Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On Dungeons & Weird Tales

Daily Blog Challenge post 17. I have to admit, I've even surprised myself here. 17 blog posts in 17 days. Sure a few of them were posted a little late, and I counted a couple that didn't really have much content, but I'm still going strong and I think it's all improved the way I think about my writing. Knowing that there are at least a couple people out there reading has been helpful (as is all the positive feedback).

Speaking of which, I have to promote a blog I just discovered because the author, Shane Mangus, appeared in my Google Followers list. The blog is called Swords Against the Outer Dark, with the subtitle "Where Swords & Sorcery Gaming meets Cthuliana and Yog-Sothothery". Yowzers. Sounds perfect for the guys in my gaming group. I just took a few minutes to look over some of the posts, and it all looks very interesting. Shane is working on an OGL game which will be released as Swords Against the Outer Dark: Sword & Sanity Roleplaying. The game will utilize the Labyrinth Lord rules and Sword & Sorcery flavor combined with Mythos nastiness.

It seems like there is a growing interest in this style of gaming as of late, with the impending release of Sword & Sanity RPG and the recent release Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy Role-playing. Personally, as a fan of both Call of Cthulhu and D&D, it seems like a natural fit to me; two great tastes that go great together. Taking cues from arguably the two most important and well known RPGs, and developing a new way to play is quite exciting. Where LotFP borrows from the weird tales, to me it still feels a lot like D&D with a twist of Weird, rather than a true blend of the two genres.. This is speaking from limited experience. I've read the books in the boxed set, the blog, and parts of the adventures Raggi has published, so I'm by no means an authority on the subject at this point. Just some first early impressions, really. If you feel significantly differently, feel free to let me know.

I have the feeling from what I've read on SAOD that Shane is looking to create a more blended game. While defining the "Sword & Sanity" role playing style, Shane, proposes the following:
[...]these two types of fiction are diametrically opposed. The heroes you find in Sword & Sorcery fiction are individuals that test their mettle against whatever foe steps across their path, and they always live to fight another day. In the stories of H.P. Lovecraft there really are no heroes in the truest sense of the word [...] The challenge then becomes presenting a story (or in this case a game) that has both elements of Sword & Sorcery, as well as a good dose of Yog-Sothothery, without compromising either genre.
I'm curious to see how he handles this opposition in the game, both with the "fluff" and the "crunch". How will the characters differ from the standard tropes of the D&D and CoC? Could this system work as a great "What if?" scenario as in "What if TSR received the Lovecraft Mythos License, rather than Chaosium?" For more info, check out the blog and the FAQ. Consider me very excited. If I had known about the blog last week while putting together my list of OSR related blogs, SAOD would have certainly made the list. I'm not sure how Shane found me, but I'm glad he did. If you happen to read this Shane, and you need play-testers, consider this my application.

Well, I gotta run to band practice, so I better wrap this up. Not much else to say right now, but I'll be sure to follow what's going on over at SAOD and keep yinz posted.


  1. Mike,

    Thanks for sending the positive vibes my way! I can use more attention on my project.

    Talk to you soon,


  2. No problem Shane. I'm glad to have made the connection.


  3. From what I've seen of the archeology of rpgs, weird tales have a distinct and important place in the foundation of the hobby in general, and D&D in particular. Many of the weird authors, like Clark Ashton Smith and Robert Howard, defined elements of game play. And you could easily argue that the whole Kugel saga that spawned the Vancian magic system is a classic example of non-Cthulu weirdness. Sadly the wonderful weirdness did not really survive the move to a more organized play with Advanced D&D.

    Two other resources for weird play for fantasy are Ravenloft and Call of Cthulu: Dark Ages, which I want!