Renfield Recommended

Loved Renfield. Much more wry and nuanced than I expected.

Cage commits himself fully to the role of a monster. Hoult plays the perfect antihero seeking redemption. Awkwafina is utterly convincing as the one good cop against a corrupt system. And I don’t think there is a misstep among any of the rest of the cast.

Ridley’s script is spot-on as well. And the over-the-top gore keeps the mood neither too dark nor too light. Overall, I’d say McKay has done a marvelous job of walking that tightrope.

I went in expecting Love at First Bite. This was much more An American Werewolf in London. Definitely recommended.

Treasures of Forgotten Dungeons

If you’re a tabletop gamer with much of a collection, you know how easily small boxed games & card games can be overlooked & forgotten on the shelves. I even have a couple of fancy wooden cases—the kind with glass photo frames on the top & sides—to store the best, & still end up forgetting the excellent little games inside. Big boxed games just draw so much attention.

An Aside: 

It’s a problem that faces publishers, too, & particularly small-press POD publishers. Especially at brick-and-mortar stores.

When I first started designing card games a bit over a dozen years ago, I went to some retailers I’ve been friends with, to ask about stocking the things on their shelves. (Two reasons: to increase my own exposure, but also because brick-and-mortar felt left out of Kickstarters, which sold directly to consumers.)

They were happy to take them to small cons, but (1) in-store couldn’t afford to rob any display case space from trading card games like Magic: The Gathering & Pokemon, with their sales of individual cards, & (2) couldn’t risk putting card games on the shelves elsewhere, because of “shrinkage” (i.e. shoplifting).

They said, “Publish each of your card games in a big box that’ll take up room on the shelf. Stick in a score pad, counters, or whatever to justify all the empty space, & bump up the price. Then I can sell them. Or just don’t design card games.”

So for me, POD online it is.

But back to the topic of card decks getting lost on your own game shelves. The problem is even worse for single-sheet things like Postcard Dungeons—and that’s a cryin’ shame.

Postcard Dungeons started out as just that, a solo strategy dice game representing a dungeon on an oversized postcard. The game design is genius, & the presentation excellent. Since that first dungeon, the line has expanded into multiplayer & sci-fi, & has added some variant designs from world domination ala Risk to a coin-based Postcard Cthulhu.

But I forget the whole group of them sitting there on my shelf, sandwiched between some small-box games, even though they’re stored in a clear cellophane bag.

I’m not sure how to rectify that. With the card games I could maybe get a shadowbox as a wall-mounted mini game shelf. Maybe keep a tiny ring-binder for flat games like this one. Because they deserve to be revisited from time to time.

Here’s the publisher’s website: postcardgames.com

 

Role-Playing Dracula’s Kids sans GM

Today the Cut Up Solo Dracula/Dracula’s Get bundle went live (undead?) on DriveThruRPG.

So what is Cut Up Solo Dracula? Published by Parts Per Million, it’s Stoker’s novel cut up into 5-word snippets in a programmed spreadsheet. Every time you hit F9, the spreadsheet delivers a set of random snippets as a prompt to your imagination.

And what is Dracula’s Get? It’s a role-play distillation of Dracula’s actual abilities and weaknesses as depicted Stoker’s novel. A “sourcebookmark” for the Bookmark HP RPG. (My first sourcebookmark, in fact, so that I could port Petit Louis from D6xD6‘s “Fear the Light” setting. I love playing vampires.)

The word “solo” doesn’t quite do justice to PPM’s Cut Up Solo selections. “GM-less” is a more accurate (though less punchy) term, because this style of play is even richer with a group riffing off one another from the prompts!

As you can tell, I’m quite excited about this pairing. It’s a quick, flavorful way to hunt or play vampires with Stoker’s own words. Now at a discount!

GM-Less Cthulhu et al

Cover images of Bookmark Cthulhu with Cut Up Solo Lovecraftian Dialogues and Cut Up Solo Case of Charles Dexter Ward You may have seen my mention of the “Cut Up Solo” oracle series by Parts Per Million. Each oracle is an automated spreadsheet of 5-word snippets from a public domain novel (such as Dracula) or series (John Carter of Mars, for example). It outputs a group of four 5-word snippets with each press of F9, and you browse the list to see what role-play scene it suggests to you.

It’s a great spur not only for solo play, but also GM-less group play. My old high school buddy Jim Cotton and I have adventured together on Mars, for example, and had great times with it. That was even the genesis of the mass battle rules on the Game Host’s Guidebookmark of the Bookmark HP RPG.

So you can imagine how happy I am to announce that PPM and I have launched a Cut Up Solo Lovecraft/Bookmark Cthulhu bundle on DriveThruRPG!

(A Dracula bundle is not far behind.)