Monday, August 29, 2016

Dead West Omnibus vol. 1 review


    The Weird Weird West. You know, it's kind of strange but the Pirates of the Caribbean movies successfully grafted ghost stories and pirates together into a massive franchise but the Weird Western has never really gotten its niche despite the 20th century being utterly drenched in the genre. Deadlands, Cowboys vs. Aliens, Jonah Hex, and a few others exist but they've never gotten the kind of signature piece they deserve.

    I suspect this is because the Weird Western requires creators who are willing to confront the inherent contradictions in the genre. It's a period lionized by the American psyche but with a dark underbelly we're only beginning to confront even a century later. There's a reason Django Unchained was made in the 21st century despite the fact a black man shooting up Confederates is something I was a 1st day moviegoer for.

    I don't think Dead West is going to reach the millions of readers necessary to turn the genre's expectations the way Sergio Leone's movies did for the idea, "Hey, maybe cowboys weren't a bunch of really moral nice guys" but I do think it's a piece which nicely combines a zombie novel with the ugliness of the Wild West. It's a novel which sometimes too much shows just how ugly a current of racism there was in the Wild West (albeit I've yet to see any media, novel or otherwise, which illustrated just how many minorities worked alongside whites as historically).

    The Dead West Omnibus vol. 1 collects the novels Those Poor, Poor Bastards and The Ten Thousand Things. It collects the adventures of Nina Weaver, a half-Native American woman and her father Lincoln. After narrowly avoiding being assaulted for her heritage in a nearby town, she's ironically saved by the arrival of a zombie cattle horde.

    Escaping with a group of survivors which can barely contain their loathing for each other, they arrive at a fort protected by a Jesuit priest with miraculous powers. From there, it becomes a siege where each of the survivors' personalities threatens to turn them against each other. While they eventually escape, the horror behind the zombie horde pursues right into the largest city in the West.

    Much of the narrative thrust is about how, even in the face of supernatural evil and with supernatural good at their side, most of the humans can't resist falling on their own prejudices. Nina's life is endangered simply because of her Native heritage, Jasmine the prostitute is subject to constant sexual harassment, and money is more important to the majority of them than helping each other. It's a common theme in zombie apocalypse stories the real enemy is man but Dead West transplants this to the Old West and the struggles then.

    There's some areas I feel could have been handled better like the fact everyone continues to hold the priest in disdain despite not only his verifiable miraculous powers but also the fact they are holding the zombie army at bay. I found myself thinking Richard Dawkins would re-evaluate his position on Christianity if it could hold back the living dead. Still, I enjoyed Nina's own antagonistic relationship with the faith which makes sense given her heritage.

    I enjoyed all of the supporting cast and give credit to the authors for representing the diversity of the Wild West in real life. My favorite characters in addition to Jasmine and Lincoln was Strobridge. The railroad baron is responsible for ninety-percent of the problems in the story but everyone keeps siding with him because he's charismatic and rich.

    While I think the omnibus focuses a bit too much on the conflicts among them versus the supernatural threat, I really enjoyed the characters' interaction. I particularly enjoyed Nina's relationship with Jasmine, even though that didn't end up going anywhere. I also felt the final resolution was a bit of an anticlimax which left a lot of unanswered questions. Still, it was a fun crazy adventure from beginning to end.

    In conclusion, if you like Weird Westerns and zombie apocalypse stories then you'll probably like this. I do, so I did.

9/10

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Crossroad Press welcomes me and my books


In what is almost certainly the first (and very possibly last) time I'll be headlining an article also announcing a Stargate-SG1 novel, Crossroad Press announced the release of STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON and CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON after HALL OF THE TWO TRUTHS by Susannah Parker Sinard.

Crossroad Press announcement

AVAILABLE NOW – Stargate SG1-29 – Hall of the Two Truths by Susannah Parker Sinard, the newest full-length novel in the Stargate tie-ins.

Also, welcome to CROSSROAD PRESS author C. T. Phipps, bestselling creator of the Super Villainy series with two brand new novels – both of which will spawn a new series of their own… Straight Outta Fangton – a snarky, comic vampire novel and Cthulhu Armageddon – in a world torn apart by Elder Gods, a few pockets of humanity survive… and fight for that survival.. wild west Lovecraftian fiction by a rising star…

Find these and more than 1500 other Crossroad Press selections at Amazon.com  … C. T. Phipps’ work is available there exclusively.

Find the majority of our books also at Barnes & Noble – Apple – and Kobo…

I especially like the best-selling part since I'm pleased to say The Supervillainy Saga's three novels have all been up to Number 3# in two of Audible's best-selling categories.

Purchase a copy of CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON here

Purchase a copy of STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON here

Friday, August 26, 2016

Interview with Matthew Dawkins, Onyx Path Publishing writer II

 Hey folks,

I've mentioned a few times that I'm a huge fan of Vampire: The Masquerade, a tabletop roleplaying game which effectively dominated my teenage years. Recently, the developers at Onyx Path Entertainment have revived the classic role-playing game with Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition.

As part of their revival, the developers made a massive Kickstarter to create a book which expanded all the massive metaplot from the original line. The Kickstarter for BECKETT'S JYHAD DIARY raised over $100,000 and met over a dozen stretch goals which has allowed many new chapters to be made.

During the Kickstarter, I did a wonderful interview with Matthew Dawkins, one of the major developers behind this supplement. With the release for it now approaching, he was kind enough to return and answer some more questions now that the Kickstarter is finished. I think everyone will love to hear what he has to say.

1. So, now that the Kickstarter is over, what's your opinion on its success level?

I was overwhelmed by the Kickstarter’s success. We all hoped it would be a popular book so we could give it the deluxe treatment it deserves. Undoubtedly, as a book that revels in the established lore of Vampire, we suspected there would be a lot of fans. Still – just under 300% of its target? We never anticipated that level of success. It was great fun to take part in the Kickstarter and interact with the backers in the comments and updates.

2. You added a lot of new chapters to the book thanks to Stretch Goals. Is there any chapter you're particularly looking forward to working on?

More than any other I’m looking forward to the Omega Chapter. I wasn’t confident we’d hit the funding needed for a larger chapter, one that covered and expanded the plot threads established in all the V20 books, but we managed it. I’m looking forward to revisiting The Red List, V20 Tal’Mahe’Ra, and all the others.

3. You can mention more than one if you like. We rabid fans would love to hear all about them.

Beyond The Omega, I can’t wait to start writing On Mysteries Eschatological. Further Cappadocian, Giovanni, and Setite goodness is always appreciated. We’ll aim to look at these Clans’ approaches to the Sects, and how three groups with such a deathly focus (the Setites may not have Necromancy as a Clan Discipline, but they do have a strong connection to Duat) may endeavor to war, alliance, or at least neutral co-existence.

4. Is there any interest in material like characters, chapters, or setting updates which surprised you? The fans really kept up with the updates from the beginning.

For me the greatest surprise was the Setite interest stemming from our previous interview. While the love for Lucita, Anatole, and Beckett (of course) was consistent, along with hype for our returns to Chicago, the Laibon, the Samedi, and so many other things – the intrigued messages I received off the back of that Setite / Camarilla teaser blew everything else away. It energizes me for the stretch goal chapters, that’s for sure.

5. Do you have a favorite chapter to have worked on and why?

Probably The Fall of the House. There’s just so much crammed into that chapter, and it seems to flow (at least in my authorial opinion). You open with Blood Brothers, move to House Goratrix (the Tremere antitribu), briefly visit Golconda and the Master of Ravens, stop by Transylvania, get interrogated by Karl Schrekt and E Division, interact with Talley to arrange a kidnapping, interview a Salubri Watcher, and discover horrific truths surrounding Clan Tremere.

6. Beckett's Jyhad Diary has allowed you and your associates to effectively reset the Metaplot and establish new elements. Is there anything you would have liked to have changed wholesale from the original Revised material?

I wouldn’t change a thing. One could look at the destruction of Clan Ravnos, the death(s) of Baba Yaga, and a whole slew of other plot points (most of which were introduced in Nights of Prophecy) as controversial, and altering the material of the game, but I understand the reasoning for those decisions. I wouldn’t change those decisions even if I could, because while the metaplot advanced with time, a game could be set at any point, and there’s nothing stopping a Storyteller from moving a 1999 event to 2099 or even back to 1899, if they wanted. All the material is valid for someone’s game. It is up to the imagination of Storytellers and players to incorporate or ignore as they see fit.

7. Do you think any of the chapters you've created for the book have the potential to be spun-off into future supplements? Any ones you'd like to work on in that respect?

Too many. I’d love to see a Sect war-themed chronicle set in the Rust Belt of America (incorporating Milwaukee, Detroit, Chicago) in which Anarchs, Camarilla, Independent, or Sabbat are playable. It would be wonderful to write a new mega-city sourcebook for one of the locations I’ve covered. It would also be fantastic to reach into the movements and myths of the esoteric Clans of Tremere and Giovanni.
There are few aspects of Vampire I would refuse to write.

8. Did you ever get a chance to sit down and write your own metaplot developments? Which were your contributions to the V20 World of Darkness?

Let’s see… I’ve written the Harbingers of Skulls and Kiasyd for Lore of the Bloodlines. I’m confident their material will incite more Storytellers to allow them for play, or incorporate them into their games in other ways. Those two bloodlines already harbor a lot of metaplot, and this receives expansion.

I wrote a bunch of sections for V20 Tal’Mahe’Ra, which like its predecessor is a fairly controversial book. My material on cults seems to have gone down well. It was great to revisit the Edenic Groundskeepers, Servitors of Irad, the Capuchin, and other weird and wonderful groups. Oh, and Terrell & Squib from Orpheus! V20 Ready-Made Characters is arguably not metaplot, but note the Tlacique in there. I’m actually proudest of my work on that small book than probably any other.

Beckett’s Jyhad Diary has my fingerprints all over it, but that’s a part of being a developer as well as a writer. The other writers on Jyhad Diary were uniformly excellent. So many fantastic ideas for expanding metaplot in that book. Then we head to the Dark Ages, and Tome of Secrets, for which I wrote… I think, five chapters? Or five sections of chapters. Either way, my philosophy with any material, even Discipline-related (I contributed powers for Setite Sorcery, Necromancy, and others), is to make it a story-tool for chronicles. This power – where does it come from? Who uses it? For what purpose? Expect to see a lot of metaplot buried between the lines of each power I contributed.

Finally we have V20 Dark Ages Companion. I developed that one, and wrote for it. It’s now at art stage. I’ll be posting another teaser on the Onyx Path blog very soon. The writers – Malcolm Sheppard, Steffie de Vaan, Neall Raemonn Price, Susann Hessen, Meghan Fitzgerald (and myself, why not) – turned in fantastic material. I want Companion to become known as “that book filled with cool stuff.”

9. A lot of material was pre-released to the fans during the Kickstarter. Do you think that helped build enthusiasm?

We discussed in advance how much we should release during the Kickstarter, and there were opinions on either side. A book like Beckett’s Jyhad Diary benefits hugely from being a book you can re-read. Each time you find new links to old material. I think it helped a great deal to preview the text, as readers (especially roleplayers) like to try before they buy. The results from this Kickstarter show that it worked for this book.

10. Did fan response influence any of the chapters you were going to do or other content?

To some degree. We always have ideas before a Kickstarter. Some we approve, some we dismiss, some we put on the backburner should the Kickstarter succeed spectacularly. The idea with the polls was exactly to allow fan response to have a real impact on the book’s content.

The polls aside, I tried to read every comment on every thread I could find about the book during the Kickstarter. I don’t think it’s good for a writer or developer to take a fan’s idea wholesale (especially not without credit), but it’s useful to identify the direction fans want the book to take.

11. Was there anything from the Old V:TM metaplot you wish you could have removed?

Nothing. The building blocks – even the dodgy ones – of old Vampire: The Masquerade metaplot have brought us to this point. It would be unfair to their creators to delete them entirely.

12. Any elements you weren't able to cover with Beckett's Jyhad Diary. You covered massive amounts but I was wondering if there was anything you wished you'd been able to go over you hadn't.

To give you a bit of a peak behind the curtain, it’s not generally the done thing to discuss the “what-ifs” as inevitably some readers will say “well, that would have been a better inclusion than that chapter on [xxxx]” or what have you. That said? Beckett’s walkabout across Australia never made it in, which saddens me (only a little) as Oceania is the only populated continent we don’t visit; now South America appears in the stretch goals.

 We might have seen more Sarrasine (from Constantinople by Night and World of Darkness 2nd Edition), and Kindred society in a country with a heart devoid of feeding stock. I find Australia’s size fascinating. It’s a strange statement, I’ll grant you, but the distance from one urban area to another is epic. Imagine being a vampire on that landmass prior to the dawn of flight. Each domain would exist in a state of long-term isolation. Wonderful.

13. What's next after Beckett's Jyhad Diary?

I’ve taken a slight step back from writing since my son was born two months ago. It’s been a fun and busy time. I already hear my keyboard calling, however. It’ll soon be time to write again. I’m attending the Grand Masquerade with Onyx Path at the start of September. More Vampire work may stem from there. I’m also writing for other Onyx Path lines, along with having written a little for Green Ronin (Titansgrave), Cubicle 7 (Cold War Cthulhu), and Helmgast AB (Kult).

While I can’t confirm that I’ll definitely be working on the next big Vampire release, I can genuinely say I’ve enjoyed my tenure writing for V20. Hopefully I’ll get to write more Vampire in the future, and if not, further possibilities always await!

If you happen to be an RPG developer looking for a flexible writer or developer (I can bend over backwards and touch my toes like Voldo after enough time on the rack), please contact me on matthewpeterdawkins@gmail.dot.com.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cthulhu Armageddon is now available for purchase on Kindle!

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Hey guys,

I have to thank the fine folk at Crossroad Press because they are absolute machines in getting things out in a speedy manner. Not only did they get out STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON in record time but they've also managed to release CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON- my post apocalypse Western set in H.P. Lovecraft's world.

“Under an alien sky where gods of eldritch matter rule, the only truth is revenge.” 

CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON is the story of a world 100 years past the rise of the Old Ones which has been reduced to a giant monster-filled desert and pockets of human survivors (along with Deep Ones, ghouls, and other “talking” monsters).

John Henry Booth is a ranger of one of the largest remaining city-states when he’s exiled for his group’s massacre and suspicion he’s “tainted.” Escaping with a doctor who killed her husband, John travels across the Earth’s blasted alien ruins to seek the life of the man who killed his friends.

It’s the one thing he has left.

What is CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON? It is my attempt to answer what happens next after the rising of the Great Old Ones. Poor Cthulhu has had his takeover prevented hundreds of times so it's nice to visit the world which he's unambiguously triumphant (not that he noticed humanity trying to resist).

Our heroes dwell in the shadow of a world destroyed by monsters where they eck out a living and try to figure out the meaning of it all when everything seems meaningless. Also, shoot monsters in the face. It's my idea of what happens when Fallout, Mad Max, and the Dark Tower meet Lovecraft.

Available here for purchase!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

An exclusive interview with Timothy C. Ward

Hey readers, we have a special treat today with author Timothy C. Ward of the Sand Divers series as well as the new Godsknife: Revolt. I reviewed his Scavenger: Evolution book on this site and really love his website. He's a great guy as well as very good author.
I love the over-the-top premise of Scavenger A.I.:  

If you discovered the technology that caused the apocalypse, would you use it to resurrect your child?

Hundreds of years ago a nanotech virus nearly wiped out humanity. The kernel of that technology was locked in a buried military base and guarded by a class of sentries. A tyrant has found a way to unleash it while trapping Divemaster Rush and his wife Star inside. 


When he arrives, he plans to use its replicating technology to rebuild America and procure life eternal. If the crew inside can escape, they'd like to use this power for good. But what seems too good to be true may also be too late to reverse. Some wouldn't even if they could, even if what they're becoming is much like the tyrants they're fighting.

As Rush and Star fight for their lives and marriage, they discover a way to resurrect their child. If they do, will he be the one they knew? If not, how far will they go to force what shouldn't be?

Inspired by the world of Sand by Hugh Howey and written with his permission. This stand alone series injects the action of Mad Max: Fury Road into a hostile environment catered to fans of Alien. 


And really enjoy Godsknife's too:

A fleet of enlarged praying mantises has invaded Des Moines, Iowa. Swarms of cicadas are turning survivors into winged soldiers. Orchestrating the warzone is a priestess of Order, who’s pursuing godhood, and the nation of followers who’ll get her there.

Caroline’s new friendship parts the veil between reality and myth, as a recruiter of Order needs her to hide him from capture. In their escape, the boss she’s loved like a father reveals his elevator into the Abyss.

In this new world, Caroline finds a usurped god and an angry ghost eager to make her their getaway back to power. What if the person her friends will need is heartbeats away from becoming the real threat?

Crazy sci-fi is my type of sci-fi! So is the same for fantasy! Without further hesitation, let's get to the interview!

1. So, what books have you got currently out?

I released my first fantasy novel, Godsknife: Revolt this month. I wrote a duology set in Hugh Howey's world of Sand, with Scavenger: Evolution and Scavenger: A.I. 

2. What can you tell us about Scavenger A.I.?

A.I. is a direct sequel to Scavenger: Evolution. The premise for the series is sand divers search for buried cities and uncover the nanotech cause of the apocalypse. It has the feel of Alien or Mad Max: Fury Road if they went underground and uncovered more advanced technology.The cast expands in A.I. from Evolution's single viewpoint of Rush the sand diver who's recently returned to his wife after two years of grieving the loss of his infant.
In A.I. we get his wife's viewpoint as the main driving force, plus his, and a few other characters--all of which helps to root us in the turmoil of their hearts. In A.I. the nanotech is out and rapidly advancing, and Rush's wife wants to use it to resurrect their child from memory and through this new technology.

3. What can you tell us about Godsknife: Revolt?

The pitch I'm giving from my dealer table at WorldCon is giant praying mantises invade Des Moines. It's also a modern take on my love for The Gunslinger, The Stand, and Dragonlance. The cast involves players from three magic systems that have been underground long enough that most people question whether their magic ever existed. An Order priestess aims to change that in a powerplay to attract the council of the gods and earn her place among them.

A prospective college student and the well-meaning, but foolish boy who recruits her must take charge in the new war to save the world. There's also a Chaos doctor with an elevator into the Abyss, which transforms our setting into the New Weird and my version of South Korea were it to be located in another realm. While there, they have to find the godsknife and slay the god of the Abyss, or take it and run so that the Order priestess can't use it for her benefit. 
 
4. How would you describe the world of Sand Divers?

It centers on a stretch of desert east of the Rocky Mountains in a town situated between a large dune and a wall to keep the westward driven sand from burying their city. Sand divers are in a desperate search for the lost city of Danvar and the riches that might free them from their bleak existence. Those who have fled north get captured or killed by brigands who control the area most people assume is where Danvar is, and those who flee east get captured by slavers run by The Gov. 

5. What is the protagonist of Scavenger A.I. like?

Rush is concerned about the plasma that he and his wife have become addicted to, a power source produced by the Twin Suns nuclear fission reactor stored in the base they uncover. He's also concerned about the nanobots in their system and how it is changing his wife. She gets empowered by her overdose and wants to increase their abilities and opportunity to get revenge over The Gov and the other threats inside the base. She also wants to use this new power to resurrect their son. Somehow they have to survive, and neither one knows for sure how and if this technology is a help or a danger. 

6. What is the protagonist of Godsknife: Revolt?

Caroline has been stuck running her family's farm after the successive deaths of first her mother and then her father a few years ago. She has been working as an unofficial nurse's assistant at a doctor's office run by an undercover Chaos doctor. The day we meet her, she's worked up the nerve to visit Iowa State and interview for their nursing program (something I have to acknowledge doesn't exist in our world, but which does in theirs where World War III has happened and the US didn't fare well).

She meets an undercover recruiter for Order, Anthon, who is 100% behind the philosophy that Order mages can help fix the world, but is less than 100% behind his priestess and how she might be attempting that outcome. He was rescued by an Order mage early in life when his parents tried to take him and his brother into a Chaos clan. The rescue failed to get his younger brother, and if he will never find him, maybe he'll be okay with just making the world a better place for wherever his brother is. 

7. What is your favorite genre to write into and why?

I don't have a preference between writing Fantasy or Science Fiction, but I do seem to always include monsters and impacting emotional conflict between family members--husband to wife, parent to child, etc.

8. Do you think you have a theme in your writing?

I sort of alluded to it above, but yeah, most of my stories take some emotional connection from my life as a husband, father, and somewhat failed career...er. I suppose we all have areas in which we feel like we've failed an opportunity and must push on regardless, but sometimes it feels like I've been especially bad. 

9. Who are your influences?

The books I mentioned above, Dragonlance, The Gunslinger, The Stand, etc. Dragonlance was a magical discovery that connected me from being an elementary school reader to novels and that I didn't have to play video games or just watch TV to get an adventure. Stephen King was the next level of maturity up from there. I love how his books get weird but also have such engaging characters. That's how I'd like to focus on my novels. For Dragonlance, I'd like to build the party of imperfect warriors that bring the readers along for the adventure, but in a modern setting.

10. What can we expect from you in the future?

I am now trying to pick up where I left off with two years ago when I wrote Godsknife: Revolt. Time to get that sequel written.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON is now available on Kindle


Hey folks,

Great news! I didn't expect it to be released so soon but Crossroad Press (and specifically, it's Macabre Ink division) has released STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON this week. STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON if you remember is my horror comedy urban fantasy novel series where I attempt to send up the supernatural the way I did comics in the Supervillainy Saga.

Peter Stone is a poor black vampire who is wondering where his nightclub, mansion, and sports car is. Instead, he is working a minimum wage job during the night shift as being a vampire isn’t all that impressive in a world where they’ve come out to mortals.
 

Exiled from the rich and powerful undead in New Detroit, he is forced to go back when someone dumps a newly-transformed vampire in the bathroom of his gas station’s store. This gets him fangs-deep in a plot of vampire hunters, supernatural revolutionaries, and a millennium-old French knight determined to wipe out the supernatural.
 

Sometimes, it just doesn’t pay to get out of the coffin.

I hope people will pick up a copy!

Available for purchase here

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Fallout 4: Far Harbor review


    All Hail Atom! Atom is life! For when he is split, he unleashes immense power in every direction for which has created this irradiated world! *Ahem* Sorry, I got the opportunity to join the Children of the Atom cult which I have always felt was one of the best elements of Fallout 3 (as well as criminally underused). I likened them to the Servants of the Mushroom Cloud from the original Wasteland and consider them quintessentially Fallout despite not having been incorporated into the setting until Bethesda got a hold of them.

A lovely little radioactive town on the coast.
    Honestly, the lack of Atom content was one of my biggest disappointments about Fallout 4 after its awful dialogue system plus the changes to the skill tree. Okay, it wasn't even in my top five biggest disappointments but it was in the top fifteen. Making the Children of the Atom one of the major factions of Far Harbor wins definite points with me and it is one of the reasons I'm playing this DLC at all.

    Disturbingly, after finishing Fallout 4, I discovered I didn't really have any desire to continue. The game was a 10/10 but it felt like it was finished after the Institute took over/was destroyed with no real reason for the Sole Survivor to continue his wandering. Unlike the Lone Wanderer, the Sole Survivor never really felt like a scourge of evil and struck me as the sort of guy who'd settle down. Maybe because the game encouraged me to buy a dozen houses for him and his polyamorous companions.

The fog is beautiful and deadly. Amazing effect.
    The premise of the DLC is Nick Valentine, your lovable noir detective robot buddy, has been contacted by an old friend whose daughter has gone missing. Kasumi has had vivid dreams of being experimented on and believes herself to be a Synth. Journeying to the real-life island of Bar Harbor, now known as Far Harbor due to the B-sign wearing away, the Sole Survivor discovers an island irradiated by a permanent fog. Worse, the island is divided between three hostile factions ready to tear each other apart.

    In a very real way, Far Harbor is miniature version of the main game with the options of trying to achieve peace between the three factions or eliminating those factions which you don't like. There's the Synth-populated Accadia, the aforementioned Children of Atom, and the Harbormen who are simple fishermen in an unclean world. The developers at Bethesda outdo themselves as all of these factions have a history not only of inhabiting the island but also interacting with one another.

Mirelurks really fit the setting.
The Harbormen have inhabited the island the longest but the radiation on the island has gotten to the point they can't survive there without specialized equipment from Accadia. The Children of the Atom, by contrast, thrive in radiation but are run by a power-mad religious cultist. Accadia just wants to be accepted by humans but the Harbormen (good) loathe androids while the Cult of Atom (evil) accepts them.

    As in Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4, you have the option of traveling to each of the factions and learning what they're about. Really, I'm actually kind of disappointed with how entertaining each faction is because I can't help but think this could have been made into a full-blown game. They could have done Fallout 4: Far Harbor and sold it in stores since it would have been pretty damn good. There's great NPCs, dialogue, writing, and some genuine moral dilemmas about the ends justifying the means.


     The island is also populated with a large number of new monsters, including walking carp and hermit crabs which carry buses on their back. There's a definite fishing theme to the monsters and that works well for Fallout.

     The scaling is akin to Point Lookout in that a lot of the monsters have ridiculous damage reduction designed solely to make it so end-game content users can have a challenge. It's not quite as bad where Swamp Folk and Punga Tribals were shrugging off things which would obliterate Super Mutants but it's still noticeable.

    The island is also populated with a large number of new monsters, including walking carp and hermit crabs which carry buses on their back. The scaling is akin to Point Lookout in that a lot of the monsters have ridiculous damage reduction designed solely to make it so end-game content users can have a challenge. It's not quite as bad where Swamp Folk and Punga Tribals were shrugging off things which would obliterate Super Mutants but it's still damn noticeable.

Can you find the secrets of the mist?
    Far Harbor Island is notably the largest landmass ever produced for an expansion pack, another reason why I wish they'd just made it into its own separate game. Much like The Witcher 3's Blood and Wine, there's a point where Expansions really should just be video games in their own right as sequels have a right to be released as is.

    The setting is beautiful with the radioactive fogs actually dangerous and the beautiful forests being spooky in a way which is reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft's writings. It is a Gothic New England island that is home to all manner of horrors and creatures which our hero may deal with. Indeed, the fogs invoke Stephen King's The Mist very well with every corner potentially holding some other sort of horror.
 
    Character-wise I think the Far Harbor residents and Dima are the most interesting. The Far Harbor folk really do invoke a fishing village in the future, trying to stubbornly cling to a life they long ago left behind. Dima, by contrast, is a prototype of the same model as Nick Valentine but re-envisioned as a kind of Synth messiah who rejects the Railroad's practice of brainwashing Synths into believing they're human. The interactions between Dima and Nick are quite good, which makes me glad I brought him to Far Harbor. I also love the Longshoreman, who is perhaps what happens when you have a player character who survives until old age--too badass to die.

A really fun little Vault.
    I'm also pleased to say Far Harbor does what no other expansion has done and includes a Vault. Vault 118 contains a parlor room mystery where the Sole Survivor must solve a murder committed by one of the 200-year-old robots living inside the luxury accommodations present.

     It's a hilarious and somewhat tragic story as Vault 118 is one of the few successful Vaults but it preserved a bunch of rich jerks. On the other hand, they're a bunch of entertaining narcissistic jerks and I think the entire thing is meant to make fun of the Sierra Madre adventure in Fallout: New Vegas: Dead Money. All of the actors and drama are here but they stumble over each other trying to be terrifying.

     Overall, I think this is probably one of the best expansions Fallout has ever produced but there is one major flaw. In the middle of the game there's an extremely annoying puzzle which feels like something out of Minecraft rather than Fallout. You have to move blocks around and build little machines to fight off attacking robots rather than fight them yourself. It's incredibly boring, frustratingly irritating, and takes far too long. Worse, it's essential to the plot and can't be skipped. I have to remove a point from the game for it. Otherwise, this is an amazing little game and I recommend it to all Fallout 4 players.

9/10