My first attempt at writing a proper story for a book comes to fruition in TroyAnthony Schermer’s fabulous anthology, Symphony Of The Damned. I was drafted in quite late but took a six day hiatus from my Savage Realms adventure to type up a quick idea. Should it be well recieved I would consider future projects like this rather than solely focus on interactive literature.
Amongst the other guest authors you may see familiar names associated with me such as Victoria Hancox, David Lowrie, and of course Pat O’Neill who provided the filler art for my book The Druids Of Pneuma, now turning debut writer. So if you like chilling stories, give this a try! Jam out!
Oliver McNeil, creator of The Storymaster’s Tales, invited myself and other gaming fan Helen Donovan, to take part in a live cam session of his latest game named Hotel Lovecraft. Thankfully my inferior internet allowed me to stay the duration, and what an incredible time we had.
The game differs tremendously from previous successes, Weirding Woods and Dracodeep Dungeon. While it is still card/book/dice based, the setup differs in that you are not building a map like in the aforementioned, but playing 6 levels (floors) of a creepy hotel based heavily with a feel of the titular name’s works. The chilling atmosphere when you explore each room is started with an accompanying soundscape and narration at the start of each scenario as usual. This works to great effect, creating a real sense of intensity and dread like in such games as the Room app series. The intensity grows tenfold as you get nearer the end of the game, say, the final two floors, where the end is in sight but you are scrambling round trying to complete your objective or avoid falling foul of any terrors out to suck you stat points away.
Even though Helen and I were the only two players, the six levels of five rooms kept the game going for two hours in total. She got away. I died in the last location. Because of her as it ultimately turned out, yet we’d been working together perfectly well until the final location. Women! 😄
Even though this game differs to Oliver’s others, it isn’t a far flung effort being traditionally easy to pick up and more importantly, great great fun. This will be the third ten on ten Oliver McNeil game when I score it on BGG. Thanks for all the fun, laughs, and games you bring to the world Mr McNeil. Originally crowdfunded on Kickstarter, you can order a late backer copy if you CLICK HERE.
So with International Gamebook Day over, I have taken stock of people’s advice to give my gamebooks a series name. If you have been among the first to buy me debut book, you will have an extremely rare copy if they take off, as all books now will sport the Literally Immersive Gamebooks logo as seen in this pic.
I’d like to thank Mr David Tobin for my first Amazon review, and what a corker it is. Also, I can take this opportunity to tell everyone that Literally Immersive #2 is well underway, and I hope to have it available by Halloween, which will be fitting for a Horror adventure.
From the rising popular games legend Oliver McNeil, creator of Weirding Woods and Dracodeep Dungeon comes a new avenue of tabletop Horror gaming. Will your stay in Hotel Lovecraft be long…. or will you get lucky? Watch the video and CLICK HERE to get it!!
There have been countless depictions of vampires throughout time, differing from culture to culture and watered down even more by the film and book industry. So what have I learned about it if we was to discover vampires actually existed as depicted in lore? What intolerances do they have, which tools can help me? Can an atheist protect themself?
Silver. There is a belief that silver exists on both the material and spiritual world which gave rise to the use of silver weapons being effective against vampires. This has many a time been stressed solid silver, the electroplated stuff being ineffective. I’m not sure why… it’s still silver isn’t it? Maybe it needs to be in purest form to hurt the impure? It seems to some cultures just the touch of silver is efficient enough to scorch a vampire, thus a knife or silver bullet, through the heart or not, have been depicted countless times.
Stakes. This is a sure way to rid yourself of a vampire if you can get close enough. Staking it through the heart will stop it from rising again. It is thought by some the stake needs to stay in place, for if it is removed the vampire may rise again. Your best stake material will be wood given its availability , preferably hawthorn but oak and ash are also popular. (It is thought Jesus’ crown of thorns was made of hawthorn. Some religions claim he wasn’t put on a cross either but a torture stake.) The majority of lore accepts any wood will do. A few may suggest a mis-aimed stake may still harm the creature but not destroy it. A silver spike will have the same effect, and iron is thought to follow suit as well given this metal’s link to the fae, but has been rather forgotten in lore after silver.
Garlic There are many blood loving parasites out there and quite a few are said to be repelled by garlic not only because of its strong flavour but also its unmistakable strong scent. With a vampire having heightened senses including smell, it is quite believable that garlic will stifle those extra strong senses, weakening the creature maybe to a point of suffocation. Some sources have suggested it’s touch is harmful as well in the same way a Holy symbol would be. Given how easy it is to obtain, surely it can’t hurt having a piece to hand. Garlic is also usually stuffed into the mouths of decapitated vampires as an extra precaution to prevent it rising again.
Cross You’d have to have led a pretty sheltered life to not know of the vampires aversion of crosses or crucifixes. These Holy icons must have featured in 99% of vampire stories, but along the way certain rules have come to light. For example, apparently it’ll only work if you have absolute faith in it. With that, the atheists usually end up becoming vamps meal that night. But this begs the questions “Faith in what exactly? Does it have to be a God? ” The Doctor Who story The Curse Of Fenric featured haemovores which were weakened by faith. A soldier used his army emblem to repel them because of his faith they would defeat the opposition. I have noticed many reference silver crosses. We already know vampires are harmed silver so this is probably a combination of two weapons it one, and once again they are said to burn at the touch of a cross. I recently looked at a chart of religions appearing over time. The second oldest – Wuism – has the first cross symbol associated with it and dates back dozens of millenia before Christianity. It is also a solar cross, a circle surrounding it representing the sun…its light is a vampires greatest threat. In modern Christianity the Celtic cross has this sun integrated into its design. I personally have every faith the sun will rise each morning, so hey atheists it appears we can use a cross of a certain style. It just needs that sun integration. The solar cross is a pagan protective symbol, the four divisions of the sun made by the cross itself representing the four seasons of the year. Suicide victims used to be buried in the center of crossroads to stop them rising as vampires.
Sunlight. The likelihood of catching a vampire out in this way is very slim given it will retreat back to its resting place long before dawn. However direct sunlight is fatal to a vampire, those intense rays of light burning through its every atom turning it to ash, or if very old turning it to dust as its ages crumble to the floor. It is emphasised in moderm vampire mythology that it is the ultraviolet content of sunlight that causes this effect, just like it burns us if we are in it too long. Indeed, in my short story Quasar Zone, a vampire met his end witlessly entering a lazertag arena filled with UV lights and disintegrating infront of the players. I have already covered a few crosses along the religious spectrum have sun symbols blended within them so it is indeed a big hand to non-theists.
Mirrors. This is a fairly modern component in vampire hunting lore. It is said they will cast no relection in a mirror which is a great way to expose them. Mirrors are also said to cause vampires discomfort when looking into them, this may only work when the mirror is silverbacked. Another interesting use is that mirrors can reflect sunlight, so its no wonder they cause panic among the vampire community. This particular method was wonderfully demonstrated in the film Dracula 1973AD in a fight between Van Hellsing and Johnny Alucard.
Plants I already covered the bit on harlic seperately, and also mentioned hawthorn. Wild roses aka Dog Roses are frequented in vampire legend as well. And why not? Thorns are like miniature wooden stakes afterall. The Dog Rose is written to be placed on coffin lids to prevent the vampires from rising at all. It’s also depicted that the touch from the petals will burn vampire skin. Other thorned plants that turn up as a defence against vampire include, buckthorn, blackthorn and aspen holly and linden for more stakes.
Holy Items If you manage to obtain an item blessed by the clergy you are quite armed for facing a vampire. Holy water will act like a strong acid or poison. The touch of consecrated soil (graveyard dirt etc), or even a blessed weapon or item of clothing if you can convince a priest or reverend etc to do so. Holy text such as a bible is supposed to have the same effect as a cross, although I’m guessing the faith must be solely in the associated religion in this case.
Beheading/Fire Our heads contain our minds and as such, our very spirits. Thus the decapitation of a vampire sends its very soul back to rest in the hereafter. Extra precautions usually involve stuffing its mouth with garlic. Some will even go as far as cremation so that everything is burned away. Of course, maybe you’d get lucky enough to set it ablaze while its still active with a flaming torch or molotov cocktail perhaps.
Running Water This weakness has always fascinated me and it’s another one that extends to several unholy creatures. A couple of theories as to why this is a weakness is that running water is purer than the rest, or the biblical stance is that Jesus was baptised in a river taking him closer to God, so no wonder a vamp would go nuts. Rain is sometimes not thought to be enough, rather like silver plated stuff versus solid silver quarm. Vampires cannot pass running water and are supposedly destroyed if immersed in it.
So to round off, this is a subjective topic and we all interpret things in our own ways. But I hope you have enjoyed my little page dedicated to one of our most well known creatures of the night.
Remember how excellent some gamebooks actually were back in the 80s? The ones with mostly fresh ideas that we couldn’t wait for the release of? This is also a very impacting game book based largely on brainwork as there are no combat systems. Typically, this is everything Choose You Own Adventure should have been. Creepy, paced, atmospheric and relies heavily on cerebral skill to get you through. It literally doesn’t need dice or card systems to work whereby the aforementioned CYOA were dreadfully easy.
Set within the confines of a creepy hospital (that’s enough to shit some people up alone), you awaken in a very surreal version of your world. You realise quite early on some lunatic (liking it already) is stalking you to chop you up like other victims. These turn out to be witches and the author has cleverly interlaced witch folklore into the story, with the looney taking different body parts from each in order to gain special powers. But things take a turn for the worse when you discover a higher power in control of this seemingly willing slave. All throughout the adventure you feel everything is being manipulated around you from room to room, and you don’t know what random and usually gory thing is going to happen next.
All the classic Fighting Fantasy esque conundrums are here, from riddles and letter codes (like in Ian Livingstone’s Deathtrap Dungeon) , to cryptic deciphering and numbered items (Steve Jackson’s Creature Of Havoc perhaps). It’s even 400 references long. For a first gamebook from Victoria Hancox, this is an excellent debut. She has certainly drawn from her familiarities with gamebooks and experiences which have added backbone to the game and I have also been in contact with Victoria and begged that she’ll write another. She replied to me and… I’m not going to say the answer 😜.
This is what many modern gamebooks should be like, and if you like the Horror gamebooks like me… it should be the very next book you buy.
Attempts.. 6 🙂
*proudly became the first known player to complete it successfully according to the author.
In all honesty, modern Vampire videogames are far too slash n dash for me. What the industry needs in my opinion, is some Hammer-esque with loads of suspense and a hero that isnt some kind of acrobat sword swiping weirdo with superhuman reflexes and magical powers.
How about the good old Van Helsing character, or even an average John Doe who has a smattering of knowledge and just everyday items and wit to hunt down and take on the titular bloodsucker. Think Horror of Dracula, Salems Lot, The Lost Boys, Fright Night. Above all, stick to the vampire we know and love, dont make them electricity throwing wizard genius types. Shoot plenty of 1st person scenes to draw players into the game (rather like Resident Evil) with creepy creaking floorboards and secret rooms.
Sometimes less is more, and the game itself should be foremost rather than what the characters can do. Jam out!
This time last year, my work collegue lent me the M. R. Carey book, The Girl With All The Gifts. Last night we was lucky enough to go and see the film adaption. Although an amount of the book content had been left out, this film presented us an hour and fifty minutes of fun with a screenplay fairly loyal to the story. Horror fans should enjoy this film which sheds a new light on the cause of “undeath”, although as in 28 days later, these ghoulish creature are living infected rather than decaying ressurections. The titular Girl, played by the talented young Sennia Nanua really delivers the character I had visualised in the book. The ever amazing Glenn Close and Gemma Arterton co star, this film is real girl power! With some incredibly well timed sequences and the odd jump scare, I recommend you see this film if not at the cinema then as soon as its on DVD but the book itself is far more superior!
Sennia Nanua (middle) with co stars Glenn Close and Gemma Arterton
Just recently I read the book The House On Cold Hill by Peter James. This is unusual for me as it’s a novel. Something I dont usually get along with. But what can I say? From chapter one I was hooked. What’s great aboutthis tome is James keeps a pace going which never really slacks off, and also, he manages to keep the chapters quite short rather than long winded and dozens of leafs long. (The latter being the reason I give up on many a book. With this work you feel like you’re actually getting somewhere.)
The characters are kept to a minimum. Probably less than twenty which means youdont get huge amounts of character development padding out the pages and distracting you from the actual plot. Another gripe of mine. It turns out that James has based this story on personal experiences, and on his YouTube video, you hear him telling of these experiences and where they show up in the book.
My only real gripe is, the ending isnt all that origional. Its been done before and will doubtless be done again. He does keep you guessing for a long time but you fathom it out before reaching the end few chapters. Id have loved to have had something fresh.
All in all, I’d happily say this is the best novel I’ve ever read. 350 pages in less than a week is unheard of for me. I would advise anyone who loves a good creepy book to seek out The House On Cold Hill and aquire it. You will not regret it.
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