Book Review – The Cleaners Book 2: The Maids of Wrath

Been a busy couple of weeks, but I’ve got some time to sit down and smash this out now, so it’s review time! Today I’ll be talking about the second book in Josh Vogt’s The Cleaners series, The Maids of Wrath. As always, there may be some minor spoilers in the review, but I’ll avoid any major plot points or gigantic twists. On the topic of spoilers though, some fair warning. This is a review of the second book in the series, so in order to discuss it properly, there’s going to have to be some spoilers for the first book. These are not minor spoilers, since the end of that book sets the stage for this story. So with that said, if you haven’t read Enter the Janitor, and are interested in seeing if this series is something you’d enjoy, you can find my review for that here.

Full Disclosure: I was provided with a pre-release e-book of this novel by the author for review purposes. This has in no way influenced my opinion of the work, and this review is a full, fair and honest accounting of my thoughts on it. 

The Maids of Wrath

Josh Vogt

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

These aren't your anime-style magical maids...

These aren’t your anime-style magical maids…

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A deer, a pirate and a mutant join a kult – Kickstarter Round-up

Woo! First post of 2016, and the first post in far too long. I’ve really got no excuse, I just let things get away from me, and before I knew it, it’d been six bloody months since I’d posted. So, yeah, sorry about that.

Anyway, to ease me back into posting, I figured I’d start with something easy that I haven’t done in quite some time. A Kickstarter project round-up! The timing works well too, because goddamn am I ever backing a lot of projects right now. For this round-up and any future ones, I’ve decided to only talk about projects that I’m 100% guaranteed to be backing, and that I’m extremely confident in the ability of the project leads to actually not only deliver their product, but to do it at a high quality, since I’ve felt a bit guilty over some previous projects that I pushed hard that ended up being very disappointing to me (not going to name names, but there’s been a few seriously shocking results). As is usual for me, most of these projects are RPGs (I tend to back RPGs or boardgames for the most part), but there’s one comic in there.

Now, in the interests of not making myself start silently screaming in horror over how much money I’ve sunk into Kickstarter recently, I’m not going to include the three projects that finished in the last day, I’ll just be covering the four projects that are still in the funding stage… So let’s start this party off with the project I’m currently most excited about…

KULT: Divinity Lost

Project Ends: 8:00 AM AEDT, 01/04/2016
Current Status: Fully funded, and smashing through the stretch goals!
Expected Delivery: December 2016

I’m not even sure where to begin with this one, I’m so excited! I guess a little history is in order. Kult is a Swedish RPG that was first released in 1991, though its first English edition wasn’t released until 1993. If anyone reading this remembers the Satanic Panic that certain areas of the USA had over D&D, they’ve got an idea of some of the ridiculous and unwarranted controversy that Kult had to deal with in the years following it’s release (in brief, media outlets in Sweden linked it to a number of disappearances, suicides and so on that involved people who played the game… it even got mentioned in the Swedish parliament in relation to a motion to stop tax-payer funding for youth groups that play RPGs). Controversy aside, the game was praised for its depth and handling of religious and philosophical content and ideas in a mature, if somewhat disturbing (it’s a horror game, what do you expect, puppies and rainbows), manner. The setting is our modern society, but what we perceive as our world is in fact an illusion, created by powerful being known as the Demiurge to hold humanity prisoner and stop us from regaining our divinity, while the players take on the roles of various characters from all walks of life who have started to see through the illusion and discover the stranger nature of reality. I won’t go deeper into the setting here, there’s a lot to cover and I don’t have all night, but for a decent overview of it, check out the Wikipedia page. The system had some really innovative ways of dealing with mental balance and featured magic systems based on real life mystical traditions, so it’s a pretty fascinating read. Honestly, it’s one of my favourite RPGs of all time, though I’ve rarely been able to get groups together for it.

The cover of the original English edition of Kult, featuring some of my favourite game artwork

The cover of the original English edition of Kult, featuring some of my favourite game artwork

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Book Review – The Cleaners Book 1: Enter the Janitor

Note: Sorry guys, this is way later than I expected it to be. The last couple of months have been a bit of a struggle for me, and I’d found it hard to bring myself to write anything. Pushing myself to get back on track again, and hopefully the fact that I’ve got myself into a bit of a steadier routine should help with that. 

Okay, time for another review! This time around we’re looking at the first book in The Cleaners series, Enter the Janitor, by Josh Vogt. You might recognise the name from my review of Forge of Ashes. Forge of Ashes was Josh’s debut novel, with Enter the Janitor hot on its heels. It’s a bit of a genre shift as well, jumping from the fairly traditional fantasy (with some decidedly non-traditional elements) of the Pathfinder Tales line to urban fantasy with a comedic bent.

Anyway, enough preamble. Let’s get into the meat of this.

Full Disclosure: I was provided with an e-book of this novel by the author for review purposes. This has in no way influenced my opinion of the work, and this review is a full, fair and honest accounting of my thoughts on it. 

Enter the Janitor

Josh Vogt

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Ben and Dani, ready to fight the literal scum of the universe...

Ben and Dani, ready to take on the literal scum of the universe…

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A Fistful of Roses, Part II: Fire and Blood (WIP)

Hey guys, welcome back to my campaign journal for A Fistful of Roses, the Savage Worlds cyberpunk campaign I’m playing in using the Interface Zero 2.0 setting. For anyone who hasn’t seen part one, you can check it out here: A Fistful of Roses, Part I: My Name Is Roxy

Alright. Posting part two of this, but as you might have noticed from the title, this is very much still a work in progress. Honestly it’s been a struggle to write this part, I haven’t been able to get it to a point I’m happy with. But it’s been a few weeks longer than I’d planned between posts, and I need to move on to other stuff. I’ll be coming back when I’ve had a chance to get some feedback so I can try to fix it up, but if I let myself dwell on it now I’ll never let it go.

A quick note. As is almost always the case, we’ve changed a few things about the setting, and made our own assumptions when something may not be perfectly clear in the book (or we’ve just missed it somehow). So we’ve assumed that the Tendril Access Processors (TAPs) that people have implanted in their heads act as general comms devices as well as providing augmented reality feeds and data access. We also changed the JUMP bikes a bit, neither the GM or I were a huge fan of the Formula One looking cars shown in the sourcebook for them, both of us had been picturing motorcycles that hover instead of having wheels, kind of halfway between a high end sports bike and an ATV. Actually I’m not even sure if they’re meant to hover or not, or are just able to leap into the air when needed. Either way, that’s how they look in our game.

All of that said, hope you enjoy it, and as always, feedback is very much appreciated.

NOTE: Profanity is a little more prevalent in this one than the first entry. I’m still working out Roxy’s character, and I’m leaning towards making her relatively foul mouthed and prone to bursts of anger.

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A Fistful of Roses, Part II: Fire and Blood

0015 Hours – The Strange Island, Korea Town

Shit. It’s after midnight, and I’m still sitting here, nursing another beer, waiting for Felix’s damn bartender to show up so we can get down to business. At least the night hasn’t been a total write-off. Turns out that hybrid couple those Bloody Hand gangers were hassling run the local hardware store. Said they’d have something for me in a few days, a thank you for running off the goons. I’ll have to try to keep ’em sweet, it’s always handy to be on friendly terms with gunrunners. Still, it doesn’t look like things are going to calm down here any time soon, and I’ve got other places to be. Felix and I’ll just have to have our chat another time.

I savour the last of my beer. It’s heavy and rich, bitter-sweet with undertones of chocolate and coffee. I push the glass away, the taste of  toasted hops and malted barley lingering on my tongue. Hell, forget about finding a fixer, I’d come back just for another glass. I stand, stretching, the leather of my impact suit hugging my body, a familiar, comfortable feeling. No point trying to say goodbye to Felix, he’s busy serving the crowd. A hand darts out from behind the bar, grabs my wrist as I turn to leave. Clawed and lightly furred … I follow the arm back to see Felix looking over my shoulder. He’s worried, I can see it. Slitted pupils wide, tufted ears laid flat against his skull. Something’s got him spooked good and proper.

“Trouble coming,” he hisses, leaning in close. “Your friends are back, and they’ve brought company. I figure this ain’t good for either of us, so what’s say we back each other up here. I turn to follow his gaze out to the street. The gangers from before are on approach to the bar, along with a group of their friends. Four of the others look like carbon copies of Tweedledum and Tweedledee, same shitty tatts and grubby gang colours. The last one though … looks like they went crying to their boss-man. Same sort of thug, just trussed up in a badly fitted suit instead of the leathers and muscle tops the street crew favour.

“Deal. But the drinks are on you after this,” I shoot back at him, a grin on my face. “And I’ll be expecting some extra consideration when we’re negotiating my cut for any jobs we might work together in the future.” I’m whistling in the dark, trying to hide the rising panic. Three, even four of these guys between us, easy. Seven … Well, I hope Felix has some heavy ordinance back there with him, ’cause all I’ve got is my revolver and a pair of stun-gloves. They’re just street trash, but a near four to one advantage is going to count for a lot. I pull the gloves out of my pocket and slip them on. There’s a faint buzzing in my palms as they hum to life, and I slide a hand behind my back, drawing my revolver and flicking off the safety, concealing it between my leg and the bar

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Book Review – The First Tail by T.J. Burgin

Hey guys,

Took me a bit longer to finish this book than I hoped. Still, I got there in the end, so it’s time for the my review.

Full Disclosure: I was provided with an e-book of this novel by the author for review purposes. This has in no way influenced my opinion of the work, and this review is a full, fair and honest accounting of my thoughts on it. 

The First Tail

T.J. Burgin

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The First Tail

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A Fistful of Roses, Part I: My Name is Roxy

Well, this is a few days later than I’d wanted, thanks to a weekend spent with my parents and some longer than anticipated days at work.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve joined a new cyberpunk game run by my friend Chris. We’re using Interface Zero 2.0,  for Savage Worlds. Great cyberpunk setting, has a few elements that veer more into transhumanism than cyberpunk (the human/animal hybrids and so on), but in the main it’s a very genre faithful setting. Lots of hacking, virtual reality, mechanical augmentations, people wired for augmented reality, and a lot of shiny chrome and bright neon contrasted with the filthy streets and gritty nature of day-to-day survival in the urban sprawl. Being Savage Worlds, it mostly conforms to the core rules, but adds some more complex rules for things like hacking (the Science Fiction companion for Savage Worlds actually recommends using these rules for any other games that need hacking rules), cybernetic augmentation and so on, as well as adding, removing or modifying Edges and Hindrances as appropriate for the genre. One of the bigger changes is the addition of occupations, where each character has to pick an occupation based on their concept. There’s a pretty extensive list, with everything from bartenders and pizza delivery guys right up the chain to the corporate executives and mob bosses. Your occupation provides certain benefits fitting the concept, as well as a regular source of extra income every time you received an Advance (every 5 experience points). The default setting for the game is North America, but there are supplements coming out for other locations, like the Japan: Empire of the Setting Sun sourcebook.

Given how much I enjoyed the character concept I came up with, especially after seeing how she ran in the first session of the game, I figured I may as well keep an in character campaign journal for her and chronicle the events of the game. Then I decided to make things difficult for myself and write it in first person perspective and present tense, because apparently I’m a masochist. So I asked Chris what the campaign was called, and was duly confused and curious when I was informed it has been named “A Fistful of Roses”. No, I don’t know why. But I can’t wait to find out.

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Sorry guys…

Sorry guys, I know I said that the first part of my campaign journal would be up Monday night at the latest, but I ended up busier with my parents than expected over the weekend. Thought I’d have it done tonight for sure, but ended up having to work a twelve hour shift today (I got home around 10:00 PM. Working on it right now though. I figure I’m about two thirds to three quarters of the way through. Soon as it’s ready I’ll post it. Hopefully tomorrow night.