Reality Is The Playground Of The Unimaginative
Home Of Swords, Sorcery, Star Stuff, Superheroes, Sci-fi, Scares, Silliness, Smeg, and the Supernatural

Friday, 31 August 2018

The War Is Over, What Comes Next?

The power’s back online and the fighting is over… but who are the real victors of Harbinger Wars 2, and what was truly lost in the carnage? For those who survived the terrible onslaught – and who must now witness the devastating aftereffects of their actions – will there ever be peace again?
Valiant Comics' line-wide four-issue event, Harbinger Wars 2, has concluded, but on September 26, a standalone epilogue, Aftermath, examines what happens next.

Written by Matt Kindt, with art by Adam Pollina, fans will see the fallout from the bloodshed of the war and the beginnings of the next phase of the Valiant Universe.


Explaining Polyhedral Dice For Newbies In Handbooker Helper: Episode One...

Looking for a step-by-step introduction to the world of Dungeons & Dragons?

Then Handbooker Helper could be the guide you need.

It is a new series from the team behind Critical Role, providing bite-sized insights into the key elements of gaming.

In this first episode, Marisha Ray teaches us all about the mysteries of polyhedral dice.

F-Bombs And Gore Galore In Final Red Band Trailer For Next Month's The Predator...

#RPG Another Welcome Serving Of Blood-Drenched Black Pudding...

A fifth issue of the finest old school RPG fanzine out there, Black Pudding, is now available as a PWYW PDF download.

Written and illustrated by James V West, of Doomslakers!, this latest 28-page issue includes: two adventures; two spellbooks; eight monsters; three character classes; 23 hirelings; a character sheet; random tables; and part one of a multi part adventure setting.

Personally, I'll be hanging on for Peter Regan, of Squarehex, to produce his glorious printed editions, to add the new one to my library.

When You've Prepped For Everything Except The Supernatural...

When a virus outbreak causes widespread panic, a doomsday prepper retreats into his new house, believing that he's safe from the dangers outside, but soon discovers that his house is haunted by terrifying ghosts.
Currently on Amazon Prime.


Indestructible living legend and the one true Captain Kirk, William Shatner has revealed his plans to release his first Christmas album, capitalising on his unique musical cachet.

Shatner Claus: The Christmas Album features a range of collaborations with stars as diverse as Henry Rollins, Iggy Pop and Ian Anderson performing seasonal classics, along with an original piece, One for You, One for Me.

Full track listing:
  • Jingle Bells featuring Henry Rollins
  • Blue Christmas featuring Brad Paisley
  • Little Drummer Boy featuring Joe Louis Walker
  • Winter Wonderland featuring Todd Rundgren & Artimus Pyle
  • Twas the Night Before Christmas featuring Mel Collins
  • Run Rudolph Run featuring Elliot Easton
  • O Come, O Come Emmanuel featuring Rick Wakeman
  • Silver Bells featuring Ian Anderson
  • One for You, One for Me
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer featuring Billy Gibbons
  • Silent Night featuring Iggy Pop
  • White Christmas featuring Judy Collins
  • Feliz Navidad featuring Dani Bender
Scheduled for release on October 26, Shatner Claus: The Christmas Album will be available on CD and vinyl and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

On Amazon Prime: The Conjuring 2 (2016)

One of the things I appreciated about The Conjuring is that it relies almost as much on building atmosphere and tension as it does on cheap jump scares.

And The Conjuring 2 sticks to that formula very successfully.

Even with its two hour and 14 minute duration (about a half hour longer than the original) it surprisingly never outstays its welcome.

And is, perhaps, even better than the first movie as it's more willing to embrace its cinematic nature and have fun with what that offers.

By shoehorning the '70s demonologist Warrens into a "real life" hoax that, at best, they were only actually peripherally involved with, this has allowed director James Wan and his co-writers Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes, and David Leslie Johnson, to go 'full Hollywood' on this one.

They even throw in some demonic entities of their own creation that would be suitable for spinning-off into their own movies (e.g. The Nun) as The Conjuring Universe expands.

While simultaneously focusing on a family in Enfield, London, troubled by an entity that has possessed the youngest daughter, Janet (Madison Wolfe), The Conjuring 2 also follows would-be ghostbusters Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) as they come off the back of investigating the legendary Amityville haunting (which introduces the figure of The Nun, portrayed by Bonnie Aarons, into the movie's mythology).

A vision of Ed's impending death convinces Lorraine that they should give up this life of theirs, and they appear to be entertaining that thought until they're called in by the Catholic church to investigate the haunting in Enfield.

Dipping into the same catalogue of clichés as The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2 is essentially telling a very, very, very similar - if not identical story - with spirits targeting children, sleepwalking, creaking doors, inanimate objects moving and behaving strangely, thumping and banging sounds, mysterious injuries, spooky images in reflective surfaces etc

However, there's an extra layer to this sequel that adds a depth to the simplistic storytelling, spinning a visually-engaging demon-fighting story out of a piece of fiction that has been sold as fact to gullible souls.

Having that element of "based on a true story" (even if that so-called true story was make-believe) certainly adds a frisson of extra chills to The Conjuring films, but there's also no sense that the filmmakers feel bound by this here as it goes way-beyond the documented allegations, almost into Poltergeist territory.

Ultimately, if anything, like the original movie, this portrayal of the Warrens as 'soldiers of God' reminds me more of the Winchester family in Supernatural than anything else.

But that's not a bad thing. I'm still enjoy Supernatural after 13 seasons, I'm positive I could enjoy plenty more on-screen adventures for the Warrens.

#RPG New Kickstarter Means An Angry Ghost Will Be Denied Credit No Longer!

Launching at 8 a.m. on September 4, Ghost Writer: A Leagues of Gothic Horror Adventure is the latest Ubquity-driven Kickstarter from Triple Ace Games.
A lost tale from the Bard resurfaces, but it produces not only a play but also a vengeful ghost! The clock is ticking as the intrepid globetrotters try to discover why this apparition haunts and kills those involved. If they don't solve the mystery quickly, then the globetrotters may count themselves amongst the victims!
From the warped imagination of renowned RPG author Walt Ciechanowski (Paris Gothique & Le Mousquetaire Déshonoré for All for One: Régime Diabolique) comes a 55-page spine-tingling adventure for Leagues of Gothic Horror.

As well as the usual print and PDF rewards, there will be two opportunities for investors to become a bit player in the story.

In the meantime, TAG has released the second of its Appendix supplements for its Ubiquity games: Guide to Vampires, for Leagues of Gothic Horror.

Included in this mini-supplement is more vampire-related material for players and gamemasters:
Talents: Bloodline: Bathory, Bloodline: Murray, Bloodline: Renfield, Bloodline: Van Helsing, Zoophagous Healing
Occult Relics: Blood Grenade, Bloodfang Dagger, Master Coffin
Diabolical Powers: Animate Gargoyle, Aura of Fear, Caustic Blood, Reduced Feeding, Suppress Nature
Weaknesses: Power of the Lord Modifiers
Catalog of Fiends: Child Vampire (Feral), Child Vampire (Urbane)
Over the next weeks TAG is planning to release more League goodness in this line:
Leagues of Gothic Horror Appendix 3: Walking Dead 
Leagues of Gothic Horror Appendix 4: Apparitions
▪ Leagues of Gothic Horror Appendix 5: Mordavia
▪ Leagues of Adventure Appendix 1: Cads & Cultists

Meet Team Fireball...

WEEKLY WORLD NEWS: Every Week Is 'Silly Season' Here...

There was a time, before Trump and Brexit, when the summer months were often seen as a 'silly season' for news, when there wasn't "enough happening" of great import so newspapers and broadcasts padded with more light-weight 'silly' stories.

Thankfully, we still have the Weekly World News to remind us what those blissful days were like, when we didn't switch on the daily news with a sense of foreboding and dread.

As ever, this week's selection of headlines are fantastic fodder for gamesmasters looking for leftfield story ideas, mad science, monsters, or quirky NPCs to populate their contemporary - or near-future - campaigns with.

Cosplay Goddess: Darshelle Stevens

Sometimes a simple "wow!" will suffice. Darshelle Stevens is a professional photographer as well as a cosplayer, model, and gamer.

Barring Wonder Woman, Darshelle has portrayed all my favourites: MJ, Velma, Raven, and Wednesday Addams.

She is married to Mike Gaboury, co-founder of Filthy Casual, and travels all over the US and Canada because of her work for Filthy Casual, doing all their product and promotional photography... as well as selling their swag at conventions.

You can support her cosplaying via Patreon or simply follow her on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Prequel Of The Week: Annabelle (2014)

In late '60s suburbia, ultra-square couple doctor John Form (Ward Horton) and his doll collector wife Mia (Annabelle Wallis) are expecting their first child.

John presents Mia with a vintage porcelain doll we shall call Annabelle for the sake of expediency (even though no name is actually used for the doll in the film).

Soon after this, their neighbour's house, and then their own, is attacked by a pair of crazed Satanic cultists, the female being shot dead by police while clutching the doll we now call Annabelle.

Mia begins to think their house is cursed, a belief given strength by a fire that nearly claims her life, but does lead to the birth of their child, Lia.

The family relocates to an apartment building, but the demonic forces follow them and Mia finds herself hounded by an assortment of evil creatures.

All the time, they are being watched by Annabelle; even though John had thrown her in the trash before the fire gutted their first home, she finds her way into their belongings when they move house.

Annabelle is a prequel to The Conjuring, supposedly fleshing out the backstory of the haunted doll, but really only cobbling together a story to explain how she got into the hands of the nurses who appear in the opening sequence of The Conjuring.

I'm guessing an actual explanation for her malevolence is forthcoming in 2017's Annabelle: Creation.

Unfortunately, this early expansion of The Conjuring Universe isn't written or directed by anyone connected with the original movie, and lacking the presence of the Warrens or analogues, Annabelle is a much more mundane and mainstream horror movie.

The film's problems are compounded by the fact that while the demonic entities in the actual Conjuring movies obey a kind of logic that makes them convincing in the context, Gary Dauberman's script - under the direction of John R. Leonetti - for Annabelle just throws special effects-heavy creatures at our protagonists on a whim.

While frequently dipping into the same well of horror movie clichés, Annabelle lacks the internal consistency and strong characters of The Conjuring.

Instead, it's a hodgepodge of ideas, with allusions to the Manson Family murders (the film starts with the trial of The Family as a backdrop), and stereotypical Hollywood black magic and Satanism, mixed in with The Conjuring's take on ghosts and demons, all somehow tied in to this evil doll.

And what can be said of the demonic doll herself? Well, firstly, mint, straight-out-of-the-box, she's a frakking evil looking creation so I can't understand why any sane person would want her in the house in the first place.

But, secondly, even once she starts acting as a conduit for dark forces, she actually does very little.

If she moves at all it's off-screen. In fact, for the longest time she's not even on screen, and her connection to the various ghosts and monsters that appear seems tenuous at best.

Imagine if Chucky had never actually moved during Child's Play and you'll get some idea how naff the doll is as a source of jeopardy.

Although she looks terrifying, she's a lot more effective as a tool of menace when people are talking about her than when we actually see her... doing nothing.
As much as I welcome the idea of a shared universe for The Conjuring franchise, Annabelle really adds very little to the joint mythology.

The film's almost like a self-contained horror movie that was tacked on to The Conjuring bandwagon as an afterthought. 

Changing Up The Crucial Fight Choreography In Iron Fist, Season Two...

Weird Wednesday...

When Venom Meets Flubber...

My good friend Justin Isaac recommended this cocktail to me, a remix of Robin Williams' Flubber with Tom Hardy's upcoming Venom.

And you know what? It works!

Wonder Woman Wednesday...

The Batman (2022) + Justice League (2021)