Aug 16 2017

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: 6’+ Episode 207 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“Grab your mug and get ready to get lei’d because it’s the FREAKY TIKI SURF-ARI! It’s a journey into surf, exotica, and the best tiki music you can find. Featuring ROBERT DRASNIN, THE KOCONUT KINGS, CREEPXOTICA, THE CRAZED MUGS, KAVA KON and more! Monstermatt Patterson runs into Vincent Price while exploring the island in another MONSTERMATT MINUTE!”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Aug 14 2017

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Voodoo III

Robert Drasnin
Official Site
Voodoo III, Dionysus Records 2017

Exotica legend Robert Drasnin had been hard at work right up until his passing in 2015. 2011 saw him working with the Waitiki 7, both on covering his past hits and playing his new composition “In A Dorian Mode.” He was also hard at work on his sequel to Voodoo II right up until his death. The only problem was it was left in an incomplete state! Dionysus Records sprang into action to find someone to finish his work so fans could have one last Drasnin album to enjoy. And who better to finish it than the man who not only pulled Drasnin out of retirement, but also collaborated with him on many occasions? That’s right, the task fell to Skip Heller (who is a highly accomplished exotica musician in his own right). How did he do? Let’s find out!

The opening track, “Appogiatura Exotica,” gets its name from a type of “musical ornament.” It also uses a laid back percussive beat, guiros and beautiful vibraphone work to create an incredibly soothing listening experience. I loved the way it closed out, even though I was sad to have the track come to an end. Chimes bookend “Anna May Wong,” whose use of percussion and vibes is nicely complimented by the occasional appearance of wordless female vocals. Thankfully these aren’t the kind of wordless female vocals that often show up here during the average “Music to Haunt By” review. But it is the flute that is the true star of this tribute to a Hollywood legend. “Song of the Sulu Sea” is a musical journey to the Philippines. A peaceful horn, saxophone, maracas and triangle join the vibes to create an incredibly pleasing musical experience. In fact, I get so caught up in it that I keep forgetting to take notes about it! “Hulabalu” is much more lively than the previous tracks. This peppy little tune brings us guiros a go-go with some flute work and a sax solo for good measure. “Voyage to Vanuatu” is mysterious and a little darker than the other tracks (despite using most of the same instruments as said tracks). This tribute to a real life Pacific island nation also stands out thanks to its inclusion of castanets and a piano. The cooing vocals further draw the listener in. Cymbals crash and notes musically tiptoe as “Hola Samba” opens. Its lively Latin beat is joined by actual lyrics and will definitely shake you awake after so many relaxing tracks. If you’re wondering about the instruments used in it, a saxophone is combined with lots of percussion (including vibes).

Vaguely mystical chimes start off “Jobimiana.” But its opening militaristic drum beats transition to the mellow sax work which weaves throughout the track. Flute work, vibes and maracas also join in on the fun until the drums play us out. “Tiki Idyll” takes things back down a notch. It’s not completely mellow but it’s pretty close. In addition to the occasional wordless vocals and maracas, the listener also gets to experience saxophone work, guiros, tambourine and vibes before the impressive chime-heavy closing. “Farewell to Tuvalu” opens with soft guiros and bongos. The tambourine makes a few scattered appearances before finally settling into place. This is followed by vocals, vibes and a most interesting effect at the end. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the title refers to a Polynesian island nation. The peppy “La Mer Azure” brings us to the Bahamas with a percussion explosion aided by some saxophone work. “Aloha” shows Drasnin and Heller really did save the best for last. Most of the instruments used for this album put in an appearance and even some other aspects of past tracks show up as well. The use of a Latin melody is one such example. As the lyrics tell us of the different meanings of “aloha,” one comes to the bittersweet realization that in this case, it means saying goodbye to Robert Drasnin forever. Thank goodness we can always hit “Repeat” and enjoy his other albums as well!

Skip Heller did Robert Drasnin proud with this release. Not only does Voodoo III stand side by side with its predecessors, but his liner notes about the restoration process are highly informative. Originally issued as a limited edition CD-R release in 2015, Voodoo III is now available on factory-pressed CD, vinyl and as a digital download. According to that link, the vinyl release was “cut on a tube system with a vintage Scully lathe and Westrex 2B cutting head.” I know next to nothing about vinyl, so I’m assuming that’s a good thing. If you’re wondering who’s behind the striking album image, Claudette “Miss Fluff” Barjoud handled the cover art duties this time around. What else can I possibly say? The legacy of Robert Drasnin lives on and this album is a must for hardcore fans and curious neophytes alike!

Special thanks to Dionysus Records for the review copy!

Aug 08 2017

Mummula- The Rise of Mummula vinyl

” In Mummula Manor, when the clock strikes pyramidnight, the mighty Mummula rises from his tomb.

A team of his minions was assembled on Halloween 2012 and sent to Columbus, Ohio from their home of Sandsylvania in order to spread the curse of Mummula. Through their ca-coffin-ous blend of punk, garage, surf, and cartoons they’ll show the world that it’s hip to be scared.”

Last October saw the release of Mummula’s first full length album, The Rise of Mummula. This September 1st will see the culmination of almost a years hard work of bring the album to vinyl format. Limited to only 150 copies on Bubblegum pink vinyl. Pre-orders are available along with special bundle option at: Uncommon Interests

Stream/download or pick up a cassette of the album at: Mummula

Connect with the Mummies of Mummula at: Mummula FB

Aug 07 2017

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Return

Those subscribed to the site’s Facebook and Twitter feeds will undoubtedly recall our behind-the-scenes woes from earlier in the summer. Although I’m happy to report we’re back in the game, I must admit a twinge of sadness over the lost time I could have been spending on getting content done in advance. In addition to having to get all of my Freaky Tiki Surf-ari reviews written in August instead of having them done the month before and being uncertain about when the tie-in episode of the podcast will be released, this also means I won’t be able to work in an extra review like I was hoping to. But since I’m too excited to wait until 2018 to bring it up, I’d like to take a little time to talk about the release of a Hawaiian Spotlighters album called Mauna Kea Breeze. I should actually say “the” Hawaiian Spotlighters album, as Mauna Kea Breeze was their only release! Being issued by a “press on demand” vinyl service back in the 60’s in limited quantities all but guaranteed that the album would become the rarest and most desired album in all Tiki fandom. Thankfully an exotica expert by the name of Jeff Chenult got his hands on a copy and managed to track down one of the band members online. So now it’s officially being reissued on vinyl (complete with a digital download code) by Dionysus Records so everyone can enjoy it!

To distract yourself while waiting for the first review of the 2017 Freaky Tiki Surf-ari, here’s a look back at last year’s installments:

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Return
Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: 6’+ Episode 187 is Up!
Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Alika Lyman Group
Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Genki Genki Panic
Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Maritime Mysteries
Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Tres Gatos Suave

To further make up for the delay, I found two free Kava Kon downloads for you! The first is a very experimental composition called “doubly​-​even self dual binary error​-​correcting block codes” and the second is the EP Virgin Lava. In addition to a new Kava Kon track, it also features some remixes Kava Kon did with the Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble!

Jul 31 2017

Music to Game By VII

Similar to what I did last year, I’m going to take a look at the entries from my 2016 “Music to Haunt By” review series with a focus on their use in tabletop role-playing games. The use of music in gaming sessions has changed a lot since the days when people would crank up some Led Zeppelin while playing Dungeons & Dragons and has even branched out into the world of board games. I know I mentioned the soundtrack to Zombies!!! last year, but it’s actually predated by the soundtracks for A Touch of Evil and Last Night on Earth. In somewhat related news, the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society has produced an officially licensed audio drama based on a Call of Cthulhu role-playing supplement! As you can imagine, there’s plenty of possibilities for working selections of it into a gaming session involving said supplement. But let’s get back on topic and look at material which wasn’t originally intended for use with RPGs. As always, the order of the albums reflects the order in which I reviewed them and does not reflect any personal preference. I had to remove some tracks for spacing purposes but you can find the complete tracks in each of the links.

Psych Ward Psymphony – Given how the band’s self-titled debut album was originally intended to provide a selection of spooky rock music for haunted attractions to use while people waited in line to get in, most of the tracks have a rock ‘n roll feel to them which might not work with your RPG of choice. Especially since many of these tracks also have lyrics. But thankfully there’s a workaround! As I discovered when I had to go answer my front door while listening to the track “Bad Place,” it sounded creepier the further I got away from the speakers. Lowering the volume while playing these tracks results in the creepy music and sound effects being faintly audible and all the lyrics become barely understandable and occasionally screechy. So playing Psych Ward Psymphony on a loop in this fashion is a great way to enhance the atmosphere while playing a variety of horror RPGs. But what if you’re only interested in playing tracks during specific gaming moments? “Jingle Bells PWP” and “Holly & the Ivy” are perfect for modern day Christmas horror scenarios, although the beating sound effects in that last track might limit its uses. Those without any winter plans for their games should skip right to “Turn Back.” A scary organ and traditional Halloween sound effects like a wolf howling and wailing wind join a voice whispering for the listener to turn back while it’s still not too late. But when you hear a vampire welcoming you in with dark piano accompaniment, you know it’s far too late to escape. Just like the poor sap you hear trying to laugh it off as ghostly wails are heard. Having a sepulchral voice mocking him during the guitar segment is an excellent touch, as is the evil laughter which takes us out. This could work as a fun teaser you can play before your gaming group starts an adventure involving a haunted house with a sinister host. The sound of a crackling record brings us into “Death Waltz.” But the static and feedback soon turn into headbanging rock greatness and chilling sound effects. This contrasts nicely with the light (but intense) piano and percussion. It’s just the thing for those wanting to use something a little different when players enter a haunted ballroom. If your adventure involves a haunted museum, you might want to give “The Morrigan” a try. The unnerving (but beautiful) vocals, crying and scary sound effects accompanying the music are also occasionally joined by a voice explaining what the subject of this track is. In other words, it has a built-in tour guide or audio which plays when a player decides to push a button in front of an exhibit. Similarly, players exploring an asylum could have their experience enhanced by your use of “Mama Told Me Not to Come.” The male subject of the track’s moaning and rambling about murders he blames on his mother will provide you with a NPC you don’t have to act out. The same also applies for the doctor who appears at the end. “Hell’s Hell” mixes slow, moody rock with some feedback, static organ work and evil laughter. “The Death Lord” is mostly wailing guitars, screaming and drilling sound effects once the opening musical stingers die down, but the titular character does provide some commentary from time to time. The last of our premade NPC dialogue tracks is “The Survivors?” and it is very effective. Sirens blare and the wind howls as a whispering voice telling us to follow her. Such whispers occur many times under the moody guitars and organ work. It’s so nice to have such a track which isn’t restricted to any particular adventure setting.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 27 2017

6’+ Episode 206 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“We conclude our review of the best new music from the first half of 2017, focusing on horror punk, garage rock, surf music and electronic tracks. ARGYLE GOOLSBY AND THE ROVING MIDNIGHT, GHOUL SQUAD, WOLFMEN OF MARS, X RAY CAT TRIO & More. Monstermatt Patterson pops up for another MONSTERMATT MINUTE and Kraig Khaos returns with a brand new KILLER KUT.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Jul 20 2017

6’+ Episode 205 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“Back from the dead and smelling just as sweet, Six Foot Plus offers new music in the first half of its review of the BEST OF 2017. This time around, it’s all psychobilly (with a little bit of GHOULTOWN) as we play RADARMEN, STAGE FRITE, THE RAYGUN COWBOYS and more. MONSTERMATT PATTERSON is here with another groan-inducing MONSTERMATT MINUTE.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Jul 17 2017

Glowing Fungi

Following up on last week’s post, here’s the finished (for now) version of the glowing fungus prop. Each of the stalks is a length of foam pool noodle slashed with a razor knife and then hit with a heat gun to form the twisting, organic skin. They were then bound into a group using zip ties looped through the foam along the bottom. The illumination is provided by a set of battery powered LED light strings strung through the hole in the middle of each noodle. The entire cluster is roughly two feet high by two feet wide.

On the positive side it looks cool and pumps out a lot of light. Given how bright it is I was surprised how long each strand could keep running on 3 AA batteries. I tested it for ten hours straight and didn’t see any appreciable dimming. Based on that experience the manufacturer’s claim they’ll run for 48 hours seems believable. With that kind of run time this would be ideal for any kind of outdoor LARP or display.

That said, I’m not altogether happy with it. What I really wanted was a cluster of glowing mushrooms with caps, but I couldn’t find a decent technique for creating the tops. The best results were from clear shower caps filled with polyester fiber fill. They looked relatively realistic and provided a nice diffused light, but their size couldn’t be adjusted without a great deal of effort.

This article originally appeared at Propnomicon.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.

Jul 16 2017

It Glows

Remember the heat treated pool noodle experiments from last year?  I’ve been fiddling around with them again, adding a string of LED lights inside the central core of the noodle.  The final prop still needs some tweaks, but the effect is pretty cool.

This article originally appeared at Propnomicon.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.

Jul 15 2017

Burnt Offerings

This is why you need to use a thermometer every time you bake Sculpey.

Last night I finished this specimen off and put it in my dedicated polymer clay toaster oven for a final baking.  Unfortunately, I relied on my previous temperature readings and didn’t check if there was a hot spot inside the oven.  There was, and this is the result.

The translucent clay teeth actually scorched, not only disfiguring the piece but producing some nasty toxic compounds in the process.  The high heat index also darkened the previously baked main body, making the join between it and the newer upper body painfully obvious.

It’s not a totally disaster, but I wanted to finish this off with some color washes to bring out the details.  Now it’s going to need a full paint job. 

Update:  Thanks for the kind words.  One thing I did want to mention is that the bubblegum pink “gums” would be considerably toned down once they were washed and drybrushed.  Heh.

This article originally appeared at Propnomicon.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.

Jul 14 2017

The Reality of Things in Jars

The talented Britta Miller is no stranger to these pages. Beyond producing some choice Mythos artifacts she also happens to work in an actual museum filled with shelves of preserved biological specimens. Ms. Miller was kind enough to share some insights based on that experience.

Thought I’d drop an email on the subject of Things In Jars, as I have been working for the past 1 1/2 years in the Holy Grail of Things In Jars, a museum specimen collection.

It’s pretty glorious.

Since Things In Jars is a popular prop making project, I thought I’d share some observations from my time spent among the ghastly dead. I have yet to make any pickled things props, but perhaps anyone setting out for realistic “museum specimen” props could get some use out of it.

Most everything is stored in 70% ethanol. The primary color of alcohol with things in it for a long time is golden yellow, from dissolved fat. New alcohol is clear, but the longer something is in a jar, and the “meatier” it is, the darker yellow the alcohol ends up, even shading almost to orange with blobs of fat floating on the surface. Never green, despite how popular it is in prop making. I suppose a case could be made for alien biology, but neon green preserving fluid always looks more “sci fi B movie” than convincing. 

An aside to this is a preserving fluid not as widely used now called “Bouin’s solution” which is almost neon green-yellow and stains horribly. Cracked open a jar of things in Bouin’s solution without realizing that’s what it was, and the stain didn’t come out of my fingers for a couple days.

Aside from large gallon jars with plastic screw tops, the primary sort of storage vessel is canning jars with rubber gaskets–often the kind with the logos right on them. (also, never metal screw tops). Keeps a much better seal–and never sealed over with wax, like I see often in prop making (good for props to keep evaporation down, but in an actual specimen collection you need access to everything to add/use/study specimens, and unsealing/resealing would be a major time suck) Alternately, the collection used to be housed in glass jars with glass tops (antiques, now) before being modernized to the rubber-gasket variety.

Some interesting observations on color: Naturally, things fade after being preserved, but they fade pretty specifically. Bright colors go quick–reds and yellows end up dulled to brownish/whitish. Greys/browns/whites and patterns tend to stay visible, unless something is poorly preserved/left in the light for too long, then it’ll fade almost to nothing. Green is an interesting one–due to the nature of how green coloration works, it simply doesn’t exist in preserved specimens. Preserve a bright green frog or snake, and it winds up a dusty blue color, which is actually quite attractive.

In life, these are brilliant green tree frogs.

Also, tags! Tags are never stuck to the outside of jars, they’d eventually wear off/fade to nothing. They’re typed–or handwritten, on the oldest specimens–in waterproof ink on regular old paper and dropped right in the jars. Even things collected in the 20s or before have their original hand-written tags in the jars, still legible. And individual specimens within the jar have their catalog numbers tied right on them. In a museum you can have a hundred of a single species in one jar. This actually was somewhat of a surprise the first time I was in the collection, my main exposure to Things In Jars previous to this having been film/displays where a single specimen is arranged nicely for display–here, jars are often packed full of dozens of individuals. It’s a striking effect, in a completely different way. In the case of really tiny things, like tadpoles or larval newts, individuals tend to be stored with their catalog number in a vial, stuffed with cotton, in the main jar. 

This is probably all information readily available elsewhere on the internet, but I thought I’d share anyway.
 
I’ll leave you with this lovely alligator heart in a jar.
 

This article originally appeared at Propnomicon.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.

Jul 13 2017

Quick and Easy Fetal Specimen

What would a mad scientist’s lab be without some creepy preserved specimens? This project recreates the look of a diaphonized exhibit using a cheap toy dinosaur skeleton and some basic craft supplies. It’s not movie quality, but from a foot away the finished specimen looks awesome.  Not too shabby for something that costs around $2 to make. 

You’ll need the following:

– Toy dinosaur skeleton. I used one from this set available on Amazon. They’re less than $6 for a dozen, with free shipping for Prime members.

– Black cabochons. These are the plastic hemispheres you find mounted in cheap jewelry. Once again I went through Amazon, ordering a package of 500 cabochons in various sizes. Enough critter eyes for a lifetime! You can find slightly cheaper sets on Ebay, but they usually have to be shipped from China.

– Craft paint.  I used white, pink, and deep red craft acrylics.

– Rubber cement.

– Gloves.  You’ll be dipping the plastic dinosaur into near-boiling water.  To protect your hands I’d suggest both a pair of latex or nitrile medical gloves and some cheap work gloves to insulate your hands. 

We start off with this basic plastic dinosaur.  It’s pretty cheesy, but the sculpt has a surprising amount of detail.

You’ll be reshaping the toy figure into the fetal position.  The easiest way to evenly heat the parts you’re bending is to dip them into a measuring cup full of water heated to boiling in the microwave.  The plastic becomes rubbery and flexible at around 160 degrees Fahrenheit. That gives you about five minutes of working time as the water slowly cools off.

Keep in mind THIS STUFF IS HOT.  REALLY HOT.  THIRD DEGREE BURN HOT.  To protect your hands put on the medical gloves and then don the work gloves.  The outer gloves will help insulate your hands from the heat, while the inner layer prevents any hot water from coming in contact with your skin.  It’s reasonably safe if you have a modicum of common sense.

In a second container you’ll need cold water, preferably with a few ice cubes.  Dip the dinosaur into the hot water and bend the limbs into shape.  Then plunge the toy into the cold water and the plastic will instantly set.  To lever the feet and hands into position you may need to use a pair of pliers.  Work on one limb at a time and you can bend the skeleton into almost any shape you want.

Here’s what the toy will look like once you’re done.

Now we need to take care of the surface finish.  The eyes are a pair of black cabochons set into the figure’s existing eye sockets with hot glue.  The entire figure was then painted white, followed by washes of pink and red.  Don’t worry too much about the quality of the paintjob, since…

…we’re going to cover the figure in rubber cement.  The result is a transparent fleshy layer that adds a ton of visual interest.  Just brush on the cement, allow it to dry, and then repeat the process until you’re happy with the effect.  In the belly area I hot glued some bits of scrap latex to suggest internal organs and then applied a thick layer of rubber cement to build up a distended abdomen. 

And there you have it.  Drop the critter into a jar of colored water and you have a great bookshelf display.  In the finished specimen up at the top of the page I added two drops of green food coloring.  The floating particulates are a sprinkle of garlic powder.  It gives the fluid a nice grungy appearance as well as being an anti-bacterial agent.

This article originally appeared at Propnomicon.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.

Jun 18 2017

Coming Soon…..It Rises From The Tomb

You have been warned.

Jun 17 2017

Free RPG Day Is Here!

It’s time for our annual unofficial (in addition be being unauthorized and unsanctioned) celebration of Free RPG Day! So once you’re finished supporting your friendly local game store, be sure to check these out:

You might remember Chill as “that horror RPG with the book of adventures hosted by Elvira.” Although that book isn’t available for free online, you can snag a Quick Start adventure and various other freebies online.

The legendary article “Tucker’s Kobolds” is now available as a free download. In it you can learn how some strategy and clever traps can make an enemy best known as easy cannon fodder for new players into a challenging nightmare for experienced players. Speaking of traps, the Amazon previews for Grimtooth’s Traps and Grimtooth’s Traps Fore have some nasty traps which can be used with any RPG system. But their flexibility can also make things challenging for anyone running a game. Grimtooth’s traps may all have ratings to show how lethal they are, but how do you translate that into damage rolls? Figuring out the amount of damage the crossbow in the first linked trap can deal out is pretty easy, but how much extra damage should be factored in for slamming into the wall and getting shot at point-blank range? Thankfully there are other free resources which can be used to help resolve such issues. Hitting up USENET archives using Google Groups or a newsreader service can be helpful. But since we’re discussing stuff from Amazon right now, Castle Oldskull: The Book of Dungeon Traps might help with calculating damage and Random Encounters Volume 4 has some great trap advice. The other free previews for the Castle Oldskull and Random Encounters series are highly recommended, as are the ones for entries in the Kobold Guide series of books.

But Amazon isn’t the only resource online for help with tabletop gaming. The Exemplary DM Podcast offers a range of great advice and Frugal GM has a wealth of money and time-saving tips. D&D Plot Hooks, Encounters, and Concepts also has a ton of great advice, including a way to use dice to create maps! RPGMapShare.com also has plenty of map-related goodies for you.

Although there aren’t any free downloads from Erang this time around, you can stream his lengthy compilations of his original gaming music over at his Erang Dungeon Synth channel:

Individual tracks can be streamed over at his official Bandcamp page, including his recent foray into cyberpunk and horror music Anti Future (which differs with his usual fantasy work). Those who prefer to download music will find some free alternatives to Erang over at Dungeon Synth if they do a little digging.

The Castle Ravenloft board game has a lot going for it. It’s a fun way to introduce people to the idea of playing Dungeons & Dragons since it’s based on the 4th Edition rules and even allows for solo gaming if you want to play but can’t get a group together. But some grow to find it repetitive and others find the rules to be confusing. Thankfully you can find free expansions and alternate rules made by fans! If Hunt for the Fiend or Crypts and Creepers aren’t to your liking, you can find plenty of other expansions online. You can also find fan expansions for Arkham Horror and resources on solo gaming!

What’s better than a free In Dark Alleys adventure complete with Quick Start rules and characters you don’t need to roll up the stats for? Having the official guide to playing the game in adventureless mode as well!

Moving on to the sci-fi side of things, its nature as a Creative Commons RPG means there’s plenty of free resources for Eclipse Phase out there. Resources also abound for the decidedly non-CC newest edition of Shadowrun. Terra/Sol Games also has lots of free stuff available for its science fiction role-playing games (along with stuff for their other game genres).

Those with a taste for darkness and superheroes should check out Godlike and Wild Talents. Prefer pulps? Then be sure to check out the Spirit of the Century system reference document and some fan-made freebies for Savage Worlds!

Let’s ease back into fantasy with the free preview of Chronica: Age of Exploration, which combines fantasy with actual history! Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures bills itself as a “zero-prep” RPG which can be played in a single afternoon and Basic Fantasy prides itself on being light on rules. While we’re on the subject of basic games, Spellcraft & Swordplay has a free basic version available. You should look into Dark Dungeons or Mazes & Minotaurs if you want something just a bit more advanced. Snagging Blood & Bronze is also recommended.

Happy Free RPG Day!

As always, Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of downloading from any links given here. Attempt at your own discretion. We make no guarantees about the future availability of the material listed above, so get them while you can. Blah blah blah…

Jun 07 2017

Free RPG Day Is Coming!

Free RPG Day is on June 17th this year, and oh are you in for a treat! Here’s a look at some of the gaming goodies you can snag:

Borderhounds
Dungeon Crawl Classics
TimeWatch/13th Age
Runequest
Starfinder
Torg Eternity
Through The Breach
Familiars of Terra
Robert E. Howards’ Conan

In addition to the various kinds of dice, you can also get a dice cup, status tokens, gaming paper, a Cthulhu Mythos soundset and a Pathfinder Adventures card!

To find out more about the event and see if any retailers near you are participating, check out the official Free RPG Day website. No game stores in your area? Don’t fret, as we’ll be posting our annual collection of free gaming downloads on the big day as part of our unofficial celebration of the event!

May 25 2017

Steve Wang

Self-taught artist and sculptor Steve Wang was born in 1966, but moved with his family from Taiwan to the United States in 1975. Thanks to exposure to Halloween (which was largely unknown in Taiwan at the time), he quickly became enamored with both collecting and making masks. Factor in a love of tokusatsu shows like Ultraman and Kamen Rider and it should come as no surprise he later decided to try his hand at making his own movies. The first of these amateur efforts was his 1984 Super 8mm short Kung Fu Rascals: Monster Beach Party, which he later made a feature length sequel of sorts to in the 90’s. Given the incomplete nature of his professional credits in online sources, it’s hard to say what film was Wang’s first. His first job for a major motion picture appears to have been working as a painter and effects technician for the 1986 Invaders from Mars remake. This led to his working on many other films in the late 80’s, including The Monster Squad, Deepstar Six and Evil Dead II. His most famous work from that period can be seen in Predator. Many people don’t know how the film started off with a completely different look for the titular creature ,which had to be abandoned due to it not looking good as a costume. Stan Winston’s team, which included Steve Wang, was tasked with creating the iconic look which fans know and love today. In addition to his design work, Wang also sculpted various elements of the costume and was responsible for the costume’s paint scheme. Winston said the paint job was the most important part of the costume and Wang was given the assignment after he won first place in the monster suit category for Screaming Mad George’s second annual costume contest in 1987. Considering how the judges included special effects legends like Dick Smith and Rick Baker, this says a lot about Steve Wang’s talents. Naturally, this was only one of the many awards he would collect over the years.

The 90’s were also a busy time for Mr. Wang. 1991 saw him co-directing and providing effects for the 1991 live action manga adaptation The Guyver. This in turn led to him being approached to work on both the Japanese/American co-production Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero (which is known as Ultraman Powered in Japan) and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie. But he quickly parted ways on both projects when it became clear his proposed changes would not be accepted by those in charge. Ironically, he wound up working as a painter on the infamous 1998 American Godzilla movie which used a radically altered creature design than the more traditional one he created when the project was going to be directed by Jan de Bont. Wang returned for Guyver 2: Dark Hero, this time being the only one in the director’s chair and having more say over the film’s story in addition to his editing, producing and working on creature effects for the film. Speaking of directing, he also directed the cult martial arts classic Drive and an episode of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy during this time.

The next two decades saw him lending his talents to films like Reign of Fire, Hellboy, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem and Underworld: Evolution (among many others). But he wasn’t only limited to work on feature films. In 2002 he offered a line of “Biomorph” masks directly to the public and wrote for (in addition to directing and producing) the television series Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight from 2008 to 2010. He co-founded Alliance Studio with Eddie Yang and said studio has often made statues for Blizzard Entertainment over the years. Alliance Studio was also involved in the making of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, so you had better believe Steve Wang had a hand in the “Knightmare” creature seen in the film. Wang has also been known to appear in educational videos for the Stan Winston School of Character Arts, as seen on said school’s official YouTube channel:

He’s also lectured at the Cinema Makeup School and, as the following video from Radd Titan shows, he often appears on the convention circuit as well:

Given his numerous talents, I’m sure it won’t be too long before he gets involved in another project. Until then, we can visit his official Instagram account and read up on his past works. I had to skip over a ton of things in order to keep this article from getting to long, such as his acting roles, so clicking on that last link is highly recommended. Sadly the Internet Movie Database entry for him is far from complete. For example, it currently fails to note how he designed the monster in Dragon Blue and I would love to get some definitive verification he was actually involved in Jushin Thunder Liger: Fist of Thunder. One gets the feeling this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Bibliography:

Interview with Artist and Creature Creator, Steve Wang – ArtsBeatLA
Off Hollywood – Steve Wang – VICE
Steve Wang – SPFX Character Creator & Master Monster Maker | Stan Winston School
An Interview with Steve Wang – AFN.org
Steve Wang – Creature Creator – About | Facebook
Original Predator Design – Jean-Claude Van Damme As A Giant Fly?
First Person Monster Blog: Part 45: The Saga of THE PREDATOR, Part 1
GODZILLA Unmade: The History of Jan De Bont’s Unproduced TriStar Film – Part 1 of 4
Steve Wang – Wikipedia
KC Interview with Steve Wang – KamenConnection
Biography – Alliance Studio

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