Friday, October 12, 2012

Exploiting Pulp Era Fantasy

When I launch the campaign I'm gearing up for right now, it will include things I have borrowed wholesale from pulp era fantasy and science fiction, especially the sword & sorcery and sword & planet genres.  You will probably ask if my players will recognize any of these things and be able to figure out what direction things are headed in based on what they know.  Well, I'm sad to say that my players know absolutely jack about pulp era fantasy other than watching the Conan movies and perhaps dabbling in one or two of the stories.  I'm the only one of the group who went backwards after reading the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy and found The Hobbit, and then Lovecraft and Howard and Burroughs.  A lot of the ideas I'm going to be using will be fresh to the players since their most common literary conquests are likely to be in the vein of George RR Martin or whatever new slab of paper holds the current epic high fantasy tale.  Myself, I've been buying old pulp magazines, scouring the internet, and adapting art I stumble on to game mechanics (I'm all visual).  They do not know of Barsoom from things other than the John Carter movie (which I liked a lot, sue me), they've pretty much never touched the Lord of the Rings in book form (some of them own it but just haven't really read it), and the real Conan has never been seen in their mind's eye.  Fafhrd?  Grey Mouser?  Matt Carse?  Solomon Kane?  Herbert West?  These names are well known to those of use who read the fiction of the 1930s-1970s.  But for those living in mainstream D&D land they are not as well known as could be.  Yes, I said Fafhrd isn't well known.  Just ask someone who has only played since the late 2E era who that is.  I dare you.  It is a rare answer in these parts when they say, "Yes, Fritz Leiber rules!"  Of course, I'm delving way deeper, into authors that came and went during that period that even some well-read fans may not have explored before.  And I'm stealing ideas like I was a third-level thief.

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