The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft,The Folio Society 2017 edition. Book review

The Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories
by H.P. Lovecraft The Folio Society edition 2017
The Call of Cthulhu and other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft, The Folio Society 2017, hb £75, Limited Edition £345, Website

Most horror fans have heard of H.P. Lovecraft, creator of what became known as The Cthulhu Mythos, and in particular perhaps his most famous story, The Call of Cthulhu, so I won’t go into detail of the stories here.

Instead, let’s focus on this incredible edition released by The Folio Society. I was kindly sent a copy of a base edition, a thing of beauty in itself, bound in cloth and blocked with a design by the book’s artist, Dan Hillier who also provides some incredible illustrations that reflect the madness of the stories. Dan is known for illustrating some of Neil Gaiman’s most beloved books. It is a tome worthy of the Necromonicon itself. The book is prefaced by the legendary Alan Moore, comic book writer, performer and Magician.

Illustration by Dan Hillier from The Folio Society edition of 
The Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories 
by H.P. Lovecraft © Dan Hillier 2017
In addition to this beautiful tome, The Folio Society are also releasing a limited edition of 750 copies, bound in eco-simulated leather. The end-papers are hand marbled and comes in a magnetic presentation box, covered in blocked cloth and lined with blocked metallic paper. In addition to the black and white illustrations, it also contains 8 black and gold mandalas. This edition also contains a limited signed print by the artist.

Almost secondary to the presentation are the stories themselves – Dagon, The Statement of Randolph Carter, Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn And His Family, Celephais, Nyarlathotep, The Picture in the House, The Outsider, Herbert West – Reanimator, The Hound, The Rats in the Walls, The Festival, He, Cool Air, The Call of Cthulhu, The Colour out of Space, The Whisperer in the Darkness, The Shadow over Innsmouth and The Haunter of the Dark.
Illustration by Dan Hillier from The Folio Society edition of 
The Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories 
by H.P. Lovecraft © Dan Hillier 2017

The Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories (Limited Edition)
by H.P. Lovecraft, The Folio Society 2017

All in all, this is a must for any fan of Lovecraft or serious horror collector and the base version alone would look incredible on any coffee table or bookshelf.

LOTRO Anniversary 2017. How to get those Niels’ Bounties.

As The New LOTRO Anniversary Festival Requires Characters To Complete Niels’ Esteldin Bounties, I Thought I Should Repost This From My Old LOTRO Blog. Some Of The Numbers Might Be Out Of Date, But If You Haven’t Done These Before, It Should Help.

Affectionately known by the Defenders of the Right as simply The Bounties, any call of such on kin chat sets hearts racing as everyone leaps on their 55+ toons to join in.
Simply put, this is a series of 5 daily quests, where the adventurers are set on a path from the Misty Mountains to North Downs via Trollshaws, The Shire and Forochel on an epic battle against 5 five fearsome creatures.
In this post I endeavour to make these quests clear for those that haven’t yet done them, and give newcomers an idea of what to expect.

This is Niels. He can be found in pretty much the central square of Esteldin, and offer’s the five bounty quests required to kick start the fun.
As the quests can be easily shared, it makes sense for one character to grab these, preferably the hunter, who will prove invaluable to the fellowship in these quests.

Once the quests are obtained, the first point of call is the camp in the Misty Mountains. The order is by no means set in stone, though my personal preference is to start in the Misty Mountains as this is the hardest and if you can handle this one, the others will be simple.
The camp site is just south of Helegrod and North of Gloin’s camp, this acts as the perfect muster point to gather the fellowship together. For Hunters that regularly run these quests, having this set as your campsite can prove a great time saver.

Once everyone is together, the fellowship need to make their way to High Pass (27.8S, 5.3E) and the lair of Rothlug – The Drake of Storms.
He is an Elite Master Drake with fire damage attacks, and 36k Morale. One point to note when dealing with him is he will throw you off the edge of the mountain if you’re not careful, so keep you backs to the wall and hit him with all you’ve got.
As with all the quests here described, loot and run to a safe distance, respawn is fairly quick.
Once you are sure everyone has looted and is together, the hunter can port to the next location, Ost Guruth. From Ost Gurth, take a slow horse to Thorenhad then part way through the Trollshaws, leap off your mount.

Look for the point where you enter a valley as that is the best point, but keep an eye on the quest arrow and you’ll have a good idea. From there, it’s a short run north until you find the statues of Tom, William and Bert, the trolls that Bilbo encountered and were turned to stone. Step beyond the statues and your next quarry will appear, Dhit the Troll.

Dhit is fairly easy pickings compared to the previous encounter, so do your stuff – slay, loot and run away to a safe distance before respawn.
Next port is to Michel Delving in the Shire. From there, it’s a short ride north into the marshes to find Mangemaw.

This giant wolf sits on a hill and is probably the easiest of the five. Kill, loot, run.

Next up is Suri Kyla in Forochel. From there you need to take a fast stable horse to Kuru Leiri. It’s possible not everyone will have this travel route in which case the easiest method is to summon once the party get there, but the route can be achieved by completing the quest, Frozen War which is obtained from Vamma in the main tent in Suri Kyla.
Once at Kuru-Leiri, it’s a quick run to the east to find the cave of Farathlug.

As the mobs in Forochel might be green to anyone at 55-56 you might have a few pulls, so dispatch them before approaching the cave. The cave itself is protected by 2 Ice Worms which need to be killed before Farathlug makes his appearance, but once he does, kill, loot and run.

Final port of call is Evendim. From Tinnidur, take a slow horse to Esteldin or Trestlebridge, as again you will jump off part way. The point to jump is a couple of bends after you pass through the gate of Evendim into North Downs. Again, keep an eye on the quest tracker and you can’t go wrong.

In a small abandoned ruin, Morrafn sleeps. Take out a couple of trash mobs before he shows himself, then let loose. Kill, loot, run.
That’s it! Now all you need is to port back to Esteldin, and in to Niels and get your rewards.
And now the here’s the reason for doing this
Rothlug. Simple Heritage Rune of Learning 35,000 + 6259 item exp
Dhit. Simple Rune of Lore 22,500 + 6259 item exp
Farathlug. Simple Rune of Learning 15,000 +6259 item exp
Morrafn. Worn Rune of Knowledge 10,000 +3779 item exp
Mangemaw. Worn Rune of Knowledge 10,000 +3779 item exp
So overall that’s 26335 Item Exps plus 92500 xps for specific weapons. For half an hours work! What are you waiting for?

Inkitt launch writing contest for first time authors

Inkitt new boutique publishing house, have launched a writing contest and you could get your first novel published if you win! 

Their first novel launched in mid-2016, and since then they’ve published eight books, seven of which became Amazon Bestsellers in their categories and ranked Top 100 among the four million books on Amazon. 

What Do You Win?
  • We Invest Minimum $6,000 in Your Book Marketing
  • A Dedicated Marketing Team
  • Professional Editing & Cover
  • 25% Royalties

Cover Reveal – RPG Tie In Novel – Myth of the Maker by Bruce R Cordell

Something exciting today – a cover reveal for the upcoming Myth of the the Maker by Bruce R Cordell!

Click on the image for an advance excerpt of the novel.

About Myth of the Maker

The mind-expanding novel that seeded The Strange RPG, for all fans of inventive science fiction and fantasy.

Carter Morrison didn’t want to kill his friends, or himself, but he had a good reason. It was either them, or the end of all life on the planet: their sacrifice saved the world.

Not that anyone knew it, until Katherine Manners stumbled over a melting man in a computer room clutching a message of doom from another world.

Myth of the Maker is a tie-in novel to Monte Cook and Bruce R Cordell’s The Strange RPG


UK April 6 (ISBN 9780857666499)

US April 4 (ISBN 9780857666505)  

EBK April 4 (ISBN 9780857666512)

About Bruce R Cordell

Bruce R Cordell is an award-winning writer working as a Senior Designer at Monte Cook Games, where he is an author for The Strange and Numenera roleplaying games. Before that, he wrote for Dungeons & Dragons over four editions and nine novels set in the bestselling Forgotten Realms setting.

About The Strange 

Monte Cook and Bruce R. Cordell, in their first major collaboration, bring you The Strange. It’s an RPG set on Earth, in the modern day. But a few people—a very few people—have discovered how to travel to other places. They call them recursions, and they’re like limited pocket dimensions with their own laws of reality, connected to Earth via a dark energy network beneath the normal matter of the universe. A dangerous, chaotic network they call the Strange.

Recursions spawn from the myths, legends, and fiction of humanity, so the setting of virtually any story, film, or novel could form a recursion, as could any mythical realm or place of legend. They aren’t entire parallel universes—they’re limited in scope, rarely larger than a continent and sometimes not much bigger than a city block. Often the denizens aren’t even self-aware, but are little more than automatons going through the motions of their fictional world.

But sometimes, in the larger or more mature recursions, they have the spark: Self awareness. Sentience. The ability to form their own motivations and agendas.

And some of those beings understand that they aren’t alone in the Strange. Some of them know about Earth, and the limitless universe beyond it. And some of them are very, very dangerous.

In our own world, there are individuals who secretly travel to these recursions—perhaps for adventure, perhaps for profit. But there are others with more nefarious motives,
and conspiratorial organizations operating in the shadows, looking to exploit the Strange and its recursions for their own ends. And some of them are also very, very dangerous.

Your character is quickened; you’re one of the ones who can travel into Earth’s shoals to discover and explore the seemingly limitless recursions around our world. Oz. Barsoom. Asgard. The Dreamlands. The Victorian London of Sherlock Holmes. The setting of your favorite novel or movie. Worlds even more exotic or bizarre, driven by laws of magic, psionics, or weird science. When you visit these worlds, you adapt to them, taking on some of the physical aspects and knowledge of the natives. You become, in part at least, a different version of yourself.

What will you find when you venture into Earth’s shoals? And what will find you, as you travel into The Strange.

From Fiction Writer to Game Designer and Back Again – Guest Post by Shanna Germain

From Fiction Writer to Game Designer and Back Again

Guest Post by Shanna Germain
When I first started working in roleplaying games, after two decades of writing fiction, I had the impression that my transition from writer to game designer was going to be a simple one. I wrote all kinds of things—novels, short stories, essays, articles, non-fiction books. This was just one more thing, right?
And I’m pretty sure I said as much to Monte Cook, as he and I were starting to work together on my first game project, Numenera.            
“There are some big differences between game design and fiction writing,” he said. “They trip up a lot of fiction writers who try to make the transition.”
Despite the fact that he’d been a game designer for almost 30 years and I’d been a game designer for exactly 0 years, I’m pretty sure my response was something along the lines of “Don’t worry. I’ve got this.”
Of course, I didn’t “have this.” I didn’t even know what “this” was. Looking back, I give him a great deal of credit for not rolling his eyes at me and bursting out laughing (at least, not where I could see him). Not even when I came back to him after failing miserably, and said, “I don’t know what I’m doing. Help!”
Fiction is about the Unknown. Game design is about the Known.

The statement above isn’t entirely accurate or all-encompassing, but it depicts the basic idea.
In fiction writing, you want to hold out on revealing things until the proper time. You ask questions and then don’t answer them until much later. Who did it? Why? When? How? The hidden, the unknown, pulls the reader along, enticing them, dancing out of reach, making them ache for the answers.
In game design, the unknown (particularly as it pertains to rules) is almost always instantly confusing and frustrating. Readers need to know the important stuff, and they need it to be clear and concise. 
I started out writing games the way I write fiction. Here, on page 2, is a red-striped tiger foreshadowing the bloody death that happens on page 311. You might not notice it now, but it will ring some distant bell for you when you get to that scene and you’ll think, “Somehow I knew this was coming.”
For game design, that looked more like, Here’s someone rolling some dice and getting a result that you don’t understand yet, but after you read the section in the way back on special rules on dice rolls you’ll know what that means.
I thought I was creating mystery, something to keep the reader reading. But if that had been published, it probably would have just created anger and confusion. Players probably would have thrown the book across the room and then bitched about me on some forum somewhere.
Instead, I taught myself to think of games as more of an instruction manual, to lay out everything in the order that the reader would likely need and want it. There’s a psychology involved in this. What will the game master (GM) or player need to know and when will they need to know it? How much do they need to know right now, and how much can wait until later? And, of course, every reader is different, so you can only hope you’re getting it right for most readers.
Understanding this led me to what I think is the next difference between fiction writing and game design:
Are You God or God’s Personal Assistant? 

As a fiction writer, I am god. I tell the story. I dole out the information when and where I please. I tell you as little or as much as I want to about the characters, that city in the distance, the long-necked creatures who raise their heads to the sky every morning before dawn. (Of course, I’m an imperfect god and I don’t always get all of those things right, but I certainly try).
As a game designer, I am god’s personal assistant. You, as the game master, are god. I try to anticipate your needs—“god likes to wake up with a cup of setting and a dose of rules on the side”—and give you what you want, when you want it, so that you have everything you need to tell the story. So that you can play god for your players. (It goes without saying that I’m an imperfect personal assistant too. But gods are fickle creatures, and you can only guess at their needs most of the time.).
Which leads me to:
Fiction Shows. Game Design Tells. 

Again, an oversimplified statement, but it captures the general idea. In fiction there’s an old adage that you should show, not tell. There’s a whole essay (or book, or series of books) on what that means exactly, how it can be used, and what it can do for a story. But the basic idea is that you keep plain exposition to a minimum and focus instead on showing your reader exactly what you want them to see. It’s a selective lens, designed to create the story by focusing only on certain elements.
If your narrator is walking along a street, looking over their shoulder for the Big Bad to jump out and shoot them, they’re not going to be telling the reader, “And there’s the department store called Roger’s Drugs; I get my mom’s prescription filled there. And after that is the pet shop where I bought my first fish.” You want them to be searching for a place to hide. “The alley between the department store and the pet shop beckoned, a small dark promise of safety.” That might be the only part of the street that the reader sees, because it’s the only important part for the story.
Game design, on the other hand, requires blatant exposition. You don’t know what the players will be doing when they walk down the street. Maybe they’re being chased. Maybe they’re hurt and need to fill their prescription. Maybe they’re just looking for a meal and a cute puppy to buy. The point is that when you’re writing the game, you don’t know what information the game master will need. And so you need to give them everything that the players might want to know. All the shops, what they sell, who works there, what they look like.
It also means you end up with sections like “How to use this Book” and “Why Travel to Greater Garravia?” which basically talk directly to the reader, telling them exactly what they need to know to get the most out of their experience. 
Have Some Empathy 

I don’t want to overemphasize the differences too much, because game design and fiction writing do share a lot. Perhaps the most important element, the one that I think makes the difference between great writing and good writing, no matter the genre, is human empathy. I don’t mean empathy for your characters—although that’s important—but for those who are going to interact with your words. Reader empathy, if you will.
Empathy gets thrown around a lot in many different contexts, but it basically means the ability to understand, be sensitive to, and vicariously experience another person’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
I often hear fiction writers talk about this concept, but I rarely hear game designers voice it (which isn’t to say that they’re not employing it in their games, because they are). Why do we need empathy for our players and game masters? Because we need to be able to imagine how our words will hit them when they open the book. Because we need to be able to imagine a great variety of players and GMs, all with different needs. Because we need to be able to say, “If I was this type of player, would this information make sense? What about if I was this other type of player? What about if I was running my first game? My 300th game?”
An ability to imagine and understand how someone other than you might want to use your game or read your story is, I think, a vital part of its success. It means the difference between just writing some words on the page and creating an interactive, lasting experience between you and your audience.  

Shanna Germain is the author of myriad stories, books, and games, as well as the co-owner of Monte Cook Games. Her most recent works include: 

The Poison Eater

Amazon US
Amazon UK

No Thank You, Evil!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

and Torment: Tides of Numenera—an Explorer’s Guide

Amazon US
Amazon UK

New World of Darkness game coming soon – Werewolf The Apocalypse

Paris-based video game publisher Focus Home Interactive is pleased to announce its partnership with White Wolf Publishing, license owner of the famous World of Darkness universe (Vampire The Masquerade, Werewolf, Mage Ascension).
The World of Darkness is a gritty vision of our own time. The world’s most devious conspiracies are true. The divide between the rich and the poor is huge and corruption is rife. In the shadows of our declining societies, humans fall victim to supernatural horrors, all struggling for control.
The partnership between Focus Home Interactive and White Wolf Publishing concerns the adaptation in a video game of one of the most acclaimed licenses from the World of Darkness – Werewolf: The Apocalypse. The game will be developed by studio Cyanide (Styx: Master of Shadows, Blood Bowl, Call of Cthulhu). Become a werewolf, known as Garou (from French “Loup-garou” meaning werewolf), immersed in the atmosphere of their shamanistic and tribal world. Garou are Werewolf warriors opposed to urban civilization and supernatural corruption, all heading towards inevitable apocalypse.
“The World of Darkness has always attracted creatives with a strong passion for telling dark and immersive stories. So to work closely with the great talent at Focus Home and Cyanide exploring the savage Werewolves of this universe is an absolutely fantastic experience for us at White Wolf and we are more than excited to see this great and highly relevant IP realized in a video game ,” says Tobias Sjögren, CEO of White Wolf.
“We are pleased to partner with White Wolf to bring Werewolf: The Apocalypse to life in a video game for consoles and PC. We are excited to work on the World of Darkness universe, as this is formidable playground to tell the players a great story. We are also happy to partner with Cyanide Studio in this adventure. They are behind the original wish to adapt this universe, and we are faithful in their ability to create a game that will please both fans of World of Darkness and newcomers,” says Cédric Lagarrigue, President of Focus Home Interactive
More info about this new adaptation of this brutal Werewolf mythology to come at this year’s event in Paris, What’s Next de Focus , on February 1st and 2nd.

Gamer’s Plane Play By Post site 3 year giveaway!

To celebrate Gamers’ Plane turning 3, they are giving away some stuff! Among the prizes being given away:

– 1 Star Wars Armada core kit
– 1 Monte Cook’s Numenera: Into the Deep
– 5 Tunnels & Trolls “Grimtina’s Guard” Adventure, signed by Ken St. Andre
– 2 bags of 150 dice courtesy of Easy Roller Dice Co.
– 2 sets of beautiful gunmetal dice courtesy of Easy Roller Dice Co.
– 3 15-track BattleBards albums
– $20 voucher to Modiphius Entertainment
– PDFs of Rich Howard’s DnD 5e Alchemist Class

As each winner is chosen, you’ll get to pick what prize you want, in order. One prize per person. They can cover shipping within the US, but shipping overseas may need some help to cover.

Entry post is here

BattleBards is a great group making fantastic audio, from clips to longer tunes, to help bring your tabletop games to life. Be sure to visit their Twitter and Facebook.

Easy Roller Dice Co
Simply put, Easy Roller Dice Co makes amazing, affordable dice. Their recent gunmetal dice sets are easily my current favorites. Be sure to visit their Twitter and Facebook.

Modiphius Entertainment
Modiphius Entertainment is a maker of great RPG games, including Conan, Achtung! Cthulhu, the now in beta Star Trek Adventures, and more!

Rich Howard
Good friend Rich Howard is just a brilliant man, trying to make his way as an RPG developer. Working on a variety of projects, his recent Alchemist class for DnD 5e would be fun for any player (or a great NPC for any GM)! Go follow him on Twitter, you won’t regret it. He’s part of a brilliant podcast, the Whelmed Podcast.

Active Gamers’ Plane members!
If you signed up for Gamers’ Plane before December 1, 2016 and made at least one post between January 1, 2016 and December 1, 2016, make a post on this thread, and they’ll pick five of you to choose what prizes you want first.

Using Gaming to Write – Guest Post by B.J Keeton

As a child, my personality was pretty much made up of two things: gaming and writing. Some of my earliest memories involve either sitting in front of a TV with an Atari 2600 joystick in my hand or scribbling down squiggly lines in a notebook and telling my parents they were Spider-man stories.

So it really should be no surprise that as I have become a somewhat functional adult, my core personality was already set. I am a gamer, and a writer. Lucky for me, the two most prominent interests go together pretty well.
Back in 2010, I got the idea to write a novel. I mean, I’d had the idea before, but in 2010, I decided to sit down and actually do it. And, I thought to myself just like every other gamer/writer, wouldn’t it just be awesome if this book were–wait for it–like a video game adventure?
This is where y’all collectively sigh and groan at how much of a cliche I was.
However, I think I handled the idea differently than a lot of people would have (or do). Instead of writing a novel about a Dungeons & Dragons campaign my friends and I played that was full of in-jokes and situations that were only funny if you knew the context and people involved, I wanted to write a novel using the concepts and technologies that made up modern MMORPGs.
I wanted to weave things that players were familiar with into the narrative: the tank/healer/DPS trinity and instances, in particular. I started Birthright with the idea that these gameplay mechanics were a natural part of the world, that there were rules and physics that governed instances, and that when going out on a mission, the trinity was the best way to keep everyone safe.
And the thing is…neither of those elements is interesting on their own. What could I do to make readers care about them? As an English teacher, I knew just the thing–make the book about the people, not the ideas.
Unfortunately, I failed at that. At least in the first few drafts. My beta readers beat me up. They railed on how static my characters were. How stereotypical the tanks were. How whiny the healers were. How the DPS were erratic. I took it to an extreme and just made classes instead of characters.
I did exactly what I was trying to avoid, only instead of characters only I liked, I did it with characters no one liked.
As I revised, I went back to the games that inspired me to write the novel in the first place. I thought about why I played MMOs to begin with. I thought about what made me keep playing them. And not once was it because the classes were just too cool to pass up.
No, the reason I played MMOs was because I loved the people. The people are what make gaming worthwhile. It’s the reason that playing Mario Kart with your friends is more fun than blue-shelling a CPU Bowser.
When I thought about it from that perspective, the rest of the novel fell into place.
The tank was no longer the tank. He was Chuckie Tidwell, and he wasn’t just a meatshield anymore. He had a full personality, faults, and insecurities. And he was going to have an arc that was going to be fleshed out by the end of the series (it’s a trilogy, after all, so I couldn’t have it all be perfect in Birthright, tee hee).
The healer, Saryn, became a person who had a backstory and motivations and feelings. And so did the rest of the team. And when that happened, not only did I have characters who acted and felt like real people, I had characters who developed relationships with each other like real people.
You know, the same way that people do in MMO guilds and Discord channels and Twitter chats. These people who were thrown together in the in-universe equivalent of a dungeon-finder (an automated queueing system that puts groups together for you), and they were forced to become a cohesive unit that communicated and reached their goals by working together.
It was a concept that I had seen specifically touched on in books before–I mean, of course every fantasy novel has a party of rag-tag adventurers–but I hadn’t seen one that borrowed heavily from video games in the sense that the characters were intended to be meta (to the readers who understood the culture).
Every member of the team has archetypes they fill for their role in the story, but their personalities rely on the archetypes of the people I’ve interacted with online in the past. For instance, the kind of people who tend to play tanks may share personality traits that draw them toward that particular role, and the same for support, healers, and damage-dealing characters.
Over the course of the series, the characters grow and change, moving farther away from their original starting points. They gain new abilities and talents (see what I did there?), and they become closer and closer with one another, while still working to fulfill the goals that originally brought them together.
I stuck with this idea the entire way through the trilogy because that sole concept of growing and changing with and because of the people around me is the primary reason I play online games. I don’t do a lot of “matchmaking” games like Call of Duty or Battlefield because I prefer the long-term community and friendships that come from interacting with the people behind the keyboard far more than I do interacting with the pixels on my TV or monitor.
If you’re a gamer who loves people as much as I do (and even if you’re not!), I think you would really like The Technomage Archive. I can’t realistically say it’s the best sci-fi trilogy out there, but my totally biased opinion is that it’s worth your time to check out.
And hey, you might even make some new friends while you’re at it. I know I felt like they were mine.

B.J. Keeton is not only a science fiction author, he also co-hosts the Geek to Geek Podcast and hosts the Geek Fitness Health Hacks podcast. He loves talking to people on the internet, so feel free to give him a yell at @professorbeej on Twitter.

The first book in the series, Birthright, is currently available for free on Kindle
Amazon US

Amazon UK
The Techomage Archive is now available on Kindle as a box set
Amazon US 

Amazon UK

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