The Lost Lands: A New Campaign World for Pathfinder

Friday, October 24th, 2014 | Posted by Bob Byrne

LostLands_StoneheartOn the opening day of Gen Con 2000, Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons was unveiled. That same day, Necromancer Games released The Wizard’s Amulet, more or less the second OGL/D20 adventure (that’s another discussion).

Necromancer, working with other companies such as White Wolf, Judges Guild and Kenzer and Company, became one of the most successful d20 companies. Their mega dungeon, Rappan Athak, is one of the best known Third Era adventures.

However, the advent of Fourth Edition spelled doom for Necromancer. Co-founder Bill Webb founded Frog God Games, a clear successor to Necromancer, and they published products for Paizo’s Pathfinder. Frog God produced new items and also updated old Necromancer goods as well, Pathfinderizing them.

With the advent of Fifth Edition D&D, Frog God is now publishing for both lines (in addition to retro-clone, Swords & Wizardry). Necromancer and Frog God adventures and supplements had loosely been connected in that they took place in Webb’s personal campaign world.

Frog God is currently putting out that campaign world under the moniker The Lost Lands. It is going to incorporate nearly everything produced by Necromancer and Frog God Games. Some products, such as their Judges Guild updates and the Hex Crawl Chronicles, belong to other folks and won’t be included. But if you look at the long list of products, there’s an awful lot, including Gary Gygax’ under-appreciated Necropolis.

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Miracles, Mystery, and the Ghost of Hank Williams: Steve Earle’s I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive

Friday, October 24th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive Steve Erle-smallFantasy is an odd genre, filled with surprises.

I was browsing the remainder table at Barnes and Noble earlier this month, when I stumbled on a dark fantasy featuring ghosts, mystery, drug addiction… and miracles. The author was none other than singer Steve Earle (Copperhead Row), who’s had his own battles with heroin addiction. I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive is Earle’s only novel (he published one collection of short stories, Doghouse Roses, in 2001), and the back cover was plastered with enthusiastic reviews from The New York Times, USA Today, Rolling Stone, and even Patti Smith. But it was the brief book description that won me over.

Doc Ebersole lives with the ghost of Hank Williams. Literally.

In 1963, ten years after he may have given Hank the morphine shot that killed him, Doc has lost his license. Living in the red-light district of San Antonio, he performs abortions and patches up the odd knife wound to feed his addiction. But when Graciela, a young Mexican immigrant, appears in the neighborhood in search of Doc’s services, miraculous things begin to happen. Everyone she meets is transformed for the better, except, maybe, for Hank’s angry ghost — who isn’t at all pleased to see Doc doing well.

Legendary American singer Hank Williams died — at the ripe old age of 29 — in 1953, and on the night he died, a doctor did indeed give him an injection of vitamin B12 mixed with morphine. I think we can safely assume the book departs from reality after that point, however.

Steve Earle is something of a Renaissance man. In addition to being a singer-songwriter, record producer, and author, he’s also an actor. He’s appeared on two HBO series, The Wire and Treme, and briefly appeared on 30 Rock. His fourteenth studio album, also titled I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, arrived in 2011. On September 16, The Wrap reported that Chris Hemsworth (Thor) will star in and produce a film adaption of I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive. It was published by Mariner on May 22, 2012. It is 256 pages, with a cover price of $13.95 in trade paperback. I bought my copy remaindered for $4.98.


The Perils of Writing a Series, Er, Part Two

Friday, October 24th, 2014 | Posted by Violette Malan

Blood PriceLast time I talked about writing a series and how there can be other things, besides how a character ages – or whether they age at all – that can complicate things for the writer. I mentioned the type of detail that can catch a writer flat-footed in a contradiction or even a simple change, which likely occurred because the writer, unlike the reader, didn’t write all of the books in one sitting.

Even when a writer does write all the books of a series in one sitting (which is to say, one after another) it can still be tricky. Some people keep extensive and detailed charts on the things that they’ve said about each character, for example. For us Fantasy and SF writers, that might also include what we’ve said about magic systems, technological differences from our own society, and basic socio-political infrastructures. And when it comes to the characters themselves, every writer of a series has to keep track of not only details like hair colour, eye colour, and clothing preference, but family relationships, education, and training. You may need to remember that casually mentioned cousin in the military or that aunt in the sorcerer’s guild.

In fact, it can be those “casual mentions,” things that somehow supply the right touch of verisimilitude at the time, that can come back and haunt you two or three books down the line. When you think about it, it’s no wonder so many main characters are orphans.

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Firefly Friday – Firefly: The Game

Friday, October 24th, 2014 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

Firefly-The-Game

Ever want to just buy a ship and take off into the night sky, making your own rules and living a life that was truly free? Firefly: The Game (Amazon) gives you the chance to do just that, if you think you’re up for it.

On the off chance that you’ve been in a coma for the last decade: Firefly was a tragically short-lived television series created by Joss Whedon. After his success on Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Angel, he turned to science fiction, creating a series that can best (but simplistically) be described as “cowboys in space.” The series centered around a spaceship crew living on the fringe of society, taking jobs of questionable legality while trying to stay off the radar of the government. It was cancelled before all 13 of the episodes even aired, but fan enthusiasm resulted in a feature film, Serenity, that gave some measure of closure for fans.

But, as so often happens in our little world of fandom, even that was not the end of the story. In a few short episodes, Joss Whedon had created a rich and dynamic universe of rugged heroes who traveled the expanse between worlds just trying to find a job, work the job, get paid, and keep flying. It has continued in a number of forms, from comic books to board games. As I’ve mentioned before, my shelves contain a number of these related materials. (More than I typically care to admit.)

It’s hard to overstate how great this short television series was … And it’s equally hard to overstate how well Firefly: The Game captures the feel of trying to make your way out in the black, even if that means you have to misbehave a bit.

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Goth Chick News: Clive Barker Lets His Fans Back Into Hell… Finally

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 | Posted by Sue Granquist

The Scarlet Gospels-smallWaiting for a sequel for nearly two decades could be considered one of Satan’s personal jokes, were it not for the fact that in  this case the irony would be too blatant even for the Prince of Darkness himself.

Clive Barker’s The Scarlet Gospels has been teased for so long, and in so many incarnations, that it was beginning to look like one of the worst publicity stunts in publishing history. As far back as 1993, Barker talked about a new book of short stories that would include a sequel to The Hellbound Heart, the novella that introduced the world to the Cenobites.

Those rumors soon morphed into scuttle about a potential short novel pitting the most famous Cenobite, Pinhead, against another iconic Barker character, the occult detective Harry D’Amour.

However, as the story developed over the course of several years, Barker decided to expand the concept into a novel and the unrelated short stories were put aside.

Rumors of a release date were bantered about, sending Barker fans into repeated frenzies of speculation. But delays came in the form of Barker’s several throat surgeries, and in 2012 his lapse into a coma for eleven days following a trip to the dentist that led to blood poisoning. Barker recovered, but his near-death experience left him with “many strange visions” (which may or may not have found their way into his work).

Finally on Sept 9, 2013, Barker announced via social media that although no date has been set for release, “The Scarlet Gospels are finished.”

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See the Teaser Trailer for Avengers 2 (or, Why Can’t I have Hulkbuster Armor?)

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Avengers 67 Ultron-smallAll work at the rooftop headquarters of Black Gate came to a standstill this afternoon, due to the surprise release of the first teaser trailer for Avengers 2: The Age of Ultron.

Now, this doesn’t happen for just any trailer. (At least, not those that aren’t Star Trek-related). However, we are big fans of the Avengers, both their comic incarnation and the Joss Whedon movie.

Also, we’re fans of Ultron.

Ultron usually gets a bad rap. Did you know he was the first person (erm, machine), to speak on the cover of The Avengers? True story. Before that, everyone on the cover — superheroes and villains alike — stood brooding in heroic poses, afraid to say anything. Ultron finally opened his mouth on the cover of Avengers 67 (saying “Die, Avengers, Die!”, y’know, as he usually does), and after that, you couldn’t get people to shut up on the cover of The Avengers.

Did you know Ultron was built by Henry Pym, also known as Ant Man? Okay, everybody knows that. How are they going to ret-con that into the movie continuity, given that the Paul Rudd Ant Man movie doesn’t come out until July 2015, two months after The Avengers 2? No one knows. I’ve looked for any trace of Rudd or Henry Pym in the IMDB cast list, but no dice.

As cool as Ultron is, of course, his creation The Vision (first appearance: Avengers 57, 1968) is even cooler. According to IMDB, the Vision does appear in the movie, played by Jude Law (who also plays the voice of Tony Stark’s robot assistant, Jarvis. Coincidence? I don’t think so.)

Anyway, check out the trailer below. There’s all kinds of mysterious individuals and brief glimpses of cool things, including Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch (first glimpsed in the end-credit hidden scene of Captain America 2), and Tony Stark’s hulkbuster armor. We’ve watched it 134 times, but maybe you can catch things we haven’t. Enjoy.

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The Books of Blood, Captain Blood

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

blood novelA few months ago, I discovered that Fletcher Vredenburgh was reading Captain Blood at the same time I was working my way through the lesser-known book-length Captain Blood story collections (Captain Blood Returns – aka The Chronicles of Captain Blood – and The Fortunes of Captain Blood). We made a solemn pact to compare notes and share our findings on Black Gate, which brings us here today.

Now Blood isn’t remotely a fantasy figure – except in the loosest of senses – but historical swashbucklers had a huge impact on sword-and-sorcery, my favorite flavor of fantasy, so Sabatini and other writers like him are “in the wheelhouse,” if you will pardon the pun, and certainly merit a look if it’s the action and swordplay in fantasy that you most enjoy.

Also, pirates. With the exception of Treasure Island, Captain Blood is probably the most famous of all pirate stories. Many people have certainly heard of it who’ve never read it. And if they’re curious, they should probably give it a go. Fletcher and I will explain why over the course of the rest of this article.

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NaNoWriMo: How to “Pants” Through Your Novel like a Rampaging Panzer Division in 1940 France (and Why You Should)

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 | Posted by M Harold Page

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_tanks_in_World_War_II#mediaviewer/File:Panzer025.jpg

First, Art and Music.

Hopefully, we don’t much like Nazis. Even so, it’s hard not to admire the way the panzer divisions rampaged across Europe, redefining modern warfare as they went. We’ll come back to them.

First, Fine Art and Music.

A friend of mine is a well-known Scottish landscape artist. He goes about his paintings pretty much how you would expect: roughs them out on the canvas itself, then adds layers of precision until he has an amazing picture. However, a friend of his, another professional artist (who shall remain nameless) starts painting in the top left hand corner of the canvas, and like a color laser printer zigzags across the thing until the picture is complete.

This, I am assured, is not normal.

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World War One: An International, Multiracial Conflict

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

batallion

Tirailleurs Sénégalais in World War One, 43rd Battalion. Senegalese troops fought with distinction throughout the war on both the Western Front and the Dardanelles.

With the centennial of World War One in full swing, there’s a lot of press repeating the received truths about the war. If one listens to the UK media, it sounds like the British dealt with the Germans almost single-handed, saving Brave Little Belgium with a bit of help from the French and of course the Commonwealth allies.

American media coverage, such as it is, stresses the American role, while glossing over the first three years they missed. Neither of these national media spend much time on the wide diversity of people involved in the conflict.

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Fanfiction and Me

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 | Posted by marthawells

Starlog 40-smallI was introduced to fanfiction after The Empire Strikes Back came out in 1980, when I was around fifteen. This was long before the Internet, and fanfic was printed in fanzines, fan-produced magazines that were mimeographed or xeroxed, or if the editor could afford it, offset printed. But finding them, if you didn’t already know someone who knew about them, was nearly impossible.

As a lonely, feral, anxiety-ridden, teenage fan, my only connection to the fandom world at all was Starlog magazine. Back then, Starlog was a lifeline for me, and it not only featured articles and news about TV shows, movies, and books, but also fan groups and conventions. (I chose the university I went to because Starlog had an article that mentioned its student SF/F club and convention, but that’s another story.)

The magazine also had a section of small cheap personal ads in the back for fan-related merchandise. One issue, a fanzine called Facets, dedicated to fanfic about Harrison Ford’s various characters (mostly Han Solo and Indiana Jones) bought an ad, and I sent my money in (I don’t remember how much, probably less than $10) and bought a couple of small fanzines.

I was hooked. The back of each fanzine was filled with ads and flyers for other Star Wars fanzines, and I dived in and ordered more.

At their height of popularity in the 80s and early 90s, Star Wars fanzines were gorgeous productions. There were zines that were more than 300 pages long; with color covers and black and white illustrations; and filled with stories, poems, and cartoons. The best editors would copyedit the stories and some made suggestions and asked for revisions, helping the writers produce their best work.

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