Sad News

Ronnie James Dio died today.

To which I say, aww shit. My teenage-self loved Dio's image-laden, angstasy music. One of the first concerts I ever attended -- and the first I ever saw with my younger brother -- was the Last in Line tour. Dio fueled my teenage rebellion when the Marianist brothers at my all boys Catholic high school confiscated my "Holy Diver" cassette on the grounds it encouraged violence toward the priesthood. Jack Black's paean "Dio...you must pass your cape and scepter TO ME! And another one for KG..." remains one of my favorite Tenacious D tunes. I still whip out the Dio on my iphone when I'm writing adventures. I suppose all generations go through this,: the icons of our youth pass away. Still. Shit and damn.

RIP Ronnie. Sing always of demons.


The Rudis Review: Spirit Worlds of Zombie Sky Press

Book(s): Incantations from the Other Side and Rituals from the Other Side
Length/Type: 40 pages/PDF
System: 3.5 / PFRPG / 4e
Author(s): Scott Gable, Uri Kurlianchik and Clinton Boomer
Publisher: Zombie Sky Press
Licensor/Endorser: n/a

(5 0f 5 rudii)

Zombie Sky Press. I love that name. It makes me think of Vanilla Sky, Open Sky, Pie in the Sky – and a Zombie dirigible. Not a dirigible manned by Nazi zombies, mind you. Or any other kind. But a big, blue open sky suddenly dominated by a giant dirigible that is a massive, bloated zombie - moaning, dribbling blood and coming for you. Unexpected, outre, fascinating and powerful.

Which is about how I’d describe Zombie Sky Press’ debut “Spirit Magic” products, Incantations from the Other Side and Rituals from the Other Side. Incantations is for 3.5 and Pathfinder RPG, and Rituals is for 4th Edition. Take that edition wars.

In these books (this book?), authors Scott Gable, Uri Kurlianchik and Clinton Boomer have delivered three instantiations of a unique new magic subsystem. All three are grounded in the real world magico-religious explication of a “spirit world” that is adjacent but separate from ours. This is a foundational concept that permeates many pre and non-christian religions (not to mention the works of Carlos Castaneda), and the writing team has clearly done its homework.

Harkening back to 1st editions brave riff’ing off of real world mythology and religion, they’ve executed a brilliant transcription of Hatian Voodoo, pre-christian Slavic and Russian folk religion, and something literary that looks to me like The Golden Dawn meets H.P. Lovecraft.

The books put into the hands of GMs and players a magic subsystem for contacting, negotiating with, and or coercing spirits – regardless of whether the spirit world of your choice takes a Voodoo, Slavic or Golden Dawn flavor. Uniquely, they’ve written these three instantiations of Spirit World magic - not just for two editions - but for use in any PFRPG or 4e flavor: modern, 1930s, Age of Sail, Hyperborean, classic swords and horses high fantasy, you name it.

This is great stuff. Meaty and earthy. Coached by the authors to keep the inner workings of the spirit world a mystery, Incantations and Rituals helps GMs make magic scary and awe-inspiring again. Remember those days of wondering just what the heck the magic-user at the table will pull out of the hat? Well, welcome them back, even if you are - especially if you are - the magic-user. Not to mention, I’ve always found there’s nothing quite like a rich connection to a real-world system of magic and its can’t-help-but-be-gripping imagery to bring game magic alive.

At $9.95 for a lovingly illustrated, 40 page PDF this is a must have addition for any GM who wants to riff off the historical, give magic a unique unusual flavor, or even use the three instantiations of Spirit World spells as a template for developing one's own Spirit World magic.

The only downsides? I want more, and I want print.

NEXT UP: The Rudis Review: Kobold Quarterly #13 (Sex and Romance, Gunpowder Class for Pathfinder, Lovecraftian Gods, Ecology of the Shoggoth, Flying Gnomish Contraptions and more).


New and Exciting #12: A Frog God rises, Slumbering Tsar to print, and new reviews!

Some have undoubtedly heard the news: Slumbering Tsar, Greg Vaughan's half million word mega-adventure will see print. A whole new company formed just to tackle it (sic!), led by Bill Webb of Necromancer games with full support of Necromancer. Grognardia did a darn fine job of blogging it, so here's the link: Frog God

Also, keep your eyes peeled. I've some new Rudis Reviews coming your way: one on Zombie Sky Press' debut work and the latest Kobold Quarterly. Here's the preview: they rock.

And finally, dear faithful readers: keep the faith. Life has swamped yours truly lately (a new baby, a dog's passing, that stupid work stuff, the Razor Coast project), but my post pace should pick up, shortly. Thanks for hanging in!