Reality Is The Playground Of The Unimaginative

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

Monday, 30 April 2018

#RPG The Dungeon As "Haunted House"...


An article by the creators of the Secrets Of Blackmoor: The True History Of Dungeons & Dragons documentary posits the idea that the 'dungeon' setting, as employed by the legendary Dave Arneson, was meant to have the feeling of a 'haunted house'.

Players, and their characters, it claims, should be experiencing the "anxiety, doubt, fear, and terror" of an old horror movie.

It's certainly an approach I've taken to some of my dungeons when I've been running games.

What do you think?

Cloak & Dagger: Assessing Their Limits, Facing Death, Averting A Crisis...


Map-A-Monday: Titan...

click to embiggen

With Avengers: Infinity War tearing up the movie charts, it seems only fitting that we visit the birthplace of Thanos (as depicted in the source comics)!

Musical Monday: The Shepherd's Boy (Doctor Who Soundtrack - Heaven Sent)


Sunday, 29 April 2018

Refresh Your Memory Of The MCU...



Not totally up to speed on the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Or just need a quick reminder of what's been going down these past 10 years?

Then Marvel has you covered with handy little 'CliffsNotes' for the three 'phases' of films leading up to Avengers: Infinity War, covering plot points and key scenes.

Click the links to travel back in time...
Thanos demands you STFU while in the cinema (people want to watch the film, not hear your nonsense)
and then don't spoil the plot online afterwards - it's neither big nor clever

MARTHAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

Saturday, 28 April 2018

When A Boy Get His Hands On An Alien Weapon... Wackiness Ensues!


KIN, a pulse-pounding crime thriller with a sci-fi twist, is the story of an unexpected hero destined for greatness.

Chased by a vengeful criminal (James Franco) and a gang of otherworldly soldiers,​ a recently released ex-con (Jack Reynor) and his adopted teenage brother (Myles Truitt) are forced to go on the run with a weapon of mysterious origin as their only protection.

Spider-Man Celebrates His Amazing 800th Issue With 10 Different Covers...


Spider-Man makes history next month when Amazing Spider-Man becomes the first Marvel comic to reach its 800th issue.

Marvel is celebrating this landmark with 10 different covers for what is, also, the penultimate issue in Dan Slott's epic run on the title.

Slott is leaving Spider-Man after many years to take the reins on Iron Man.

Amazing Spider-Man #800 is scheduled to hit comic book stores on May 30.

Mickey Mouse Shorts: Shipped Out...


Friday, 27 April 2018

Who's Who In The Vigilant...


John Freeman's superb Down The Tubes recently published an in-depth analysis of the characters scheduled to appear in Rebellion's one-off The Vigilant, detailing the heroes, villains, their creators and backstories.

Here's a breakdown of the salient points for my particular interests:

THE HEROES

Adam Eterno
An alchemist’s assistant in the 16th century, a job with a number of risks and few prospects, who drank the elixir of life and was cursed by the alchemist Erasmus Hemlock to live forever. The only thing that could kill him was a mortal blow from a weapon made of solid gold. After living for centuries, by Thunder Issue Three he was hit by a gold-plated car – which knocked him into the time stream, becoming an eternal warrior for justice…
The Leopard from Lime Street
Billy gained superhuman strength, speed, reflexes and tree-climbing abilities after being scratched by a radioactive leopard called Sheba while taking photos at Professor Jarman’s experimental zoo for his school magazine.
Steel Commando
The Mark One Indestructible Robot, known as the Steel Commando, was a robot soldier built by the British army in World War Two, to help them defeat the Nazis. Unfortunately, due to a glitch in his programming, he would only obey orders given by Ernie Bates, widely regarded as the laziest man in the army.
Doctor Sin
An expert on the occult and demon fighter, Doctor Sin looked out for incursions of evil. After his death, Sin’s spirit contacted his grandson, a rapper named Sin Tax, and forced him to take on his mission and his name.
Pete’s Pocket Army
Pete’s Pocket Army revolved around schoolboy Pete who had effectively adopted (or been adopted by) six pocket-sized stranded aliens from the planet Liturnus, whose spacecraft had crashed near the town of Whitford. The alien castaways – Kon-Dar, Dokk, Moonie, Grunf, Tigg and Zapp – seemed perfectly happy to spend their time helping Pete get even with school bullies and Pete’s sneaky cousin, Julie.
Blake Edmonds aka Death Wish
Blake Edmonds was a handsome Formula 1 racing driver until an accident left him hideously disfigured. Hiding his deformity under a mask, he publicly announced that he would undertake any stunt offered to him, for big money, so long as there was a fair chance that he wouldn’t survive it. Against all the odds he survived many adventures without actually wanting to, becoming something of a hero – and fighting a variety of supernatural menaces, including Dracula himself!
Thunderbolt the Avenger
Police Constable Mick Riley was not particularly highly regarded by his colleagues, but he lived a double life as the superheroic Thunderbolt the Avenger after he was given a special wristwatch containing ‘Thermo-Clyodine-Phostium’, a mysterious substance which gave Riley a variety of powers when he used the watch to send an electrical current into his body.
THE VILLAINS

Doctor Mesmer
When thieves stole a number of ancient Egyptian relics from him, the mysterious Dr Mesmer resurrected a 5000-year old mummy, Angor, to help him recover his collection. Using a cat statuette, Bulbul, the Black Messenger of the Dead, to control his unearthly minion, Mesmer’s ruthlessness in retrieving his stolen property soon turned him into a wanted criminal.
Von Hoffman
Insane evil Nazi genius Dr Von Hoffman, just released from prison for his war crimes, is far from the broken man his captors assume. Inspired by his experiments with a mechanical centipede, he happily sets about the development of an amazing enlarging gas to exact a diabolical revenge on Britain for opposing Germany in World War Two. Utilising an army of giant critters and beasts to attack provincial towns, stately homes and army camps, the only thing that stands in his way are the plucky young brothers Barry and Joey Drake…
You can read a lot more about these characters, as well as see original comic book art from their early appearances, over at Down The Tubes.

Cloak & Dagger Are The 'Divine Pairing'...




I know it's a bit of a leap, but since I've been totally blown away by Marvel's Runaways (on SyFy over here) my optimism for Cloak & Dagger has subsequently been increasing exponentially.

Aubrey Joseph as Tyrone Johnson and Olivia Holt as Tandy Bowen

Fleamarket Friday: Sontar-May!


May is all about the Sontarans! Next month's releases for the Doctor Who: Into The Time Vortex range of miniatures are all themed around the militaristic potato-headed clone soldiers.

There's a three-pack with General Staal and a couple of troopers, then a five-pack squad, and finally  a two-figure set from the Third Doctor story The Time Warrior, which includes Linx the Sontaran and Medieval warrior Irongron.

All the packs come with the requisite Exterminate! cards as well, so they can be deployed in your tabletop skirmish games.

Fleamarket Friday: Kneel Before The Camp Majesty Of Stardust The Super Wizard!


The Avengers rightly tremble before the might of Thanos... while the denizens of Light City shake in the spangly leotards at the coming of Stardust The Super Wizard.

A self-proclaimed hero, determined to bring the chaotic universe to order, Stardust is the most powerful entity author Justin Isaac has summoned from the archives of public domain characters for use in the old school Light City setting.

Coinciding with the arrival of Avengers: Infinity War on the silver screen, Justin has released Light City Foes: Stardust the Super Wizard as a 'pay what you want' PDF file here on RPGNow.

As well as detailing Stardust, the five-page document also includes statistics for the Super Wizard's Obsidian Authority: his chief minions (warlord Xartion, scientist Droon, insectoid scout Jawa, and Zada of Xedes) and their alien legions (the Aldebarans).

Originally created by Jonathan Linneman, Light City is the superhero hack of the streamlined RPG Swords & Wizardry Light.

WEEKLY WORLD NEWS: He's A Starman, Waiting In The Sky...


Outer space and aliens are the theme of this week's selection of reliable news headlines from the legendary Weekly World News.

As ever, all of this stories are prime fodder for gamesmasters looking for adventure hook inspiration or quirky non-player characters.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

At The Fleapit: Avengers - Infinity War (2018)


After 10 years and almost a score of movies, the Marvel Cinematic Universe reaches a crescendo with Avengers: Infinity War.

Did they do good? HELLZ YEAH!

This is the superhero answer to War And Peace - an epic of epic proportions, covering locations from New York and Edinburgh to the furthermost reaches of space.

Seeking to bring balance to the universe by annihilating half the population, Thanos is getting closer to getting his hands on all the Infinity Stones, and this draws him into conflict with the heroes of Earth (The Avengers et al) and outer space (The Guardians Of The Galaxy).

It's not a complex plot and, as comic accurate as Thanos' main minions are, don't expect to learn much in the way of backstory.

This two-and-a-half hour movie is all about the spectacle. The fight sequences - of which there are plenty - are stunning, setting new standards for the genre.

As ever there's a nice blend of humour (particularly in many of the Guardians' scenes), but - given the nature of the antagonist - the film goes to some dark places as well.

Under the confident guidance of brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, Avengers: Infinity War is a masterclass in pacing, juggling an enormous number of protagonists across multiple storylines.

There's no time for your attention to wander as there's always something going on.

You don't need to have watched all the previous Marvel Cinematic Universe movies (to my shame, I still haven't seen Black Panther, but that will finally be corrected when the Blu-Ray is released in June), but a working knowledge (especially of the more recent ones) is useful.

Brace yourself for the loss of main characters - although not as many as I was expecting - but also be prepared to be left on tenterhooks, as the cliffhanger at the end is the cruellest imaginable.

If I had to pick a nit, it would be Bruce Banner's enduring "performance issues" - but I'm guessing that will be resolved in the, as yet untitled, Avengers' movie scheduled to arrive in May next year .

If you've never seen a Marvel movie, this probably isn't the place to start, but if you're a fan you owe it to yourself to see what the overarching plot of the movies to date has been building towards.

There's only a single post-credits scene with Avengers: Infinity War, but it nicely teases a new arrival for the next part of the story.

Joe Bob Was My Guru...


Over the years, here on HeroPress, I've talked about how I was inspired to become a journalist by the adventures of Tintin and Clark Kent, and that it was reading a reprint of Fantastic Four #17 that got me hooked on comics, I've talked about my favourite authors (e.g. Philip Reeve, HP Lovecraft et al) and my introduction to the wonderful world of roleplaying games many decades ago.

But I'm pretty sure I've never discussed the man that inspired me to start reviewing movies - particularly movies that other people might consider "bad" (such as trashy horror flicks).

That man was the one and only Joe Bob Briggs (aka film critic John Bloom), and, in particular, his first book, Joe Bob Goes To The Drive-In - a collection of his tongue-in-cheek reviews from The Dallas Times-Herald.

Joe Bob Goes To The Drive-In
The Penguin Originals edition of the book was published in 1989 and I'm pretty sure I picked it up soon after that.

At that time, mainstream movie critics, epitomised by the BBC's Barry Norman, felt completely disconencted to my own movie-watching experience.

They were a snobbish elite who either ignored the sort of films I loved or looked down their noses at them, dismissing with snarky asides and patronising put-downs.

All they ever praised - it seemed to me - were dull, earnest films that I had zero interest in.

Then I read Joe Bob Goes To The Drive-In.

And suddenly I knew how I wanted to review films.

Joe Bob, for instance, coined the phrase "spam-in-a-cabin" - which I use freely on HeroPress and in conversation - to describe a certain style of horror film where the protagonists are trapped in a small environment by their attackers - supernatural or otherwise - and anyone can die at any time.

He was funny, clever, crass, and carefree. He'd talk about the T&A content in a film as well as the volume of blood spilled and body count.

Suddenly film reviews didn't have to read like dry, academic dissertations in Sight & Sound (a magazine designed to suck the fun out of films since 1932).

Seriously, if you love horror movies, trash cinema, drive-in fodder, you need to find a copy of Joe Bob's book and read it now.

I was surprisingly lucky that when I was allowed to create the position of "film critic" on the local newspaper that I worked for, I was pretty much given free reign.

Although I was never clever enough to go full Joe Bob, I'm pretty sure I was the first to use the phrase "spam-in-a-cabin" in the pages of the Kent & Sussex Courier.

My guru's inspiration shone through even brighter when I broadened my reviewing to the latest, trashy VHS tapes. I somehow got myself onto the mailing lists of several "low budget" video houses and, for a time, was reviewing three or four low-budget sci-fi/horror/action flicks a week.

It was in seeking to ape Joe Bob's style that I found the first inklings of my own "voice".

House Sigil Name Generator...

click to embiggen

It may be forever until the next - and final - season of Game Of Thrones arrives, but here's a handy-dandy widget for generatoring your own house sigil, courtesy of The Knight Shop (no relation).

You'll need to click the image to get the full-sized, readable, version of the graphic.

According to this, my sigil, apparently, is The Nerdy Ferret of Chaos, whereas Rachel's (before we were married) was the Bearded Hydra of Madness.

From The Tuesday Knights, Pete's house sigil is The Kinky Sloth of Hell, while Simon's is The Grumpy Boar of Woe.

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

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