'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

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Showing posts with label CONAN. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CONAN. Show all posts

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Tool Trunk Thursday: Bow String

Welcome Dog Brothers and Sword Sisters to the next installment of Tool Trunk Thursday! The feature where I present a piece of equipment for Conan 2d20 and its effects in a friendly card-shaped format.

WHAT!? It is Thursday again? Quick week! Here is another piece of kit for your characters! Check out all the equipment over at the Blog's Equipment Chest!

Bow String


Some men and women fling death from the edges of combat. Their weapons are under immense strain and at times their strings snap leaving them next to helpless. Given time they can get the materials to fix their bows, but in the heat of combat being able to re-string and continue to rain hell down can be invaluable

This is a replacement string, cheap and plentiful in pretty much every city, that can be used to restring a bow in the middle of combat allowing the archer to continue to fight. If you liked this article then don't forget to subscribe to get the next exciting installment on pulp gaming both Sci-Fi and Fantasy!

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Monday, February 3, 2020

High Fantasy? Sword & Sorcery? What is what?

This was going to be a review of Forbidden Lands. I had picked up the quickstart rules and was impressed. The quickstart was full of excellent old school RPG art and they didn't skimp on the rules. The system itself was familiar to me due to the ALIEN RPG, and it is a system I liked. In the end, this is not a review. After a conversation about Forbidden Lands, I decided I wanted to write a little bit about what Sword & Sorcery is to me.

I think the easiest way to see how I see Sword & Sorcery is to hold it up against High Fantasy, what things do I think makes one vs the other? There are, of course, other articles on the Internet about this topic, Wikipedia itself has sections describing what these genres represent. However, I wanted to illustrate my own ideas on these as well as build a small rubric to place against a setting to see where it falls.

Sword & Sorcery

Let's start with the elements I think are necessary for Sword & Sorcery.
  • Swords
  • Sorcery*
  • Smaller scale
  • Heroic deeds
  • Stories of a smaller scope.
  • Generally human-centric.
I placed a star next to Sorcery as I feel it needs a caveat. Sorcery is necessary, but generally, it is not overly flashy and it is not commonplace. Having a wizard that can cast fireball in every town in a story isn't something I think we should generally see in Sword & Sorcery.

High Fantasy

In contrast, we have high Fantasy which for me means:
  • Swords
  • Magic
  • Heros
  • Stories of a larger scope.
  • Races (Elves. Dwarves etc).
For me, in a high fantasy setting, we have much more magic and it is often flashier, we have heroes trying to save something bigger than themselves.

Now with this being laid out we certainly have stories that have elements of both of these, but I think some of the elements are more important than the others. I would probably place them in the following order.
  1. Story Scope
  2. Heroes vs Non-Heroes
  3. Heroic Deeds
  4. Access to Magic
  5. Races
And despite ranking them in importance I suspect we can still find stories that blur the line between the two. Small scale stories taking place in human-centric worlds with heroes and flashy magic.

Now that we have outlined some of the ideas I expect to see in each archetypal story of a genre lets place them against Conan and Lord of The Rings and see how they fair.

Conan

Taking this and placing it against Robert E Howard's Conan
  • Story Scope: Small. Conan trying to get to the end of the adventure alive, hopefully with some money and some company.
  • Heros vs Non-Heroes: Conan is the protagonist and generally has a strong moral compass and is doing the right thing because of it, but he doesn't have a higher calling that he is aware of.
  • Heroic Deeds: Conan is rife with them. Everything from climbing cliffs with bare hands, being pulled from a cross, fending off attacks by superior numbers and single-handedly killing two frost giants.
  • Magic: Exists. Rare. Dangerous.
  • Races: Humans.
Unsurprisingly a Conan story checks ALL of my personal S&S boxes. Howard is credited as the Father of Sword and Sorcery for a reason.

Lord of the Rings

Now let's take a look at Lord of the Rings.
  • Story Scope: HUGE.
  • Heros vs Non-Heros: Certainly some of the characters aren't willing heroes, but they have all responded to a higher calling and their end goal isn't about making them rich, and it is not about what is in it for them.
  • Heroic Deeds:I won't tell you there are no heroic deeds in LOTR, but at the same time I don't think we are seeing them in spades from the main characters.
  • Magic: Exists. Fairly-Rare. Dangerous.
  • Races: Standard fantasy races.
Although the magic isn't as flashy as I think of high fantasy, it is clear that The Lord of the Rings falls into this category in my mind. It is often looked to as the prototypical High Fantasy story.

Conclusion

Although both of these genres are different and you may like one more than the other, this doesn't mean one is better than the other, or that fans of one are superior. They are different sides of the same coin.

Going forward I hope to use this as a method to look at various RPGs and their settings to see where they land on the spectrum between SWORD AND SORCERY and HIGH FANTASY!

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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Tool Trunk Thursday: Portable Anvil

Welcome Dog Brothers and Sword Sisters to the next installment of Tool Trunk Thursday! The feature where I present a piece of equipment for Conan 2d20 and its effects in a friendly card-shaped format.

The new year is upon us and as some of us think about heading back to work, and getting back into more normal routines I wanted to wish everyone a great new year!

You can find other pieces of equipment in the Blog's Equipment Chest!

Portable Anvil


Forming metal requires hammers and a surface to work on. Whether it is silver, gold or steel this is unchanged. The smiths of the Hyborian Age know this and from time to time require a smaller version of the anvils you might find in their shops. These pieces of steel are instrumental to field repairs to armor and weapons. Do not let their name fool you though, they may be portable, but they are not light.

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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Tool Trunk Thursday: Fishing Net

Welcome Dog Brothers and Sword Sisters to the next installment of Tool Trunk Thursday! The feature where I present a piece of equipment for Conan 2d20 and its effects in a friendly card-shaped format.

The new year is upon us and as some of us think about heading back to work, and getting back into more normal routines I wanted to wish everyone a great new year!

You can find other pieces of equipment in the Blog's Equipment Chest!

Fishing Net


The oceans of the world then, just as now, provide a source of food and survival for those that live along its shores. Many methods are used to gather the bounty of the sea. One of the most common tools used by the men of the Hyborian Age is the fishing net. Common in the countries of Zingara, Argos, Shem, Stygia, Turan and even some of the people of the Black Kingdoms; really any nation that shares a border with the sea.

A strong mesh of heavy rope that can be thrown by several men out into the ocean or another body of water and brought back in, hopefully, full of fish, but who knows what else it might dredge up from the depths?

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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Tool Trunk Thursday: Sharpening Stone

Welcome Dog Brothers and Sword Sisters to the next installment of Tool Trunk Thursday! The feature where I present a piece of equipment for Conan 2d20 and its effects in a friendly card-shaped format.

The new year is upon us and as some of us think about heading back to work, and getting back into more normal routines I wanted to wish everyone a great new year!

You can find other pieces of equipment in the Blog's Equipment Chest!

Sharpening Stone


Since man has been using weapons he has used other tools to keep them in working order. Weapons of steel are no different, and in time their edges dull and they require maintenance. These hard, fine grit stones from the mountains of Aquilonia and Nemedia, are prized for their ability to bring back the sharpness that a warrior trusts his blades to have.

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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Tool Trunk Thursday: Holly Berries

Welcome Dog Brothers and Sword Sisters to the next installment of Tool Trunk Thursday! The feature where I present a piece of equipment for Conan 2d20 and its effects in a friendly card-shaped format. I thought I would add a slightly more festive item this week, I hope you enjoy it. You can find other pieces of equipment in the Blog's Equipment Chest!

Holly Berries


Within the temperate forests of the Hyborian Age grows bright green holly. The leaves, though prickly, are harmless but the bright red berries these plants produce are not. If eaten the berries can cause intestinal issues and vomiting. If distilled into a potion by a herbalist these easy to find plants can be used to weaken or perhaps kill a man... if you can get him to drink it.

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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Tool Trunk Thursday: Stygian Sand

Welcome Dog Brothers and Sword Sisters to the next installment of Tool Trunk Thursday! The feature where I present a piece of equipment for Conan 2d20 and its effects in a friendly card-shaped format. You can find other pieces of equipment in the Blog's Equipment Chest!

Stygian Sand


In the deepest Stygian deserts lie patches of fine off-color sand. Of those that know about it, some say it is the dust remains of the ancient sorcerers that once walked within Acheron, while others believe it to be where beings from beyond the outer dark once walked.

What can be certain about this sand is that it is a fine powder and that on contact it burns with an intensity of fire. Alchemists lucky enough to possess it are able to more effectively create powders than burn and blind those who would cross them.


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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Tool Trunk Thursday: Star Flower

Welcome Dog Brothers and Sword Sisters to the next installment of Tool Trunk Thursday! The feature where I present a piece of equipment for Conan 2d20 and its effects in a friendly card-shaped format. You can find other pieces of equipment in the Blog's Equipment Chest!

Star Flower


These bright orange to red flowers grow most commonly in the darkest parts of the forest between Argos and Zingara. Even within this forest they are rare. It is possible similar flowers may grow in other places in the world, but no matter where they are found they will favor dark old growth forests.

The compounds in these flowers are extremely combustible, and so they are highly prized by the alchemists of the age to create spectacular effects both visually and deadly.


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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Tool Trunk Thursday: Iron Cauldron

Welcome Dog Brothers and Sword Sisters to the next installment of Tool Trunk Thursday! The feature where I present a piece of equipment for Conan 2d20 and its effects in a friendly card-shaped format. You can find other pieces of equipment in the Blog's Equipment Chest!

Iron Cauldron


Cauldrons made from iron are used by many different people for many different things. Anyone who needs to heat liquid over a fire in the Hyborian age is sure to have used a similar device. No matter the size, these pots are generally made from thick iron, making them heavy.

They are used widely by alchemists to more evenly distribute heat into their delicate solutions. This allows them to more efficiently use ingredients to create their enchantments.


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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Conan: Serpent War #1 (2019)

The first issue of "Serpent War" is on the shelf today! I couldn't wait to get to the store so grabbed a digital copy to read with my morning coffee.


Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Scot Eaton: Penciler, Scott Hanna: Inker
Colorist: Frank D'armata
Letterer: VC's Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Carlos Pacheo, Aneke & Frank D'armata

James Allison Sequence Artist: Vanesa R. Del Rey Colorist: Jean-Francois Beaulieu

Cover Price: $4.99
Pages: 26 of story.
Prose: Solomon Kane 1 of 4.

There are extreme Howard purists who range from not liking any of Howard's characters being done but anyone by him to more Conan centric purists who feel Conan MUST be in the Hyborian Age, anything that strays from this is bad.

Me? I consider myself a Howard purist, but to the point where I have Howard's work in one silo, and everything else in various other silos. I accept and LIKE others doing work with his characters. This work keeps them alive and keeps them in the public eye. No one expects Superman to stay in the world of his creation, but Howard's work? Hands off for many many people.

As you can expect these extreme purists have no love for these Marvel stories. Also as you can expect, I am not one of these. I was looking forward to this adventure because it not only includes Conan but also includes two other, less well known, Howard characters: Solomon Kane and Dark Agnes. Bringing two of Howard's characters to the light is a good thing, especially when one is not that well known. In short, I am happy to see Dark Agnes reborn for an audience that has probably not heard of her.

Art
I generally liked the art in this book, the big spreads introducing Agnes and Kane are great. Seeing them on the big page in a modern print comic gave me a little thrill. I also found using a different team to do the James Allison opening to be excellent. It made it stand apart from the other charcters in the story. It is an excellent use of art to tell a tale in my opinion.

Story
Apart from the addition of Moon Knight, because Howard wouldn't have known about him, this story, at least so far, isn't beyond what Howard could have written. Like most stories of this nature the first issue works to lay the ground work of what is to come and to introduce us to the characters. The most obvious of these two that need introductions are of course Kane and Agnes, but both Conan and Moon Knight are explained as well. As a Moon Knight fan who knows nothing about Conan you will have a basic foundation. As well as a Conan fan who knows nothing about Moon Knight, I have a basic idea as well.

Cover
My biggest complaint about the cover is the sword. Although it isn't a direct copy of the Atlantean sword from the 82 film it is clearly influenced by it. As much as I love the movie this sword belongs in the 82 Conan the Barbarian silo for me. With that being said the cover shows us the main characters and is in my opinion well executed.

Some of the variant covers are incredible. My favorite of these is Conan depicted with Moon Knight done by David Finch. My single complaint about it, especially since it is so bad ass, is that it only includes Conan and Moon Knight. Maybe Issues 2 will have an equally bad ass variant cover from him with Kane and Agnes?


Sword & Sorcery & Guns
Two of the characters are weilder of guns so I thought I would throw that in there as well. Although they are simply laying groundwork and introducing the characters, some of that groundwork is to introduce the threat. That threat is clearly sorcerous and weird in nature. In addition we also get scenese of the characters kicking ass and taking names, so this checks all of these boxes for me.

Overall Thoughts
When they announce stories like this I am always hopeful, but always unsure. Jim Zub has been on social media talking about this for a while, but the proof is in the pudding as they say. I think the whole team has done a great job on this book right down to the Howard underpinnings across the whole thing. Using James Allison, a perhaps even MORE obscure character as the glue to hold this all together is pretty brilliant, and it puts more of the James Allison tales on my reading list, right after I finish "Chessmen of Mars" by Burroughs.

Overall recommendation: Go pick this up.

My rating this month is 4.5 out of 5 Skulls of My Enemies!



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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Tool Trunk Thursday: Wine

Welcome Dog Brothers and Sword Sisters to the next installment of Tool Trunk Thursday! The feature where I present a piece of equipment for Conan 2d20 and its effects in a friendly card-shaped format. You can find other pieces of equipment in the Blog's Equipment Chest!

Wine


Some of the finest vineyards of the Hyborian Age are found in the Kingdom of Aquilonia, likewise some of the best wine comes from this mighty Kingdom. Sharing a fine bottle of this exquisite drink is surely to loosen even the most stalwart tongue.


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Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!