>Once Upon A Time

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This is the cover for my collection of short stories and poems. As with all the pictures on this blog, click it for the full-sized version. Please let me know what you think. I’m planning to put it out on September 28.

>Is Dark Fantasy a real thing?

>I see quite a lot of fiction described as ‘dark fantasy’. Wikipedia defines it as “a term used to describe a fantasy story with a pronounced horror element”, but then goes on to say that the term is used in a lot of different ways.

Obviously there is such a thing as fantasy that has horror elements. What I mean is this: when you add an extra word to a description, you’re implying that the genre is normally the opposite. For example, if you were to talk about ‘gay-friendly science-fiction’, you’d be saying that most science-fiction isn’t gay-friendly. No one would talk about ‘sexual pornography’ or ‘guitar death metal’. So to talk about ‘dark fantasy’ is to say that most fantasy isn’t ‘dark’.

However, try to think of fantasy that doesn’t have horror elements (not necessarily that they’re meant to be frightening).

Lord of the Rings has the ring-wraiths. Conan obviously has lots of Lovecraft-like elements. Terry Pratchett makes his vampires and werewolves ‘cute’ and human-like, but he has more human evils like serial killers. Even the Narnia series, from memory, has elements that were frightening to me as a child.

There are certainly a few. Jack Vance for example, from what little I’ve read of him. But it seems more accurate to say that ‘light fantasy’ is the unusual sub-genre.

It sometimes seems to me that people describe work as ‘dark fantasy’ because they have a false idea of what fantasy is like. It’s a bit like how you hear people talk about ‘dark and twisted versions of fairy tales’, and it’s obvious that when they say ‘fairy tales’ they’re thinking of the Disney versions.

On the other hand, I’ve read very little recent fantasy, so maybe I’m the one with the false idea of what fantasy is like now.

>The Unsullied Branch

>This sect believe themselves to be the only true worshippers of Father-On-The-Mountain (they reject all other titles of the god). They interpret the god’s teachings in a more severe way than all others, to such an extent that they themselves do not claim to be able to follow them. They say that, if a worshipper of the god was able to keep the entirety of his law for a single day, then the god would return to the world and reign in glory forever.

>The Wizard’s Tower – the module

>This is the other module I used in my recently ended 1974 rules Dungeons & Dragons campaign. As before, it uses ascending AC.

It was originally going to be based on the Conan story The Tower of the Elephant. However I ended up changing everything except the prisoner Yag-Kosha, and the name of the sorcerer Yara.

The text is here (Word document), and the map is here (jpg). You’ll also need the diagram of room 10, which is here.

The idea for the coffee monster (but not the stats) is from the Field Guide to Encounters volume 2. The Men of Wounds are from Varlits and Vermin by Roger SG Sorolla.

EDIT: I’ve changed the link to the map, in case people were having problems downloading the original link.