Reality Is The Playground Of The Unimaginative

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

Saturday, 29 February 2020

HeroPress Update: I'm So Tired...

Alice does napping very well!

This past couple of weeks posting here on HeroPress has been rather sub-par, due entirely to the fact that I'm feeling tired and run-down.

Sleep-related issues (waking too early and not being able to get back to sleep) and the combination of genuine demands on my time (such as tidying up the house) and self-imposed ones (such as trying to write my own roleplaying game, while maintaining a blog that features film and TV reviews, as well as other stuff) have caught up with me.

It then becomes a viscous circle as when I'm tired I can't concentrate, or focus on reading, and then "stuff" doesn't get done - which is frustrating - and a backlog builds that will then take longer to tackle.

And with the tiredness comes the black malaise, the growling apathy that demands to know "why you're even bothering with these silly elf games?"

Which, naturally, makes it hard to get fired up about writing any more of my RPG bits and bobs... despite the fact that, as I said the other day, I'm pretty sure I've cracked at least one extra character class, and I have the proofs of the first printing to proof as well.

These are not getting done this week, I guess.

My wonky health clearly has a part to play in all this, but so does my lack of decent exercise (and fresh air).

Ultimately, the housework is the most important task on my "to do" list, and the one to which I should be directing my minimal reserves of energy.

Thus for this weekend, and maybe a bit longer, I shall be putting HeroPress in sleep mode.

There'll be plenty of pre-written material (cosplay picture parades and general weirdness etc) to keep things ticking over while I focus on the house (and getting some decent rest).

Hopefully, then, I can return to blogging, refreshed and reinvigorated...

Baldur's Gate 3: Opening Cinematic...



I've said it before, computer games aren't my thing, but I absolutely love these cinematics that accompany them.

I want to see a whole movie of this, not just this gorgeous opening five minutes of Baldur's Gate 3.

Especially as it features my second favourite Dungeons & Dragons monster (after pig-faced orcs, naturally), the Lovecraftian and alien mind flayer.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Action Is Back To Corrupt The UK's Youth...


The brilliantly violent, and hugely controversial, kid's comic from my childhood, Action, is making a comeback next month, in a one-off special.

A precursor to 2000AD, I have vivid memories of reading this as a wee nipper, I was particularly taken by the bloodthirsty antics of the killer shark Hook Jaw.

Down The Tubes has a great piece on the brouhaha Action caused at the time, getting up the nose of dumb-arse self-appointed moral guardian Mary Whitehouse (a cross between Oliver Cromwell's puritanism and Dolores Umbridge's self-importance) in particular.

This resulted in one issue getting pulped and the comic eventually returning in a toned-down version... which, of course, lost sales and led to it being merged with Battle.

The Action 2020 Special, featuring new stories by Garth Ennis and Henry Flint, amongst others, will be on sale in newsagents and comic shops on March 23, but a web exclusive version, that comes bagged with a reprint of the 'banned' edition, can be ordered direct from the publishers.

Another Day, Another Exorcism...


The sole survivor of a murderous rampage by her war veteran father, Rose (Devanny Pinn – Crossbreed), is sent to live in a secluded covenant in the North Eastern United States.

Embraced by the kind Revered Mother (Heather Wynters – American Horror Story: Asylum), the generous Father Theodore (David Goryl – The Night Shift) and Sister Ella (Stacey Dash – Clueless), the now-adult Rose is preparing to take her final vows.

Yet darkness grows within her…

In a series of shocking confessions, Rose reveals she’s being plagued by visions of her Father’s crimes and demonic voices imploring her to ‘kill’. Disturbed by these startling revelations, Father Theodore’s young successor, Jeremiah (Ryan Kiser – Manson), is determined to investigate.

With each subsequent confession and each passing day – Rose’s visions begin to gather strength, blurring the lines of fantasy and reality, and faith and conviction. Soon they begin to pose a very real danger and threaten to shake the Church to its very foundations…
The Dawn is scheduled to be released on DVD in the UK on May 18.

Delve Deeper Into The Dragon Prince...


This year sees the publication of not one, not two, not three, but four original books based upon the brilliant Netflix cartoon series, The Dragon Prince.

And the first, Callum's Spellbook (pictured above), is due out next week. This is an "in-world" notebook of Callum's sketches and observations on his journey to Xandia.


June sees the publication of an expanded novelisation of the events of the show's first season in The Dragon Prince - Book One: Moon by Aaron Ehasz & Melanie McGanney Ehasz.


Then in August, we get the eagerly-awaited. 192-page hardback, from Dark Horse Comics, of The Art Of The Dragon Prince.


And, finally, in September, Through The Moon, by Peter Wartman with art by Xanthe Bouma, is scheduled for release. This is an original graphic novel set between seasons three and four.

Needless to say, I've pre-ordered all of these. Which will you be picking up?

So, Is This Like A Sequel To Braveheart?


King Robert the Bruce is injured and on the run from the English army. On the brink of defeat, a widow and her family nurse him back to health and join The Bruce as he sets out to claim the long-awaited freedom of Scotland.
Angus Macfadyen returns as Robert The Bruce, the role he played in 1995's Braveheart, for a limited Stateside cinematic run of Richard Gray's historical drama Robert The Bruce (already available in the UK on DVD and Blu-Ray).

The film will be shown on April 16 in the U.S., as a special one-night Fathom Event, then in select cinemas on April 24.

Oh My God! Who Knew Amazon Had Made A Series Based On Tales From The Loop?


Inspired by the wondrous paintings of Simon Stålenhag, Tales from the Loop explores the mind-bending adventures of the people who live above the Loop, a machine built to unlock and explore the mysteries of the universe – making things previously relegated to science fiction, possible.
Tales From The Loop is also, of course, a wildly popular roleplaying game from Free League Publishing, which will probably get another bump from this series.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Top Of The Pile: Conan The Barbarian #13


And so begins a brave new era in the life of Conan The Barbarian, as Jim Zub steps into the space vacated by Jason Aaron to shepherd the mighty Cimmerian through his next series of stories.

This month's Conan The Barbarian #13 is the perfect jumping on point for new readers as well as a soft reset for established fans of the title.

Itinerant adventurer Conan is chilling in the city of Garchall, in Uttara Kuru, when his competitive nature - and slight inebriation - draws him into a challenge of his strength and fighting prowess.

Which he naturally wins, and finds himself declared a "people's champion".

Unfortunately, instead of a parade, beer, and wenches, Conan is manhandled by the mob and thrown into The Crucible, an underground maze of "traps and horrors" - with a selection of other "champions" - where he is expected to endure a number of trials to honour the city's martial god, Challi-Mai.

I love the fact that Jim Zub's first story arc on this title immediately draws heavily on his passion for Dungeons & Dragons, as the setting for the trials is clearly a cross between a D&D dungeon and the Saw horror movie franchise.

In an issue dripping with atmosphere, the combination of Rogê Antônio's art and Zub's words mean you can almost hear the chanting of the locals and the music of the carnival in Garchall, while feeling the crush of the crowds as they swarm Conan, and his frustration at not being able to understand their language.

Beautifully paced, from its introduction right through to the start of the subterranean trials, the adrenaline-drenched Into The Crucible is pure excitement of the most primal kind.

Like a superhero comic, we know Conan will ultimately triumph over The Crucible, but it's the 'how', and what happens along the way, that makes his tales interesting and engaging.

Conan has already encountered a number of traps in his dungeoncrawl adventure, and I can't wait to see what "dungeon master" Jim Zub has planned to throw at the barbarian in upcoming issues.

Who Can Make Bloody Art That Imitates Life? The Candyman Can...


For as long as residents can remember, the housing projects of Chicago’s Cabrini Green neighbourhood were terrorised by a word-of-mouth ghost story about a supernatural killer with a hook for a hand, easily summoned by those daring to repeat his name five times into a mirror.

In present day, a decade after the last of the Cabrini towers were torn down, visual artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II; HBO’s Watchmen, Us) and his girlfriend, gallery director Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris; If Beale Street Could Talk, The Photograph), move into a luxury loft condo in Cabrini, now gentrified beyond recognition and inhabited by upwardly mobile millennials.

With Anthony’s painting career on the brink of stalling, a chance encounter with a Cabrini Green old-timer (Colman Domingo; HBO’s Euphoria, Assassination Nation) exposes Anthony to the tragically horrific nature of the true story behind Candyman.

Anxious to maintain his status in the Chicago art world, Anthony begins to explore these macabre details in his studio as fresh grist for paintings, unknowingly opening a door to a complex past that unravels his own sanity and unleashes a terrifyingly viral wave of violence that puts him on a collision course with destiny.

#RPG Last Chance Saloon: Final Three Brit Picks From Zine Quest 2...

The mini 'zines that are all part of the Dungeons & Designs Kickstarter

With Zine Quest 2 officially wrapping up at the end of the month, there's just time to tell you about three more 'zines - all from my motherland - that caught my eye.

Not only are these British 'zines all wildly different in their approaches to our hobby, but all three Kickstarters have also each met their funding goals already... so the 'zines will be happening. Which is great news!



First up, we have the Dungeons & Designs Kickstarter, which is actually funding the production of 20 mini A5 'zines (pictured at the top of this article): one-page, system-agnostic, dungeons complete with full-coloured postcard maps.

The bulk of the dungeons are already available as free PDFs, but the Kickstarter will allow for them to be rewritten, expanded, and printed up.

Ten pounds gets you 20 dungeons! That's 50p a dungeon!

Read more about this great value for money campaign, which runs until March 9, here.


Next up is Face Folio, a zine of 100 fantasy portraits from artist MARCINs for use in your RPGs, representing either PCs or NPCs.

The pictures, displayed with 10 faces across each two-page spread, are organised into the following categories: human; dragon-blood; dwarf; elf; gnome; halfling; orc-blood; demon-blood; human nobles; and human peasants and towns folk.

Face Folio co-ordinator M Blake explains: "Each set will contain ten portraits, half male and half female. With the exception of the human nobles and peasants, the portraits will be a spread of adventuring classes."

You can see examples of artwork and read more about the project, which runs until next Wednesday (March 4) here.


Last, but by no means least, we have our final British 'zines - a twofer from Newt Newport of D101 Games (publisher of the peerless Crypts & Things RPG): Grogzilla #1 and Skyraiders Of The Floating Realms.

Grogzilla is a grab bag of RPG articles for a variety of old school systems, while Skyraiders is a:
"...concise D100 based Fantasy Adventure Role-Playing Game of flying adventurers seeking loot and exploring floating sky islands."
The fundraiser only continues until Saturday, so you'll probably want to nip over there, read all about it, and make your pledge as soon as possible.


The Hunt Is Back On...


Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Religious Shocker Saint Maud Looks Like Another A24 Head Trip Of Horror...


Are You Prepared To Take Delivery Of The Letter For The King?


In this sweeping fantasy series, a teenage knight-in-training (Amir Wilson) receives a secret letter on which the fate of the kingdom depends. He embarks on an epic quest to deliver it to the king and stop the world from being plunged into darkness.

The Letter for the King premieres March 20, only on Netflix.
With its quest and magic front-and-centre, there's a certain Dungeons & Dragons-y charm about The Letter for the King, even if the title and plot suggests it would be better suited to a film than a series (unless it's a one-and-done)

Weird Wednesday...

Monday, 24 February 2020

Musical Monday: Toss A Coin To Your Witcher (Chickensan)



Right! I think that's enough covers of Toss A Coin To Your Witcher for the moment!

Musical Monday: Toss a Coin to Your Witcher (Peter Hollens)



Thanks to Justin for this one!

Musical Monday: Sugaan Essena (The HU)




I was already a fan of Mongolian folk-metal band The HU, but Sugaan Essena takes their geek credentials to a whole 'nother galaxy.

It was written by the band for the Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order video game, with lyrics in an authentic-sounding Star Wars language created by the band with the guidance of Lucasfilm and the game publishers.

While I have no interest in the video game, I just love the idea of hearing folk music from the Star Wars universe.

EA Star Wars wrote:
"Cal’s journey begins with him listening to Sugaan Essena, an original song from Mongolian band The Hu. That’s not Mongolian you’re hearing though, it’s a language created with the band that’s unique to Star Wars. It’s Cal’s favourite song for ship scrapping or galactic gladiator fights, but why should he have all the fun? We recorded a special session with the band so everyone can get pumped up and feel like a Jedi."

Artist Appreciation: Ástor Alexander


This brilliant reimagining of the protagonists of The Witcher as characters in noir detective tales is the handiwork of San Diego-based illustrator and concept artist Ástor Alexander.

Musical Monday: Toss A Coin To Your Witcher (Synthwave Remix)




Sunday, 23 February 2020

The Future Is Looking Bright For Local Gaming If Cavalier Is Anything To Go By...

DC superheroes in miniature action

You know February is drawing to a close - and it's almost Nick's birthday - when I meet up with my old chum for the annual Tunbridge Wells Wargames Society show, Cavalier, at the Angel Centre In Tonbridge.

Nick was flying solo this year as my godson, Alec, had stayed home to spend time with Nick's brother-in-law, who had returned to the UK after spending 18 months as a guide in Antarctica.

Like back in 2015, the show felt quite sparse this year. Even the bring-and-buy wasn't rammed, both in the amount of the items for sale and the ease in which we could get to the tables to check it out.

Although this year didn't feel like one of Cavalier's strongest showings, on the plus side was the amount of young gamers - either playing, shopping, and manning displays.

Guess the future of the hobby is in safe hands.

This is a marked contrast to Nick's comments about last weekend's model railway show at the Angel Centre (Rachel and I couldn't go as she was away), which he said was really busy but he felt like one of the youngest people there!

Target: Planet
I was particularly impressed by the packed table, in one of Cavalier's side rooms, being run by the Wadhurst Wargamers & Roleplayers (fellow members of the Dungeons and Dragons Kent & East Sussex Facebook group that Simon and I belong to) offering introductory games of 5e Dungeons & Dragons.

And Nick was doing his part by buying Alec some 1/600 scale jets (Alec is big into aircraft these days) to practice his painting skills on.

Personally, I was on the hunt for wooden planets on stands as I was sure I'd bought my original one at Cavalier about 15 years ago... so surely there'd be someone randomly selling them again this year.

This is all part of a wild scheme (based on the single planet I do own, pictured right) to build a solar system for the imaginary planet where my homebrew RPG will be set.

Sadly, that quest came to naught,

Who'd have thought it?

To be honest, I didn't stay for too long (the lighting in the sports hall always plays merry havoc with my eyes).

After our first obligatory circuit around the whole venue, I needed to sit down, and Nick had to get me a drink from the vending machine (it had defeated my efforts to purchase anything) while I munched on part of my packed lunch.

I gave Rachel a call to come and collect me, after which Nick headed back into the fray.

I didn't even get a chance to get Nick his birthday present (I usually let him pick out a book or a game he fancies) and he ended up paying for my drink, so that didn't go exactly to plan.

The Deal Wargames Association's "Shall We Dance?" game, refighting the Siam civil war of 1933 won both the "obscure conflict of the day" and "most boxes ticked" awards from us, with planes on sticks, model trains, and elephants on display.


I drooled a bit over this chap's castles, which he and his son explained were built from individually-moulded Hirst Arts bricks:


Nick and I also heartily approved of this Biggles And The Island At The Top Of The World game with its movable maze, lost Vikings, Russians, and Nazis, which pandered to our pulp predilections.


I ended up only making one purchase, this marked-down pack of 32mm Romulans from Modiphius... because Romulans.

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

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