Happy 2020: Round-up for Innkeeper Series and Sagas of Sundry’s Dread

Happy New Year, everyone!

To start off 2020, two things to potentially check out:

Sweep with Me by Ilona Andrews

The next installment of Ilona Andrews’ Innkeeper series is currently running as a web series prior to its official release as per usual with this series. This is an urban fantasy/sci-fi about the Innkeeper Dina, who runs a magical inn that acts as a waystation and point of neutrality for aliens (some werewolf and vampire-like) from space.

I don’t know that I’d recommend this as a starting point for newcomers, though. The beginning very much feels like it builds on the action of the previous stories.

Sagas of Sundry: Dread

I’ve written about this show before (Sagas of Sundry: Dread, and the Chilling, Psychological Story of Five Friends Haunted by their Experiences)–but back then, the series was behind a paywall. Now, it’s migrated to YouTube.

Since the 6-part story is newly accessible, I thought it was worth pointing out again. Here’s a few excerpts of what I’d written about it before.

Genre: Mystery/supernatural/horror web series/RPG Continue reading “Happy 2020: Round-up for Innkeeper Series and Sagas of Sundry’s Dread”

Suspense and Arcane Horror in Call of Cthulhu: Shadow of the Crystal Palace One-Shot from Critical Role

 

(The show starts around the 6-minute mark, as it doesn’t seem to be autoplaying from there properly.)

Victorian London is holding its annual cat show at the Crystal Palace–an exhibition center made of glass, now fallen into disrepair. It is under the guise of this event that six enterprising professionals are hired to “procure” an artifact from the closed portions of the building for a collector. A world-trotting explorer, an enterprising daughter of Japanese ambassadors, an archivist from the British Museum, an engineer previously employed by Edison, a spiritualist, and a veteran now employed by the gentlemen collector paying for this enterprise–all of these people venture into the depths of the Crystal Palace to find much more than what they were looking for.

A cross between historical fiction and arcane horror, this is a role-playing adventure with a cast of professional voice actors. And it’s awesome. Continue reading “Suspense and Arcane Horror in Call of Cthulhu: Shadow of the Crystal Palace One-Shot from Critical Role”

Roundup: Books-to-TV, Critical Role’s Animated Series, and a Book Award

Grad school is pretty hectic at the moment, so I don’t have time to write a long post. But I figured I’d mention a few recent geeky news items, and a personal update.

1. Have you guys heard about the Lord of the Rings TV show coming to Amazon? I’ve just found out it will be set before all of the action in the original trilogy and The Hobbit–which is super exciting, because I really want to see new plotlines and characters in fantasy TV.

2) Speaking of book-to-movie adaptations, Leigh Bardugo’s stories are going to have a Netflix adaptation, though I’m still confused about exactly what is being adapted. There’s been talk about both of her first two series, which have different plotlines, different characters, and take place on different continents. So are there going to be two Netflix series? Once series combining both stories? What’s going on?

Either, anything that adapts Six of Crows’ amazing fantasy heist is worth keeping an eye on.

3. Critical Role will be making an animated series. They put up a Kickstarter last week that became fully funded within an hour of launching, blew through every stretch goal (forcing them to come up with new ones), and is currently somewhere around $6.7M. Because that’s the power of a dedicated fanbase. (I backed the project too, especially since some of their rewards will be available to everyone, not just backers.)

This is pretty cool, because the format for the regular show is esoteric enough to be a bit of a barrier towards viewers who aren’t already familiar with or interested in tabletop RPGs. But an animated series will create a new possible entry point.

4.  Chains Carried on Wings is a finalist for The Wishing Shelf Book Awards! It’s in category 4: Books for Teenagers. Maybe I should have led with that, instead of burying it at the bottom. But when it comes to this self-promoting nonsense, even mentioning it is already an improvement.

Critical Role Campaign 2: An Ostentatious Blood Hunter/Circus Performer with a Hidden Moral Code

Part 2 of my going through all of the characters of Critical Role’s second campaign, a fantasy RPG web series/podcast (depending on how you choose to experience it). Part 1 is here.

I’d probably best get on with talking about Molly’s character.

Continue reading “Critical Role Campaign 2: An Ostentatious Blood Hunter/Circus Performer with a Hidden Moral Code”

Critical Role Campaign 2: A Bunch of Loners Starting to Open Up, and a Sweet Wizard/Rogue Friendship

Genre: Fantasy RPG

Synopsis: An assorted group of adventurers meet, solve a zombie crime, and decide to keep traveling together. But they don’t all want the same things, and trust is hard to build. Will they be able to find some common ground, or will their collaboration blow up in their faces? Continue reading “Critical Role Campaign 2: A Bunch of Loners Starting to Open Up, and a Sweet Wizard/Rogue Friendship”

Revisiting the Horror Genre for Halloween

I’ve always thought that I didn’t like the horror genre. And it’s true that I don’t like a lot of what I generally expect to see in horror. But since I’ve unexpectedly found myself enjoying a few works in the genre right in time for Halloween, I’ve taken some time to think about what this means. Specifically, that I don’t like a lot of the tropes I associate with traditional American horror: lack of focus on characterization, shock value deaths, the notion that characters need to be punished. I’m not necessarily enamored with a work of fiction trying to scare me either, or reveling in the helplessness of the characters.

Still, while those things make up a lot of horror works, they don’t have to. Horror (especially psychological horror) can be character-focused. Every death can mean something, or alternatively, the threat of death could replace actual death. And while the entire point of the genre is to pit the protagonists against something far more powerful than themselves, that doesn’t mean the story can’t also be about them looking for ways to fight back. Continue reading “Revisiting the Horror Genre for Halloween”

Sagas of Sundry: Dread, and the Chilling, Psychological Story of Five Friends Haunted by their Experiences

Six people standing in a woody area, with a porch behind them.
Image: Geek and Sundry

Genre: Mystery/supernatural/horror web series/RPG

Synopsis: A group of friends meet up a year after experiencing supernatural danger, to head back to the same place it happened the first time. None of them have truly managed to move on from it. No matter the consequences of going back, of tempting fate after they survived the last time, they all agree to go. In the hopes of discovering what actually happened to them, and of finding some sort of closure. Continue reading “Sagas of Sundry: Dread, and the Chilling, Psychological Story of Five Friends Haunted by their Experiences”

Why I Can’t Seem to Finish Mass Effect: Andromeda

You guys, I tried.

There are good, entertaining parts to this game–I’ve mentioned them before–but the parts in between them are too much of a slog. At some point, the anticipation that drives me through that slog to get to the good parts wears thin. Andromeda needs more than cool ideas. It has to execute them well, and consistently enough to keep the audience engaged. The game is made up of a series of good moments, and some great ones, with a lot of not-so-good stuff in between them. But what it needed was to draw the audience into a continuous story, and it doesn’t really do that. Continue reading “Why I Can’t Seem to Finish Mass Effect: Andromeda”