Reality Is The Playground Of The Unimaginative
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Friday, 31 December 2021
Released today and starring Eric Roberts (aka The Master from the Doctor Who TV movie with Paul McGann), Megaboa - from The Asylum - looks like a surprisingly fun creature feature.
On a trip to Colombia, a group of college students head into the rainforest to look for cave drawings. But a once thought to be extinct fifty-foot boa constrictor is out lurking in brush, hungry for blood.
Thursday, 30 December 2021
Will these two senseis have what it takes to take their dojo to the top? The battle for the soul of the Valley reawakens when Cobra Kai Season 4 premieres December 31 (tomorrow) only on Netflix.
Wednesday, 29 December 2021
Monday, 27 December 2021
Sunday, 26 December 2021
Enjoy the beautiful and serene sights of Middle Earth. From the forests of Rivendale to the sweeping landscapes of The Shire, there are plenty of places to unwind, take a nap, or eat a feast made for a Hobbit. So sit back, relax, and let the marvelous world of The Lord of the Rings suck you in.
Saturday, 25 December 2021
Given the positive feedback I got for the previous curated list of links to interesting stories and historical personalities, I've compiled another as a Christmas present to HeroPress readers. These could all make great adventure hooks for sundry roleplaying games (with a particular emphasis on Cubicle 7's The Doctor Who RPG).
NOT YOUR STEREOTYPICAL CHRISTMAS: Four centuries ago, the early Puritan settlers of America railed against the excesses of Christmas celebrations - making it the perfect backdrop to a time travel story.
UFO RELGIONS: How would your Time Lord and their companions react to becoming entangled in the machinations of a cult that worshipped an alien race or was preparing for some prophesied "ascension" or "apocalypse"?
AN ADVERTISER'S DREAM: Technology designed to help cope with conditions such as PTSD could be used by advertisers to project their products directly into the dreams of sleeping people.
SPACE STATIONS: NASA has signed agreements with three companies to develop low-Earth orbit space stations, as commercial replacements for the International Space Station.
TOUCH THE SUN: While it brings back memories of the Doctor Who story 42, NASA's Parker Solar Probe has flown through the outer atmosphere of our Sun, seeking useful information about the workings of our star.
VENUSIAN AIKIDO, ANYONE? Scientists suggest that ammonia detected on Venus could be due to the presence of alien lifeforms "unlike anything we've seen".
LOOKING FOR ALIENS: Four scientists at an isolated base scanning the skies for signs of extra-terrestrial intelligence? Sounds like the perfect set-up for a Doctor Who RPG scenario.
THIS IS GOING TO END WELL: Having developed 'living' robots last year (made with frog stem cells), scientists have revealed that these 'xenobots' can now reproduce "in a way that is completely different from any plant or animal known to science".
WHAT COULD POSSBLY GO WRONG? An experimental nuclear fusion reactor is operating on an industrial estate in Didcot, generating temperatures hotter than the Sun, as part of an experiment to create low-carbon energy.
IRON PLANET: A dense exoplanet, believed to consist primarily of iron, with a year equal to about eight hours on Earth, and surface temperate of around 1400°C, has been discovered. Orbiting a red dwarf star 31 light-years from here, GJ 367b is uninhabitable to humans, but who's to say what kind of aliens might call such a 'hell world' home?
THE IMPOSSIBLE PLANET: A massive gas giant, 10 times heavier than Jupiter, has also been discovered orbiting (at a distance of 52 billion miles) the b Centauri binary system (which, itself, has a mass approximately equal to 10 Suns), 325 light-years from Earth. This is the first planet yet found orbiting a system weighing more than three solar masses.
MONSTER FACTORY: Two supermassive black holes have been spotted 'merging' into a single monster black hole.
THE SIZE OF THE UNIVERSE:
MARTIAN REBELS: Studies of simulated Martian colonies have found that the participants tend to become less communicative with mission control - and more rebellious - over time.
CHINESE WEATHER MANIPULATION: Using cloud seeding technology, the weather over Beijing was successfully altered for the Chinese Communist Party's centennial celebrations in Tiananmen Square, resulting in clear skies and lower pollution for the assembled crowds, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.
LIFE WILL FIND A WAY: The perfectly preserved embryo of an oviraptorosaur, inside a 6.7 inch egg, has been found in the Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum, in Xiamen, China, where it had been in storage for a decade since it was unearthed in Ganzhou, southern China.
MONKEY BUSINESS: The last Sunday of November is traditionally the date of the Lopburi Monkey Festival when natives of this Thai city leave out banquet tables laden with food for the vast colonies of monkeys they share the city with.
FLYING CARS: The Paris 2024 summer Olympic games is planning to use flying cars to ferry visitors around. The Doctor Who episode Fear Her featured the 2012 London Olympics, so there's a precedent for using these events as the backdrop for adventures.
HAUNTED PRIME MINISTERS: The official residence of the Japanese Prime Minister is rumoured to be haunted and the last two incumbents have refused to live there. The country's latest Prime Minster has just moved in... and has yet to see any ghosts!
ART GALLERIES IN STRANGE PLACES: The Doctor is well known for their fondness of art and art galleries, so these six unusual gallery spaces are most definitely inspirational locations for RPG scenarios.
EXTINCTION EVENT: The human race is a "dead species walking" and heading towards population shrinkage by the end of the century, and inevitable extinction, according to palaeontologist Henry Gee.
WHO'S NEXT? Should the human go extinct, which animals are in the running to become the next dominant species on planet Earth?
SLEEPING SICKNESS: The cause of the 'sleeping sickness' (see below) that plagued New York in the 1920s remains a mystery.
WEEPING ANGEL MUMMY: An 800-year-old, pre-Incan mummy has been discovered by archaeologists working outside of Lima, Peru. The corpse was buried with its hands over its face in a very familiar fashion!
CITY OF CANALS: Around 2,300 BCE an advanced Stone Age civilization inhabiting a city of canals, near the East China Sea, is believed to have been wiped out by severe flooding. Or was it?
ABANDONED TO THE SEA: Due to climate change, the Welsh community of Fairbourne is to be abandoned by its population and left to the rising sea levels.
MEDIEVAL SUPERWEAPONS: From the mysterious 'Greek fire' to turtle ships, warwagons, and Chinese 'fire lances', all these fascinating contraptions make for possible plot devices if the player-characters get tangled up in schemes to either steal or protect the knowledge required for their creation.
GO WEST, YOUNG MAN: Inspired by the classic Doctor Who story Marco Polo, I got to thinking about a time traveller and her companions being similarly swept up in the great 19th Century migration of American settlers to Oregon. There's a three-part feature about such a journey here, here, and here.
THE DONNER BUSINESS: Of course, your time travellers could also find themselves snowbound in the Sierra Nevada in 1846 with the Donner party. Perhaps this scenario could also involve a wendigo?
REMEMBER THE ALAMO: I know Timeless and The Time Tunnel had episodes set at The Battle of The Alamo, in 1836, but that doesn't mean to say you can't use it as a setting in your own campaign.
THANKSGIVING: This year marks the 400th anniversary of the first "Thanksgiving" feast, but what would it have been like to attend?
ALNWICK POISON GARDEN: Akin to the one seen in No Time To Die, but real. The "deadliest garden in the world" is an ominously fenced off area of the stately Alnwick Garden in Northumberland, UK. It is home to around 100 toxic and narcotic plants, which visitors are forbidden to smell, touch, or taste.
"UNSINKABLE" MAGGIE BROWN: Socialite and Titanic survivor, Margaret Brown helped with the evacuation of the doomed liner and tried - unsuccessfully - to encourage the lifeboat she was in to go back and rescue more survivors. She used her fame as a platform to promote progressive rights issues, as well as helping with the restoration of France after The Great War.
THE GREAT BEAST: Occultist and world-traveller Aleister Crowley (see video above) seems the perfect NPC (not just because he attended - possibly briefly - Tonbridge School, down the road from where I now live) because his life can be interpreted in numerous ways, depending on how you view his claims and supposed deeds.
CLARA BARTON: A frontline Union nurse in the American Civil War, Clara Barton would go on to found the Red Cross in 1881.
CATHERINE AND PETRUS GONSALVUS: The tragic 16th Century couple who inspired he enduring fairy tale (see below), as well as The Witcher short story A Grain of Truth, included in The Last Wish anthology.
SEASONAL SPECIALS: From Big Finish, just tap the gif to generate your own Christmas Special episode title (then craft a story to match).
Friday, 24 December 2021
Jazz legend Louis Armstrong recorded this famous poem in 1971, shortly before he died.
You read more about the history of this little-known recording over at the Smithsonian Magazine website.
For contrast, here's comedienne Jennifer Coolidge, from Netflix Christmas rom-com Single All The Way, reading the same poem:
Ahead of next month's 15th anniversary of this 'ere blog, I thought I'd get in early with my review of the Top Ten most popular topics tackled on HeroPress.
As usual, I have tallied up the total ongoing number of post tags in the top ten most popular subjects, thus creating an easily digestible percentage - allowing us to see what I'm (subconsciously) seeing as the most "important" areas to write about.
Here's the breakdown for this year, with last year's underneath for comparison:
|Top Ten Topics on HeroPress for 2021|
|Top Ten Topics on HeroPress for 2020|
It should come as a surprise to no one who actually reads this blog for any length of time to discover that the subject matter has settled into a recognisable breakdown year-on-year.
While it isn't reflected in the Top Ten (yet), I found my interest in both comics and RPGs waning a bit towards the end of this year.
I do wonder if my feelings about RPGs are connected with the COVID-induced irregularity of our Tuesday Knights sessions (although I suspect other factors are at play as well), while my comic book 'apathy' is an extension of that long period over the summer where - due to eye-related issues - I was unable to read much.
I now have an alarmingly large - and ever-increasing - "to be read" pile that's going to take some concerted effort and a lot of time to catch up with.
There was a period, many years ago, when Doctor Who would have featured in that Top Ten, but the double-whammy of disappointment with Steven Moffat's and then Chris Chibnall's governance of the show saw me withdraw from writing so much about it (rather than turning into "one of those" so-called fans).
However, in recent months I have returned to my old love, with more tempered expectations and a joyous optimism about the return of Russell T Davies as showrunner.
I know I griped a bit about some aspects of RTD's initial run on the show, but I've adored so much of what he has written since (such as the surprisingly Who-adjacent Years and Years, and It's A Sin) that I'm as fired up for his return as I was for the relaunch of Doctor Who back in 2005.
Hopefully, then, this time next year the topic of Doctor Who might have found its way back into the HeroPress Top Ten (it's currently knocking on the door at number 11, so shouldn't take too much to work its way back in).
However, I shall address this further in an upcoming article on my plans for the site going forward.