Not serious ones of course.
When I express a love of cosmic horror, the link between horror and comedy, dark and angry surrealism, nihilism, and all of the other things I over-analyse, it’s an expression of interest and fascination that is – at its core – what geekiness is all about: an open expression of passion for a particular subject or subjects. And as a creative person I like to let free my own reflection of those genres and subjects that fascinate me.
When I started putting my own particular brand of horoscope onto Facebook, I’d been listening to a lot of Welcome to Night Vale, and H.P. Lovecraft, watching Dylan Moran, and Rick and Morty. That, and I was in a mood to write and get weird with it, as I am wont to do, previous examples include corrupted christmas cracker jokes, a crowd sourced poem about being on the toilet, and some early evidence of my own mental health issues before I recognised what I was looking at.
All of this narcissistic rambling to say that for me… it’s a kind of fan art. I ingest the media that I love, and out comes some blended product born of my own creativity. Some examples:
Aries: Check your liver against the colour chart. Are you within the safe zone?
Taurus: You have no power here, only the howling of a chained beast
Gemini: They’re closing in
Cancer: No horoscope this week, seek answers from the Grand Tapestry of Bucharest
Leo: Square peg, round hole; angular logic, circular reasoning
Virgo: Citation needed
Libra: The association are concerned about your recent activity in the temple. Burn the robes and ditch the sceptre before they send in the auditors
Scorpio: Avoid log flumes, better to stay away from all carnival activities where possible
Sagittarius: Are you doing something different with your arms?
Capricorn: Death of a spider, birth of a fly
Aquarius: Hold onto the past, you never know when you might need it
Pisces: Everything will be fine. I am so sorry
I mean… a lot of Welcome to Night Vale.
It’s a thought that should horrify you, that either the stars are so utterly powerful that they can impact the finest details of our lives in a plan they concocted millions of years before our existence, or that we impart such incredible meaning to an elaborate and contrived dot-to-dot picture in the sky that a vast industry revolves around it, and some people think it has greater impact on their nature than – say – rudimentary psychology!
I endeavoured to bring together cosmic horror and cynicism, weave in some surrealist humour, and offset it with just a little profundity that you could believe, for just a moment, that there might be a purpose to it all. And yes, maybe there is – on some level – a little genuine philosophy leaking out, I’ve written dozens of these things, and anything to which you’re willing to commit that much time must be important to you. And if it entertains a few people then all the better.
What do you do to exorcise your creativity? What sources of inspiration do you draw from, and how do they reflect in what you create? Come chat to us in the comments, or over on our Facebook page.
A three-way tie between the choices: three dragons, three NPCs, and three extra-planar threats. This can only mean one thing. You get one of each.
As usual I will generally be drawing upon Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition rules, but most of the content here should easily be modifiable to any other system or edition you choose. (more…)
Dear Mr Tarantino,
Should I begin by asking if I should call you Quentin? It seems a bit informal considering that we have never met. For now, I will stick with Mr Tarantino as a mark of respect. Anyway, I’m sorry that it has taken me so long to get in touch with you but life has been really busy and I’m sure you know all about being busy. It has only just come to my attention that you would fit in well with our group and I thought it would be nice for me to extend a hearty invitation to come and mingle with us at one of our meet-ups. Even though I have been a massive fan of your work for some time I have only recently seen an interview that you did back in 1992 in London promoting Reservoir Dogs. It’s probably a bit much for me to expect you to remember this interview so for your convenience I have included it below.
It’s the way in which you speak about film and film making in this interview that was a particular revelation to me. You are obviously very knowledgeable and passionate about the subject. The way you explain that during college you were not interested in sports which although is cliché Geek it’s certainly something I can relate to. I personally have struggled to embrace my inner Geek in the past. Over the past few years, I have undergone a massive change that has now lead to my life being overall improved. In our group, we try to encourage people to embrace what makes them a Geek and you certainly are a great example of that. Your early work was received by film critics with mostly a fan-fare and I love the work ethic you had for not stopping there and continuing to do what you love. Your passion and dedication for films have led you to make what a lot of people believe are some very iconic pieces. I am sure that in the wake of that you have inspired other people who may be as geeky if not geekier than yourself about films and they will hopefully go on to produce great work in time.
I probably will never get the chance to thank you or the actors involved personally for producing such entertainment. I guess I just wanted you to know that should you ever fancy an evening in a pub, in Bristol (UK) with a bunch of other people who are passionate about a number of different things then we would be more than happy to have you. This might be a bit much but we could even make our theme for the month a Tarantino theme. We could have a quiz related to your films and our regulars could cosplay from the vast array of characters you have created in your filmmaking career and you.. well you can just come as you are. I’m pretty sure that our community would be right behind this idea and would welcome you with open arms.
So thank you for taking the time to read this and be an inspiration for people around the world who may be outcast for having something they are so passionate about. If you want to get in touch with us you can send us a comment via this website or contact us via Twitter, Reddit or Facebook. I look forward to meeting you in person.
Adventure is driven by the adventurous: the intrepid, the brave or the dutiful, who cast aside their lives of comfort to go and do something that straddles the line between brave and stupid, not because they want to, but because they must. When we think of heroes, we paint a fairly typical picture, often male, generally of a military or combative nature, and most of all blandly attractive but with such outward confidence that none can help but swoon. We can name them by type, the anti-hero, the unlikely hero, the tragic hero, and on and on…
But we like to stand out, we like to be different, and in a world filled to the brim with a variety of heroes and villains it can make it difficult to create something truly original, but there’s still some mould left to break. Though we’ve filled page after page with comic book heroes beyond number, plastered the screen with heroes of all shapes and sizes and elevated everyone until they feel like they can truly be special, there are always ways to freshen up and reinvigorate the same old tropes and put your personal mark upon them. (more…)
There’s a difference between flogging an intellectual property until everyone hates it, and having an idea that just keeps getting bigger until you can’t slow down.
The obvious example of the former, with each successive console supporting several new Mario titles in some form or another, either as the featured attraction or simply making a celebrity appearance such as in Smash Bros. or randomly showing his face in a Legend of Zelda game. The original format is spectacular, and it’s great that’s it’s maintained such a legacy, but there’s no denying that the squat italian is overstaying his welcome a little. Ever notice that you hardly ever see anything with Mickey Mouse as the main character these days? Disney knows when to retire a character better than Nintendo do.
Mario has had some variety, and is quick to pick up the best adaptions the platforming genre picks up as time goes on (where Sonic has rather failed), so it’s not to say that he’s grown stale over the years. He’s become the staple, the go-to, and while Nintedo’s catalogue grows ever wider there’s no denying that between the quantity, fluctuating quality, and exposure of Mario that they’re hitting a certain infuriating saturation point.
But they’ll keep Mario alive while the name and sexy, sexy moustache are still bringing in the money. While it’s nice that a new generation also get to experience the joys of stomping mushrooms and dragon-turtles to death, they’ll also get to experience getting sick of it like the rest of us…
Let me hold that up against another, more recent IP that’s seems to have overrun the market.
Maybe this is a huge cash-cow for Ubisoft, but at its core you can practically hear the echoes of the original conversation. Constantly reincarnating as an assassin working for the same order throughout history, appearing in every major culture as a pivotal figure in the ongoing war between the Templar and the Creed, a storyline that spans lifetimes, just the thought of that could spawn so many ideas, most of which you’d never be able to tie to a single narrative arc.
The story of Desmond Miles may be long over, but the nature of the idea still has a lot to offer. Taking the same raw concept and plunging it into the greatest civilizations of the world at their height creates stories almost organically, even if at times certain historical figures are shoehorned into place. With the recent addition of the Chronicles series that detail the stories of the lesser players in the many lives of the serial assassin, it’s given the creators chance to really delve deeper into that episodic narrative that their big-budget features wouldn’t normally allow.
And maybe some of us are sick of seeing it, to be honest the gameplay never gripped me but the concept I enjoy thoroughly. There are places where the zeal of the publisher shines through and the rushed titles suffer a little much like poor old Mario, but there’s still places where genuine warmth and affection for the core design and idea still resonates.
I’m not saying there’s not still love in the world for the old and overdone titles, least of all in the studios creating the games in question. Pokémon and Zelda both show profound love for the basic concept in (almost) every title. By comparison the Sims is eternally run out of the box like it’s fresh and new, and it’s just the same thing with a fresh coat of mesh, the title is a boundless well for random DLC concepts.
Love for a title shines through no matter how old that title becomes, and an idea that sparks in the head of one person that catches real fire can spread to other people, and it’s a beautiful thing to see. I’m sure most of you have had that one idea that doesn’t let you go until you’ve seen it to its eventual conclusion – or burn out, and know the thrills it can bring to see those ideas come to life. Now imagine you have a Triple-A budget behind that idea.
What a life that must be.
Any of you ever take part in NaNoWriMo?
National Novel Writing Month began in 1999; it’s a yearly effort to encourage creative thought and determined effort to a deadline. Participants have from the first minute of the first day in November until midnight on the thirtieth to complete a fifty thousand word novel from early planning stages to finished product, or at least a first draft. It’s a great way to get people motivated, bringing people together in a supporting network to get that niggling “I’m going to write a novel one day” feeling out of your system once and for all. (more…)
Issue thirty six of DMing 101 and only now do I bring this up. That’s because often the hardest thing to do is get started, as anyone who has stared down the barrel of a blank page knows all too well.
Before you’ve begun the game you should already have basics down like the world you’re playing in, a few rough story and questing ideas, some locations to play with, but how do you actually get the ball rolling? (more…)