2018. március 18., vasárnap

Tarkan vs. the world

TARKAN VERSUS THE VIKINGS features a mustached villain, who is the leader of a Viking clan that worships an octopus god-monster. The Vikings wish to kidnap a beautiful girl to sacrifice her to their demigod, but the heroic Tarkan (Kartal Tibet), aided by his dog, Kurt, is there to save the day.

All right! Some mad Turkish pulps! Based on comics by Sezgin Burak

2018. március 10., szombat

Sir Leo Wooldrich, occult investigator

In the early 1970s, there was a comics magazine called Dracula. It featured Spanish comics translated into English. Not about Dracula, though. They featured original genre / pulp heroes, like the sword & sorcery warrior Wolff, the sword & planet / science fantasy Agar Agar, and Sir Leo, "an English aristocrat - a hunter of evil. A man whose life is dedicated to the destruction of those nameless horrors that threaten mankind".

The stories were all presented with lush psychedelic art, swirling colors and grotesque imagery. Personally, I really dig the fusion of horror with trippy 1970s aesthetics (Dracula AD 1972 will always be dear to me...)

The stories about Sir Leo (or Sir Leo Wooldrich) were drawn by José Beá, and, damn, they look amazing!!

2018. február 24., szombat

[The Outer Presence] La Bas Chartreuse, short review

Another Venger Satanis product, this time a location.

I see the title "La Bas Chartreuse", and I expect fin de siècle decadence and Satanism, because, well, Huysmans. As far as literature is considered, I think this offering veers closer to R.E.Howard's "The Black Stone", or Abraham Merritt's "The People of the Pit".

This is not a fleshed-out scenario, but a single location (albeit a location that holds portals to all worlds and dimensions). Presented as a letter from a madman who witnessed its terror; a few pages of descriptions (all non-Euclidean, full of squamous voids and pulsating luminescence, and similar words); and many random tables to give you ideas on what can happen in this place. Useful and plunderable things include a d20 table of "Properties of alien metal" ("Reverberates sub-audible dark ambient vibrations" / "All vegetation nearby turns gray, shriveled, and lifeless" and so forth).

This location can easily be dropped into occult horror investigation games with a pulp or exploitation bent - the author's The Outer Presence, Call of Cthulhu, Kult, etc. (or added to a sword & sorcery campaign). So if you are into this specific flavor or insanity, go ahead.

I like the flavor, although I have a couple of reservations. Mainly, I fear that there's only so many eldritch adjectives and black voids a person (player or game master) can take. Stuff like this quickly becomes repetitive... So, beware, and control your dosage.

Henry Chapront

2018. február 21., szerda

[Laird Barron] The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All

Overall, this is a very strong collection, and it's the one that really got me into Laird Barron.

Blackwood's Baby --- Hunt goes horrific for this hardboiled (anti-)hero, Luke Honey. The story has some formulaic elements, but they all come together very nicely.

The Redfield Girls --- This is a change from most of Barron's stories, as the protagonists are not gritty pulp men-of-action, but a "close-knit sorority of veteran teachers", who rent a house by a lake. Strange hauntings occur.

Hand of Glory --- One of my favorites in this collection. Back to a Barronian hardboiled narrator, a 1920s mafia hitman, who ends up being the pawn in a war between various occult factions. Barron even ties in Eadweard Muybridge into the conspiracy, to great effect.

The Carrion Gods in their Heaven --- Another good one! Two lovers hole up in a cabin in the woods... but what lurks in the darkness? Once again, Barron takes a formula, but gives it a couple of twists, and ends up with a great story.

The Siphon --- An interesting story, with some imagery lifted from modern techno-thriller, but in the end going back to the occult roots.

Jaws of Saturn --- A very strong story. I like it how many of Barron stories feature similar characters, return to the same locations, but instead of being repetitive, they explore these from different points of view and reinforce the horror. Some of the best apocalyptic imagery in Barron's oeuvre here.

Vastation --- Stream of (cosmic) consciousness! I love this mess of post-apocalyptic sci fi horror something.

The Men from Porlock --- Back to the 1920s; this action story pits a group of lumberjacks against a weird cult (The Children of Old Leech, of course). I once made a hex-map interpretation of this piece. Ties in strongly with Barron's novel, The Croning.

More Dark --- Hard to comment on this one. I like the moody writing, but I don't care about the meta-fiction aspect (this story is about Barron and his horror author mates hanging around at a con, waiting for Ligotti to make an appearance).

2018. február 17., szombat

[Review] Dead God Excavation


Let's take a quick look at Dead God Excavation (DGE), a gonzo horror/science-fantasy scenario by Venger Satanis (review copy provided by author).

DGE is a short, simple scenario, explicitly written as a "session zero" adventure = a quick and dirty introduction for low-level players. However, it is NOT a throw-away story. The possible consequences and outcomes of diggin' up the dead god (what it says on the tin) will change the game world. Definitely a great way to jumpstart a campaign. 

First, the adventure gives you the site and the people who conduct the excavation. 

I really like the way NPCs are presented: the role of the character is the main header, the name is a smaller one (it makes sense, because you need to know their function first, not their complicated unpronounceable moniker). Then there is a motivation for each NPC. This format is much better than the infodumps Venger usually prefers in his scenario-writing. DGE is quite easy to navigate, information easier to find.

In the second half, you get the weird tomb. Thematically, it's Yog-Sothothery and body horror. 

My favorite thing about DGE is the final paragraph entitled "BENEFITS OF HAVING A DEAD GOD UNDER YOUR KINGDOM", listing some marvelous campaign hooks.

Overall, I dig this adventure, and I think it can be easily inserted into any horror / fantasy type campaign.

The stars are alright!

2018. február 14., szerda

[Laird Barron] Occultation & Other Stories


The Forest -- Creepy & crawly, Barron at his best. Also, a good one to go back to from time to time, as it features the recurring mad scientist duo, Toshi and Campbell. Weird science horror with a very personal line.

Occultation -- The title story is actually one I don't care about much. It's not bad, though, two young rebels hanging out in a motel room; eerie horror ensues... Get Gregg Araki to direct!

The Lagerstätte -- An amazing story about loss. Death of a loved one, and how to cope. The imagery of the Lagerstätte (pitch-black mineral deposits) that everything is sinking into keeps haunting me. Reminds me of the "tomb world" from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?...

Mysterium Tremendum -- Enter the Black Guide, the most important tome of eldritch lore in Barron's cosmos. Hiking trip goes w r o n g. "There aren't any goddamned dolmens in this part of the world", yeah, right... Lots of connections with Barron's novel, The Croning.

Catch Hell -- Creepy black magic ritual story. Rosemary's Baby style.

Strappado -- Another favorite, once again proving that the darkness is best conveyed through personal / psychological horror. And another take on the theme of loss, survivor's guilt, and so on.

The Broadsword -- A long, slow-burning story of transformation. The Broadsword is a great locus of the Barronian world, a decrepit hotel building, where weird things happen (of course). It features in several stories.

--30-- -- This is a story about two scientists working in a creepy wilderness area (once a place of cult activity). Can't wait to see the movie adaptation, They Remain!

Six Six Six -- Okay, this is another story I keep forgetting. I wrote up --30-- and published the post, and then realized there's one more entry in the collection... I can barely remember a thing about it. It feels like a faint afterthought to a strong collection. But maybe I just need to re-read it!

Reviews/write-ups by other people:
Stomping on Yeti
Oddly Weird Fiction
Skulls in the Stars

2018. február 13., kedd

[LotFP & the rest] Weirding up Sleep?

Sleep is another staple. Arguably, one of the most oft-employed level 1 spells. So... how can you make it weird?

Sleep and dream
The first and most obvious way is to connect Sleep to dreams and dreaming, perhaps even Dreamworlds?

  1. Creatures affected by the Sleep spell see the caster's most recent dream,
  2. ...or the caster's worst nightmare,
  3. ...or the caster's sweetest fantasy wet dream.
  4. Creatures affected by the Sleep spell relive their own most recent dream / worst nightmare / sweetest dream.
  5. Creatures affected by the Sleep spell enter a dreamworld, unique to the caster. They can act actively for the same amount of turns their corporeal bodies are under the glamour. During this, they can basically wreak havoc inside the caster's mind, emprint themselves into her/his dreams, and so on.
    Of course, this last option is a mini-game in itself, and you don't want to waste time doing this every time somebody casts Sleep. But it can be an interesting one-off effect of this staple spell.