Review: Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef

Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef
Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef by Cassandra Khaw
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is glorious. For something so short it certainly crams in a lot of ingredients: gods, monsters, down-at-heel ex-mob chefs, gluttons, gourmands, angry ghosts, colonialism, assimilation, ancient vs modern, a bustling cityscape both bright & wild and grimy-drab…

It’s got everything and all of it is mixed to perfection to produce a noirish yet numinous tale of one strangely compelling not-exactly-hero caught in the midst of a grand parade of terrifying grotesques.

Cassandra Khaw brings incredible depth to her world; a turn of phrase or well crafted image hinting at onion skin layers of history and politics and meaning and mystery, all waiting to be revealed beneath every place and every action. Despite the supernatural subject matter, this reads always as a story of real place, and real (strange) people.

Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef rattles along in fast and thrilling style and manages to skip from visceral horror to easy violence to genuine heart-breaker pathos whilst never missing a step or leaving you behind. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“You take this much damage…”

#RPGaDay question one: Real dice, dice app, diceless or some other resolution method?

Has to be dice, doesn’t it. I’ll get back with some details later. In the meantime, a picture

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

randoms vii: waste ground poppies

“You can’t walk up and stick a bullet in this guy. That’s just-”

Albrecht knows better. “I’m a pretty good shot.”

“Ain’t what I mean,” Mato says. Shakes his head. His face is hard to read in the dimness of this makeshift bar. “That’s not it at all.”

Albrecht sighs, runs a slow hand across her buzzcut hair; she’s got bandages and splints on a couple of her fingers, bruises fading across her knuckles. “Okay,” she says at last. “Let’s have it then. Everything you know.”

Mato gives her nothing.

Albrecht uses her good hand to push a full bottle of bourbon across the table. Backs it up with two packs of cigarettes, still sealed, Prime quality. “Tell me about Topper.”

This story will be a sequel to this oneBroken Rooms: Observe & Report

Broken Rooms RPG

Leave a comment

Filed under WIP, writing

#RPGaDAY2015: Part Eight, the Last Patrol

Day Thirty-one: Favourite non-RPG thing to come out of an RPG?

I’d been working on a post-apocalyptic novel called COLD MERIDIAN when I first encountered the game Apocalypse World, and it probably influenced the general feel of the book in a great many ways.

A year or so later on, with the novel still very much a work-in-progress, I played in a session of Apocalypse World at the Q-con games convention in Belfast, and decided to choose a character book that suited one of the characters I’d been dealing with in the novel. The Cold Meridian novel character is called Jager Chanco; basically she’s a dying-Earth-future bodyguard for a creepy psychic guru as he tours various religious compounds (called religs) in the wastelands.

The Apocalypse World character was an androgynous battle-babe called Snow, and Snow’s exploits (with some tweaking here and there) became the tale of a character called Frost who appears in the story “Under the Green Witch” from the Fox Spirit Books Girl at the End of the World anthology, volume 2.

girl at the end of the world volume 2

This is the second of two epic volumes containing tales of all manner of apocalypse and the varied stories of the women and girls who have to deal with what’s left.

Full details and links here: Girl at the End of the World

Leave a comment

Filed under RPGaDAY2015

#RPGaDAY2015: Part Seven, Island of the Lizard King

Day Twenty-six: Favourite inspiration for your game?

Music.

I’ve had a few characters, campaigns etc sparked off by watching a particular movie (for example I think the recent NOAH film might make a neat Apocalypse World hack) but in the main I think it’s music that does it. There’s a different buzz for creation there.

Anything from Jethro Tull and Bob Dylan to Gary Numan and Heaven 17; not to mention everything inbetween/around/before/after.

I’m never sure if the music is the inspiration itself or if it’s simply making things coalesce.

Example: I’d planned to do some kind of superhero background, so that was very much in mind, and then I was listening to March the Mad Scientist by Jethro Tull and it clicked with what I had bubbling away in my head.

The lyrics of that song (“and March the mad scientist, brings a new change…”) added to Rage In Eden by Ultravox and a few other things, led to my MARBLE ARCH superhero campaign (“and they were the new gods, and they shone on high”), which appeared in slightly altered form as the DECEMBER STORM variant Earth in the original Nearside Project game.

Different music might have resulted in a somewhat different setting?

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under RPGaDAY2015

#RPGaDAY2015: Part Six, the Savage Horde

Day Twenty One: Favourite RPG setting?

Well, clearly there’s Glorantha, but on the other hand there is also what’s known as the NEARSIDE from Broken Rooms (the RPG formerly known as THE NEARSIDE PROJECT). It’s published by Greymalkin Designs who are also responsible for the ‘high fantasy brought low’ game DESOLATION.

Broken Rooms is mostly written by Stephen Herron, and deals with thirteen alternate versions of Earth, where things are going very badly indeed.

There’s a world struck by an asteroid, a world where aliens have invaded, a world turning into an icebox. I could go on…

At this point I should probably mention I am responsible for some of the stuff in Broken Rooms – some worlds and bits and bobs – but I do genuinely think it’s an excellent background for exploring anything from high adventure to subtle introspection, all wrapped up in a deeper undercurrent of story about grief and meaning and what’s all this stuff about the number 13…

Day Twenty-two: Perfect game environment?

I like a table and comfortable chairs. It’s not essential but I think people get more into ‘game mode’ (if there is such a thing) when they’re sitting around a big table and have enough room for their character sheets, pencils and dice, beverages and snacks. Plus enough space in the centre of the table for maps or handouts. Bonus points if the table is away from the television, passing non-player traffic and any other distractions.

Gold star if there’s a giant chalkboard on which to write down important stuff about plot etc.

Day Twenty-three: Perfect game for you?

Anything. Okay, almost anything.

It’s the players (GM included) that make the game, not trivial stuff like background or setting or system. Clearly there are settings I prefer – superheroes (in disaffected vigilante format), spies (worn down, world weary, post-cold-war looking for a new foe style) – but, whatever is on offer I’ll usually give it a try. I’m not a huge fan of unrelenting grimness, but even that can be lightened by the right group.

Everyone gets together and tells an entertaining story for a few hours/days/years. That’s the perfect game.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under RPGaDAY2015

#RPGaDAY2015: Part Five, the Empire Strikes Back

Day Sixteen: Longest game session played?

Not sure. Back in the early days we spent entire summers playing AD&D or SPACE OPERA or whatever from very early in the morning until long past dark. I’ve not done any of those charity ‘play a game for 24 hours’ things.

I was once in a terrible, terrible home-brewed science fiction game at a con. That session felt like a painful eternity…

Day Seventeen: Favourite Fantasy RPG?

RUNEQUEST. The landscape, the people, the mythology, the sense of scale etc.

It just resonates on the correct frequency for me.

Day Eighteen: Favourite SF RPG?

SPACE OPERA.

This raises an interesting question (for me anyway) about what exactly makes a ‘favourite’. I mean, I couldn’t tell you the first thing about the rules or the background for Space Opera – beyond I vaguely recall one of the scenarios had a Sky Marshall character who was not unlike a heavy breathing villain from an at-the-time-rather-popular sci-fi movie franchise…

As I recall it, the campaign I was involved in was heavily influenced by DUNE. There was a lot of noble houses and politicking involved. But also a lot of dropping ordnance from high orbit on unsuspecting enemy forces.

What made the game great, however, was the GM and the group and the fun we had playing it for long summer days about twenty-five years ago. I guess it could have been any game? Or maybe something that wasn’t Space Opera wouldn’t have sparked the same interactions and would have lacked the same entertainment value that we found there?

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under RPGaDAY2015