As a compromise to my ever declining reading habits, I have instead decided to embrace audiobooks with a passion. My recent Lovecraft addiction has ultimately led me to HorrorBabble, a small UK based narration group who read from a short list of public domain and permitted authors, as well as a few original creations. They have an affiliation with Rue Morgue, an international horror magazine* and production company, so in a short space of time they’re already part of a larger media empire, and with good reason.
Simple, beautifully recorded audio, hours of books recorded by a collection of readers, almost entirely Ian Gordon who has been the bulk of my listening habits thusfar. Ian is not the most lively reader, one might be forgiven – in those moments when two characters are talking to one another – for confusing one character for another to an extent, but his voice is soft and clear, at once relaxing, and a little chilling. As cofounder, he also records some of his own material for the channel. (more…)
I’ve been devouring my way through Star Trek: Deep Space Nine of late, and it’s rekindled an unexpected fondness, and a habit of mind to pay respect and homage to those lesser known actors who deserve nothing but the utmost deference. Today, Jeffrey Combs, a regular on Star Trek in a wide variety of prosthetics and make-up, but also a face that appears in considerably less make-up across a wide variety of science fiction and horror films and TV shows. (more…)
Take to the streets you mad geeks! It’s a time of public celebration, wild revelry and dancing in the streets. Make your obeisance to Dionysus, Bibulous, and Xenagos, rattle your beads and show us your… sick dance moves. Here is our procession of festivals from fiction, parades and holidays that drive people out of their houses to join together and rejoice.
Amidst the worlds of literature, film and other media there are a host of works that simply don’t exist. From novels that sweep the world, textbooks of the strange and wondrous, and instructions on how to do the impossible. Though we may never have access to the miracles within those pages, we get to see their fictitious impact, because words matter.
Here we catalogue the finest works of non-existent prose, poetry, documentation, and scripture. Join us as we list the Top 10 fictional documents.
If you want a quick game that you can pick up and play when you and your friends are looking to kill an hour or two, you shouldn’t be looking through the Fantasy Flight catalogue.
Inspired by the works of H.P Lovecraft, a fellow you may have noticed we discuss a lot, comes a cooperative survival horror that takes place in the town of Arkham Massachusetts as it is besieged by unearthly horrors that foretell the coming of something far greater, far older, and far worse. Our plucky investigators must uncover clues, gather eldritch seals, and journey into the unknown to save the world, or die trying.
How to Play
Short version of the set up: Each player takes a character, who has a health value, sanity value, and particular ability; an Ancient One is chosen who will also impact the game, both while slumbering, and if/when awakened. Separate the many decks and tokens, making sure the monster tokens are randomised in some way such as piling them into a cup or hat.
Each round players take turns to explore the town of Arkham, it’s various locales and notable features, experiencing strange and terrible moments ranging from an uncomfortable experience with the patrons of Velma’s Diner, to an alien nightmare descending upon them in the docks. All the while the Mythos deck raises new challenges on the world as a whole, challenging the group to race against the Terror Track whose inevitable progress will eventually conjure the Ancient One from beyond to obliterate the world. How could such unimaginable power be prevented?
Portals to the other realms are opening throughout the town, spilling forth monsters, but allowing investigators to pass through those places where the Old Ones roam; the Plateau of Leng, Yuggoth, The Dreamlands, R’Lyeh; and in the process gaining great knowledge, allowing them to close, and potentially seal the portals, ending the flow of unearthly terror. Or they’ll go mad, die, or be lost forever to the void. If enough portals are closed and/or sealed the Ancient One has failed to invade Arkham… today.
But if it does… oh, if it does… should any one of an alarming number of factors be met and the Old One emerges, it’s a mad scramble to fight it back into the dread domain from whence it emerged. Too many monsters, too many open portals at once, too much fear in the hearts of mortals, or simply too much time elapsing, all of these things can bring the likes of Yog Shothoth, C’Thulhu, Yig, or mighty Azathoth down upon the heads of the investigators, who must use their meagre weapons, failing magic, and inadequate wits to fend off the creature for another lifetime.
This is a sincere invitation to anyone who can find me a game that better represents the nature of Lovecraft’s classic style of horror. Daunting, complex, and leaving you feel utterly hopeless and filled with unease; the very threat of what you must face if you do not succeed in the first phase of the game is tension-building stuff. As the game fills with complexity you find yourself facing more and more challenges, the pace becomes frantic, and your pulse only races faster. You’ll grow to fear the streets, the sky, and the inevitable march of time.
It makes strategy tough, that’s a fact. You find yourself pursuing each moment rather than planning the long game. Who has the capacity to close portals? What resources to the group have and how easily can they be traded? How much sanity or health can you afford to lose before running for the asylum or the hospital? At any moment, Mythos, a bad roll, or a bad event card can throw all plans you thought you had completely out of the window.
With so many variations in terms of character combinations, effects of the various Ancient Ones, random card effects, and the myriad expansions available for Arkham Horror, it can present you with a massive variation in every game giving it incredible replay value, assuming you have that kind of time on your hands of course.
Let me start by saying that this game hates you. You need to be clever, cohesive, strategic, and above all lucky at all times to stand a chance of beating Arkham Horror. It’s a tall order to simply prevent the Ancient One from emerging, it’s an even bigger ask to fight it. People will die, and you just have to try and work out whose better off surviving to try again, and if you can control the survival rate at all. Do not play if you like winning, expect to fail.
Like all Fantasy Flight games there’s a lot to keep track of, more so for the size of Arkham Horror, and it only gets worse as you start adding expansions, of which I have one, and I’m already daunted. If you plan to play this game in the afternoon set it up in the morning, and don’t plan to be done until the evening. You might be done, but don’t expect it. This means that there’s plenty to forget, and by the time you’re part way through the game and you suddenly realise that you’ve entirely forgotten a rule, or a major factor, or if you suddenly realise you’ve been neglecting to include certain parts, then it can upset the balance of the game.
No other game has had me out of my seat and yelling at dice, or so excited I was literally shouting at the friends around the table. This is a Fantasy Flight game, I’m not saying they’re all great, but this one is definitely up there on their hit list, as monstrous as it may be it’s worth all the laborious set up to play.
If the sheer size and complexity of this game is simply too much to bare, fret not, for a simplified version exists. Though still complex for its size, Elder Sign provides a faster and easier game experience that could (and frankly should) serve as a gateway into playing the leviathan Arkham Horror. As busy adults with lots of grown up things to do it can be a struggle to find time and space for a game like this, but it’s absolutely worth your time to do so.
Shameless promotion here, my friends at e-Collectica games will be celebrating the store’s 10th birthday on October the 15th with their longest ever Games Day, 10:00 – 19:30 at the Darwin Community Centre in Shrewsbury. If you’re in the midlands and want to join us for nine and a half hours of games come on over. We’ll be featuring a Ticket to Ride tournament, a couple of roleplays and your chance to learn some new games, or just play some favourites. More info at the event page on Facebook.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the internet…
They do say that worse things happen at sea, but frankly any large body of water can hold a variety of toothy, poisonous, bloodthirsty or otherwise deadly aquatic horrors. And water… deadly, deadly water.
It’s funny what you learn when you do research for other things.
In the process of putting together last weeks article Lovecraft, Films and TV I looked a little into John Carpenter’s The Thing, a classic mixture of body-horror, paranoia and cosmic horror. The concept of an immensely powerful creature descending from the stars with the power to devour us all has some rather eldritch horror elements, and while the origins for this story are more strongly tied to John W. Campbell’s “Who Goes There?” there’s no denying the impact of the Lovecraft contemporaries from a few years prior.
Did you know it was part of a trilogy?
I didn’t! (more…)
Despite the interpretations of Cthulhu that have rather missed the point (or understood it and gone cutesy anyway), the cultural impact of Howard Phillips Lovecraft is unmissable even if you don’t fully comprehend what you’re seeing. Computer games seem to be the chosen platform for recreating the mythos of his particular horror style, being able to properly immerse the player in the role of someone seeing their world view broken wide open, the shadows deepen and reach into their very soul. It’s effective, and may even have a more profound impact than the original literature, but there’s still so much that has yet to be explored. (more…)
Do you like comics?
Do you like Lovecraft?
Would you like to see a Lovecraftian comic about Lovecraft being an action hero? Then look no further, be prepared to be mortified as it’s time for another Kickstarter Highlight.