Archive for the 'Role playing games' Category

4th edition D&D rolls a 20

Wired raves about the new edition. I’ll stick with Call of Cthulhu.

Gary Gygax, father of D&D, RIP

Unfortunately the cleric won’t be able to resurrect.
From Wired:

Gygax designed the original D&D game with Dave Arneson in 1974, and went on to create the Dangerous Journeys and Lejendary Adventure RPGs, as well as a number of board games. He also wrote several fantasy novels.
“I don’t think I’ve really grokked it yet,” said Mike Mearls, the lead developer of the upcoming 4th edition of Dungeons and Dragons. “He was like the cool uncle that every gamer had. He shaped an entire generation of gamers.”

It’s been decades (!) since I gathered with friends around a table to play D&D. Now a cultural icon of my youth has passed.

I am legend

I saw I Am Legend tonight with my best friend.

If the movie had finished five minutes or so before it did end it would have been a very good horror flick. I admit I’m a sucker for end of the world movies where there’s no one else living around and the lead character (or characters as in Night of the Comet) prowl vacant cities. That’s not horror to me. That’s my fantasy!

We met for Chinese beforehand, but we didn’t talk about his email. I waited for him to bring it up if he wanted to, but he didn’t so I talked of other things, such as The Horror on the Orient Express podcast that I’m addicted to and things like that. My friend played a rather slightly mad doctor from Arkham, Mass., in the campaign I ran as Keeper of the Arcane Lore. He laughed as I told him of the dilemmas Paul of Cthulhu – the Keeper in the podcast game – faced as his characters would do just like my players would do and go off on odd tangents that no Keeper could prepare for in advance. He laughed and complained about the sushi and we talked about our kids and he talked about the Toyota Camry Hybrid he wants to buy.

As I write this, my dog Lucy is snoring at my feet. My wife just told me good night and I find it hard to talk about his email too. He had written it this morning. He had told me he was glad I hadn’t got the vampire hunter job after all. A man had stabbed his girlfriend to death then shot and killed a 25-year-old rookie vampire hunter, who had waited for the man’s return home. The man later shot at others before being taken down. It was a long scary night last night for those there, including my friend, and my friend had trouble sleeping. We talked about it some this afternoon when we finalized plans for this evening. In the movies, it’s extremely rare to show how scary it is to be in the dark with a dangerous, deadly monster no matter how brave you are. I Am Legend captured that well when Will Smith’s character goes into a building searching for his dog. It’s not a good feeling knowing you might die a horrible death at any moment. Short version of a long story, I was once at a barricade situation on a February night a long time ago as part of my work in the salt mines. I made the mistake of getting up off the cold ground where I had good, protective cover to stretch, thinking I was well hidden in the darkness, when I heard a shot. “At least I’m going to die on my feet,” I thought. Looking back on it, as potential last thoughts to have go, that’s about the lamest. Then I heard another shot followed by another quickly. I dived to the ground. A vampire hunter near me said, “I thought he had you.” “I thought he had me, too,” I replied.

So with my friend last night we talked about pleasant things. We didn’t talk about gun shots or death or anything like that. We talked about the good kinds of horror. The kind of horror that we love. After the movie, we walked out to our cars and he gave me a wrapped present and wished me a Merry Christmas. We don’t normally exchange gifts. I thanked him and he told me I could not open it until Christmas Eve after the kids were asleep and Ms. Carnacki and I were sitting in front of the Christmas tree lights alone. I held it and from the heft and the liquid sound, I think I know what it is. He knows how much I like Crown Royal Special Reserve. It’s a drink that tastes like love. How’d I get so lucky to have a friend like this?

Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened

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Sherlock Holmes and Cthulhu in a new computer game? It doesn’t get better than this.

Sherlock Holmes – The Awakened invites gamers to plunge into an adventure in which the imaginary myth of Cthulhu, made popular by author H.P. Lovecraft, intersects with the greatest detective of fiction literature in a battle between the rational and the supernatural.

The Awakened marks the meeting of two dramatically different worlds, one in which players will come fact-to-face with an ancient and unspoken evil, questioning their decisions and logic every step of the way.

Sherlock Holmes – The Awakened follows, to the letter, the style and character of Sherlock Holmes. The game understands that it is the method he uses in his investigations that has made him so famous. Everyone remembers Sherlock Holmes ferreting about here and there, magnifying glass in hand, on the hunt for the smallest clue. The game remains faithful to this image since the players must, throughout their investigations, gather information and evidence. But it is surely his keen sense of observation, his deductive reasoning and his logic that make Sherlock Holmes popular, and in this new adventure, the player will often need to use these skills to advance in the investigation.

It’s now available at retailers. I haven’t bought mine yet, but payday is Friday.

Carnacki’s List of Top 10 Favorite Vampires

In answer to questions posed by Ardeth Blood and a long-ago emailer, my favorite vampires:

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Bodhi from Baldur’s Gate II is No. 9 on my vampire list.

1. Lucy Westenra. From the original Dracula and from my novel, The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire. She plays with her victims.

2. Dracula (Marvel comics version 1972-1979). This was the version that I grew up reading and my first introduction to vampires.

3. Dracula (1932 movie version). Classic.

4. Valeria. The vampire at the heart of The Traveling Vampire Show by the late Richard Laymon arrives late in the novel and after a long build up she does not disappoint.

5. Marcilla/Carmilla/Mircalla Karnstein. Ingrid Pitt plays a vampire who changes her name to live with and seduce her victims in The Vampire Lovers.

6. Spike. I’ve got to go with Blondy Bear over Angel. “You listen to me. I’ve been alive a bit longer than you and dead a lot longer than that. I’ve seen things you couldn’t imagine and done things I’d prefer you didn’t. I don’t exactly have a reputation for being a thinker. I follow my blood which doesn’t exactly rush in the direction of my brain so I make a lot of mistakes. A lot of wrong bloody calls. A hundred plus years and there’s only one thing I’ve ever been sure of. You.”

7. Dracula (1992 Dracula version). The best is when Gary Oldman is playing the old version of Dracula, entertaining Jonathan Harker at his castle in Transylvania. Amusing, dangerous, congenial, maniacal all in one and all believable as a vampire.

8. Dracula (original novel by Bram Stoker). The original vampire version of Dracula has got to be on the list, but his low ranking is due to the fact that the Count does a lot of fleeing from the hunters and spends more time than he should seducing the women. Nevertheless, he does feed on a baby and turns the wolves on the child’s mother when she arrives at the castle doors so he’s got that going for him. It was a lot of fun for me trying to figure out why Dracula traveled to London when I wrote my novel.

9. Bodhi. Possibly a surprise pick, she’s a vampire in the computer RPG Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn. She’s the sister of the game’s lead villain, who turned to vampirism after being punished with a curse to strip her of her elven immortality. She appears to enjoy the dark nature of vampires immensely and the character’s avatar moves with a speed and grace to be expected of a vampire.

10. Kurt Barlow (Salem’s Lot by Stephen King). He revels in evil. He doesn’t suffer remorse like many other modern fictional vampires. He wants to drink blood and kill. Plus he owns an antiques shop in a small New England town. How could he get more evil?

Vampire Instruction Manual

Someone should read it before they try to “prove” they are a “Prince of Darkness.”

Manchester police have charged a 21-year-old man after they said he scratched a girl’s face with his fingernail to show her that he was a vampire.

Police charged David Holden with attacking a 14-year-old outside the Mary Cheney Library Tuesday. –

Mary Cheney Library??….this couldn’t be named after the daughter of a “Prince of Darkness” could it?

Nah…it’s not.

Interview call of Cthulhu

Table of Malcontents interviews Sean Branney, co-founder of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society and producer, screenwriter and co-director of the excellent silent film adaption Call of Cthulhu.

JB: And I’m sure to be real assholes you guys sometimes made them speak all of the unpronounceable Lovecraft stuff. “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming…” That’s a mouthful!

SB: We joked a lot that this was the key reason to make this film silently: so no actors would actually have to try to pronounce all of these words that were never meant to be spoken by human beings.

Entire interview well worth a read and you can also download an MP3 of it.
Part 2 of the interview is supposed to be up this weekend.

Carnacki, gnome warrior

Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened

Adventure Gamers has an interesting article on a game title surely designed to lure me specifically back into gaming.

As if working with one established license wasn’t daunting enough, for your new game you’re tackling a second one as well. I guess the obvious first question is: why “Holmes meets Cthulhu”?

The Silver Earring was a “traditional” Sherlock Holmes investigation, with all the classical elements of Sherlock Holmes stories (unexplained murder, incredible character fate and story details). The game was and still is a big success as a continuation of Holmes adventures. For The Awakened we choose to put Sherlock, the master of truth and rationality, facing a creation of H.P. Lovecraft, writer of horror and supernatural literature.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is English, Lovecraft is American (though he thought of himself as English sometimes). There is Sherlock, who is the priest and god of truth into the truth temple which is 221b Baker Street, and Watson the friend who believes what he sees, including supernatural stuff. These antagonisms are classical in all drama stories, and while they don’t seem to fit at first glance, the mix of both is subtle and in this game you are going from certainties to madness, from classical kidnapping to the end of the world. And the balance between the two names, Sherlock and Cthulhu, is continually changing the game.

As the game has been released in France and Germany already, some players have said it is a game which gives you “cold sweats.”

Entire article well worth a read.

‘Harker’ site opens with trailer

Speaking of Dracula (see below), Jonathan Harker stars in a new computer game. Details here. He fights like a girl — Buffy the vampire slayer, that is.

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