drcpunk (drcpunk) wrote,

Recent Reading

29. Undying Masters, a monograph for Call of Cthulhu. Interesting, but not quite what I was looking for. I think I would have preferred more background and consideration of the topic of potentially immortal sorcerers and how they tick. The scenarios were disappointing. There's an interesting one with lovely travelogue bits of the PCs going to the Himalayas (I think it was the Himalayas), but the premise is that the PCs, being given a dire dream to return an artifact Or Else, will do just that, and I would not want to count on that, unless the GM is saying, "For this scenario, your characters want to do this. You figure out why."

The problem with this is that this adventure is meant to come after another one in the monograph, so the players are developing their PCs, and might reasonably object to being told that they must have their PCs have a personality transplant. Also, there's a whole sequence of the mcguffin being stolen and returned a couple of times, No Matter What. That's distasteful to me.

30 The Day After Ragnarok, a setting for Savage Worlds, by Kenneth Hite. I read this concurrently with the next item, which was a mistake, because I kept forgetting which world I was in, expecting Kellis-Amberlee zombies here, and serpent venom mutations there. The Day After Ragnarok is full of pulpy goodness. It's got too much crunch for my tastes, which is not a flaw, just an indication that I don't use the Savage Worlds system.

31. Feed, by Mira Grant. This is the first zombie novel I read, and I bought it despite two hideous things which I am confident the author also abhors: It is one of the new paperbacks, bigger than a regular paperback, smaller than a trade paperback. And, the ink smeared in one place. With the rising price of books, I do not appreciate that.

I'm working on a review of this. Well, I sort of tossed words into a file, like flinging paint on a wall, and I'm still trying to figure out if it's a review, a gush, or an attempt to figure out why I liked this book despite some of the things I thought were overly simplified. I'm not talking "dumbed down" here, more "on the level of a thriller movie". But, what makes the novel work is that, while it has zombies, and that's rather important, at its core, the story is not about the zombies, or even about the things I thought got overly simplified. There's enough solidity to the world building that my (admittedly limited) scientific / techie body of knowledge didn't have a problem, and the scene the author picked as her favorite zombie scene is the one I liked best too. I don't watch zombie movies, but if this gets made into a movie, I'll go to see it.

Remember: I don't read zombie books. I don't buy the hideously new sized paperbacks. I bought this. I read it. I liked it. I recommend it.

32. Cthulhu Masters Tournament 2005, another Call of Cthulhu monograph, although it was written by multiple authors. "Monograph" means "We did it on the cheap, with no budget for frills or editing and proofreading beyond what the authors choose to do". These are good convention scenarios, but they are also like complicated recipes, which means I'm not sure if I could run these, and I am sure beginning GMs would find them tricky to run. But, I can see why they work as scenarios.

33. Black Butler 2, the second volume of the most recent manga I got hooked on. I like it.

34. Vogelin: Old Ghosts, the second Vogelin graphic novel, and every bit as good as the first. Interesting thematic stuff, particularly about creating rituals for oneself that fill emotional needs, regardless of how "traditional" they are.

35. Dancers in the Dusk, a supplement for Changeling: The Lost. A generally useful grab bag of material, although I'm not yet sure how I'll use it.

36. Secret Societies, a supplement for d20. It's about creating secret societies, with a look at several real world societies. Not bad, but not much more than I'd get off wikipedia, though probably more readable. I don't run d20, so the mechanics bits are not useful to me.

37. Shadows of War, another monograph for Call of Cthulhu, very impressive. Four scenarios set in and around World War II, but not in the obvious places. I like all of the scenarios. I recommend this one.

38. Horror Recognition Guide for Hunter: The Vigil. I don't know if or when I'll get around to reading Hunter, but the Horror Recognition Guide is good. No mechanics, just a series of "files" about various cases, and annotations to same. It's like reading a short story collection, and satisfying in that way, while providing me with fodder for the rpgs I run. Sure, I can figure out some of what's going on in some of the stories, what part of the World of Darkness is being featured, but really, that's not important, and can be changed easily. I recommend this one.

39. Worlds of Cthulhu #4. Alas, this magazine folded after issue #6. It's a mixed bag, but it is priced like the old 128 page supplements used to be priced, about $18, and it is essentially that -- 128 pages worth of ideas, scenarios, essays, and so on. This issue also has Cathulhu, about playing cats in Call of Cthulhu, and an adventure for same.

40. The Book of Unremitting Horror, for Esoterrorists and Fear Itself. Lots of deliciously horrific creatures, all with short pieces giving one an idea of how to use them. I'm not really familiar with the GUMSHOE system, but that's irrelevant. The mechanics are only a small part of the book. In addition to a bunch of horrific creatures, the book has:

--A section on artifacts, each of which is related to one of the creatures described earlier
--Several adventure outlines, detailed enough that I could take one and run with it, tweaking as needed
--Two full adventures. These won't suit everyone's needs, of course, but both are well done.

I seem to have been on something of a horror kick, as I've clearly been enjoying the sort of stuff I used to think I didn't like. But, right now, I'm clearly feeding a craving for it.

41. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin. A very lovely tale, with stories within the main story, but only one level down. This is also a visually beautiful book, with illustrations by the author. The tale does not just detail the adventures of the heroine, who is quite likable, but also of other people, the sorts who usually get ignored in tales.
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