The Fell Gard Codices

A Fantasy Hero of the Past

April 10th, 2013

I’ve been reading Fantasy Hero, a campaign supplement for the Hero game system. It’s about twenty years old, and in a lot of ways seems a decent look at where fantasy role-playing games were at back in the early 90s. There were things I didn’t like (the medieval-Arabic area is repeatedly said to tightly limit the freedoms of women, whereas apparently the medieval-Europe countries are basically egalitarian), a fair amount of generic fantasy stuff, and a couple interesting points. For one thing, there’s an evil wizard named Malekith, which opens the possibility that somebody was reading Walt Simonson’s run on Thor.

The most interesting part of the book, though, was a section called “Conventions of ‘Genre’ Fantasy,” written by Allen Varney. It’s a look at different kinds of fantasy fictions — epic fantasy, comic fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, and so on — and how they might work as games. I don’t necessarily agree with all Varney’s conclusions. In particular, he suggests that high fantasy tends to be conservative, which sounds like something cribbed from Michael Moorcock; I’m unconvinced. But taken all in all, it’s interesting to see an attempt to round up the kinds of fantasy then on bookstore shelves, and neat to see John Crowley mentioned in a gaming supplement. Overall, then, an interesting curiosity.

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