Tag Archives: vampires

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Three, Twelfth Session

Twelfth Session (11 page pdf) – “Tower of the Vampire Queen” – Collecting their reward from a crazy evil vampire stripper takes a while. Then, they decide it’s time to clean up Lefty’s act at a most inopportune time.

OK, this is where the whole “don’t trust the vampire stripper” thing really started to make this drag a bit, but I rolled with it. In the module, it really was just a matter of going down into a room, messing with some trapped sarcophagi, and coming away with scads of loot. But they distrusted her so much that they wouldn’t go down there.  “Bring it to us!” they demanded. It eventually comes to blows, but the vampiress’ vampire tiger totally owns Serpent and so she manages to force a detente. The players are all talking depressed like “oh we lose we’re minions now” while she’s like “come get your treasure you crazy blood-sacks.” Finally they take it, including the spell-storing gem the Rain Tiger, and depart Rana Mor.

Then mistrust hits a second time. Lefty is on watch and tells Sindawe something’s coming.  I guess he thought it was a trick since Lefty’s still flame-slug-possessed, so he sleeper holds him and the group ends up fighting his flame slug. This wouldn’t have been so bad if Lefty hadn’t been telling the truth, because they’re all otherwise engaged when the gibbering flaming guys show up again (those possessed by Tears of Nuu’rugal sometimes mutate till they’re kinda flaming gibbering mouthers on legs over time). I had anticipated a tough fight where they finally defeat the guys they ran from a couple sessions ago, but since they were in disarray already from fighting Lefty and his flame-slug it was going poorly for them – Wogan spent an Infamy Point to collapse the ruins on them rather than fight it out.

And that’s the session – it was supposed to be “loot some treasure and then have a random encounter” but ended up taking the whole time!

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Three, Eleventh Session

Eleventh Session (17 page pdf) – “Rana Mor” – Though they pretend to look down on vampire strippers, the crew still does what this one bids them. They penetrate to the heart of the temple and kill the ancient undead high priest. Now they shall claim their just reward.

Saeng Ki

Saeng Ki

I’m afraid the art for Saeng Ki (this is from the actual adventure in Dungeon) backfired a little in this case.  Normally, “hot chick” can be somewhat inspiring to our all-guy group. But in this case, it was a little too over the top, and they immediately dubbed her “a vampire stripper” and refused to take her seriously on the grounds that both vampires and strippers are Chaotic Evil and that she’d betray them in ways few men have been betrayed by a woman.

So even though she’s offering them a pretty good deal, there’s endless back and forth bickering and negotiation and all for the first part of the session.

Finally they move off at her behest and wander the dungeon.  I put in some Azlanti chariot beetles; I went through all the Pathfinder stuff I had and pulled everything vaguely Azlanti to use on this whole trip.  Then there’s a lively fight in a room full of dart traps with undead monks in a silence zone.  It culminates with a long knock-down-drag-out with the main huecuva priest and his mummies; the PCs retreat initially and lead the mummies into some traps and then retreat more till Saeng Ki herself is helping them… Death or glory!

Carrion Crown Chapter 5, Ashes at Dawn, Session 4

Fourth Session (14 page pdf) – We kill vampire witches and blood knights, and then almost get killed by angry plant life. Then, it’s off to Renchurch!


We find a corrupted vampire paladin and get intel from him. This allows us to bust in on the vampire witch and blood knight from the side instead of the front. Xurak dispels her solid fog, Nigel hits her with hold person (he’s a dirge bard so it works on undeads), and I power-slide over and stake her! We sic a hasted zombie octopus on the blood knight and it’s like Tokyo Gore Police up in this bitch.

That was easy! We go back to Caliphas and drink. Then it’s off to the Church of All Renfields – where a bunch of hangman trees just about murder us. It’s always the nuisance encounters that cause us to wipe in these games.

After I leave, the group decides to tease an irate linnorm, and end up teleporting away to avoid becoming linnorm droppings.



Carrion Crown Chapter 5, Ashes at Dawn, Session 3

Third Session (12 page pdf) – Off to the Monastery of Saint Lemiran, where all the witches are strong, all the vampires are good looking, and all the loot drops are above average.

We semi-quietly infiltrate the Monastery of St. Lemiran with our pet charmed vampire, clear some guards, and hit one of the two witches that run the place.  As usual, I drop her with a slumber hex but she gets woken up by others before she can get coup de graced, alas.


We finish off with a demonic stablehand, and prepare to clear the next level in a fortnight!


Carrion Crown Chapter 5, Ashes at Dawn, Session 2

Second Session (6 page pdf) – We intervene in vampire on vampire violence with some good old fashioned human on vampire violence – in a tailor shop?

Basically this is one big fight.  Xurak charms the main vamp, but we fight the others till we manage to lock them in a bathroom and tear the roof off to poof them. Then there’s some ghouls and demons. I turn a demon into a slug with baleful polymorph, learning my lesson from last time (when I turned a monster into a little crab and it killed Icobus anyway) to give them no possible attack form.

She turns it into a slug with baleful polymorph – an evil, demonic slug with a boatload of hit points. The slug falls to the ground and oozes away, to one day scare the piss out of a local paladin.

Then it’s all over except for the looting and plot points.

Carrion Crown Chapter 5, Ashes at Dawn, Session 1

First Session (16 page pdf) – The group bypasses a headless horseman on the way to Caliphas, where vampire murders are investigated.


My friend Scott from Memphis was in town, and guest starred as Vampire Hunter D.

Xurak charms the horseman as we fight off hellhounds.  Unfortunately, the intelligent nightmare he’s riding will have none of it…

Then we investigate murders.  Vampire murders.  Vampire murders of vampires.  The racist among us simply consider this “a job well done” but the plot has other ideas. We investigate, gather intel, and banter. Eventually a tailor shop is targeted for a home invasion.

Fantastic Fest 2010 Day Five

Day five, and the second week of Fantastic Fest.  All the weekend partiers have left, and Fantastic Arcade rolls up its mat.  Now it’s just the hardcore movie watchers.

First, I saw The Man From Nowhere (7/10).  Somewhat of a South Korean riff on The Professional, starring Won Bin, which according to the movie blurb on the FF site I guess I would know if I were a teenaged South Korean girl.  I’m not, so I could give a crap.  But the movie was decent.  It starts out with some reclusive guy running a crappy pawnshop in an apartment building; his junkie neighbor has a little kid and then the bad men come and it turns out he’s ex-special forces and then he becomes the KILLDOZER!  The bad guys basically snatch kids, use them for various criminal schemes, and then harvest them for their organs.  I enjoyed the movie but can’t help but feel like since they had Korean pop star Rain in the bloody Ninja Assassin last year at FF this was a deliberate attempt to duplicate that.

Next, I watched a movie about a cannibal family in Mexico called We Are What We Are (7/10).  It was interesting, not a slasher flick, but a serious movie about a family that is – well, it sounds weird to call them “normally” dysfunctional, with the crazy mom and the brothers both wanting to bang their sister, but they’re not all Texas Chainsaw Massacre crazy.  They are cannibals, and seem to believe strongly that they have to, from time to time, eat someone in a ritual manner.  Interestingly, the corrupt cops and locals seem to treat cannibalism as a pretty common thing there – when a would-be victim escapes and finds a cop, the cop radios in a “code 17 in progress,” which one would think is a pretty low number for “cannibals on a rampage.”  I liked that they left a lot unexplained, like the exact nature of the ritual and what exactly happened to the father (he dies in the first 30 seconds of the film, but it’s never clear who did it and how).  The main thing that seemed off was that in the end when the cops are on their trail, they somehow home in unerringly in packs to their one apartment in a whole barrio.  As a bonus, thanks to the Alamo’s extensive menu I ate a big bowl of puerco guisada while watching it, and my cackling discomfited my neighbors.

The high point of the day was Stake Land (8/10), a post-apocalyptic vampire movie like unto I Am Legend, or The Road with vampires.  These are more feral vampires only slightly differentiated from fast zombies, not “sexy prince of the night” vampires.  A guy named “Mister” and a kid named Martin travel across the mostly-wasted American countryside, where only small enclaves of humans still hold out against the hostile world.  They slay vampires in roughneck style, and directory Jim Mickle must be making John Carpenter jealous, since he knows how to make it look good.  It has rednecks throwing vampires out of helicopters as a terror weapon.  And nun raping, lots of nun raping.  (All the men seem to be all over the old nun, played by Kelly Gillis, as opposed to the oddly fresh-faced young women for whatever reason.  Maybe it’s because they all touched themselves to Top Gun too.)  More dangerous than the vampires are the psycho fundie militia that’s taken over swaths of the area.  Dark and violent, Stake Land is a really good vampire movie.

I finished out the day with the disappointing Bunraku (6/10). It seemed really interesting at the start – Josh Hartnett, Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore, Ron Perlman, and some Japanese chick (I really did think he was a woman for his first two scenes – really it’s some pop star named “Gackt”) star in a Sin City meets Moulin Rouge, cowboys-and-samurai action romp!  But after the initial imagery wore off, the plot really started to lag.  They have to kill the “top ten killers” and I started napping towards the end of them.  Although it had loads of visual style, it definitely needed some tighter pacing and editing in the last third of the film.

Fantastic Fest 2010 Day Two

Man, I’m lagging behind with the blogging, this schedule is brutal.  Fantastic Fest Day Two, and even getting to the theater at 9:30 to wait in line to pick up tickets for noon showings means you are way back in that line.

Today’s slate started out with Mother’s Day (7/10), a home-invasion film that on the one hand was a remake of the Troma dark humor/abduction horror “Mother’s Day” but on the other was an adaptation of a real life horror story, the Wichita Massacre.  Director Darren Bousman (Saw I-III, Repo! The Genetic Opera) needed something easy to get off the ground, and Hollywood loves remakes, so in traditional exploitation film fashion he agreed to do one thing while using it to do another – he had always wanted to make a script called “Wichita” he had read, about a horrific series of crimes in Kansas, but no one would touch the dark subject matter.  In an interesting twist that makes the movie seem like a sequel to The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Rebecca DeMornay is “Mother,” a woman who kidnaps babies and turns them into her own little criminal family.  The three brothers are off on a bank-robbing spree when one of them gets shot, and they retreat home, only to find out that the house got foreclosed on and Mother and their sister have moved out, and the new tenants are having a big party as a storm rolls in.  They take them captive, call Mother, and the torture/murder/robbery/rape/etc begins.

I enjoyed Mother’s Day.  I am not a big torture porn fan and don’t like the Saw movies, but I thought this was a bit better in that it had more reasoning to it that most of that genre – not simply “we like to torture people because we are inexplicably into that”; they need medical help, money, escape, and to control a house full of people, and being monsters that’s the way they go about it.  And it was great having Brousman and others in attendance, the Q&A was so interesting it made me like the movie better.  For example, the movie was shot at 5 hours long and had entire characters – both victims and perpetrators – that were cut out to get it to theatrical release.  And they were shooting a bank robbery escape film in Winnipeg without a permit and got mistaken for real robbers, leading to a massive police mobilization with the cast and crew being taken at gunpoint.

Next, I saw a Hong Kong film, Dante Lam’s Fire of Conscience (7/10).  This wasn’t innovative, but I like the genre – the film brings to mind scenes and characters from the classics Hard Boiled, The Killer, City on Fire, and Organized Crime and Triad Bureau.  Star Leon Lai does his best Chow Yun Fat impression while giving bad guys the beatdown; his squad of cops takes a good number of casualties in the inevitable huge tea-house shootouts.  In the end it’s just “another film, you know, like those other ones I listed” but heck, I like all those movies, so it was nice to watch a newer one.

That was followed up by Zombie Roadkill (7/10), which was put together from a series of Web shorts that are going to be running on FEARnet soon.  A campy little set, this is about some kids who are driving down a cursed stretch of road where roadkill comes back to life looking for REVENGE!  Think “Furry Vengeance but with exploding heads.”  It’s funny and totally unrealistic, and there’s a hilarious monologue from Thomas Haden Church as the park ranger where he explains that this stretch of road was built over an Indian burial ground and witches were burned here by Puritans and then the Puritans were burned and the government did experiments on child molesters and and…  Plus they gave out “roadkill” tacos afterward.  Anyway, it was short and goofy, and it’s a web series so you should probably watch it.

Do you think I’m done?  Oh, no.  This was a FULL Fantastic Fest day, which means two more movies.

30 Days of Night: Dark Days (6/10) is a sequel to the somewhat interesting vampire movie 30 Days of Night where an Alaskan town is taken over and pretty much wiped out by a vicious mob of vampires.  The sole survivor of that movie steps into what could be a “John Carpenter’s Vampires” sequel, and hooks up with some other people who Know the Truth ™ to hunt them some vampires.  They suck at it and largely get killed.

I didn’t dislike this movie as much as the other people I saw it with did.  I thought it was more well done than some of those aforementioned Carpenter ones (does he do all the editing himself, or does he have some buddy who’s a shitty editor?  Because every movie of his since Prince of Darkness has had awful editing.).  The two female leads were in attendance, and were cutely sloshed out of their minds for the Q&A.  I mean, it’s not “good” in the traditional sense, but as someone who once went on a quest to watch all the vampire movies he could get his hands on, it’s certainly not in the bottom half of that crowd.

Although we did all burst into laughter at the vampires screeching at each other like pterodactlys getting their nutsacks stomped.  In the first movie, they all spoke some weird Eastern European type of language.  In this one, only the “borg queen” leader seems to, the rest all just squeal.  There’s one scene where they seemingly conduct a lengthy conversation.

Vampire 1: “SKREEEEEEEEE!”
Vampire 2: “SKREEEEEEEEE!”
Vampire 1: “SKREEEEEEEEE!”
Vampires 3 and 4, in unison: “SKREEEEEEEEE!”


And finally, I saw The Violent Kind (8/10) by the Butcher Brothers (Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores).  I didn’t expect much from the blurb in the program, but the porn stars handing out Pabst Blue Ribbon as we entered piqued my interest and the movie really delivered a heaping helping of B-movie fun!  A biker gang has a birthday party for one of it’s founders’ old ladies up in a house in the woods, and after most of them leave bad things start to happen, from possession to home invasion to unexplained electrical failures to lap dances (well, OK, that was from earlier). It was like Sons of Anarchy meets Evil Dead II with Blue Velvet thrown in – as well as bits of everything from The Exorcist to The Faculty.  It was a lot of fun; it was probably my biggest pleasant surprise of the day.

And that’s the end of Day Two.  I liked The Violent Kind the best, followed by Mother’s Day, Fire of Conscience, Zombie Roadkill, and 30 Days of Night: Dark Days.

Fantastic Fest 2010 Day One

It’s September in Austin and that means it’s time for Fantastic Fest!

Their new online ticket ordering system totally crapped out in the face of a thousand simultaneous clicks in the morning, so we went back to last year’s “rack out early and stand in line” method.  C’est la vie.  The Alamo Drafthouse staff and volunteers run the whole thing very smoothly so no real complaints there.

My first movie of the festival was Transfer (8/10), a German science fiction movie about rich old people who make use of a new “memory transfer” technology to put their minds into virile new bodies.  These bodies are technically “volunteers” from Africa and other third world countries, who get a bunch of money for their families and four hours a day back in their own bodies for giving up 20 hours a day (and much of their freedom during those other four).  As you might imagine the “volunteer” nature of this work and the validity of its rewards are debatable.

I really enjoyed this movie.  It touches on some of the same themes as the “use my clones/imprint my brains” kinds of movies like The Island or the excellent Joss Whedon TV show Dollhouse.  But while a Hollywood movie would degenerate into chases and action sequences, and have all (morally) black-and-white characters, Transfer was a lot more nuanced – all the characters had a lot of depth and complexity and “good” and “bad” – both the elderly German couple and the Africans who were being used in this way as well.  Science fiction is properly about human reaction to technological developments (and ideally more complex ones than “shoot the robots!” and this movie was a classic, thoughtful science fiction story without being inaccessible – too many filmmakers go the other way when reacting against mass-market sci-fi and make their work deliberately weird, cryptic, and symbology-laden.

The acting was great.  I was impressed how well B.J. Britt, the black male lead, did with depicting Hermann the German when his personality was dominant – Hermann has what we Americans call a “big ol’ shit-eating grin” and he totally nailed it.  And the story dealt in a very complex way with racial tension in European society.  While watching this I had a brief nightmare about Hollywood remaking this movie as a comedy starring Martin Lawrence or the Wayans Brothers or something.  “Look, I’m wacky, I’m acting white!”  Shudder.

There’s a lot of ambiguity in the ending – it wasn’t clear to me exactly how it turned out for the Africans, for example – but it was a very well done and enjoyable film.

Next, I saw Golden Slumber (9/10).  It was by the director of Fish Story, which was my absolute favorite film from last Fantastic Fest.  This Japanese film was a tale of the shared experiences between friends, using the Beatles song “Golden Slumber” as a recurring theme.

I liked this movie.   It wasn’t as good as Fish Story (which, I’m not ashamed to admit, made me cry) but was still good.  I felt that some of the film felt more forced where Fish Story felt more organic in its execution of the theme (and the titular song tie-in).  I think in trying to reproduce some of the “hook” of Fish Story instead of completely being its own thing, it suffered.

But let’s not make too much of the comparison; few movies are as good as Fish Story and this one was very good.  It follows a hapless Japanese man who gets set up as the scapegoat in a plot to assassinate the Japanese Prime Minister – “Just like Lee Harvey Oswald, ” the characters muse.  This meant a lot of intrigue and chases and even action scenes, but the movie was not about the action, which makes all the difference.  And while many movies here at Fantastic Fest are about “how we all turn on each other when the shit goes down,” this movie is a celebration of how we don’t – the protagonist’s family and friends (mostly) know the man and know he didn’t do it, whatever they are told by the TV or scary government hatchet men.  So it has a very positive heart.  And humor; the helpful serial killer “Kill-O” had the crowd whooping.

But it’s also not a “District 13” kind of wish fulfillment fantasy where everyone gets their comeuppance in the end and the government gets set right…  Despite the heavy slate of coincidences, it strives to be a but more low-key and “realistic” than that.

Then, I went downtown to the Paramount to see the star-studded premiere of Let Me In (7/10).  The original “Let The Right One In” was a huge FF favorite from years past and there was a lot of trepidation about the remake.  But Tim League was out there claiming it’s “as good – if not even BETTER than the original” so I went.  I was on the fence about seeing it actually; going to the Paramount burns two Fantastic Fest slots and since many of the big gala movies are coming out into theaters in like two weeks, I wasn’t sure I wanted to pay the opportunity cost.  But I heard some of the kid actors on the radio in the morning and thought the Q&A and seeing the stars would be more interesting than the average, so I went.  (Sadly, no Chloe Moretz; that would have made it a slam dunk.)

Let me be honest here – I haven’t seen the original.  Inconceivable, I know; I have it on my Netflix instant streaming queue and just haven’t gotten around to it.  So given that context…

I thought Let Me In was good.  Certainly better than most Hollywood horror movies by a long shot.  But it didn’t live up to what it could have been.  Things just seemed so…  straightforward.  Mysteries weren’t preserved for long, and times where there could have been interesting twists, there weren’t really any.  In the end, it was pretty predictable.  The young actors and actresses did a great job, though, and really carried the movie.  The director, Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) did a decent job of creating mood, including one clever trick of never showing the boy’s mother’s face to indicate his level of dissociation from her, but certain elements like the environment of bullying and the enclosed nature of their small apartment complex didn’t come through as strongly as I would have liked.

I don’t want to come off as too negative; it’s certainly way better than “Freddy vs Jason Round 18” or whatever crap people are putting out nowadays, I was just lightly disappointed in an otherwise good movie and felt like a little tweaking could make it a lot stronger.

The Q&A went pretty long and I got back to the Alamo too late for the fourth slot, and I didn’t really want to sit around two hours waiting for the midnight slot, so I availed myself of some of the free Ambhar tequila they were giving out and went home to let out my long-suffering dog.  So that’s it for Day One of Fantastic Fest 2010!   It’s off to a good start;  I saw three movies I enjoyed to varying degrees, from “good” to “excellent!”  (And I hear I made the right call going to Let Me In instead of sticking around to see Ong-Bak 3, which by all reports was a real stinkburger.)