Friday 20 January 2012

Obligitary D&D post

As I'm sure you know by now, WOTC are bringing out a new edition of D&D and doing a limited edition of the AD&D core rules. Right then. 5e.

Old market, old game, old art.

Same market, same game, same art.

New market, new game, new art.
Firstly D&D 5E should look largely like this:

Camile Rose Garcia
More D&D5e art here.

And you should be able to pick up quick-start rules with a baggie of Gamescience dice and a nifty crayon for 3.99 from here:

and here

Hot Topic

and here

Tate Modern.
5e should be Hipster D&D, for 2012. Sod the grogs and the geeks, they'll buy it anyway (or not).*

Put it on sale in gallery stores as a gift item because it contains art by contemporary artists and illustrators - tour with the art. Variant covers.

Put it on sale in coffeshops because people can pick it up, play it as a casual activity and get hooked (and sit around and drink more coffee).

Put it on sale in teen clothing stores because that's where teens spend cash. Oh, and make it girl friendly - charisma is not a dump stat.

Relying on specialist game-stores and comic-book shops is just preaching to the converted (i.e same/same).

Oh yeah, WotC also  announced limited edition AD&D reprints, nice.

*Realise that each edition has its own fanbase. D&D can be a brand not a single game. Each gaming table is it's own niche. Time to embrace the long-tale inventory (re) release the PDFs!

Friday 6 January 2012

Disturbia loves Fighting Fantasy they ripped them apart, glued them to the walls and threw ink all over them.

Click for bigger images:

Island of the Lizard King (right) / Warlock of Firetop Mountain (left)
Deathtrap Dungeon (Far left)
Deathtrap Dungeon Wallpaper

Disturbia Clothing

Studio 5,
The Kiln,
Hoults Yard,
Newcastle Upon Tyne,
NE6 1AB.

Open monday to friday 10am-5.30pm.

Why not visit? take a pair of D6 and play the walls.

Would be cool if a label like that were given the rights to produce official FF merchandise. That Iain McCaig dungeon door and gnome from Deathtrap Dungeon will make a killer tshirt.

K // D¡SURB¡ 4 F.F.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Dawn of the D&D Troll

I think these images are pretty recognisable to old school gamers as an AD&D Troll, but these aren't from some long lost TSR module or a new OSR adventure, but have taken from the comic strip Marching Zombies, which appeared in the comic Black Cat Mysteries #35 in May 1952.

Marching Zombies / Black Cat Mysteries / Rudy Palais 1953
Marching Zombies / Black Cat Mysteries / Rudy Palais 1953

And here is the 1977 Monster Manual entry by DCS, just in case your every nightmare isn't already haunted by these freaky creatures:

Rudy Palais drawings of "Marching Zombies" bare little resemblance at all to the popular or folkloric creatures. Instead they seem to be based on the fact that our noses and ears continue to grow long into our old age long after the rest of us stops, so these immortal undead, with their long noses, sunken eyes and elongated ears might simply be the result of extended ageing (something for our off-world transhumanist colonies to consider), and their gaunt emaciated figures from lack of eating. The scaly skin, however isn't so easily explained away.

The story of Marching Zombies itself is, in a word: weird. Two pith-helmeted adventurers are wandering in a desert looking for a lost civilisation when they come across a city of Trolls Zombies, who believe they have to kill some humans in order release them from a curse which keeps them from resting in eternal slumber. However, when the  Trolls Zombies kill the adventurers,  instead of releasing them from their curse, their god "Kalu" turns the humans into a proper George A. Romero flesh-hanging-off style living dead zombies, telling the Trolls Zombies to bury the humans in the graves intended for the Trolls Zombies and further curses the  Trolls Zombies to walk the earth for eternity. To further add to the confusion, most of the  Trolls Zombies seem to be carrying human heads on sticks - which presumably they got from murdered humans already?

Moral of the story, never trust a Zombie Troll God.

On a self-referential level, it's also interesting because the Trowes (erm.. 'zombie-trolls') of my Bearoak Campaign are very much undead creatures (loosely based on Algonquian Wendigo fakelore, with an obligatory dash of Beowulf). but I digress...

The nature of Trolls is well documented to have been borrowed wholesale Porl Andersons Three Hearts and Three Lions (which is predated by Marching Zombies by nearly 10 years) - regeneration, fire damage ect - all of which was also lifted wholesale from AD&D by Citadel for Warhammer. None of this appears in Marching Zombies, - it's just the appearance that seems to have been translated. UPDATE: some new information has surfaced on this.

Unlike the pig-faced goons in Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty (1959) potentially being influential on the pig-faced orcs, the similarities between Rudy Palais zombies and the AD&D Troll here seem more than coincidental. The Coeurl / Displacer Beast is a pretty well known example of TSRs creative borrowing, but it makes me wonder how many classic D&D creatures have their visual origins in earlier incarnations of the weird and uncanny- does the true origins of the Beholder, or a Flumph lurk in some obscure 1950s horror-fantasy comic?

Otherworld Miniatures Exemplary Troll

NB. I came across Marching Zombies in Peter Normanton's excellent The Mammoth Book of Best Horror Comics a collection of horror comics from the 1940s to the early 2000s. By necessarily avoiding the EC/DC/Marvel titles, Normanton pulls out some pretty impressive obscure (to me at least) titles. The stories I've read so far are thoroughly entertaining and Normantons commentary really informative. I'd always assumed the Comics Code Authority and the 1950s comic-book burning was just over-zealous right wing American censorship nuttery, but as it turns out there was some really graphic sadomasochistic imagery and gore-fests going on - it wasn't all about weak "Batman and Robin are gay" subtexts - but that publishers were putting out some very adult material in books marketed to children.

Find out more of the mysterious origins of the D&D Troll in TROLLDAWN II