Reality Is The Playground Of The Unimaginative

Home Of Swords, Sorcery, Superheroes, Sonic Screwdrivers, Supernatural Scares, Star Stuff, Sci-fi, Smeg, and Silliness

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Blame George RR Martin!

HeroPress - as a concept - came into being in 1987, just before the first volume of George RR Martin's shared-universe superhero anthology series, Wild Cards, appeared in the UK.

If nothing else this convinced Steve and I that superheroes could work as a written - as well as comic book - medium, cementing our plans to push ahead with HeroPress as a (global) play-by-snail mail game.

We were certainly won over, in part, by the Wild Cards series when we found out that "many of the original authors were also inspired by a long-running Albuquerque, New Mexico campaign of the role-playing game Superworld gamemastered by George R. R. Martin, and many modeled their characters on their in-game persona."

Now, almost 25 years later, HeroPress still exists and although the name at the top of this blog has changed to "I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters" - to emphasise the move away from spandex towards swords, sorcery and slaying - it is still very much "HeroPress Presents: I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters", as I've always seen HeroPress as a publisher rather than a single publication.

And, of course, who was there when I coming to this decision? George RR Martin again, with a little series of novels some of you may have heard of called A Song Of Ice And Fire (the latest 1,000-page entry to that growing saga, A Dance With Dragons, arrived the other week).

This series has been adapted to television, by HBO, as Game Of Thrones (after the name of the first novel in the sequence) and has proved to be one of the great television shows of the year - if not the decade.

I rather wished I'd picked up on these books when they first came out - as I did with the Wild Cards - as then I wouldn't be so far behind (currently about halfway through A Game Of Thrones), and constantly having to dodge spoilers.

They also present a perfect setting for a human-centric, low magic roleplaying game which is ultimately the style of Dungeons & Dragons I like to play and run (despite the hypnotic siren call of gonzo Arduin-style gaming) and present, I believe, the best opportunity for a long-running campaign.

I'm certainly not saying that my plans to revamp Tekralh for 2012 are a slavish aping of Martin's Westeros, but that's a very good place to start when it comes to atmospheric inspiration.

So, there you have it. As I've said before the old magazine format of HeroPress is dead, and replaced with a more focussed blog, which officially opens its doors for business tomorrow at 9am (GMT).

Be there early to beat the rush, and don't forget to pick up a goody bag on the way out (please note, there are no goody bags... and there is no way out).

Optimism...

Saturday, 30 July 2011

DVD Of The Week: Hobo With A Shotgun (2011)


If Camp Blood set a new low in crapness that I will endure on DVD, then Hobo With A Shotgun has become the new benchmark by which all future OTT, Grand Guignol, splatterfests will be judged.

Inspired by a fake trailer from the Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse double-bill of Death Proof and Planet Terror, Hobo With A Shotgun  is the charming tale of an ageing vagrant (Rutger Hauer), pushed over the edge by the violence and lawlessness run amok in Hope City, who turns vigilante - with aid of a pawn shop pump-action, 20-gauge shotgun - and delivers "justice one shell at a time".

In a Taxi Driver-esque development, he saves - then teams up - with a young prostitute, Abby (Molly Dunsworth), to take on the city's out-of-control crimelord The Drake (Brian Downey) and his two Tom Cruise-inspired sons Slick (Gregory Smith) and Rip (Nick Bateman).

This is Robocop meets Braindead (Dead Alive for Americans) with all the slick, sick, black humour and ridiculously over-the-top gore you would expect from such a pedigree.

Not for the feint-hearted, closed-minded or humourless, Hobo With A Shotgun is in a class of its own for tongue-in-cheek shocks and taboo-bending casual violence (Pedo Santa? Torching a packed school bus? A human piñata?) but it's also a straight-up revenge story with a mix of great, quotable, dialogue balanced with deliberately campy dialogue and a brilliant central performance from a grizzled Rutger Hauer.

Hobo is pretty much review-proof. It wears its grindhouse credentials with pride and the chances are you're going into this with a good idea of what kind of entertainment you can expect.

And if any sensitive, serious, cineastes should stray into a screening of a film called Hobo With A Shotgun they're going to get what they deserve.



So, how long now until we get to see a 'real' movie of Werewolf Women Of The SS?

Airlocked...


AIRLOCKED from Stuart Sinclair on Vimeo.

Airlocked is a short, eight-minute sci-fi film about a man trapped in space for 16 years, made by Stuart Sinclair for a budget of £800.

Ladies & Gentlemen, It Is The Dawn Of A New Age...


First off, a big thank you to you all for sticking around during this "difficult" period of transition.

The workmen are packing up their tools and everything looks ready for Monday's grand reopening.

I hope you're all going to continue to follow developments here and please, please, please share your thoughts, criticisms and contributions in the comments sections of the various posts.

This week has also seen two new henchmen sign on for the big adventure, namely:

* Brendan Falconer of Knights Of The Black Banner (a general RPG blog with plenty of well-written product reviews, game ideas and reports etc), Send The Dwarf In! (a HeroQuest blog) and E-Space Adventures (a Doctor Who RPG blog).

* The Game Master of A Gamer's Guide to Real Life (applying gaming ideas to real life situations), Mini Ted Talks and The Lazy Method (a fledgling blog that promises to be 'a guide to Life, Success and Everything').

Friday, 29 July 2011

Fleamarket Friday: Fight On! Issue 12...

Mutants! Androids! Robots! Pure Strain Humans!

Fight On! is back, with another 88 pages of gut-wrenching, laser-pulsing, fist-pounding action!

Rules variants, tables, adventures large and small, science fiction and fantasy, races, classes, monsters, spells, magic items, NPCs, history, opinion, and lore can be found herein!

Featuring art and articles by Mark Allen, Ian Baggley, Lee Barber, Erin "Taichara" Bisson, Daniel Boggs, David Bowman, Simon Bull, David Coleman, Fat Cotton, Michael Curtis, Liz Danforth, Ndege Diamond, Ron Edwards, Kelvin Green, Tim Kask, John Larrey, John Laviolette, Lester, Gabor Lux, Heron Prior, Jeff Rients, Chris Robert, Zak S., Alex Schroeder, Jason Sholtis, Tim "Sniderman" Snider, Jennifer Weigel, and this issue's dedicatee James M. Ward, alongside many others!

If want to take your FRP experience to the next level, don't delay - buy this issue and Fight On!

The print version is available here: http://www.lulu.com/product/16258333

and the PDF is available here: http://www.lulu.com/product/16258563

Table of Contents:
  • Champions of ZED (Daniel Boggs) 3
  • Fast Company II – Nonhumans (Schroeder & Shieh) 11
  • It's All in the Cards (Michael Curtis) 12
  • The Tomb of Kaman-Doh Rey'd (David Coleman) 17
  • The Apen (Andrew "The Venomous Pao" Trent) 20
  • Geologians (Tim "Sniderman" Snider) 22
  • The Witch Doctor (Scott Moberly) 24
  • Knights & Knaves (Barber, Green, Rients, & Cal) 25
  • Grognard's Grimoire (Erin "Taichara" Bisson) 27
  • The City State of Dusal Dagodli (Gabor Lux) 28
  • The Darkness Beneath (Heron Prior & David Bowman) 32
  • Education of a Magic User (Douglas Cox) 44
  • Doxy, Urgent Care Cleric (J. Linneman & K. Green) 45
  • Sir Tendeth (Tim "Sniderman" Snider) 46
  • Creepies & Crawlies (T. Snider and Jeffrey P. Talanian) 60
  • Monstrous Ecology (Ron Edwards) 63
  • Random's Assortment (Peter Jensen & Random) 64
  • Curses Gone Wild! (John Laviolette) 65
  • Artifacts, Adjuncts, & Oddments (Jason Sholtis) 67
  • Treasure Types (Simon Bull) 68
  • Dungeon Modules: The Rondo Rooms (Jeff Rients) 69
  • Pigdivot! (Chris Robert) 72
  • Where the Action Is (Zak S.) 80
  • Merlyn's Mystical Mirror (Gabor Lux & Jo Kreil) 84
  • Notes from a Master (James M. Ward & Tim Kask) 86

Fleamarket Friday: Wear Your Geekness With Pride...

Look at the T-shirt: I'm afraid all the PhotoShopping in the world won't help
with my double chin and goofy grin!
The other day Trevor from NerdyShirts offered to send me a T-shirt, to see what I thought of their products... and who am I to turn down free stuff?

This awesome, licensed, retro-Star Trek: The Animated Series T-shirt arrived this week and I fell in love the moment I opened the airmail packet.

As well as being very comfortable (always an issue with me, especially with round-neck tees as some rub on my old tracheotomy scar on my throat), the subtle distressed/weathered look of the graphic adds to the cool, geeky appeal.

Los Angeles-based NerdyShirts has a broad range of T-shirts on offer, including a heap of pretty unique Star Wars and comic-related designs as well as '80s, cartoon, computer game and even Charlie Sheen-themed designs in a variety of sizes (for men, women and children).

They also offer hoodies, retro Casio watches, gift certificates and belt buckles, will ship to most countries in the world (shipping one to four T-shirts to the UK, for example, costs $14.99, which seems very reasonable for a bulk order) and the site accepts payment via PayPal - which is a big plus in my books.

I shall certainly be wearing my Star Trek T-shirt with pride and wouldn't be at all surprised if I didn't stock up on more of NerdyShirts beautifully designed T-shirts down the line.

For more information and to view their complete range, visit NerdyShirts.com

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Knight Fall...



Unlike History's upcoming Full Metal Jousting, which gives wannabe knights 'off the street' the chance to experience full-on Medieval jousting, National Geographic's Knights Of Mayhem follows a troupe of professional jousters, led by Charlie Andrews (World Champion of Full Contact Heavy Armoured Jousting) as they face some of their toughest armoured opponents.

Hitting TV screens (in the States) this Autumn (Fall), National Geographic Channel's Fall Preview has this to say:
"Charlie Andrews leads the Knights of Mayhem, a group of modern-day Lancelots and Galahads dedicated to transforming this medieval sport from a staged act to a professional sports phenomenon that will sweep the globe. For these 'knights', jousting is no dinner show. Donning 130 pounds of steel armor, they mount 2,000-pound horses and charge at each other with solid hemlock lances at speeds up to 30mph to absorb devastating impacts with potential for concussions, broken bones and far worse."
Now that sounds like great television right there!

Great Poskitt! What A Find!


Fellow converts to the wonderful works of Philip Reeve will recognise the name Poskitt as that of one of the most venerated deities in his World Of Mortal Engines' books.

It also happens to be the surname of children's author Kjartan Poskitt, whose Murderous Maths and Urgum the Axeman books were illustrated by his good friend Philip Reeve.

This afternoon, as I ambled home, I decided to take a different route, which took me by the Bridge Trust charity shop, where I thought to see what second-hand books they had to offer.

Almost immediately my eye was drawn to Urgum And The Goo Goo Bah! (above). First, as it looked like a light-hearted fantasy book, then I saw the names of Kjartan Poskitt and Philip Reeve and knew it must be mine.

Fifty pence well spent!

Full of Philip's great comedic art, the book even includes a two-page map of 'The Lost Desert' (which probably would have sold me on the book anyway, even without knowing who the author and artist were already) - and we all know how much Philip HATES drawing maps.

Supernatural: All Dogs Go To Heaven


Oh, Supernatural, you do like to play your little games with me, don't you?

The Winchester brothers finds themselves reluctantly sent on a job by blackmailing demon Crowley and, at first, it appears as though All Dogs Go To Heaven is shaping up to be a by-the-numbers werewolf murder mystery.

Only 20 minutes in, the twist identity of the killer is revealed and there's still three-quarters of the episode to go.

Of course, thanks to Adam Glass's script, things turn out to not be so straight forward and the brothers learn hints into the larger conspiracy at work, hints of an organised uprising of monsters against mankind.

There's a scene between the Winchesters and their captive shapechanger (Andrew Rothenberg) that really cuts to the core of this show, not only giving us insight into the mind of soulless Sam but also, subtly, hyping the fear element through a very matter-of-fact explanation of what is being planned.

Not to say that the episode was all talk, talk, talk. The Winchesters hit on a clever approach to taking out an enemy that smell your approach from a hundred yards - let's just say I don't recall seeing Dean armed with a sniper rifle before.

The plot escalated to a tense gunfight in a warehouse and was followed by a moving scene where I half expected the theme from the Littlest Hobo to start playing.

Next Week:

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

He Is The Champion!

Tim Knight took the Hardest Gary Gygax Quiz in the World and got 70%!


You are a Gary Gygax Champion. If knowledge of the minutiae of Gary Gygax's life translated to political power, you would be the satrap of a continent-sized province, owing allegiance to no one (except maybe that Grognardia guy).

Paladin Code: You completed this quiz without using Google.

I didn't use Google, but I was lucky in that one of the harder questions I'd discovered the answer to earlier today (and heretofore had been oblivious to the fact of Gary's previous profession). However, I still know nothing about Gord The Barbarian.

Find the quiz here at Blog Of Holding.

Happy Birthday, Gary - and thanks for all the fun and games!

Going Out In Style...


It's comforting to see that DC is allowing the current incarnation of the Teen Titans to bow out in style with a 100-page 100th issue from JT Krul (who I've rated highly on this book).

"It's all-out war as Titans old and new come together to face the greatest threat to their existence. Can anyone stop Superboy Prime from destroying everything the team stands for?"

Sadly, after this issue, and with the company wide reboot for its September debut of "the new 52", I'm having to say "goodbye" to the Teen Titans, who have been constant comic book companions since I first found a stack of Wolfman/Perez issues in a second-hand book exchange in Tunbridge Wells in the '80s.

Although part of my reason for dropping the title after so many years is the underwhelming look of the "redesigned" team, the decision is largely financial - which is why I've been seriously cutting back my pull-list in recent weeks (and seem to have almost halved my monthly comic bill, which ain't bad!).


We're Getting There...


It looks like we're still on target for the August 1 "official relaunch" of the blog, under its new name of I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters...

A key element was delivered last night when the erudite Siskoid - of Siskoid's Blog Of Geekery (one of the finest comic book/gaming/Doctor Who/movie magazine-style blogs out there) - helped me, enormously, by putting the crucial finishing touches to my new header design (ie. the technical stuff to actually make it look presentable).

In other technical, behind-the-scenes, news, I've also discovered there was a very simple way to turn off Blogger's irritating new User Interface and revert to the simple old one - which should mean no more (well, fewer) posts appearing at random times or with 'dead' links.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Merlin Lives On...


You wouldn't know it from the BBC's hibernating Merlin website, but the increasingly popular re-imagining of the Arthurian legends has been  picked up for a fifth season - even though the fourth has yet to be shown either here or in the States.

Announced at Comic-Con (where else?), filming on 13-episodes of season five is scheduled to commence in Wales and Pierrefonds, France, in March 2012.

According to the official press release: Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy, executive producers for programme makers Shine TV, said: “We are both delighted to have a fifth season commissioned and thrilled with the worldwide success of Merlin. We have some fantastic ideas in mind for the next stage of the journey and relish the chance to take the program to the next level!

The fourth season of the fantasy drama, which is currently being filmed in France and Wales, will begin airing in Autumn 2011 on BBC One in the UK, and in early 2012 on Syfy in the US.

The third season, which was broadcast in winter 2010, pulled in the highest UK ratings for the drama so far, with a weekly average of over 6 million viewers and a total of 24.3 per cent share of the audience.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Doctor Who Rematerialises Next Month...

The second half of the current season of Doctor Who appears set to return to our screens on August 27.

Sooner than I was expecting!

Here's a trailer from Comic-Con:

LARPing Just Got Real... And Badass!



Knights Of Badassdom
: In this comedic fantasy adventure, Joe (Ryan 'True Blood' Kwanten) is a heavy metal rocker who's just gone through a painful breakup with his girlfriend, Beth (Margarita Levieva).

His concerned roommates (Steve Zahn, Peter 'Game Of Thrones' Dinklage Margarita Levieva) kidnap him to their LARP (Live Action Role Playing) gathering, where he enters a realm of fantasy escapism in which pretend knights, elves, and barbarians clash with foam weaponry on a mock battlefield.


When Joe's "sorcerer" roommate (Zahn) inadvertently summons a deadly succubus that takes Beth's seductive form, bloody reality crashes down upon their fantasy world.

Once LARPers start to turn up dead, the make-believe wizards and warriors must join forces with other adventurers (Summer 'Firefly' Glau, Danny Pudi) to become the real life heroes they have been pretending to be and conquer the unleashed evil.

Twistin' Back The Time...


As the perfect adjunct to this week's War & Peace Show, the Pantiles Traders Association in Tunbridge Wells organised its first Vintage Fair this weekend - which Rachel wanted to attend to see the Lindy Hoppers (a dance troupe we'd missed at War & Peace).

As well as music, the fair featured a good number of traders spread out along the historic Georgian walk, with a lot of dresses for Rachel and her friend Mel to look over.

Both ladies had dressed up for the occasion and Rachel received a lot of compliments for her look:

I tried on a few hats (a couple of toppers and a bowler), but it turns out I have an inordinately large head (who knew?) and we admired the retro furntiture, old bits of luggage and travel cases - but soon realised we had nowhere to put any of it.

There was a fashion show on the bandstand and afterwards the hostess called up members of the audience,  who were dressed in vintage styles, to come up on stage and talk about their clothes. Mel and Rachel were reluctantly dragged into the spotlight!

Mel Takes Centre Stage as Rachel Tries To Hide Behind The Compere

Wow, What Are The Chances Of That???

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Obsession...



A 3D-animation by Laura Krause of a short story by Knight City Chronicles follower (and fantasy/sci-fi author) Scott Niven.

Ladies & Gentlemen, As One Door Closes...

Thank you all, once again, for still sticking around during this period of transition - as HeroPress morphs slowly into I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters.

It would appear that this week's issues (with non-functioning links) has something to do with manually posted blogs as opposed to my usual scheduled ones.

I shall aim to stick to scheduled postings in the future!

I hope that's all it is - and that that's something that the background Blogger boffins can get sorted out.

In the meantime, we continue to draw new recruits to our team, which is incredible.

So, please raise your tankards for:

* Ernie - who describes himself as a "great devotee of b-movies, comics, gorgeous women with guns or swords and stuff like this" - which makes him a perfect fit for round these parts!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Caesar Crashes Comic-Con!



Well, not really - but here's an extended "sizzle reel" of Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes footage to get you all pumped up!

Hatchet And Hack...


More great comic news coming out of Comic-Con - Hack/Slash annual number three, due out in November, sees Cassie Hack facing off against Victor Crowley from Hatchet (making his comic book début).


For more information visit Dread Central.

Once A King, Always A King...


... but once a knight is enough!

Star Trek + The Legion = FTW!


Reading this piece of news out of San Diego Comic-Con elicited a fanboy squee of enormous proportions from yours truly.

While I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters aims to be less sci-fi than HeroPress was, my love for the Legion is unwavering and pairing them with Kirk-era Star Trek is mind-blowingly awesome.

A six-issue mini-series, starting October, publishers IDW says: "Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes is a galaxy-spanning adventure that draws both teams together to face a menace that includes Khunds, Klingons, Borg, and other threats that aren’t quite as they should be. The egalitarian United Planets in one universe and a United Federation of Planets in another is now the Imperial Planets of Terra, a dark empire focused on war and conquest, and that’s just the beginning for this special series."

The story follows the "original crew of the Starship Enterprise, who beam down to a planet only to discover that the planet isn’t their intended destination, or even in the right universe. At the same time, a group of 'Great Darkness Saga' Legionnaires inside a time sphere find themselves cast into the 23rd century, but it’s not the 23rd century as they know it, either."

For more information visit IDW's website.

Warehouse 13 Does Not Exist!



Warehouse 13, season three, starts on Thursday, August 4, in the UK.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Knights Go To War (And Peace)!

Some groups put an enormous amount of work into their living history displays
It's that time of year again when Rachel and I head out of town for the annual War & Peace Show at Beltring Hop Farm - the largest gathering of military vehicles in the world (as well as, possibly, the largest military-themed boot fair!).

The weather was good (the rain held off) and we spent a pleasant five hours trundling around the enormous site (me on my usual mobility scooter, poor Rachel on foot), although we spent a considerable amount of time in the music tent as Rachel's passion for the 40s/50s music and fashion continues to grow and her favourite band, The Jive Aces, were performing.



I took a short film of their performance yesterday, but not really to capture the music but to showcase the brilliance of the audience members who get up and dance.



Elsewhere we visited the mind-boggling array of army surplus, militaria, book and toy stalls that fan out across the fields of the Hop Farm and then took a stroll through the "Living History" portion of the event, where re-enactment groups had the chance to show off their uniforms and vehicles in vignettes of military life - mostly involving trench digging.

To see more of my pictures from the day (the event runs until Sunday) visit my Facebook album.

Supernatural: Family Matters


Following the beatdown Dean put on Sam at the end of the last episode, Castiel joins in the questioning and discovers that Sam has returned from Hell without a soul... which explains a lot!

Still clueless about how this happened the Winchester boys follow the only lead they have - Grandfather Samuel (Mitch Pileggi), who came back at the same time.

Samuel and his goons have tracked down the Alpha Vampire (Rick Worthy), but aren't keen on Dean tagging along for the hunt, so he is told to 'wait in the back'. Of course, he doesn't and sees them - rather than topping the Alpha - loading the master vampire into the back of a van.

It turns out - as I'd long suspected - that Samuel hasn't been exactly honest to Dean, however even Sam is shocked when he finds out who, in turn, has been pulling his grandfather's strings when the 'man behind the curtain' makes a surprise appearance at the end of the episode.

Another gripping story, where, again, the A-story (capturing the Alpha) played emotional second fiddle to the family dynamics of the Winchester brothers and their maternal grandfather.

Even though we discover what has happened to Sam's soul - and how he got out of Hell in this episode, the final revelation was a great leftfield twist that opens up a swathe of interesting possibilities for where the season can go next.

It was also good to see, at least some of, Dean's vamp-induced vision coming into play as he recognised the Alpha's mansion. But what about the spooky twins?

Rick Worthy deserves a mention as well, continuing Supernatural's staunch anti-Twilight stance and proving that while vampires can be cool, charming and charismatic they are ultimately cold-blooded killers and not something impressionable young girls should be fawning over.

Having now met the Alpha vampire I wonder if we will meet any other Alphas: a werewolf, zombie, ghost etc? And how will the introduction of Purgatory - the final resting place for dead 'creatures of the night' - into the Supernatural mythos change the show's landscape?

Next Week:



Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

A Brief Spell Of Merlin...



A minuscule, smidgen of a tiny glimpse (seven seconds) of Season Four of Merlin - as carefully exorcised from a longer advert promoting "Original British Drama".

All we know otherwise is that the next season is due to begin this Autumn,  with a two-parter called Revival Of The Witch that takes place a year after the season three closer, The Coming Of Arthur.


If you don't mind spoilers you can always check out the confirmed (and unconfirmed) rumours about Season Four over on the Merlin Wiki.



Too Awesome For Words...

Sweet Halloween Dreams by begemott

Hail Caesar!


Andy Serkis introduces a scene, from Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, where the chimp Caesar comes to the aid of Alzheimer’s-stricken Charles Rodman (John Lithgow), father of scientist Will Rodman (James Franco).

And did you see that Caesar appears to be building a model of the Statue of Liberty? A nice touch, I thought!


Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off To Work We Go...

Click to embiggen

The complete line-up of the dwarf contingent from Peter Jackson's forthcoming movies of The Hobbit.

And More Of This...


Crack The Surface - Episode I from SilentUK on Vimeo.

I love to see records of this kind of urban spelunking, so expect more to appear on I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters as I unearth them.

It is, kind of, real life "Dungeons & Dragons" and another fantastic source of inspiration to an anti-social, old bugger like me.

If nothing else, it gives motivations - beyond stealing treasure - for explorations underground, as well as insights into the thrills and dangers of these trips.

Part of it also reminded me of my own adventure hook suggestion, The Tourists, from last September.

Check these fantastic urban explorers out at SilentUK.

RSS Technical Assistance Sought...


I need some technical assistance! Sometime after posting my Doc Savage: Python Isle review on Sunday evening, my RSS feed seems to have "snapped".

In Google Reader, as shown in the picture above, my posts are still appearing but the headlines are no longer clickable links back to the full story on the blog - they are just plain, unclickable headlines.

My Facebook Networked Blogs' widget is no longer streaming my blog entries to my Facebook wall and the automatic tweets generated for me by the RPG Bloggers Alliance simply list my entries, rather embarrassingly, as "Error".



Any clues as to what is happening and (simple) suggestions on how I can fix this issue? I'm trying to get everything as perfect as I can for the "official" relaunch of the site at the beginning of August, but it appears that every time I get to grips with one issue, something else goes wrong...

Monday, 18 July 2011

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Monsters All Around Us...


So what do you make of this real-world beast? And how quickly could he reduce your party of adventurers to paste? What are his statistics in your game system of choice?

In truth, it's a marine organism seen through an electron microscope and drawn to my attention by the ever-informative Things You Wouldn't Know If We Didn't Blog Intermittently blog. But it's not so threatening then...

Doc Savage: Python Isle


Doc Savage: Python Isle is an eight hour audio book, with dramatic narration by Michael McConnohie.

Written by Will Murray, the world's leading expert on The Man of Bronze, based on an outline by Doc's original writer, pulp legend Lester Dent, Python Isle is classic Doc Savage brought to life by the authentic tones of McConnohie, who does a superb job of individualising the voices of the characters without rendering them incomprehensible.

Directed by Roger Rittner, the sound quality, effects and music are perfectly blended to complement the story without being obtrusive and help conjure the pulp 1930s of Doc Savage as he journeys from his New York base to an isolated, storm-enshrouded island in the Indian Ocean.

A strange telegram, gangs of vicious diamond smugglers, a dangerous Zeppelin journey, a lost aviator, a beautiful princess from a hidden land and the lure of ancient treasure - Python Isle has it all, and Doc and his men are thrown into the action from the get-go. Every one of the 20 chapters in this tale ends with a cliffhanger and the two-fisted action never lets up.

The original pulp superman, and his flawed assistants, are forever facing certain death and it isn't always a question of "will they escape?" - because we are certain they will - but "how will Doc get them out of this latest bind?"

Like his literary descendant Clark Kent (aka Superman), Clark Savage Jnr always triumphs - because he was raised as the "ultimate human being" - but the story comes out of his unexpected solutions and genius foresight and preparation for all situations.

What makes this audio book, from Radio Archives, even more interesting is the pair of short documentaries at the end of the tale, explaining both the origins of the Doc Savage character and how Murray discovered the Python Isle outline in Lester Dent's archives.

Python Isle is available now from Radio Archives for $25.98 as an 8-CD collection or $17.98 as a digital download.

The next Doc Savage audio book, also written by Will Murray, due out soon from Radio Archives is White Eyes:
The place: New York City. During the depths of the Great Depression, in the shadow of streamlined skyscrapers, reporters scramble for clues about an insidious wave of bizarre deaths - everyday citizens struck dead, the eyes in their lifeless bodies turned a sightless and ghastly white. The Blind Death has the teeming city paralyzed with fear; in desperation, civic leaders turn to the one man who can discover who or what is behind this gruesome series of murders: Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze.


From his offices high above the city, Doc and his band of trusted colleagues soon uncover a terrifying scheme to gather together all of the city's criminal elements as a single and seemingly undefeatable force. Their intent: to seize the wealth of the Man of Bronze and destroy him once and for all!

Slave Leia PSA!

The Odd Couple...

Friday, 15 July 2011

Chimp + Machete = Not Going To End Well!



The latest Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes viral video.

A Potter-lypse Now!


Today's the day. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part Two, opens...



Thanks to The Great Geek Manual for this.

Ladies & Gentlemen, My Client Would Like To Plead Temporary Insanity...

Thank you all for sticking around, despite by rather public (and, in retrospect, embarrassing) meltdown the other day.

It has been a subject of much ridicule around these parts and, for those who know of my boring medical history, I'd just like to include the explanatory footnote that a mix-up in (and then withdrawal from) prescription medication could not have happened at a worst time.

But, panic over, and rather pleasingly, out of all this chaos I see I have managed to recruit a couple of new henchmen (the site rebranding means former members of my "superteam" are now henchmen & hirelings... just go with it).

And, unbelievably, the site is averaging more than 600 hits a day at the moment; perhaps it's rubberneckers waiting for my next meltdown!

Anyhoo, please give a hearty monster-killing roar for our latest recruits:

* Justin S Davis

* Dave.B of The Library: Retro and Classic Fantasy Games (an awesome OSR site that is currently adapting Clark Ashton Smith's Averoigne into a game setting) and Dave.B's Savage Stuff (a great Savage Worlds site where he has recently been converting some horror staples from films and comics to Savage Worlds).

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Thing Before The Thing Looks Just Like The Thing...

<a href='http://movies.msn.com/movies/movie-trailers/#/video/f749b83d-e1d0-4983-a918-a9c3914b03c0' target='_new' title='&#39;The Thing&#39; Movie Trailer' >Video: &#39;The Thing&#39; Movie Trailer</a>

Here's the first trailer for the prequel to John Carpenter's classic The Thing. It kinda looks more like a remake than a prequel, doesn't it? And just calling it The Thing isn't going to help the confusion either!

John Carter Arrives...



The first trailer for Disney's eagerly-awaited (well, by me certainly) John Carter (as in "...of Mars").

As soon as I saw that it had retained the book's period framing, I knew we were in safe hands.

Not much green Martian action yet, but the film doesn't open until next March so I'm expecting a snowballing of trailers and publicity shots between then and now.

And no doubt there will be the nitpickers complaining about the colour of John Carter's eyes or something, but so far this is looking like a solid sword and planet romance to me.

Supernatural: You Can't Handle The Truth


As soon as I saw the name Serinda Swan in the opening credits, I thought "Ah, ha! Zatanna!" Then just as quickly remembered that was Smallville, not Supernatural...

Sam and Dean are investigating a spate of suicides in a small town and soon discover that a curse is hitting certain people causing everyone they talk with to them the complete, honest, unpolished truth - and this is what is driving people to kill themselves.

There's a quirky little diversion with a possible religious artifact, and a cameo from Castiel, but even the main story of what (or who) is really bringing down the curse, plays second fiddle to the growing tension between Sam and Dean.

When Dean contracts the curse he sees it as his opportunity to find out what's going on with Sam, but things don't go exactly according to plan and this plays off in the excellent and shocking conclusion to the story.

This was also another story with some great moments of gore - with the scene in the dentist's chair reminiscent of both Marathon Man and something you'd expect in a Final Destination or a Saw movie!

So, we get some insight into what's "wrong" with Sam, but as this episode reveals, we - like Dean - can no longer trust him to be honest.

Meanwhile, Castiel is getting more hardnosed - with the civil war in Heaven - and appears to only be interested in helping the Winchesters when their cases involve Heaven's stolen artifacts and Dean seems to have finally lost the safe haven offered by the lovely Lisa (Cindy Sampson)  and her son, following last week's violent, vampire-blood fuelled outburst.

I have to admit, we're only six episodes into this sixth season and it's shaping up to be as strong as any of its predecessors. Even though we've gone off the end of Eric Kripke's five year plan, Supernatural is showing no signs of jumping the shark, getting tired or running out of ideas. I'm impressed.

Next Week:



PS. You didn't think I'd be giving up on my Supernatural coverage did you? Supernatural is right, slap-bang-in-the-middle of what I reckon I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters will be all about! Killing monsters... it's what the Winchesters do!

Capes Are Still Flying In Knight City...

Lest we forget our old friends in Knight City, I'd like to remind you that while the Villains & Vigilantes campaign may be "resting", Steve Bates - aka blogger Nimbus of Pseudo Random Noise - has just published issue six of the adventures of his own character, Aviator, in the city.

Who Knows What Evil Lurks? reads like a superpowered episode of Hollyoaks (and I mean that in a good way), with the Aviator confronting his ex-girlfriend ... after finding out she is really a dangerous supervillain escaped from the city's asylum for the criminally insane!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

This Is What I'm Talking About...

Expect more of this sort of thing in the future...




Thanks to Jaap de Goede over at Dark Dungeon 2nd Edition for the initial clip.

Monday, 11 July 2011

HeroPress Is Dead...

... Long Live I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters!

My "Acrobatic Flea" persona is also being retired at this juncture, and in his place arises "Sir Timothy Of Kent"

After a suitable break, I plan to reignite this blog with a more swords & sorcery/medieval/Dungeons & Dragons bent - and less sci-fi/superheroes (for one reason, my passions are reverting to my childhood fascination with knights in armour, sword fighting, archery, jousting, the Middle Ages etc and, for another, there are so many other blogs/websites out there that do some of the things I was doing on HeroPress so much better).

I want to thank you all - official Followers, Facebook readers and casual visitors - for your patience and perseverance.

After four-and-a-half years - 3,273 posts - I can't just walk away or blogfade. I can only apologise for my rather public meltdown over the weekend (there were forces beyond Blogger at work, but that was the proverbial straw).

Although it may appear that this was a sudden bolt from the blue - I can assure you, gentle readers, that cogs have been whirring in brain since last year about a change of direction for the blog.

Well, not so much a change, as a tightening of the remit.

Unfortunately, nostalgia for a part of my youth that perhaps should have stayed in my youth (i.e. the resurgence of Villains & Vigilantes) distracted me from my master plans as I tried to recreate the incredible times we had playing superhero RPGs in our formative years.

If Monkey House Games hadn't popped up trumpeting the "resurrection of Villains & Vigilantes" (and I wish Jeff, Jack, Scott et al the best of luck in resolving their differences and bringing superhero gaming to the masses), I could quite possibly have stayed on target.

But like a magpie, I always have to have the shiny, new toy... and this new toy had the currency of nostalgia (and a very special part of my teenage years) to add to its value.

Sadly, for me, it only took several months for the rose-tinted glasses to lose their sheen and it dawned on me that, even beyond any issues I had with the rules set, the genre just didn't suit my personal ideas of the adventures and stories I wanted to take participate in.

At first I was determined to crash on through, but eventually, it struck me that my mind wasn't going to change and it simply wasn't working for me.

Let this be a lesson to you: you really can't go back!

I had forgotten the four key factors that make a game for me:
  • Exploration (discovering and mapping new lands, hidden underground realms etc)
  • Monster-Fighting (that is an interaction with the extraordinary, I get enough mundane in 'real life' which is why I like to escape into the bizarre and geeky)
  • Accumulation Of Treasure (not necessarily financial, but like Wil Wheaton and his dice, I like my exotic treasures to bring with them a story I can share at a later date)
  • Character Development (again, not necessarily increasing levels or hit points, but beyond the mechanic elements I need the character's life story to continue to expand and grow - like an on-going comic book character - with vibrant stories and anecdotes)
Of course, this wasn't all supposed to come spilling out at once. The idea was to slowly shift the focus of the blog more to what I wanted. However, this weekend's perfect storm of problems caused a mental overload in yours truly which resulted in the brainsplurge that has been recent posts.

And then, to add insult to injury, my Google account was hacked this morning as well!!!

In the meantime,there are scheduled posts that will continue to appear (mainly picture posts and video clips), but original content, reviews, articles, commentary etc will start reappearing in due course...

I shall return!

D&DVD Of The Week: Ironclad (2011)

Another film I have been eager to see since first stumbling across intriguing trailers for this mighty mediaeval siege movie, a key factor of Ironclad I had failed to pick up on is that it is based upon the 1215 siege of Rochester Castle.

Rochester Castle being right on my doorstep (after Tonbridge Castle, which is in my back garden, although doesn't have such a martial history) added a whole new element to this to me - knowing that I could easily go and visit the site where the real events took place.

But even without the local angle, Ironclad is an engrossingly powerful, visceral, bloody, muddy and brutal story that left me physically shaken after it had run its two-hour course.

Having been forced to sign the Magna Carta, King John (an insanely brilliant Paul Giamatti), enlists a horde of Danish mercenaries - led by Tiberius (Vladimir Kulich), an obvious descendant of Harry Potter's Lucius Malfoy - to take back his country and exact revenge on the baron's who made him put his name to the Magna Carta.

However, he finds one obstacle in his way, the strategically crucial castle of Rochester on the banks of the River Medway, which bars his path to London. Holding Rochester is William d'Albini (Brian Cox) and a rag-tag handful of soldiers, including the Knight Templar Marshall (James Purefoy), whoremonger Beckett (Jason Flemyng), cool archer Marks (Mackenzie Crook) and grizzled villain Coteral (Jamie Foreman).

A clever cocktail of the Magnificent Seven and Zulu, Ironclad is must see material for gamers with its graphic demonstrations of the lethality of various hand weapons as well as its insights into 13th Century siege warfare. There may be no fantastical, supernatural elements, but this stands high in the ranks of inspirational Dungeons & Dragons movies, for its sheer ballsy brutality and grimy verisimilitude.

It's by no means a historically accurate portrayal of the actual siege, but is gorgeously heroic and incredibly emotional and thrilling nonetheless, with breath-taking performances from all the cast.

Sometimes there is a bit too much "shaky-cam" and the camera can get a bit too close to the fighting on occasions to actually make out what's going on, but these are trivial issues when put up against the brilliance of this film.

As you may have gathered, I rather liked Ironclad. I was always expecting it to be great - from the sporadic trailers I had seen on the 'net - but it went so far above and beyond my expectations that it would be remiss of me not to insist that everyone who loves low fantasy roleplaying games - or such fare as Game Of Thrones - should watch this as soon as possible.

Musical Monday: What Would Buffy Do?



What Would Buffy Do?

Sunday, 10 July 2011

7TV Freebie - For One Week Only!

The first supplement for the tabletop spy-fi wargame 7TV is available as a free download for one week only from Wargame Vault.

Summer Special is a gorgeously illustrated 52-page book, featuring campaign rules, new weapons and characters, an adventure, new game cards etc

The special offer ends at close of play on Sunday, July 17.

Usual print and PDF options will be available in the Crooked Dice store soon and print copies of Summer Special are due to be available from the start of August.

No Fun!



Blame Blogger, Blame Google. Further entries may pop up on HeroPress - but sooner or later it's going to vanish. I don't need this shit in my life any more (this has absolutely nothing to do with more serious issues in other parts of the gaming blogosphere to which my contributions have been too insignificant to attract any flack - it's simply an unfortunate co-incidence).

Sorry to the small circle of good virtual friends I've made in the last few years (Jeff, Whisk, Kelvin, Nimbus, Brian etc) but the current behind-the-scenes debacle with Google/Blogger (who seem more interested in pushing their latest Facebook clone than actually looking after their long-term 'customers') has been the final straw this weekend.

When it takes HOURS to post a simple entry and you have to battle through constant error messages while doing the same stuff you've been doing for years, it's simply no fun. And if it's no fun, there's simply no point doing it any longer.

So long and thanks for all the fish!

DVD Of The Week: The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Once again I call on you, faithful HeroPress readers, to ignore the lazy marketing blurb and simply enjoy The Adjustment Bureau for the masterpiece it is.

If Total Film (as suggested on the DVD cover blurb) truly described it as a cross between the Jason Bourne films and Inception then that not only justifies my aversion to film magazines, but is the height of lazy journalism.

This movie's only evident connection to Jason Bourne is the presence of Matt Damon in the lead role, while its Inception (the current go-to movie for quick and easy comparisons, when the movie is a bit 'different') connection is its unique perception of reality.

If anything The Adjustment Bureau is more a blend of Fringe, It's A Wonderful Life and The Lost Room, with nuances of The Matrix and even Lost (if you start looking for the devil in the details) but much more than that it is its own beautiful entity.

Rising political star, congressman David Norris (Damon) meets the woman-of-his-dreams, ballet dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) in the gents' toilets of an upmarket hotel as he prepares his concession speech - having lost his first election - and is inspired by her forthrightness.

However, almost from that moment on, forces seem to be conspiring against them and trying to keep them apart.

To say much more would be to spoil the twist and revelations of this stunning and inspired "look behind the curtain of reality" that will have conspiracy theorists saying "I told you so" and old romantics swept up in the energy of Norris's determination to fight the agents of fate and destiny.

Thoroughly engrossing, I found that I didn't want The Adjustment Bureau to end, I just kept wanting to find out what would happen next.

While maintaining its pace as a character-driven action thriller, the plot spans many years and yet keeps you hooked all the time even as it shifts between the rules of our world and the world of the "adjustment bureau".

The inventiveness - and limitations - of the "behind-the-scenes operatives" were perfectly crafted to play on modern inconveniences (e.g. losing a cell phone connection at a key moment, missing a bus etc) that more imaginative viewers will, at least for a short while afterwards, find themselves thinking: "Was that just bad luck? Or was it something more?"

The bureau is not an omnipotent, omniscient obstacle that can rewrite reality, but a flawed - all-too-human - body, mired down in its own bureaucracy and red tape, that can only nudge people along the "correct" path in the "great plan".

A glorious headtrip that it's certainly best to enjoy with as little advance knowledge as possible, all I will say is that there is not a weak link in the chain from writer/director George Nolfi through the two charismatic leads to the great use made of the scenery of New York, where the majority of the story unfolds.

Based on a Philip K Dick short story, I was surprised how subtly spiritual the movie felt - not in any heavy-handed way and not even presenting one particular view point as the "definitive answer", but simply opening the mind up to different ways of looking at the nature of free will.

And for fans of British sci-fi, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the uncanny physical resemblance between Emily Blunt's Elise and Torchwood's Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles), that I felt became more pronounced as the movie progressed.

Not only is this the best movie I've seen in a long while, it's a very strong contender for the accolade of DVD Of The Year for its sheer mind-blowing brilliance and pace.

Before He Could Rise Or Return...

Batman had his "year one"...

How Twilight Fans Help Trekkies...

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Sirs Lance-A-Lot...


UJC South Point Las Vegas Highlights from Gabe on Vimeo.

Forgive me if I've got the wrong end of the lance, but as far as I can tell, as well as History's Full Metal Jousting reality TV show, we could also be seeing even more televised jousting this autumn courtesy of National Geographic's Knights Of Mayhem.

Knights Of Mayhem is, I believe, a five-episode show following world champion jouster Charlie Andrews and his titular knights as they prepare for, and compete in, full contact jousting tournaments across the US.

Verily, 'tis a fine time to be an admirer of this noblest of sports!

Charlie Andrews

Jousting The Original Extreme Sport ESPN from Gabe on Vimeo.

Lumi...


LUMI - Short film from Jonathan Rodegher on Vimeo.

by Bigboom.tv

Ladies & Gentlemen, I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing...

It's been a funny old week in the OSR niche of da Interwebz, but the least said about that the better.

Anyway, I've lived up to my promise and delivered more gaming content on HeroPress during the last seven days. Let's see how long I can keep that up?

Let us be as one in welcoming the latest sign-up to our jolly superteam:

* Greg Christopher of Dark Horse Game Design (a truly excellent and thought-provoking gaming blog, with plenty of free RPGs to download).

Friday, 8 July 2011

Fleamarket Friday: The Curse Of Gamer ADD...

Just when I'd decided I'd never play a Ubiquity-fuelled roleplaying game again (such as Hollow Earth Expedition or All for One: Regime Diabolique), those talented little bleeders at Triple Ace Games only go and announce pre-orders for Paris Gothique - the definitive guide to Paris for All for One: Regime Diabolique.

To quote from the teasing email they sent me: "Paris Gothique is 158 pages of pure musketeer heaven! New locations, adventure hooks and monsters plus detailed information on how to run exciting All For One games in Paris.

"This supplement includes information on all the important figures, places, and secret societies in France’s capital city. Also included is information on Parisian streets, architecture, and other aspects of everyday life.

"In short, Paris Gothique provides the Game Master with everything needed to run swashbuckling adventures in the city.

"Contents of the book include detailed information and locations in central Paris, how to set up adventures, new personalities and secret societies, and of course new monsters and lackeys!

"Don't miss out on this book which, available later this month and don't forget we can mail to Europe as well as the USA and Canada.

"Get the ebook version free today if you pre-order this amazing new book!"

Ah, mon Dieu!

Just weeks after I sold my copy of All For One on eBay, along comes this amazing - and enticing - supplement about one of my favourite cities on the planet in all its swashbuckling, pseudo-historical glory.

Fleamarket Friday: Ancient Tome Of Forbidden Knowledge...


The premier role-playing game of Lovecraftian investigation, Call of Cthulhu, marks its 30th anniversary this year and publishers Chaosium are marking the occasion with a limited, collectors' edition release (pictured above) of the current, sixth edition, rules set.

Due to arrive at Chaosium's warehouse next Friday, the one-time printing of this $64.95, 320-page book features thick leatherette hard-covers and the front cover and spine stamped with luxurious gold foil!

Three decades of publication, with a barely unchanged rules system throughout its six editions (you listening, Wizards Of The Coast?), this is the game that clearly got it right - straight out of the gate - and kept on plugging away, rather than continually trying to reinvent itself.

Thor: Love & Thunder (2022) + Dr Who (2022)

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