Such a gloriously gothic tale, it's almost a shame that it had to be published with the Ravenloft logo, as many folks that would have otherwise read t...moreSuch a gloriously gothic tale, it's almost a shame that it had to be published with the Ravenloft logo, as many folks that would have otherwise read this novel will be warded off by the Dungeons & Dragons connection.
Then again, I enjoy knowing of these hidden treasures, and To Sleep With Evil, despite a 2007 reprint, is still a bit of a hidden treasure. Just who is this Andria Cardarelle aka Andria Hayday anyway? A pseudonym? I want to know so I can bug her to write more books. Her style is fantastic, it's very colorful and descriptive without being too heavy or taxing on the reader's brain. I'm not really a speed reader by any means, I usually take my time and try to enjoy a book, but I was so taken by this novel that I finished it within 24 hours.
The story is frightening, disturbing, grotesque, lewd, and fleetingly romantic - just like I'd imagine any really great gothic horror story should be. The protagonist Marguerite is young, but not entirely naive and not entirely innocent. However, the villains really take the cake in this novel. Lord Donskoy is cold, charismatic and creepy. His minions are suitably depraved and physically disgusting in their own ways. Then there's Miss Montarri, who is evil, selfish, vain and irritatingly witty.
If you already like the Ravenloft setting, this book should be at the top of your to-read list. Otherwise, if you're into the gothic horror genre and looking for something different, pick this up if you can handle a few sleepless nights afterwards.(less)
Couldn't finish this one. It started off so well with the birth of heavy metal, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, the early years of speed...moreCouldn't finish this one. It started off so well with the birth of heavy metal, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, the early years of speed metal and black metal... but suddenly it hastily degenerated into nothing more than a Metallica love-fest for the next 125 pages. I have nothing against Metallica, but they are not the be-all end-all of heavy metal.
If anything, the author has glossed over the importance of bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Motörhead. I feel like this book could have been so much better if there was a co-author on board who grew up in the United Kingdom or some part of Europe, to at least give us a better perspective of British and European metal and it's importance in the overall metal community. Once the author gets up to the release of Kill 'Em All in '83, the rest of the world is pretty much ignored, save for the occasional reference to Mercyful Fate and a rather weak attempt to summarize German power metal.
Oh dear, oh dear. No, this just doesn't work. This is why 2nd edition went to shit towards the end of its life. A sequel to the classic Keep on the Bo...moreOh dear, oh dear. No, this just doesn't work. This is why 2nd edition went to shit towards the end of its life. A sequel to the classic Keep on the Borderlands just goes straight into the "what were they THINKING?!" category.
You know how a return to the keep should have been done? If they could've somehow turned it into a high level adventure where old characters have to return to the Caves of Chaos, the site of their first adventures. Maybe some lich or beholder moves in, redesigns the place a bit, installs new traps and brings in new minions. A number of cave-ins and such could make the player knowledge of the original layout a moot point. The keep itself could have a new ruler who frowns upon adventurers, just to make it more interesting and to take away that 'safe' resting place. But the mad hermit with the pet lion stays, dammit, I don't care what you say. Even if your PC's killed them the first time around... another mad hermit and pet lion spawns. Or something.(less)
I'll be honest, I originally gave this RPG a two star rating, but I pushed it up to three before writing this review. I thought about it for awhile, a...moreI'll be honest, I originally gave this RPG a two star rating, but I pushed it up to three before writing this review. I thought about it for awhile, and decided that the original combat system (and the huge variety of moves your characters can perform) plus the great fun of character creation was enough to at least give it another star. I would've like to have given it more, because I'm a fan of the Street Fighter universe, but sadly the White Wolf system from the 1990's does little for me, so it loses some points there.
The problem I have is that the White Wolf games of this era (Vampire, Mage, Werewolf, et al) had some loose rule systems. Most all of them encouraged live action over strict rules, and that just never worked for me. I love good roleplaying, and I like deep and interesting plots too, but I need some kind of dice rolling to go along with that, to create a little bit of randomness. Otherwise I may as well sit around a table doing freeform storytelling, and that's no fun (to me, anyway).
The Street Fighter game might be a little hard to find nowadays (it's out of print), but if you're a diehard SF fan and you happen to like RPG's, you must snap this one up if you see it on eBay. It features most all the World Warriors from the video game Street Fighter II, it's got a crazy amount of special moves for your characters to perform, and the adventures can be pretty interesting if you've got a creative GM. You don't always have to compete in tournaments, although, given that this is a Street Fighter game, you should be involved with one every now and then. The tone of the game has plenty of video game styled zaniness, but it doesn't go too far over the top.
Character creation is one of the most joyful experiences a player of this game will have. Although stats are provided for the regular World Warriors, the players are encouraged to create their own SF characters. This might sound a bit strange to some at first, but once you read through this book and look at all the creative things you can do, you'll be itching to create your own warrior. It's the closest a role-playing game has ever come to emulating those create-a-wrestler modes in the WWE games (and anyone who plays those games always reports loving that game feature).
The game sags a bit when it comes to the actual combat. I never thought the Storyteller system was great at handling combat, and even though SF features a stripped down version of those rules, it still comes off as a bit sluggish. This is Street Fighter, the rounds of combat should blaze past, creating edge of your seat matches. Instead one is left figuring out who has the lowest speed, if the other character wants to interrupt their attack, if they're performing a combo, and so on and so on. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just a big, dumb, thick-headed fool like Balrog (or Bison in the Japanese version), but I just never got the hang of this combat system.
This book features a complete adventure scenario towards the end, featuring the aforementioned boxer as the antagonist. It's not all that great of an adventure, but it gives a thoughtful GM some ideas of where a SF campaign could go. If you're seriously thinking about running this game, there are a few resources on the net you could exploit for better ideas (there's a SF RPG wiki out there if you search for it).
Overall, I still like this game. I've never been a huge fan of martial arts styled RPG's, and I've only played a few RPG's that are strictly action-based. This one combines both of those genres with tons of content from the video games and the expanded SF universe. I doubt anyone would agree with my opinion, but Street Fighter is easily my favorite White Wolf RPG.(less)
Set in Pompeii the day before the eruption of Vesuvius, this story is a rare non-Hartnell historical. Not a single monster or spaceship to be found. E...moreSet in Pompeii the day before the eruption of Vesuvius, this story is a rare non-Hartnell historical. Not a single monster or spaceship to be found. Er, you just have to try and ignore the fact that we later discover the Tenth Doctor and alien influence are responsible for the volcano erupting during 'The Fires of Pompeii'. Two Doctors wandering around the same city with two redheads at the same time? What are the odds?
Sylvester McCoy is fantastic in his reprisal of the Seventh Doctor. He's less of the season 24 spoon-playing clown and a bit more brooding and sombre in tone, but there's a perfectly good explanation for that given fairly early on in the story. However, it's Bonnie Langford as Mel that really steals the show. There's little doubt that Mel is one of the least popular companions in the history of Doctor Who, but writer Steve Lyons actually gives the actress some decent material to work with, and Bonnie doesn't disappoint.(less)