Not serious ones of course.
When I express a love of cosmic horror, the link between horror and comedy, dark and angry surrealism, nihilism, and all of the other things I over-analyse, it’s an expression of interest and fascination that is – at its core – what geekiness is all about: an open expression of passion for a particular subject or subjects. And as a creative person I like to let free my own reflection of those genres and subjects that fascinate me.
When I started putting my own particular brand of horoscope onto Facebook, I’d been listening to a lot of Welcome to Night Vale, and H.P. Lovecraft, watching Dylan Moran, and Rick and Morty. That, and I was in a mood to write and get weird with it, as I am wont to do, previous examples include corrupted christmas cracker jokes, a crowd sourced poem about being on the toilet, and some early evidence of my own mental health issues before I recognised what I was looking at.
All of this narcissistic rambling to say that for me… it’s a kind of fan art. I ingest the media that I love, and out comes some blended product born of my own creativity. Some examples:
Aries: Check your liver against the colour chart. Are you within the safe zone?
Taurus: You have no power here, only the howling of a chained beast
Gemini: They’re closing in
Cancer: No horoscope this week, seek answers from the Grand Tapestry of Bucharest
Leo: Square peg, round hole; angular logic, circular reasoning
Virgo: Citation needed
Libra: The association are concerned about your recent activity in the temple. Burn the robes and ditch the sceptre before they send in the auditors
Scorpio: Avoid log flumes, better to stay away from all carnival activities where possible
Sagittarius: Are you doing something different with your arms?
Capricorn: Death of a spider, birth of a fly
Aquarius: Hold onto the past, you never know when you might need it
Pisces: Everything will be fine. I am so sorry
I mean… a lot of Welcome to Night Vale.
It’s a thought that should horrify you, that either the stars are so utterly powerful that they can impact the finest details of our lives in a plan they concocted millions of years before our existence, or that we impart such incredible meaning to an elaborate and contrived dot-to-dot picture in the sky that a vast industry revolves around it, and some people think it has greater impact on their nature than – say – rudimentary psychology!
I endeavoured to bring together cosmic horror and cynicism, weave in some surrealist humour, and offset it with just a little profundity that you could believe, for just a moment, that there might be a purpose to it all. And yes, maybe there is – on some level – a little genuine philosophy leaking out, I’ve written dozens of these things, and anything to which you’re willing to commit that much time must be important to you. And if it entertains a few people then all the better.
What do you do to exorcise your creativity? What sources of inspiration do you draw from, and how do they reflect in what you create? Come chat to us in the comments, or over on our Facebook page.
We have something to declare: We didn’t really look into the word ancient closely enough, until after we had written this week’s list. Ancient declares that it’s not only from the past, but indeed it’s also not in existence any longer. So, we took some creative liberties this time, by declaring that from today, this list has gone from ancient aliens to very old aliens. Hah! We managed to evade disaster again. Anyway, read on for this week’s list. (more…)
If you’re reading this on the day of publishing, you should already be on your way to GeekOut Shrewsbury, you can read this tomorrow or something just get to Monty’s Tower! If you’re reading this from Friday onwards, or if you are for whatever reason incapable of getting to GeekOut in Shrewsbury, then you have a lot to look forward to next year.
Note that all the details listed here are subject to minor changes, mostly additions, this is just a trailer after all, the finished product is still in the editing suite. So here I write in the past on the matter of the future, for you to read in the present. Moving swiftly on with the terrible march of time!
January 25th GeekOut Resolutions
We’ll ring in the new year with some pledges to change our ways for the geekier! No, there’ll be no demands to give up your vices or pledges to shed the Christmas-kilos, but why not finally commit to reading that book series you’ve always had your eye on, or digging into that unplayed collection of games in your Steam list? There’s that event you’ve been planning to attend, the cosplay that’s been sat on your to-do list for far too long, and all those films people have been telling you are essential viewing!
It’s time to resolve! In the mean time expect a Geeky Pub Quiz, we’ll be holding them every odd numbered month, gotta change things up from time to time.
February 22nd Sweet Lovecraft
As couples unite under strange stars, dancing to forbidden tunes, so too do the lovelorn yearn for the love that dare not speak its name, for fear of what horrors that name may invoke. Take up the felt-tip pens and assorted craft supplies, and sacrificially pour out your heart into creepy, eldritch, and alien Valentines cards (tentacles not required, but not discouraged).
Brush up on some Lovecraftian horror in February, you may wish to cite the verses found in the Necronomicon to profess your agonised screaming… or whatever emotions you may be feeling at the time.
March 29th March at the Movies
The unrelenting tide of cinema moves us to compose an entire quiz comprised of film and film related media and media that has itself been made into films. Red carpet pending, possible red welcome-mat stand in on hand, we’re on a budget here.
And on the subject of films…
April 26th DC vs Marvel
Fun isn’t something one considers when balancing the universe… but this does put a smile on my face.
The trailer says May, but in the UK it’ll be the day after April’s GeekOut Shrewsbury. Seems like a perfect day to pitch Marvel against DC, villains against villains, heroes against heroes, with the occasional 2000AD or Vision Comics cameo just to muddy the waters. We may or may not have to organise a GeekOut Cinema Trip while we’re on the job.
May 25th May The GeekOut Be With You
Star Wars and science fiction in general will be the focus of May’s quiz and overall event goings-on. If you can tell your Peacekeepers from your Stormtroopers, split your Jedi from your Rangers, and know which boxes to file Cylons and Borg then you’ll be off to a good start. You may also want to look up the meaning of the word Muadib.
June 28th Gamers Gauntlet
Time to run some tournaments. Victories in a variety of games – tabletop and video – will raise you through a bracket to compete for the disappointing prize which may or may not be a gauntlet. The games will be decided based on your votes throughout May and June, so keep an eye on GeekOut South-West for news and your chance to have some input on June’s Gamers Gauntlet.
July 26th Steam Punked
Gather ye round innovators and inventors, you’ll need to have your life’s work ready and on the table to be torn apart by the mustachio’d and judicious judging panel (it’s me). If times are hard, just slap some gears on something. Take your table lamp and show me your Situated Illuminatrix, show me no sofas but your Multicapacitated Respitor might turn heads. It’s the “Stick Some Gears On It” Inventors Fayre!
Class yourself up to the teeth in the latest in retro fashions, technolysed victoriana, top hats and chimney spouts, and sink your teeth into a the months quiz.
August 30th Tengen Toppa GeekOut Lagann
At the height of summer is the height of our untamed power! Kick off from underground and blast straight into the heavens with unrestrained might!
August’s anime themed GeekOut Meet will see us building prototype mechs to take us into the future and into victory, but in accordance with the space we’ll have to work with they shall be small and made predominantly of paper and cardboard.
September 27th Harry Potter and the Shrewsbury Geeks
Back to school, but if we must don uniforms lets at least keep it geeky. Septembers quiz shall be unapologetically strong on the Harry Potter themes, we’ll keep it mostly accessible but there’s no doubt that the Muggles will be disadvantaged. Dress wizardly or witchly for cheeky extra points, and expect September’s Disappointing Prize to be sourced from Labyrinth in Grope Lane.
October 25th Lycanthropic
Bang on full moon too, almost like we planned it that way…
Hallowe’en need not be a theme in it’s own right. It’s filled with potential, and subgenres and possibilities. Nor should we feel restricted to werewolves when the notion of humans becoming carnivorous monsters has been around longer than Anthony Hopkins. Competition and survivors TBD.
November 29th NaNoGeKo
Nearly finished NaNoWriMo?
They say everyone has a book inside them, well we’re not looking to extract the whole thing, just give it a peak at the outside world. Whether you’ve been taking part in National Novel Writing Month or are still in the planning stages, come prepared, or prepared to prepare to write the blurb for that book you’ve always wanted to put to paper. Expect a literary quiz, meaning no fewer than two competitions with prizes to boot! Arrive dressed in a dust jacket and your finest bookmark.
December 27th GiftWrapped GeekOut
Mimicking the annual habits of GeekOut Bristol, we shall be running a Super-Secret Santa, and this is important because we may very well be running the same this year on the 28th! This year we’ll impose a £5 spending limit, next year raising to £5.50 to account for inflation, but deducting fifty pence to account for economic disaster. The task is simple enough: buy a present for someone, you don’t know who. If you put a present in you can take a present out!
Running it in 2018 and in future years will pend the success of running it this year, much the same as GeekOut itself. So far you’ve made the effort that goes into running GeekOut all the more enjoyable. See you later on today, and again next month, and hopefully, all year after that. If you’re enjoying GeekOut then spread the love through Facebook and Meetup.
Deep beneath the ocean, a creature of immeasurable power slumbers eternally, utterly alien in form, a great winged beast with tremendous psychic sway that spreads across the world.
Considering human beings trap small Pokemon and train them to fight, there are some terrifying entities higher up in their ranks. Creatures wrought of legend, gods and fiends, ancient and terrible monstrosities that can end worlds, or create them. And apparently they can be contained and made to fight in very terrestrial competitions.
So as I sit writing entries for my personal Pokenomicon, I find that I’m building from the inside out. Taking my combination of Cthulhu and Lugia as my central point I’m designing the rest of my maniacal menagerie from concept of that deep and ancient terror, Cthulugia. Let’s take a look at the components: (more…)
October means horror games, and it doesn’t matter how much I love horror, I really have no stomach for horror games, I’d play Amnesia in twenty minute chunks, Little Nightmares gives me the shivers, and I’m stuck on Darkness Within: In Pursuit of Loath Nolder… but it’s also very creepy so I’m glad I’m stuck.
But when I tell you that I have just finished Layers of Fear, don’t think that it just didn’t grip me as much as other horror games, it certainly had me on edge, but I found that I was taken in by the narrative that was unwinding as I stumbled through rooms and corridors, and the difficulty was moderate enough that I could get through a single playthrough with a minimum of effort, but to play again will prove a lot harder. (more…)
This coming Kitacon I will be arriving a day early to socialise, get some work done, and to get some gaming in before the convention comes in and cruelly steps on my chances to play, there are still some Magic rematches I owe but I never seem to get the chance because of panels and the like. Damn you Kitacon, getting in the way of me enjoying a perfectly good convention!
Anyway, first item on my docket is a one-shot role play in a system I’ve never run before. It’s an opportunity for me to learn something new, get experimental with something other than Dungeons & Dragons. I chose Pokethulhu because it combines my greatest strength – horror – with an important component of any one-shot where no one is planning on getting emotionally invested with their characters – completely stupid comedy. (more…)
If you want a quick game that you can pick up and play when you and your friends are looking to kill an hour or two, you shouldn’t be looking through the Fantasy Flight catalogue.
Inspired by the works of H.P Lovecraft, a fellow you may have noticed we discuss a lot, comes a cooperative survival horror that takes place in the town of Arkham Massachusetts as it is besieged by unearthly horrors that foretell the coming of something far greater, far older, and far worse. Our plucky investigators must uncover clues, gather eldritch seals, and journey into the unknown to save the world, or die trying.
How to Play
Short version of the set up: Each player takes a character, who has a health value, sanity value, and particular ability; an Ancient One is chosen who will also impact the game, both while slumbering, and if/when awakened. Separate the many decks and tokens, making sure the monster tokens are randomised in some way such as piling them into a cup or hat.
Each round players take turns to explore the town of Arkham, it’s various locales and notable features, experiencing strange and terrible moments ranging from an uncomfortable experience with the patrons of Velma’s Diner, to an alien nightmare descending upon them in the docks. All the while the Mythos deck raises new challenges on the world as a whole, challenging the group to race against the Terror Track whose inevitable progress will eventually conjure the Ancient One from beyond to obliterate the world. How could such unimaginable power be prevented?
Portals to the other realms are opening throughout the town, spilling forth monsters, but allowing investigators to pass through those places where the Old Ones roam; the Plateau of Leng, Yuggoth, The Dreamlands, R’Lyeh; and in the process gaining great knowledge, allowing them to close, and potentially seal the portals, ending the flow of unearthly terror. Or they’ll go mad, die, or be lost forever to the void. If enough portals are closed and/or sealed the Ancient One has failed to invade Arkham… today.
But if it does… oh, if it does… should any one of an alarming number of factors be met and the Old One emerges, it’s a mad scramble to fight it back into the dread domain from whence it emerged. Too many monsters, too many open portals at once, too much fear in the hearts of mortals, or simply too much time elapsing, all of these things can bring the likes of Yog Shothoth, C’Thulhu, Yig, or mighty Azathoth down upon the heads of the investigators, who must use their meagre weapons, failing magic, and inadequate wits to fend off the creature for another lifetime.
This is a sincere invitation to anyone who can find me a game that better represents the nature of Lovecraft’s classic style of horror. Daunting, complex, and leaving you feel utterly hopeless and filled with unease; the very threat of what you must face if you do not succeed in the first phase of the game is tension-building stuff. As the game fills with complexity you find yourself facing more and more challenges, the pace becomes frantic, and your pulse only races faster. You’ll grow to fear the streets, the sky, and the inevitable march of time.
It makes strategy tough, that’s a fact. You find yourself pursuing each moment rather than planning the long game. Who has the capacity to close portals? What resources to the group have and how easily can they be traded? How much sanity or health can you afford to lose before running for the asylum or the hospital? At any moment, Mythos, a bad roll, or a bad event card can throw all plans you thought you had completely out of the window.
With so many variations in terms of character combinations, effects of the various Ancient Ones, random card effects, and the myriad expansions available for Arkham Horror, it can present you with a massive variation in every game giving it incredible replay value, assuming you have that kind of time on your hands of course.
Let me start by saying that this game hates you. You need to be clever, cohesive, strategic, and above all lucky at all times to stand a chance of beating Arkham Horror. It’s a tall order to simply prevent the Ancient One from emerging, it’s an even bigger ask to fight it. People will die, and you just have to try and work out whose better off surviving to try again, and if you can control the survival rate at all. Do not play if you like winning, expect to fail.
Like all Fantasy Flight games there’s a lot to keep track of, more so for the size of Arkham Horror, and it only gets worse as you start adding expansions, of which I have one, and I’m already daunted. If you plan to play this game in the afternoon set it up in the morning, and don’t plan to be done until the evening. You might be done, but don’t expect it. This means that there’s plenty to forget, and by the time you’re part way through the game and you suddenly realise that you’ve entirely forgotten a rule, or a major factor, or if you suddenly realise you’ve been neglecting to include certain parts, then it can upset the balance of the game.
No other game has had me out of my seat and yelling at dice, or so excited I was literally shouting at the friends around the table. This is a Fantasy Flight game, I’m not saying they’re all great, but this one is definitely up there on their hit list, as monstrous as it may be it’s worth all the laborious set up to play.
If the sheer size and complexity of this game is simply too much to bare, fret not, for a simplified version exists. Though still complex for its size, Elder Sign provides a faster and easier game experience that could (and frankly should) serve as a gateway into playing the leviathan Arkham Horror. As busy adults with lots of grown up things to do it can be a struggle to find time and space for a game like this, but it’s absolutely worth your time to do so.
Shameless promotion here, my friends at e-Collectica games will be celebrating the store’s 10th birthday on October the 15th with their longest ever Games Day, 10:00 – 19:30 at the Darwin Community Centre in Shrewsbury. If you’re in the midlands and want to join us for nine and a half hours of games come on over. We’ll be featuring a Ticket to Ride tournament, a couple of roleplays and your chance to learn some new games, or just play some favourites. More info at the event page on Facebook.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the internet…
They do say that worse things happen at sea, but frankly any large body of water can hold a variety of toothy, poisonous, bloodthirsty or otherwise deadly aquatic horrors. And water… deadly, deadly water.