Friday, 16 March 2018

Here Be Monsters...

It's been a while since I've posted bonus content for my various games. To be honest, it's been a while since I last had time to write any! Time to redress the balance, with a little trip to the alternate-history Roman Empire of Broken Legions...

Roman legionaries explore a temple of the Black Pharaoh.
Illustration by ªRU-MOR, (c) Osprey Publishing 2016

Last year I wrote three articles for Wargames Illustrated Magazine, essentially a mash-up of Broken Legions and my Osprey sourcebook, Cthulhu Campaigns: Ancient Rome. Although part two of those articles appeared online, part one only had a limited release in the magazine, and part three never saw the light of day at all. And so, I've set to work making the rules available, so all Broken Legions fans can enjoy them. Taken together, this makes a free expansion for your games - pretty neat, huh?

Part One

Part Two

Part Three: Monsters

That's all for now. Until next time: For the glory of Rome!

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

A Magical, Miniature Adventure...

For the last year, my friends at Knight Models in Spain have been working on something big. Initially announced as the Harry Potter Miniatures Game, a whole raft of behind-the-scenes 'stuff' has led to some big changes to the project.

Today, they've announced the Harry Potter Miniatures Adventure Game, and I can finally break my radio silence!

Designed by Gustavo Cuadrado and Sergio Garcia (with a little help from Yours Truly), the new-look Harry Potter game is a tabletop board game, combining strategy and magical battles with teamwork and problem-solving.

At the studio in Spain, with ace figure
painter and community manager
Borja (aka Hagrid Potter).
I visited Knight Models in February (a year to the day since my first visit, incidentally), and I've never seen a team so busy - it took me back to my days on White Dwarf when the monthly Deadline Week was in full swing. It was an honour and a pleasure to be involved in this project. They're gearing up for this Kickstarter in a big way, and have invested in some incredible talent to make the launch as seamless and professional as possible. this is going to be huge for them, and for Harry Potter fans.

So yeah, this is a biggie. Pretty soon I'll be able to spill a few more details, but for now just check out this video and get some goosebumps...

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Ding Dong!

In what has become my customary final blog of the year, I'd like to wish all my friends, family, fans, readers, supporters and clients all the compliments of the season. 2017 has been a pretty good year at Lost Victorian Towers, and I think next year will be better still, with at least two novels, a few short stories, and some stonkingly exciting top-secret gaming projects all in the works.

And it's you lovely people who make it all possible. So Gawd bless yer, ev'ry one!

(This year's Lost Victorian Christmas card created by Dom Murray - @sinistersnowmen on Twitter. (c) 2017.)

Friday, 15 December 2017

Festive Frighteners

Every year, I carp on about spooky short stories for the festive season, but I realise I haven’t talked about another little tradition in my house: spooky films for Christmas! Not necessarily Christmas movies, you understand, but the celluloid equivalent of that old English tradition, the Christmas ghost story. I have sort of an essential viewing list for the Yuletide period. Some of my festive favourites aren’t scary movies at all (for instance the Peter Cushing version of The Blue Carbuncle), but the following list represents my top five, must-see haunting films for the season.

Whistle and I’ll Come to You (1968)
For me, this 1968 film from the BBC’s Ghost Stories for Christmas series is one of the finest adaptations of a Jamesian story ever committed to celluloid. The haunting location and amazing soundscape create an unsettling atmosphere throughout, offset by the comedic bumbling of Michael Horden’s Parkins. The finale, whilst not quite [ahem...] meeting modern standards of special effects and execution, is still as fine a portrayal of someone being scared witless as you’ll ever see.

An honourable mention should go to the Nunkie Theatre company’s dramatic reading of this story, which is really masterfully done, and is available here.

The Signalman (1976)
Adapted from the 1866 Dickens short story, this is another of Andrew Davies’ BBC Ghost Stories for Christmas, and one that I love more than is reasonable. This is the film I watch in front of a fire, with a glass of scotch in hand and the dog curled up next to me. It’s an intimate performance, carried by two brilliant actors in Denholm Elliott and Bernard Lloyd, with such a great atmosphere. Like most of the series, it’s quite a slow, gentle haunter, with just a few momentary blasts of violence.

The Children of Green Knowe (1986)
Okay, this is a bit of a cheat, as it’s a kid’s BBC mini-series, and isn’t really that frightening for grown-ups. But god, it’s great! I loved this as a child, and the scene of a statue of St Christopher coming to life and wandering about the grounds of the spooky old house haunted me for years, until finally I tracked the series down and rewatched it. Now it’s a firm favourite, although it by no means meets the flashy standards demanded by the youth of today. Don’t know they’re born, etc. Until recently, Youtube was the only way to watch this children's classic, but it now finally has a DVD release.

The Woman in Black (1989)
Regular readers of the blog will know already that I really like this ITV adaptation of Susan Hill’s novel (far more than the big-budget Hammer remake). It doesn’t have the money for flashy effects, so it uses great locations, costumes, music and camerawork to promote a really chilling atmosphere – it’s certainly the most outright scary movie on this list. And it contains, of course, ‘that’ scene, which gave me nightmares as a kid. Sadly, due to a dispute with Susan Hill, this version is no longer available to buy, but you can watch it here.

Scrooge (1951)
Alright, this one isn’t really renowned as a scary movie, despite it being all about ghosts, but it is an all-time classic. It also does contain some rather unsettling scenes (particularly in the segment of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come) that set this classic movie aside from the rest of the over-sentimental, mushy adaptations of the tale. If you only watch one version of A Christmas Carol, make it the Alistair Sim one.

Honourable Mentions
You can have pretty much any of the BBC’s Ghost Stories for Christmas if I’m honest – I only listed my favourites above, but I also watch The Number 13, A View from a Hill and The Stalls of Barchester (starring the late Robert Hardy) every year without fail. There’s also a wonderful collection of M R James dramatic readings by Robert Powell, which I’d highly recommend.

If you fancy something a bit more modern and sensational as a seasonal frightener, the recent(ish) movie Krampus isn’t terrible (now there’s an endorsement). But the real gem for me in recent years was the William Shatner-fronted anthology movie, A Christmas Horror Story. A few missteps in the collection, but overall a great little horror movie that’ll make you block up your chimney.

Finally, if you're after general scary movie recommendations, rather than just my seasonal favourites, try this list.