Sunday, December 20, 2015

Muppets -- New Race for 5e


Muppets

Some strange worlds are blessed (or cursed) with a magical mutation that causes random creatures – bears, chickens, dogs, pigs, and even humanoids – to be born fashioned of cloth and felt rather than flesh. A pair of normal, fleshy humans might give birth to a puppet-like child or a single tadpole out of a clutch of hundreds of eggs might grow up to be a sentient and floppy. These beings are known as Muppets.

(Some worlds – like the planet Thra – seem to be entirely populated by Muppets. Such worlds and the unique Muppet species that dwell there are beyond the scope of this article.) 


http://mightygodking.com/2011/03/08/alignment-chart-the-muppet-show/

Muppet Traits

Ability Score Increase: Your Charisma score increases by 2.

Alignment: While Muppets can be found of any alignment, their magically-infuse nature inclines most to Chaos.

Languages: You speak Common and any one language of your choice. Muppets do not have a tongue of their own, but instead use the language of whatever culture they are born into or adopts them.

Size: see below

Speed: Your walking speed is 30 feet.

Floppy: The cloth flesh of Muppets grants them resistance to bludgeoning and thunder damage.


Muppet Moppets

The vast majority of Muppets are small, essentially humanoid creatures. Many of these are anthropomorphic beasts (such as frogs, lizards, otters, and dozens of other species) while others are furry and vaguely monstrous. The majority, however, are of human extraction – though their skin tones range all across the spectrum. The physical characteristics of Muppet moppets remain the same despite their appearance.

Ability Score Increase: Your Agility and Intelligence scores increase by 1.

Size: Small

Lucky: When you roll a 1 or an ability check or saving throw, you can reroll the die but must use the new result.

Talented: You are proficient in the Performance skill and one instrument of your choice.


Muppet Monsters

Some Muppets, however, are large, bulky, frightening creatures. The heads of these Muppet monsters tend to be oversized, meaning that while their bodies are only as large as a large human, their height can be several feet taller. 

Ability Score Increase: Your Strength score increases by 2.

Size: Medium 

Siege Monster: You deal double damage to objects and structures.

Powerful Build: You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Reflections on the Changeling 20th Anniversary Kickstarter



Onyx Path started the Kickstarter for the Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary edition yesterday. I pledged $1 because I wanted to make at least a symbolic gesture of support for the project. I’m not sure if I’m going to pledge more. I’d like to get my hands on the 20th anniversary edition, but I’m not sure I want to pay $110 for it.

Changeling: The Dreaming occupies a weird place in my gaming history. It is at once the most important game I’ve ever played and also one I’ve never really played. I admire it in concept and loathe it in practice. It’s complicated.

Thinking back on my roleplaying career both before and after my marriage to Robin, I’m pretty sure I’ve never actually played a game of Changeling. I think – maybe – that I bought the original softcover release for myself, read it, and decided I didn’t like it.

For those who don’t know, Changeling is one of the five core lines in White Wolf’s original World of Darkness setting. The last one released, C:TD countered the Gothic Punk aesthetic of the previous lines (Vampire: The Masquerade, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, and Wraith: The Oblivion) with a much more whimsical, much more colorful trade dress and art style. The actual content of the game, on the other hand…

Well, I guess it depends on who you ask.

Player characters in Changeling are half-human, half-fairy changelings. They can see and interact with a world of beauty and magic that the rest of the World of Darkness can’t even perceive. Unfortunately, the wearying banality of the regular world slowly but surely robs changelings of their connection to the fae.

When I was 22, I couldn’t help but see this inevitable loss as the most tragic, horrifying concept in any World of Darkness game. The existential dread of the workaday world grinding all of the light and joy out of life terrified me far more than a vampire’s endless life of murder or a werewolf’s doomed battle against tentacle monsters.

Changeling’s romanticizing of mental illness didn’t help; like a lot of art, it positioned mental illness as a sort of gift, a mark of genius and inner beauty. Changelings in the game, after all, saw things that weren’t “really” there and were punished by compassionless normal people with incarceration in mental asylums and invasive psychological therapy. It’s the same tired, dumbass attitude that let Byron and Lovecraft off the hook for being assholes, and made Hemingway and Howard kill themselves. Even then – in the midst of my own overweening pride in my own weirdness – I wasn’t at all interested in running players through psychotic breaks and trauma. It just didn’t seem fun.

I put the book away, wishing I knew a way to make the game work for me.


Robin played C:TD with her pre-me gaming group and apparently had some fun times as a hard-drinking satyress. A few years after we married, we were living in a new city with no friends and no way to make them. Robin pleaded with me to run an RPG with just the two of us, and I finally agreed. We chose to play Changeling.

Except we didn’t.

We didn’t play Changeling: The Dreaming. We played the game’s Asian-themed spinoff, Land of Eight Million Dreams.

Land of Eight Million Dreams is almost a completely different game. Not only are the rules dramatically different, the basic ethos of the game is practically the opposite of its parent. The player characters are the hsien, immortal nature spirits or minor gods that gently take over the bodies of the recently deceased. They subsist off of prayers and dreams, but they’re not trapped in the inevitable cycle of despair that characterizes changelings. Instead, the hsien simply worry about the malaise of constant reincarnation (#spiritworldproblems) and the fact that other monsters find them delicious.

Robin played a cat-girl and an integral part of our continued happiness was born.

Twenty years after Changeling: The Dreaming debuted – and over a decade since the duet games began – I feel like I can laugh in Changeling’s ageist, anti-psychology face. I’m 42 and I’m the most creative I’ve ever been. I’m published, damn it! And I’m in demand! I’ve learned that mental illness isn’t the price to pay for being a genius, but that it is instead a sickness just like the flu or cancer that must be treated with medication and therapy. It’s a hindrance to creativity not its price – and certainly not an aid. Twenty years later, it turns out that Changeling: The Dreaming had it all wrong.

And yet, I still feel like there’s a game I might really love hiding in there somewhere. Tony DiTerlizzi’s art remains as evocative and inviting as ever, promising a game of romance and imagination that the text betrays. I’m still grateful to Changeling: The Dreaming for producing Land of Eight Million Dreams , and the fact that the twentieth anniversary edition includes the hsien makes that book so very, very tempting. Maybe – if I actually give enough money to get a copy of the book – I can make this revised version work for me.

Or maybe I should just give a buck and wait for Blue Rose AGE and Fae Nightmares to arrive. Or put Altellus into playtesting shape. Or just use my old copy of Land of Eight Million Dreams if I really want to run it again…






https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/darksmilegames/fae-nightmares


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/504269797/blue-rose-the-age-roleplaying-game-of-romantic-fan





https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/200664283/deluxe-changeling-the-dreaming-20th-anniversary-ed

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Strider is part of the RCRF Holiday Bundle!

 RCRF Help for the Holidays





The Roleplaying Game Creators Relief Fund (RCRF) is a charitable organization founded to provide financial assistance to tabletop roleplaying game creators suffering hardship due to medical emergencies, natural disasters, and other catastrophic situations


We all love tabletop RPGs, and we respect the people who create them. But most people who create tabletop RPGs are freelancers and other folks who often work for much lower income than they could earn in other industries — they create games because they love them, not because they expect to get rich. That means if tragedy strikes, a tabletop RPG creator may not have insurance or enough savings to cope properly.


That’s where the Roleplaying Game Creators Relief Fund comes in. We love tabletop RPGs and would like the hobby to remain vibrant. We believe that helping talented creators continue to work in the RPG field does just that. So we’d like to offer some assistance to tabletop RPG creators who experience medical emergencies, injuries, and other catastrophic circumstances they’re not able to handle financially.

We need your help with this! Donations from tabletop RPG fans like you are what provide the RCRF with the funds to help tabletop RPG creators in need. Even if you can’t donate money, telling other people about the RCRF through word of mouth and social media is a big help. The higher our profile is, the more creators we can help.

Not everyone is high enough level to cast a Cure spell, but maybe we can all chip in to buy a Healing Potion or two.


So, it's pretty much like comics' Hero Initiative, except for RPG creators. I hope to All-Powerful Atheismo that I never need this kind of assistance, but I know from all of the "help Jim Ward" fund-raisers on Google+ that this is all too necessary in the underpaid RPG field.

The bundle is a pretty good deal. For $25 you get the usual assortment of third-party D&D and Pathfinder supplements and adventures, the Accursed Player's Guide, the BareBones Fantasy core rules, Camp Myth: The RPG, Cartoon Action Hour Season 3, Covert Ops RPG, D20PRO for Windows, the DC Adventures Hero's Handbook (as in DC Comics), Red Tide (!), Slasher Flick: Director's Cut, the Savage World of Solomon Kane core book (one of Pinnacle's best products), and The Thin Blue Line Player's Guide. I'm buying the bundle myself just for Cartoon Action Hour and Red Tide

(And anyone who enjoys my work and hasn't bought Accursed should really, really pick it up. FOR REASONS.)

Out of the $2.99 that Strider usually costs, I make an entire dollar. That doesn't sound like much, but it adds up quick. Giving it away to help those in need represents an appreciable loss in income for me and I'm sure it's the same for the rest of the sponsors. Working in RPGs is as unpredictable and risky as any other entertainment field -- one moment you're the hot new thing, the next you're old hat -- so we need to do what we can to help each other out.

Thanks!


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Turkey Day's Eve Ramble

I’m stretched thin between my day job and non-blog writing (some of which is actual work-for-hire), so my attempts to form any coherent blog post are coming to naught. Whenever that happens, it’s time for bullet points!

All I wanted from Captain America III was MODOK, and now I'm stuck with Iron Man instead.
  • Have you heard that creator Joel Hodgson is raising money to fund a new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000? If you’re in my social media circles, then I can assure you that you have! I’d apologize for the shilling on Joel’s part, but MST3K was a seminal influence on my life. I would eagerly give $10,000 to be one of those guys who gets to pitch a riff, but I don’t have that kind of money. Instead, I’ll beg that if you ever enjoyed Joel or Mike, please dig into your wallets and give $35 (at least that way you get some episodes to download).
  • I’m blowing off watching the Captain America: Civil War trailer online because I’d rather see it in the theater – and I’m still mad that it’s not just Steve and Sam driving around in a van fighting MODOK while looking for Bucky.
  • I’m also not interested in Jessica Jones right now. I might get to it after the holiday anxiety season. I'd rather fight off my problems by watching shows about wizards who punch things with fire than watch a superheroine with PTSD.
  • Dammit, I don’t have the time to go see Victor Frankenstein. I’ve got to save my precious time out of the house for Star Wars and wine.
  • Every time I say “I need to run a pre-generated campaign so I can save my brain energy for writing,” I wind up making up a campaign on the run instead. Right now it’s a supernatural 1970s thing and soon it’s going to be a fairy tale-ish “Realms-shattering event.” I either need someone else to write some campaigns with strong romance elements or I need to get paid to write them full-time myself.
  • I know there’s at least one Pathfinder Adventure Path with a whole “relationship tracker” thingamabob. A moment ago I found myself thinking “I hate Pathfinder,” but it’s the system I hate, not the setting. Since I’m playing D&D 5e anyway, what could it hurt to try adapting a Pathfinder AP? It shouldn't be difficult. All I'd need to do is swap around some stats.
  • No, the 1970s game isn’t 5e. It’s Savage Worlds. We barely ever roll any dice anyway. Heck, the magic has veered off into Mage: The Ascension territory.
  • For those who know me, yes, I meant “fairy tale” and not “Fairy Tail” in the description of the Realms-shattering campaign. I mean to have lots of fey and quests and befriending weird things so they’ll help you and all that. Also, a frostwind virago because they are apparently just sexy blue women in fur coats.
  • Hahaha… I just looked up “Pathfinder relationship system” and discovered that the AP in question – Jade Regent – features the character whose portrait we used for Robin’s PC in the defunct 5e FR campaign. And it’s basically a Marco Polo-ish caravan to the East thing. I might actually enjoy it.
  • If you miss Futurama, try Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It’s a workplace comedy that might as well be animated for all the insanity it throws on the screen – and the police work is just barely more relevant to the show than Planet Express was to Futurama.
  • I'm disappointed the internet hasn't created a Futurama/Brooklyn Nine-Nine mashup image yet. Boyle is totally Zoidberg! Get on it, people!  

I miss sexy D&D. Even 3.5 had an edge to it. Damn you, 4e!

Monday, November 16, 2015

SCAG Observations


This isn’t a review. I’ve got way too much on my plate to read this thing cover to cover, but I have skimmed it a few times and read a few bits more thoroughly so I think I can provide some observations at least.
  • It doesn’t turn back the clock, but the Realms of SCAG is much more like the one I love. A lot of effort has been made to undo most of the random, crazy changes 4e introduced. Mulhorand, Faerun’s goofy-ass Egypt analogue, is back. Waterdeep is once again the shining star of the Sword Coast. The stars are in the sky, the water is in the Sea of Fallen Stars, etc.
  • If anything, the combination of 5e changes and 4e changes moves the Realms back to what it was like in 2e. The Silver Marches (AKA Luruar), a nation of allied city-states based around Silverymoon, has been disbanded and the far north of Faerun is once again a dangerous frontier. I’m not exactly upset about this, even if I would like to see Alustriel reinstated as ruler of Silverymoon.
  • Players worried about their characters being bossed around and eclipsed by NPCs can breathe a sigh of relief. Few of the classic Realms NPCs are back in any significant way, and no one is given any stats. Even I didn’t like the days when Khelben Arunsun was always 10 levels higher than any PCs, just so he could smack them down if they got too uppity.
  • Laeral is the new Alustriel.
  • Is Silverymoon even more Rivendellish than it used to be? 
  • I like how the Serpent Hills and Lizard Marshes are now a reptilian kingdom. I know that 3e had reptile-folk kingdoms way down in the south of the Realms, but who wants to leave the comforts of Waterdeep so far behind just to punch snake-people?
  • The High Forest is definitely more Arcadian, more fairy tale-ish than it used to be. Too bad the 5e Monster Manual has so few fey. 
  • The 4e changes to the Moonshaes are still pretty much in place. I have to admit that I find this wilder, fey-ridden version of the Moonshaes pretty interesting. Again, it’s too bad the 5e Monster Manual has so few fey. 
  • (To be honest, every time I think about fantasy settings these days, I find myself attracted to a more mythical or fairy tale approach. I probably want to buy Beasts of Legend: Coldwood Codex for my own amusement.)
  • The Sun Soul monk is the Ryu/Ken build you thought you were getting from the Way of the Four Elements. I’m going to try talking my monk player into rebuilding her character with this path instead.
  • The Long Death monk makes me really wish WotC would publish a Monster Manual 2 with expanded NPC stats. Or a Sword Coast DM’s Guide with the same.
  • I am not retroactively giving my Uthgardt GM PC the Uthgardt Barbaian background. He's a criminal through and through.
 
 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hey, SCAG! You forgot someone!

Not actually Sharess

Sharess
The Dancing Lady, the Tawny Temptress
Alignment: CG
Domains: Life, Trickery
Symbol: A pair of luscious lips

The history of Sharess is long and twisted. In brief, the cat-goddess Bast wandered away from the Mulhorandi pantheon, merged with the obscure and dying elf deity Zandilar the Dancer, and eventually was tempted by and partially integrated into the goddess Shar. For centuries, Sharess existed as an aspect of Shar – a reminder that secrets can be enticing, that longing and loss are intimately related – and was worshipped as the patroness of festhalls and sensual fulfillment. Sune helped Sharess regain her independence during the Time of Troubles, but the long, strange road from the Spellplague to the Second Sundering seems to have ended with Sune absorbing Sharess and becoming the goddess of hedonism.

In truth, the worship of Sharess has gone underground. Crusades against Shar (instigator of the Spellplague) resulted in demonization of the goddess who shared her name. Sharess became the center of a small but loyal mystery cult; no longer the goddess of sensual pleasure, she became instead the goddess of desire. Her cult practices a demanding devotion, walking the sword’s edge between gratification and overindulgence, between the enlightened self-interest of hedonism and the selfishness of decadence. Initiation into the cult requires rigorous physical and spiritual testing, weeding out the romantics who would be happier with Sune, the sadomasochists who belong to Loviatar, and the infiltrators in the employ of Shar.

While still the (secret) patroness of festhalls – where her clergy attend the less-pleasant healthcare aspects of festhall work as well as provide spiritual guidance to the employees – her role as goddess of desire makes Sharess the favored goddess of the dissatisfied and dispossessed. Artists and poets who wish to depict the grotesque and sublime – instead of merely the beautiful – are drawn to her worship; philosophers and rebels who dream of nations without kings and cities ruled by the consent of their people find solace in her ever-hungry, never-satisfied desire. If less happy than in bygone ages, if less light of heart than she was before, Sharess now finds greater purpose in this new age.


Symbol of Sharess


Thursday, November 5, 2015

The King is Dead: Illuminated Connections

Ryan Eggold as Dr. Joseph Warren, Michael Raymond-James as Paul Revere, Ben Barnes as Sam Adams, Rafe Spall as John Hancock, and Henry Thomas as John Adams in The History Channel's Sons of Liberty. Wait a sec... Henry Thomas?! He's from San Antonio like me! (Totally tapping the zeitgeist...)

A key component of The King is Dead is leveraging a hero’s connections to her secret society (literalized in all player characters gaining the Connections Edge for free). The Game Master can also utilize these connections to help build the world by developing the hero’s contacts into NPCs with their own goals and personalities. To assist GMs and players in fleshing out these contacts, each secret society has a list of archetypal connections with their own unique abilities.

All heroes know a number of Experts equal to ½ Charisma + 2. Additional Expert contacts can be gained and lost by improving or reducing Charisma, by purchasing the Improved Connections Edge, and by getting the Experts killed in combat.

New Edge

Improved Connections
Requirements: Seasoned, ConnectionsThe hero gains connections with two more Experts. These Experts are not replaced if they die aiding the cabal in a combat mission. This Edge can be taken multiple times.

Illuminated Connections
Most members of the Illuminated are occultists or professionals drawn from the middle class and gentry; the majority are human males of Gothic or Hunnish blood. Exceptions exist but these example contacts are based on typical Illuminated. 

Average Illuminated
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Knowledge (Occult) d6, Investigation d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Stealth d4, Taunt d4
Charisma: +2; Pace: 6; Parry: 6 (rapier); Toughness:5
Equipment: Flintlock musket (Range 10/20/40, Damage 2d8, RoF 1), rapier (Strength+1d4, Parry +1)

Experts

Charming Adventurer  A charismatic gambler and seducer, the Charming Adventurer ingratiates himself amongst the aristocracy and gentry, entertaining them with his daring exploits and sponging off their handouts.
Environments: City, Town
Locations: Bordello, Garden Square, Palace
Notable Traits: Gambling d8, Persuasion d10, Stealth d8, Charisma +4, Improved Evasion
Special: On a Connections raise, the Charming Adventurer can provide discrete entry to any of his Locations but will not assist once the cabal is inside. Two or more raises means he will risk his livelihood to aid the cabal.

Firebrand Lawyer
Willing to argue the letter of the law in front of vampires who control its intent, the Firebrand Lawyer inspires his clients to believe in a government by the people, for the people.
Environments: City, Town
Locations: City Hall, Coffeehouse, Garrison
Notable Traits: Intimidation d8, Knowledge (Law) d10, Notice d8, Taunt d8, Strong Willed
Special: For a cost of one Benny per hero, the Firebrand Lawyer can argue the release of cabal members imprisoned on suspicion. For two Bennies, he can free heroes caught in the act of anything less than murder.

Gentleman Farmer
An example to his neighbors, the Gentleman Farmer teaches the benefits of charity and learning in how he handles his estates. His manor house can shelter the weary and his library can aid the curious.
Environments: Town, Countryside
Locations: Coffeehouse, Country Estate, Garden Square
Notable Traits: Smarts d10, Knowledge (Occult and any one other) d8, Filthy Rich
Special: On a Connections raise, the Gentleman Farmer can shelter the cabal from pursuit (+2 Stealth) or aid their research (+1 Investigation or Occult). Two or more raises doubles the bonuses.

Mysterious Mystic
An alchemist and magician, the Mysterious Mystic claims to be in touch with Secret Masters who guide the Illuminated from beyond the earthly sphere. His magical knowledge is second to none, though his motives are obscure.
Environments: City, Town
Locations: Coffeehouse, Garden Square, House of Mystery
Notable Traits: Smarts d10, Knowledge (Occult) d10, Spellcasting d10, Arcane Background: Magic, Wizard
Special: For a cost of one Benny per hero, the Mysterious Mystic can provide the cabal with a Philosopher’s Stone containing one power of Veteran Rank or less. The stone has 10 power points and a d10 Spellcasting skill.

Radical Philosopher
Vociferous in opposing the vampires, the Radical Philosopher issues pamphlets proposing startling social changes and harangues his fellow citizens in the town square. He may be only one step ahead of the law, but he has admirers.
Environments: City, Town
Locations: Coffeehouse, Tavern, Town Square
Notable Traits: Intimidation d6, Persuasion d10, Taunt d10, Strong Willed
Special: On a Connections raise, the Radical Philosopher and five Average Illuminated will join the cabal as muscle. On two or more raises, the Radical Philosopher’s charisma draws a total of ten Average Illuminated into the enterprise.

Slippery Mountebank
Less of a charlatan than he appears, the Slippery Mountebank combines a haphazard education in the occult with innovative medical knowledge to create surprisingly efficacious snake oil. He finds his most gullible customers amongst farmers and the urban poor.
Environments: City, Countryside
Locations: Bordello, Tavern, Town Square
Notable Traits: Healing d10, Knowledge (Science - Physiology) d8, Spellcasting d8, Arcane Background: Magic, Fleet-Footed
Special: On a Connections raise, the Slippery Mountebank can provide the cabal with an elixir of healing (3 doses, Spellcasting d8). Two or more raises allows him to concoct one of greater healing (2 doses, Spellcasting d8).

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

An Altellan Fragment...

I need to practice my prose, so here's a fiction fragment from Altellus...

Rembrandt, self-portrait

Lucan assumed a guarding stance, planting his hooves far (but not too far) apart for balance, tucking his left arm behind his back, and turning his torso to present as little target as possible to his opponent. He held his blade low, point high, in order to interpose as much steel between his vital organs and his foe’s point as possible. His movements were graceful, even poetic, as he studied himself in the mirror.

He smiled fondly at himself and laughed at his own absurdity.

Lucan Aetherious never chuckled. He did not chuckle or snicker or titter. He laughed, he guffawed, and he even brayed but he never laughed quietly, not even at his own thoughts, not even when he was all alone. Cerberos, his sooty-furred cat, had grown used to the sudden outbursts long ago and merely yawned at the satyrid.

Lucan slid his rapier into its sheath, primped his hair, adjusted his codpiece, and opened his door. His room was on the third floor of the Insula Rosa, a relatively new apartment block in the heart of Berenna, built in the quadrangle style popular amongst the nymphidae aristocrats and burghers. The apartments formed a square around a garden plot – in this case filled with the insula’s famed rose bushes – usually allowing all the inhabitants a refreshingly beautiful view of something approaching nature as they headed out their doors. This evening, though, the quadrangle was filled with people and flames. The scent of roasting meat and spices, of fresh-baked bread and grilled vegetables, of wine – always wine! – set Lucan’s mouth to watering.

The St. Ariadne’s Eve celebrations were already underway. Children of all gentes – satyridae, nymphidae, centauridae, and more – made human labyrinths, holding hands and standing in shifting rows as the child playing Theseus tried to escape. The adults ate, drank, talked about their woes (as responsible folk always do), or flirted (as Lucan would much prefer). A sleek-furred, many-times-over descendant of Oedipus and the Sphinx looked up at his balcony, smiling coyly, and the satyrid swordsman wished he had less expensive tastes. He’d much rather join his neighbors and make merry, but the Insula Rosa was an expensive place to live.

Lucan laughed again, his voice drowned out by the laughter and shouting of honest folk, and descended the stairs. He blew a kiss to the sphingid and walked out into the streets of Berenna. Perhaps, if he got back from his assignation in a timely manner, he could share his bed with a better companion than Cerberos this evening.

In the meantime, he had a man to kill.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The King is Dead: The Long Halloween Continues...

And so thirty-one days of (more or less) The King is Dead content concludes. For me this is just the beginning; the next several months will see Wine and Savages most likely reduced to one post a week as Robin and I work on the book. Even when The King is Dead is published next July, I expect I’ll still be providing content and running TKiD games well into next October.

It’s going to be a very long Halloween indeed…

A few hours ago, I caught up on my weekly TV viewing by watching the Bones/Sleepy Hollowcrossover. The first The King is Dead post premiered August 13th and Sleepy Hollow premiered September 16th of that same year; they’ve always been part of the same zeitgeist, but I’ve never before seen an episode of that show embody TKiD – or Savage Worlds-style craziness – quite so much. “Dead Men Tell No Tales” featured Betsy Ross, secret agent, mowing down an army of undead redcoats with a repeating crossbow that shot Greek fire-headed bolts. I fell off the couch laughing, recognizing her weapon as a Weird Science version of the bolt power with a “fire” trapping.

It’s obviously a sign from the game gods that we’re on the right path.

Blue Greek fire, I should add.

My thanks to all of you who have +1d my The King is Dead Google+ posts, left comments there or here at Wine and Savages, or just plain visited the site. My thanks to those French guys who linked here that one time, forcing me to Google Translate their comments and discover that TKiD has an international audience – and my thanks to the Russian and Spanish roleplayers  who have also expressed their interest. My thanks to +Clint Black  and +Richard Woolcock  and everybody else who has chimed in with rules suggestions and critiques (even – no, especially – when I have disagreed with them). My great thanks to +Kristian Serrano  for giving us the Savage Bloggers Network and Google+ Savage Worlds community and helping us all meet in the first place.

My sincere thanks to +Eric Simon for asking to publish The King is Dead through Four-in-HandGames; I really, really didn’t want to go through all the headaches of setting up my own publishing company. I wish I could tell everybody how immensely supportive and generous Eric has been – both with TKiD and Steamscapes – without delving into confidential business matters, but I can’t so you’ll just have to take my word for it. He is a gentleman and a scholar, and I hope The King is Dead is a success for his sake as much as my own.

Finally, my everlasting thanks to my wife, +Robin English-Bircher. Her support and encouragement would alone be more than I could hope for, but she is also joining this project as my co-writer and editor. You can expect to see fiction and in-universe poetry from her pen helping to flesh out Malleus and the world of The King is Dead; perhaps we’ll even dole some out over the next few months.


As for me, I need to write up a bunch of NPCs to flesh out Thornburg, the setting of the ongoing TKiD playtest, so that next week’s game has a bit more meat on its bones. I’ve got the shape of the book in my head, so it’s time to get that down on paper and outline the danged thing. With that in place, I’ll be able to jump around from chapter to chapter, writing things as they come to me, filling it all in a bit at a time. As anyone clicking the TKiD banner at the top of this page knows, there’s an awful lot of material already in place on the blog – and I’ve got several chapters of the book basically written on top of that. Now’s the time to standardize spellings, fill in some blanks, and get The King is Dead ready for the world before the zeitgeist passes us by…

Friday, October 30, 2015

The King is Dead: It Begins!!!

It's been hinted at and mentioned in passing, but now it's official: Four-in-Hand Games, publishers of Steamscapes, will bring you The King is Dead in July 2016. Check out the announcement at the new Four-in-Hand Games site and read more about this exciting news tomorrow!
 
 http://fihgames.com/TKiD
 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The King is Dead: vs. Rippers

I like the way Mina was promoted to leader of the Rippers in Resurrected

Well, I write “versus,” but it’s the same kind of “versus” we’re bound to see in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice: two heroes at cross purposes who really have a lot in common and end up becoming best friends.

(Or something like that.)

I’ve read (and sort-of played) the original Rippers and I was an eager backer of the Rippers Resurrected Kickstarter. I love Rippers! I love Victorian horror and sci-fi. I love Rippers’ cinematic precedents: the Universal Monsters, Hammer Films’ horror classics, even Stephen Sommers’ less-than-perfect Van Helsing. I love RippersAnno Dracula/League of Extraordinary Gentlemen-style crossover universe. I would happily write the Japan chapter for Frightful Expeditions.

(Lafacadio Hearn would make an awesome lodge leader.)

The King is Dead certainly exists in a dialogue with Rippers; I chose “cabal” as the name for player character parties for a reason, after all. The basic premises are similar (secret societies battling monsters) yet potently different (Rippers is about protecting civilization from monsters in the shadows, TKiD is about heroes in the shadows destroying a monstrous civilization), they’re both period pieces (though the differences between the bawdy late 18th century and the prim late 19th century are HUGE), and they both posit heroes capable of being as monstrous as their opponents (though rippertech and the Dark Secret Hindrance are very different both mechanically and tonally). Rippers and The King is Dead occupy a similar psychological niche, but their differences outweigh the similarities.

(Admittedly, I suggested a map of an English country house as a reward for Rippers precisely because I wanted one for The King is Dead.)

I’m still working through my copy of Rippers Resurrected, but it looks like all of the differences intended between TKiD and Rippers are still there. TKiD cabals are proactive, setting goals and maneuvering to execute them in a manner more like heist film thieves than the reactive defenders of horror and superhero movies. Rippers factions are still more of a background element than the foregrounded goals and rivalries of the TKiD secret societies. Rippers is still international, sweeping across nations and continents, while The King is Dead is narrower in focus, a more intimate, involved exploration of a nation in revolt. The huge thematic differences between the two settings reveal themselves in dozens of subtle ways.

In other words, you’re still going to want to buy The King is Dead.    


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The King is Dead: I am a man of many hats

...And they're all tricornes.


Derived from military designs that allowed soldiers to more easily sight their firearms, the tricorne (or “cocked hat,” as it was actually known in the 18th century) is ubiquitous with 18th century fashion. The lifted sides allow onlookers to view a gentleman’s artfully arranged and carefully curled wig, while the hat itself tucks neatly under the arm when one is indoors. Within the world of The King is Dead, the cocked hat is the de rigueur headgear of the middle and upper classes.

I’ve recently discovered that the two most expensive of the four tricornes I own are actually made wrong. I can tell you from personal experience that the cocked hat is useless in providing shade against the sun, but that’s because you’re supposed to be able to lower the lifted sides of the brim. You see those laces on the officially-licensed Captain Jack Sparrow hat? They’re actually supposed to tie the brim to the crown, allowing the wearer to untie or loosen the brim and wear it down to block sun or rain. The cheap tricornes I picked up at the Spirit Halloween Store are actually slightly more accurate; the buttons on the side do allow one to lower the brim.

In contravention of the usual Savage Worlds approach to clothing, I’m considering devoting a full page of the equipment section to different pieces of clothing. Fashion is an important part of courtly intrigue, and it seems to me that giving players a more extensive list of clothing choices would be wise. Of course, too much research can be the death of a project. The extended fashion section will only exist if I can find some quick, easy way to research comparable prices, fabrics, etc.

(Which might mean simply browsing the pages of reenactment societies and suppliers like The Quartermaster General, Smiling Fox Forge, or Smoke & Fire Company.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Not The King is Dead: Retribution RPG Kickstarter

I’m sure that – like me – many of you are awaiting the release later today of the first set of rewards from the Rippers Resurrected Kickstarter, but did you know that there’s another Savage Worlds supernatural setting Kickstarter still going?

Obatron Productions, the current publishers of Savage Insider and my frequent publishers, are running a campaign to fund Retribution, a paranormal fantasy setting. I call it “paranormal” rather than “horror” because many of the concepts seem to me to lean closer to parapsychology and spiritualism than you normally find in a setting full of ghosts. Since the advertising copy specifically states that player characters may find themselves allied with the dead, I would definitely slot it into tales of mediums and psychics. 

(I doubt Vickey and Bob Beaver would agree, but I kinda find myself thinking “fantasy Ghostbusters.”)
 
Retribution character sheet
See what I mean about parapsychology?

As of October 27th, the campaign has 12 days more to run – and it’s been stuck at the same amount for a couple of weeks. I was the first backer and I obviously have a vested interest in helping Obatron Productions succeed (who will publish my weird articles otherwise?) but I also know from personal experience that Vickey and Bob are good people who love Savage Worlds. Savage Insider has helped a number of us reach a bigger audience, and it certainly provides a much-needed intermediary between fandom and professionals. Can’t we give them a bit more of a boost?

(Oh, and Vickey has previously announced that she’d be happy to give interviews. I’m stupidly busy – you can count on me to pretty much fall off the map at the end of October as I get busy writing TKiD – so would anyone else like to take her up on the offer?)

The Retribution Kickstarter runs until November 8th. More information can be found at Obatron Productions.

From the Kickstarter page:

Nutshell

Retribution is a supernatural fantasy setting for Savage Worlds, requiring a copy of any edition of the Savage Worlds rulebook. With some patience and creativity, it can be converted to other systems.

Key Points of Interest

  • PCs can be any of the six primary races (human, elf, dwarf, orc, gnome, half-folk) or hybrids of them.
  • If a PC dies, there is a chance she will be transformed into a playable ghost (spirit).
  • Besides the general fighter, cleric, magic-user, and other, familiar character types, Retribution offers Edges and Hindrances to create specialized characters such as unjailers who work to free entities who have been bound to this plane unwillingly, necromancers who study mastery of the dead, exomancers who have the power to work with extraplaner beings, and others that add to the Retribution experience.
  • Necromancy is more than just animating skeletons or raising the dead as zombies, covering also medium arts, binding spirits, and working with other aspects of death.
  • Exomancy is much like necromancy, but applies only to those who come from beyond the mortal realm.
Play Possibilities
 
Venture across the sea from the original homelands to Agador to escape a troubled past; seek to restore your ancestral village, leading to any number of options; portray a group of ghost hunters who want to banish any who don’t belong; assemble a group to search for relics of bygone days; work the trade routes, protecting merchants and finding adventure; be part of the burgeoning Agador Guard, who keep out pirates, or at least keep them under control; quest to release trapped spirits or try extra-planer entities who mean harm; or become part of the new political structure satisfying your own interest in power.
 
Retribution Setting Summary
 
The Great Betrayal – the civil war of Agador – led to the sundering of the veil between the physical realm and many others. Play in a world where the planes of existence have leaked into Agador, introducing ghosts set upon retribution for their deaths, allowing entry of previously unknown entities, and upsetting the natural order of the land.
 
Many are dead-set on wreaking havoc or have other mysterious agendas. However, not all are hostile. Some seek unjailers who can send them back to the planes from which the magical attacks and malicious intent pulled them. Others wish to explore what is here. There are those who are trapped by necromancy or exomancy. A few see themselves as new guardians of Agador.
 
This is a land of opportunity and peril. A place where the natural and supernatural collide. The Great Betrayal nearly destroyed all who inhabited it, but survivors and questors choose not to let it die. Join the ranks of descendants who are determined to restore order and bring renewed prominence to the island nation. Come to Agador to prove your strength and test your mettle. Break the cycle of Retribution.

Backstory
 
More than a hundred years ago, elvish explorers discovered an undeveloped island. They set up camps and cataloged their discoveries. Word spread across the other lands. Intrigued, many sailed to new lives. For decades, the fledgling island nation grew in peace, with small settlements taking hold near the shores and in the wilds in between.
 
Side by side, all manner of people worked the land: its fields, stones, and trees. Some sought more than they had. Whispered half-truths spread from small town to port city and all assemblies in between, sparking unrest. One by one, allies turned upon each other, seeing foes where friends had stood.
 
Fighting broke out. Families were divided. Civil war consumed the nation. Just as the violence reached its apex, some who’d been searching for answers – suspecting Agador had been sucked into a manufactured crisis – found proof of their hypothesis. It was too late.
 
Each side had ramped up all manner of fighting, engaging the deadliest of magical attacks and counterattacks that any had ever seen. Alas, in a fearsome display of power, the fighters of Agador did something none knew was possible and was not at all intended: they tore into the veil between the physical world and that of the dead. The recently departed flooded back into the mortal realm. The chaos did not stop there. The act reverberated across planes, allowing creatures beyond their imaginations to cross into their world.
 
In the span of just a few minutes, the civil war – The Great Betrayal – ended and a new, much more desperate one began.
 
And Now
 
It’s been 50 years since the war ended and Agador united to defend itself against those who don’t belong. While many of the unearthly beings have been dispelled, banished, or otherwise stopped from occupying the physical world, the fabric holding the planes apart has never completely healed.
 
Several leaders are attempting to rebuild Agador, returning it to the splendor and purpose it achieved before The Great Betrayal. They’ve reached out to the faraway homelands inviting adventurers, merchants, and anyone else who will come in peace. They’ve rallied descendants of the first settlers, as well, hoping to harness their ambition as heirs of lost settlements. It is up to those who accept the challenge to quell the ongoing quest for retribution while aiding in the reformation of the once-proud nation.
 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The King is Dead: Fully Photo-Illustrated

One of the weirder ideas I've had for The King is Dead is bypassing the drawn and painted art usually found in RPG manuals for photography. I'm taking a very "Hollywood History" approach to this imaginary 18th century, and films and TV have been central to inspiring and developing this world. I'm an amateur (though published) photographer and I kinda fancy the idea of taking a few pictures myself, buying some stock photos from Adobe Stock, and Photoshopping them all into something at least as good-looking as a late Hammer Films feature.

(I kinda want the book to look like a licensed game for a license that doesn't exist.)

This is quite possibly a terrible idea (The Book of Erotic Fantasy, after all, did not benefit from using photography). I'll know in a few months after I've had time to experiment a bit more with the software (and after the inevitable Kickstarter sets my art budget).

(Which makes me consider running a top-tier reward where the backer gets to fly out to Texas for gaming, wine, and a photo shoot in the Hill Country.)

In any case, here's a few examples from a shoot Robin and I did a few months back:

I rather like this one.

The highwaywoman makes her move!

A garishly Hammeresque title card in the making.

An experiment in "blue for night;" I still haven't figured that out yet.
If the majority audience reaction is to stick with normal illustrations, I will bow to conventional wisdom. As the book isn't going to have the art budget of a PEG or WotC production, this may mean extensive use of period art. Thankfully, we're talking the post-Renaissance period, so people had finally learned to draw and paint the real world. I could do a lot worse than Joseph Vernet.

Nicely done, Mr. Sherlock-Holmes'-ancestor!

Unfortunately, there is very, very little stock RPG art available for an 18th century setting -- and I'm pretty sure Wizards isn't going to sell me a secondary license on the art from the Innistrad Magic; The Gathering series (more's the pity).

They certainly wouldn't license it for what I can afford.

Feel free to chime in here or on Google+! I'm very curious to hear how people feel about potential art in The King is Dead. Thanks!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The King is Dead: Immortality (1998)


Have you ever watched a movie and not been sure whether you liked it or not? Immortality (AKA The Wisdom of Crocodiles) is slow and hypnotic and weird. I think I liked it, but I'm not sure.

What I am sure of, however, is that this is a near-perfect reverse TKiD film. It's set in the 20th century and the plot is about a serial killer (and probable vampire, though the only really supernatural thing we see him do is painful and disgusting) stalking and seducing an innocent woman while evading the cop who's after him for killing his previous girlfriend. But just imagine that Jude Law's vampire is actually a heroic revolutionary assassin, and you've got a very instructional film for TKiD GMs. The heroes of The King is Dead, after all, have to cover their tracks more than most RPG characters.

A really weird film, but educational nonetheless... 

Friday, October 23, 2015

The King is Dead: Franklyn Arrowet, Occult Scholar

Heath Ledger in The Brothers Grimm
The Illuminated
Freethinkers and kabbalists

“Magnus ab integro seclorum nascitur ordo – a mighty order of ages is born anew.  A new order shall emerge and mankind shall not bow to darkness.”
Vulkan (pseudonym of Franklyn Arrowet), Declaration of the Rights of Man.

Franklyn Arrowet
Novice

This scholar of the classical world has studied the battles of Remula and the mysticism of ancient Tsion, searching for the secret of how those ancient lands resisted the vampires -- even if their resistance was ultimately futile. His curiosity leads him down dark and dangerous paths, inquiring after long-forgotten gods that perhaps should stay forgotten.

Arrowet spends his free time writing incendiary pamphlets under the pen name "Vulkan." In them he expresses such noble sentiments as democracy and freedom, but the curiosity that drives his arcane research is sadly lacking in his personal life -- or perhaps it is his native caution that prevents him from fully challenging such ancient institutions as slavery. While extra care is admirable in drawing magic circles to bind daemons, it is less admirable when it withholds freedom.

Attitude: Arrowet is Helpful toward his intellectual equals in the Zunft von Hohenheim and Friendly toward the Bloodstained Blade and their ancient knowledge, but only Neutral toward members of the rest of the secret societies. He prides himself too much on his enlightened attitude to be Uncooperative or Hostile toward any co-conspirators, but the Bluestockings and Ananzi's Web really try his patience with their pestering. 
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8.
Skills: Fighting d4, Investigation d8, Knowledge (Battle) d8, Knowledge (Occult) d8, Notice d4, Persuasion d4, Riding d4, Spellcasting d8, Stealth d4.
Charisma: +0; Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 6
Hindrances: Curious, Dark Secret [Major] (see below),* Bad Eyes [Minor], Cautious
Edges: Arcane Background: Magic, Connections (Illuminated), Scholar 
Gear: Dissertations on classical warfare (Knowledge (Battle) +1), formal clothes, grimoire (+1 to Spellcasting rolls for summon ally only), half-finished treatise, rapier (Str+1d4, +1 Parry).
Special Abilities:
  • Power Points: 10
  • Powers: bolt, detect/conceal arcana, smite
* If Franklyn Arrowet is revealed to have a Dark Secret, choose from or roll on the chart below:
  • 1. Arrowet's researches into the occult produce catastrophic results. The cabal comes upon him in the last moments of a summoning ritual and watches in horror as a Daemon of the Outer Air (Fire Elemental) erupts from its wards, incinerating Arrowet before turning on the rest of the cabal.
  • 2-3. Arrowet's researches have led him to an ill-considered dalliance with a Dhampir Sorcerer; this sorcerer may be either a radical student of the Scholomance or a devotee of Countess Erzbeta Battori. Fearing for its life and reputation, the Dhampir Sorcerer snaps Arrowet's neck before attacking the cabal.
  • 4-5. Arrowet's researches have led him to enter into a blood-pact with an ambitious Vampire Sorcerer. Discovered by the cabal in the act of sating his bloodlust, Arrowet turns on his former companions. Use the statistics for an Eldritch Moroi as Arrowet attempts his escape.
  • 6. Arrowet's researches have led him to knowledge man was not meant to know. The cabal comes upon him in the last moments of a hideous sacrifice and watches in horror as he is transformed into something... wrong. Use the statistics for a Tentacled Horror as he runs amok. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The King is Dead: Dracula, dude!


Last year, I backed several RPG Kickstarters with the express purpose of metabolizing their contents to help fuel development of The King is Dead. One of these projects was The Dracula Dossier from Pelgrane Press, an attempt to meld Bram Stoker’s novel (in all of its variations) with spy fiction into a multi-genre, multi-generational campaign. What little I’ve been able to read so far has been great, but I think my favorite bit to come of this is Kenneth Hite’s essay series that runs this month – 31 Nights of Dractober – in which he examines many of the cinematic interpretations of Stoker’s story.

Of course, Hite pisses all over my favorite version: Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

This isn’t really surprising. Many Dracula aficionados dislike the film; for example, Leslie S. Klinger goes out of his way to spew venom at it in The New Annotated Dracula. Obviously, I don’t share this aversion, but Hite at least succeeds in making me understand why he dislikes Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Basically, it’s because Dracula isn’t really the bad guy.

He’s right, of course. The tagline for the ad campaign was “Love Never Dies,” so it’s self-evident that the vampire in Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula is positioned as the romantic lead. The 1992 film wasn’t the first time Drac was framed as a figure of romance – Frank Langella was smoldering and sexy in Dracula (1979) and George Hamilton played Dracula as the lead in a rom-com in (the shockingly racist) Love at First Bite (also 1979, weirdly enough) – but Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a supposedly serious attempt to bring the original novel to life which nevertheless inserts an original plot about Dracula and Mina’s time-lost romance. I can understand how this textual infidelity in a film claiming to be the most faithful adaptation yet might offend fans of the novel. In the end, Coppola turns Dracula into the hero of the story.

A creepy, creep hero, but the hero nonetheless...

I disagree that this is a problem, of course, just as I disagree about the complaints that the film’s Victorian England is corrupt and over-sexy, that the weird special effects are too campy, and that the performances are weak. (I mean, yes, Keanu is bad and Winona Ryder gets worse every time I watch the movie, but I think Coppola cast Keanu very deliberately and back in 1992 we all thought Ryder was a better actress than history has shown.) I can’t claim to have watched quite as many versions of Dracula as Kenneth Hite, but I have yet to see one that serves up Bram Stoker’s heady stew of psychosexual weirdness quite like Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

If you don't like weird werewolf sex, then you won't like this movie.

(And let me admit that this is certainly Francis Ford Coppola’s version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It is not the novel – I consider this a point in its favor – and so I constantly jokingly refer to it – even when speaking – as “Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.”)

I could make the excuse that Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula was my first real Dracula movie. It’s generally accepted as a truism that your first version of a thing will always be your favorite (the actor you first see playing James Bond will always be your Bond, the actor you first watch playing the Doctor will always be your Doctor Who) but this doesn’t really hold true for me. Technically, George Hamilton was my first Dracula – which might explain why I’m sympathetic to romantic Dracula – but I also try very hard to be open to revising my opinions (my favorite Bond is Daniel Craig instead of the actor I was named after, my favorite Doctor is Matt Smith). The truth, though, is that I was already pretty familiar with Dracula (on screen and off) well before Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula… Not that there isn’t some nostalgia involved in my love of the film. 

These go for hundreds of dollars each now.

Thanks to the Crestwood House Monster series, I knew way more about classic horror movies – including Bela Lugosi’s turn as Dracula and its sequels – than most kids born in 1973. I’m also pretty sure that I’d read Stoker’s novel before seeing Coppola’s film; my oldest, most battered copy is not a movie tie-in, so I’m pretty sure I got it before the film came out. Admittedly, as a sex-obsessed 19-year old, I was perfectly willing to read as much kinky subtext into the book as I could, but even I couldn’t do so if the sub- wasn’t hiding in the text. Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula came out in 1992, and deconstructing subtext the way that movie does – the way I did and still do – is the most ‘90s thing possible – and if there’s any nostalgia involved here, it’s my nostalgia for the ‘90s.

Exposing subtext and revealing hypocrisy were pretty much defining interests of both my sub-set of Generation X and the filmmakers of the early ‘90s. Deconstruction ruled the day. The grunge movement, after all, was about stripping rock and roll back to its basics again and sabotaging the mindless music industry machine; Kurt Cobain wrote a song that called out the thoughtless idiots who sang along but never understood his lyrics. In cinema, just a few months before Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Michael Mann had given the world a version of The Last of the Mohicans that Mark Twain would have enjoyed; the American Indian villain was a complex, intelligent character instead of an idiotic stereotype, the duplicity of both the British and the French was on display, and the white hero was deferential to his American Indian mentor. The exposure of Victorian hypocrisies and the inversion of their values present in Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula simply puts the film in the same revisionist mode that dominated the early ‘90s.

Tear of blood... Can you be more '90s?

And why not invert the values of Bram Stoker’s novel? They’re hardly worth protecting. Mina Murray is a competent, intelligent young woman who is nevertheless written as shy of the “New Woman” label and happy to serve as Jonathan Harker’s secretary; excuse me if I prefer a Mina who yearns for something more. Excuse me for preferring a sexually-aggressive Lucy Westenra to a virginal doll fawned over by a trio of stalwarts. Excuse me for preferring a Dracula who transcends the Yellow Peril undertones of his conception, whose promise of sexual freedom and defiance of social mores is yearned for by the filmmaker and his heroines. I mean, am I the only person who reads some sort of symbolic gangbang, some patriarchal claiming ritual into Mina and Jonathan’s son being named after all the heroes in the novel?

(Yes, I probably am.) 

Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula was the inevitable ‘90s version of Dracula, a “Do you have anything from the vampire’s point of view?” deconstructionist revision that sympathized with the monsters and showed the brutality of the heroes. I’m pretty sure Coppola cast Keanu Reeves because of his stiffness, because he wanted Harker to seem a poor second to Dracula. Hannibal Lecter plays the craziest (and best) Van Helsing for a reason. And the sexy yet grotesque Brides were perfect for the Lollapalooza crowd.

'Nuff said.

Not that ‘90s nostalgia translates into an objective defense of the movie, but there’s no such thing as objective correctness in matters of taste. Enjoying or disliking Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula is certainly a matter of taste; to love it one must embrace the Gothic camp of the costume designs, the in-camera SFX, and the deliberately grotesque sexuality while to hate it one must ignore the fact that it’s still one of the most textual accurate adaptations of Dracula despite its interpolations. I’m certainly not claiming a superior opinion to Kenneth Hite’s, just a different one. 

It would be against my ‘90s values of multiculturalism and individualism to do otherwise.

That said, my favorite version of Dracula has a cowboy. Does yours?

It also has a Dread Pirate Roberts. Does yours?
(Oh, yeah, Shadow of the Vampire does.) 


Review: Anno Dracula—One Thousand Monsters

Well, that was weird. I jest, but Anno Dracula—One Thousand Monsters is not the book I was expecting, presenting strange and twist...