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Rogue Games Tabbloid -- March 23, 2009 Edition

Rogue Games Tabbloid -- March 23, 2009 Edition

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Published by Rogue Games
This is the daily PDF collection of the various blog posts made by Rogue Games' Richard Iorio and James Maliszewski. This daily collection is a great mix of gaming history, design notes, and the various topics influencing Richard and James' writing and design work.
This is the daily PDF collection of the various blog posts made by Rogue Games' Richard Iorio and James Maliszewski. This daily collection is a great mix of gaming history, design notes, and the various topics influencing Richard and James' writing and design work.

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Published by: Rogue Games on Mar 23, 2009
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23March,2009   
TodaysTabbloid    
PERSONALNEWSFOR
riorio2@rogue-games.net  
1   
ROGUEFEED    
MAR23,200905:01A.M.  CharlesSaunders’s
 Imaro
doesntappearinAppendixNofthe
 AD&D     DungeonMastersGuide   
,butIliketothinkthat’sonlybecausethenovel  didntappearuntil1981,twoyearsafterthe
 DMG
 wasfirstpublished   (though,tobefair,itstitularcharacterfirstappearedin
 DarkFantasy
in   1974andayearlaterintheveryfirst
Year’sBestFantasyStories   
).That’s   apity,because
 Imaro
anditssequelsareremarkablebooks,atonce   thoroughlysteepedinthetraditionsofpulpfantasyandoriginal  creationsthattranscendandtransformthegenreinwaysthatrecall  MichaelMoorcockstalesofElric.Bythis,Idontmeantoimplyany   dramatic,letalonethematic,connectionbetweenthewritingsofthese   twoauthors.Rather,it’sthatbothSaundersandMoorcockturncritical  eyesonthetropesofpulpfantasyinwaysthatonlywriterswho   understandandlovethegenre,wartsandall,coulddo.Saundersisntan   ignorantyoungTurkouttoprovehimselfbydenigratinghispulpfantasy   elders,butinsteadawriterwhoclearlyappreciatesthem,evenashis   ownuniquevisionisatleastinpartacorrectivetowhatheseesastheir    weaknesses.  Thoughoriginallybilledas“TheEpicNovelofaBlackTarzan,”whichled   tothedelayinitspublicationbecauseofalawsuitbytheestateofEdgar   RiceBurroughs,Ithinkit’sthewritingsofRobertE.Howardthatcast  thelongestshadowsover
 Imaro   
.Saunders’sNyumbaniisaclosecousin   ofREHsHyborianAge,beingafantasticalAfricathatdrawsequally   fromhistoryandmythtocreateanimaginaryworldthatartfullymimics   thedepthandtextureofreality.Readingthrough
 Imaro   
,oneis   immediatelystruckbytheopportunitiespulpfantasyhaslostoverthe    yearsbynotturningitsgazemorereadilyuponnon-Europeansettings   foritsinspirations.Itwouldbeagrossover-simplificationtocallImaroa   “blackConan”assomehavedone,notleastbecauseImaro’smotivations   andultimatedestinyarefarmoreinward-directedthanarethoseofthe   Cimmerian.Nevertheless,itshardnottocomparehimtoHowards   creation,asImaroisoneofthefewswords-and-sorcerycharactersto   matchandperhapsexceedthecomplexityofhisbarbarian   predecessor.  Indeed,Saundersexcelsatwritingcharacterswhofeellikepeoplerather   thancaricaturesandit’shere,Ithink,where
 Imaro
shinesbrightestand   offersthemoststridentcritiqueofthegenreofwhichit’sapart.  Saundersisntcontenttopaintwithbroadstrokes,particularlywhenit  comestoentirepeoplesandsocieties.Nyumbaniisnotonlybeautifully   drawn,butdiverseandvariegated.Itsinhabitantsaresimilarlydiverse   andwellrealized,instarkcontrasttothemorestylizedapproachfavored    bymanyotherpulpfantasytales.Reading
 Imaro   
,oneisoftensubtly   remindedofjusthowoftenevenwritersastalentedasHowardrelied   uponstereotypestodotheheavyliftingintheircharacterization.And    becausetheremindersaresubtle,oneneverfeelsasif
 Imaro
 waswritten   solelytocriticizeormakeapoint.Thenovelisntaparodyorasatireof   thegenrebutratheranunapologeticillustrationofitsunder-used   potential,nottomentionacelebrationofitsprimalappeal.  IfitsoundslikeI’mgushingover
 Imaro   
,it’sbecauseIam.Ineverread   thisnoveloritssequelsbackinthedayandIdoubtIwouldhave   appreciatedthemevenifIhad.Havingfilledinthisgapinmypulp   fantasyeducation,Icanthelpbutimaginemany“whatif?”scenariosin    whichSaunders’sstorieshadbecomemorewidelyreadandinfluential.  Hadthisoccurred,itspossiblethatswords-and-sorcerymighthave   
 
Today’sTabbloidPERSONALNEWSFOR
riorio2@rogue-games.net  
23March,2009   
2    
reneweditself,remainingvitalandenergeticuntilthepresentday.  Fortunately,thenovelanditssequelshavebeenreprintedandare   availableonceagain   .Likewise,Saundershaswrittenanothernovelsetin   Nyumbani,aboutthewarrior-womanDossouye   ,andisworkingontwo   morenovelsinthesagaofImaro.Ifyouveneverhadtheopportunityto   dosobefore,there’snobettertimetodelveintotheadventuresofImaro   thanrightnow.  ROGUEFEED    
MAR22,200906:53P.M.   WhattomakeofJohnMilius’1982film,
ConantheBarbarian   
,which   madeastarofthelargelyunknownArnoldSchwarzenegger?That’sa   questionwithnoeasyanswer,eventhoughI’vespentmoretimethanI  caretoadmittryingtodisentanglemyownveryconflictedfeelingsabout  it.ConflictedfeelingsseemtobeparforthecoursefromwhatIcantell,   withevenprofessionalHowardists(isthataword?)divided,sometimes    bitterly,overitsrelativemerits.Thatsaid,thereareatleasttwopoints   onwhicheveryoneagrees:  1.Thefilmssoundtrack,bythelateBasilPoledouris,isprettymuch   perfectineveryway.  2.Thefilms1984sequel,
ConantheDestroyer   
,wasabominable.  Unfortunately,that’stheextentofthecommongroundbetweenthe   loversandthehatersofthisfilm.  Iwas13whenthisfilmwasreleased,but,duetoitsRrating,Ididntsee   thefilmuntilitwasreleasedonvideosometimeafterwards.Atthat  point,myexposuretothecharacterofConanwaslimitedprimarilytoa   handfulofLancerpaperbacksI’dpickeduphereandthere,almostnone   ofwhichcontainedanyactualstoriesbyREH.Consequently,Iwasnt  muchbotheredbymostofthedivergencesfromtheHowardiancanon,   because,quitefrankly,Iwasutterlyunawareofthem.Havingonlyread   (Ithink)partsof
ConantheAvenger
and
ConanofAquilonia   
,mysense   oftheboththecharacteroftheCimmerianandoftheHyborianAgewas   lacking.I’dalsoseenthecoversofmanyaMarvelcomicfeaturingConan,  thoughI’dneverreadone.  Giventhisbackground,thestoryandcharacterwegotinthefilm     matchedmyownexpectationsreasonablywell.Indeed,ifonetakes   
ConantheBarbarian
simplyonitsownterms,asaswords-and-sorcery   talevaguelyinspiredbysomenamesfoundinRobertE.Howardstories,  Ithinkitstillholdsupquitewell.Certainlyitreaksofpastiche.  UntutoredthoughIwasinthemysteriesofpureHowardbackthen,I  couldstillsensethatitwasastrange,cobbledtogetherFrankensteinofa   movie,unapologeticallyborrowingelementsfromawidevarietyof   sources.Idontconsider“pastiche”atermofopprobrium.
 Dungeons&     Dragons
 wouldntexistifnotforthegleefulpastiche-makingofGygax   andArnesonand,asreadersofthisblogknow,Iactuallybelieve
 D&D
is   atitsbestwhenrefereesandplayersalikeadoptasimilarapproachin   theirowngames.   Yet,thereslittlequestioninmymindthat
ConantheBarbarian
cant  reallybecalled“Howardian”exceptinatenuousanalogicalsense.Yes,  therearecharacters,themes,andevenscenesthatappearinthefilmthat  arebroadlyconsonantwithHowardsownwork.However,Icantrecalla   singlelineofdialoginthefilmthatcomesfromaREHstory(someone   cancorrectmeifI’mwrong)andthereareafewplaceswhereIfeelthe   filmactuallyunderminesHowardianthemes,replacingthemwithits   own.Again,Idontmeanthisinanegativesense.Muchlike
 D&D    
,I  thinkthere’svirtuetobefoundincreatingone’sownstorybylootingthe   partsofotherstoriesonelikes.Solongasonedoesntmistakethisfor   “beingtruetothespirit”ofauthorsandstoriesoneloots,youwonthear   apeepofcriticismfromme.   AsIgotolder,though,IreadmoregenuineHowardandcameto   appreciatehisworkconsiderablymorethanIeverhadasayouth.Its   hardnow,withtheknowledgeofandloveforthosestoriesthatInow    possess,toview
ConantheBarbarian
asmuchmorethanatypical  exampleofHollywoodgraverobbing,albeitariotouslyfunexampleofit.   AsIsaidbefore,ifthismoviehadbeenaboutsomeothernorthern    barbarianseekingrevengeagainsttheslayerofhisparentsandpeople,I  couldcontinuetoextolitsvirtueswithoutqualification,becauseIthink   
ConantheBarbarian
maywellbethebestswords-and-sorcerymovie   evermade.Admittedly,that’sasmuchanindictmentofHollywoods    woefultreatmentofthegenreasitispraiseforthefilm,butImeanit  positively.  
ConantheBarbarian
isafun,occasionallyinsightful,feastfortheeyes   andIenjoyitonthatlevel.Ithink,though,thatit’salsoanexercisein    brandification   ,playingoffthefameofthename“Conan”totellavery   differentstorythananyRobertE.Howardwouldhavetold.Formany   

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