I’ve been writing a lot about horror or things that work well for Halloween, so now that it’s the actual date, what makes good horror? Now, this is obviously going to be somewhat subjective because it’s my thoughts on horror, and your thoughts on what…
Month: October 2018
Normally with Eating Nerdy, I try and go with a movie, show, or game that is a bit more obscure that you can make an event around and how you can feed people while staying in theme. That’s what I’m trying to do here as well, though this is a bit more Halloween focused and Mansions of Madness is a pretty big and well known game. But with it being around Halloween, this seemed like the right thing to do. So you might notice that the theming isn’t going to be as closely tied to Mansions of Madness but more focused on Halloween and how you can incorporate the two together. If you want more specially themed to the Lovecraftian set-up of Mansions of Madness, you can checkout the article that I wrote about Eating Nerdy and Arkham Horror back in September of 2016.
So what are the things to think about with Mansions of Madness, how would that have a Halloween feel to it? The game is an investigative game where you are exploring a house or various locations trying to stop cultists from bringing about the end of the world, or there are other scenarios as well. I’ve only played the one introductory scenario twice.
Starting with invitations to the party, they should probably be mailed out with some old time font or better yet hand written. Then add in a request that people dress up like they’re from the 1920’s. Whatever they feel like is appropriately 1920’s should work as that is when Lovecraft wrote and when the games are set. I’d definitely also find some nice atmospheric music to play during the game and during the party as well. Also, figure out a way to dim your lights or to create that feel of suspense through the mood. If you could get enough electric or other candles to make the room bright enough to see, that would be good, or figure out a way that it’s light enough to see the board well, but the corners of the room are a bit dark.
As for drinks, to borrow from my Arkham Horror post, stick with the classic drinks. Old Fashioned or a Martini would work really well. Just straight up scotch also would be really good. Have some mulled hot apple cider for those who might not want to have an alcoholic drink or for when people want to switch it up. A good old fashioned rootbeer would work nicely as well. There’s a book, Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails that has a lot of very nice recipes that you could pull from to create more thematic cocktails as well.
I’m not going to recommend a big meal for this, this is supposed to be a Halloween get together as well as Mansions of Madness, and I’d say just get down to gaming. Instead, focus on easier to eat finger foods. Caramel apples is an obvious choice for Halloween. Chips and salsa, peanuts and pretzels, just keep it simple for as you are playing. I’d also suggest that you ask people to bring food for this as well, it can be a longer game to play, so share the bringing of food, and if you do that, you can maybe got with some more labor intensive foods that would be more thematically appropriate for Halloween or for Mansions of Madness. I think going either way with the food would work for the event.
While you are playing, lean into the role playing your characters. People should be encouraged to pick the person who most looks like them or most looks like how they are dressed up. Do you over the top east coast accents or your noir detective voices, and really encourage people getting into and creating the story of your characters in the game. The Mansions of Madness characters do have some information about how they started to investigate these horrific events or ones like them, so have some fun with that. If you’ve made it atmospheric you’ll have a nice combination of suspense and goofy by getting into the role playing.
One thing to consider with Mansions of Madness is the app integration. In my case, since I have a projector, I’d be tempted to figure out a way to display it up there, because it wouldn’t be too obtrusive there and would allow everyone to easily see the text that is coming up. A tablet or laptop would work just fine as well, but figure out a way so that people can see it. I’d also consider, if you can, changing away your laptop from the normally harsher blue light that you get on TV’s, computers, and tablets. A lot of the newer tablets and other devices, you can go with a more yellow based lighting scheme, and that will fit into the aesthetic that you’re trying to create better than a blue light would.
What other things would you want to do to give it more of a Halloween feel? Doing something like pumpkin carving, to see who could carve the best elder god would be fun way to start the night and would also give you some fun lighting to use later as the jack-o-lanterns are lit.
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Who do you call when there is a suspected spirit haunting your school, home, or church?
Shibuya Psychic Research Center
SPR is the vehicle for the characters in the anime Ghost Hunt. It really focuses around Ayoko and her powers to see into the spirit realm. However, she, up to a few months ago, was just your average high school girl. Other than the fact that she really liked talking about ghosts and sharing ghost stories. When weird things start happening at her school she meets Kazuya Shibuya who runs the SPR. She ends up helping him and she gets hired into SPR as his assistant. She meets the rest of the cast of characters who are also looking into the paranormal and together, they end up taking on a lot of different cases.
This anime has a few moments where it has that harem style anime feel, but it’s interesting because it’s offset from the main character. Ayoko does seem to pull people to her in some ways, but Kazuya does more so, so the group is focused around him. However, the story is clearly focused around Ayoko. Also the surrounding characters are less stereotypes and more focused and developed characters in their own right. So while I’d normally say anything that uses that harem trope is a bit cliched, this one works and feels better developed than most.
One thing that I do really like about this anime is the case structure. In typical television I feel like there are two standard ways to do a show where people take on a case to solve. You either are doing the case of the week so it’s wrapped up in the 20 or 40 minutes depending on the length of the show, with an occasional two part episode at the end of a season. Or you have a big case that’s running through the whole season, and the season might only focus on that, or it might be the case where it’s the case of the week as well as story line running through the whole season. In the case of Ghost Hunt, each case takes between three and six episodes. So you’re able to get a little more meat into the plot lines and they definitely do that by creating some quite creepy stories and interesting character development. But it never feels like you’re stuck in a single story too long though, you always know the case will be coming to the end and they’ll be moving on to the next thing.
Another thing that stands out to me about this anime as compared to a lot of others is that it is a true suspense/horror type of anime. It doesn’t rely on blood and guts to make itself terrifying but instead uses twisted and psychological situations as well as imagery effectively that is unsettling or off putting. That’s some of the reason that I picked the anime, one it was something different looking than the normal anime but more so, because it seemed to lean into the horror and spooky side of things.In my opinion it does that horror quite well, and while it isn’t going to give you many jump scares, the balance between normalcy and unsettling is well done, and the cases are well crafted. And this is something I want to see in more shows, but anime and live action.
Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable anime. I thought that with the characters in the show, it developed into something more than it could have been, which was pleasantly surprising. There are some definite creepy moments in the anime and how creepy they episodes might be would depend upon the case as some cases are a bit tamer or funnier, but that was done for balance in the show which could have just been dark, darker, and darkest if they hadn’t been careful. I think the uniqueness of the feel of it, the fact it did the suspense and horror well together is what will make it stick out for me. The downside is that there was only a single season of the anime. Looking on Amazon, there is clearly more manga printed for it but there was only a single season for the anime, and since the anime came out in 2006, I don’t think we’re going to get a second season.
Now, who is going to like this anime? I don’t think that this will be one for everyone. While it won’t be too spooky for most people because it is more psychological, a fair number of the cases might have things that are a bit much to handle. The more you unravel in the cases the more disturbing things you generally uncover. But it isn’t particularly horrific, it’s more that it’s unsettling.
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Woo, new character time for me. I unlocked this one and have been playing it at Level 5 and am now Level 6.
Let me start out by saying when I was going for a retirement goal this is the one that made the most sense for the Soothsinger that I was playing previously. It also looked, from the symbol, like it could have been a more combat focused character. It was disappointing when I opened it up and found out that it was yet another support character as I’ve played the Tinkerer, Soothsinger, and now Sawbones who have all been more support focused characters.
But before we get into my build for the character and how they actually play, let’s talk about what they are built for. The Sawbones refers to the fact that they would have been a field medic prior to becoming an adventurer. They have a lot of healing cards, but if you think about it, a lot of medical practices could also be to cause a fair amount of damage. There’s a lot of focus on healing on the cards then with some damage on them, or cards that do large amounts of damage. This character also hands out a lot of tokens as well, so they are heavy on wounds but also immobilizing, stun, poison, or even muddle.
I think the standard build for this character would focus on healing. There are nice ways to boost that, and there are quite a number of cards that give you XP for handing out healing. They also have an interesting concept that allows you to keep your fellow adventurers alive and that is by handing out med packs. These are cards that go into your allies hands and don’t count against their total card count. So a character with fewer cards you could theoretically help keep alive. These cards also have some solid healing on them which is nice as well. The downside is that you have to be next to the other players when you are doing this. Being a Sawbones, though, means that you aren’t too soft a character and you can soak some damage. However, your healing works better on others.
Now, I wanted to play this as more of a combat build, however, when i started with that, I found out it didn’t work as well. There was some possibility for it, because you have some nice damage cards, but your best damage cards are the ones that end up getting put to the trash instead of the discard pile. But when I was able to do 14 damage on the first turn (out of 45) to a Drake, that was awesome. However, if you make it too combat focused, you aren’t going to be an extremely effective character as you limit yourself in what you can really do on a turn. I’ve actually gone fairly item heavy in hopes of being able to support more damage that way. Having a base 3 attack versus a base 2 attack thus far is the best thing that I’ve come up with for that.
The biggest thing that makes this character solid is the ability to move around the battlefield. With the deck that I’ve put together, I can most more than the base two on a good number of the cards. I have a several move four cards and a move five as well. This is a piece that I do like quite well, because the Soothsinger had a few cards that would allow it move around the battlefield, but only two or maybe three that I had in the deck. The Sawbones, thematically, makes sense to have that ability and it comes through on the cards. This, however, does come at the cost of speed from the cards, I have a couple of fast cards, but after playing the Soothsinger who was basically always first to go, the Sawbones will sometimes go after the enemies which is a bit of a weird feeling.
This character was a bit of a disappointment for me when I started playing it, because, like I said, I wanted someone who was more combat focused. That said, I’ve come to enjoy it at this point, though I do hope my next character (and I’ll probably make it be) will be more combat focused. It’s a solid balance of combat and healing, and with a few powers, one that burns a card but I can just kill a regular or elite monster or now another one that will allow me to kill a regular monster as long as they have two negative effects on them, that’s going to make me much more viable in combat. It’s interesting to see how you can use characters who seem to be more focused on healing for good amounts of damage and I hope as I continue to level up the Sawbones that I’ll be able to play them with more of a combat focus.
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