Author Archives: illhousen

Flawed Crystals

Flawed Crystal is a Steven Universe fangame made by our very own member of the hivemind, Guest Reviewer Roarke Mini-Farla St. Elmo’s Fire. You can find it here. I finally got around to playing the game, and figured I’d share my thoughts with this blog.

Before I begin, it should be noted that this is very much a fangame in a sense that it doesn’t explain concepts or introduce characters featured in the show. If you aren’t already familiar with the cartoon, it’s impossible to engage with this game. It’s not a flaw per se, one of the greatest strengths of fanfiction is that the core elements were already established for you, so you can skip exposition and focus on things you actually want to talk about. It is, however, something to keep in mind if you think about checking out this game.

With that out of the way, let’s begin.

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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal COVID-19 Party

NEWS: The world is having problems you cannot fix

Heads ups: the SMBC guy gives away PDFs of his books for free here. The haul includes but is not limited to Augie and the Green Knight, which was discussed on this blog before, as well as two comic collection books, which contain exclusive content, continuing the valiant effort to create an SMBC comic for every single conceivable situation.

So, like, go grab them.

Iron Dragon’s Daughter: A Murder of the Isekai Genre

“It is good to be a cynic–it is better to be a contented cat–and it is best not to exist at all. Universal suicide is the most logical thing in the world–we reject it only because of our primitive cowardice and childish fear of the dark. If we were sensible we would seek death–the same blissful blank which we enjoyed before we existed.”

– H.P. Lovecraft, the original edgelord

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Pierced Heart, by Robert Laws

Over the Edge is a classic TRPG that’s getting a new edition soon. The game revolves around Al Amarja, a fictional tiny island nation that survives by virtue of basically having zero regulations on anything and being able to provide tourists with what they cannot find elsewhere in the world as easily: drugs, experimental medical treatments, exotic sex, etc., etc.

It’s also infested with various conspiracies, remnants of prehistoric human races, aliens, real mages and other things They don’t want you to know about.

Basically, think Naked Lunch (more the movie than the book since it’s actually coherent).

Recently, I’ve decided to revisit the game, maybe pick up some stuff I didn’t have. While doing that, I’ve learned about the existence of Pierced Heart, a novel set in the world of Over the Edge.

It’s reasonably good.

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Shadowrun Returns, Shadowrun: Dragonfall and Shadowrun: Hong Kong

You know how long-running horror franchises would inevitably have an installment set IN SPACE in a desperate attempt to cling to life by introducing a superficial new element that doesn’t actually fit the genre? Well, Shadowrun is an old TRPG that can be accurately described as cyberpunk but WITH MAGIC. In 2012 magic came back, a large percentage of people turned into various fantasy races, many animals mutated into mythological beasts, people learned to summon and bind spirits of nature, dragons awoke from their millennia-long slumber and decided that running corporations is a good substitute for hoarding gold. Meanwhile, technology advanced in a classic cyberpunk fashion: prosthetics enhancing your abilities beyond human limits, cybernetic implants allowing full-immersion link to cyberspace inventively called the Matrix, etc.

These events resulted in a weakening and sometimes outright collapse of governments, with corporations essentially taking their place and running the world in an orgy of wild capitalism.

The game takes its name after shadowrunners, the presumed PCs, who are essentially freelance black books operatives hired by various corporations, organized crime syndicates and individual clients as deniable assets to do various shady jobs.

Honestly, my knowledge of the setting is rather limited, and I would appreciate someone chiming in on it. From what I’ve seen of it, it feels that sometimes Shadowrun strikes gold in its design (like how it has literal lizard people dragons – a classic metaphor for greed and malice – essentially running the world through corporate proxies) and other times it’s content to just throw “awesome” concepts together (Magic! Cyberware! Matrix! Samurai!) with little regard to creating a thematically-coherent whole.

But anyway, apparently there are three relatively new RPGs set in this setting, and I’ve decided to check them out. They are… pretty solid, actually.

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The Secret Names of Streets

The room was shrouded in darkness. The only source of illumination was a lone bare light bulb hanging over the table where we set. Its light did more to conceal than to reveal, promising clarity only to deliver unnerving shadows.

“All set,” said the doctor with sunken eyes and melodic voice, putting away the syringe. “You will feel the effects shortly. Now, we already went through the process, but sometimes patients suffer a relapse under the influence of the drug, so I will leave these papers with you.” She indicated a few pamphlets lying on the table. “Just consult them if you’re unsure of what you’re supposed to do. We find it helpful to pick one patient to be your guide in this matter.”

She stepped deeper into the darkness, so only her voice could be heard.

“I’ll be leaving now. It’s… undesirable for unrelated people to be present at this stage. Don’t worry, though. No matter what happens, no matter what thoughts and memories you find in your mind, nothing can hurt you in this room. Not anymore.”

A sound of a door opening and closing could be heard, though we could not see it.

“Right,” I said reaching for the pamphlet. “So I guess we’re doing it. Let’s see…”

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Check of Interest

So, a while back I’ve reviewed TRPG A Penny for My Thoughts. Would anyone be interested in a game hosted here? Penny is actually well-suited for blog format, unlike many other TRPGs, since it’s mostly a structured storytelling rather than a traditional game. The uninterrupted flow is not really important, so you can take your time with replies without causing boredom or severe impatience, and the rules are simple enough that even people completely unfamiliar with TRPGs would be able to grasp them easily (and, of course, I’m going to walk the players through the rules step by step).

We need 3-5 people in total.

For the setting I plan to use the City, though it’s open to suggestions. Due to the nature of the game, pretty much any setting that allows for the existence of the memory research institute is viable and won’t require lengthy adaptation, though naturally it must be something all players are familiar with and want to play.

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