Reality Is The Playground Of The Unimaginative

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

Friday, 31 July 2015

Fleamarket Friday: Cosmic Horror Comes To Ubiquity Via New Kickstarter...

A new Ubiquity licensee has launched a Kickstarter this week to fund the first book in a planned series of modern day cosmic horror RPG supplements.

Quantum Black Games is looking to raise $7,999 by August 27 to publish Quantum Black: Cosmic Horrors, a self-contained Ubiquity-driven RPG about heroes fighting back against evil cults, hidden supernatural threats and horrors from beyond space and time.

This will be the first modern day setting published for the Ubiquity rules (which can currently be found in Hollow Earth Expedition, Space: 1889, Leagues of Adventure, All For One etc) and, among other things, will bring new magic, sanity and technology to the system.

With the book's Lovecraftian overtones, it will also allow you to add Deep Ones, Shoggoth, and general mythos fun to any Ubiquity game.

The core rulebook (approx. 400 pages) will, according to the campaign's Kickstarter page, contain:
  • 12 new Character Archetypes - from the Drifter to the Zeppo  
  • 12 ready-to-play characters, including the Accidental Occultist, the Corporate Mastermind, the Techie, and Ex-Gang Member
  • 20 new monsters including Deep Ones, Shoggoth and the Zoot are described in the included Cosmic Horrors Bestiary  
  • The team role concept which is used to improve balance in the overall roleplaying experience  
  • 4 new Talents appropriate for supernatural horror 5 new skills for 21st century occult and science adventures, such as Computers and Supernatural Lore  
  • 11 new Flaws to distinguish your character  
  • 7 new Motivations to explain why characters face the terrors of the night
  •  21st Century equipment, such as drones, Tasers, and computers  
  • New methods for categorizing weapons and weapon types, allowing you to create and customize weapons for your own campaign are presented

Make sure you visit the Kickstarter page to check out the full range of investor incentives, as well as the planned stretch goals once the fundraiser hits its primary target.

You can also learn more about the background and mechanics of Quantum Black via The Designer's Blog, which can be found through the Quantum Black website.

Depending of the success of this project a couple of future Kickstarters are on the cards to fund Quantum Black supplements.

These are:
  • Book 2: Supernatural Terrors (Kickstarter: December 2016), which will focus on more traditional horrors such as undead, demons, and other nightmarish mythic creatures. In addition, powerful new magics, more advanced equipment, and additional character options will be provided.
  • Book 3: Science Unbound: Cataclysm  (working title, Kickstarter TBD), which will feature menaces out of science, including robots, cyborgs, and genetic engineering. New character equipment and options, including psychic powers, will be introduced, as the story of the world of Quantum Black advances.

Very wisely, the creators of Quantum Black stress that these books "are not being included as stretch goals in this Kickstarter, because we want to focus on one major project at a time".

If you're reading this and you happen to be a Gen Con today, then the people behind the game (Scott Jones and Ron Loz) will be running events as part of the Den of Ubiquity Event tonight (Friday).

Star Wars: Top 10 Sidekicks...

Fleamarket Friday: No Noose Is Good Noose For Archie...

Looks as though Archie Comics - through its Dark Circle imprint - is going to have another smash hit on its hands with The Hangman.

Due to show up in November, its sounds like it nestles somewhere between the gritty true crime nature of The Black Hood and the creepy, spookiness of The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina.
They say the Hangman is nothing more than an urban legend. A spook story told to scare criminals straight. But those who encounter him - like hitman “Mad Dog” Mike Minetta - know different. They know that when he comes for you… you’re dead already. Join fan-favorite writer Frank Tieri (Wolverine, Batman) and artist extraordinaire Felix Ruiz (Wolverine Max, Halo) for an ongoing tale of horror, the supernatural and violence…  and learn why some men may never be redeemed.

Fleamarket Friday: Add Some 17th Century Misery & Misfortune To Your Games...

Miseries and Misfortunes is a free 54-page zine-format supplement for Basic Dungeons & Dragons, with rules for setting adventures in the first half of the 17th century.

Penned by Luke Crane (creator of Burning Wheel, Mouseguard etc and not a man usually associated with simple, playable games), the booklet contains six new classes (soldier, chaplain, urchin, explorer, philosopher,  and necromancer) as well as weapons, spells and equipment.

Also included are rules for fighting with rapier, pistol, pike and musket in small formations, hiring servants, and exploring strange and forgotten places.

The free PDF of Miseries and Misfortunes is available from Crane's webstore (note: although this is a free download you will need to create an account to get it).

Twenty-two zine-format print copies will be available for sale at Gen Con this weekend (and have probably been sold by the time you read this!)

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Then There Was That Time Doc Savage Faced A Sharknado...

Doc Savage fan Keith "Kez" Wilson  continues to produce his range of fantastic-looking, mock book covers teaming the word's first superhero, The Man Of Bronze, with pulp culture characters from B-movies, TV and literature.

And, as relevant as ever, Doc is truly riding the zeitgeist with one of his most recent 'what if...' tales, called simply Sharknado.

Make sure you read the back page blurb below to get a taste of how this imagined adventure would have developed.

And don't forget to visit Keith's online gallery here to marvel at the many adventures that 'might have been'... and may still happen one day!


Harry Robertson's iconic soundtrack to 1980's Hawk The Slayer is available to stream via Amazon's new Prime Music service as well as though Spotify.

Now, you have no excuse for not having the right soundtrack as you ride through smoky woodlands, rescue slaves from The Hunchback or duel your brother for the life of an abbess.

It will also help get you in right frame of mind for backing the forthcoming Kickstarter for the final bit of funding needed to bring the long-awaited sequel, Hawk The Hunter, to life.

Surviving The Green Inferno...

Throwback Thursday: En Garde!

That's me on the right, with the white trainers and black trousers

It should surprise no one that I was never a particularly sporty person. Sure I captained one of the football teams at my prep school (but it was like the Fourth XI or something, a sop for those who wanted to play but weren't very good) and I played football and squash at university, but the only sports I truly enjoyed were table tennis and fencing.

Those were my 'thing'. I think, if my aorta hadn't exploded and hospitalised me, I could have been a fairly decent fencer if I'd kept it up.

Although I never competed in any official tournaments, there was this one time when our fencing club traveled to Eastbourne for a friendly match against another club, and that's where these pictures come from.

At one point my coach Maître d’Escrime Christopher Penney said something along the lines of "if you keep practicing you could fence for England one day", but I suspect he was just been polite.

Anyway, it did inspire to keep going at it regularly until I went off to university. Sadly, although I hoiked my fencing gear all the way to the coast, at that time Bournemouth University didn't have a fencing club.

So my swords gathered dust for three years and by the time I returned to 'real life' I, stupidly, thought I didn't have time for fencing anymore.

Agent 47: The Ultimate Hitman...

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

How Many Is Too Many?

I'm currently in the unusual (for me) position of having four books 'on the go' at once.

Not the world's fastest reader these days, I usually try to have only one (sometimes two) books that I'm reading at any one time.

However, somehow, I've worked my way up to four at the moment.

What's generally considered a 'healthy' amount of books to be reading at the same time?

My 'problem' started with Clive Barker's Scarlet Gospels, which stalled back in June. So I switched my focus to one of the recent Star Wars novels, Heir To The Jedi (the first book written from Luke Skywalker's perspective).

This trundled on nicely until I was about half-way through and I came across Captain Hazzard: Cavemen Of New York, a new pulp giving fresh life to a one-hit wonder (Captain Hazzard), a Doc Savage imitator from 1938 who didn't really take off until he was revived by modern pulpeteer Ron Fortier of Airship 27 Productions.

It's not a big book (160+ pages), but with frequent breaks to read comics, I was still taking my time.

Again I'd gotten about halfway when a package arrived at my door from my favourite author, Philip Reeve, containing a proof copy of his latest sci-fi novel, Railhead.

Now Captain Hazzard is on hold, while I wallow in the wonderful worlds of "The Great Network",  where sentient trains travel through a series of space-folding gates linking numerous planets in the far future.

Railhead is due to be published in October, so I aim to finish it before then, so I can write a review.

No matter what further books I may purchase while I'm reading Railhead no other author has yet drawn me away from a Philip Reeve novel.

Then it's back down the line to Captain Hazzard, Luke Skywalker and, finally, maybe, Pinhead. Although I'm sure, well before then, several other tasty treats will have popped up on my reading list.

Race The Raptors, Explore The Hollow Earth And Get Your Ass To Mars At Gen Con...

Exile Game Studio, publisher of Hollow Earth Expedition, is going big at Gen Con this weekend.

Ubiquity system creator, author of HEX and all-round great guy, Jeff 'Freaking' Combos explains:
Exile has a lot of things going on at Gen Con this year, but don't worry, everything you need to know to track us down (or find the nearest entrance to the Hollow Earth) is listed below.

The big news this year is the release of Revelations of Mars, our much-anticipated sword-and-planet sourcebook for Hollow Earth Expedition. We will have hardcover copies for sale at our booth in addition to limited edition extras, such as Mars-themed Style chips and Ubiquity dice. These extras won't be sold in stores and are limited to what we have left over from our Kickstarter, so you'd better get then quick if you want them.

(Note: If you are a Kickstarter backer who elected to pick up your rewards at the convention, we'll have them set aside for you, so no need to rush. We've got you covered.)

Whenever you're ready to come see us, Exile Game Studio's booth is on the inside corner of #2106, right across the isle from #1935. (See the map below for our exact location).

In addition to our new sourcebook, we're also running a host of fun events this year, including over 40 official games. Of particular note is our second annual Den of Ubiquity, scheduled for Friday night, 7/31. The Den is a collection of different games that all take place in the same room and is a great way to have fun and get to know the system.

We're also going to be running our first ever Ubiquity Grand Tournament at Gen Con as well, with a dinosaur-skull trophy going to the winner. It looks amazing!

As if that wasn't enough, Exile Game Studio is also a co-sponsor of the Orc Stomp 5K this year, and is inviting runners to "Race the Raptors." We will be running the race dressed as dinosaurs and anyone who finishes before us gets a badge ribbon and bragging rights for the rest of the convention. It's silly, but should be a lot of fun!

OK, that's everything we have planned for Gen Con this year. It's a lot, but we're excited to make it all happen.

See you in Indianapolis!
Where to find Exile at Gen Con

Weaponising The Fantastic Four...

I'm trying to give this iteration of the Fantastic Four the benefit of the doubt, and I do like these faux 'leak'-kind of viral videos, but just when I think this might be a half-decent Ultimate take on my favourite team they turn them into 'military assets'.

That's just not my Fantastic Four. The comic book FF are scientists, explorers and adventurers; not crimefighters, and certainly not super-soldiers!

Retro Comic Book Cover Gallery...

Wonder Woman Wednesday...

Tuesday, 28 July 2015


Writer/director Terry Marcel and actor Ray 'Crow' Charleson announce the Kickstarter campaign for Hawk the Hunter - commencing August 30 at London's Film4 FrightFest 2015, where there will be a special screening of Hawk the Slayer.

Welcome To Riverdale: Sneak A Peak At Archie #2...

DVD Of The Week: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)

Early David Lynch meets Quentin Tarantino by way of Rumble Fish in the occasionally ponderous, but always stylish, Persian-language vampire flick A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.

Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, and shot in sharp black and white, this is the tale of a handsome gardener-turned-drug-dealer meeting a beautiful, skateboarding vampire and hilarity (not) ensuing.

Although filmed in Southern California,  Amirpour's debut feature is set in a half-deserted Iranian ghost-town known as Bad City, where gardener Arash (Arash Marandi) is frustrated by the impact his father's drug addiction is having on their household.

This comes to a head when local dealer Saeed (Dominic Rains) takes Arash's car in lieu of the debt that Arash's father, Hossein (Marshall Manesh) has run up.

However, before Arash can scrape together enough money to get his car back, Saeed falls victim to the vampire who is haunting the area (Sheila Vand), which gives Arash the opportunity to not only get his car back but also to steal Saeed's cash and stash and set himself up as the new dealer in the neighbourhood.

Having been persuaded to try some of his own Ecstasy at a party, Arash meets the vampire girl - although he never realises what she is - as he stumbles home and they both take rather a shine to each other.

Fed up with his father's descent into junkie-madness, Arash kicks his father out of their house, but then finds him dead in the street the next day.

This is the final straw for Arash and he decides it's time for him, and his nameless girlfriend, to leave town.

The last couple of emotion-driven scenes, totally dialogue-free, are fantastically powerful, with so much being said through body language that words aren't necessary.

Based on Ana Lily Amirpour's graphic novel of the same name (included with the UK Blu-Ray release), A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is tightly plotted, but it does suffer from lapses in pacing.

As well as it being rather strange to see How I Met Your Mother's Ranjit (ie. Marshall Manesh) as a skirt-chasing, abusive, drug addict, it's also the sort of peculiar arthouse film where you're suddenly presented with a scene of a transvestite cowboy dancing with a balloon for no apparent reason.

While the film adds little, if anything, to movie vampire mythology, (in fact her vampirism is almost incidental) its central 'monster' appears to act as a kind of agent of karma, striking only at those she deems to have done "bad things".

A quirky take on a vampire romance, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is a quaint oddity, elevated by its slick style and strong ending, let down by some meandering moments that really could have done with some trimming.

Science Of The Fantastic Four...

Renowned theoretical physicist Michio Kaku shares some insights into the real science behind key elements of the Fantastic Four's story: namely, invisibility, alternate dimensions, wormholes, and teleportation.

Gothic Horror's Final Week Stretch Goals...

As the Kickstarter for the Ubiquity-powered Leagues Of Gothic Horror supplement enters its final week, author Paul 'Wiggy' Wade-Williams has unveiled some new stretch goals for the campaign:

"If we reach £9,500 (approx. $14,820) we'll give every backer at Dabbler or above a free 12,000-word Leagues of Gothic Horror PDF adventure written by the highly talented and industry-renowned Walt Ciechanowski.
The Darker Side
Normally, unseemly activities by the gentry are quietly swept under the rug, but when their illicit affairs lead to murder the law can no longer turn a blind eye. Upstanding barrister Sir Reginald Trumball has recently been implicated in the rather disturbing murder of a prostitute and, with no convincing alibi, he has come to the League for help. Can the League help Sir Reginald clear his name, even when it's revealed that he's not quite as clean as he seems?
"If we reach £10,000 (approx $15,600), we'll give every backer at Dabbler or above a free 98-page PDF of pregen characters (no art) and henchmen. Many of these have appeared in other Leagues of Adventure products, but there are plenty of new characters as well, including a quintet of steampunk superheroes. Great for convention games, one-shots, or ready-made NPCs."

Written primarily as a sourcebook for Triple Ace Games' Leagues of Adventure RPG, the beauty of the Ubiquity system is that the material contained within Leagues Of Gothic Horror can easily be slotted into any other Ubiquity game (such as Hollow Earth Expedition, Space: 1889 and the upcoming Quantum Black... of which more later).

If you haven't yet backed the Leagues Of Gothic Horror Kickstarter, the window for investment closes at 8am on Monday, August 3.

Getting You Up To Speed For This Week's Hannibal...

July's Pictoral Phantasamagoria...

Monday, 27 July 2015

Oh Hell Yes! Sharks In Space!

The makers of the Sharknado franchise are missing a trick if they don't get Henry Winkler on a pair of waterskis to make a knowing cameo - because not only does the franchise appear to be critic proof, it's so over the top already that I don't see how it could ever jump the... er... shark!

Paul and I settled in at the weekend to see Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (in a double bill with Digging Up The Marrow) and we were both rather surprised how - in its own, bizarre, gonzo way - the Sharknado series is actually getting "better" with each episode.

The film-makers at The Asylum clearly realise that a film series about sharks-in-a-tornado isn't high art and fully embrace the idiocy of the conceit and run with it.

There is no unnecessary establishing sequence - or exposition - in Sharknado 3, as it kicks off with franchise frontman Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) getting a prestigious award from the President Of The United States in Washington when another sharknado hits (and that's dispatched by the time the opening credits roll).

The minimal story then involves Fin - now teamed-up with Nova Clarke (Cassie Scerbo) from the original film - getting to Universal Studios in Orlando to save his gal, April Wexler (Tara Reid), and family (including Bo Derek as April's mum, May) from a massive gathering of sharknados sweeping the Eastern seaboard of the United States.

With the power of the storms growing - and real science long ago abandoned for the weird kind found in pulp magazines and the best B-movies - Fin realises that the only way to save everyone is to enlist the aid of NASA and create a giant column of fire from the Earth to outer space.

Luckily, Fin's dad, Gilbert Grayson Shepard (David 'The Hoff' Hasselhoff), just happens to be a retired member of NASA's astronaut program.

Yes, the final act sees April, Fin and The Hoff in space, fighting sharks!

Of course, it's nonsense, but it knows this and doesn't care ... so why should we? Haters gonna hate, but Sharknado 3's not insulting the audience by trying to be anything it's not.

As ever, there are plenty of celebrity cameos (from Penn & Teller to George RR Martin) and in-jokes, as people are queuing up to get eaten by the real stars of the franchise: the sharks.

With Sharknado 4 already greenlit, I, for one, can't wait to see where The Asylum takes the franchise next. Paul's hoping for some monstrous cross-pollination with the various other bonkers shark franchises that are currently doing the rounds.

The power of the Sharknado brand has also engulfed Riverdale in another of Archie Comics outré crossovers, in the Archie Vs Sharknado one-shot out last week.

It's not the greatest of Archie's recent outings, but written by Sharknado director Anthony C. Ferrante it still captures the over-the-top, gory silliness of the film - yet drawn in the house style by Dan Parent (much like the Archie Vs Predator mini-series which also wrapped up last week) for a slightly surreal experience.

The story effectively runs parallel with that of Sharknado 3 as it kicks off with Betty and Veronica in Washington before moving the focus back to Riverdale, where the unnatural weather is threatening to disrupt the school dance (where Josie And The Pussycats are playing a rendition of the Sharknado song).

One of many blood-splattered moments in Archie Vs Sharknado

Agent Carter: Time And Tide

Having found the license plate and bumper from Howard Stark's car in the imploded wreckage of the Roxxon refinery, the SSR haul Jarvis in for questioning.

His stiff upper lip starts to quiver when he (and his wife) are threatened with deportation - because of an old treason charge on his record - so Peggy, in her usual crafty way, manages to engineer his release... at the cost of what little respect she had in her male-dominated office.

Inspired by something her landlady said, Peggy decides to investigate the scene of the raid on Howard Stark's vault, from where all his 'bad babies' were liberated, and deduces that the thief floated them away down a storm drain.

Following the drain, she and Jarvis come across a boat in the harbour where they find all the Stark tech stored.

Jarvis points out that Peggy can't simply phone this discovery in and so instead he places an anonymous call to the SSR, tipping them off to the location of the stolen goods.

While Jarvis is off making the call, Peggy is ambushed by Jerome Zandow (Rob Mars), a sideshow strongman, tasked by the late Leet Brannis (James Frain) to guard the technology.

Peggy manages to use one of the high-tech items to subdue the strongman, but then she and Jarvis flee the scene before they are discovered by SSR agents Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) and Krzeminski (Kyle Bornheimer).

Unfortunately, given the nature of the show's overarcing plot, you know that the moment Zandow tells one of the agents about Peggy's involvement his days are numbered.

A shadowy figure - presumably from Leviathan - has been watching the comings and goings at the boat and has some loose ends to tie up... with extreme prejudice.

The first half of Time And Tide was largely procedural, with the action confined to the last quarter, but there was still some nice character material between Peggy and her waitress friend Angie (Lyndsy Fonseca) as well as a slice of Jarvis's backstory.

The episode also gave us our first, albeit brief, glimpse of Bridget Regan's Dottie Underwood, a new arrival at Peggy's boarding house, who is obviously going to be important to the story, because Bridget Regan!

Eternals (2021) + Spider-Man (2021) + The Matrix (2021) +The Batman (2022)


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