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Review: The Endless (2017)

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I'd been meaning to watch The Endless for awhile since it came on Netflix and finally got around to it last night.  As it kind of came across in the teaser, this was a middling, somewhat light, cosmic horror movie. The premise starting out put me in mind of the 2007 math-cult film Believers .  But as The Endless progresses, the cultish nature of the group in Camp Arcadia becomes less of an issue compared to the otherworldly nature of the place itself and the looming supernatural threat. In the end it reminded me a little of the premise of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy books (though I haven't seen the movie Annihlation , based on the books, so I'm not sure how closely that parallels the premise). For my tastes, the premise and situation were fairly interesting, and the special effects were appropriately understated in some spots and adequately dramatic in other bits.  But the film was not without flaws: After the first couple scenes there was a definite air

Review: The Day Star by Mark S. Geston

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I thought I'd posted this earlier, but apparently I wrote this review back on G+, so here it is now from an archived copy: ------ I originally looked into The Day Star by Mark Geston simply based on the awesomeness of it's cover (depicted) but it took quite awhile before I finally got around to reading it recently. I probably should have managed to fit it in a long time ago though, since it is such a short work. The book might fit, if awkwardly, into the dying earth genre of fiction (certainly it's world weary enough to make the cut). And while reading I kept seeing elements and flashes of other better known books, though I get the sense there's no direct influence involved. The cosmology bears some similarity to King's Dark Tower setting: a multi-world universe shaped by powerful human technology of old which tried to bend the world to human will and is now in disrepair. Although not a perfect correlation, the weakening of the universe's boundary which occurred

In the Light of a Ghost Star - Stats & Psionics Expansion

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Nate Treme's In the Light of a Ghost Star  tabletop RPG is about humans of the far future, whose ancestors fled to Mars during the Sun's red giant phase.  Now that the Sun has entered its white dwarf phase, they return to Earth to scavenge ancient items of interest among the weird things inhabiting the now dark planet. Since I've been thinking of running this game at some point, I was reading over it the other day and realized two things which seemed to be lacking, so created a supplement of optional rules to cover them: Social Stat The game grants three character abilities which are couched as professions but treated as attributes or similar stats: Fighter - For combat and most other physical feats. Explorer - Mainly for sneaking and perception. Scientist - Most other forms of analysis, knowledge and technical expertise. These seem a fairly elegant combination for each character to have, but the definition was extremely brief in the original documents, and didn't co

The Forgotten Planet

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Been listening to a bunch of Librevox podcasts of Murray Leinster 's (William Fitzgerald's) work. The tone varies quite a bit among his works, but the stories often seem to follow the trope of speculating male protagonist inventively resolving problems to the delight and frustration of love interest and/or fellows. The Forgotten Planet is no exception. It takes place on a planet incompletely terraformed due to administrative error, where the highest form of life is amphibian, and giant fungi and arthropods dominate much of the wetter lowlands beneath a constantly overcast sky. Events of the story take place 40 generations after a ship crash lands on the world, a time at which the survivors' descents have been reduced to a pre-stone age existence with almost no social structure by the brutal nature of survival among terrifying giant insects and spiders. The plot involves the protagonist and his loosely knit band managing to improve their lot in life during a surprisingly

HexDrive Game Jam - The Astral Navigator's Handbook

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The Astral Navigator's Handbook is my completed entry for the HexDrive Zine Jam . The HexDrive Zine is something being put together by Micah Anderson & Anxiety Wizard. As they  described it : [HexDrive is] about the greatness of spelljammer, and how none of us have read spelljammer ... do not read spelljammer! (if you have, forget everything!) I'd never gotten involved with these kinds of game jams in the past, but this concept meshed perfectly with some ideas I'd been thinking about for years now, so it seemed like the prefect excuse to get things down in print.  Possibly this is the fastest I've ever written a game supplement from scratch, managing to crank the thing out in two about weeks start to finish. The Astral Navigator's Handbook is a largely systemless CC-BY licensed supplement intended for use with your preferred fantasy role-playing game.  But unlike Spelljammer, it could be shoehorned into a game of slightly more sci-fi style space opera

The Battle for the Dwarven Gubbins

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My daughter (11) and I, both fairly inexperienced with wargames, decided to try and run a session using One Page Rules Age of Fantasy: Skirmish .  As if to reenact the game's cover art, we opted to run humans (her) vs. ratfolk (me). The two sides contested among the ruins, each seeking to lay claim to pieces of the lost Dwarven gubbins-technology. I spent the week 3D printing a vast number of tokens (only a few of which ever got used) and a few pieces of terrain pieces (all of which saw play). Unfortunately, despite my hours of printing, the table was still a little sparse on terrain. So we added a bunch of clay pieces from kids early art projects and a couple other random items crowding our bookshelves. Member of a ratfolk patrol manages to remain upright as comrades stumble around apparently falling-down drunk. Presumably the commander should've provided better basing for the troops. We ran just the basic game, still learning the rules, but had a blas

The Hedge Lich

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Originally written in response to: Can a PC be a Lich in D&D 5E? An actual lich would be pretty powerful for a typical player character to be at lower levels. So, probably successfully becoming a lich would make one an NPC in most games.  Instead I suggest a compromise for those wanting to play a walking skeleton: The Hedge Lich Sometimes wizards try to become a lich when they just aren't well studied enough to pull off the appropriate ritual. Other times a mage creates a ritual attempting to resurrect someone, a gift which only divine power can truly provide. Often the result is simply failure, but occasionally the caster creates a lesser form of free willed undead sometimes referred to as a "Hedge Lich". The flesh of a hedge lich gradually rots away leaving only an animated skeleton. A hedge lich has the same ability scores they had in life as well as any classes, skills or proficiencies. However, they lose any racial abilities except those which are inna