Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Dread Waiting List - Re: Geek and Sundry

For those of you who are waiting for Sagas of Sundry: Madness to make it's way round at last like some rough beast whose time has come. Here's a couple of suggestions from me of things that can tide you over a bit.

Yes, I know I'm about a month late, but were coming round to October so might as well offer some up.

Ghost Hunt (Anime)

An anime of 25 episodes long based on a series of late novels that were also adapted as a manga. The basic premise is that it follows the investigations of a group of spiritualists who come together somewhat by accident. The first three episodes sort of establish the characters meeting and working together on the first case and can be rather slow, but in the long-run I'm glad they took their time on introducing the characters and establishing their attitudes appropriately rather than rush through them. Once the fourth episode starts, you're prepped for things being a bit of the same is-it/isn't-it real and then suddenly you're dropped into the deep end. There are six major story-arcs, including the first one, and three semi-breather episodes set in the middle. It is a wonderful series that is always on my to-watch list for Halloween. It used to be on Hulu, but I think now it can only be found on DVD though it is usually reasonably priced. 

For those interested, the manga continues out one case further than the anime does and the novels obviously fill in a lot of missing pieces. However, those pieces are not necessary for enjoyment of the story as it sits in the anime. They'll give greater insights on the characters that deepen the story however.

As for the characters, most of them are teenagers as can be expected of a lot of anime but there are two characters in their late 20s to early 30s and one man who may be in his 30s to 50s, (it's hard to guess with the art style) that round out the cast. All in all, the characters and their interactions are some of the best I've encountered in any medium.

The Eye (Original Hong-Kong Version)


The basic premise is this: a blind woman has an operation done to fix her eyes. Off the top of my head I cannot remember whether or not she had been blind from birth or due to an injury. Regardless, after receiving the transplant that allows her to see, the young woman starts noticing people around her behaving in strange ways. Eventually she starts to realize that she's the only one that can see these oddly behaving people and figures out that they are ghosts. She then tries to work out why she has been marked to see these phenomenon while trying to deal with the fact that ghosts are real.

I cannot stress enough that if you are to watch this movie that you should get the original version. The American version, admittedly, does not have much difference in the way of the beats used or the events that occur, but made several design choices that reduced it to a stock ghost or monster story. The main thing that gets me about The Eye's original version is that there is nothing you can point as being inherently evil. All the horror comes from a person's inability to deal with the fact that so much of what they thought was true about the world turned out to be wrong. It's a very sort of personal discovery and look at what happens when a person is faced a reality that they had never thought of before.

Wolfen (Film)


A movie from the very early 80s, this film deals with a series of murders going on around a bit of urban decay starting with a real-estate tycoon, his wife, and their body-guard. While it is a bit cheesy in some regards, this was one of the scariest movies I could remember watching when I first saw it as a kid back in the late 80s and early 90s.. I can't say too much more without revealing things, so I'll stop there.

As a side-note, this and a backer suggestion are the inspiration for one of the playable species in my Divine Blood setting. Though they took a few definite direction shifts.

She-Wolf of London (Series)


Yes, I like werewolves. Anyway, this is an early 90s comedy-horror series put out in England featuring an American student who gets bitten by a werewolf and convinces her young and skeptical mythology professor to help her find a cure for her condition. The series absolutely does not take itself serious and is rather low budget but it is amazingly enjoyable. The format is definitely episodic but has a clear continuity and has a rather brute-force but clever satirical nature about it.

There is a second season called "Love and Curses" which is incredibly disappointing and which unfortunately comes included in most collections you purchase. Essentially, they got a budget increase, brightened the lighting of show, dropped most of the supporting cast, and moved it to Los Angeles at which point the satire got no less blunt-force but significantly less clever.

Friday the 13th: The Series (Series)


As far as I know, this has nothing to do with the movies wherein an entity by the name of Jason kills teenagers with an axe. This story could be considered a spiritual ancestor to the Syfy Channel series Warehouse 13, but while the odd things of Warehouse 13 were dangerous simply because they were difficult to control or understand, the artifacts in this show are literally cursed and designed to cause tragedy where-ever they go. It is primarily episodic but each of the episodes, especially in the first two seasons, is exceptionally devious and clever. The cursed artifacts follow a particular pattern where they provide a benefit so long as the owner continues to kill people to keep the artifact fueled. Cast changes and some weak attempts to weave a larger story eventually came alongside reduced quality of scripts and the third season was the last.

A Chinese Ghost Story (Film) 


This is the story of a young tax-collector out on the road trying to get all his dues collected despite the fact that rain caused all of his invoices to be washed away and unreadable. Without any money, he opts to stay in a local abandoned temple and that's where the start of one of the best supernatural-romances of all time. The story is horrific, heart-warming, tear-jerking, and incredible with all the sort of martial arts choreography, special effects, and lovely dialogue that helped earn Tsui Hark his reputation. 

The movie spawned one sequel which is worth watching and a third sequel which involved almost an entirely new cast and was basically a washed-down rehash of the original plot. There is also a rather bizarre, in terms of both coherence and visuals, anime adaptation. I have heard that Tsui Hark has recently produced an updated version of the story using the resources and reputation he now has access to but other than some impressive trailers, I have not seen anything of it.

Kikoskia's Let's Die in Call of Cthulhu (Actual Play)


The first of Kikoskia's videos I ever saw and the one that introduced me to this charming, eloquent, British Let's Player, this is a playlist of 36 videos usually each about an hour long with one or two short interludes usually involving a one-on-one session with one of the players. Kikoskia leads a bunch of his fellow let's playing friends in a campaign of horror and absurdity that must really be experienced to be believed. As a note, these videos do not need to be watched as they will only show the same screen as seen above and can be listened to.

Recently it has come to my attention that Kikoskia has acquired a voice-acting credit on Wadjet Eye Games' Primordia.

Knights of the Night - Actual Play Podcast

World of Darkness: Hunter or Dresden Files Actual Plays

With GMs and brothers, Tom and Scott Flanagan, the Knights of the Night have presented campaign runs of multiple game systems available through iTunes or their blogpost page. The two I am thinking of as a fill in for Sagas of Sundry are the two largest of the campaigns: Hunter and Dresden Files.

Hunter is run by Scott using the Chronicles of Darkness game rules (once known as New World of Darkness) and features the stories of several characters drawn together from different conspiracies and complexes and tasked by the US Federal Government to look into the disappearance of several Task Force Valkyrie agents in and around the city of Cleveland. The storylines put out by Scott are quite layered and filled with strange and weird things even as some the characters might occasionally encounter something more basic like the odd werewolf or vampire. In addition, Scott has a reputation among the rest of the group for being at least a border-line killer GM and the events do not pull punches.

Dresden Files is run by Tom and while it seems to have a less hopeless feel to it, the hits do still keep on coming. The characters of the game are a bit more inherently supernatural ranging from a newly assigned Warden from the White Council, a businessman with the powers of a black court vampire, an amoral seer for hire, a wannabe warrior for justice wielding one of the Thirty Coins of the Black Denarius, and an FBI agent among others. It is suggested to skip past the Neutral Ground actual play and to start with Delivery. Neutral Ground used a published tutorial adventure and pre-generated characters and mostly shows them getting used to the setting while Delivery gets the campaign started off right.

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