Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Daily Cosplay

Finally! Good News! Peanuts Unleashed

Turner Broadcasting has scooped up 500 cartoon shorts from the French Studio Normaal. These shorts have never aired in English, which is an odd thing to say the least, but are not at last headed to English speaking audiences. They will appear on Boomerang, with some crossovers on Cartoon Network.

Heck yeah!


These are two in number, separated by a very narrow strait; they are ten thousand furlongs distant from Africa, and are called the Islands of the Blest. They enjoy moderate rains at long intervals, and winds which for the most part are soft and precipitate dews, so that the islands not only have a rich soil which is excellent for plowing and planting, but also produce a natural fruit that is plentiful and wholesome enough to feed, without toil or trouble, a leisured folk. Moreover, an air that is salubrious, owing to the climate and the moderate changes in the seasons, prevails on the islands. For the north and east winds which blow out from our part of the world plunge into fathomless space, and, owing to the distance, dissipate themselves and lose their power before they reach the islands; while the south and west winds that envelope the islands sometimes bring in their train soft and intermittent showers, but for the most part cool them with moist breezes and gently nourish the soil. Therefore a firm belief has made its way, even to the Barbarians, that here is the Elysian Field and the abode of the blessed which is not true, of which Homer sang. 

~ Plutarch

Imaginarium ~ Elysium

Movie Trailer ~ The Assassin

Weapon of the Day


This polearm consists of a 6 foot long shaft with a multi-function head attached. The head is essentially a large crescent shaped axe head with a spike or hook on the reverse and a long spike extending from the top. Langets were often used to attach the head and protect the haft from damage. The halberd functions were chopping with the axe, using the hook to unhorse opponents or help pin them and the point could be used similar to a spear in stopping attacks. The axe blade is typically 8 inches long, the spike atop is up to 14 inches long and the reverse hook is extends several inches from the shaft. Overall the weapon averages 7’3” in length and weighs around 10.1lbs. The halberd originated in Europe. 

Evolution's Monster

Word of the Day -- Chancel

In church architecture, the chancel is the space around the altar, including the choir and the sanctuary (sometimes called the presbytery), at the liturgical east end of a traditional Christian church building. It may terminate in an apse. It is generally the area used by the clergy and choir during worship, while the congregation is in the nave. This is one definition, sometimes called the "strict" one; in practice in churches where the eastern end contains other elements such as an ambulatory and side chapels, these are also often counted as part of the chancel, especially when discussing architecture. In smaller churches, where the altar is backed by the outside east wall, and there is no distinct choir, the chancel and sanctuary may be the same area. In churches with a retroquire area behind the altar, this may only be included in the broader definition of chancel.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Daily Cosplay

Five Line Movie Review ~ Bone Tomahawk

I had the opportunity to watch Bone Tomahawk this past weekend. Starring Kurt Russel, Patrick Wilson, Lili Simmins, Richard Jenkins and Mathew Fox (star of Lost..took me awhile to figure that one out) this movie plunged westerns where no western I know of has gone before.

Now the Review...

The movie opens with an eye-closing, gut flinching, scene that belies the cowboy story that unfolds when a young wife (simmins) is abducted and her husband (wilson), the sheriff (russel) a gun fighter (fox) and elderly deputy (jenkins) plunge into the desert to rescue her. With flawless editing the movie weaves in and out of a classic western that could star Jimmy Stewart or John Wayne and bone-chilling horror film that rivals the best of them. The western side...from the dry setting to absolutely amazing performances by all the cast...really puts you in the old west, from traveling a-horse to on foot, sleeping under the stars and the dangers every simple encounter can bring . . . and all this with a broken leg. The horror is so casual that it's upon you before you realize it, and your brain has hardly any chance to recognize the hand chopping, finger losing, arrow through the wrist, throat cutting, bone cleaver splitting the naked, spread eagle upside-down cowboy before you are so buried in it you can't get out. A fantastic blend of two genres that if you enjoy either you'll love the movie, and if you enjoy both, you are in for a treat like no other.

Nice Try . . .

Armor Up

Making Vampires Scary Again

The above trailer, for the 2010 film, Let Me In, is a British-American adaptation of a 2004 Swedish novel entitled Let the Right One In. I'm going to go out on a limb and make what may be a heretical remark: the American film is better than the original Swedish adaptation. I won't get into why, because that's moot for the purposes of this post but feel free to hit me (Jason) up over at my Facebook page or on the TLG forums to discuss.

No, what I want to talk about here is vampires. This film is the first flick in possibly decades to get vampires right. Why? Because the vampire in this film is a brutal, vicious, creepy and unapologetic monster. She's a stone cold killer who uses humans to her own ends and has no qualms about doing so.

She's also a child, and there are few things as freaking disturbing as evil monster children.

This film is brutal, stark, moody, and frankly, a terrifying vampire film. It's one of my all time favorites.

Making Vampires Scary

Vampires are not supposed to be lovable romantic heroes. They're not supposed to be someone we root for. They shouldn't be tragic, though they should, when necessary, be beautiful. They sure as hell shouldn't sparkle in the sunlight. 

Vampires are an abomination. They are hunters who prey on their own. They destroy everything they ever loved in life. They are anathema to life itself. They are ancient, plotting, intelligent, and insidious. The vampire is an allegory for all the darker aspects of humanity. Those things that we don't talk about in the light because they're uncomfortable and traumatic. That's what a vampire is. If you're going to use vampires in your game or fiction, remember that at all times. 

The vampire is a reflection of whatever society's dark face is, in the era in which it is set. Dracula explored the seedy underside of stuffy Victorian England in just about every way. In today's society, a vampire should be an allegory for disease, terrorism and the brutality of mass violence and inequality, of seething quiet hatred, of a society desensitized while simultaneously outraged over the ills of society. They are corporate and political greed, lust and corruption. They are the ghouls that feed on the dregs of society in low-rent districts, and nobody does anything about it. 

Vampires are evil, not tragic. Tragic implies that you sympathize or empathize with a creature. Vampires, even if they were turned against their will, are alien and anathema to life. They have either sold their soul to the Devil, Death, or some nebulous Darkness, or have had their soul ripped from them. Either way, they are not redeemable. They're beasts who view humans as food and prey. They don't love you. They have no capability for love. If they do, it's twisted, unhealthy, abusive, stalker-y love. It's lust and obsession. It's not nice or remorseful. Take the character of Lucy in Dracula. Lucy was victimized. She was brutalized and taken by the vampire, and turned against her will. She didn't beg for death. She didn't have remorse for what she'd become. No...she became the "Bloofer Lady," a bogeyman (or woman) who hunted, stole and murdered children in the streets, then tried to tear the throat out of her own fiancee. 

That's what a vampire is. A creature who has no remorse, no soul, no life of their own, so they have to feed on yours. And they get off on doing it.

Hey, nobody said it was going to be easy or comfortable. Horror never is. 

Using Vampires

I don't have any advice on how to achieve these metaphors. That's for you to determine in the context of your own work or gaming group. I can, however, offer up some concrete ideas for using these baddies in your game. Remember the following:

  1. Vampires are immortal. Even if they're not ancient, they have time to wait for their plots to come to fruition. They might work slowly, insidiously, way behind the scenes. 
  2. Vampires are highly intelligent. Those that aren't, simply don't enjoy a very long un-life. Play the vampire like she's always one step ahead of your players. A vampire uses strategy and tactics. They don't attack their enemies head-on. 
  3. Vampires have resources. Their agents allow them to spy on their enemies. Their connections allow them to cut off resources. In a modern game they can freeze bank accounts, trump up criminal charges or slip poison into drinks. They should seem like they know everything and are everywhere. And the reason for this is...
  4. Vampires use minions. Dracula had his loyal tribe of gypsies (with apologies to any Roma who may be reading this). Other vampires have used werewolves, demons, hell hounds and other servants to carry out their dirty work and protect them during the day. Vampires prefer not to get their hands dirty and will stay far away from the action until the climax of the story.
  5. Vampires are alluring. They are pure, unadulterated evil that is undeniably, near-irresistibly attractive and magnetic. They promise eternal youth and vitality, they promise a world where the rules don't apply to you and where you can do whatever you want to whomever you want. They make a compelling offer. They are seductive. Most of us would like to think our morals would win out, but if someone offered you $100 million, and all you have to do is kill that guy for it...and there's a guarantee you'll never get caught? There are few who wouldn't be at least tempted to consider it. Again, nobody ever said this would be comfortable.
  6. Vampires are not one-off monsters. Don't just throw a vamp at your players as a random encounter or sitting in their crypt waiting for the PCs to arrive. That robs them of their potential for horror--they turn into orcs that you stake and move on. 
  7. Use variant myths. Not every vampire has to be repelled by garlic or find the crucifix anathema. Mix it up. Look to Asian or Native American vampire myths. Combine vampires with demonology or werewolf mythology. Make them powerful and unexpected.
  8. GMs: fudge your damn dice rolls and stats if you need to. Don't ever let that final encounter be anti-climactic. If the players do 60 points of damage in one round and the vampire had 50 points? Guess what? Now that vampire has 150 points. Don't cheat to the point where you're creating a T.P.K. but do whatever you have to do to make that vampire a credible, deadly threat. No matter what the die rolls may be, vampires are never surprised or caught off guard. They're too old and canny for that. 

Further Reading

Movie Trailer ~ He Never Died

Oh yeah....


Word of the Day -- Moat

A moat is a deep, broad ditch, either dry or filled with water, that surrounds a castle, fortification, building or town, historically to provide it with a preliminary line of defence. In some places moats evolved into more extensive water defences, including natural or artificial lakes, dams and sluices. In older fortifications, such as hillforts, they are usually referred to simply as ditches, although the function is similar. In later periods, moats or water defences may be largely ornamental.

Best Monster Picture Ever

Weapon of the Day


This spear consists of a long thin 5 foot long shaft topped by a metal spear head.  The head is 8 inches in length, double bladed with a broad base. The blade tapers to a point about 2/3 the length up the blade giving it a broad tip. The assegai is designed to be thrown and not used as a melee weapon. The overall length is roughly 5’8” and the weight is about 4.4lbs.

Memories from the Office of a Game Publisher – Office Space

Everywhere I look across social media I seem to be encountering two things. Economic news about the pending commercial real estate collapse,...