is like watching a painting come to life.

Talk to our readers about your short film “Criminals”, and the Indiegogo campaign. What about the science fiction/ dystopian future arena appeals to you as a filmmaker/ screenwriter in terms of storytelling?

I have always been drawn to abandoned buildings and characters that are seen as outcasts from society. There is great beauty in darkness if you can see the light.

The film takes place in 2040. Our characters, Ian and Ariana, are the last surviving members of an underground movement called the E.G.O. A massive manhunt for their capture takes place, in response to their infiltration of the notorious officer program and stealing confidential government files. They escape into the woods fighting to reach their last hope for survival. Will they make it to Nuevo Acuerdo, a society untouched by the government?

 I have always been drawn to science fiction/dystopian future films and novels. Octavia E. Butler is one of my Criminals Movie Posterfavorite authors and her work has greatly influenced me. For this particular film, I wanted to write within this genre because in some ways I feel  as a society this is where we are moving towards, unless we experience a serious wake up call. Climate change, violence and so much more is something that shouldn’t be ignored by the masses.

We currently have an Indiegogo campaign running to raise money for this film. All of the money raised will go to the making of the film. There is a breakdown on the site, and the campaign ends on April 2. Check out the link for more info here.

Is science fiction a particular favorite in terms of film genre’s to create in, or does this include a variety of other genre’s?

Science fiction is one of my favorite genres to watch and write but I am also heavily influenced by other genres, such as film noir and even comedy. So depending on the story, I like to combine genres.

“Criminals” is definitely science fiction but with a film noir touch. I have a super random taste in movies so I think that helps a lot. My goal is to write a film in every genre.

Once I write a story and create the characters then I come up with the genre. I always have an idea of where I want it to go but usually the characters tell me what type of film it should be. For example, “Criminals” started off as a modern drama, but once I knew the characters and developed the story further, the genre had to change.

 A common saying nowadays is that the field of independent filmmaking has become more level, with the advent of new technologies, greater access to information etc. Do you feel that this is the case? Why or why not?

I think there are two ways to answer this question. I think in terms of making an independent film, you do have greater access thanks to digital filmmaking. There are also so many ways for people to watch films now. You can upload to websites, like youtube or vimeo and people can view your work. Also there are so many festivals, that accept many different genres and stories.

However, if you want to have your film in theaters, I think that is still pretty tough for indie filmmakers. Not that it’s not possible, because it definitely is, but it’s harder for an indie film to get wide release in theaters than a Hollywood film. 

Are there any filmmakers, or films that you feel have been an influence on you as a creator? What about those creators, or works speaks to you?

Tom Tykwer is an incredible filmmaker and his film “Run Lola Run”, is one of my favorites. The story is just so different and the moment I saw it I was in love with it.

 Gina Prince-Bythewood directed “Love and Basketball” and most recently “Beyond the Lights”. I love her work because you become so emotionally attached to the characters. I love how naturally she writes and directs human interaction.

 The television series “Breaking Bad” to me was just pure brilliance. The writing, the acting, the direction, just everything. I was blown away by this series and needed a support group when it ended.

 There are so many other films, television shows and filmmakers that I can go on and on about because there really are so many. I love the classics like “All About Eve”, “Alien” to comedies like “Friday”. I love films that make me think and sometimes I just need a good laugh. I am all over the place with the types of films and TV shows that I watch.

 All of these artists work speaks to me simply because it makes me feel something and makes me think outside of the box.

What can fans look for from you in the future, and where can they find your current work?

After this short I plan on working on a web series, and then work on a feature film that I wrote. This would be my first short that I directed so the current work I have has been on some great projects where I worked in other departments. I am also a photographer and my work can be viewed on my website.

photo

Gabrielle Aliké Hawkins​​​​​​ as Assistant Director on the feature film “Alto”

 

 

 

 

 

My Twenty Favorite Films of 2013

 Her

Film is my favorite art form. Always will be. I see lots and lots of movies every year, and every year for over a decade I’ve put out a list. So here’s my list for 2013.

The format I use is one I stole from the 1994 “Best of the Year” issue of Film Comment magazine. It’s a 3-tiered list. Tier I consists of 3 films, the ones I consider above and beyond my favorite of the year. The second tier has 5 films that I think are absolutely great. The last section has 13 films that I think are very, very good or at the very least were hella enjoyable. Within each tier, though, there is no order of preference. There is no “number one” film on this list. There are three.

These are not necessarily the “best” films of 2013, despite my impeccable good taste. I haven’t seen every film that was released last year, so I can’t definitely declare any film the objective best. I’m sure I missed some good ones. But here are my favorite films of 2013, of the ones I saw, along with some thoughts to go along with some of them:

I.

her_xlg(written and directed by Spike Jonez)

Not only does Her rank as one of the very best films of the year, it is also the 2013 film I most wish I had made. Every year there’s one: a film I would be most proud of to have on my resume, something that aligns with my sensibilities, says what I want to say, is made the way I would want to make it. The film I love the most and am also the most jealous of. This year, it’s Spike Jonez’s amazing 21st Century romance.

Yes, it’s a film about a guy who falls in love with his computer. But it’s actually not a film about a guy who falls in love with his computer. It’s so much more than that. It’s a great romance. It’s great science-fiction. It’s a great allegory for love and relationships today, about how technology has altered that landscape forever. I mean, really, in a world of text messages and online dating and everything, is it even necessary to have a body in order to love? People are forming relationships all the time based on words on a screen; Her just takes that a step further. It is a gorgeous, sexy, smart, and thought-provoking treatise on love and loneliness and humanity that I can’t recommend enough. It is the best film of Jonez’s career, and I’ve loved all of his films.

Oh, and I’m one of those people who thought Andy Serkis should have been nominated for an Oscar for The Two Towers, and I am even more so convinced that Scarlett Johansson deserves to be as well, despite never appearing on screen. It’s not going to happen, but it should.

InsideLlewynDavisFirstTeaserposter1(written and directed by Joel & Ethan Coen)

The Coen Brothers have one of the best batting averages in American film history. I can only think of one of their movies that I actively dislike and maybe two or three that I think aren’t great but I like anyway. And, after nearly 30 years of filmmaking, Joel and Ethan, unlike so many artists of all stripes, don’t appear to be running out of steam or ideas. It’s remarkable.

Inside Llewyn Davis is a Coen film in the vein of Barton Fink or A Serious Man. A put-up, not very likable protagonist, who over the course of a short amount of time has a whole lot of bad shit happen to him. Does he deserve it? Is it some past sin biting him in the ass? Is God out to get him? (A Serious Man can be read as a Job story) Or is our hero the only sane man in a world of random insanity? This film offers no answers of course. Llewyn Davis is just a folk singer trying to make his way in 1960s New York. Oscar Isaac delivers a star-making turn as the titular character, bringing just the right amount of talent, desperation, and over all asshole-ishness to the part. With strong supporting performances by Carey Mulligan, Adam Driver, Justin Timberlake, and Coen-stalwart John Goodman, I just loved the hell out of this movie. I don’t want to spoil too much, but be ready for a sad, beautiful, funny, and sometimes surreal experience.

There is also a small plot element of the film involving Llweyn’s former partner that connected very strongly to something in my personal life. It’s not overly played in the film, but it’s always there in the background and it helped me relate to a very non-relatable character.

WolfofWallStreetNewposterNovrlsfull1(directed by Martin Scorsese; written by Terence Winter)

With the one-two punch in 1999 of losing both Stanley Kubrick and Akira Kurosawa, Martin Scorsese assumed the mantle of the world’s greatest living filmmaker. And since then he has proven to not be a false king. A few missteps aside (Bringing out the Dead), he has made impressive film after impressive film, with budgets he could have only dreamed of for the first 30 years of his career. He has found a new muse in Leonardo DiCaprio and is making films with the energy of a 25 year old man.

Wolf of Wall Street has been controversial but I can’t for the life of me figure out why. This film is simply the third (fourth if you count Mean Streets) in Scorsese’s series of films about organized crime. Wolf of Wall Street falls directly in line with Goodfellas and Casino, both stylistically and thematically. I mean, sure, gangsters are bad, but they’re nothing compared to the predatory stock brokers depicted in this movie. From the use of voice-over, to the frenetic camerawork and the wall-to-wall pop music soundtrack, Wolf is very clearly a successor to Goodfellas and Casino. The Departed  was a fine film (I like the original, Infernal Affairs, way better though), but it wasn’t a gangster movie. Wolf of Wall Street, on the other hand, is. Another tour-de-force from the world’s filmmaker laureate.

By the way. If you think this film glamorizes its subject’s behavior, you need to look at yourself. DiCaprio, playing a character less sympathetic than his slave-owning, mandingo-fighting, plantation owner in last year’s Django Unchained, is awful (the character, not the brilliant performance) in this film. Just because Scorsese presents all of his behavior in a comedic light, it doesn’t mean he is endorsing or glorifying it. In the film, the characters participate in dwarf tossing, a ridiculous amount of drug abuse, objectifying and exploiting women, infidelity, insider trading, and, oh yeah, knowingly conning thousands of people out of their life savings for their own benefit. If at any point you were watching the film, no matter what the tone (it’s called point-of-view people), and thought to yourself “Man. That looks like fun. I want to be that guy!” then you’re the problem, not the movie.

II.

2ndtier

12 YEARS A SLAVE (directed by Steve McQueen; written by John Ridley)
The story of Solomon Northup is so terrifying, incredible, sad, and amazingly moving that any more-than-competent Hollywood filmmaker would have made a really good movie out of it and found him- or herself busy come awards season. But in the hands of art house director Steve McQueen, whose previous two films are loved by cinephiles but unknown to many others, 12 Years a Slave became much, much more than the Oscar-bait pic it could have been. It is a difficult film. It dares you to look at it. It is bold and unique. I will never forget one shot (it’s the shot of the year): a very long take involving a tree. If you’ve seen the film you know what I’m talking about. Only a confident but aggressively challenging filmmaker would even dare such a moment. That is what McQueen brought to the film that a journeyman filmmaker would not have. A stunning film, one that will be valued for ages.

BEFORE MIDNIGHT (directed by Richard Linklater; written by Linklater, Hawke, & Delpy)
We first met Jesse and Celine in 1995’s Before Sunrise and have now checked in on them twice since: in 2004 and again in this year. I love these films so much. I have grown up with these two characters and, while they are smidge older than me, every time I feel like what they’re going through (Jesse in particular) reflects what’s going on in my life. This installment never quite matched the perfect ending that Before Sunset had, but it made up for it with maturity and a little bit of sadness and disappointment. I love Jesse and Celine. I can’t wait to see where they are in another nine years.

LA GRANDE BELLEZZA (directed by Paulo Sorrentino; written by Sorrentino & Contarello)
I say it ad naseum but Rome is my favorite city in the world. But Sorrentio’s sad, beautiful, and surreal film showed me a side of the Eternal City I had never seen: one of nightclubs, avant garde performance art, and seedy strip clubs. Maybe this Rome exists; maybe it doesn’t. Only a Roman could tell you for sure. It’s a hard task to summarize this story of a 65-year old night-clubbing member of Rome’s high society and the crisis of age and existence he goes through. If that sentence didn’t make sense, I apologize. The Great Beauty is a hard film to put into words. It simply must be experienced. With great performances, stunning photography that shows off both the better and lesser known sights of Rome, and a surrealism that sometimes reminds me oddly enough of Fellini’s Satyricon, this film has already won a Golden Globe and will probably be the favorite for Best Foreign Language film come Oscar time. And it’s definitely a film I will have to see more than once to full appreciate it, but the first time around I absolutely adored it.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (written and directed by Joss Whedon)
As a long time Joss Whedon acolyte, when I heard that he had made an adaption of my favorite Shakespeare comedy BETWEEN shooting The Avengers and editing The Avengers, well, I was stoked. And even more so after seeing the results. True to the original but shot in a Cassavetes-like black and white, the film is funny and alive. The cast is peopled with Whedon alum, most importantly Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof, whose doomed romance on “Angel” gets a sweet redemption, much to the joy of Whedon fans everywhere.

LA VIE D’ADÈLE (directed by Abdellatif Kechiche; written by Kechiche & Ghalia Lacroix)
If you went to see a boxing movie and there was an 8-minute boxing scene, would you bat an eye? How about 8 minutes of cars chasing each other at high speeds in a film that has either the words “fast” or “furious” in the title? Or a hilarious 8 minute set piece in the middle of a comedy? No, probably not. Then, tell me, what is the big fucking deal about, in the middle of this beautiful story of a French girl falling in love while discovering both her sexuality and her homosexuality, an 8 minute scene of two women making love? Is said scene graphic? Sure. But so are the dozens of beheadings in the PG-13 Hobbit films that are supposedly for families. Is it exploitative? Only if you download the clip on its own for masturbatory purposes instead of watching it in the context of the film. Forget all of the nonsense. “Is it pornography?” Rubbish. A film about sex is allowed to have sex in it. Get the fuck over it. Blue is the Warmest Color well deserved its success at Cannes and I can’t wait to watch it again on Criterion Blu-Ray later this year, three hour runtime be damned. And Léa Seydoux, who I’ve seen in a few other things, is probably my pick for Best Actress… not that she’ll even get nominated.

III.

SHORT TERM 12 (written and directed by Destin Cretton)
A great little indie film you may not have heard of but should seek out immediately. Brie Larsen gives a wonderful performances as a woman running a center for troubled teens.

BLUE JASMINE (written and directed by Woody Allen)
2013 seemed to be the year of unlikable protagonists, and not just the guys. Cate Blanchett’s Jasimine is tough to love, or like, or root for, but by the end of yet another Woody Allen masterpiece, I did find myself caring about her. Pretty sure Blanchett will bring home Oscar #2 for this one. Because that’s what Woody Allen does. He writes parts that win women Academy Awards.

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (directed by Paul Greengrass; written by Billy Ray)
I’m a Paul Greengrass fan and this is another great addition to his filmography. And there is no mistaking who made it; nobody does shaky-cam verisimilitude better. But what I will remember about this fine film more than anything is the last two minutes, in which Tom Hanks delivers the most human and heartbreaking piece of acting I have seen in years. Remember when Forrest Gump, upon meeting his son, immediately gets choked up, terrified, and asks Jenny if the child was smart or like him? No matter what you thought about the movie, it was powerful stuff. Well, in the closing minutes of Captain Phillips, I think Hanks eclipses that moment and creates what might be my favorite piece of acting he has ever brought to the screen.

GRAVITY (directed by Alfonso Cuarón; written by Alfonso & Jonas Cuarón)
If you didn’t see Gravity in the theater, in 3D, in IMAX, I’m not sure you should bother seeing it at all. I liked it quite a bit, but I will never revisit it. Not unless it gets another run on the big screen. Maybe it will get picked up by aquariums and planetariums that have IMAX screens, because no matter how big your TV at home, it just won’t be the same.

THE CONJURING (directed by James Wan; written by Chad & Carey Hayes)
The scariest movie I’ve seen in a decade. Well done, Mr. Wan.

THE DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (directed by Jean-Marc Vallée; written by Craig Borton & Melisa Wallack)
Two of the best performances of the year anchor this moving and fascinating true-life tale, told simply and effectively. I still would rather see Ejiofor win Best Actor (Okay, really I would rather see Phoenix win Best Actor, but he’s moronically not nominated) than McConaughey, but I’ll be completely in agreement when Jared Leto walks away with gold.

THE WORLD’S END (directed by Edgar Wright; written by Wright & Simon Pegg)
Wright, Pegg, and Frost finish out their Cornetto Trilogy in style. Fun and funny all the way through, what really carries it is the performance of Simon Pegg, the best of his career. At least so far.

AMERICAN HUSTLE (directed by David O. Russell; written by Russell & Eric Singer)
This film stars Batman, Hawkeye, Lois Lane, Rocket Raccoon, and Mystique. But it is not the greatest superhero movie of all time, it is an entertaining period con piece that is a good time loaded with great performances. And did David O. Russell know he was making a Scorsese knock-off or was it subconscious?

FRUITVILLE STATION (written & directed by Ryan Coogler)
A film that could not have been released at a more relevant time.

BLACKFISH (directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite; written by Cowperthwaite & Eli B. Despres)
Horrifying. I’m going to have some tough decisions to make re: Sea World, aquariums, and zoos as my daughter gets older.

THE SPECTACULAR NOW (directed by James Ponsoldt; written by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber)
My favorite youth romance of the year, largely because, in addition to fantastic lead performances, there is more going on than just puppy love. Kind of a serious version of She’s All That if you will. Beautiful little movie.

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Just a quick note about FAST & FURIOUS 6. I love the FF films. Love love love. While part 6 didn’t quite live up to the previous installment, I still enjoyed the hell out of it. Honestly, it should be on this list, but I think the 20 titles above are better movies. But Furious 6 (as director Justin Lin wanted to call it), was a blast and a film I will return to many times. Like so many, I was saddened deeply by the death of Paul Walker. He was by all counts a good and generous man. I am unsure about the future of the franchise without him (and without Lin, honestly) but I’ll be there opening day for number 7.

Rest in peace, Mr. Walker.

Paul-Walker-fast-and-furious-6

Aim to Fall Short

 

The_Book_of_Mormon_poster_2_

Before I get onto the subject at hand (the bravest and boldest thing I’ve ever done: praising the most-praised thing of the last decade), three quick bits:

1) I missed my last two posts due to the holidays, traveling, lack of wi-fi, and a harsh but luckily short head cold. Won’t happen again.

2) More importantly, I want to say congratulations to John McGuire for releasing his first novel, The Dark That Follows. I was one of the few that got to read the first draft, and I can’t wait to see what he’d done to it since. Pick it up and support the next square in this artistic quilt called Tessera we’re trying to sew.

3) Belated Happy Holidays.

Now that that’s over with, I move on to the point of this post:

I FINALLY GOT TO SEE THE BOOK OF MORMON THIS WEEKEND.

WARNING: We at Tessera have a No Religion / No Politics rule (which I endorse – I say enough biased and antagonizing shit in my own life), but, due to the nature of The Book of Mormon, the topic of religion will come up, but only in passing. However, if I say anything that I think anyone can at vaguely-kinda-at-all interpret as being maybe offensive to someone anywhere, I will write it in bold. Hopefully I won’t have to use that, but I figure it’s good to have it as a fail safe. Okay? Cool. Onto talking about the play…

So I don’t believe in God.

Wow. That came in useful right-quick, huh?

I state the above not to provoke, but because I think it’s pertinent when I talk about how much I love The Book of Mormon. Because, contrary to the opinions of a few, it is not an anti-religious work. Far from it, actually. It actually endorses having some sort of belief system, and a community based around it, to help you get through life. It’s primary thesis seems to be that while, yes, most religions look super-silly from an objective view, that doesn’t make them any less real to their practitioners, and it doesn’t mean they’re not an important part of the human condition. It is actually a plea for religious tolerance; the most Unitarian, “whatever gets you there gets you there” piece of popular art I have ever seen.

What The Book of Mormon is, though, is a searing screed against fundamentalism. It, not religion, is the true target of its derision and cutting humor (as well as a number of other topics).

But see, I’m just not non-religious. I am also largely anti-religious.

And again, I say that only to express that I should hate The Book of Mormon just based on its general conceit.

But it is impossible to do so. To hate The Book of Mormon. And not just because it is hilarious and smart, with curtain-to-curtain memorable songs and characters, and manages to be shockingly funny and genuinely moving…sometimes at the same time, but because it makes its case so well it almost wins me over to it. It makes me see the value of faith and religion. More than anything ever has, really. At the end of the play, for a few brief moments, I felt like a person of faith, moved by the words and sounds and ideas presented on stage.  I shrugged it off quickly, but still, for a man like me, that’s quite an accomplishment.

To those unfamiliar, The Book of Mormon is the multiple-Tony Award winning musical created by Trey Parker & Matt Stone (“South Park”) and Robert Lopez ( Avenue Q ). It opened on Broadway in 2011 to some of the best reviews in the history of theater and became an instant sensation. Tickets were both nearly impossible and impossibly expensive to get. The production I saw, at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco, was part of its second U.S. tour. And it was still sold out, three years later, and the balcony seat I had was not cheap. This is a production that will be going on for a very long time.

bookofmormon-29e2b4c3aa2823816edf3d11925282cf13c08171-s6-c30The play is the story of two young Mormon boys about to go out on their first mission. Elder Price is a superstar and is destined to change the world with the power of his faith, destined, he believes, to do “something incredible.” Elder Price is awesome. Just ask him.

Elder Cunningham, who Price is paired up with on their mission, is not awesome. Well, he is, really, but he’s not an awesome Mormon. In fact, he hasn’t even read the book. And he’s also a compulsive liar, prone to making things up and telling stories, most of them cribbing characters from things like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. He is not a model Mormon; he is not a model anything.

The two men are sent to a village in Uganda to convert the Africans there to Mormonism. The place they arrive is in desolate shape: poor, hungry, ravaged by AIDS, and under the boot of a vicious local warlord obsessed with female circumcision. Elder Price, despite his iron clad faith and God-given ability, has a very hard time seeing how he can baptize these folks into the Church of Latter Day Saints. Drama, doubt, and disappointment ensue.

And also lots of singing and dancing and jokes and profanity and a hundred other things that will make you smile ear to ear.

That’s all I’m going to talk about the story. I knew most of it going in. Not from doing research, but from downloading the soundtrack from iTunes several years ago and listening to it constantly. I know every word of the soundtrack. Just the songs alone, without the benefit of the play, are still amazingly funny and tell a story. So, to be honest, I was already a fan of The Book of Mormon before I ever saw The Book of Mormon.

Obviously, this late into the show’s run, most of the original Broadway cast have moved on. The cast I saw was not the cast that originated the parts. But the players in the San Francisco production acquitted themselves fabulously (sorry. musical review. must use “fabulously” at least once). The Saturday night audience ate it up and I loved every second of it. One of the best musicals I have ever witnessed, maybe the best, my other favorite being Spring Awakening.

So, in other words, “thumbs up”. I’m SURE the folks from the play will be relieved to get my endorsement. It may be the thing they need to put them over the top.

But what I really want to talk about isn’t The Book of Mormon (“Could have fooled me, asshole!”) but how Book of Mormon made me feel afterwards. On the train back from the theater, I fell deeply into a state of joyful melancholy that I call the “Genius Hangover.”

It’s a feeling I have encountered many times.

Experiencing something so brilliant – a play, a movie, an art exhibit, a TV show, a video game, a concert, a public speech, anything – always leaves me with conflicting feelings. Firstly, I am elevated, inspired, and, well, fucking jazzed. I walk out punching the air, ready to go. Determined to run home and write. Juices flowing. Basking in the glory of art and what it can do and the limitless heights it can reach. You can’t wipe the smile off my face. I probably skip down the street. It is quite a high.

I mean, a HUMAN BEING made that. A human being like me–

But not like me. Uh-oh. This is where the second wave of emotions comes in to ruin the party, creeping up through the cracks in my joy and strangling it like weeds:

Jealousy and despair.

Because I will never make anything that good. Oh man. I just won’t. I mean, that is world-class. That is classic. It will be remembered for all time. It’s not that I just won’t make something like that, it’s that I can’t . The person or persons who made that are more talented than me. And that’s a hard pill of an egomaniacal narcissist (read: artist) like me. I know I’m talented. I think I’m very talented.

hemingway-for-whom-the-bell-tollsBut I’m not For Whom the Bell Tolls talented. Not Seven Samurai talented. Not “West Wing” talented.

I’m not The Book of Mormon talented.

So the high I get from seeing something amazing and the depression I get from seeing something amazing come together to create the slurry of a mood I call Genius Hangover. It usually sticks with me for a day or two. A combination of an overwhelming desire to create something great and a sadness that I’ll never create something as great as whatever inspired me.

Weird, I know. But it happens every time. I’m used to it. I just embrace it, let it happen, and it passes and I move on.

It also lead me to another one of my philosophies of writing, which I think makes the second one I’m going to bore you with, the first being my Theory of 10%.

This philosophy can best be summed up thusly: Aim to Fall Short.

I know it doesn’t seem very motivating; it will never be featured on a kitten poster in your office.

Here’s the thing. I will never be my artistic heroes. That’s okay. Because my heroes are bad-ass and legendary. Nobody is them but them. I’m sure most days they weren’t even them. I’ll take two examples from my list above: For Whom the Bell Tolls and “West Wing”.

I will never be Ernest Hemmingway. I will never be Aaron Sorkin.

But every word I ever write is and will be a futile attempt to be.

I believe that you should strive to be as good as your idols. Look at them (artistically) as what you want to be and go for it. You will fail. Oh, you will fail. I’m never going to write like Ernest Hemmingway. Do you know how I know that? HE’S FUCKING ERNEST HEMMINGWAY. It’s as simple as that.

But what I think is this: of course you will fall short of your heroes. And when you do fall short, when you’ve maximized your talent and done your best, that is where you find your voice. You will discover the parts of your work that are innately you, the things that come out no matter how hard you’re trying to be someone else. You’ll learn your strengths and weaknesses and how to capitalize on both.

Every sentence I write, I want it to be a good as my favorite passage in all of literature:

“The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.”

Not one of them ever has been. Again, HE’S FUCKING ERNEST HEMMINGWAY.

But in that failure, in those cracks, I find myself.

This concept may not work for everyone, but it works for me.

Anyway. Aim to fall short. That’s a piece of writing advice you didn’t ask for and probably shouldn’t heed.

So, to wrap it up: Sorry I missed some posts, Book of Mormon kicks ass, and I’ll never be Ernest Hemmingway.

Book of Mormon

Over the next weeks I’ll be delivering my annual Best Films of the year list, as well as something on 21st Century Romance films (spurred by seeing Spike Jonez’s Her – talk about Genius Hangover), and maybe something about having fans or the closing of Blockbuster or what I made for dinner. I don’t know. Making this up as I go along.

best

c

Origins Game Fair Spotlight – Halls of the Nephilim

There’s a game creator and <gasp> blogger out there, playing RPGs with Eric Bloat at Origins Game Fair 2018 and writing posts about using Bloat Games Survive This!! Zombies! with the movie The Stake Land, or stat’ing at the monster from the short film, The Birch. Be on the lookout for Justin Ryan Isaac of the PunVerse blogspot and Halls of the Nephilim as he’s got some clever ideas for games for fans and can be a solid promoter for game creators.

 

 

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Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links to DriveThruRPG.com and Amazon.com.

Savage Worlds: Fast, Furious, and Fun! - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

 

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

 

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Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by a variety of companies:

Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or onFacebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).

Steampunk Fridays – Looking Forward Back

 

I started doing this series of blog posts at the beginning of July. My thinking was two-fold:

1 – Check out who might be producing Steampunk comics.

Obviously, I write a Steampunk comic (The Gilded Age), so I’m already interested in the genre. However, aside from the DC covers they did that one month or something else random to come out which might mimic the ascetics, I really didn’t know what other indy creators might be doing within the genre.

2 – Help potentially spread the word for those creators.

Comics should be this thing where we are always helping each other up. And if I like something why wouldn’t I try to get another person to like it?

3 – Content for the blog.

Some weeks are easier than others to figure out a topic. This really gave me a direction that the Wednesday blog sometimes doesn’t have (which I like the free-form, but this is focused – or as focused as I’m going to get).

4 – See what was successful for other Kickstarters (especially those in the Steampunk realm).

As I was pretty sure I’d be kicking off a Kickstarter sometime in the Fall, this was an excuse to start to drill down and see what might be working and what wasn’t. Looking at the pages for how they were laid out, the various Reward levels, and just the level of artwork on the page. I took notes of what I liked and what I didn’t like.

So if you missed any of the weeks, here’s a handy recap of 2017!

Interviews

Interview with Ken Reynolds

Ken Reynolds is the creator of the comic Cognition: a comic where the lead characters are a clockwork and an evil rat who stop supernatural entities.

And if your brain didn’t begin dripping from your ears, you need to check this out.

Seriously, the comic is all sorts of cool.

Interview with the Creators of Arcane Sally & Mr Steam

The team over at the Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam comic are clearly doing something with their Steampunk… Ghost Story… Victorian supernatural action-adventure… Love Story?

Interview with the Creator of Hinges

What I wrote in the introduction still holds true:

There are moments when you start reading a comic and you just know there is something about it which speaks to you. And maybe you don’t understand every little thing which has been set out in front of you… maybe those are the things you’ll figure out on a reread. But when you lock in, that’s all it takes.

When I sat down to check out some Steampunkish comics a couple of weeks ago and came across Hinges by Meredith McClaren, I thought I’d read a few pages and move on with my life.Bauble and Orio had other plans for me.

Bauble and Orio had other plans for me.

Interview with the Creator of The Legend of Everett Forge

Everett Forge is in the mold of many of those same Westerns. He’s clearly a man on a mission to destroy Omega’s entire livelihood. He’s a myth, a ghost story the Robots tell each other at night – make sure you lube all your joints of Everett Forge will get you.

Interview with the Creator of Boston Metaphysical Society

Take the X-Files, set it in an alternate history of Boston, and force the characters to have to deal with a different set of social mores and expectation than we deal with today. BMS has run a handful of successful Kickstarters (and have 6 issues collected in their trade), so you are going to get your full story.

The Gilded Age Interviews

As part of my month-long Gilded Age Kickstarter campaign, I collected the various interviews I’d conducted with much of the team over the previous year. There are still a couple of people left to talk to… it’s on the to do list.

Interview with the Creator of Monstrous

Monstrous stems from a lifelong fascination with monster movies and their misunderstood heroes.  Even when they’re completing evil, monsters are always the most compelling thing about the stories they occupy.  I’ve always loved the Universal Studios monsters and Ghostbusters and the Hammer Studios movies.  I threw all of those influences together with plots from John Wayne westerns in this strange steampunk hybrid. Monstrous is like all of these things I’ve loved for years having a party together.

Interview with one of the Creators of The Jekyll Island Chronicles

The Jekyll Island Chronicles is a graphic novel adventure series blending historical fact with heavy doses of alternate history and adventure. Book One, The Machine Age War, opens the story in the days following The Great War – a time when a brief glimmer of peace and hope quickly fades as a cryptic organization moves to threaten fragile governments and their people with a campaign of chaos and terror. 

 

 

Kickstart the Comic

Word Smith

This was the first of the series, focusing on Victoria who crafts words. Through the use of this magic, she is able to affect the world around her. This Kickstarter ended up funding, and I have my digital copy!

Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poer #1 KS Exclusive

Edgar Allan Poe has lost everyone he ever loved and now he is losing his mind. Haunted by his wife’s ghost and his many literary failures, the poet tumbles into a fantastical world created by his genius…and his madness. This world called Terra Somnium is a nightmare region that merges his macabre literary creations and mythological gods and monsters of old, all hell-bent on stopping him from escaping the land of dreams.

This Kickstarter funded and I believe the second issue was funded as well, so if you missed them, keep an eye out for issue 3.

The Invention of EJ. Whitaker

This was a case where the Kickstarter was long over, but I still wanted to shine a little light on the project. In fact, I need to reach out to the creators about an interview I’ve been promised!

When Ada Turner, a young Inventor’s apprentice, creates a flying machine in 1901, she’s introduced to the dangerous side of the Industrial Age.

Blood & Dust Volume 2

The Old West is really that last bastion before the industrial revolution kicks into high gear. But there is plenty of bleed between the two areas, the same as Steampunk and Weird West style stories. That Gothic Horror feel of monsters being in a place where, by all rights, they should not be. And whether it is a Steampowered invention needing to put the darkness back in its place or the sidearm of a cowboy – it feels all connected even if it isn’t a 100% match of genres all the time.

The Death Defying #1

Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini.

The writer and the magician.

They were once the best of Friends.

When their friendship went to hell, 

The world wasn’t very far behind.

Stoker and Wells – The Graphic Novel

In 1894 London, a 20-something H.G. Wells and a 40-something Bram Stoker meet and have a very unexpected 48-hour adventure that leads to the creative inspiration for both writer’s first great success – THE TIME MACHINE for Wells and DRACULA for Stoker.  It is not only a thrilling, scary, fun, and beautifully drawn adventure tale, but also a story about putting aside fear and insecurity and stepping into your true identity.

Kickstart the Game

1879 London Adventure and Sourcebook

1879 is FASA’s steamweird roleplaying game, that takes the place of Shadowrun in our cosmology. Due to a weird science experiment that opens a stable wormhole, Earth’s magic cycle gets jumpstarted in the late Victorian era, leading to a Gilded Age with elves, dwarves, snarks, and trolls. As the world adjusts to its new races, technological progress races forward, as the Age of Steam begins to give way to the Age of Electricity. Clockwork computers exchange data over telegraph wires, steam-powered airships chug through the sky, and industrial applications of magic churn out new wonders daily.

Westbound: Revolvers and Rituals

Westbound is a game of adventure on the frontier. You’ll explore the magical wild west, encounter other frontiersmen, fight strange new creatures, and strike gold or die trying. Robbing trains, shooting up saloons, and rescuing damsels is all apart of a days work for a Westbounder.

When the soil’s turned sour,

And the well all dried up.

When men in suits put a gun in your hand

And send you to war.

When there’s nothing left of your home,

But ash and regret.

It’s time to turn Westbound.

Game Reviews

Space: 1889

As I said in the breakdown of the RPG Quickstart rules: Take the best parts of John Carter, Warlord of Mars, a mix of the crazy-fun science fiction of Jules Verne and HG Wells, and top it off with some of the pulp stories from the 30’s and 40’s about adventures on other planets (before pesky real science ruined it for everyone). The Imperial nations of Europe decided to look to the stars to appease their appetites for materials for Queen and Country (or Kaiser and Country as the case may be).

Other

5 Steampunk Movies You Should Watch

As I was coming up with this list of 5 Steampunk movies, I had to admit that there aren’t as many as you might think there are considering the number of costumes I see posted all over the web (or at conventions like Dragon Con). The following aren’t necessarily the best, but these are ones who contribute in their own way to the genre.

Short Film – Eye of the Storm

This is a music video. This is a short film. This is amazing looking.

The story centers around a sky captain making his way across the sky, making peace with what came before and steadying himself on what may come next. Accompanied by a large dog-sized dragon, he sees the green glow just past an oncoming storm and must make his decision on how to deal with it. Whether he should avoid it or push through to the other side.

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight

With the trailer for the animated movie debuting, I thought it was more than time to give a little focus on a Batman related Steampunk story… that I have not read as of yet. Share in the story of my failure…

Gears and Cogs

A few of the things that had caught my eye over that week: Draw with Jazza, They are Billions (video game), and Brass Empire (card game).

***

I’m looking forward to even more this next year!

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

 

5 RPG Kickstarters You Should Back – Numenera 2, CAVALIERS OF MARS, Battlelords, Baker Street and Hood, and Gamma Turquoise

Last week, I did my normal column – Forbidden Lands, Mini-Dungeon Tome, and more – and a special edition that looked at what my state has to offer in RPGs, games, and gaming conventions (AndoCon, Heavy Metal Thunder Mouse, and a few others). This week, among the RPG Kickstarters I’m counting down, they include the third of the head-to-head challenges. What’s the head-to-head challenge? It’s five 6- to 7-figure RPG projects running in October. These big projects beg the questions – Will all five of these campaigns make their goals, and will they leave enough fan budget behind for the other RPG Kickstarters?

 

5) CAVALIERS OF MARS, a tabletop roleplaying game by Onyx Path
Ends on Thu, October 19 2017 12:59 PM EDT.

“Contribute to help create, publish and distribute the CAVALIERS OF MARS tabletop roleplaying book.

Live, fight, and love on Mars, a world of red death and strange mystery, a world of savagery and romance.

Return now to dying Mars in its last age of glory. A planet of flashing swords and choking sands, of winking courtesans and lantern-lit canal cities.

Mars, where fortune and heartbreak are two sides of the same obsidian chit, where lost cities and dry oceans stretch between the last bastions of civilization. Where the First Martians, the monument-builders, are but a haunted memory. Where the Red Martians become decadent and reckless in their last days. Where the Pale Martians rule the wastes, remembering a history whose weight would crush a lesser people.

 

Mars has canals… therefore, Mars must have Venice!

Cavaliers of Mars is a swashbuckling adventure setting from Rose Bailey, longtime developer of Vampire: The Requiem and other World of Darkness titles. Cavaliers draws inspiration from pulp fantasy and historical fiction, adding a modern edge and an exotic setting.

Cavaliers of Mars is powered by the DEIMOS system, in which a hero’s motivations and approach to problems strongly influence her chance of success. In combat, heroes face off with their enemies in contests of tactics and chance.”

 

Egg’s Thoughts: 

Onyx Path is a large publisher and this game is a part of their creator-owned line. I dig that they are offering that business option and partnering with creators to produce new products.

Cavaliers of Mars is a new entry in Onyx Path’s lineup of creator-owned games, produced in partnership with Rose Bailey and written by Rose Bailey, Benjamin Baugh, Dixie Cochran, Storn Cook, Steffie de Vaan, Meghan Fitzgerald, Jordan Goldfarb, Danielle Lauzon, Ethan Skemp, Lauren Stone, Travis Stout, Audrey Whitman.”

This RPG uses the DEIMOS system – traits of varying dice sizes rolled in dice pools against a difficulty number – that attempts to recreate the John Carter of Mars/Barsoom experience as a RPG. But do the system and setting work? You can get the Jumpstart Rules for free and, if you back the campaign, they have the complete text for CoM available as a download now.

“To learn more about Cavaliers of Mars, you can check out the CAVALIERS OF MARS JUMPSTART RULES here at DRIVETHRURPG.COM:

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse.php?discount=9318cdfe08

BACKERS ONLY:We’ll be providing a link to the complete text for Cavaliers of Mars (barring last minute tweaks) in Backer Update #1. Please let us know what you think!”

Onyx Path is backing this product all the way. It’s worth a look just for that.

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

4) Battlelords, Science Fiction RPG revised edition by 23rd Century Productions
Ends on Thu, October 19 2017 11:04 PM EDT.

“Battlelords of the 23rd Century, Seventh Edition is a full color, hardcover tabletop RPG book. New & Streamlined Core Rules.

What is Battlelords?

Battlelords is a game set in a dangerous future. An Alliance of Humans and aliens is fighting for survival. The Ak-Nar-Ryn (aka “Arachnids”) have destroyed worlds and decimated populations as they advance into Alliance territory. Against the backdrop of war, players can take the fight to the Ak-Nar-Ryn, become explorers seeking new aliens species for allies and technology or participate in espionage to further the goals of their corporate backers.

Ready for battle
Ready for battle

There are many core species and each has their specialty and their own story. You can play as a Chatilian so you can read minds and use mental powers. Be the ultimate infiltration specialist as a Mazian transforming to look like a Human, or a tree, or a desk, or pretty much anything else you can think of. If you’d like to go with brute strength, pick a Pythonian and throw someone for distance. Play a cunning and ruthless Phentari and make your enemies suffer.  There are 15 different species to choose from!”

 

Egg’s Thoughts: 

Have you played Battlelords before? “The first edition was released in 1990 by Lawrence R Sims,” and this is the Kickstarter for the 7th edition, so it has a lengthy pedigree. 23rd Century Productions believes in their game enought to have a free playtest for you to sample and see if this is the game you’ve been waiting for.

“Our Open Playtest of the Battlelords, Seventh Edition system has started, and will continue into November 2017. You can download the playtest packet for free on drivethrurpg.com.”

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

3) Baker Street: Strange Cases and Hood: Beyond the Forest by Fearlight Games
Ends on Fri, October 20 2017 8:30 PM EDT.

“We’re creating a new Casebook for the Baker Street RPG, and our first Adventure book for Hood: Swashbuckling Adventures in Sherwood!

Fearlight Games is bringing you two new collections of cases and adventures!

We have a new collection of cases for use with Baker Street: Roleplaying in the World of Sherlock Holmes. Our investigators find themselves dealing with unusual circumstances and locales out of the ordinary in Strange Cases & Distant Places. This is the third casebook for Baker Street. We also have a new release for Hood: Swashbuckling Adventures in Sherwood. Adventures Beyond the Forest is our first collection of adventures for Hood and it has our Merry Men setting off on a series of swashbuckling adventures!

If you aren’t familiar with either of the games, scroll on down to the appropriate About the Game section for a brief introduction to the system, or check out the original campaigns here:

Baker Street and Hood

A preliminary layout of the cover and interior pages.

A preliminary layout of the cover and interior pages.

 

Egg’s Thoughts: 

Do you want to play Robin Hood or Sherlock Holmes? Fearlight Games has you covered. In one Kickstarter, they’re offering case files and adventure for these two settings. As a GM, I’m excited for mystery-adventures that are at a high enough level for Sherlock Holmes. That’s a win!

That other win is that Bryce Whitacre, the Spectrum System, Baker Street, and Hood creator, is a nice guy and, best of all, he hired my pal, Jonathan Thompson, to do…

The Haunted Mill, by Jonathan M. Thompson

Tom, the Miller, is having some trouble with the little people. They are killing his cats, destroying his grain and otherwise making a mess of things. Sir William has offered to buy the mill, maybe the denizens of Sherwood can aid Tom before it’s too late.”

I want this to fund to see how the adventures and mysteries turn out!

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

2) Gamma Turquoise: Santa Fe Starport by Kort’thalis Publishing
Ends on Thu, October 26 2017 2:11 PM EDT.

***NOTICE*** – NSFW!

“Post-apocalyptic campaign setting, tools, and scenario… gonzo, eldritch, science-fantasy, mutant wasteland. O5R by Venger Satanis.

For those who don’t know me, “Hi.  I’m Venger Satanis, High Priest of Kort’thalis Publishing.  What’s up?”

I believe this is my 13th Kickstarter.  Want to see what I’ve been doing the last 4 years?  Check out my old school gaming blog: http://vengersatanis.blogspot.com/

I haven’t explored the post-apocalypse genre that often, so this is a big deal to me.  I want to get deep in there and do it right, coming up with weird, outlandish things in a world devastated by cataclysmic forces. PCs will be eating crock-rat and scorpion-skunk roadkill, drinking their own piss, giving hand jobs for precious gasoline, and pretending to worship the glowing faces of a malevolent and insane god that floats somewhere in the yellow smog of the forbidden zone. Not everyone will survive.  In fact, some won’t even want to.  That’s just the way things are now.

There are already a lot of cool post-apocalyptic RPGs out there.  Gamma Turquoise: Santa Fe Starport will focus on making your after-the-bomb gaming experience more awesome.  I strive to hit that sweet spot between rules-light and rules-non-existent, where flavor, story, ideas, artwork, scenario seeds, and random tables dominate.  Indeed, this book will have utility far beyond the scenario presented.  You’ll want to give this to your grand-kids when they go off adventuring in post-apocalyptic lands.

I provide you with the finest tools so that YOU can create your own irradiated landscape full of mutated skeezoid scum dogs (tentacled, of course).  But this won’t be a lame outline that you have to flesh out.  No, you’re in good hands – Venger’s warlock hands!

If you want a lot of crunchy, bloated, system nonsense that has no business being in a toolbox like this, then move along.  Nothing to see here…”

Check out my interview with Venger Satanis here

Post-apocalyptic campaign setting, tools, and scenario... gonzo, eldritch, science-fantasy, mutant wasteland. O5R by Venger Satanis.

 

Egg’s Thoughts: 

Gonzo gaming. Venger Satanis of Kort’thalis Publishing is the living embodiment of gonzo gaming. NSFW work gonzo gaming, but gonzo gaming all the same. Venger is also one of the most helpful, ready-to-give-back-to-gaming individuals in the industry.

Do you need a post-apocalyptic world that’s deeply rooted in grindhouse? Gamma Turquoise is going to give you twists and turns and unexpected craziness from after the world ends!

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

1) Numenera 2: Discovery and Destiny by Monte Cook Games
Ends on Fri, October 27 2017 8:00 PM EDT.

“Discover the Ninth World, then fulfill your destiny to lift it from an age of darkness. Two new corebooks for Numenera.

They say there have been eight worlds before ours. Eight times the people of this Earth, over vast millennia, built their civilizations, reaching heights we cannot even fully imagine now. They spoke to the stars, reshaped the creatures of the world, and mastered form and essence. They built cities and machines that have since crumbled to dust, leaving only their barest remnants.

This is the Ninth World. The people of the prior worlds are gone—scattered, disappeared, or transcended. But their works remain, in the places and devices that still contain some germ of their original function. Some call these magic, but the wise know that these are our legacy. They are our future. They are the…

Set a billion years in our future, Numenera is a tabletop roleplaying game about exploration and discovery. The people of the Ninth World suffer through a dark age, an era of isolation and struggle in the shadow of the ancient wonders crafted by advanced civilizations now millennia gone. But discovery awaits for those brave enough to seek out the works of the prior worlds. Those who uncover and master the numenera can unlock the powers and abilities of the ancients, and bring new light to a struggling world.

The original Numenera RPG was launched via a 2012 Kickstarter campaign that shattered every record (at the time) for tabletop RPGs. The corebook has seen four printings, and Numenera is enjoyed by tens of thousands of gamers in an active global community. We have published over 60 supplements and accessories, and released a terrific starter set for new players. The Ninth World has spawned a critically-acclaimed hit computer game, board games, an excellent short film, a line of novels, and other licensed items, and Numenera has been translated into many languages including French, Spanish, Italian, Korean, German, and Portuguese.

Numenera is a game in which player characters explore the ruins of aeons past to gather amazing treasures and help build a new future for a world struggling in darkness. Since the launch of Numenera in 2013, we have delivered well on the first part, but we’ve always wanted to do a more thorough job exploring that second part. That desire has led us to Numenera 2 and this Kickstarter campaign.

Through this Kickstarter we’re going to replace the existing corebook with two new corebooks. The first is called Numenera Discovery and the second Numenera Destiny.”

Egg’s Thoughts: 

It’s Monte Cook, it’s Numenera, it’s breathtaking art, it’s (as of this writing) over 2,400 backers and over $450,000, it’s one of the five 6- or 7-figure RPG Kickstarters running in October, 2017, and it’s going to be epic in every sense of the word. At this point, in the comparison between the five big games of the month, Numenera 2 is in the lead and, I believe, likely to stay there.

Never tried Numenera? Well, Monte Cook Games believes in their game and they have 17 free Numenera previews on DriveThruRPG. If you’re unsure, Monte Cook has enough samples to knock you off the fence one way or the other.

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

* * * * * *

 

Signal Boost:

 

Design Camp 2 – The Conversion! with Ben McFarland, Jason Sonia, and Brian Suskind
We’re planning a short winter project to showcase the process of converting a D&D3.0 adventure to 5E & PFRPG while updating the design.
Ends on Wed, November 1 2017 4:53 AM EDT.

Why signal boost this? This is wanna-lancer college! Take out a student loan and join in because Egg Embry will be there!

 

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Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).

 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links to DriveThruRPG.com and Amazon.com.

Savage Worlds: Fast, Furious, and Fun! - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

 

* * * * * *

 

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

 

* * * * * *

 

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).

31 Days of Horror – Part 1

Every year I want to make October something cool. I want to watch as many horror movies as I possibly can. I want to fill the excess time with scares and vampires and zombies and whatever monster lives under my bed.

Yet, every year, I look up and it’s basically Halloween.

But not this year. This year I’m determined to do something every day. Whether it is a movie or a short film or a short story or a game or whatever… I’m going to embrace it!

Day 1 – Honeymoon

(currently streaming on Netflix)

Directed by Leigh Janiak – Staring Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway

There are four characters in this movie and two of them only appear for about a total of 5 minutes of screen time. The entire focus of this movie is on the newly wedded couple who have gone to her cabin in the woods for the week. A week of isolation, and sex, and fishing and strange lights outside, and wandering around in the woods and…

But really, this movie owes more to something like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Gaslight than anything else. It is really about how much do you know the person you’re with. And if they act “strange” is something actually wrong with them or is it you, being paranoid. As the viewer, you are there with Paul, trying to figure out if there is something legitimately wrong with Bea or if we might be dealing with a situation more different than we think.

This is one of those movies where I enjoyed it right up to the end, but the coda was probably unneeded in its present form. Definitely worth watching if just for the slow build of things being just wrong.

Day 2 – The Things

By Peter Watts

You can read this short story at Clarkesworld for free here.

If you have read John W. Campbell, Jr’s novella Who Goes There? or seen John Carpenter’s The Thing, then you might have an idea of what this short story is about. But instead of a strict retelling from another of the humans, this is from the POV of the Creature.

Watts does a great job in almost making The Thing into a sympathetic character who is as confused about our world and our ways as we are of it. There is true anguish as it tries to decipher what it can about humanity’s nature, why we would choose to become stuck in one form, and all the ways it thought it could potentially survive the encounter.

If you’ve seen the movie, Watts also has an answer about who might have been human and who might have been a Thing at the end.

Day 3 – Vicious

Written, directed and produced by Oliver Park

You can watch Vicious on Youtube here.

There isn’t anything unique about the story. A girl is alone in her house… or is she? Even if we’ve seen that movie a thousand times, when it comes to the horror side it really boils down to, is this thing scary?

Yes.

Through the use of the soundtrack, slow shots, a couple of jump scares, and an occasional camera shot that is just off-center making you watch the background more than any character in the foreground.

It has a viewing suggestion that I will echo here: watch alone, in the dark, with headphones.

***

Three days down, many more scares to go.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list to learn about the upcoming The Gilded Age Kickstarter.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Why Collaborate?

Every day that I keep at this – the writing, the editing, the story-telling – I’m hopefully getting a little better. But much like an athlete who trains by themselves, eventually they must turn to others in order to truly gauge how good they are, where their deficiencies might lie, and what things they can do to simply improve overall. They say you can never improve unless you are playing with people who are better than you are.

It’s not that much different on the writing side. Except that writing lends itself more to the solo aspect. You could go days or weeks or months without any feedback on the next project you’re writing. The only comfort you gain is knowing the story is progressing. That, too, can be just as maddening.

I think it is why I not only like to collaborate, but I seem to seek out such opportunities whenever I can.

During the earliest days of Terminus Media, when it was just a group of 5-6 guys trying to figure the whole “writing” thing out. Times where we might not even know what we did not know. Every week was a new potential project, every week was a new idea presented by someone at the table, and we did our best to foster that sharing. You could see where other people were having problems, and hopefully, not make the same mistakes on your own work (you inevitably did, of course).

I started to learn how to accept (constructive) criticism by sharing my words with others. I learned that the best way to learn was to DO the work. If there was a project that needed something written, the following week was spent figuring out how to actually write a short film script, or a TV script, or a comic script.

One week I had no idea and the next, knowledge replaced the nothingness.

Years later, Mr. Neill and I were talking about a serialized possibility. Here we both were trying to finish novels or start new ones, but there was something about getting our heads together and seeing what could happen.

Hollow Empire happened.

The biggest benefit, unseen by me (and probably cursed by Jeremy later) was editing. You effectively add a partner in this realm as well. Hopefully their strengths can fix your weaknesses and vice versa. Perhaps you are a little too sparse in your descriptions and your partner too sparse on the dialogue – now’s the perfect opportunity to learn from each other.

In those first drafts, which Jeremy edited to the bone, my prose got a little tighter. When I got new chapters in from him, it forced me to push to get better. I wanted him to be excited when my emails came rolling in. We all need to be pushed. Having a partner, someone you are accountable to, means that when you aren’t hitting your deadlines then you’re letting someone else down. Building the world through these characters in a way that makes the whole work really about those characters more than about the “Big Events” which may be going on around them.

Getting better with every keystroke.

In the last couple of years, I’ve worked with Robert Jeffrey on a pair of projects. Each of us bringing some ideas to the table and we settled on one idea from each list: The Crossing & Entropy.

The thing is that with another head there, you obviously have double the potential ideas. However, you are really forced to push your own ego aside… for the betterment of the story. When it is only you, it means a singular vision, but it also means you’re pretty much confined to whatever the old brain comes up with. With another person contributing ideas, you have more opportunities to find the best idea. You’re no longer insular… BUT you have to be willing to allow the other person to have that idea. If you are the type of writer who can’t deal with writing “someone else’s story” then you might as well stay a solo act.

To live in someone else’s world where much of the original idea was someone else’s, but you could still be a cog in the machine and help it get further than it could have done on their own. The ability to make something better than one person simply through the ideas being shared and passed back.

But the best part is being able to lean on someone else to help carry a bit of the workload. And when Writer’s Block threatens to show up, you simply give your co-writer a call or email. That way they can talk you off the ledge, getting you back to work all the sooner.

The dirty secret about all of this, whether it is short stories, novels, comics, film, or whatever… it doesn’t have to be such a lonely pursuit. You DON’T HAVE to go it alone. You can help your fellow creators, and they can help you as well.

Hopefully each learning a little bit more through the experience.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Resolutions, 2016

Time again for my look ahead/look back. It’s where I like to sit down and judge what I managed to do, what things didn’t get done, and then push onto next year.

I have so many things that I would like to do. So many ideas for books and stories and comics. Most of the time I’m not fighting time or money, but fighting my own brain. Trying to get focused can be the biggest problem of them all.

[Of course having more time and money wouldn’t hurt. :)]

writing

 

So first, the look back at 2015:

The Edge of the World – Finish the 1st draft. Finish a 2nd draft. Get to Beta Readers. Possibly get an editor by end of year.

Yeah, if 2015 taught me anything it taught me that a story will take as many words, as many pages, and as many hours as it wants. My desires and schedules will be damned in this process. I wrote about it a bit here, but the big thing was that I thought I was closer to the end than I really was, so not finishing the 1st draft until November was difficult.

[The always fun thing of “When are you going to be finished with that book?”… “Soon.”]

That said, I did end up doing a partial edit on about 2/3 of the book. I wouldn’t call it a 2.0 edit, but it might be 1.25 or 1.5.

Regardless I am extremely proud of having finished another draft of another novel. I know that these things don’t just appear overnight but take tons of “butt in chair” time. So I’ll give myself an A.

The White Effect – Revise the current draft with all the Beta Reader notes I have. Identify potential Editors/Agents to Query. Draft query letter. Start that process.

This has begun, but that’s about all I can say at this point. Work in progress type of thing. We’ll call this one “Incomplete”.

Veronica Mars Kindle Worlds Novella II – We have the outline, I just need to put some words on the page now. It is 3rd on the list for a reason though.

Finished the 1st draft. Waiting on the co-writer’s edits/thoughts. This gets a solid B.

Hollow Empire II – Begin those discussions in the next couple of weeks. Begin outlines, drafts, and maybe, just maybe get it out by end of year? Maybe it could be a Fall release every year?

No movement on Hollow Empire. I was busy with Edge of the World, and he was busy with… not sleeping and writing 1 billion words this year. So, yeah, it might be time to start bugging Mr. Neill again. I get an F on this one.

The Dark That Follows Sequel – Originally I wasn’t going to try to fit this in this year, but I have an idea for this and a third book, so I’m hopeful to have a 1st draft done.

Wow… I had this on the list? Whoa. Yeah, this didn’t happen. A big ole’ F for that one. Talk about eyes bigger than my stomach!

Unstuck – A series of novellas I would like to get done about people who are outliers in the timestream… abandoned by their own timelines. Each one would be about 25k words, and right now I have 3 of them roughed out. My guess is having one done by end of the year is a resonable goal (though I could easily see it getting squeezed out by the above).

I knew this was on the list… not started, but lots of notes being gathered. And it got pushed back because of another project (see below). So I’ll say I get a D minus for this one (but with a legit excuse).

S.O.U.L. Mate – Something that did not exist in any portion of my mind last January. A full outline has been written. The damn thing came in a blur over the course of a day. Fully formed. Beginning/middle/end… just like that. And that really caused the Unstuck stories to get slid back on my schedule.

Work has commenced on it.

Shorts – 4 more shorts, to be finished. Online magazine submissions (get on it McGuire!). Start that train a moving.

3 shorts written. Two of which are in a short story collection: Machina Obscurum (you should check it out!).

Machina Front Cover

I have started the online magazine submissions. No success yet, but it is in progress. I’ll call this a solid B (unless I can write one more short in the next couple of days!).

Comics

Gilded Age – It is my hope to have issues 2, 3, & 4 out this year. Of course, that was my hope for this last year. Either way, I will be finishing up the scripts for 3 & 4 in the next couple of weeks.

I am Jack’s broken record. The issues aren’t out.

Boo!!!

However, I did finish issue 3 and 4. Issue 2 and 3 have been drawn, inked, and colored (they merely need the words added to their pages and they will be all but done). Issue 2 even has a cover.

So I’m going to give myself an A for getting my part done, and continue to cross my fingers about the last issue.

Tiger Style – Issue 2?

I must admit, this is completely out of my hands at this point. I may be 100 before this comes out (sad Panda).

The Crossing – A comic I’m co-writing with Robert Jeffrey II… if we can secure an artist, then I think we can get something going. I don’t want to put an absolute number on issues or scripts or anything. If this is solid this year I’d be happy.

No real movement, but lots of good work done on the first issue due to Oni Press’s open submissions. So a little bit of movement, but I believe we can make something happen in 2016 if we push it hard enough. Sadly I need to give me a C on this one.

Blogging – Let’s keep it going for another 52 weeks.

And with this post I made it! A++++!

Mystery Short Film

I mentioned this one during the Halfway Blog Post. A pleasant surprise, and perhaps a little bit more work set in that world coming up in 2016. Again, one of those things I had no idea was coming, but am so happy it did!

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Goals for 2016

S.O.U.L. Mate

Finish 1st draft. Finish 2nd draft. Hire editor.

A big piece of next year. One thing that should help is that it isn’t nearly as long as Edge ended up being.

The Dark That Follows 2

It’s well past time to write the sequel. 1st draft of that to be done.

The Crossing Comic

I think having an updated pitch and sample script shopped out there is probably the goal for this year.

The White Effect

To send out query letters. To investigate publishing options.

I can’t control whether or not an agent or editor might take me on. But I can control getting this into some people’s hands to increase the chance of such a thing happening.

The Edge of the World

Finish 2nd draft. Hire Editor. Get cover done.

Right now I’m leaning towards self-publishing this one, but that may change as the year goes on (if things break one way or another).

Mystery Comic

The Mystery Comic is based on the Mystery Short Film above. My goal on this is to get that first issue done, and then cross my fingers that more will be asked of me.

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Really I just want to be Calvin, I already have two orange cats.

 

Short Stories

Write 4 more shorts. And really set up a system for getting them out into the world (submissions, etc.). Plus these can provide a nice break from the longer formatted things.

Blogging

As ever, I want to continue to put out a weekly blog. Not miss a week. Keep the streak alive. In hopes of achieving this I’m going to try to have a couple in the bank at any time as there are those Tuesday nights when inspiration has been a bit lacking.

I want to add like 4 more things to this list. My writing To-Do is a long string of plans and hopes and dreams. I just have to put butt in the chair.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Half Way There, Again

It’s the little slap of reality. It’s a progress report. It’s my road map.

It’s an excuse for my cat to block me from writing.

Most of the time I’m writing the blog to share some idea or thought (random many times), a favorite movie or book or whatever. This blog is more for me. A way to mark how I’m doing on my own (at times) uphill struggle to be a writer in the way I want to be. At the beginning of the year I wrote a “to do list” and now it is time to check in.

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Prose

The Edge of the World – So close yet so far away. I feel like I’m stuck in the mud on this one. Not because of any story difficulties, but because of the way I wrote the thing. I jumped around a fair bit and now have decided to fill in the gaps that I left myself. So at times I’m half in editing mode and half in writing mode (I know, I’m not supposed to do that). So the word count goes up a little slower than normal because I’m tweaking and trimming and writing and…

It’s going to be done, but it is not yet. Sigh.

The White Effect – Nothing yet. I’ve wanted to finish up The Edge of the World 1st. But my plans have not changed: Revise the current draft with all the Beta Reader notes I have. Identify potential Editors/Agents to Query. Draft query letter. Start that process.

Short Stories – Aha! Finally got some more done. 3 more to be exact. I took much of May and sat down to write some shorts… that need to be able to write the words: The End being the most blissful thing. I have 1 more to write to reach my goal for the year, but I’m extremely happy how this has gone. I have also received my first reject for publishing one of them, so I’m taking that as a sign of progress as well (as in, at least I am trying!).

Other Prose (Novels, novellas) – Aside from adding more notes to Unstuck’s file and Lightning’s file and The Dark That Follows II’s file, nothing concrete has happened.

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Comics

Gilded Age – Issue 2’s colors are 1/2 done. Issue 3’s pencils and inks are done (barring a minor tweak). Issue 4 has not been begun. However, I did finish both issue 3 & 4’s scripts, so another success. Fingers crossed these comics get done in the near future.

The Crossing – A tiny bit of movement. Robert and my project needs to have a sitdown just to get the pitch up and running.

Blogging – Still haven’t missed a week (though I must admit that last week I almost forgot… the beach does strange things to the brain!).

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Mystery Short Film Project – Finished. Can’t say much more about this one other than it kinda came out of nowhere and I feel really good about the final draft I delivered. And as soon as the client is ready to make it public, I will do a blog on what exactly it is. Just very excited about that opportunity. And it is yet another example of how I don’t always know what the next months are going to bring… what opportunities they will provide.

So that’s it so far, and honestly, aside from Edge of the World not being done, I’m decently happy about my progress so far this year. I definitely don’t have that kick in the gut feeling like I wasted 6 months or anything, which is exceptionally nice.

Now I just need to make sure I don’t waste the next six either.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Waiting for The Ending

It’s difficult to have content for your blog when you can’t actually talk about things that you are working on. It’s both a good and bad problem to have since one day I will not only be able to talk about them, but I might be able to show them off in their various formats (to say anymore will invite the Men In Black to come to my house and hunt me down… or at least use the “flashy thing” on me).

And the stuff that is already done, well I’ve said a ton about them up to this point. Well except for some comics that are done, but not done.

And other things (novels) are either done and waiting for edits or are close to done, but seem to have been that way for far too long.

So it presents the conundrum.

There is a lot of waiting. A lot of time that has to pass in order for things to have “happened”. In a month I’ll have this thing or that thing completed.

time_travel

It reminds me of when I was younger. So many things are placed in front of you as barriers. And most of them have to do with age. Sometimes it was as simple as a movie or TV show you might have heard about. Sometimes it was extending that glorious bedtime another half an hour so that I could feel like a “big kid”.

Writing feels like that as well. When I get to THE END, that’s the moment that acts as something of a catharsis to me. It cleanses. It makes me realize how much time something has taken, and then makes me appreciate what I have done.

the-end-3

The problem is always the in between times. With no THE END in sight, what am I to do? So in addition to a couple of To Be Named Later things, I’m trying to devote May to short stories. I keep wanting to get a few of them done. Hell, I have a folder on my USB that is dozens of ideas, partially written stories looking for an ending, bits of dialogue, etc.

But it is definitely a different muscle again than the Novel muscle, or the comic script muscle, or the short film script muscle, or… You don’t have forever and a day to try and make your point. You don’t have to take month after month to try and figure out where the story needs to go. No, you can get in there, really figure everything out, and then get the heck out of there. And you get to write THE END at some point.

A small victory, but sometimes enough to help propel you on in the next project (or in a project that you might be a little bogged down in). Something to spark a different part of my brain in order to free up that space for something else. I fully think that by being creative, you end up spurring on even more creative thoughts that many times our day to day lives can seek to grind out of us.

I look at the folder now and it says there are 51 files. That’s 51 potential stories fighting in my brain for a chance to tell their own tales. And for far too long I have left them fallow, only contributing a few lines here and there, a couple of pages, a handful of words… a pittance. I think I owe it to those lost dogs to maybe try and make them into real boys and girls. Unleash them on the world.

And be able to write THE END.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Creative Interview With Novelist/ Comic Book Writer/ Bobby Nash

For today’s creator interview installment, we sit down with the prolific, and award winning author, Bobby Nash. The author of such works as Alexandra Holzer’s Ghost Gal: The Wild Hunt, Snow Falls, Evil Ways, Domino Lady: One Shot, and the recipient of the 2013 Pulp Ark Nominee for Best Novel, Earthstrike: Agenda, Nash show’s no signs of slowing down, with a host of other titles scheduled to be released in 2015.

 To begin with I just want to say this: you write like a mad man! And I mean that in a good way. Do you get that a lot? 

I have heard that a time or two, yes. [smiles]. When I decided that this was the path I wanted to travel, I set goals for myself and headed toward them. My stubbornness came in handy with helping me to keep going and I never looked back.

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Tell us about yourself. Where you’re from, what got you into writing professionally, and some of your training.

I was born and raised in Georgia, which is where I still live. I fell into writing, oddly enough, because of my desire to be a comic book artist. Turns out that my art skills leave a little something to be desired, but I was writing stories that I could draw. Somewhere along the way, other artists I knew started asking me to write for them so I decided that maybe I could be a writer/artist. Thankfully, a friend of mine pointed out that writing was my real strength and suggested that I focus on it instead of splitting my time between writing and art. He was absolutely right. Then one day I sold a comic book story to a publisher. It’s been a roller coaster ride ever since.

I don’t really have much in the way of formal training. I’m mostly self-taught, although I’ve picked up some hints, tips, and tricks along the way from others. I took some night classes at UGA focused on creative writing, which were quite useful. We would bring our writing in and read in front of the class. That instant feedback came in handy plus there was the happy side effect of helping me to get past being shy and awkward in front of a room full of people.

What’s the first thing that you remember writing?

WOW. That is a tough one. I wrote some truly horrendous comic book stories back in my elementary school days, but the less said about them the better. I started writing short stories in high school. I remember we used to be given a list of words each week to use in a sentence. I was bored one week so I actually wrote a story and used the words in it. The teacher thought it was neat and encouraged me to keep it up. I had fun doing it and even set up the challenge of ending stories on a cliffhanger that I would have to resolve the following week when we received our list of words. I learned a lot about writing doing that.

Is there a particular genre that you prefer to play around in, and why?

I do like to play in multiple genres, but I always find myself drawn back to crime thrillers, although they can have other descriptions added to them like pulpy crime thriller, action crime thriller, sci-fi crime thriller, you get the point. I grew up with PI’s on TV, books, and movies so I developed a love for the genre. I like solving crimes, at least in my writing. It’s not something I really attempt to do in real life.

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How does a typical writing session work for you? Do you have any “tools of the trade” that you use?

Typical is a relative term. I used to write full time so my day generally went, wake up, write for several hours, take a dinner break, watch TV, write, go to the gym, watch TV or read, bed, then repeat. Now that I’m back among the corporate working life, my writing time is pretty much limited to the weekends, which goes much the same as before. I spend a lot of time sitting in front of the laptop.

Not sure if I have any specific tools of the trade handy. I write on an old laptop using an outdated version of Word. Everything else is just in my head.

You’ve done a bit of screenwriting (the web series Star Trek: Farragut), and acting (Camp Massacre, The Following, Fat Chance). How have your experiences been working in this realm both behind and in front of the camera? Do you feel the practice of speaking in front of your writing critique groups prepared you for jumping into this arena?

Well, I’ve dabbled. I have a few screenplays under my belt, but three produced, two with my name on them and one that I did a script doctor job on that doesn’t bear my name. Each was unique in the way they were worked. Of those three, 2 have been produced and the third, a short film, is in production. It’s a lot like writing comic books in terms of how I set up the pages, focus on dialogue, and things like that. I will say though, that it is really cool to see actors delivering your words. I hope to do more screenwriting in the future.

I don’t think of myself as an actor. Most of what I’ve done on The Following, Satisfaction, Dumb and Dumber To, Halt and Catch Fire, Three Stooges, etc. is work as an extra. That involves a lot of walking back and forth most of SF COI BN banner3the time, but I’ve had some fun times doing it. Working with Kevin Bacon , almost knocking Matt Passmore down with my carry on bag, and standing next to Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey as they did a scene are definitely three of my highlights.

Working as an extra also gave me a chance to meet a real life FBI agent (while I was playing an FBI agent on The Following) and that led to a nice meeting where I got some really interesting insight into the FBI for my upcoming Evil Intent novel. That was a nice bonus.

Learning to read my work out loud absolutely played a role in helping me do this type of work. If you can’t look up and stare straight ahead on a set, you’re no good to the filmmakers. It’s hard to be shy on set.

Congratulations for receiving the 2013 Pulp Art Award for Best Author. Can you talk a little about winning the award?

GG FINAL CVR frontThanks. It was quite an honor. As you know, I’m not often at a loss for words, but when I read off the list of winners on the old All Pulp site, I actually scrolled past it before it sunk in what I had just read. I was literally speechless for several minutes as I tried to digest the news.

Winning an award is an odd thing. Even though you don’t write any differently than you did before winning, having an award adds a little extra something to your work for many readers so hopefully, it helped open up my work to a wider audience. The biggest change is having people refer to me as “award-winning author Bobby Nash,” which is pretty darn cool, but it did take some getting used to as well.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received from a fellow writer?

I don’t remember exactly who told me this, I want to say it was Beverly Connor, but I could be remembering it wrong. Regardless, the advice was that no one was going to care about my work more than me so I should not expect anyone else to promote it more than me. There is a lot of truth in that and it’s one of the reasons I taught myself how to market my books.

What can folks look forward from you in the near future?

Oh, 2015 looks to be a good and busy year. I don’t have dates for any of these yet, but here are some books to be on the look out for in 2015:

Prose: Snow Storm, Alexandra Holzer’s Ghost Gal: A Haunting We Will Go…, V-Wars vol. 5, The Ruby Files Vol. 2, Evil Intent, Blood Shot, Freelancer: The Traveler Sanction, an as yet untitled Nightscape novel, and a few others I’m sure I’ve forgotten.

Comics: the graphic novel adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ At The Earth’s Core (art by Jamie Chase), 000 ATEC CVR FRONT smDomino Lady Threesome (a new team-up series I’m co-writing with Nancy Holder with art by Marco Santiago and others), Operation Silver Moon (art by Rick Johnson), Strong Will (co-written with Mike Gordon with art by Wendell Cavalcanti and Rob Jones), All-Star Pulp Comics #3 (a Lance Star: Sky Ranger story with art by Rock Baker and Jeff Austin), and a few others in the works.

Yeah. Looks like a busy year ahead of me.

Readers can keep up with the progress and release dates for all of these projects and more at www.bobbynash.com

Thanks Bobby for taking the time to sit with us and talk about your career.

Thanks Robert.

How to Improve the Oscars (for me)

Gold Trophy

I used to love the Oscars. Some of my favorite memories of my life in Los Angeles involves getting together with my friends, anywhere from six to ten to fifteen of them, grabbing junk food and booze, firing up the TiVo, ordering a pizza, filling out our ballots to gamble on the winners and losers, and watching the show designed to celebrate everyone in the room’s favorite art form. We’d have a good time bullshitting, laughing at the good jokes, tearing apart the bad ones, arguing over who deserved to win what, getting real competitive over the stupid pool, and getting hammered enough that by the next morning we had already forgotten who won Best Picture.

That group of friends, though, is now scattered to the winds. Those get-togethers, at least at that scale, are a thing of the past. And every year I have enjoyed the ceremony and the show less and less. This has little to do with which films are honored. There have only been a few times when a particular film winning has elated me and a few more times when a particular film winning enraged me. In general, they pick fine films that are not always my favorites of that year, but are quality nonetheless. (With some exceptions, of course. <cough> Crash <cough> .)

My lack of enthusiasm about the Academy Awards has been created by, over the last 20 years of caring about film and chasing my Hollywood dreams, witnessing the cycle of sameness and lameness from which they seem incapable of escaping. It’s wearing thin. They do the same thing every year, make the same mistakes, and, on the rare occasion when they do something edgy, usually involving a “hip” host, a few people complain the next day and they immediately respond by at least three consecutive years of safe, uninspired hosts that offend absolutely no one because they are incapable of doing it if they tried.

Some of my friends still enjoy watching the Oscars and that’s great. I, less so. So, being a selfish, selfish, man, here is a quick list of the things I would change about them to make me like them better. Just me: a film lover, film expert, and filmmaker. Some of these things may only satisfy me, but I know some would be welcome by others as well. But I don’t care about them. This is all about me. What I’d change. For starters, I’d…

1. Dump the outdated and time-consuming “Best Song” category. This award is a remnant from the days when musicals were a viable genre and for some reason we’ve kept it going. There are two major problems with this category. Firstly, it is not about film. It is about music. And it’s often times not even about music in a film. So many of the nominated songs don’t even appear in their respective movies until the end credits. Most of the rock songs are ones not good enough to put on the respective band’s album. If they could find five songs a year that are actually used IN the movie, in a meaningful and artful way, then maybe I could see keeping it, but they never do. It’s usually two songs like that and three by famous musicians that you probably only heard if you’re one of those people who stays for the whole credits, like me.

Problem number two, of course, is that this category is a horrible time suck. Because the producers feel the need, every year, to have the nominated songs performed during the ceremony. With five songs, plus the actual giving of the award, you’re looking at maybe 20 minutes that could be cut from a 3 ½ hour show. Now, I don’t really care about the length of the show, but I’m a movie geek and I live on the West Coast. But for those in EST, that half hour is a big deal, especially since the awards are always on a school/work night.

Also, this makes “Best Song” the most important award of the night, proportionately. “Best Director” takes up maybe four minutes total, but “Best Song”? It’s 10% of the show! Seems like a lot of time wasted on something that really has nothing to do with making movies.

2. Speaking of wasting time, let’s cut the short film categories. I know this sounds harsh and rather un-filmmakery of me, but let’s be honest. No one cares about these awards except for the nominees and their loved ones. But this show is an entertainment, meant to celebrate the glamour and art of Hollywood, and, to use last night as an example, STEVE MARTIN received an honorary Oscar off-screen in a previous, untelevised ceremony while the winners of “Best Short Documentary” got to speak on TV. I know, I know. Let these folks have their moment. I get that and I understand. But, again, this show is supposed to be entertaining and I know very few people that don’t use those awards as an excuse to use the bathroom. We don’t have to cut them entirely, just lump them in with the technical awards, the ones they do earlier on that celebrate the stuff that they don’t want to bore you with on TV. That’s where they belong. Sorry.

3. Restrict the host to just… hosting. I like Ellen DeGeneres. I thought she did a pleasantly bland good job Sunday night, with a fairly decent ratio of hits to misses. Thought her opening monologue was good and safe, which is fine, and several of her interjections here and there were good for a laugh. My problem is with the sketches. Especially when we get into hours two and three. The costume changes. Going into the audience to get Meryl Streep to take a selfie or make Martin Scorsese eat pizza. It makes the show too much about the host and not about the films. And I just don’t find them funny. The pizza bit last night just made me feel uncomfortable and awkward. That far into the ceremony, sketches like that just make the whole thing seem unnecessarily longer. I want my host to have a monologue to greet us, then spend the rest of the night introducing presenters, throwing in jokes here and there to make us smile. But that’s it. I don’t give a flying fuck if they “broke Twitter” with their group photo.

4. Diversify. Apparently Oscar voters are 94% white, 76% men, with an average age of 63. And boy does it show. Both nominee Julie Delpy and my friend Bob Ray pointed this out in the last few days. Are those numbers representative of Hollywood in general? Yes, and it’s one of its great shames. And it’s nowhere more apparent than in an Oscar broadcast. It explains the same people being nominated year after year. I mean, Meryl Streep is a great actress but not every film she makes is worthy of recognition. They refuse to acknowledge the work of Andy Serkis in Lord of the Rings and Scarlet Johansson in Her as “acting”. They have one category reserved for “quirky” films, “Best Original Screenplay”. Nearly every year it is given to the year’s “weirdest” or “edgiest” film as a consolation prize, because there’s no way we’ll ever give Pulp Fiction or Lost in Translation or Her or Django Unchained or Eternal Sunshine “Best Picture.”

Two words sum up to me why the Academy needs a demographic overhaul:

Bette Midler.

I mean, what the fuck?

“Wind Beneath My Wings”?

Are you shitting me?

I’m sure some people loved it but it just showed me how out of touch these people are. You choose to honor the dead (including Phil Hoffman, who was not mentioned by anyone except for the In Memorium montage) by having her come out and sing a song that was corny as hell five minutes after it came out three hundred years ago?
Felt so lame to me. But just to me. Again, this list is all about me.

5. Drop the “Themes”. The last several years, each Oscar broadcast has chosen a theme. Last night’s theme was “Heroes”. Never mind the fact that 90% of Hollywood Films are about some sort of hero, therefore making the theme of the night “movies”, it is the reason we got three uninspired montage-tribute things that were just a bunch of shots of “heroes”. They had no narrative to them, no energy. They served no purpose other than for people to go “hey, I’ve seen that!”. I just thought they were horrible. I haven’t seen any of these “themes” really work, but this year’s was so boring and vague. Again, wasting time.

6. I know I mentioned this before but it bears repeating: Seven songs were performed and three short films were given awards, but the Lifetime Achievement awards, given to real Hollywood legends, have been pushed off the broadcast into the same purgatory as the tech awards. Wouldn’t you have rather heard Steve Martin talk than listen to Pink sing “Over the Rainbow”?

7. Have them earlier in the year. This may not be possible, but one of the bummers about the Oscars these days is that all of the major categories are decided well before the ceremony. Sunday night it felt like all four actors had already won and were just showing up to collect their trophies. There was absolutely no suspense last night until “Best Picture” and even that was only between two films. With the Globes and the Spirit awards and the countless critics’ awards, it has started to feel like the Academy awards are simply reactive. That the members vote based on what has already won other things. I think the inevitability of the awards this year was the key factor in me not being excited. They have to do something to bring in some suspense. Because there wasn’t one minute last night that I found to be compelling or surprising.

8. My last point is probably untenable and stupid but I couldn’t help thinking about it last night. I think the Oscar broadcast would be a whole lot better if it went…

Live to tape.

“Live to tape” is what shows like the “Tonight Show” and “Daily Show” do, which is record a show like it’s live, with commercial breaks and everything, but then air it later. Very little TV that look live is actually airing live.

What this does, in addition to not making the creators of these shows live like vampires, is give them the chance to make little tweaks. Ever notice on “The Daily Show” when there’s a weird cut in an interview? You notice it, it’s weird, but it means the conversation went long and they had to trim it down to get to their network mandated runtime.

But it gives them the chance to have the interview and, if it goes over, cut it down to the parts they think are most interesting.

In the age of Twitter and the internet, I don’t think this is a possibility, but I would love the Oscars to do the same. Go live to tape the afternoon of.

Think about it. Record the whole thing, including letting the damn winners give full speeches and not playing the less famous ones off in 30 seconds. Then, once it’s on tape, the producers can make decisions. “Okay. Spike Jonez’s speech went long so let’s cut the pizza bit. Oh, that montage didn’t go over to well. Let’s cut it.”

They could deliver a fat-free entertaining broadcast if they could have five hours to make some cuts. And they could get it down to 3 hours, easy.

Problem is, of course, that the winners would get out into the interwebs before the show ever aired and no one wants that. But, to be fair, for years the West Coast (where the Oscars are held) got the whole show on a tape delay every year so that it fell in primetime. It’s a recent development that it airs here live at 5:30. And we dealt with it. If you really, really care, there are ways to avoid knowing what happens.

I just think it would make a better show.

But it will never happen.

So those are some things that would make the Oscars more enjoyable for me. As much as I bitch, I still do love the Oscars. I will watch them next year and the year after that. But I am consistently disappointed by their resistance to change. One can mark it up as “tradition”, I suppose, but to me it’s just stale.

Signing off,

your resident grumpy old man,

chad

Press Release: Hearts of Wulin funded in less than an hour on Kickstarter

Hearts of Wulin, an RPG of wuxia melodrama, funded in less than an hour.

 

Driven by the characters’ duties, desires, and entanglements with other characters, Hearts of Wulin draws on films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Chinese wuxia TV series like Legend of the Condor Heroes, and Chinese martial arts novels from the second half of the twentieth century. The game focuses on letting players tell stories steeped in wuxia melodrama, giving them roles as skilled martial artists in a world of rival clans, conspiracies, and obligations. Romance is as dangerous as a blade – and just as often hidden. Everyone has ties to factions, loves they can’t express, and secrets whose possible revelation will shake them to their core.

Launched on May 14th, 2019, the Kickstarter funded in less than an hour. Since then the stretch goals that it has met include full color interiors, enhanced material on the supernatural, an essay on combat description from the co-hosts of the Jianghu Hustle podcast; and an expansion using the system to explore turn-of-the-century San Francisco from designer Banana Chan. Upcoming stretch goals include settings and materials for Joseon dynasty Korea, Musketeer-era France, and cyberpunk.

Hearts of Wulin comes from The Gauntlet Gaming Community. For several years the Gauntlet has offered a massive online gaming calendar covering story games, OSR, and beyond. The community features multiple podcasts (including ENnie winner Fear of a Black Dragon), active moderated forums, a monthly zine (Codex), blog (featuring ENnie winner Age of Ravens). Hearts of Wulin co-authors Agatha Cheng and Lowell Francis have a deep love of the wuxia genre. Agatha co-hosts the Asians Represents Podcast (@aznsrepresent), while Lowell co-hosts The Gauntlet Podcast.

Playtest materials are available. An early version, the playtest packet includes only a fraction of the support text that will be in the final product. Nevertheless, it provides a tantalizing and addictive sense of what the final game will be like, and anyone with a basic understanding of how Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) games work will be able to run a short campaign of Hearts of Wulin.

Hearts of Wulin is a joyous exercise in capturing the heart and soul of a beloved media genre in the the sublime form of a well-designed roleplaying game. Lowell and Agatha have seamlessly blended action, romance, humor, pathos, and a deep appreciation of source material ranging from classic Shaw Brothers films to modern serialized TV dramas, to produce a dynamic play experience that’ll make great stories even if you’re only passingly familiar with those works.” – Jim Crocker,JimLikesGames.com

The campaign ends Sunday, June 16th.

The Kickstarter Campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gauntlet/hearts-of-wulin

For more about the Gauntlet Gaming Community, check out gauntlet-rpg.com

The Gauntlet Gaming Community on Twitter: @gauntletrpg

The Gauntlet Gaming Community on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GauntletRPG/

PRESS RELEASE: FREE LEAGUE ANNOUNCES OFFICIAL ALIEN TABLETOP RPG SERIES

Free League Publishing

FREE LEAGUE ANNOUNCES OFFICIAL ALIEN TABLETOP RPG SERIES

Free League Publishing – Apr 26, 2019 17:07 BST

Roleplaying where no one can hear you scream

LOS ANGELES, CA (April 26, 2019) – Forty years ago, Alien shocked and inspired the world with a horrific sci-fi universe that forever changed the genre. In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Free League Publishing has announced today that fans can soon explore that iconic universe for themselves with an official line of tabletop role-playing games.

The long-term licensing partnership with 20th Century Fox Consumer Products will kick off in late 2019, launching an ongoing tabletop RPG series drawing upon four decades of world-building within this beloved universe. Free League is renowned for its own world-building in science fiction, with their best-selling sci-fi RPG Tales from the Loop sweeping the 2017 ENnie Awards for Best Setting, Best Writing, Best Art, Best Game, and Product of the Year. Tomas Härenstam, Free League co-founder and game director of their sci-fi RPGs Tales from the Loop and Mutant: Year Zero, will oversee game design, with original artwork from esteemed artists Martin Grip, John Mullaney and Axel Torvenius.

Taking place shortly after the events of Aliens, the first RPG will propel players into the vast possibilities of the Outer Rim Frontier. From the pioneering colonists and scientists to the ever-present Company reps and Colonial Marines, the game promises a diverse range of characters and gameplay experiences far beyond the staple cat-and-mouse suspense and survival horror of the franchise.

“The Alien saga isn’t about superheroes with superior firepower,” says game director Härenstam. “It’s about placing ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, and testing the endurance of the human spirit against inhuman atrocities and impossible odds. Such a harsh yet hopeful universe has captured our imagination for 40 years with good reason, and we’re excited to explore new stories and perspectives as players must face their demons (in a true and metaphoric sense) and brave the horrors of the unknown.”

To best capture the Alien experience, the RPG will provide more than the framework for continuous, open-world campaigns. Beyond the sandbox campaign game mode, Free League is also designing a “Cinematic” mode, with pre-generated scenarios that players must complete within a single session. Emulating the dramatic arc of an Alien film, these survival challenges promise escalating stakes and fast (often brutal) gameplay where most players aren’t expected to last the night. Their first cinematic scenario, Chariot of the Gods written by sci-fi novelist Andrew E.C. Gaska (Death of the Planet of the Apes), is included in the core manual. More cinematic modules and game expansions are already in production, with direct tie-ins to Fox’s future plans for the franchise slated for 2020 and beyond.

The Fox-Free League licensing deal was brokered by Joe LeFavi of Genuine Entertainment, who will manage the license on behalf of Free League and serve as an editor on the game series. Alien is the latest in a slew of high-profile tabletop deals by LeFavi, including the master tabletop gaming license for Dune, the tabletop RPG series for Altered Carbon, and multiple brand extensions of World of Darkness.

For more news and previews on the Alien RPG series, visit alien-rpg.com. Then follow Free League Publishing on Twitter and Facebook, where fans can discover art and gameplay development ahead of the game’s release.

ABOUT 20TH CENTURY FOX CONSUMER PRODUCTS

20th Century Fox Consumer Products licenses and markets properties worldwide on behalf of 20th Century Fox Film, 20th Century Fox Television and FX Networks, as well as third party lines. The division is aligned with 20th Century Fox Television, the flagship studio leading the industry in supplying award-winning and blockbuster primetime television programming and entertainment content and 20th Century Fox Film, one of the world’s largest producers and distributors of motion pictures throughout the world. For more information on all Alien products and activities, go to www.AlienUniverse.com.

ABOUT FREE LEAGUE PUBLISHING

Free League is a critically acclaimed Swedish publisher of speculative fiction, dedicated to publishing award-winning tabletop role-playing games, board games, and art books set in strange and wondrous worlds. Our best-selling RPG Tales from the Loop swept the 2017 ENnie Awards, winning five Gold ENnies for Best Setting, Best Writing, Best Art, Best Game, and Product of the Year. The game is inspired by a series of iconic art books published by Free League – Tales from the Loop, Things from the Flood, and The Electric State – exploring artist Simon Stålenhag’s original sci-fi universe soon to be realized in the upcoming TV series from Amazon Studios. Most recently, our fantasy RPG Forbidden Lands became the 3rd most successful RPG Kickstarter of 2017 and dubbed one of the best RPGs of 2018. Other tabletop work includes the post-apocalyptic RPG Mutant: Year Zero, the sci-fi RPG Coriolis – The Third Horizon, the fantasy RPG Symbaroum, and the Crusader Kings board game. To learn more, visit freeleaguepublishing.com.

ABOUT GENUINE ENTERTAINMENT

Genuine Entertainment is an award-winning producer and paladin in genre entertainment, specializing in strategic licensing for entertainment franchises and fandoms that demand quality and authenticity in equal measure. It’s our mission to build brands by building worlds and fan communities, making meaningful contributions with premium content and consumer products that extend brands into new markets and genuinely connect with fans across multiple categories. Recent collaborations include such genre greats as Alien, Altered Carbon, Avengers: Infinity War, Blade Runner 2049, Dune, Game of Thrones, and World of Darkness. To learn more, visit: www.genuineent.com.

Free League is a critically acclaimed Swedish publisher of speculative fiction, dedicated to publishing award-winning tabletop role-playing games, board games, and art books set in strange and wondrous worlds. Our best-selling RPG Tales from the Loop swept the 2017 ENnie Awards, winning five Gold ENnies for Best Setting, Best Writing, Best Art, Best Game, and Product of the Year. The game is inspired by a series of iconic art books published by Free League – Tales from the Loop, Things from the Flood, and The Electric State – exploring artist Simon Stålenhag’s original sci-fi universe soon to be realized in the upcoming TV series from Amazon Studios. Most recently, our fantasy RPG Forbidden Lands became the 3rd most successful RPG Kickstarter of 2017 and dubbed one of the best RPGs of 2018. Other tabletop work includes the post-apocalyptic RPG Mutant: Year Zero, the sci-fi RPG Coriolis – The Third Horizon, the fantasy RPG Symbaroum, and the Crusader Kings board game. To learn more, visit freeleaguepublishing.com.

Website: freeleaguepublishing.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/FriaLigan
Instagram: http://instagram.com/frialigan/
Youtube: www.youtube.com/c/FrialiganSe
Twitter: http://twitter.com/FriaLigan

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FREE LEAGUE ANNOUNCES OFFICIAL ALIEN TABLETOP RPG SERIES

Resource links

Alien RPG Website   Free League on Facebook   Direct Link to Alien RPG Trailer

PRESS RELEASE – Justice Velocity: An Action Movie Inspired Tabletop RPG Launches Kickstarter

Justice Velocity: The Action Movie Inspired Tabletop RPG is now Live on Kickstarter

March 6th, 2019– Justice Velocity, the action movie inspired tabletop roleplaying game is officially live on Kickstarter. Inspired by pulpy action films like the Fast & Furious franchise, Bad Boys, and more, Justice Velocity puts you in the driver’s seat.

The campaign launched on Tuesday, March 5th, and generated 32% of its $1500 funding goal in its first day. With a goofy and over-the-top promotional video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMAzwkwVZsQ , Justice Velocity promises to deliver on all the action movie tropes–espionage, heists, hijinks, and fast cars are all essential to the blood-pumping action.

The title is independent game designer Clipper Arnold and Polyhedra Games’ first official title, though they have the help of Nathon Paoletta (of World Wide Wrestling and more) doing the final layout design, and punchy visuals from Swedish artist Anders Karlsson.

The game boasts quick character creation, making it ideal for one-shots and short campaigns, octane chips for kicking it into high gear for climactic action sequences, and dynamic vehicle rules for different styles of races and car combat.

In their launch day update, Polyhedra Games announced an upcoming liveplay video from The Grizzled Geek, (as well as the possibility of some stretch goals on the horizon. You can view the campaign here – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/polyhedragames/justice-velocity-an-action-movie-inspired-tabletop?ref=557316&token=b3808dec

  • Website – polyhedragames.com
  • Facebook – facebook.com/polyhedragames
  • Instagram – instagram.com/polyhedragames
  • Twitter – twitter.com/polyhedragames
  • Email – polyhedragames@gmail.com

Introducing Justice Velocity

An Action Movie Inspired Tabletop Roleplaying Game

What is the velocity of justice? Many say it’s difficult to quantify– that it even evades common metrics of measurement or full understanding by the rule of law. One thing’s for sure, however: you should be able to gauge it as it comes hurtling towards you. Hands grip steering wheels as rubber grips concrete. Seedy underbellies trade bullets with the law and set moral shades of gray ablaze. Napalm and nitrous are as indispensable as your ability to hack or maneuver cold machinery.

Inspired by action movies like the Fast & Furious franchise, Rush Hour, or Bad Boys, and anime like Initial D– Justice Velocity puts you in the driver’s seat. It’s an exercise in collaborative storytelling that puts the stakes of a race or the fate of deadly computer viruses up to your players’ skills, abilities, and the roll of the dice.

There’s something exhilarating about sending Hot Wheels™ down a track into their doom. There’s something thrilling about unnecessary explosions. There’s something amazing about seeing whether or not a car can jump over the opening of a live volcano. Justice Velocity is an unapologetic, adrenaline-fueled romp which delves into the nature of exergy and machine fetishism. It pushes physics, bodies, and systems to their limits. When justice calls, sometimes it’s the gruff, meat-headed, cargo-pants-donning voice of utilitarianism that picks up the phone. This is a foray into that universe… one in which steel, muscle, and ingenuity can prevail and save the world from certain peril.

Justice Velocity is made by Polyhedra Games. It comes to Kickstarter Tuesday, March 5th. You can pre-screen the promo video here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMAzwkwVZsQ , and see a preview of the Kickstarter campaign here – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/polyhedragames/justice-velocity-an-action-movie-inspired-tabletop?ref=557316&token=b3808dec . Interviews, beta rules, and other materials are available upon request.

 

 

 

*UPDATED 2019-01-30* Help Jeremy Tangman, Get Free Games!

[UPDATED 2019-01-30 at 02:30 PM EST]

Jeremy has run into an another roadblock and is requesting additional assistance. He’s asking for $250 by Saturday (2019-02-02) via Paypal (jeremytangman46 [at] gmail [dot] com). As with the Facebook fundraiser, he’s offering products in exchange for the assistance.

Jeremy talks about his latest challenge here:

“After using the current fundraiser amount to get over the hump, the other income source I rely on got delayed by 3 to 4 weeks. It put me in a spot. It is what I would use to pay my cell and car payment for the only car we have left. So now it puts me in a spot. If the cell phones get shut off, my fiancee loses her job because she does uber and Lyft with her car. That creates a larger problem because that is now our sole income. I am applying for other help, but that takes time as well and everything seems immediate. I also have the 5-year-old’s birthday on Feb. 8th. My health falling apart has hurt us. My car has been repossessed and the food is very skimpy in the house. Things were looking up with the fundraiser, and then that stopped, and now there’s an immediate need. It’s like starting over again. I, unfortunately, am going to have to increase the amount needed, but I am also trying to write modules to compensate until I get approved to go back to work. Thanks for anything you do in advance and thanks for all if the wonderful folks that have donated work and countless hours. Each of you are unbelievable.”

 

***

 

Gamer, writer, and publisher, Jeremy Tangman, is experiencing some medical challenges and working to cover the additional expenses. To make up the difference, Jeremy has setup a donation page on Facebook (here). To help him out, several tabletop RPG companies have come together to offer a few small perks to motivate fans and publishers to assist Jeremy in his time of need.

Who is Jeremy Tangman? In his own words:

“33 years ago I started gaming. I like RPGs, board games, card games and video games. My favorite game to play is Call of Cthulhu. I have always had a vast interest in fantasy and science fiction. Reading many authors such as Tolkien and Robert Jordan helped me find a gateway into this hobby.

Then I stumbled upon a game called Dungeons and Dragons by a company called TSR, then I was hooked, that segued into a variety of RPG and board games.

The thing I like the most is the camaraderie amongst fellow players, and the excitement of gameplay, of completing a task. So whether it’s Monopoly or Magic: The Gathering or Vampire: The Masquerade, I just love to have a fun time gaming.

I co-wrote and published Avenadia, a steampunk RPG in which the world has fought back against its inhabitants by contaminating everything on the planet.”

To help Jeremy out, Modiphius Entertainment, Lee Garvin, Jason Brick, Dark Naga Adventures (an imprint of Fat Goblin Games), Higher Grounds Publishing, Thunderegg Productions, Reign Dragon Press, Ley Lines Publishing, and myself are offering some options to fans and gaming publishers to incentive them to support Jeremy in his time of need.

With any your pledge, you’ll receive:

[UPDATED 2019-01-08 AT 10:30 AM EST]

  • From Ley Lines Publishing (Jeremy Tangman):
    • Avenadia (in PDF). A steampunk RPG described as:
      • “Before the Great War, Avenadia was a thriving world. Lush fields and forests grew in the countryside and bustling cities spread throughout many lands. Food was plentiful as was technology. The waters were clean and life was good. But that was then…
        Today, 20 years after the last battle of the 100 year war, the Great War, Avenadia is a very different place. Much of the land has been swallowed by contaminated water. The water that surrounds the Avenadian mainland is a treacherous thing. The contamination in the seas has made the few beasts that are able to survive quite ferocious. Some say even the sea itself is alive and angry.
        Come explore new lands, create new gadgets, develop your powers, and bask in the glory of nature gone awry.”
      • Interested in more details about Avenadia? Check out Dan Davenport’s 2019-01-10 #RandomWorlds Q&A with Jeremy Tangman here.

 

  • From Dark Naga Adventures (Kevin Watson). Read my interview with Kevin here.
    • The first three parts of the Haunting of Hastur series (all in PDF):
      • DNH1 – The Lost Temple of Forgotten Evil – 5e, Pathfinder 1e, and OSR – An RPG adventure for 4-6 characters of level 4-6
        • The small town of Boldon, and its surrounding villages are afraid. Dozens of people are missing, some speculate lost to some nefarious purpose. A broken drunkard tells fantastic tales of an evil temple and the horrible things within. The rare few who know the legends and history of the region are beginning to think the dark times have returned; not seen since the fall of the first age of man. People are beginning to feel the icy fingers of fear closing in. The party becomes aware of these events and is inspired to investigate. This leads them to a broken man who tells them a story of a lost temple. Has it been rediscovered by men seduced by its forgotten evil? The drunkard’s tale leads to others who might help the party discover more before they face The Lost Temple of Forgotten Evil.”
      • DNH2 – The Buried Zikurat – 5e, Pathfinder 1e, and OSR – An RPG adventure for 4-6 characters of level 6-8
        • The clay mining operation at Caford has discovered a large step pyramid or zikurat. This imposing structure was buried completely in the clay sheet they have been mining for decades to make brick and other ceramic products. The local miners see what they think is an obvious entrance, but cannot get past the slab of stone. A call for aid is sent to the capital city of Meawold, and the party is sent to investigate.
          Could this be one of the Nexuses that traded goods from the subterranean Land of Night to the surface world?
          Places where treasures of the subterranean kingdoms, like mithril weapons, were traded for surface goods. Bastions of trade that were lost during the fall of the First Age of Man. Why has it been dormant for almost two millennia? What lies within? Is it a threat to Caford, or the Kingdom of Meawold as a whole? If they can get inside, the party will have to navigate millennia-old magic locks and security sentinels to find answers to these questions and more within The Buried Zikurat.
          Featuring clever tricks and traps, and exciting new magic, all wrapped up in an elven mystery of the ages. The Buried Zikurat is sure to bring hours of enjoyment to your gaming table!
      • DNH3 – The City of Talos – 5e and OSR – An RPG adventure for 4-6 characters of level 8-10
        • Talos, a city of legend, focus of tales dating back to the First Age of Man—exotic and forbidden. Buried deep in the Formene, this lone gem of the subterranean realms has legends as tall as the mountains under which it lies. Scholars and sages know more: it is the capital of the Elven race of the subterranean realms, sealed off from the surface world, supported by smaller towns, trading nexuses, and the wealth of knowledge accumulated by the Formene Elves who ward it.
          In this Land of Night, dozens of nations, formed from the Formene races, join the elves in a powerful confederation of trade, protection, and mining of the most valued metal—mithril.
          Recently, a trading nexus was uncovered and explored. The leaders of Meawold want to restore contact with the Formene Elves and access mithril, other rare Formene metals, and minerals for the first time in two millennia.
          The explorers of that trading nexus found letters and journals suggesting a vast, untapped wealth of gems, metal, and minerals, as well as forgotten cities full of treasure, some with magical wealth.
          What waits in the Formene? Both the city of Talos and the Formene wilds offer incredible opportunities for adventure and wealth.
          And also, incredible dangers.

 

  • From Thunderegg Productions (Jacob DC Ross) [UPDATED 2019-01-11 at 1:15 AM EST]:
    • The Exodus System – The Exodus System takes classic OSR games and adds modern innovations. This book is suitable for playing sci-fi, fantasy, and all sorts of other genres. It takes inspiration from such other systems as Savage Worlds and the Cypher System.
    • Kaigaku Premium Edition – Kaigaku brings dramatic samurai action back to your tabletop! It’s based on the innovative Black Hack rules set originally created by David Black. This game is easy to learn and you can get a party of characters created and a game started in just minutes.
      This samurai RPG allows you to become a mighty bushi, a devious courtier, a stealthy ninja or a powerful ascetic martial artist and defend the realm of Kaigaku from threats of monsters, foreign invasion and internal strife.
      This book presents you with a fully fleshed-out game setting that’s detailed enough to jumpstart your imagination but light enough so you can make the stories that you want to tell.
      Customize your characters with their own skills and samurai school abilities to help them stand apart from the rest and to have the power they need to defeat their enemies. 
    • The Ruined Kingdom – When an enormous kaiju pursues a foreign army into Kaigaku, the Empire heeds the call for aid from their oldest allies. This campaign takes the PCs far from home to exotic vistas. Can you save the world from an onslaught of mutated beasts?
      This sandbox campaign features dozens of new creatures, 2 new classes, 9 new ryu and much more. Combine the dungeon generator in this book with the NPC generator in the Premium Edition of Kaigaku to keep the adventure going forever.

 

  • From Reign Dragon Press (SM Hillman) [UPDATED 2019-01-18 at 11:30 AM EST]:
    • Two-page Fantasy Dungeon
    • Two-page Sci-fi Dungeon
    • SM Hillman is a freelancer who does RPG journalist at EN World. When you donate to Jeremy’s fundraiser and submit a game (PDF or print, your choice), SM Hillman will review the game, and shop it around to several review sites of his choosing.
      NOTE: Due to scheduling, SM Hillman can only commit to two reviews.

 

  • Higher Grounds Publishing (Ray Machuga): Ray is the game designer and publisher of the Modern RPG, Warsong 2e (Read my review here), and the Slasher the RPG, among others. If you donate to Jeremy’s fundraiser and submit a game (PDF or print, your choice), Ray will review the game. This review will be published on the Tessera Guild.
    NOTE: Due to scheduling, Ray can only commit to one review.

 

  • Tessera Guild (Egg Embry): Egg freelances for EN World, the Open Gaming Network, Knights of the Dinner Table, and the Tessera Guild. Much like Ray, if you donate to Jeremy’s fundraiser and submit a game (PDF or print, your choice), Egg will happily do a review of the game. Most likely he’ll publish the review on the Tessera Guild, but first he’ll shop it around to EN World, the Open Gaming Network, and/or Knights of the Dinner Table to give you maximum exposure.
    NOTE: Due to scheduling, Egg can only commit to three reviews.
    2019-01-30 UPDATE: All of Egg’s reviews are booked. At this point, there are still options for Ray Machuga and Sean Hillman to do reviews.

 

[UPDATED 2019-01-24 at 9:30 PM EST]:

  • From Modiphius Entertainment – The home of tabletop storytelling:
    • Achtung! Cthulhu – FATE Guide to the Secret War – Discover the secret history of World War Two: stories of amazing heroism, in which stalwart men and women struggled to overthrow a nightmare alliance of science and the occult; of frightening inhuman conspiracies from the depths of time; of the unbelievable war machines which were the product of Nazi scientific genius – and how close we all came to a slithering end! The Secret War has begun!This edition presents new rules for Fate Core suited to playing in a Cthulhu Mythos setting and in a World War Two setting, including sanity and Mythos magic rules, ways to construct and use Mythos creatures, handling conflicts in a warzone, broadening intellectual skills and using all of them in investigation, and more! Achtung! Cthulhu merges these great flavours together, but the Game Creation chapter in the Keeper’s Guide tells you how to tweak those individual dials for your Fate campaign.
      NOTE: Modiphius Entertainment is providing one PDF copy of this product. It is available on a first come, first serve basis.

 

[UPDATED 2019-01-30 at 02:30 PM EST]

  • From Lee Garvin:
    • Tales from the Floating Vagabond – So much adventure, it’s just stupid!
      Tales From The Floating Vagabond is the classic comedy role-playing game that answers the question: What do adventurers do when they’re not adventuring?
      Well, it turns out they drink. A lot. At a bar at the center of the universe, connected to everywhere in the multiverse. For time-traveling, galaxy-spanning, world-hopping fun, The Floating Vagabond is the place.

      • TftFB: Bar Wars
      • TftFB: Bar Wars GM Screen
      • TftFB: Build-a-Brawl sets 1 to 8, Sampler Pack

 

  • From Jason Brick:
    • Random Encounters: Volume 1: 20 Epic Ideas to Try in Your Role-playing Game – The best part of any gaming book is the little ideas. Great NPCs. Intriguing locations. Small, elegant rules. Campaign or adventure ideas. It doesn’t matter which game or genre it’s originally for, we can throw those ideas into any game we want. Random Encounters is a series of gaming books consisting of just the ideas. 20 short essays about cool stuff to try in your games. Character stuff. Monster stuff. Campaign arcs. Adventure ideas. Encounters. Play at table. House rules. All kinds of little ideas for you to read, take, use and alter to make your game all it can be.

 

More about Jeremy Tangman’s medical situation:

“Over the years I have had some medical issues. Some of them have brought on emergencies in which friends have helped. Now I have hit the big one. What I thought was just a pinched nerve appears to be more serious this time. There are several major spinal issues I have been stricken with. However, I have an appointment to go see the specialist. In the past, I have been able to overcome and get back to work. So, we do have income, but we also require my monthly to survive. I have insurance for the medical responsibility, but find myself short on the rest, because I have been put off work, until I see the specialist. I was hoping some of you might help me bridge the gap needed to see me through this. I hate asking, but it is what I have to do.”

 

To support Jeremy Tangman, please visit his Facebook donation page here.

Based on your pledge amount, you’ll receive:

  • Ley Lines Publishing’s Avenadia (in PDF)
  • Dark Naga Adventures (all in PDF):
  • Thunderegg Productions (all in PDF) [UPDATED 2019-01-11 at 1:15 AM EST]:
  • Reign Dragon Press (all in PDF):
    • Two-page Fantasy Dungeon
    • Two-page Sci-fi Dungeon
  • Modiphius Entertainment (in PDF) [UPDATED 2019-01-24 at 9:30 PM EST]:
    • Achtung! Cthulhu – FATE Guide to the Secret War (limit one. First come, first serve)
  • Lee Garvin (in PDF) [UPDATED 2019-01-30 at 02:30 PM EST]
    • Tales from the Floating Vagabond
    • TftFB: Bar Wars
    • TftFB: Bar Wars GM Screen
    • TftFB: Build-a-Brawl sets 1 to 8, Sampler Pack
  • Jason Brick (in PDF) [UPDATED 2019-01-30 at 02:30 PM EST]
    • Random Encounters: Volume 1: 20 Epic Ideas to Try in Your Role-playing Game
  • For publishers:
    • A game review from Higher Grounds Publishing’s Ray Machuga (limit one. First come, first serve)
    • A game review from Reign Dragon Press’ Sean Hillman (limit two. First come, first serve)
    • A game review from Tessera Guilder, Egg Embry (limit three. First come, first serve)
      • 2019-01-30 UPDATE: All of Egg’s reviews are booked. At this point, there are still options for Ray Machuga and Sean Hillman to do reviews.

Pledge tiers [UPDATED 2019-01-08 AT 10:30 AM EST]:

  • $5 to $19 includes Jeremy’s thanks and entitles you to 1 of the above PDFs or a review of your game
  • $20 to $39 includes Jeremy’s thanks and entitles you to 3 of the above PDFs or 2 PDF and a review of your game
  • $40 to $59 includes Jeremy’s thanks and entitles you to 5 of the above PDFs or 4 PDFs and a review of your game
  • $60 to $79 includes Jeremy’s thanks and entitles you to all of the above PDFs or 6 PDFs and a review of your game
  • Greater than $80 includes Jeremy’s thanks and entitles you to all of the above PDFs and a review of your game
    • There are a limited number of game reviews available and they will be passed out on a first come, first serve basis.

After you donate, email Jeremy at jeremy.tangman@hotmail.com, or message Jeremy on Facebook, and Jeremy will work with you to get you these rewards.

 

[UPDATED 2019-01-24 at 9:30 PM EST]

About Modiphius Entertainment – The home of tabletop storytelling. A UK- based tabletop games publisher, Modiphius Entertainment launched in 2013 with the World War Two horror themed Achtung! Cthulhu universe and went on to create licensed tabletop roleplaying, miniatures, and boardgames for Mutant Chronicles, Thunderbirds, Conan, John Carter of Mars, Infinity, Star Trek Adventures and Fallout: Wasteland Warfare. Modiphius is providing one copy of Achtung! Cthulhu – FATE Guide to the Secret War to help Jeremy out.

Their online store is at: http://www.modiphius.net

 

About Dark Naga Adventures (an imprint of Fat Goblin Games available at the Open Gaming Store) and Kevin Watson. Publisher of the five-part Haunting of Hastur series for Dungeons & Dragons 5e, Pathfinder 1e, and OSR (“An RPG series of adventures that finds the party members interfering with Hastur and his attempts to establish a presence in their world”).

Dark Naga Adventures exists to create and publish adventures that are a combination of the classic sandbox adventures of the early days of the hobby combined with modern features. I have probably written 30 adventures and designed about a dozen fantasy worlds in my life as a Game Master. As a one-person shop, the buck stops with me. Art, cartography, and editing are all being done by top-notch freelancers.”

 

About Higher Grounds Publishing and Ray Machuga. Publisher of the Modern RPG (“The foremost in Urban Fantasy gaming running on the Pathfinder system with some unique twists.”), Warsong 2e (“Soldiers of destiny battle an ageless void to determine the fate of an entire world. A Fate RPG.”), and Slasher the RPG (“Slaughter your friends in this asymmetrical horror RPG based on classic slasher films! A Fate RPG.”)

Higher Grounds produces tabletop RPGs and RPG supplements. Our ultimate goal is to bring new flavors of games to the tables of gamers, everywhere. I want to take tabletop RPGs to the next level!

I do all of this because I firmly believe that tabletop RPGs are the best games there are! The limits are only in your imagination. To that end, I believe that tabletop games really enrich the lives of others by giving people a creative outlet and providing people with an epic story that they can take part in.”

 

[UPDATED 2019-01-11 at 1:15 AM EST]

About Thunderegg Productions and Jacob DC Ross. Publisher of The Exodus System (“Suitable for playing sci-fi, fantasy, and all sorts of other genres, this system takes classic OSR games and adds modern innovations.”), Kaigaku Premium Edition (“Based on the innovative Black Hack rules set originally created by David Black, this game brings dramatic samurai action back to your tabletop!”), and The Ruined Kingdom (“This sandbox campaign features dozens of new creatures, 2 new classes, 9 new ryu and much more.”).

“Jacob DC Ross is a lifelong gamer and a writer/game designer with years of experience. Born and raised in Oregon, and currently living in Washington, Jacob writes and designs games as his day job. His past credits include writing for L5R, Traveller, Mecha, and more. The company he heads, Thunderegg Productions, is dedicated to making fun tabletop RPGs.”

 

[UPDATED 2019-01-18 at 11:30 AM EST]

About Reign Dragon Press and SM Hillman. SM Hillman is a writer, gamer, lover, and slayer who enjoys writing adventures, designing games, and taking on way too much work. You can check out his company, Reign Dragon Press (https://reigndragonpress.weebly.com/), and his new podcast, Zer0 Means You’re Dead, at https://zer0meansyourdead.podbean.com/.

 

[UPDATED 2019-01-30 at 02:30 PM EST]

About Lee Garvin. Lee Garvin is a 29-year veteran of the RPG trade, having written Tales From The Floating Vagabond when he was barely 21 years old. Since that time, he has written and designed for Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Deadlands, and 7th Sea as well as creating Control: The Game of Absolute Corruption, and Dravakor, the heavy metal fantasy setting for Pathfinder. He has also designed the card game Badass Zombie Killers, and is currently working feverishly on the second edition on Tales From The Floating Vagabond.

 

 

[UPDATED 2019-01-30 at 02:30 PM EST]

About Jason Brick. Jason has gamed since 1980 and written professionally since 2007. He lives in Oregon with his wife, son, cats, spinster aunt, and squire.

 

[Updates and clarifications from Jeremy Tangman. Updated at 2019-01-08 AT 10:30 AM EST.]

[Updated to add Thunderegg Productions and their contributions. Updated at 2019-01-11 at 1:15 AM EST]

[Updated to add Reign Dragon Press and their contributions. Updated at 2019-01-18 at 11:30 AM EST]

[Updated to add a link to my article on the Open Gaming Network spotlighting Kevin and Ray’s Kickstarters (here). Updated at 2019-01-21 at 03:40 PM EST]

[Updated to add Modiphius Entertainment’s contribution. Updated at 2019-01-24 at 9:30 PM EST]

[Updated to add Jeremy Tangman’s latest update as well as Lee Garvin and Jason Brick’s offers. Updated 2019-01-30 at 02:30 PM EST]

 

Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliated links to DriveThruRPG’s affiliate program and/or Humble Bundle’s Humble Partner program. 

[UPDATED] 3 RPG Kickstarters Adapting – Things From the Flood, Richard A. Knaak’s Rex Draconis, and Judge Dredd

This week’s theme, tabletop RPG adaptations, let’s me share Simon Stålenhag’s artbook, Richard A. Knaak’s newest fantasy series, and the famous judge created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra (who just passed away). All of these projects are live on Kickstarter. If you want to play as a teenager in the technopast 1990s using the Mutant: Year Zero system, or as a fantasy minotaur using either the D&D 5th edition or Pathfinder 1e rules, or as the law using What’s OLD is NEW (WOIN) game system, there are games waiting for you.

 

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Things from the Flood – Sequel to Tales from the Loop RPG by Fria Ligan/Free League
Ends on Tue, October 9 2018 3:00 PM EDT.

 

“Return to Simon Stålenhag’s world of the Loop in this new RPG. It’s the ’90s now, and things are different. This time, you can die.

It started on Christmas Day in 1994. Dark water suddenly rose from the land, invading our homes and lives. They say it came from the depths inside the Loop. Whatever it was the Flood changed everything. Nothing would ever be the same again.

Welcome back to the Loop. Things are different now. 

In 2017, we released Tales from the Loop the tabletop roleplaying game based on Stålenhag’s first art book. That game was an instant hit, selling out its two initial print runs and winning no less than five ENnies (including Best Game and Product of the Year) as well as three Golden Geek Awards (including Best RPG).

Now, it’s time to return to the Loop and continue the story. In Things from the Flood you play Teens in the 1990s – a decade of change and disaster. You’re still balancing day to day life with solving exciting mysteries with your friends. But this is a darker time, and the stakes are higher.

We are the Free League, creators and publishers of roleplaying games such as Mutant: Year ZeroCoriolis – The Third HorizonTales from the Loop and Forbidden Lands. As well as the original publishers of Simon Stålenhag’s art books. The lead writer of this book is the seasoned Swedish game writer Nils Hintze, backed up by the entire Free League team who handle project management, editing, and graphic design.

The vast majority of the art in the game is done by Simon Stålenhag himself. Most of the art will be drawn from the pages of the Things from the Flood artbook – many scenarios in the game are based directly on illustrations in the artbook – but the RPG will contain some new original art as well, including the cover image.

The book will have approximately 200 pages, in the US Letter format.

Tales from the Loop Backer? If you backed the original Tales from the Loop RPG back in late 2016, you will get a PDF of the Things from the Flood core book, including the digital stretch goals in this Kickstarter, at no extra cost. You can still join this Kickstarter to get the printed book.

Things are different now.

The world does not seem so innocent anymore.

Its the ‘90s and the once mighty Loop has been shut down, the experiment abandonded and the land bought by Krafta, a powerful corporation. You are no Kids anymore, but Teens trying to find your way in a decade of change – both within and around you.

The Flood has transformed the once pastoral islands into a dark marshland. Some say that the dark water pouring out of the ground comes from within the Loop itself. Machines are afflicted by a strange virus turning them unreliable and dangerous.

Still, your lives go on as before. You go to school, fall miserably in love, try to do everything possible to fend off boredom. When you hear about other teens going missing, and even turning up dead, you realize its time to gather the group again.

One way or another you fill find out what these Things from the Flood really are.

You play Teens growing up in the 1990s, trying to balance everyday life while at the same time solving dark mysteries together with your friends.

The core of the game is the same as in Tales from the Loop, but the themes are different. Gone are the childlike tales of wonder and discovery, in their place are dark threats to the Teens and their world. Everything is changing, everything is falling apart. Figuring out how to deal with this is a big part of the game.

You are no kid anymore, the world is both more exciting and more dangerous. Teenagers can get hurt – and even die. The stakes are higher than ever.

Both! Things from the Flood expands the scope of Tales from the Loop to the 1990s. You can continue your campaign with the Kids from the original game or create brand new player characters. We call it a “standalone expansion” because everything that is needed to play the game is included in the book. That’s right, no previous experience is needed at all, just get the book and start playing right away.

If you’ve read and played the Tales from the Loop RPG, you will find yourself right at home, this book expands the setting and introduces new exciting mysteries and threats to explore.

The game engine of Things from the Flood is the same as the one for Tales from the LoopRPG and is based on our previous game Mutant: Year Zero, that was awarded with a Silver ENnie for Best Rules at Gencon 2015.

The core mechanic is the same: To make a skill roll, you simply grab a number of dice for your attribute score, skill level and gear, and roll them all together. You need at least one six to succeed, and extra sixes can give you stunts and other bonus effects.

The acclaimed artist, concept designer and author of the art books Tales from the Loop (2015), Things from the Flood (2016) and The Electric State (2017). Simon Stålenhag is best known for his highly imaginative images and stories portraying illusive sci-fi phenomena in mundane, hyper-realistic Scandinavian landscapes (expanded into America in his latest book The Electric State). Tales from the Loop was ranked by The Guardian as one of the “10 Best Dystopias,” in the company of works such as Franz Kafka’s The Trial and Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca.

Not only have Stålenhag’s unique and cinematic images earned him a worldwide fan base, but have also made him a go-to storyteller, concept artist and illustrator for both the film and computer gaming industry. This year it was announced that The Electric State will be turned into a major motion picture and Amazon Prime ordered a full season of a TV show based on Tales from the Loop.

During his twelve years as a game writer, Nils Hintze has written a great number of scenarios, articles and reviews, as well as being the main author of critically praised and award winning Tales from the Loop roleplaying game. Previously he has written plays for theatre groups.

Nils is known for his ability to create scenarios which allow the players to explore their characters and their relationships while facing dangers and solving mysteries. The conflicts in his games are often built on personal dilemmas, where thrill and mystery is not seldom mixed with humor.

Nils is educated in creative writing, but he normally works as a psychologist. Nils is also one of the three creators of the Swedish role-playing podcast Podcon.

Free League Publishing is the international name of Swedish game and book publisher Fria Ligan AB. Since 2011 we have produced a range of pen and paper RPG’s, and have won several awards in the process.

Our first international game, Mutant: Year Zero, co-published with Modiphius Entertainment, was awarded a Silver ENnie for Best Rules at Gencon 2015. Last year Tales from the Loopwon five Gold ENnies (including Best Game and Product of the Year) as well as three Golden Geek awards. We have also created and published Coriolis – The Third Horizon (2017) and Forbidden Lands (2018).

Our Kickstarter fulfillment and shipping is handled by GamesQuest in the UK, and we have a partnership with Modiphius Entertainment for international retail distribution.”

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

Tales from the Loop won five 2017 ENnie Awards (Best Game, Best Setting, Best Writing, Best Internal Art and Product of the Year) plus several Golden Geek Awards (Game of the Year, Runner-up Best Artwork & Presentation). Fellow Guilder, John McGuire, did two articles on Tales from the Loop, the prequel to Things from the Flood. The first is his thoughts about the game from playing it at Gen Con, the second is a traditional review. It can be said that “roleplaying in the ’80s that never was” is a winner. The sequel pushes the clock forward from being kids in the 80s to being “teens in the 1990s – a decade of change and disaster.” The world is darker, the stakes are higher, the first bits of the internet are forming, and you are old enough to drive in a world that is turning into a dark horror. This standalone expansion (you don’t need TftL to play this) is waiting for you here.

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

* * *

 

Rex Draconis RPG – Rising Tides by P.B. Publishing
Ends on Sun, October 21 2018 10:02 PM EDT.

 

“The first adventure in a trilogy based on NY Times Bestselling author Richard A. Knaak’s: Rex Draconis fantasy setting.

Welcome to the Rex Draconis RPG

Set in the world of Tiberos, the Rex Draconis RPG setting allows you to experience the epic fantasy of Richard A Knaak’s new world, dubbed by many as ‘the spiritual successor to Dragonlance’.

Against the backdrop of war, play as honourable Minotaur, chivalrous knights, mischievous Kwillum or powerful wizards, as you thwart the warmongering of the savage Wheyr and the machinations of the mysterious draconic Fafni and Afafni.

The Rex Draconis RPG is written for the D&D 5th edition and Pathfinder rules sets, and feature setting material that can be easily imported to any RPG system of your choice.

The Rex Draconis RPG is being produced in conjunction with an active novel line. While the novels are not required to use and enjoy the RPG, this structure allows you to interact with and fight alongside your favourite characters in a living, growing setting that evolves as Richard envisions. It is also important to note that the RPG storyline is a separate and unique story, that interestingly crosses paths with the novel line.

Map of Tiberos
Map of Tiberos

What is Rex Draconis?

Rex Draconis is the latest offering from Richard A Knaak, renowned fantasy author, and creator of some of the most iconic elements of the Dragonlance world. Richard is credited with the strong development of the Minotaur culture and the Solamnic Knights, as well as many other elements that made Dragonlance such a unique setting.

After many years, Richard has chosen to breathe new life into these embers, in an all-new high fantasy setting that combines favourite elements with an exciting new world, characters, monsters and  storylines.

The first novella – Under the Dragon Moon (Hydra Publications) – has been released, and the second – Lords of the Dragon Moon – is due for release shortly. Work has already begun on the next installment.

Why Kickstart?

With the success of the new novels, Richard would like to see the setting become a playable world for Table Top Roleplaying, much like its predecessor, the Dragonlance setting. Rex Draconis is wholely Richard’s creation, over which he has, and would like to retain, full creative control.

Bringing on Phil and Micah adds significant indie RPG experience, with numerous successful products and projects and a proven track record. However without the funding of a large game company, alternative funding needs to be sourced for professional art, editing and layout, as well as production of both PDF & physical products.

Considerable time, effort and expense has already been invested in the project, but to do it justice and create a standard we – and you – are satisfied with, further funding is required.

Rewards

While a full RPG world setting is in development, this first kickstarter will focus on launching the line with the following three main products, digital art and map pack, and a smaller, exclusive mini-adventure;

The Rex Draconis Player’s Guide – This book is primarily an adaptation guide, offering rules changes to the chosen official rulesets to ensure compatability with Tiberos – the world of Rex Draconis. This book will include new races, classes, archetypes, rules and more, as well as advice on adapting the material from your favourite RPG systems to create a more personalised Rex Draconis experience for your tastes.

Rising Tides – Adventure 1 – The first adventure in a series, Rising Tides allows players to foreshadow the action of the novels, playing roles that interact with the story in meaningful and lasting ways. In Tiberos, there is more than one story being told in this war. Rising Tides acts as a prequel to the official novel storyline and takes thre characters on a journey of discovery across this fantastic new world.

Amble’s Guide to Avondale – This book is the first of the setting content, a complete guide to Avondale, the capital city of Dracoma, home of the Knights of Dracoma. This guide provides all you need to launch your own adventures in Tiberos.

Digital Art & Map Pack – All art and maps produced for the project will be offered to eligible backers as a digital pack for personal use.

Misunderstandings – A mini adventure to whet your appetite for the unique qualities of the setting. This adventure is a Kickstarter EXCLUSIVE, and will not be reporoduced anywhere else.

We know that everyone is different, and will desire different rewards. PDF or physical copy, pathfinder or 5th edition rulesets, or both. We have arranged the rewards in a number of Backer Tiers that allow you to choose the rewards you want. We also have a special early adopter reward tier for the digital products.

Who Are We?

Phil Beckwith 

IT Project Manager by day, owner of P.B. Publishing by night, known mostly for many bestselling and successful titles on the DMs Guild, including the highly rated horror adventure – The Haunt, the 200 page hardcover tome Adventure Anthology, and a co-creator for the best-selling Monsters of the Guild.

Micah Watt

Owner of Pyromaniac Press, Micah is a successful Pathfinder and D&D 5e designer, known widely for his adventure path ‘What Lies Beyond Reason’, and the epic D&D 5e hardcover deity supplement; Faiths of the Forgotten Realms. Having run successful Kickstarters previously, Micah comes on board as our Pathfinder and Kickstarter expert.

Richard A. Knaak 

The creative genius behind Rex Draconis. Richard builds the world of Tiberos in his brand new novel series; Rex Draconis. He is known worldwide as a New York Times Bestselling author of novels in the Dragonlance, Diablo, World of Warcraft, Pathfinder, and Dragonrealm series. Richard provides creative consultancy and canon authority for the Rex Draconis RPG team.”

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

In my youth, Richard A. Knaak’s Dragonlance novels, The Legend of Huma and Kaz the Minotaur, were huge influences on me and, after Weis and Hickman’s Dragonlance trilogies, solidified my love of Krynn. If you’d like to read more about how influential those novels were, you can read fellow Tessera Guilder, John McGuire, give his thoughts on them here. Add to them the Dragonrealm series, and I have been a lifelong Knaak fan. His new series, Rex Draconis, introduces a world that is a love letter to Dragonlance. It’s less Weis/Hickman’s version and closer to the focus of Knaak’s corner of the world, yet manages to be greater than its inspiration.

Knaak’s strengths and knowledge of Ansalon let him touch all of the right moments from that world without the work ever descending into being a pale shadow of the better known property like Go-Bots to the Transformers. Rex Draconis remains its own world and story. While the focus of the series are the minotaurs and the not-Knights of Solamnia, they are handled in an earnest manner. There’s more to compare between the series. The kender (the group of annoying Hobbits that would have been wiped out just to end their unrepentant kleptomania) are replaced with the kwillum, a race that look like 10-year-old children who are also porcupine quicklings that are hunting something (in every pouch and coin purse that they pass). They are fast and have quills making them difficult to kill and, while they steal, they don’t do it aimlessly (they’re looking for something). The dragons are not flying mounts for the characters to ride into battle; instead, they’re D&D master monsters. The dragons, starkly good and evil in D&D, are neither in regards to humans in Rex Draconis, they see all bipeds as pawns in their wars so it changes the traditional pulp relationship between the powers that be. This series analog of the black moon of Dragonlance was shattered 400 years ago, which makes it visible as pieces that, I’m guessing, are leaning into the atmosphere a bit much. Every piece has a touch of the old with a nice twist that makes it new.

Continuing its homage of Dragonlance, Knaak wants to build the world into a D&D setting and, to do that, he’s working with Phil Beckwith and Micah Watt to make it happen. I’ve backed this and recommend checking out the setting as well as the first novella in the Rex Draconis series.

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

UPDATE: [Q&A] #randomworlds welcomes Phil Beckwith (Rex Draconis) 10/05/2018 8:30 p.m. CDT! If you can make it, you can ask Phil your questions here: https://tinyurl.com/randomworlds-chat In case you missed it, Dan Davenport (the host) has the complete transcript here: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com

 

* * *

 

Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD Roleplaying Game by EN Publishing
Ends on Thu, October 25 2018 7:00 PM EDT.

 

“Explore Mega-City One and beyond with the official tabletop roleplaying game for the galaxy’s greatest comic!

Judge. Jury. Executioner. Play as a Judge of Mega-City One and bust perps, Sov spies, and mutant raiders in this action-packed standalone tabletop roleplaying game, bringing to life the iconic characters and worlds found in the legendary British comic 2000 AD. This book is your introduction to Mega-City One, and your gateway to a line of supplements based on 2000 AD’s many characters and settings.

These books are brought to you by Darren Pearce (Doctor Who; Lone Wolf), Robert Schwalb (Dungeons & Dragons; Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay), Andrew Peregrine (Doctor Who; Firefly; Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Russ Morrissey (What’s OLD is NEW), and Nick Robinson.

Limited & Standard Edition Rulebooks, GM Screen, Counter Set, and The Robot Wars
Limited & Standard Edition Rulebooks, GM Screen, Counter Set, and The Robot Wars
  • Full colour 270-page hardcover Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD core rulebook!
  • The Robot Wars, 100-pages, the first in a series of softcover sourcebooks and adventures!
  • Sturdy two-sided cardboard 4-panel GM screen full of handy reference charts and tables!
  • Beautiful cardstock tokens to represent your characters and their foes!
  • Also, we are offering a limited edition version of the core rulebook with a special cover exclusive to this Kickstarter!
GM Screen (Front) - note that we include player useful info, such as typical crime sentences, on the player facing side of the GM screen
GM Screen (Front) – note that we include player useful info, such as typical crime sentences, on the player facing side of the GM screen
GM Screen (Back)
GM Screen (Back)
Nearly 100 full-colour cardstock tokens to represent your characters and their foes!
Nearly 100 full-colour cardstock tokens to represent your characters and their foes!

 

We are producing a full-colour hardcover core rulebook for the all-new Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD tabletop roleplaying game. This book contains all the rules and setting information you need to play any character in Mega-City One, and is the core rulebook for the entire line of 2000 AD settings and worlds.

  • Play a Judge, Civilian, or Perp!
  • Choose from Humans, Clones, Robots, Mutants, Chimps, Gorillas, and Orangutans!
  • Wield the iconic Lawgiver sidearm and ride the mighty Lawmaster motorcycle!
  • Read about Mega-City One, as well as other worlds of 2000 AD!
  • Core rulebook contains everything you need to play in Mega-City One, and provides the core rules upon which the many worlds of 2000 AD are based!
Limited & Standard Edition Core Rulebooks
Limited & Standard Edition Core Rulebooks

Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD is a standalone roleplaying game. You do not need any other books in order to play. This 250+ page book introduces you to Mega-City One, and allows you to play Judges, Perps, or Civilians in that futuristic metropolis. This is also the core rulebook for future setting books which will detail many of your favourite 2000 ADproperties, such as Rogue Trooper, Sláine, Strontium Dog, ABC Warriors, and many more!

Check out these previews of the game!

 

2000 AD is a multi-award winning weekly British cult-sci-fi comic anthology that has been running since 1977. Having featured dozens of writers and artists over the years, including Pat Mills, Alan Grant, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, John Wagner and Alan Moore, 2000 ADbrings you an explosive cocktail of sci-fi and fantasy, infused with a mean streak of irony and wry black humour.

2000 AD is future lawmen in vast megacities. It is post apocalyptic wastelands filled with mutants. It is celtic barbarians and druids fighting evil drunelords. It is robot warriors taming a lawless Mars. It is ancient accords between the British Crown and Hell. It is intergalactic cargo trucks adventuring through space. It is extra-dimensional agencies who repair anomalies across the alternate realities. It is Houdini, Lovecraft, and Doyle as paranormal investigators in the 1920s. It is alien freedom fighters seeking to end the tyranny of humans on a far future Earth. It is genetically engineered soldiers bred for war. And it is much, much more.

The worlds of 2000 AD are diverse indeed. And you can play in them all!

 Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD uses the What’s OLD is NEW (WOIN) game system. Here are some of the features of that system:

  • d6 dice pools. Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD uses d6 dice pools to resolve actions. You form a dice pool by adding dice from an attribute, a skill, and equipment. For example, a burglar trying to pick a lock might have 3d6 from her AGILITY attribute, 2d6 from her thievery skill, and 1d6 from her high quality thieves tools, meaning she gets to roll 6d6. The dice are added together and compared to a target number. Detailed rules for simple tasks, extended tasks, and competitive tasks using the same core mechanic allow for a flexible variety of challenges.
  • Life-path careers system. Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD uses a “life-path” system for character creation. You create a character by selecting a number of sequential careers which represent periods of your character’s life since childhood. Each career adds to your character’s age, and increases various attributes and skills, as well as granting a special ability while adding to your character’s history and backstory.”

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

Disclaimer: I freelance for ENWorld, which is published by EN Publishing who are behind Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD.

Judge Dredd, while known in the US, has never taken root as it did in its native country, the UK. The best illustration of the difference in markets is the 2012 movie, Dredd. For that movie, the US and Canada (population north of 350,000,000) spent $13,414,714 on the entire run of that film while the UK (64,000,000) spent $6,929,744 on seeing the film. [Numbers from BoxOfficeMojo here.] A population that is less than a 5th the size of the US/Canada bought about half as many tickets as the larger group. That speaks to how much larger the fanbase is in the UK than North America. Add to that, in this Kickstarter, as of this writing, the number of American and Canadian backers combined (477) just edges out the UK (441).

Should you back this Kickstarter? Does national origin make any difference? I’d say you should, because what makes the difference in audience participation is, in my opinion, The Law tends to display a certain amount of English wit that does not always connect in the US. Yet, in my experience, that wit lives at the gaming table. Judge Dredd has the range to feel pulpy, humorous, and dark all in a single story. Using the WOIN system combined with the player’s natural tendency to take all situations to the extreme, this will be an excellent RPG and I can’t wait to test it out.

While this is a hype piece (call a spade), I’m compelled to note that the world of art is poorer today for the passing of Carlos Ezquerra, the character designer of Judge Dredd. His artwork will be missed, and my thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

UPDATE: A free quickstart of the game is available here.

 

* * * * * *

 

Disclosures: This article contains affiliate links.

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™
Freelancer for EN WorldKnights of the Dinner TableOpen Gaming Network, and the Tessera Guild.
Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Want to share news? Press releases? Rumors? Sneak peeks? Deals? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).