Friday, 31 October 2014

Modiphius licences roleplaying line based on Infinity miniatures game

Modiphius Entertainment, the company behind the acclaimed Achtung! Cthulhu and Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition, has announced a licencing partnership with Corvus Belli to create a roleplaying line based on the Infinity miniatures skirmish game.

Infinity was launched by Spanish company, Corvus Belli in 2005. It actually started life as a
homemade RPG setting for the early roleplaying adventures of Alberto, Carlos, Fernando and Gutier, before it evolved into the hugely-popular wargame and miniatures range.

The Infinity storyline follows the battles of the Human Sphere against the alien Combined Army, a collection of conquered alien races led by an aggressively resourceful AI. A recent encounter with the enigmatic Tohaa, who want to ally with the Human Sphere against the common enemy, sets the stage for a vast story of conspiracy, war and adventure.

Now, the gaming world is poised to discover the truth behind Infinity. The newly-announced roleplaying game will give players the freedom to adventure in the Human Sphere and beyond, learning a myriad of never-seen-before secrets about the Infinity universe and its strange alien races.

Modiphius teamed up with Corvus Bellis to unite their roleplaying publishing expertise with the fantastic Infinity setting.

"As Infinity was created by roleplayers, our secret desire has been always to release the RPG version of the game. Unfortunately, Infinity requires all our time and we were unable to create the RPG everyone has been asking for. To find the right partner, with the same attention to detail has been really difficult and the reason we have not released an RPG before. So, when Chris contacted us we felt very happy, as he demonstrated a deep understanding of the universe and spirit of Infinity. We discussed plenty of covert operations, secret schemes and adventures and we know Modiphius has a very professional approach that will ensure they deliver a truly high-quality product. Now we only regret not having teamed up with them before!" said Gutier, background developer of Infinity.

Modiphius have announced that the Infinity roleplaying game will use 2d20, the in-house roleplaying system designed by Jay Little (Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, X-Wing Miniatures Game) for Mutant Chronicles, which encourages cinematic action with its simple mechanics. New rules will introduce hacking, starships, playing characters who are fragments of an AI and much more. The core of the system is a '2d20' roll versus a character's Attribute and Skill total allowing for multiple successes, and Infinity fans will recognise many other familiar elements which will help translate the tabletop action into the roleplaying world.

You can sign up for the Infinity playtest at Modiphius' website.

Pathfinder: Occult Adventures goes into open playtest, and you can download it now

Paizo has released an open preview for its upcoming book Pathfinder: Occult Adventures, due for release July 2015.

According to the Paizo website:

"Occult Adventures will delve into the world of the occult (including psychic magic, mystic rituals, and esoteric sciences) with brand new materials available for players and GMs alike.

The Occult Adventures playtest document includes six new base classes for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: the kineticist, the medium, the mesmerist, the occultist, the psychic, and the spiritualist. Each one of these classes presents new options and features to incorporate elements of the occult into your campaign!"

Aptly, the open playtest will run over Halloween and up to November 25th. You can download the preview here.

Marvel unearths controversial Spider-Man arc for 2015 event teaser

Now here's a controversial one. Marvel has revealed its next teaser for its 2015 ultra-mega-super event and it's definitely one that's going to strike a nerve with Spiderfans. Ladies and gentlemen...

That's right - they went there. For those unfamiliar with what I'm talking about, back in Amazing Spider-Man #21 Mary Jane and Peter Parker finally tied the knot. The big bods at Marvel weren't too keen on this, as they thought it limited Spider-Man...somehow, so in 2006 Joe Quesada drew one of the most controversial arcs in Marvel history: One More Day.

In One More Day, in order to save his dying Aunt May, Parker made a pact with Mephisto to completely rewrite history so that Mary Jane and he had never been married.

Which brings us back to the teaser: Renew Your Vows, with art by the excellent Andy Kubert. In the original story, the couple caught a glimpse of what would happen if they stayed together, which included having a child. So it's probably safe to say that this is going to be a What If? playing on that vision.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

This gorgeous Harry Potter art depicts monsters like you've never seen them before

Dementor by Rob Bliss

Being a big fan of concept art, the new book Harry Potter: The Creature Vault by Jody Revenson, really caught my eye.

The book depicts creatures from the series, from Goblins and Dementors to Hungarian Horntails and Merpeople, beautifully realised and gorgeously detailed.

io9 has the full exclusive, with a tonne of amazing art for you to pour over.

Dungeonscape is no more as Trapdoor and Wizards of the Coast part ways

The online suite of tools built for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, Dungeonscape, has closed its doors before it had chance to open them.

Trapdoor Technologies, the company behind Dungeonscape, has announced that Wizards of the Coast will no longer be working with them as of October 31st, but that the software will still likely have a future.

You can read the full statement below:

Greetings friends,

Today, we have news that is both sobering and hopeful. Wizards of the Coast and Trapdoor Technologies will no longer be working together to develop DungeonScape for Fifth Edition D&D, and we will not be releasing the product in its current form. The beta program on all platforms will be shutting down at noon (MST) on Friday, October 31.

Although we can’t reveal all of the details regarding the future of DungeonScape, we are happy to say that there is indeed a future—so fear not!

This project, 100% internally funded, conceptualized, and built by our talented team at Trapdoor, has been a labor of love from the very beginning. We set out to change the way RPGs are played at the table—making our game night more about enjoying the adventure than searching for rules. We still hold true to that quest. We believe that our Story Machine™ is a powerful tool for converting information into something more useful and rich.

We’re working hard to solidify the details of what’s next for DungeonScape, and we’ll share that information with you when it’s appropriate.

Until then, please continue to follow us on Twitter and Facebook. We’ll do our very best to answer any questions you have through social media or email.

Long live the adventure.
The Trapdoor Technologies Team

So where do we think this leaves Dungeonscape? There's certainly potential for the digital gaming aid to be picked up by the likes of Paizo, or if their Story Machine is versatile enough it could perhaps be customised for several different systems.

Via ENWorld

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Marvel reveals Future Imperfect as part of its 2015 uber event

Another day, another reveal for Marvel's cryptic 2015 super event. So far we've seen the likes of Civil War, Years of Future Past, Planet Hulk, Armor Wars, Secret Wars and more. Now the house of ideas has dropped Future Imperfect on us. Cue old Hulk!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Marvel announces slew of new movies, includes two-part Avengers Infinity War

Marvel Studios are currently holding their fan event and the comic movie powerhouse has ust announced the titles of its upcoming phase three films up to 2019, including an Avengers two-parter: Infinity War.

Here's a breakdown of what we can expect in the next four years:

  • Captain America: Civil War (May 6th 2016)
  • Doctor Strange (November 4th 2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (May 5th 2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (July 28th 2017)
  • Black Panther (November 3rd 2017)
  • Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 (May 4th 2018)
  • Captain Marvel (July 6th 2018)
  • Inhumans (November 2nd 2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 (May 3rd 2019)
That means that as of 2017 there will be three Marvel Studios movies per year. Also, all the theories that Civil War would come to the Marvel movieverse will come to pass with the new Captain America. 

It has been confirmed that Chad Boseman will be playing Black Panther but Benedict Cumberbatch is yet to be confirmed as Doctor Strange. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Preview: Dredd Uprise #1

Following up the success of Dredd: Underbelly, the comic book sequel to the Dredd movie, comes Dredd: Uprise. This two-issue series continues the story: in the neglected sector of Mega-City One known as The Spit, tensions are reaching boiling point amongst the citizens as the shiny new mega-block Oemling Tower is being constructed for those that can afford to live in it. As the Judges face running battles with rioters, the underground movement known as Uprise stokes the flames of dissent...

Dredd: Uprise #1 hits shelves Wednesday 29th October and can be purchased digitally at

Dayglow Overdrive channels 80s cyberpunk music, prepare for your mind to be blown

Let's face it: cyberpunk is fucking cool. Sure, you would never really want to live in a dystopian cyberpunk future, what with all the crime and knock-off cybernetics, but if you ever want to feel like you're in an 80s cyberpunk movie then Dayglow Overdrive is here.

Maverick by Dayglow Overdrive can only be described as bitchin' (note the lack of a 'g' - that's how rad it is). Wrap your earholes around this!

Woaaaah! Damn, son. My face melted off. You can check out Dayglow Overdrive's Bandcamp page for more.

Zak S brings DIY sensibilities to 5e Monster Manual with awesome results

Image: Zak S. and Wizards of the Coast

I'm one of those people who feels a bit weird about writing in a book, especially one as beautiful as the 5th edition D&D Monster Manual, but designer and blogger Zak S doesn't have such qualms. Over the past few weeks the DIY D&D proponent has been taking a marker to the brand new Monster Manual to alter creatures to his liking - creating new attacks, ecologies and in some cases entirely new names.

The latest iconic beast to become the victim of the Zak's Sharpie is the Basilisk, which he has shrunk to iguana-sized proportions. In comparison to his other alterations, the Basilisk has been spared on the whole, but some, like the Azer, have been completely revamped. He's even changed (improved) their name to Azerites and gave them a creative new background:

"The Azerites are the victims of a cruel and innovative goblin joke dating from the 8th Agon: dwarf prisoners were given a hallucinogen that made them both susceptible to suggestion and immune to flame, then set their faces alight and sent them charging at their fellows," explains Zak.

Check out his 'fixing the Monster Manual' series in full.

Play a preview of DestinyQuest Infinite

If you know me, then you know that I love me a bit of DestinyQuest. The gamebook series is unique in that each tome is absolutely massive and it plays a bit like a paper version of Diablo 2. So imagine my joy when QuestForge emailed to tell me that the digital version of the book is available to be previewed.

The demo requires no sign-in or download to access, and includes two quests from DestinyQuest Infinite: Act 1. Go on, have a go here.

DestinyQuest Infinite is a game with RPG elements like combat, stats, and loot. It’s also a digital book with hundreds of pages of story to explore. Features include:

  • The official interactive DestinyQuest, with all 600+ pages of the print book by Michael J. Ward
  • Customizable hero with stats that correspond to your equipment
  • Hundreds of items and abilities
  • Battles that test your skill and luck
  • Rich and immersive fantasy world that draws on folklore and mythology
  • Playable from any device that has a browser (Chrome and Firefox currently supported)

Christopher Liu, founder and lead programmer of Adventure Cow and QuestForge, said: “I originally planned for DestinyQuest Infinite to be this quick 9 month game project. Four years later, I'm basically embarrassed that it took so long to make a book (I mean, it's a book, how hard could a book be?). I’m excited that it's finally coming out, once we sort through all the technical support requests we got because the latest version of Chrome broke our build. I'm also hoping we'll get some press about how we're mixing books and games but every time I try to write a quote about how cool it is I get this instead.”

DestinyQuest Infinite: Act 1 (of 3) will be available for purchase from Adventure Cow in November 2014. For more information, visit the game website at

Check out the trailer below.

Ravenloft adventure Night of the Walking Dead - free to download until Halloween

Halloween is the greatest isn't it? Yes, it is, and that's why you can grab yourself a PDF of the 2e AD&D adventure Night of the Walking Dead for absolutely free. Hurry though, because you have until October 31st to get your mitts on it.

Here's a bit about this introductory adventure:

In a rain-soaked graveyard, a small group of men stands round a coffin bound with heavy chains. "We are here to mourn the passing of Jean de Cardeau," intones the village priest. " Let us pray that his rest is eternal, and that he never returns." 

As the pallbearers lift the coffin, something scrapes on the wood from inside. Quickly and without emotion, the attendants slide the casket into a crypt. Then they seal the door and flee. Behind them, unheard, a dull thudding begins, growing louder with the onset of twilight. There can be no peace for those who linger in the earthly realm after death. And there can be no sanctuary on the Night of the Walking Dead! 

Set in a zombie-infested swampland, "Night of the Walking Dead" is an ideal first-time Ravenloft adventure. Players must unravel the mystery behind a string of murders and disappearances in a village plagued by ambulant undead—and all is not as simple as it seems! 

The hour of fear is upon us. Are you ready to face the Demiplane of Dread? 

For 4 to 6 players, levels 1st-3rd.

Seems like a great excuse to play some D&D this Halloween, eh?

Sunday, 26 October 2014

This looks awesome: The Art of Ian Miller

As a bit of a Tolkien geek, I'm more than familiar with Ian Miller's work. He often teamed up with David Day to produce the Tolkien Bestiary, Tolkien Encyclopaedia and other Middle-Earth-based books. So my interest was piqued when I saw The Art of Ian Miller from Titan Books. 

From Titan Books' site:

"Featuring over 300 pieces of artwork spanning decades of Ian’s work, this collection is a treat for all lovers of great fantasy art – from Lovecraft novel covers to Tolkien bestiaries to Warhammer 40,000 concept art, through a veritable trove of gothic humour, fantasy battles, dragons, beasts and a world of nightmarish visions."

The book actually came out in April, but I've only just come across it - and I'm glad I did! Miller's gothic surrealism has always captured my imagination, using intricate line-work, often using technical pens to achieve an almost impossible level of detail. His work has a certain geometry about it that makes his illustrations otherworldly - perfect for fantasy and science fiction.

You can buy The Art of Ian Miller from Titan Books

How to track RPG combat without a grid

Industry veteran and author of The Lazy Dungeon Master, Mike Shea, also known as Sly Flourish, has some great advice on arbitrating combat when it's a bit more abstract. I'm a big fan of theatre-of-the-mind combat, but it can be really difficult to track distance, area effects and other such things as a GM.

Shea opts for the Final Fantasy approach to combat, lining up miniatures and ignoring distances between them:

"We can lay miniatures out on a mat to help us understand these things and still ignore the grid and the distance it represents. We place miniatures together or apart based on the abstract distances mentioned above. This lets everyone see who is in melee with who, and who is separated off from the rest.

With a Paizo flip mat we can write damage and effects directly on the map which makes tracking these things quite a bit easier and lets everyone see everything that's going on."

For fiddly things like area effects, Shea suggests three different solutions: go back to the grid, agree that the GM arbitrates all area effects in combat, and the random effect rolls as used in 13th Age (my personal preference):

"We can look to 13th Age for a solution and have area attacks hit a random number of targets. Small blasts hit 1d3 targets. Bigger blasts hit 1d4 or 1d6 or even 2d4 if they're really big. You can even roll randomly to determine who gets hit. This turns over the decision to the dice and helps everyone recognize that things are a bit more fair. You might be unlucky but at least the DM wasn't being an asshole about it."

There's some great advice here, so be sure to read the entire post over at Sly Flourish.

7 roleplaying games to play this Halloween

Halloween is creeping around the corner, so you haven't got long to get your slutty C3PO costume together. Generally around this time of the year we gamers like to add a bit of horror flavour to our games, so without any further ado here are 7 horrifying RPGs to disturb your players this spooky season.

7. All Flesh Must Be Eaten

It's unisystem zombies, coming for your brains. All Flesh Must Be Eaten is a survival horror game that asks the question 'what if?', letting you and your players select a campaign world such as World War II, Modern Day or Post-Apocalypse. Either way, there are zombies and they want to eat your face. Buy it here.

6. Cryptworld

Cryptworld is all about hunting down evil forces. The spiritual successor to Chill, Cryptworld lets you pull stories from classic horror, no zombies or Cthulhu required. Buy it here.

5. Don't Rest Your Head

Don't Rest Your Head is a unique and creepy game that puts players into the shoes of insomniacs who haven't slept for so long that they have discovered the doorways to the Mad City. A very cool system coupled with an intriguing, nightmarish setting makes this one perfect for a late night session. Buy it here.

4. Dread

Another indie game, but one famed more for its innovative Jenga mechanics than anything else. In Dread, you get to plunge your players into your favourite kinds of horror stories, using Jenga as a task-resolution system. Should you send those bricks tumbling then you know that your fate is sealed. Buy it here.

3. Epoch

Epoch is a survival horror game with a focus on characters rather than stats. It's a fairly freeform game that rewards character play over killing things and taking loot - a perfect game for a one-shot. Buy it here.

2. Kuro

If you like cyberpunk and Japanese horror then you'll probably enjoy Kuro quite a bit. The story is that Japan is protected by a nuclear attack by some unknown force. Believing that Japan is in control of some fancy anti-nuke technology, the country is blockaded, leaving the Japanese people trapped. However, as reports of strange paranormal activity become more common, it seems that something else is trapped in there with them. Buy it here.

1. Call of Cthulhu

As if I was going to leave out the grandaddy of all horror games. Call of Cthulhu has some of the simplest, most effective mechanics in roleplaying, as well as one of the most beloved universes in horror. It's chocolate and peanut butter! Buy it here.

The Kicker: Digital D20

Welcome to another edition of The Kicker, where we take a look at new Kickstarters in the gaming world. 

Ah, gaming prep. Some GMs love it, while others can't stand it, but we all know that it has to be done to some extent. Some people will spend hours plotting, planning and scheming before a session, while others, like me, tend to build a small framework and improvise off that.

Now here comes Digital D20 with a modern solution to all that game prep, potentially cutting down all that plotting and scheming time while allowing for an open game that your players can help form.

Digital D20 is an app for tablets that distributes D20 adventures with all the information required to run a game. This means that rather than having to cart around the DM's Guide and Monster Manual with you, the app will contain all that information in drop-downs. Interestingly, Digital D20 also facilitates character relationships, so you can keep track of whether the mayor has a crush on your gnome bard because you know he does.

As its interface, the app uses something they're calling Gamethrough, which contains editing tools, an interactive map and the ability to create and share modules. Presumably the latter part will only really be useful depending on the app's take up, which I guess will be relatively substantial if the project funds.

Actually, one of the most inventive parts of the project, for me, is the Player App, which connects to the GM's app to download diary entries to help players keep abreast of what's happening in the game. I can see this being particularly useful for groups who don't play much or those who just drink copious amounts of alcohol between sessions.

So far, so good. What about pledge rewards? If you're looking to get the app then you're going to be splashing out £12, which will get you the platform and two chapters of the in-built campaign. If you want to see your face in the game then it's going to be £50 to become a pre-gen character. Of course, if you have £2000 going spare then you'll be heading off to Spain to train with a sword master, visit a Toledo smithy and play D&D with the Digital D20 guys.

You can check out the Digital D20 Kickstarter here.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

The Retronaut: X-Men Trading Card Game

The Retronaut is a new section that looks at games from the past, from board games to CCGs. 

Back in 2000, Marvel was yet to become the movie powerhouse that it is today. Their previous efforts had been largely unsuccessful and superheroes were still solely in the realm of the comic enthusiast. Then X-Men the movie came on to the scene and single-handedly sparked a new generation of comic book films, with its deft writing, slick design and high-calibre actors. So Wizards of the Coast were quick to snap up the license from 20th Century Fox to produce a brand new X-Men movie trading card game to monopolise on the film's sudden success.

I fondly remember picking up the large rectangular box from my local comic book store and hurrying
home to play a few rounds with my friend. Not that the box was much to look at - it was an incredibly dull design, with just a silver X as artwork. Still, that didn't matter much to me because I loved the film and I couldn't wait to play as my favourite characters. Plus, it contained a promotional comic inside, which turned out to be terrible. Go figure.

The set-up was fairly straightforward. Each player had a squad of three X-Men and four villain cards were placed in the centre. The objective was to be the first to take out two villains or to be the last one with any X-Men on the table. The idea would be that you attack the villains in the middle with your X-Men and then in turn attack your opponent's X-Men with the villains. Each attack was assigned a different colour and to begin your turn you had to play a coloured Mission card. This would determine the colour of your attack, while Momentum cards could be used to augment your attack strength. The villain's strength would be subtracted from the total X-Men strength to determine how many dice to roll. The dice results could mean that you do damage, or perhaps yours or the villain's mutant powers would be activated.

Having written that down, it does sound like a pretty drawn out process, and it kind of is. Couple that with an ever-increasing Danger Room score which restricts the types of cards that can be played, it wasn't the most user-friendly game ever, but I enjoyed it a hell of a lot back in the day.

Despite having such a huge license, the X-Men TCG eventually fizzled into nothingness. There was a small amount of tie-in promotion around the movie itself, with Hugh Jackman Wolverine and Halle Berry promotional cards handed out at cinemas and hobby stores respectively, but marketing for the game was on the slim side. Other promotional cards were to be pitched as prizes for tournaments and events that never transpired.

Another big problem, and essentially the nail in the game's coffin was the delay between the release of the starter set and booster packs. For a card game to be collectable, you need some element of randomness, and for it to be competitive you need to be able to create your own decks off the back. But due to delays in Marvel's art department booster packs were release months after the starter set hit the shelves in the Summer of 2000, meaning players had to put up with just having the starter set.

To top it all, the art wasn't up to snuff. Artists' credits were simply left off many cards, replacing them with the words 'Marvel staff', which really just added insult to injury. People simply didn't want to put their names to this project. The result was the game falling into obscurity and becoming the favourites of bargain bins across comic stores worldwide.

While there were plans and mock-ups for a new set called 'Generations', the poor marketing and delays forced Wizards of the Coast to drop the game entirely.

The Kicker: Apocalypse Prevention, Inc Second Edition

Welcome to The Kicker, a new section where we look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of Kickstarters. 

Shadowy organisations that exist to defend humanity from otherworldy beings - that's a genre that really clicks with me. Men in Black did it for aliens and Hellboy did it for essentially everything folklore-related, and Apocalypse Prevention, Inc follows a similar theme for demonic entities.
Image copyright Third Eye Games

I've never had the opportunity to play the first edition of API, but it's always been on my peripheral, so Third Eye Games' latest Kickstarter for the second edition really intrigued me. It's been six years since the first game was published and the designers are promising a more 'streamlined and exciting experience' this time around, using a tweaked version of Third Eye's Dynamic Gaming System. This is a d20-based ruleset with a whopping 20 playable races, customisable magic, new cybernetics (that can now be subtle or hidden), and a new Reasons system which allows characters to give their own reason for joining the agency.

There will also be a rules update to the Savage Worlds edition of the game, which is probably as good a reason as any to fund the game because SW is just great.

So, what are you getting for your pledges? The minimum donation is a pretty steep $15, which will net you a PDF of the rules along with a PDF sourcebook of your choice. Ok, so that's actually not a bad deal. If you're looking for a treeware version then $25 will get you the softcover rules along with the PDF, all additional Savage Worlds material, and a PDF sourcebook. Again, that's a great deal. If you want to create your own agent as well as getting physical book copies then you'll have to front a cool $250, although this tier is looking pretty popular with 4 of 10 already gone.

If all this tickles your fancy, then you can head over and fund the Kickstarter here.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Enjoy Halloween with these Tunnels & Trolls adventures

Halloween and Tunnels & Trolls are two of the best things, so here is a selection of spooky dooky scenarios for your game.

Death at Grimwood Hall by Scott Malthouse

Yeah, let's lead with one written by a handsome designer, shall we? If you're into Hammer horror, the macabre and social commentary, then you should get a kick out of Death at Grimwood Hall. Inspired by Frankenstein, this is a love story from beyond the grave. What starts as a murder mystery turns into a frantic race to save the kingdom.

Price: £1.40
Buy it here.

Elder Tunnels Halloween Specials by Various

Ah, one of the best anthologies for T&T, Elder Tunnels has three Halloween editions chock full of frightful fun. Contributing authors include Ken St. Andre, Tom K Loney, Mike Larsen and many more.

Price: Varies - up to £3.74
Buy them here.

It Came From Beyond The Stars! by Scott Malthouse

Ok, so I happen to like writing horror adventures. This one has a big fat dose of Lovecraft in it. The players must investigate at mysterious object that has fallen from the sky and landed in Urook territory.

Price: £1.40
Buy it here.

Stay Alive! Lite Edition by Jerry Teleha

This isn't a scenario, but a full-fledged game of survival horror from Darkshade Publishing. This is a really nice twist on the T&T rules and perfect for running your own zombie apocalypse game this Halloween.

Price: £0.62
Buy it here.

Don't read this: tomes of doom in USR Mythos

I like the thought of a book so evil, so mind-shattering that it psychologically breaks the reader and sends them into a spiral of madness. What a great book. Of course, the daddy of them all is the Necronomicon. We all know it and its power to bring on the crazy wholesale. But what about other cult books? Let's run through some that could be making an appearance in USR Mythos:

Book of Ways

Thought to be written in the 13th century by an unnamed sorcerer, the Book of Ways would come to be known by Christians as a Satanic text, although this would be profoundly wrong. The Book of Ways had nothing to do with Judeo-Christian religion, but everything to do with spells to conjure cosmic entities from the vast reaches of the universe. The book describes the Four Ways that are required to summon such a creature, which include the Way of Flesh, the Way of Silence, the Way of the Mind and the Way of Death. For centuries the Book of Ways has been lost, although some antiquarians believe they have spotted it at night auctions among dealers of the cursed and corrupt.

Codex Incantum

An 11th century text written by a man called Edward Black, the Codex Incantum was found sealed in a vault beneath the surface of Castle Rising in Norfolk, England. The book details magic spells and curses, as well as instructions on enchanting and ensnaring through magical means. It is a book that is said to corrupt all who read it, although its current whereabouts is unknown, like so many of these tomes.

Livre de Gris 

A 17th century French book, the Livre de Gris is an account of one Pierre Durand, a scholar at the University of Strasbourg who stumbled across a tomb filled with dead creatures from another world. Durand spent two years writing about the strange beings - detailing their physiology, naming them, and, eventually, going mad from his discoveries.

Forbidden Lore

Stephanie Corrin, a 19th century witch, wrote what was considered to be one of the most blasphemous books in existence. When the book was published, the Mayor of London had Corrin arrested and copies of Forbidden Lore burnt on a pile. The book contains incantations, rites, songs, pictures and enchantments that were revealed to Corrin in a series of dreams over 10 years. Corrin would later be hanged for her sins and any remaining books were hunted down by the authorities. However, being so sought after, few remaining copies of Forbidden Lore have made their way into the hands of collectors, scholars and the criminally insane.

The effects of reading maddening tomes

The ideas and reports written in these rare books bring both power and psychological damage to those who read and comprehend their words. In game terms, their sanity score decreases by an amount that is dependant on the severity of contents in the book. However, in sacrificing sanity, the reader will gain a better understanding of the Mythos, offering a temporary bonus to relevant Wits checks.

Where to find these books

Books such as these are generally incredibly scarce, with many only existing as a sole copy. The easier-to-acquire ones can likely be found in university libraries or museums. Those that are more difficult to get your hands on will fall into the hands of collectors at auction, while incredibly rare and powerful books can only be found via discovery or on the black market. Generally the harder they are to get hold of, the more information can be gained and the higher the sanity loss.

Monday, 13 October 2014

The King in Yellow in USR Mythos

USR Mythos isn't all about Lovecraft. Oh sure, there's a tonne of cosmic dread in there - big ol' things with tentacles for eyes and eyes for knees or whatever, but Mythos will go beyond Lovecraft. I will definitely be including aspects of Chambers' The King in Yellow, which I suppose has found its way into Lovecraftian lore anyway, but I'm a big fan of the whole Carcosa thing. I think the notion of a world beyond this, like pulling back a veil and discovering something incredibly haunting, is one that really speaks to me, so I want this to be a part of Mythos.

If you're unfamiliar with The King in Yellow then I would describe it thusly: there is a play manuscript called The King in Yellow that sends people mad if they read after the first act. In Chambers' stories and other works in the Carcosa mythos, this madness tends to lead people to another world - dim Carcosa, the world within the play itself. It's all kinds of messed up, but I highly recommend you go and read it for free right here. You'll want to read the first four stories, which are the ones tied to the Carcosa mythos.

So with the eponymous King in Yellow be an actual creature in the game? Or will be be more symbolic? I'm thinking I have a completely separate section for Carcosa along with all the other locations. I'm rambling now, so I apologise.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Here's another reason why you should be watching Sleepy Hollow

Word to your mothers. Sleepy Hollow is back and it's giving me all kinds of great feelings. Last year I wrote a post explaining the reasons you should totally be watching Sleepy Hollow, which you should read if you're not into this awesome show.

Anyway, the image above is another example of why you should be setting your peepers on this televisual spectacle. Without spoiling too much (maybe a little), that there is war. Notice how it is a SUIT OF ARMOUR WITH A FLAMING SWORD RIDING ON THE BACK OF A HORSE WITH FLAMING EYES. It is also an avatar controlled by a powerful magic-user who CAN EAT SINS.

That. Is. Incredible.

Also, in one scene Abbie Mills is attacking this guy with a shotgun. I cannot express how cool a show is when there's a scene of this insane magnitude.

Also, Abbie Mills is the perfect woman. Oh my glob.
Guys, you should be watching the hell out of this. Pun intended.

Take a first look at Netflix's Daredevil

Photograph: Netflix © 2014 Netflix, Inc
Na na na na na na na na DAREDEVIL! As a big fan of the red dude I've been looking forward to seeing the first glimpse of Netflix's upcoming Daredevil show - a 13 episode-long series coming in early 2015.

Marvel released the first images from the series at New York Comic Con and from the looks of it they're going ahead with the first costume that Murdock made in the Frank Miller run, which is more like a ninja outfit than the red spandex he's most famous for.

Here's Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock - red glasses and all

Photograph: Netflix © 2014 Netflix, Inc
Daredevil will join a recent raft of superhero shows such as Arrow, The Flash, Gotham and Agents of Shield, that have sprung up on our screens in the past couple of years. 

Showrunner Steven S DeKnight promised that the story would be steeped in grey areas: “There are no heroes and villains, just people making choices,” he said. “There will be times on the show when you won’t be sure who to root for.”

Oh, and check out this lovely promo posted by Joe Quesada:

Image: Marvel Entertainment
I mean, it looks pretty nice, but it's no Affleck.


Which is the king of gamebooks?

Pictured: irrelevance

Autumn has broken in and I'm as happy as a cat with a ball of yarn the size of the Death Star. What does Autumn mean for me? Playing games - of course! Well, that and gorging myself on comfort food until I become the very definition of gout. Games games games!

Also, Autumn means having these guys fed to me on a drip

A perfect way to pass the time, especially if you're looking for a bit of quiet time, is with a gamebook, yes? Remember, kids: regular books suck compared to ones where you can die in a variety of hilariously brutal ways (I'm looking at you, everything Ian Livingstone has done).

So I got to pondering, as I am wont to do when I'm bored: what is the best gamebook ever made? Yes, marvel at my ingenious questioning. Honestly, I can't say because I've not played every gamebook in existence but from the ones I have played through I might have to go with Fabled Lands: The War-Torn Kingdom. It was the first book I played that made me feel I had full agency over my character and therefore could allow me to be completely dick people over. Be warned, gamebook NPCs: I will waste no time in betraying and most likely killing you, even if it's just for a few pennies and a roast chicken.

Go on, challenge me. I bloody dare you!

Clearly, I have a very specific criteria when it comes to judging what makes a great gamebook, but I love FL:TWTK for many more reasons than the fact I can bomb around the country being an utter douchenugget to all and sundry. It's the freedom to create your own story and play your own way that really tickles my pickle. If I wanted to become a naval merchant (which I did before I was knobbed over by the weather, rendering my ship as useful as trousers for fish) then I can totally do that.

So I'm interested to hear what you think the king of gamebooks is and why. Have a good one, chums.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Designing cosmic horrors for USR Mythos

Welcome to USR Mythos Month, where all October long I wax lyrical about the upcoming USR Mythos setting. 

What kind of stats should unknowable cosmic gods have in USR? The game is designed so that if you're at the appropriate level, or even under, you should still have a chance of defeating whatever enemy you're wailing on at that point in time. While this works well for orc tribesmen, galactic bounty hunters and steampunk cowgirls, cosmic entities sort of screw all that up. The point of things like Cthulhu, Dagon and those other physical gods are that they're just completely unstoppable once they get going. When the stars are right then there really is no hope for humanity (no matter what that episode of the Real Ghostbusters said).