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Movie Review – Fury

November 9, 2014

Saw the movie Fury at the local theater a couple of days ago. The movie is about the crew of a Sherman tank during the last months of WWII. It stars Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf and some other actors that I had never heard of.


The movie is well acted. Brad Pitt is great. I normally can’t stand Shia LaBeouf and I hesitated seeing the movie because he was in it, but he’s really good in Fury.

The movie has the most realistic portrayal of tank warfare I’ve seen on film, especially a scene where 4 Shermans take on a Tiger tank. Only one Sherman survives as it’s able to get behind the Tiger and hit it in the rear where its armor is weakest.

I was impressed with the movie’s ‘realism’, at least when it came to the equipment used. The Americans are running around in real Shermans, the Germans have a real Tiger tank (at least, it looked real). The Sherman’s fire white phosphorus (Willie Pete) something I’ve never seen portrayed in a movie before (even though it was something that was commonly used). The Germans use panzerfausts which can be devastating against a Sherman. I’m anal about this stuff, so I appreciate when this is done right in a movie.

Though my review is mostly positive, I did have some issues with the movie. Not sure if I would call this ‘bad’, but the tank crew is portrayed as battle-hardened and are generally callous and grim. I’m sure this was done on purpose, but I had a hard time empathizing with them as a result. They don’t do anything really wrong, they’re just not very sympathetic. The movie itself bogs down while the crew is in a German town interacting with some of the locals. More of a ‘quibble’ then a complaint, but the ending battle scene may have been a little too “over the top”. I’m pretty sure it was fairly easy for infantry to take out a stationary, disabled tank in short order. Oh, and if you don’t like ‘grim and gritty’ you probably won’t like Fury (I personally like ‘grim and gritty’ so had no problem with the films overall tone).


Overall, I’d give the movie a thumbs up, or a 3.5 out of 5.


PEGANA: A Campaign World for a Pulp-style Fantasy Campaign

October 4, 2014

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had been reading (and re-reading) a lot of pulp fantasy of late. Not just Lovecraft and Howard, but Clark Ashton Smith and Lord Dunsany. The reading has inspired me to run a ‘dungeon crawl’ fantasy campaign based on the works of HPL, Lord Dunsany, Clark Ashton Smith and others. The world the campaign would take place in would be a version of Lovecraft’s Dreamlands with a heavy dose of Smith’s Hyperborea and Zothique, as well as Dunsany’s “worlds” (I named the world after Dunsany’s Pegana). Where appropriate I’ve added my own elements and place names. I’m certainly not the first one to do this. Chaosium’s version of HPL’s Dreamlands  has some Clark Ashton Smith while the artist Jason Thompson created a Dreamlands map with elements and place names from both Smith and Dunsany. However, I found Chaosium’s version of the Dreamlands too sparse and the map created by Jason Thompsan  – while excellent – was too abstract for gaming. I wanted to map a world that I thought my players would want to game in, a world both different and familiar.

The map below is what I’ve come up with. The map is done is Photoshop and I used a number of different graphic elements:

  • The forests and certain symbols are from brushes created by StarRaven, which can be found at this link: (
  • Banners and other images are stock art by Outland Arts. Some artwork copyright William McAusland, used with permission.
  • Certain images are clip art in the public domain.
  • Other images were drawn by yours truly and scanned in.

Please let me know what you think of the map. Are their items I should add? Are there graphic elements you would change?


In a Weird War II Mood

August 23, 2014

I’m currently in “ferret mode” when it comes to roleplaying. Since roughly the year 2000, I’ve been running a fantasy rpg campaign of one sort or another. First it was D&D 3.0 and 3.5, then I ran a rather short lived 4E campaign. Finally, for the last 3 years, I ran Aspects of Fantasy (my current game of choice). While I’m still interested in running standard fantasy, I’ve also been wanting to run something else. As mentioned below, I’m looking to run a fantasy campaign in a version of Lovecraft’s Dreamworlds. However, I’ve always been a WWII buff and picked up both the Savage Tales version of Weird War II and Achtung! Cthulhu. Now I’m in a Weird War II mood.

With this in mind, here’s a couple of image murals I’ve come up with for a Weird War II game. The first mural is of normal Axis soldiers that an Allied soldier might run into in the ETO (European Theater of Operations). The second mural has been put together by the ‘Office of Special Investigations’ as an addendum for their own operatives.



These illustrations are taken from various sources. The first uses images from my Osprey collection. The second uses images from around the internet.

Monsters in the Dreamlands

August 7, 2014

I like making these character and monster murals because I think it helps immerse players in the world they are gaming in. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m working on campaign set in a version of Lovecraft’s Dreamlands. One more physical and defined, less ethereal with almost none of the dream rules and background that is featured in most pastiches. I like the idea of their being some connection with our own Earth and the Dreamlands (which I’m tentatively calling Gaea) through certain gates and drug-induced rituals, but such connections have become almost non-existent as both worlds travel further apart in space and time.

Anyway, here are some of the monsters that may be encountered in Gaea (the Dreamlands).

Monster of Gaea

These illustrations are taken from various sources around the internet (mostly Paizo, the Voormis is from concept art for the Conan MMO, and the Shoggoth was created by Manzanado and is out on DeviantArt).

Pulp Fantasy and Next Campaign

July 23, 2014

During the last couple of months, I’ve been seeking out and reading a lot of the old ‘pulp’ authors. While the works of Lovecraft and Howard have always been easy to find (at least since the 1970s), the works of authors like Clark Ashton Smith and Lord Dunsany have always been difficult or expensive to acquire. However, with the advent of EPUBS, the collected works of both these authors are now available for a couple of dollars. I’ve been enjoying a lot of these works. I’ve always been a fan of Clark Ashton Smith and believe him to be as talented as either Howard or Lovecraft. Dunsany is a bit more of an acquired taste; I read a couple of Dunsany’s story collections back in the 1980s but I found them to be dull at the time. This time around I got a better appreciation for his style.

These works have gotten me in the mood for something different as far as rpgs are concerned. I still want to run a fantasy campaign with a good bit of dungeon crawling, but I’m looking for less Tolkien, more Lovecraft and Smith. (Not that I have anything against Tolkien!) Unlike my prior campaigns which I ran in a world I created, I think my next campaign will take place in a version of Lovecraft’s Dreamlands. While that might sound like a fantasy campaign of eldritch alien horror, that’s not the direction I’m interested in going. Lovecraft’s Dreamlands stories are much lighter in tone than his other works as he based their style and mood on the ‘dream like’ tales of Lord Dunsany.

So what am I looking for? I think I’d like to run a fantasy campaign with a Victorian or Edwardian vibe. Characters will still be searching ruins and tombs for treasure and artifacts but they might be sponsored by the Dreamlands’ equivalent of the National Geographic Society or the Royal Geographical Society.  Characters will have access to firearms but nothing more sophisticated than flintlocks. Instead of characters interacting and fighting with the more traditional monsters like Orcs, Goblins, Trolls, and Dragons, they may find themselves up against Lunabestia (Moon Beasts) and their Lengite servants. Or they might encounter Serpent Folk in ancient ruins or stumble upon Deep Ones kidnapping fisher-folk as sacrifices to their dark god, Dagon. I’ll be talking more about this over the next couple of days.

Here’s what I thought some of the character backgrounds might be like.


(All illustrations are from character art I found on the Internet and including: concept art from the game, Assassin’s Creed, concept art from Dr. Who(?), as well as art from Paizo.)



Map of my Campaign World

June 28, 2014

Shown below is a map of  the continent of Enzopea. I’ve been using variations of this map for the last 30+ years for my various fantasy rpg campaigns (including my most recent  Aspects of Fantasy campaign). I thoroughly enjoy ‘world-building’ and consider it one of the benefits of being a DM/GM.

Map of Enzopea

Map of Enzopea

Unfortunately, I lost the Photoshop version of this file four years ago when I had multiple hard-drives crash within a month of each other. First the back-up went, then the main drive a couple of weeks later. I had luckily backed up almost everything – but not the map. It’s unfortunate because the world is ready for an expansion, plus there are some design items I would like to change. Oh well, maybe when I get the time…

Aspects of Fantasy Finally Released

June 21, 2014

Finally released Aspects of Fantasy out one DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. Definitely glad to have it done. Here’s a description of the game from the back of the book:

Welcome to Aspects of Fantasy, a fantasy roleplaying game that takes the familiar D20 rules system and updates it with rules and concepts from the popular Fate rules engine

In Aspects of Fantasy you will find:

  • A streamlined version of the D20 system
  • Rules for using aspects and fate points with characters, equipment, adventuring parties, and creatures
  • Quick character creation rules with 8 races (clurichauns, dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, humans, orgars, witchbloods) and 8 classes (adventurer, barbarian, cleric, fighter, knight, mage, ranger, rogue) along with a number of backgrounds and traits
  • Rules for using fate points as a commodity to power traits and maneuvers
  • Critical and fumble rules along with an easy to use skill system
  • A D20 magic system that better integrates with aspects and fate points along with over 150+ spells
  • Conversion information for using Aspects of Fantasy with your Pathfinder and D20 products, along with a dozen sample creatures to get you started

Aspects of Fantasy can be used to integrate elements of Fate into any version of your favorite fantasy roleplaying game, or it can be used as a way introduce your D20/Pathfinder players to concepts in the Fate rules system.

Here’s the cover for the game from the artist, Trevor Smith:


More on Trevor and the game in another post…


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