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Short Sorcery: Poul Anderson’s “The Tale of Hauk”

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Short Sorcery: Poul Anderson’s “The Tale of Hauk”

Short Sorcery: Poul Anderson’s “The Tale of Hauk” by Bill Ward Poul Anderson, Grand Master of Science Fiction and author of over 100 books, always seems to bring a little something extra to the table when writing a tale invoking Norse mythology. Whether it be in the myth-inspired sword-and-sorcery classic The Broken Sword, or his novelized retellings of the sagas of figures like Hrolf-Kraki and Harald Hardrada, Anderson’s love for the history and culture of the Dark Ages, and in particular the immortal tales of his own Scandinavian ancestors, comes across in every line of these works. “The Tale of Hauk,” the story of a man that must confront the vengeful ghost of his own father, perfectly encapsulates Anderson’s passion for tales of the Viking era, and demonstrates his mastery at bringing such a world to life.  “The Tale of Hauk” originally appeared in the first Swords Against Darkness (1977) anthology edited by Andrew J. Offutt, but has subsequently been reprinted in many ‘Best of’ editions and in Anderson’s own collection, Fantasy. While not strictly sword-and-sorcery in the Howardian sense – Anderson’s own Cappen Varra shorts as seen in the Thieves World shared-world anthologies would be better examples of that – “The Tale of Hauk” is a work of dark, heroic fantasy with a strong splash of Weird Tale. It is also a tour de force of style, written in a way that captures the rhythm and tone of an old Norse saga. On the occasion of Hauk’s homecoming: “That was on a chill fall noontide. Whitecaps chopped beneath a whistling wind and cast spindrift salty onto lips. Clifftops on either side of the fjord were lost in the mist. Above blew cloud wrack like smoke. Hauk’s ship, a wide-beamed knorr, rolled, pitched, and creaked as it beat its way under sail. The owner stood in the bows, wrapped in a flame-red cloak…” Anderson uses the short, clipped cadence of the Anglo-Norse tradition, with nary a latinate word in sight. It is direct language, unadorned, in which the nouns and verbs do most of the heavy lifting. In combination with a faintly antique diction in both narrative and dialog, and a finely realized snapshot of North European cultural life of the era of Alfred the Great and Harald Fairhair, “The Tale of Hauk” reads more like a modernized translation of an actual Viking ghost story than a career SF writer’s sale to a sword-and-sorcery anthology: “Long did the few miles of path seem, and gloomy under the pines. The sun was on the world’s rim when men came out in the open. They looked past fields and barrow down to the empty garth, the fjordside cliffs, the water where the sun lay as half an ember behind a trail of blood. Clouds hurried on a wailing wind through a greenish sky. Cold struck deep. A wolf howled.” The brooding bleakness of “The Tale of Hauk” is part and parcel of both Norse mythology and a great deal of sword-and-sorcery. Hauk has returned to his home, only to find his father Geirolf grown bitter by the fatal wasting sickness that has robbed him of his strength and shall soon take his life. Geirolf knew success as a raider and reaver, enough to establish his homestead and a great hall for...

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Adventures in Fiction: Poul Anderson

Posted by on 11:00 am in Adventures in Fiction, Latest News, Poul Anderson | 0 comments

Adventures in Fiction: Poul Anderson

Our Appendix N Archeology and Adventures in Fiction series are meant to take a look at the writers and creators behind the genre(s) that helped to forge not only our favorite hobby but our lives. We invite you to explore the entirety of the series on our Adventures In Fiction home page. In celebration of the birth of Poul Anderson, we re-present this article. Enjoy! Adventures in Fiction: Poul Anderson by Michael Curtis Poul Anderson was a prolific author who penned almost two hundred short stories and novels that ran the gamut from science fiction to fantasy to historical fiction to non-fiction during his lifetime. The seven-time Hugo Award winner was renowned for his exploration of politics and social issues in his stories, and for his larger-than-life heroes who seemed to fail as often as they succeeded. However, among gamers, Anderson is more wildly known for inspiring some of the foundations of Dungeons & Dragons. Anderson was born on November 25th, 1926 in Pennsylvania to Scandinavian parents. After his father died, Anderson’s mother relocated to Denmark, dwelling there until the outbreak of World War II. Anderson would later mine his experiences in Denmark in the early chapter of his novel, Three Hearts and Three Lions. The Anderson family returned to America, settling in Minnesota. While an undergrad majoring in physics at the University of Minnesota, Anderson sold his first stories to Astounding Science Fiction magazine during the fading days of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. After graduating in 1948, Anderson put physics behind him and embarked on a lifelong career as a freelance fiction writer. He relocated to California’s Bay Area in 1953, a move that resulted in Anderson being at the birthplace of the Society for the Creative Anachronism, which he helped found. He was also one of the original members of Lin Carter’s “Swordsmen and Sorcerer’s Guild of America,” a loose-knit group of sword-and-sorcery authors that included luminaries such as Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, Andre Norton, and Jack Vance. Anderson also acted as president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America from 1972-1973. Poul Anderson died on July 31, 2001 at the age of 74. Several of his works were published posthumously, and his wife donated his typewriter and desk to The Other Change of Hobbit bookstore in Berkley, CA, where he often gave readings of his work. Despite his incredible body of work, the average gamer of a certain age will undoubtedly remember Anderson as being responsible for several elements of fantasy role-playing we now take for granted. Some of these facets continue on in Dungeon Crawl Classics, making a thorough examination of Anderson’s contributions most relevant. Although most fans of fantasy fiction and RPGs assume that the classic “old school” alignments of Law, Neutrality, and Chaos are derived from Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion series of stories, some will be shocked to discover that Moorcock openly borrowed that concept from Anderson. In his novel, Three Hearts and Three Lions (a book that, as we’ll see, had a huge impact on D&D), Anderson tells of a battle between the forces of Law and Chaos. Law is represented by humanity and the medieval Church. Facing off against them is Chaos in the form of the inhabitants of Faerie, dragons, and other supernatural beasts. A few individuals manage to strike a...

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Black Friday Starts Now!

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Black Friday Starts Now!

Our annual Black Friday sale starts TODAY! The Year That Shall Not Be Named cannot put a damper on everything! The big sale of the year is here! Practically everything in our online store is on sale for up to 40% off – but you need to act fast before the sale ends. Dungeon Crawl Classics! Mutant Crawl Classics! Fifth Edition Fantasy! Original Adventures Reincarnated! System Neutral Books! DCC Lankhmar! Xcrawl! Metamorphosis Alpha! And much, much more! It’s all on sale! To be a part of this sale, you need to know your codes. There are two codes covering the various sale items on the site. You just need to know which one applies where, so we’ve laid everything out for you below. And here’s the ultimate cheat: PUT BOTH CODES IN WHEN YOU CHECK OUT! That’s right, these coupons do not stack! You can use them together, so just put both codes in and you will get the discount you need! Here’s the cut-and-paste version of the codes: BF2020GOODBF20203PP Use code BF2020GOOD for 40% off the majority of items, including most items in this list: Dungeon Crawl ClassicsMutant Crawl ClassicsDice and AccessoriesDCC LankhmarOriginal Adventures ReincarnatedFifth Edition FantasyTales From The Magician’s SkullGrimtooth’s BooksSourcebooks for GMsMetamorphosis AlphaXcrawlProgram GuidesAlmost every item published by Goodman Games! Use code BF20203PP for 20% off most third-party releases, including everything in this list: DCC Third-Party PublishersMCC Third-Party PublishersThird-Party AdventuresThird-Party Settings and GuidesThird-Party ZinesAppendix N ReprintsGoodman Games Apparel Practically everything in our online store is on sale for up to 40% off – but you need to act fast before the sale ends! GOODMAN GAMES ONLINE STORE We will do our best to get your orders out to you right away. However, due to the volume expected from this sale, some orders may still be shipping as late as...

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This Week on Twitch – November 23-29

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This Week on Twitch – November 23-29

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the U.S.! That means everyone here is making plans to eat far too much food, all while attempting to keep socially distant and safe. It’s…yeah, it’s THAT year again. But that isn’t going to stop our fun! We’ve still got a trio of great shows heading your way this week, and we invite you to join us for them over on The Official Goodman Games Twitch Channel! And don’t forget you can catch up on all our shows over on the Goodman Games YouTube channel as well! Check out the full schedule of all our Twitch shows this week below! Schedule for the week of November 23 9:00 pm EST, Thursday, November 26 The Swashbucklers Host: 2OG Games and the Lich We are no heroes. We’re pirates, raiders, brigands, buccaneers, we’re Swashbucklers. Sea dogs of the lowest morals, the quickest fists, and the fastest blades. We seek gold and plunder, winning it with our cannons and rapiers, our flag inspires the soiling of pantaloons, our flashing smiles sharp and sure. There is gold atop the roiling hills, and treasure deep underneath. It’s pirates for Thanksgiving! Just like grandma used to make… The Swashbucklers is a DCC campaign at sea with original stories from 2 Old Guy Games and the gonzo production qualities from the Liching Hour.  A weird and wild shanty that only Dungeon Crawl Classics can tell. 10:00 pm EST, Saturday, November 28 Danger Stranger! Host and Guests: The Defenders of Kobold Danger Stranger is back with their new episode this week, and it offers some DCC RPG goodness in a classic style. Here’s the plan… A group of lovable idiots plays through all of the best adventures for Dungeon Crawl Classics and DCC-adjacent games that you’ve been thinking about buying. And you get to enjoy the ride. Defenders of Kobold present Danger Stranger! A live play-through show airing every-other Saturday at 10:00 pm EST. Hop in the van adventurer! IF YOU DARE! 5:00 pm EST, Sunday, November 29 Blades Against Bandwidth Host and Guests: Jeff Goad, Carmin Vance, Haley Skatch, Rev. Dak Ultimak, Tim Deschane, and Brendan LaSalle Will our heroes be loaded down with too many carbs to be productive on Sunday? CURSE YOU THANKSGIVING DRESSING! Leftovers are a real thing, so you never know. We DO know that you can join Judge Brendan and his band as they continue their exploits into the world of Dungeon Crawl Classics! Tune in, True Believers, to this week’s Blades Against Bandwidth! Be sure to check out all of those great events! And don’t forget to visit all of our recent streams on the Official Goodman Games Twitch Channel! JOIN US ON THE GOODMAN GAMES TWITCH...

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Appendix N Archeology: The Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series

Posted by on 3:00 pm in Adventures in Fiction, Appendix N, Appendix N Archaeology, Ballantine Adult Fantasy, Latest News | 0 comments

Appendix N Archeology: The Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series

Our Appendix N Archeology and Adventures in Fiction series are meant to take a look at the writers and creators behind the genre(s) that helped to forge not only our favorite hobby but our lives. We invite you to explore the entirety of the series on our Adventures In Fiction home page. Appendix N Archeology: The Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series by Michael Curtis More than a decade before Gary Gygax assembled his list of influential fantasy authors and titles—the famed “Appendix N” which appeared in the Dungeon Masters Guide published in 1979—another author was hard at work compiling a list of fantasy stories to introduce to the reading public. Both catalogs would include some of the same authors on their rolls, and it is safe to say that without the first list, Gary Gygax may never have discovered some of the names that helped influence fantasy role-playing. In the spirit of Goodman Games’ ongoing efforts to return to the roots of the hobby, we now go one step further to explore the fertile landscape from which those roots drew nourishment. This earlier catalog was the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series. Edited by Lin Carter, an esteemed author of science fiction and fantasy in his own right, this literary series was comprised of more than sixty titles released between 1969 and 1974 by Ballantine Books. It brought to light both new authors and revived older works from the dustbin of history, exposing fantasy fiction to new audiences in both the United States and abroad. But before examining the works comprising the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series, a little background history must be explored. In the mid-1960s, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings appeared in paperback form in the United States, thanks to the somewhat dubious business practices of Ace Books. Tolkien had long resisted seeing his masterpiece printed in softcover, feeling it cheapened its literary importance. However, a loophole in US copyright law ostensibly meant the book was in the public domain in America and Ace Books produced an unauthorized paperback run of the trilogy. Tolkien was obviously upset and appealed to the fans of the story, whose efforts eventually forced Ace Books to cease publication of the books. However, the demand for Tolkien’s work in paperback was clearly there and he acquiesced to the desires of the marketplace, authorizing Ballantine Books to publish The Lord of the Rings in the US. This introduction of an inexpensive paperback version revealed a hitherto untapped market for fantasy fiction and Ballantine Books immediately sought to cater to that market. Having already dipped their toes into the science fiction market by publishing such authors as Jack Vance, Arthur C. Clarke, and Theodore Sturgeon, the jump to fantasy fiction wasn’t much of a leap. Ballantine began printing other fantasy novels in 1967, starting with E.R. Eddison’s The Worm Ouroboros. Over the next two years, Ballantine produced a number of novels including Gormenghast, The Last Unicorn, Farmer Giles of Ham, and Tolkien: A Look Behind “The Lord of the Rings,” written by Lin Carter. Many of these early works were reprints of older novels, with exceptions to the works of Tolkien, Peter S. Beagle, and Lin Carter. Sales were brisk and clearly warranted printing more fantasy works, but Ballantine Books was uncertain as to which authors were likely to be profitable....

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Sign Up For DCC Demo Night!

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Sign Up For DCC Demo Night!

Tuesday is coming up, and we’re ready to introduce more players to DCC RPG! Judge Brendan is once again ready to introduce a new group of people to Dungeon Crawl Classics in an online educational session. We call it Tuesday Night Demo Night, and it’s a fun romp through the world of DCC RPG with one of our very best Judges. What’s this we speak of, you say? Well, here’s a reminder of what it’s all about! Are you new to the world of Dungeon Crawl Classics? Do you want to give the game a try, but you aren’t sure about the rules or where to go with things? Judge Brendan to the rescue! Welcome to Tuesday Night Online Demo Club! Happening every Tuesday throughout the month, Judge Brendan will be running an online DCC RPG game for newcomers and recent fans. He’ll be teaching the basics through example to both fledgling players and Judges alike. Running a game with all the nuances that help to make DCC RPG a favorite with fans all over the world. How do you get involved? All you have to do is RSVP through our Events Page. Simply go to The Events Page, and you’ll see Brendan’s smiling face at the top of every Tuesday listing for games. Click on that and then reserve your spot. To reserve, you need to click on the number slot (see image below), adjust it to one, and then fill in the information that pops up. NOTE: There are only FIVE slots for each Tuesday night. If you CANNOT make it, don’t sign up. We anticipate these events to fill up fast, and we don’t want to deny people wanting to learn. So, we hope to see you on Tuesday night! It’s a great way to learn our favorite role-playing game! Sign Up For The Tuesday Night Online Demo...

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Goodman Games and Humble Bundle Donate over $30,000 to The American Red Cross

Posted by on 10:24 am in DCC Lifestyle, Latest News | 0 comments

Goodman Games and Humble Bundle Donate over $30,000 to The American Red Cross

We here at Goodman Games are overwhelmed by the generosity of the DCC Community. And this latest example might be the greatest one yet. We recently ran a Humble Bundle—thank you to everyone who helped support it—and it introduced many new fans to DCC RPG. And part of how the Humble Bundle model works is that fans can select how much of their purchase price goes to a charity partner. We were astounded to see the generosity of the DCC community. You collectively donated over $30,000 to the American Red Cross in small increments across many individual purchases. Thanks to everyone who supported the Humble Bundle and our charity of choice, The American Red Cross. You—plus Humble Bundle and Goodman Games—have made a huge difference in this year of need! Thank you. So very...

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Announcing Our New Thick DCC Judge’s Screen

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Announcing Our New Thick DCC Judge’s Screen

Tremble before the mighty weight of our new Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Thick Cardstock Judges Screen! This thick, sturdy screen is printed over 2mm thick chipboard, making it over 6mm thick when it is folded up. This thing is ready to take on the most challenging of tables, and stand up to even the mightiest bump that can befall it during play. Scheduled to ship in mid-January 2021, the new Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Thick Cardstock Judges Screen will be the new standard for your table. Featuring artwork by Doug Kovacs and a bevy of tables to help you run your game, this is the screen you didn’t even know you wanted! This hefty piece of cardboard really needs to be held to be appreciated, but hopefully the image below will give you an idea of the scale. Pre-order your copy in our online store right now! PRE-ORDER YOUR DCC RPG THICK CARDSTOCK SCREEN...

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Hocking’s Seven Short Shudders

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Hocking’s Seven Short Shudders

Hocking’s Seven Scarce Shudders by John C. Hocking More short stories of the supernatural that chill to the bone.   My original list of seven shuddersome short stories from last month highlighted some of the best supernatural work I’ve read, but I limited myself to tales that could be found with minimal effort and expense.  This list is not so merciful.  Here are seven superlative horror yarns that deliver distilled spectral fear but might not be easy to locate and make your own. A.A. Attanasio- The Star-Pools (New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, edited by Ramsey Campbell, Arkham House, 1980) Well written mythos yarn builds from thoughtful beginnings to a truly outrageous climax.  One of the few yarns in the Lovecraftian sub-genre that not only takes the reader to the very edge of cosmic apocalypse but delivers horror in proportion.   Robert Bloch- Enoch (The Early Fears, Fedogan & Bremer, 1994) Unforgettable first-person tale of a man’s lunatic conviction that a predatory imp lives on his skull, making him do things he shouldn’t.  But what if it’s something more than a psychotic delusion?   Robert Barbour Johnson- Far Below (Far Below and Other Horrors, edited by Robert Weinberg Starmont House, 2003) A classic from ‘Weird Tales’ in the form of a monologue delivered by a longtime worker in the lower depths of the New York City subway system.  Immersive, grotesque, and Lovecraftian in its sober, gradual unveiling of otherworldly horror. T.E.D. Klein- Nadelman’s God (Dark Gods, Bantam, 1986) Darkly brilliant tale featuring a middle-aged protagonist whose youthful and unsophisticated dabbling in the fringes of the occult seem to be having some strange, delayed and utterly unforeseen results.  One of the finest supernatural stories I’ve ever read. Michael Shea- I, Said the Fly (I, Said the Fly, Silver Salamander Press, 1993) One expects polished and distinctive work from Shea, but this strange, melancholy novella about a collection of friends slowly realizing humanity is being subjugated by forces alien and unknowable is unique.  Virtually anything I’ve read by this criminally neglected author is worth multiple re-readings.   Karl Edward Wagner- Where the Summer Ends (In a Lonely Place, Warner, 1983) Well known for his sword and sorcery fiction, Wagner’s most celebrated horror yarn has to be Sticks.  As good as that story is the author produced a chain of extraordinary supernatural tales that seem unjustly cast in its shadow.  Where the Summer Ends has an escalating sense of eeriness and uses skillfully understated foreshadowing to help deliver extra impact at the climax.  H. Russell Wakefield- Red Lodge (The Best Ghost Stories of H. Russell Wakefield, Academy Chicago, 1982) Classic haunted house tale provides fine chills and a number of scenes all but guaranteed to burn themselves into the reader’s mind.  Ghostly events are displayed in several imaginative and disturbing ways, sometimes pieced together by the reader, who interprets events often misunderstood by the poor characters.  Many authors of ghost stories have been lauded as being worthy of comparison to M.R. James, but it seems to me that only a meager handful of them actually merit that honor.  Wakefield’s work belongs on the same shelf as the...

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Castle Amber Designer’s Diary: Castle Renovations

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Castle Amber Designer’s Diary: Castle Renovations

Castle Amber Designer’s Diary: Castle Renovations by Michael Curtis One of the great benefits of working on any Original Adventures Reincarnated book is you get to play in the sandboxes other talent designers constructed. This gives you the opportunity to embellish on existing works, adding flourishes and the occasional entirely new area or three to surprise players familiar with the original work. Castle Amber was no exception and, with an already weird castle and eccentric occupants to start from, I had a much freer hand in bringing more to the feast (and not just the ghostly one, either). I started by taking a look at the existing castle and immediately saw what was missing: there’s a whole lot of people living in the place, but very few beds for them to sleep in. With nowhere else to go but up, I added a second story to both the East and West Wings of the chateau, providing plenty of space for new mundane room, then immediately twisted them into something more at home in Castle Amber. Many of the rooms are the quarters of individual Amber family members, allowing both the DM and the party greater insights into these individuals’ personalities, interests, and—in some cases—plots. Other rooms range from the dangerous, to the beneficial, to the downright zany. So no matter what door the party opens, something interesting should be behind it, waiting for them. As I was going up, Bob Brinkman started digging down. In the Indoor Forest, the original adventure states that one of the Amber family has a hunting lodge of sorts located beneath a hill. The adventurers, if unlucky, might even see the hunting party emerge from their subterranean lair and ride off to track down prey—most likely the PCs! But what if the hunting party gets defeated or if the PCs figure out a way to get under the hill by their own efforts? Bob managed to build a weird little mini-dungeon to expand on what Castle Amber has to offer adventurers. Lastly, people familiar with the adventure might recall that it takes a prolonged detour into the writings of Clark Ashton Smith, specifically his Averoigne cycle of stories. TSR originally received permission from the Clark Ashton Smith estate to include material taken directly from Smith’s own work. Nearly forty years later, we didn’t have the luxury of such an agreement (although I very much wished we did, because I could write an entire boxed set campaign setting for Averoigne if someone would let me). I managed to build upon Averoigne despite this, especially enlarging and further detailing the four side adventures that are given only cursory descriptions in the original modules. In other places, I had to employ more traditional, non-intellectual property creatures, characters, and ideas, but I assure you they all feel right at home in Averoigne and you’d half-expect them to appear in one of CAS’ stories anyway. The converted and expanded Castle Amber gives groups a ton of material to play through, both in the form of Tom Moldvay’s original adventure and my own elaborations upon it. The players could spend several months just exploring through the Castle alone. And, if their adventurers aren’t lucky or smart enough to figure out how to break the Curse of Stephen Amber, the PCs...

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