3 Lists of 3 Cosmic Horror

Uncle Geekly’s trying something a little different with this week’s 3 List of 3. Let’s break down what makes a certain subgenre what it is and then list a few forms of media that do a good to great job of representing the subgenre.

We’ll start with cosmic horror, or Lovecraftian horror, or Cthulhu horror. I prefer the term cosmic horror because it’s not specific to the writer H. P. Lovecraft (who popularized the mode in the early 20th century) or his creation Cthulhu and focuses more on the concept of something larger or greater than mankind. Something that reaches beyond the stars and shows us how small man is and that mankind’s role in the universe is minor one.

There have been many waves of cosmic horror, several that predate Lovecraft, so we’ll cover what makes the horror cosmic.

What is Cosmic Horror?


An Unnamable Horror

 I know that I just said that I prefer the term cosmic horror to Lovecraftian horror, but he did write in the mode a lot, and his work has laid the groundwork for future writers and other storytellers, so I’m starting with a quote from one of his short stories.

 From H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Unnamable”

“No—it wasn’t that way at all. It was everywhere—a gelatin—a slime—yet it had shapes, a thousand shapes of horror beyond all memory. There were eyes—and a blemish. It was the pit—the maelstrom—the ultimate abomination. Carter, it was the unnamable.”

This description goes in several directions. It starts with some explainable forms “a gelatin, a slime, eyes, and a blemish,” but even these bounce from one aspect to another, never settling on anything for long. Then it shifts to something less tangible. “A thousand shapes of horror beyond all memory. It was the pit—the maelstrom—the ultimate abomination.” And finally, it becomes a concept: the unnamable.

Readers aren’t supposed to know what the being is or what it looks like because the speaker can’t comprehend the being. The unnamable may as well be “the unknowable.” It’s far above humans and could crush them by stepping on them—that is if it had feet—and this feeds into man’s fear of the unknown.

It also feeds into the literary idea of the sublime, or the awe inspiring, and that’s probably why one could place the birth of cosmic horror in the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment is when humanity reordered its place in the cosmos (with its thinking, for example Immanuel Kant); it gave birth to Romantic poetry and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein.

The sublime often ventures into the grotesque and in Frankenstein “The Creature’s” horrific outward appearance gets dwarfed only by how grotesque people treat the outsider. Man is trapped, unable to perceive something other or greater than himself, but at the same time, Dr. Frankenstein plays with things he’s not supposed to, and that’s another tenet of good cosmic horror: explore what man isn’t supposed to know.

Phew. Enough of that. Let’s get back to post 18th century.


Horror, not Fantasy

Horror versus fantasy rests at the center of why I don’t like using the term Lovecraftian horror. Most people use the term Lovecraftian fiction and that ignores a different subgenre branch: cosmic fantasy.

Sure. Cosmic fantasy dabbles with horror elements—the unknowable and powerful is innately scary—but while cosmic fantasy beings like the Endless from Neil Gailman’s Sandman could and may kill you if they wanted, the evil entity that sometimes appears as Pennywise the Dancing Clown from Stephen King’s IT will kill you with a smile on its face.

It’s an issue of malevolence versus benevolence or at least malevolence versus ambiguous or ambivalent. Come to think of it, I may have to do a writeup of cosmic fantasy too. Hmm.

Why Visual Mediums Struggle with Cosmic Horror

Okay. I cheated and included a why instead of a what, but it’s an important why. Movies, comics, and other visual mediums struggle at times depicting cosmic horror because the power of these beings come from the fact that they’re unknowable or unnamable.

As soon as a movie shows what the monster or creature looks like, they lose some—or all—of their power. There are a few modern examples of visual mediums getting it right and I’ll showcase some of them in the coming lists.




The Netflix original movie Birdbox sidesteps revealing its otherworldly beings by showing what they make people do. When people gaze upon the creatures in this film, they want to commit suicide in the fastest, most brutal way possible. If someone had mental issues before the creatures arrived, they’ll want to show people their true beauty, the awe inspiring, the sublime.

The most viewers see of the creatures in Birdbox comes from drawings by some of the people who want to show others their beauty. Not only does this eschew large production costs, it allows these creatures to retain their power. It’s effective, but not the only way to make this point.


The Thing

John Carpenter’s The Thing shows movie goers its monster throughout most of its run time, but this being retains its power because it can assume any form: animals, humans, even inanimate objects. If something can have any form, it has no form. This adds to the film’s tension. Is a character talking to their friend, or The Thing?

The practical special effects may bring The Thing to life in gory detail, but the uncertainty it brings gives it its power.


Event Horizon

Event Horizon may look out of place with the rest of the entries here because its characters don’t face an unknown as much as being thrust into hell. But is the black hole in this movie a scientific anomaly or a gateway to pure evil?

Regardless, the characters can’t understand what’s happening to them or comprehend their fate and they fear the unknown, which again, is at the heart of any good cosmic horror. They suffer their greatest pain and fear and that causes the evil in Event Horizon to take many shapes and forms.

Print Media


The Shining

I could go with the aforementioned IT, but I prefer Stephen King’s The Shining. Yes. This story could also be classified as psychological horror, a ghost story, or a Gothic novel, but it also makes a compelling cosmic horror tale. The spirits and what drive them go beyond the mortal plane, even if Jack’s alcoholism and anger feed into his homicidal tendencies. The Shining doesn’t attempt to answer why the Overlook wants to relive past trauma.

King is perhaps the best-known writer of this group and several of his novels and short stories could be classified as cosmic horror.



I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest Junji Ito fan, but Uzumaki—as does most of his other work—meets all the criteria of a cosmic horror story. An unforeseen force (similar to a curse) infects the people of Kurōzu-cho (or Black Vortex Town). They become obsessed with spirals or paranoid of them. One citizen even kills himself by bending his body into a spiral. Uzumaki has a knack for the grotesque and many people focus on Ito’s sublime and haunting images, but the pattern that makes it a cosmic horror story is the one where the people of Kurōzu-cho are doomed to repeat a cycle of the town collapsing under the spiral curse, only to be reborn.

It’s fascinating when one thinks of how important and positive many of the images and symbols that Uzumaki (Japanese for spiral) subverts. Spirals appear in comedies and represent warmth in manga. The same cannot be said of Uzumaki.


Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe

Oh. It’s time to go further down the weird spiral. Some literary critics classify Thomas Ligotti’s work as weird fiction, but his 1986 short story collection Songs of a Dead Dreamer and 1991’s Grimscribe: His Lives and Works are some of the closest we’ll get to true, modern cosmic horror. Penguin books republished these stories as one tome Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe and that’s what I’ve included in this list. They’re must reads for people interested in this subgenre.

The force that contaminates a town in “The Shadow at the Bottom of the World” would make Cthulhu smile—if he could smile—and Ligotti references Lovecraft by name in “The Sect of the Idiot.” Unlike many other creative forces on this list, there’s a sense of authority to Ligotti’s work. While others play in a cosmic horror sandbox, he lives it and shares what he finds.

Like so many others of these lists I could keep going. One of our commenters Levi mentioned Jeff VanderMeer’s The Southern Reach Trilogy (which is the basis for the movie Annihilation) and that in part, triggered this 3 List of 3. I have yet to read The Southern Reach Trilogy or watch Annihilation, but a lot of VanderMeer’s other work could qualify as weird fiction (like Ligotti’s work) or cosmic horror. I’m in the middle of reading VanderMeer’s Wonderbook (a writer’s guide); it looks like I may have some more reading in my future and that’s not a bad thing.

What are some of your favorite cosmic horror writers, directors, or artists? I’m okay with you mentioning them in comments but try not to invoke their name more than twice. I don’t want a portal to open on my computer; my ethernet cable isn’t fully insulated.

Video Game Players Only Want Multiplayer Games

I’m not sure if this has come up or not in the past several years Uncle Geekly’s been doing this blog, but your uncle dislikes absolutes, so I’m being facetious with this writeup’s title. Okay. Maybe video games and what players want isn’t serious enough of a topic to warrant me calling it facetious, but it’s an important topic for geeks.

Anyway. Any absolute like this title is inherently flawed. One can’t make a blanket statement about a large group of people or things, because there are many exceptions to the norm. The title derives from video game publisher Electronic Arts (EA) insisting that video game fans only want multiplayer experiences, but they’re doing so by saying that players don’t want games with a linear story, and if one looks at their recent track record, EA seldom publishes single-player games with linear stories.

Electronic Arts has been making games for decades. They’ve seen the video game climate change over the course of those years, and the comment EA makes every time they cancel a Star Wars game with a linear story or character driven game in the past decade or so is that players don’t want a single-player experience.

EA’s Patrick Soderlund illustrates the company’s attitude by stating in his blog “Our Visceral Studio has been developing an action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe. In its current form, it was shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game. Throughout the development process, we have been testing the game concept with players, listening to the feedback about what and how they want to play, and closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace. It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come. We needed to pivot the design.”


Let’s look beyond the fact that some Visceral Studio employees lost their jobs—Soderlund also stated that EA would shift as many Visceral Studio employees over to other projects as they could, which means that they didn’t do that for all their employees—and get to what Soderlund, speaking for EA, is saying. On the surface, it may sound to players as if EA wants to make games that resonate with players and grant players years of replay value but consider the source. Soderlund is a video game executive. He’s talking about monetization and making games that run like a service.

Do you think that I’m making a little bit of a leap there? Maybe, but EA has a long history of making great single-player, linear story games (Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Deep Space). They even have a long history of producing great linear story Star Wars games that are single-player like Knights of the Old Republic and the Jedi Knight series, so EA has plenty of research to suggest the contrary to what Soderlund said. Players do want linear story, character-driven games, especially ones set in the Star Wars universe.


EA’s 2018 release A Way Out reinforces that players want single-player, linear story, character-driven games. A Way Out sold as many copies (200,000 for about $1 million) in one week as EA thought it would sell in the entire fiscal year. The truth is that EA wants players to only want multiplayer games. A single-player linear story game needs to have a finite ending to be satisfying. If that’s the case, players won’t purchase skins or weapons for a character when they’ve already beaten the game, unless they plan to play the game a second time.

I get it on some level. AAA games cost a lot of money to make, so publishers want to watch their bottom line and produce games that can bring in consistent money over a long period of time, games like the ones Soderlund mentioned in his blog “experiences that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come.” But let’s cut EA a break—sort of—and say that they don’t understand that there is more than one video game audience.


If EA knew there was more than one video game audience, they may not have released Apex Legends at the beginning of February 2019 when Anthem was scheduled for release later the same month. They’re both solely online games that will attract a similar audience. Video game companies can’t predict what another studio will do, but they can space out similar releases from their own stable of games. That’s why video game companies need single-player games as much as they do multiplayer games.

Some players like multiplayer games, almost exclusively; others prefer single-player games. I dig both game types, but I lean toward single-player experiences. Variety is paramount. EA can, and should, offer great multiplayer and single-player games. I’d hate to see the publisher behind classics like Mass Effect and Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic never make another single-player, linear story, character-driven game. It’s single-player games like the ones EA has produced in the past that lead some to accept video games as art, or at the very least, examples of incredible storytelling.

Do you agree or disagree that gamers still want single-player experiences with linear stories? Do you think EA and other companies like it are off-base with their assessment of the video game market? Let us know in the comments.

My Favorite Game Mechanisms: Dinosaur Island

Yes. Uncle Geekly picked up Dinosaur Island this past Christmas, and I’ve had some time to get in several plays. For the uninitiated or the ones who don’t remember what I said about Dinosaur Island in the past, it’s a tabletop game where players compete for visitors by building their own Jurassic Park. The premise is solid gold.

Each individual game mechanism has been seen in other games, but Dinosaur Island does a fantastic job of combining mechanisms that mimic what they’re supposed to mimic. The research and development section functions like the players exploring which dinosaurs they can recreate. Players can take a risk—increasing the dinosaur threat level—by taking a die that yields larger research results or they could take a safer route and set a foundation for gaining research points over time. It’s slower, but more reliable. The building of dinosaur pins and dinosaur husbandry—is that a thing?—functions the way one would think they would. Does one build the pins and reproduce dinos to get more visitors in one’s park before building adequate security? Players can, but is it wise?


The dinosaur figures don’t hurt the fun factor, but the resource management of where to place workers to get the best effect and where to place visitors so they yield the highest reward are other moments where Dinosaur Island shines. There’s just enough luck introduced so there’s a chance for players to catch a runaway winner, but Dinosaur Island is first and foremost a strategy game. A player who deploys a better strategy tends to win more often than those who don’t.

Each game mechanism—worker placement, tile placement, set collection, and an action point allowance system—behaves like its own mini game. Dinosaur Island could even be viewed as a series of mini games. But Dinosaur Island’s whole is far greater than any single part. That makes describing the game difficult or zeroing in on any specific part as a favorite tough. I like how Jonathan Gilmour and Brian Lewis combine these elements, so they make a tasty blend.


There are plenty of other games that throw in a lot of mechanisms (First Martians comes to mind), but the individual pieces feel like a board game version of doing your taxes. Dinosaur Island doesn’t feel that way. The elements make sense for what the players are doing and the strategy, while difficult to master, is easy to see. Players will know why they won or lost and how they may be able to improve. Plenty of games offer hodgepodges of gaming mechanisms, but few of those games deliver a great experience like Dinosaur Island.

What are your favorite elements of Dinosaur Island? Have you ever played a game without humming the Jurassic Park theme? Uncle Geekly hasn’t, even when I play a solo game. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Wonder Woman Starter Stories

The first lady of comic books Wonder Woman has had an odd history, both in terms of how she came to be and with the path, or more exactly, the paths she’s taken. Hi. Uncle Geekly here and while I could address Wonder Woman’s creation story, we’ll spend today covering some of the greatest Wonder Woman stories for readers new to comic books.

Believe me. There are so many origin stories for Wonder Woman that Greg Rucka in his latest Wonder Woman run addressed them in DC Rebirth (2016-2017). That story just missed the cut, but it’d be a great honorable mention for this list, and I recommend reading that one too if you have the time. Let’s get to the ones that did make the list.


Wonder Woman Chronicles Vol 1. (written by Dr. William Martson/art by Harry G. Peter; 1941-1942)

The writing is dated but Wonder Woman Chronicles Vol. 1 collects the original appearances of Wonder Woman in chronological order, so Steve Trevor makes an appearance–perhaps too much of one. Despite a shaky beginning, this volume shows how Wonder Woman promoted female empowerment long before it became commonplace. Heck. Wonder Woman was the first female superhero and while her origins may be humble (Diana takes on the name Wonder Woman because her mother gives it to her and she does a lot of what she does for Steve, a man she just met), these stories laid the ground work for an icon.


Wonder Woman ‘77 (written by various/art by various; 2015-2016)

Following the success of the Batman ’66 series that chronicled the continuing story of the 1966-68 television series starring Adam West and Burt Ward, DC Comics did the same for the 1975-79 Wonder Woman television series that starred Lynda Carter with Wonder Woman ’77.

Initial writer Marc Andreyko wanted to use “under-appreciated” Wonder Woman rogues and include them in the series, since the television series’ limited budget didn’t allow from them. As a result, classic Wonder Woman villains like Cheetah, Silver Swan, and Doctor Psycho received the Wonder Woman TV treatment they never had and Andreyko does such a great job including them that folks won’t remember that they were never in the original series—or maybe they will.

Anyway, Wonder Woman ’77 is a great series for fans of the Lynda Carter TV show or for people who may have missed the original show and don’t want to sit through the dated special effects and again, dated writing. This series does a great job of cleaning up some of the television show’s shortcomings.


Gods and Mortals (written by George Perez and Len Wien/art by George Perez; 1987)

Gods and Mortals is a quintessential Wonder Woman story. After Marston’s Golden Age run and Crisis on Infinite Earths, the quality of Wonder Woman was—how to do I put this kindly—a mixed bag. George Perez relaunched the Wonder Woman title and he abandoned Diana as a marginalized member of the JLA’s boy’s club. He took Diana back to her feminist roots and made Steve Trevor and Etta Candy (one of Wonder Woman’s closest friends) rich and layered characters. Perez deployed a sense of fatalistic realism as the Amazons put themselves in a self-imposed exile after Queen Hippolyta (Diana’s mother) was put into bondage and raped by Hercules.

As you can see, Gods and Mortals took risks that many in the comics world would’ve taken at the time, but the end result was Diana standing on her own, apart from the Justice Society and Justice League. She didn’t need the male pantheon for support, and it was Gods and Mortals that made Greek gods regular characters in Wonder Woman stories.


Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth (written by Paul Dini/art by Alex Ross; 2001)

Paul Dini of Batman: The Animated Series fame crafts an understated moment between Diana and Clark Kent having coffee and swapping tales. Artist Alex Ross does a great job rendering these moments of Clark and Diana enjoying each other’s company one instant and the Amazonian Warrior lifting tanks, taking on armies, and fighting for women’s rights the next. Spirit of Truth may only come in at 64 pages, but it captures what makes Wonder Woman an endearing character.


Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia (written by Greg Rucka/art by Drew Johnson, Eric Shanower, and Brian Stelfreeze; 2003)

The Hiketeia takes an intriguing look at the ancient idea of justice in the modern world. When Diana meets Danielle Wellys, Danielle evokes the ancient rite of Hiketeia and bonds herself to Diana as Diana’s supplicant. In return, Diana must ensure Danielle’s protection, but little does Diana know that Danielle has been on a murder spree to avenge her slain sister. Danielle’s actions attract the attention of the Furies of Greek myth, seeking vengeance for the victims, and Batman.

Batman and Wonder Woman’s views on justice differ as Diana marries fairness with justice. The Hiketeia does a great job showing how two thirds of DC’s trinity interact as they have a respectful but adversarial relationship.


Wonder Woman: Down to Earth (written by Greg Rucka/art by Drew Johnson, Eric Shanower, and Brian Stelfreeze; 2004)

Down to Earth is an unconventional superhero story as Wonder Woman doesn’t stop villains or save the world; she shares her ideals in a book of essays and others try to tear down her philosophies. A lot of this backlash originates with the mysterious Veronica Cale—who functions like a female Lex Luthor—and she pulls all kinds of strings that make Diana’s life difficult. The book even creates tension in Mount Olympus with the gods, which doesn’t end well for Wonder Woman in the long run.

Down to Earth is another great story by Greg Rucka, and it does a lot to set up many of the events in his excellent four year run of Wonder Woman.


Wonder Woman: The New 52 (written by Brian Azzarello/art by Cliff Chiang; 2012-2015)

Brian Azzarello’s run on Wonder Woman: The New 52 was amazing. It embraces Diana’s Greek mythological roots and bends these same classic Greek myths, turning them into something new and exciting. Every step of the way you’ll stop and think that’s so Hades or that’s so Poseidon and Diana the daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus fits right in. The ending doesn’t disappoint. I won’t ruin it here, but Azzarello does a great job of pacing and taking what makes these characters who they are—both Greek myth and comic book characters—and blends them together seamlessly.

That’s my list for readers who are new to Wonder Woman comics. There are so many to choose from—decades after decades in fact—and I’m sure I missed more than one, two, or five hundred. Be sure to list some in comments. I’m sure Jim will prefer your picks to mine.

3 Lists of 3 Anime: Take 1

Your uncle Geekly may not be Anime Season, but he’s spent some time watching anime over the years and it may be time to share some anime for people who don’t watch anime and want to know where to begin. This may become a series of 3 Lists of 3, but it’ll differ somewhat from our typical For Starters series. A) I won’t go into too much detail, but I may break this rule on more than one occasion. B) I also want to take genres that people may be familiar with and share a few titles that could match one’s interests. Anime has a massive range of genres and subgenres and one can get lost trying to find something one likes. Think of this series of lists as if you like “fill-in-the-blank,” you may also like this title.

Disclaimer: Uncle Geekly refuses to take responsibility if you don’t like a series on one of these lists, even if you like the genre. Direct all complaints to the comments.


Superhero TV shows and movies dominate. Superhero novels—not graphic novels or comic books, but actual novels—infiltrate book stores, so this is a good place to start with this 3 List of 3.


My Hero Academia

On the surface My Hero Academia looks like standard superhero fare, but it takes an interesting turn or two and it holds a special cultural significance that few anime in any of these lists possess (more on that in a bit).

The superheroes of My Hero Academia have government and/or corporate sponsors. While I’ve seen government sponsored hero work in western superhero stories, I haven’t seen as many corporations backing superhero work. The inclusion of a capitalistic view on superheroes results in different motivations for each character. Some detest the commercialization of superhero work and push back, while others are only in it for the money. Viewers are sure to find a character, or two, they can relate to. There are even some heroes who only go into the business because of a family legacy or their families force them into the business.

The cultural significance comes in the form of taking risks or overcoming risk aversion. A lot of Japan is risk averse. For every great quote like Miyamoto’s “A delayed game is eventually good, a rushed game is bad forever” there are ones like the anonymous Nintendo executive’s “I only like to take risks if I know I’ll succeed.” If you know you’ll succeed, you’re not taking a risk. My Hero Academia’s main character Midoriya is the least likely superhero and must take risks. This series shows that it’s okay to take risks. It’s even okay to take a risk and fail; it’s what you do after a failure that defines who you are. Midoriya always gets back up—eventually—and younger Japanese generations are taking this lesson to heart.


One Punch Man

I struggled with putting One Punch Man on this list. It toes the line between parody and satire. On one hand, it’s the anime equivalent of the 1990s animated Tick. There are so many references to anime tropes and inside jokes that new anime viewers may not catch half of them. On the other hand, it takes a critical look at the all-powerful superhero and how lonely and boring their life must be if they’re never challenged—kind of an earthlier version of Watchmen’s Dr. Manhattan. Does a lack of a struggle lead to apathy?

As the title implies main character Saitama can beat anyone with one punch. The superheroes in this title are government sponsored—yay, that again—and they obtain rank through a government program. Despite being able to beat enemies with one punch, Saitama is a lower rank than most other heroes. Effort goes a long way and Saitama views fighting as a bore.

No one can beat Saitama, and how did he obtain this power? A daily routine of 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and a 10KM run (which is a little under six and a quarter miles). That’s a good to great daily workout, but it hardly explains why he can beat people with a single punch. It’s hilarious and it does little to explain his hair loss (I’d like to know how to avoid that, asking for a friend), but it also shows how little Saitama exerts himself to achieve his goal of becoming a superhero. He possesses natural ability and it begs the question if one doesn’t have to struggle to obtain a goal, is the goal worthwhile?

But hey, One Punch Man is hilarious. Having a supervillain monologue for five minutes only to have Saitama take him down with one punch is great to watch, even if he can do it every time.



Claymore is the one title in this list of 3 that won’t be for everyone. To be fair, most if not all the anime on these lists won’t be for everyone, but Claymore caters to a very specific comic book fan. Here’s looking at you, Buffy, Blade, and Morbius the Living Vampire fan boys and girls.

The titular claymores fight yoma, who are shape-shifting beings akin to ogres that feed on human flesh and blood. Claymores are only female and are created by cutting open these young women and implanting them with the flesh of another claymore or the flesh of a yoma. This horrifying process conjures a lot of images and can lead to plenty of interpretations. I won’t share mine here, but after you’ve seen the process of making a claymore, you’ll have a reaction.

The Claymore series follows Clare, the newest and lowest member of the group, as she travels from town to town fighting yoma. As she uncovers more of the mysteries surrounding the Organization (the ones behind the claymores), she becomes less inclined to follow this path. Of all the main characters from the anime in this list, Clare is the most reluctant hero. If that’s something that interests you, you should give Claymore a try. Claymore also does a great job of depicting a hero who partly becomes that which they hate and in turn, how that choice causes them to question with their own humanity.



I’m cheating here a little bit, but I had to include Heroman as an honorable mention in this list because it was co-created by the late, great Stan Lee and features Stan Lee in anime form. We need more anime Stan Lee.

Firefly Fans

I’m amazed by how many anime could fill the void left by Firefly. In fact, Firefly borrows more than a little from some of these anime. Firefly can trace some of its influences back to at least a couple of the anime on this upcoming list—particularly the first two that came out five to seven years prior—so if a single season, one movie, and a few comic book series aren’t enough Firefly for you, you should try one or two of the following anime.


Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop had to make this list. Spike and company avoid the inner planets’ predominant government and travel the edge of the universe, collecting bounties. Along the way they befriend fugitives with hearts of gold and build their own makeshift family. Yep. That’s pretty much the Firefly formula, and Cowboy Bebop doesn’t take itself too seriously to boot.

Cowboy Bebop is one of the most respected anime of all time and a lot of that comes from series director and creator Shinichirō Watanabe beginning his writing process with the characters. Watanabe wanted the series to be character-driven and he had a definitive ending for Cowboy Bebop early on, citing that he didn’t want Cowboy Bebop to be like Star Trek, something he’d be tied with doing for the rest of his life.

Sometimes the best things in life are finite. The rarer something is the more valuable it becomes and speaking of rare, Cowboy Bebop is in rarified air. Each episode plays like its own mini-movie and that was another concept adopted by Joss Whedon’s Firefly.


Outlaw Star

Outlaw Star never received the critical or commercial success of Cowboy Bebop because it didn’t do enough to break away from a few clichés, but it’s still a series with some excellent moments and a good fit for folks who can’t get enough Firefly.

Again, we have a ship of misfits traveling the edges of the universe and avoiding the chaotic law of four governments, but this time the governments are weak, at best, and at war. Captain Gene and company must take on odd jobs to fund the ridiculous maintenance costs of the titular Outlaw Star spaceship. This, again, tracks with Firefly.

A bio-android Melfina is the only being capable of interfacing with the ship, but her past is shrouded in mystery, she doesn’t know why she exists, besides to pilot the Outlaw Star, and she has fragmented memories that reveal that she does have a higher purpose and greater abilities. Melfina’s character is like River Tam’s as she looks as if she’s 18, acts like she’s a young child, and the first Outlaw Star captain steals her away from one of the governments—that had bigger plans for her—in an oversized suitcase. Yep. That is, for the most part, River’s backstory, except she’s not an android—or is she?.

But that may be where the similarities end. Captain Gene resembles Captain Kirk if Kirk suffered from space sickness. Seriously, he sleeps with any alien with appropriate parts, but he must use a barf bag each time the Outlaw Star launches. That must be one of my favorite Outlaw Star ongoing gags, but Outlaw Star succumbs to these gags and that may be the chief reason it doesn’t get as much love. It’s not a long series and worth a try.


Space Dandy

The anime in this list have gone from serious with a touch of comedy to comedy with few serious themes. Space Dandy is first and foremost a parody of Firefly and other sci-fi shows. The titular Dandy, an alien bounty hunter who is “a dandy guy in space” explores the universe for rare aliens, so Space Dandy shares a lot with Star Trek if the crew of the USS Enterprise were imbeciles. Dandy and his crew (his robot assistant QT and feline-like friend Meow) have the best intentions, but they’re dimwitted and often make situations worse.

Space Dandy has loose continuity at best, since many episodes will feature Dandy, QT, and Meow getting trapped in another dimension or turned into zombies, only to see them back to normal the next episode with little to no explanation. There are plenty of references to older science fiction properties as well as ones for internet culture. Be ready for some dank Space Dandy memes, dudes.


Cyberpunk dominated the small and big screens in the 80s and 90s with Total Recall, Blade Runner, and 12 Monkeys to name a few. The subgenre slithered its way to Japan, resulting in cyberpunk as one of anime’s favorite subgenres. Me thinks there will be more than three to this list.


Ghost in the Shell

I had to start with this one. Major is the face of anime cyberpunk. Set in the future and blessed with high technology where cybernetic bodies (shells) become the norm the world of Ghost in the Shell still suffers from rising crime rates, and a new type of crime—cyber warfare—is given birth. Yes. Ghost in the Shell warned against cyber warfare before it was cool. Elusive hacktivist Puppet Master leads the Security Police Section 9 (the unit Major works for) into a corrupt political and corporate underbelly.

Stunning animation aside, Ghost in the Shell explores self-identity and procreation by means of mechanical replication. It shines a light on a society that prioritizes technological advancement without considering social issues. Some of these issues haunt Japan today. In Japan, there is a growing concern that some would rather reproduce by means of androids or pleasure themselves with robots instead of propagating the species. Japan’s recent population decline further fuels these concerns.

Ghost in the Shell is not only one of the greatest anime of all time, it’s a great science fiction experience and a great place to start for cyberpunk fans. Even though the series are great, I’d start with the original film.



Akira is another quintessential cyberpunk anime. Based in a 2019 dystopian Neo-Tokyo, Akira follows a teenage biker Tetsuo and his biker gang leader Shotaro Kaneda. Tetsuo’s psychic abilities may flirt with fantasy, but Akira’s setting and themes scream cyberpunk. Gang warfare and social inequality based on technological advancement abound.

Even non-anime fans know of Akira. This 90s anime phenomena raised the West’s awareness of the artform, and Akira has influenced a lot of live action movies outside of Japan that include The Matrix and Stranger Things. Tetsuo does have killer psychic abilities after all.


The Bubblegum Universe

The Bubblegum Universe (Bubblegum Crisis, A.D. Police Files, Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, and Parasite Dolls) ran off and on between 1987 and 2003, so it predates the other two entries—so far—on the cyberpunk anime list. Bubblegum Crisis is perhaps the best and most well-known of this bunch and it tells the story of an all-female group of mercenaries the Knight Sabers powered by exoskeletons. They fight rogue robots and if Iron Man is the Elvis of high-tech exoskeletons, the ladies of Bubblegum Crisis are the Ramones. Hey. Ho. Let’s go.

Bubblegum Crisis blends cyberpunk with a crime drama and even adds a splash of superheroes for good measure. It’s also one of the most visually stunning anime of the 80s. While cyberpunk tends to lean toward the dark and grim, the Knight Sabers and AD Police give it a positive spin.



I told you that I’d sneak in another one on this list. Psycho-Pass is essentially Minority Report if the police used brain scans to determine whether someone will commit a crime or not instead of precognition. That said, Japan becomes one of the safest countries, but they give up some personal liberties in order to institute the Sybil system (the same system that determines if you can commit a crime), but the Sybil system can be manipulated and often is. Psycho-Pass shows a society where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the individual and presents a world where people are more likely to die from stress than criminal activity.

I know that I said I would stop with three, but there are too many great anime out there, especially cyberpunk anime, and at least I didn’t mention Battle Angel Alita—except that I just did and you should watch Battle Angel Alita before thinking about watching the Alita movie. The anime only ran for two episodes and it’s another great example of how society breaks down as a consequence of technological advances. A future where the have-nots must rummage through the refuse of the haves. Okay. I’m done; I promise.


I hope there are plenty of anime in these lists for you try out. If Uncle Geekly got something wrong, I’m sure you’ll let me know in the comments.

Underused Intellectual Properties in Tabletop Gaming

Not every intellectual property gets the tabletop game treatment. They can’t all be Star Wars that has hundreds of games on boardgamegeek (BGG), granted a lot of those are Star Wars skinned versions of other games, but still, there are a lot of Star Wars games to choose from. That made your uncle Geekly wonder which intellectual properties could use a tabletop game or two. Here we go.


Star Trek

You know how I said that there are a lot Star Wars games out there. The same can’t be said of Star Trek. What’s worse is that most Star Trek games that are on the market are little more than rethemed Star Wars games. Now, I’m a little fuzzy, so perhaps someone can help me, but are Star Wars and Star Trek so similar that they’re interchangeable?

Yeah, that pissed off some fans. I don’t believe they are, but the real issue is that board game companies don’t seem to see a difference between Wars and Trek.

doctor who

Doctor Who

This is another overlooked intellectual geek culture property, and I’m not sure why. Sure, there’s an RPG and a handful of licensed games like Yahtzee with a TARDIS and a Dalek as the dice cup out there, but the time travel of Doctor Who is prime for some interesting game mechanisms that could bring certain game types into the 21st century.


Literary Board Games

Board games have been turning to books lately for inspiration. The Cthulhu mythos has dominated the board game landscape for years, due its status in the public domain, but other classic works like 1984, Animal Farm, Moby Dick, and Beowulf as well as newer works like Cronin’s The Passage trilogy and Pratchett’s Discworld novels have received the board game treatment. There’s a wealth of classic works out there. Why not turn one into a game?

Why not a class/status struggle game based on Jane Austen? Or cast a gamer as Gatsby trying to impress Daisy? Or base a game on Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein? There are shockingly few games based on Frankenstein.

Horror novels have generated a lot of buzz. There’s even a game adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining, where one player assumes the role of the Torrance family and the other plays as the Overlook Hotel. You can’t tell me there isn’t at least one or two more King novels that wouldn’t make a good board game.



Yes. Some anime and manga titles have received board or card games in the past, and some of those have been pretty good, but most of the time anime fans are left with cheap knock off games. Like some other properties on this list, anime games tend to be skinned versions of other games. It says something when there are more animes about board games than there are board games about anime.

To add insult to injury, countless games use anime style art, but have nothing to do with the source material. It’s about time there was at least one or two decent anime/manga games out there.

Note: I haven’t yet played Bauza’s Attack on Titan board game. I hold out hope that it’s good. I like Attack on Titan and Bauza as a designer.



With so many horror board games doing well, why not make a game featuring Scooby Doo? Exploration and puzzle solving are huge in board gaming right now. Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy, and Scoob would make for some accessible characters for younger gamers, and older gamers would mind the link to Saturday morning cartoons.

I could’ve added more than these five, but your uncle Geekly wants to hear your thoughts. Are there any intellectual properties you’d like to see made into board games? Let us know in comments.

My Favorite Elements of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and What I Hope Will Happen in the Series Finale

Your uncle Geekly started watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend this past summer, so he’s getting to the show during its final season. It’s too bad the show is ending after four years because I’ve enjoyed most episodes, but sometimes the best shows end after short runs. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is both the CW’s most over-the-top show and its most grounded. Yeah. It’s the oddest mix. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a musical comedy, so ridiculous dancing and singing abound, and while its main character Rebecca obsesses with love and romance, the show focuses on mental health.

The most recent episode aired a couple of Fridays ago and it had a musical number about antidepressants and how more people take these medications than one might think. Seriously, this show is about destigmatizing mental health issues and making sure folks who suffer from these ailments seek help and know that they’re not alone.  This is a far different message than what most CW shows present. The majority of CW shows devolve into who is with whom as in dating or bedhopping. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has had its share of Rebecca bedhopping, but these acts feed into her mental health issues. Plenty of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend watchers subscribe to Team Greg or Team Nathaniel or even Team Josh. But I hope, for the sake of Rebecca’s wellbeing, that she ends up with no one.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against love and romance, but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has a higher calling than shipping (as in the slang for matchmaking) the main character with a specific beau. The show would betray its serious message about mental health and undercut a lot of good it’s done. I’ve seen just as many Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fans talk openly about mental health and reach out to others in need. But Rebecca choosing any of these men would end up a poor choice.

She moved to West Covina to obsess over Josh who was dating someone else and may have a touch of Peter Pan Syndrome (that’s unhealthy behavior), rebounded with Greg who has his own demons with alcoholism (another unhealthy choice) and eventually plotted revenge with Nathaniel who suffers from abandonment issues and poor social skills (yet another unhealthy choice). It’s okay if Rebecca ends up alone. Or she could leave the door open for romance if she works on her issues first. There aren’t enough episodes remaining for Rebecca to get well enough to focus on romance.

To the show’s credit, it looks as if Rebecca will choose to work on her mental health first. Sorry, folks. We’ll probably get one more push for romance between Josh and Nathaniel, but it appears as if Rebecca may go back to her first love, theater, and that’s something else Crazy Ex-Girlfriend does so well, they suggest that love comes in many forms, not just romance. Other CW shows should take notice.

What’s your favorite element of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? If you’re a fan, what do you hope will happen in the series finale? If you disagree with me, you can have Nathaniel order a hit on me, or you could leave a comment. I could be moving to Venus or Mars soon, so leaving a comment would probably be more effective.

Captain Marvel Starter Stories

Many characters have gone by the moniker Captain Marvel, so your uncle Geekly will be specific and say that the stories listed here will pertain to Carol Danvers (the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s choice for Captain Marvel). In fact, I’ll throw in some stories that predate Danvers as Captain Marvel so that new readers of the character will have a good baseline.

Wow! There’s a lot of history with both Marvel’s Captain Marvel (not to be confused with DC’s Shazam!) and Carol Danvers as a character. Let’s start with a list of Carol Danvers’ history in the Marvel universe.

As USAF Major Carol Danvers: Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (March 1968)

As Ms. Marvel: Ms. Marvel #1 (January 1977)

As Binary: The Uncanny X-Men #164 (December 1982)

As Warbird: The Avengers #4 (May 1998)

As Captain Marvel: Avenging Spider-Man #9 (July 2012)

The various individuals who have had the title Captain Marvel are many and eclectic. Here’s a quick run down of all of Marvel’s Captain Marvels.


1) Mar-Vell (who will be portrayed by Jude Law in the upcoming Captain Marvel movie), member of the Kree Imperial Militia (1967-1982)


2) Monica Rambeau, a police lieutenant from New Orleans (1982-1993)

Genis-Vell CaptainMarvel.png

3) Genis-Vell, engineered son of Mar-Vell and his lover Elysius (1993-2004)

Phyla-Vell CaptainMarvel.jpg

4) Phyla-Vell, Genis-Vell’s younger sister (2004-2007)


5) Khn’nr, a Skrull sleeper agent (2007-2009)

Noh-Varr CaptainMarvel.png

6) Noh-Varr, Kree ensign and Captain Marvel of The Dark Avengers (2009-2010)


7) Carol Danvers (2012-Present)

As you can see, there have been plenty of people who have taken the mantel of Captain Marvel for Marvel, but let’s get back to the current one, the one who’ll be in 2019’s Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers.

There are a lot of ways I could organize this list even though it’ll only contain Carol Danvers, but I’ll start with the comics that’ll do the most to get new readers up to speed with the character for the upcoming movie. Then, I’ll add a background reading section for the completionists who want to know everything that occurred to Carol Danvers before her run as Captain Marvel.

Note: There is a new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan.


The above is a picture of Kamala as the new Ms. Marvel. She’s a great character and you should give her a read if you’re interested in Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel, but she won’t be included in these starter stories.


Ms. Marvel Vol. 1.: Best of the Best collecting Ms. Marvel #1-4 and #21-25 (written by Brian Reed/art by Frank Cho; 2006)

This Ms. Marvel reboot does a lot of things right. I like how Ms. Marvel goes out on patrol and what she does with her time when she isn’t being “assembled” for the Avengers. It also tells an important story of Danvers who, having fought the Brood during the “Brood Wars,” must balance the protection of Brood refugees while simultaneously protecting Earth. Alliances can change. Threats can change. Hatred shouldn’t govern one’s actions.

It turns out that a larger threat is over the horizon. Ms. Marvel wouldn’t have accomplished anything if she gave into her hatred and she wouldn’t have been prepared for the new threat if she went on a Brood killing spree—no matter how good it would’ve made her feel.

This story also does a good job of touching some points of Danvers’ past if one were to read her background stories.


Earth’s Mightiest Hero: Captain Marvel (written by Kelly Sue DeConnick/art by various; 2012-2015)

The movie will and should draw the most inspiration from this storyline. It’s also the one where Carol Danvers gets promoted to Captain Marvel. There are so many good story arcs in this run, so I’ll do my best to show the graphic novels in the order they should be read at the end of this write-up. Trust me. It’s a mess.

The first arc in the series does a great job of grounding the reader, even if they don’t know much about Carol Danvers’ long history. Future arcs show her transitioning into an Astronomical hero—sort of Marvel’s answer to Green Lantern. Danvers evolution as a character occurs most here, and it’s a must read for people getting ready for the movie.

Here’s that reading list I promised.

  1. Captain Marvel Vol. 1: In Pursuit of Flight
  2. Captain Marvel Vol. 2: Down
  3. Avengers: The Enemy Within
  4. Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster
  5. Captain Marvel Vol. 2: Stay Fly
  6. Captain Marvel Vol. 3: Alis Volat Propriis
  7. Captain Marvel & the Carol Corps


Essential Ms Marvel Vol 1

Essential Ms. Marvel, Vol 1 Collecting issues Ms. Marvel #1-23, Marvel Super-Heroes Magazine #10-11 (written by Various/art by Various; 1968-1982)

Carol Danvers was little more than a bit character in the original Captain Marvel comic book—that’s the one that starred Mar-Vell (the Kree warrior who went against orders and defended Earth against his own kind)—and when Mar-Vell saved Carol, the Psyche-Magnitron radiation she was hit with slowly gave her super powers.

This collection goes through this origin and a lot more as it collects the first run of Ms. Marvel, which was—for the time—a feminist and progressive name because she was “Ms.” instead of Mrs. or Girl or Woman.

New readers will also see some interesting developments with the Carol Danvers character. She’ll disappear in the 1980s, or at least fade to the periphery: she’s the one whose powers Rogue stole.

Fans of the X-Men Animated Series will learn that unlike the cartoon, Danvers didn’t fall into a coma. She retained some of her powers and few of her memories, a nasty side-effect from a clumsy, young Rogue.

Since this collection spans a good two decades, it’s very uneven. Thankfully, readers are spared the infamous “Marcus” storyline, but the story’s aftermath and Chris Claremont’s attempt to clean up the mess can leave readers wanting. Still, this is a great volume for anyone who wants to know the character’s early history.


The Brood Saga (written by Chris Claremont/art by Dave Cockrum; 1982-1983)

This story is one for the X-Men that ran during Uncanny X-Men #155-167, but an amnestic Carol Danvers gets drawn into this tale. When the Brood realize that Carol’s DNA has been infused with Kree DNA, the results are interesting.

This is the first time and best time Danvers dons her 1980s persona Binary. I’m not sure if Marvel has ever collected The Brood Saga in paperback, but this title should be available on Comixology and Marvel Unlimited.


Live Kree or Die (written by Kurt Busiek/art by various; 1998)

I always liked Danvers (who went by Warbird) in the reformed Avengers of Heroes Return. This story jettisons Danvers’ link to her Binary powers, and that forces her to hide from her teammates. She has some fantastic character moments. If I remember correctly, she struggles with alcoholism, and Tony Stark takes an odd turn as her sponsor.

Danvers/Warbird ultimately ends up quitting the Avengers. I’m not sure if some of these moments will be explored in the Marvel Film Captain Marvel, but it could explain why Nick Fury has Danvers’ number but refuses to call it until it’s necessary.

That’s my list for beginning Captain Marvel—but specifically Carol Danvers Captain Marvel—readers. I’m sure there are some omissions. Feel free to send Rogue over to my house so she can rob me of the rest of my memories, or you could leave a comment.

3 Lists of 3 Skyrim Mods

Hello, folks, Uncle Geekly here. Skyrim Special Edition has been out for a few years and that means that console players have the same joy of Skyrim mods as those of us who play on PC. Your uncle Geekly has played Skyrim Special Edition a lot on both PC and console, so I’ve found some mods that I like to play with whenever I fire up this almost eight-year-old game.

Sounds like a good time for a Skyrim Mod 3 Lists of 3. There are a few mods that come standard in Skyrim Special Edition like realistic weather effects and improved graphics–I’ll have to remember which ones I don’t have to load for Special Ed—and I’ll try not to include any of those. The other hard part will be determining how to split up each mod type. Let’s see if Geekly’s up for the challenge.

Role Playing


Ordinator and Apocalypse Magic

It’s our first mod in the first section of this write up, and I’m cheating by combining two mods. For shame!

It’s my list; I do what I want.

Ordinator and Apocalypse Magic come courtesy of the same modder Enai Siaion, and they’re available in a download bundle, so I’m putting them together because I seldom play Skyrim without both and I see them as two branches of the same limb. Ordinator increases the perk pool by over 400, while Apocalypse Magic adds 155 spells across all magic families.

With 400+ new perks gamers can customize their play style to a point where no two Skyrim builds are the same. One of my favorite builds is a dream master where I unlock as many Illusion perks in that branch of the magic tree as I can, but there’s more than the “dream master” branch within Illusion. There are so many paths to take that gamers can find their character’s story within the story and craft their own journey. Why is my hero drawn to dreams instead of creating pandemonium?

And that’s just one magic school. The magic schools have as many branches and the other perk trees specialize gameplay. Now it matters which one-handed weapon a player chooses. One may gain bonuses and special attacks for maces and not axes.

Apocalypse Magic Mod

Apocalypse Magic further differentiates the magic families. I don’t know how many times I used to begin Skyrim with every intention to play a pure magic user only to have the game devolve into a spellsword—emphasis on the sword—but Apocalypse Magic adds so many play options and cleans up many issues with Skyrim’s magic system that a pure magic user is an option, and a fun one at that. I can be a Thalmor who only cares to explore the reaches of the magic school Alteration.

I picked Alteration in this example because the added spells for this school in this mod are amazing. I can control the weather. I can sap armor from my attackers and give it to me and my companions. I can entomb one character and free them when I want. Yep. I am a Thalmor wanting to learn everything I can for a few schools of magic.

Imperious Race Mod

Imperious Races

Let’s face it. Race specific abilities have gone downhill in recent Elder Scrolls games. Fortunately, Imperious Races aims to make each Tamriel race unique.

Wow! I just realized that this is another mod by Enai Siaion. If you’ve liked what you’ve read so far, you may want to check out some of their other mods. I could make a list of just Enai Siaion’s mods, but I’d like to share the love—after Imperious Races of course.

Imperious Races adds race specific quests, bonuses, and powers. The quests play into the game’s lore. For example, Bosmer (Wood Elves) go on a great hunt to unlock their bonuses and power, while Altmer (High Elves) pluck the wings off butterflies—there’s a whole transformation or rebirth belief for High Elves that I won’t get into here, but butterflies play a key role. Each race has their own specific requirements or quest that adds another layer to character creation and world/lore immersion.

The race bonuses kick Elder Scrolls back to an age where it mattered to which race your character belonged. Altmer are naturally gifted mages, Redguard are fantastic warriors, and so on.

The race powers can, at times, play well with Elder Scroll lore as in Dunmer (Dark Elves) calling on their ancestors or Bosmer converting wild animals into allies, and other times these race powers create wrinkles for the different races. Anyone who’s played Skyrim knows that Nords can be xenophobic—to put it kindly—or downright racist. Their “Purge” ability allows them to choose a race at levels 10, 20, and 30 and deal bonus damage to members of that race. I don’t usually play human characters in Elder Scrolls games, but I’d consider playing an elf-hating Nord.

Again, this plays into character building as there may be a reason why my Nord is an elf-hater. There are so many new roleplaying options with each race.


Live Another Life

Finally, we come to a mod by a different creator Arthmoor. Live Another Life does exactly what the title states: players can change their past as a wrongfully accused prisoner awaiting execution and skip the lengthy intro sequence at Helgen. With this mod players can start the game as a landowner or a marooned sailor or a highway robbery victim. Heck, players can begin the game already a member of one of the guilds or as a bandit.

Most of these new beginnings come with small bonuses and/or disadvantages (bandits begin the game with a bounty), but the true bonus of Live Another Life comes in the form of roleplaying. Players can literally rewrite their past. Live Another Life, like other mods in this section, add character and player choice to Skyrim.

One note: Live Another Life may have some minor compatibility issues that the previous two mods, or three mods, don’t.

Added Story and/or Content

ProjectAHO Mod

Project AHO

Most, if not all, the mods in this section will center around new areas to explore and/or new stories to experience. Let’s begin this section with a relatively new mod (released in late March 2018) by Haem Projects, Project AHO.

The content for this mod pans out to a medium-sized DLC, so a little less than Dragonborn or Dawnguard, but significantly more than Hearthfire. Players are treated to a hidden, Telvanni settlement Sadrith Kegran that’s built from the ruins of a Dwarven city. The player characters start as indentured servants and must uncover the area’s secrets as well as determine the fate of this closed off society. I won’t spoil the story here, but there are many ways for players to resolve Sadrith Kegran’s conflicts, based on character build and personality.

Project AHO comes close to full-fledged Skyrim DLC. Over 20 fully voiced NPCs have unique problems and quirks, each character acts out a daily routine, the quests and locations work and stay lore-friendly, and the DLC even has its own music by German composer Forhir. There are even reactions from these new characters that derive from the player’s choices in the main game and DLC. Project AHO does a great job of showing how some Dark Elves have carved out their own corner of Morrowind.


Beyond Skyrim: Bruma

I couldn’t leave out Beyond Skyrim: Bruma from this section. If Project AHO is a medium-sized DLC, Beyond Skyrim: Bruma is living large, about the size of Dragonborn or Dawnguard.

Players can travel to Cyrodiil’s northernmost county Bruma that borders Skyrim. Similar features to Project AHO await as NPCs have their own voice actors with dialogue options, quirks and routines, and the player character can meddle in the affairs of Bruminians (or is it Brumans?). If you’re an Elder Scrolls fan and you miss Cyrodiil or want to know what happened to Bruma’s residents after the events of Oblivion, give Beyond Skyrim: Bruma a try.

Beyond Skyrim may not be as prolific a modder as the others I’ve mentioned so far, but they do great work and have some plans for future Skyrim content. With Elder Scrolls VI years away from release Elder Scroll fans won’t say no to future mods of this caliber.


The Tools of Kagrenac

While Beyond Skyrim: Burma went large, The Tools of Kagrenac is a much smaller mod (perhaps even smaller than the Hearthfire DLC), but it’s a rewarding experience that’s done as well as any other in this section. The titular Dwemer Lord Kagrenac crafted three enchanted artifacts: Keening, Sunder, and Wraithguard. If those names sound familiar to Elder Scroll fans, they should. All three played a key role in the events of Morrowind.

So, The Tools of Kagrenac is lore-friendly—perhaps the most lore-friendly of all the mods in this write up so far—and it even suggests a cause for the Dwemers’ disappearance. In short, it’s a must play.

Beautiful Little Extras


Immersive World Encounters

We’ll start this section with a mod that’s almost a necessity. Immersive World Encounters makes all those random encounters players experience in vanilla Skyrim worthwhile.

The following scenario may sound familiar to Skyrim veterans. You run into a random thief, he hands you something to hold onto for them (something they stole), and then you make a choice to turn him in or throw his pursuers off his trail. But what if that character had more of a past or the encounter changes depending on who they are or there are multiple outcomes depending on what the characters chooses?

Immersive World Encounters adds a lot of that to Skyrim. It functions like “Wild Wasteland”, but the encounters are more unpredictable than wacky. Just because you’ve picked the same option before during one of these encounters, doesn’t mean you’ll get the same result. I’ve encountered an injured bear in the road and had the option to help it. The first time I helped a bear, I ticked off a hunter who then attacked me because I robbed him of his kill. The second time I helped a bear, it ran off and attacked another person; I had to kill the bear because it was headed toward a town. Maybe I should stop helping bears.

Regardless, kudos to Sette Lisette for this great mod.


Lucien: Fully Voiced Follower

I don’t usually care for follower mods and I’m not the biggest fan of Imperials, but Lucien must be one of the best follower mods, and he happens to be an Imperial. He owns so many unique strands of fully voiced dialogue that he has an opinion on just about everything in Skyrim. The fact that Lucien is an Imperial is important too. He provides the player with an Imperial’s viewpoint.

Even better, Lucien has a dynamic personality system where he adapts to the player character’s choices; just because he’s your follower doesn’t mean that he agrees with everything you do. Players can alter how he fights, so he can complement the main character and Lucien’s training system can be adjusted as well. He has his own quest and storyline and can interact with other follower mods like Inigo, Hoth, and Auri. I almost want to play with these additional followers just to hear them banter with Lucien.

A small point, but one that makes me smile, is that Lucien has a small pool of in game books that he can read aloud to the main character, so long as the book is in the player’s inventory. I don’t know how long it took Joseph Russell to create Lucien, but this follower is well done. Wow!



As the name suggests, Holidays adds Tamriel holidays to Skyrim. If the player character walks into a town on the holiday in question, the villagers will be celebrating the appropriate holiday in a manner according to Elder Scroll lore.

I feel like I’ve said this a lot during these three lists, but Holidays is another mod I can’t see playing Skyrim without. Isoku has a done an excellent job of getting these celebrations right. Small details like Saturalia decorations won’t appear on Whiterun’s Gildergreen unless it’s fully grown and healthy, and Winterhold not celebrating any holidays due to the state of their town are nice touches.

There are so many other mods I could’ve included like Andromeda or Wild World or Open Civil War that nine—or technically ten—Skyrim mods don’t do the subject justice. There’s a reason Skyrim is a relevant game eight years after its release; it owes its prominence to some phenomenal modders. What are some of your favorite Skyrim mods? Let us know in the comments.

My Favorite Gaming Element for Apex Legends

Your uncle Geekly has tried out the latest battle royal craze Apex Legends and I like it despite loathing the genre. I’m more of a solo experience video gamer. Give me a story and characters I can invest in and I’m happy; multiplayer games don’t usually do a lot for me. Battle royal games and the chaos they bring do even less for me, but I’m surprised by Apex Legends’ focus on teamwork.

Everything about Apex Legends screams that the players must work as a team. When players jump into the map, they do so as a team and that shows the emphasis on team play at each game’s beginning. I’ve heard on some message boards that Fortnite players dislike being forced to jump as a team, but Fortnite is every player for themselves. Sure, there is a squad (or team) option for the game, but it pales in comparison to the every person for themselves game mode. Apex Legends’ squad play outshines Fortnite’s most likely because players jump as a team.


The communication system, or ping system, works like a charm. The Gears of War series may have instituted a ping system, but Apex Legends gets it right. Players don’t need to use mics if they don’t have them. Heck. Even if they do have them, they may prefer to use the ping system. If you see a shield or gun a teammate can use, ping it so the item shows up on their map. If you see an enemy on the next ridge, ping the location so it shows up on your teammates’ map and you can converge on the enemy. Players can even ping one location for their teammates and another for themselves—you go here, I’ll go here—and a team can formulate a pincer attack in near real time.

Can Apex Legends be played by oneself? Yes, but not well. I’ve had teammates drop out because of server issues—of which there have been a lot since the game’s launch—and ended up in a solo team. I’ve made it to the final three squads in several of these instances, but when the game gets tight, more firepower is needed, firepower that won’t exist if a player is by themselves. The closest I ever got to winning a game as predominately a solo squad was second place with one other combatant standing. That’s not saying that Uncle Geekly’s good at Apex Legends, in fact, I strive for mediocrity, but my point is that one can’t win the game that easily going solo.


More than any other battle royal game—on the market today—Apex Legends focuses on a team dynamic and if I’m going to play a multiplayer game, I prefer a team atmosphere. I could carry this team mentality further and discuss Overwatch at length and how the character selection screen breeds discontent while Apex Legends has a more relaxed feel, but let’s say that the concept of team shines through most of Apex Legends and that’s where players will find the fun. If you prefer team based multi-player games, you may enjoy Apex Legends.

Do you agree that Apex Legends is a good team battle royal game? Do you have a character that you prefer to player more than another? Let us know in the comments.