Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Hunter of the Dark

As a signal boost for my friend Jason, I present to you The Hunter of the Dark. A short film "created for the 48 hour Tasploitation Challenge 2016. A Lovecraftian styled horror set in a remote Tasmanian Cabin

Make sure to leave an appreciative comment on the Vimeo page, that way he will be sure to make more!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Eye of Light and Darkness Unboxing

The last in this trilogy of posts on the Sedefkar Simulacrum Kickstarter that arrived last week, and this time, it is less to do with the Horror on the Orient Express, and all to do with that other stupendous campaign, Masks of Nyarlathotep.

Initially, when the box came through, I had completely forgotten that I had added this prop, so it was genuinely surprised when I opened the envelope.
Contents of the envelope
Inside, was a well wrapped resin prop in two parts. The two halves of the Eye were individually wrapped in foam paper, so that they did not chip against each other in transit. That is some well thought out packaging! There was also a signed certificate of authenticity for the eye. Of course I will do my best to heed the warning about reading of spells in close proximity to the Eye, so as ot to cause any unnecessary trans-dimensional disturbances. 

I found the line below to be very cool.
If you can't get the first off the production line, at least there is some small cache in getting the last!

So, on with the Eye. I unwrapped the two halves, and stuck them together, as shown. here:

The finish on the item looks good in the above pictures, but the varnish gives it a bit of a whitish tinge, that can be better seen in the below photograph. This isn't really a gripe, as the item is beautifully finished, and the varnish is there to protect it, but the shiny finish on what is supposedly a sandstone item is a bit anachronistic I feel.

The finished item
From the Kickstarter:
A lot of thought went into the making of this item. It is supposed to be a piece of the red pyramid, the first true smooth-sided pyramid located in Dashur, built to repulse the Black Pharaoh. But this is puzzling, if the pyramid is smooth-sided, there shouldn't be any carving on it. So I did some research; the red pyramid was not always red, it used to be cased with limestone but only a few of these stones now remain at the corner of the construction. I imagined that the Eye of Light and Darkness was hidden somewhere behind the limestone and when the limestone fell apart, the relief was revealed but still covered with a layer of coating composed of small stones brought by the desert. I tried to reproduce the results, the reddish aspect and the effects of time. Thinking of the reddish granite stone beneath the limestone, burning and drying under the sun for ages, I knew then how to show the burning secret of the red pyramid covered by the smooth limestone.
The prototype
If you look at the prototype above, this does have the white coating i the cracks and engravings, and without the gloss finish, this looks like sand and accumulated grime, so maybe all I need to do is knock off the sheen.This does suggest, however, that the prototype in terms of carving and casting is identical to the final version, the finish is not quite there.

Apart from the glossy finish, I am in love with this artefact/prop. Now I am torn between running Masks or Orient Express first. Unfortunately, due to the collapse of Ben Patey's Masks props KS, I think HotOE wins out by a nose.

Sedefkar Simulacrum Unboxing

As my last post was rather long-winded and ranty, I decided to cut it off before getting round to what I had planned as the main event, that is the unboxing of the Sedefkar Simulacrum, as delivered to me last week.

Each set came with a letter from Delphes, the campaign organiser and artist, as well as a certificate of authenticity. A packing error meant I got two copies of the letter and certificate, but as the certificates are not numbered, this isn't an issue.

The Box

First off, the box itself. Aged to look like it has sat on a shelf for some time (even the hinges are rusted), and labelled on the outside as part of the Miskatonic University collection. Inside, the Simulacrum is hidden in wood shavings/straw, and on the inside of the lid is a faded and slightly warped insignia for the Simplon Orient Express.

As was mentioned by Delphes on the KS page, the box is a touch too short to lie the Simulacrum flat, due to a later change in the positioning of the leg magnets, but it doesn't really seem to matter, either the Simulacrum can be disassembled for storage, as would likely the real thing, to protect the parts, or, he can be sat in the box, slightly bent, reclining on the straw inside.

The Sedefkar Simulacrum

The simulacrum itself is a wonderful thing. I was worried that the finish would be underwhelming after seeing some images online, but in real life it truly does look slightly otherworldly. Of course, my images here are no exception to the others I have seen, and don't quite do the figure justice.

The magnets on the arms and legs are nice and strong. There seems to have been some issues with some of the magnets falling out, but this isn't an issue with this copy. he magnets are also attached in a way that the right leg and left leg cannot be reversed, to ensure they attach with the torso facing the right way, and the same with the arms. This does mean however, that the arms and legs can be swapped!

The Shroud

The shroud is an Item I'm not quite sure what to do with. I think the suggestion is it is something the players can use to collect the parts if the Simulacrum as they find them. However, I'm not quite sure I'm at ease with players tossing the limbs of this sculpture in a  canvas bag together when there's a perfectly serviceable box for storage, after all, if you have this prop on the table, it makes sense to want to have it on display, not in a bag. There was an add-on to the campaign to buy an alter to do exactly that, but I felt I had already sunk enough cash into this adventure, so I didn't bother with that.

The Traveller Kit

I'm not quite sure why this name was chosen for the paper add-ons to this campaign, but I'm glad I went in for them, and not just the Simulacrum, they really add life to the project, and give something more visual to help the players get into the game. The Traveller Kit consists of:

• A postcard with the portrait of an arrogant XVIIIth century nobleman (not send from the Louvres)
• The close up pictures of the Simulacrum
• The scientific paper about the Scroll of the Head.
• A fine art print of an excerpt of The Scroll of the Head.
• The translation of the text from the excerpt
• A nice packaging
Postcard from the Louvre

Each of these images represents the close ups of the surfaces of the Simulacrum, 
Scroll of the Head

The translation of the text of the excerpt of the scroll of the head is included in the article as appendix B, as is a transliteration (the text in Turkic). The final appendix is a list of the contributors, yours truly included of course!

The nice packaging refers to the box the Simulacrum was sent in, (see above).

The Poster

The stretch goals reached meant that I also received 'a poster made in the style of the 1920s presenting "Caterina Cavollaro in Aida at the Scala of Milan".'

Finally, there was one final stretch goal that was not reached during the campaign:
30 000 € : HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT when unlocked every backer with the Simulacrum in its pledge will receive 6 printed copies of original drawings done by myself representing each part of the Simulacrum in context, from the point of view of the characters, when they find each part during the campaign. The drawings will be consistent with the sculpted simulacrum, and can of course be presented to the player as a visual support to dramatize each discovery.
However, even though this level was not reached, Delphes really wanted backers to have the chance to get these prints, so sent out details of how to buy these prints after the campaign had finished. I decided to go for it, and thus, have received these too. In fact due to a printing error, everyone got two copies of each, and what's more, due to a packing error, I got 4 copies of one of them. Lucky me.

The KS also gave backers the opportunity to buy a female head and torso to go with the male version, as indeed the Simulacrum is supposed to start to resemble more and more the person carrying it. I did not take this option, and I am regretting it dearly now. I already spent more than I had planned on this KS, with the additional art work, but now that I have it i my hands and see the quality of the workmanship, I see that it would have been worth the extra expense.

Finally, the pledge I went for included the the Eye of Light and Darkness too, but I'll post that in another post, as this one's already getting rather long.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sedefkar Simulacrum Arrives

What's in the box?
I'm a little lost for words, I just received a package, from a Kickstarter, that was delivered on time. 

Okay okay, this may happen all the time with some kinds of Kickstarters, in fact, I have rather a good record of this with two other Kickstarters I have backed. So let me be clearer. I received a Call of Cthulhu based Kickstarter, on time! 

I have backed a total of five CoC Kickstarters, and this is the first to have arrived on time, and indeed the second to have arrived at all, which is quite a big deal considering it was the last one of these five to be funded. Indeed, the Curse of Cthulhu Kickstarters meant I was very hesitant to back this one at all. As it stands, the Sedefkar Simulacrum has arrived here in Montreal.

Of course, I the Horror on the Orient Express box set did arrive, if indeed it was only 21 months late. This campaign was to sculpt and produce the Sedefkar Simulacrum, which is the statue that players in the HotOE campaign travel round Europe to find, collecting parts of the statue as they go.
I must say, in many ways, this Kickstarter has exceeded all my expectations. The Simulacrum looks better in the 'flesh' than in any of the pics, all the associated artwork and extras too are immaculate. I love the poster for the opera, and will be looking to find a way to put that on my wall (if only I had a man-cave). With this prop now in hand I fully intend to gather a gaming group and start this campaign. I don't really make New Years resolutions, but if I did, that would be one!

Not my copy of the Eye.
The added extra of finally receiving the Eye of Light and Darkness prop as part of this project just highlights how well this Kickstarter was run, managed, communicated and produced. Of course, the Eye of Light and Darkness finally arriving has brought into focus the disastrous shambolic mess that has arisen from the Masks of Nyarathotep Kickstarter campaign, of which I am a backer. However, as a slight analgesic to backers, Dean at Cthulhu Reborn has released the MoN campaign character sheet that was produced to accompany this Kickstater Campaign.

The success of this project may be in some way due to the fact that the artist had previously tried to set up the project through Indiegogo, and failed. It is somewhat telling as to the why that the goal of the Indiegogo campaign was not reached, even with the success of the KS campaign.

What cannot be understated is the level of communication between Delphes, the artist and creator of the project, and the backers. From the very first contact made, as soon as I had made the pledge, all the way through the production process, and finally to the shipping off of all the items (which happened over the Christmas and New Year period no less), the communication level was consistently excellent.

For more info on this campaign, and to get a heads on any future ones that may come from Delphine, there's a facebook page here, and the Kickstarter page is here.

Top marks!

I had started this blog post with the intention of it being an unboxing, but it seems to have meandered down the rabbit hole of a KS linkfest, so I'll round off here and get n with the unboxing as a separate post. I guess you'll just have to wait to see what's in the box!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Art Deco Montreal

This link is relevant to my interests. Great source of inspiration for 20s and 30s architecture around town.

On the same theme, here's a recent report by CTV on one such gem, the restaurant on the 9th floor of the Eaton's department store.