Plotting a Plantation

Thought this was neat and you might enjoy if I shared it.  The scan didn’t pick up the graph paper’s details very well, so I added a few labels in paint.


I volunteered to be party foreman for the restoration of the abandoned sugar cane plantation we’re rebuilding.  Anyone who actually knows a thing or two about planning farms could probably point out why this is terribad, but it’s probably good enough for D&D.

Phase 1: Set up temp barracks (10 x 20), warehouse (40 x 40), tool shed (10×10), and 4 temporary long houses (20 x 30 each).

Phase 2: construct three 10×10 wooden guard towers (fairly simple ones, covered platforms 12′ off the ground).

Phase 3: Repair the Old House

Phase 4: Distillery (40 x 30), 2 small warehouses (30 x 30), small stable (30 x 30)

Phase 5: Introduce farm workers to begin working fields. Build two small cart bridges over the spring stream. (20’ x 10)

Phase 6: Begin work on palisade; Palisade Phase 1: 2070’ of walls.  two 20’ gates.  Six 30×30 guard towers. Four 10 x 10 gate towers.

Phase 6: Build additional housing (five more 20 x 30 long houses) and 30 x 40 for special personnel; SW old Guard Tower dismantled; E Guard tower moved to center of east palisade wall.

Phase 7: Expand warehouses (40 x 40 to 100 x 40, 30 x 30s to 40 x 50 and 50 x 60)

Phase 8: Expand distillery to 40’ x 80’, expand stable to 30’ x 60’.  Build 90’ privacy fence between old house and distillery for Namia.

Phase 9: Extend palisade north and east to free up more arable land.

Phase 10: clear and cultivate additional acreage.

Our DM will be tallying up construction expenses.  We’re going to have our work cut out for us looking for a way to pay for all of this.

Update: here’s a better quality scan.


Xilland stats for B/X

Armor Class: 2
Hit Dice: 6+6
Move: 150’ (50’)
Attacks: 2 claws/1 bite
Damage: 2d6 each
No. Appearing: 1
Save As: Fighter 6
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: None
Alignment: Neutral

Xillands are huge woolly monsters with an ursine head, large tusks and four sets of limbs.  They are nearly 20’ long and can rear up to 12’ in height.  Xillands’ foremost set of limbs end with long saber claws.  Below those are arms with anthropoid hands that it can use for grasping.  Next is another set of claws.  The last set of limbs end in cat-like feet.  They mainly inhabit chilly swamplands and are exceptionally fast.  If both claw attacks hit a single opponent, the Xilland will use its second set of hands to grasp its target; if this happens, its bite attack will automatically hit and the Xilland will make two additional claw attacks.  Xilland fur is so thick that only piercing weapons of short-sword length or longer and only magical projectile attacks can hurt them.  Xillands are immune to cold and take half damage from fire.  Xilland furs may be used to make clothing with a permanent “Resist Cold” effect (see Cleric Spells, p B16)


2015 Planetary Awards Nominations: Torchship, by Karl Gallagher

Forget the Hugos, Nominations for the 2015 Planetary Awards are due February 14th!

In the Small Press / Self-published category, I’d like to nominate Karl Gallagher’s Torchship.

Torchship is a hard sci-fi adventure story in the vein of Firefly* about an interstellar freelance cargo-freighter and its crew.  Torchship is set in something of a post-empire future in which both Earth a sizable portion of the colonized worlds have fallen to a devastating AI rebellion, leaving a few highly advanced but paranoid cyber-isolationist worlds and a tough-as-nails frontier beyond.  As a fully analog spaceship, the Fives Full is one of the few interstellar craft permitted to travel between the “Disconnect” and “Fusion” worlds.  In the course of taking odd jobs to make ends meet, the Fives Full’s crew stumbles upon the opportunity to hunt for buried space treasure.  The catch?  It’s deep in the heart of the AI ravaged ruins of humanity’s former dominion!

Torchship is Karl Gallagher’s and Kelt Haven Press’s first book; Gallagher’s amazing and Kelt Haven Press has a real winner on their hands.  You should keep both of them on your radar.

My interview with Karl Gallagher can be found here.

I’d also like to plug Matthew D Ryan and his book Sceptre of Morgulan as something of a runner up.  Everything I’ve read by Ryan has been great, and I’ve also had the opportunity to interview him and have him do a guest post, and if the award were broken down into SF and Fantasy instead of story length and small press/indie vs. trad published, I’d be able to nominate them both.  Torchship breaks the tie by being the first book in a series; rather than nominate the third book in a series, I’ll just say “Go and buy Drasmyr; you can download it for free, but you should really buy it, too.”

* If Firefly were written by someone who actually knows a thing or two about spaceships and engineering.

Dunhams Destroys, Cirsova Builds

I will pay triple what Dunhams Manor is offering for the opposite of what they’re asking for.

Take the kind of story that Lovecraft, Merritt, Dunsany, Chambers or your other favorite pre-Derlethian weird writer would’ve told and tell it without any irony, any deconstruction, any tongue-in-cheek, any post-modern moralizing or mockery.

Tell a good classic pulpy science fiction story with a twinge of existentialist horror via alien and isolating elements.  Or take a heroic fantasy approach to the Mythos; tell a story of the naked apes struggling to survive in the world ruled by Elder Gods and Old Ones.

Ironic hipster parodies and Cthululz have been the norm for decades.  Those need to be destroyed, not Lovecraft, and I’m willing to pay good money to authors who’ll do it.

More of this:


Less of this:


Please no dropping nukes on Cthulhu.  Note that modern and contemporary ::fingerquote:: “Lovecraftian” fiction or detective noir pastiches will be rejected unless you really bring something great to the table.

It will be a few months (probably April) before Cirsova officially opens submissions for issue #2, but consider this a heads up.  We pay .01 per word with a bonus .01 for the first 2500 words.

Yes, there will be a 2nd Issue.  More on that soon…

Cathy Young, “Cuckservatives”, #Gamergate and the Trump Phenomenon

I haven’t talked about Gamergate, or even really followed it much, for some time; I’ve been too busy with the zine and my new writing gig at Castalia House (both of which have been going fabulously!), but this article rubbed me the wrong way, particularly the attempt to link the term “cuckold” to racism.

This is rather disappointing coming from Cathy Young, especially as one of the few in the media who gave gamergate fair coverage.  As someone who was close to gamergate, she should know that “cuckold” is not the racial term she claims it is.  As a slur, it has come back to prevalence in the last few years, not in reference to race or the supposed black “cuckolding porn” she describes, but by and large to male feminists who are perceived as not being able please feminist women.

Cathy admits in the twitter thread that she knows the actual origin of the term (having to do with Cuckoo birds; it was never a racial term to begin with and has been around in English since the days when most Englishmen had never seen black people and probably thought they were mythical).

It’s pointed out to her that the term “cuckservative has nothing to do with race” to which she replies “Except those who use it say otherwise”, linking to not to someone using it and claiming that they’re using it as a racial slur but to a National Review article full of people complaining that they’re being called cuckservatives and the people calling them that must be racist, claiming that in addition to being called cuckservatives, they’ve also been called “kikeservatives”.  The National Review article’s first linked source?  Washington Post.  Because those guys are in touch and know what they’re talking about, amirite?

It’s sad to see someone who supposedly took up the cause of ethics in journalism spreading and repeating silly falsehoods.  It’s even sadder to see very few people calling them on it.

First, let me preface this next bit by saying that it is not an endorsement of any candidate or policy, but conclusions drawn based on my own observations.

The Trump phenomenon is not difficult to explain.  Many who have, in the past, supported the Republican party as an opposition to the Democrat party and progressive platform have come to realize that there is no such thing as a RINO and those who’d been labeled RINOs actually represent the strategy and consensus of the party as an organization.  In a two party system, Trump represents the only opportunity for those who are opposed to the Democrat platform and who are tired of the GOP’s perpetual betrayal of its base.  It also represents a backlash against conservative eggheadery; for all of the think-tanks and institutes and scholars supposedly promoting conservative thought and ideology, where does any of it show up in Washington?  It’s a vote against policy wonks and think-tanks as much as it is against other candidates.

In an effort of the established pseudo-conservative intelligentsia to stop Trump and thereby maintain their control and relevance, the fear mongering about the straw-alt-right has been ratcheted up.  This is backfiring, however, because when taking Europe into account, people are able to see “there but for the grace of god and another few years of social democratic policies go us” (and I’m not just talking migrants and refugees, but failing social programs and the economic turmoil of the Eurozone as well); the people haven’t changed much in their core ideologies and beliefs, but in their desperation.    Voting “conservative” in the last several election cycles has failed them and many refuse to take the gamble again when 3 cycles in a row Republican majorities in Congress have failed to bring about the policy changes the electorate had voted for.  People have moved from conservatism to nationalism because they feel like they have no other choice.  The GOP is far more responsible for this change by being an ineffective opposition party than the institutional left.  The GOP must paint their failure as being the responsibility of a fringe group of far-right lunatics because otherwise they will be forced to admit that the American people have abandoned them utterly; yet by making concerted efforts to destroy their own front running candidate, they are proving how little the American people need or want the Republican Party to have anything to do with anything at a national level, because they are willing and active participants in the modern American Kleptocracy.  The desire for any alternative at this point is the biggest shaping factor of the 2016 race.

The Republican party IS an institutional cuckold; in the case, the egg is the statist agenda.  Once a pro-statist social agenda in place, they tend to it like it was their own.

For those on the left, whether middle or far left, this should be an object lesson in the importance of not going all out to destroy opposition to your agenda; if opposition to your agenda is ineffective or non-existent, those who object to what you’re doing will go to desperate extremes to shift the balance.  We haven’t seen anything yet, here in the US.  Again, Europe and the backlash that the social democratic left may be about to face there on a continental level has potential to be a bloody demonstration of what happens when any one agenda goes too far without reasonable opposition that is not simply dismissed and denigrated as “alt-right”.

Even many of those who support Trump probably wish that it never had to come to this.   But after a longstanding betrayal predicated on a falsehood of shared conservative ideologies, America’s relationship with the GOP may finally be coming to grisly end.


Shoutouts: Jabari Weathers & the Zelart Scholarship

Jabari Weathers has added the clean Cirsova art to his  online gallery.  You should absolutely check out some of his other work.

If you have a project for which you need art and are looking for something with a dark and surreal 70s New Wavy take on fantasy, I highly recommend Mr. Weathers.  He was great to work with and got the project completed ahead of schedule (over holidays even!)

Though I may try to mix it up a bit, I absolutely want more Cirsova covers done by her in the future.


I don’t know if this is still the case, but the last I’d heard there had been no applicants to Postmortem Studio’s Darkzel art memorial scholarship.  I hope this is no longer the case.  It’s a relatively small thing, but something I strongly support and believe in.

If I had any advice for aspiring artists, it’s don’t listen to the art teachers who tell you to stop doodling monsters and cartoon characters.  If you’re an artist and want your art to feed you someday, SFF illustration is where it’s at.  Your talents will be appreciated and in high demand.  The journeyman artist has always been a thing, but with today’s publishing boom in both fiction and gaming, you’re going to be more sought after and have more opportunities than ever.

So please, if you’re an aspiring artist in school, consider submitting something to apply for this scholarship.

An Example of Emergent Narrative

One school of thought looks at the DM as a Storyteller with a narrative he wants to get across.  The players fill the rolls of actors in this story whose primary purpose is to help move the DM’s story along through all of its beats.  In this case, the characters often become critical to the fulfillment of the narrative, so player absence and character death can be crippling to the DM’s plans for completing his story.  While the latter is avoided by fudging in favor of characters in an effort to avoid ‘ruining the story’, the former cannot be mitigated and can lead to arc and even game collapse.

The other school of thought looks at the DM as a referee and curator of a playground.  The players fill the role of both storytellers and actors in a fully improvised narrative.  Story emerges naturally from play, oftentimes in unexpected and exciting ways which could not be foreseen.

To show an example of this latter school of thought in practice, I’d like to share the last player session report of the DCC game I’m in, written by James “JamesOfJames” Shepherd.

First a few points of context:

Though we started out in a megadungeon city, game is purely hex crawl sandbox right now.  We have over a dozen characters spread out among almost as many players.  No one is a “plot essential” character, nor is there any “plot” other than what happens in the sessions.  We only had a few of us there for this session (Blaxjax, a fighter; Pashi, James’ cleric; and Elyse, my thief), but an incredible amount of stuff happened.

It was a busy two weeks for Blaxjax, Elyse, and Pashi.  (Pretend names are spelled correctly.)  We watched Blaxjax get absolutely pummeled in the fighting pits of Zig’s cult, but Pashi made out on her side bets against him and Elyse picked some pockets (which will become relevant later.)  His opponent – a lightning-fast fighter named Jadi (rhymes with ‘body’) Amar – thanked him for the chance to go up against the renowned Blaxjax and asked to join the party and lead a life of adventure.  A newly-heard rumor gave us our direction – apparently, some days’ travel north-east of town, in a saddle in the hills, there are crystals which have healing properties, though they require some blood to be shed to work.  Since Pashi’d been working on healing the crippled and needy and starting a rough hospital in town, she suggested they check out the rumors, and swing by where the party of hunters/bandits was last seen on the way.

Jadi, who apparently missed his calling as a folklorist of the region, was somewhat unnerved by the forest to the north (which Elyse dubbed the Watcher’s Wood.)  He told of bandits in the region who ate their victims.  In the woods, we shot a warning arrow above some deer – since Crusher and Vixen were well-provisioned already – and they bolted, as less-creepy deer would be expected to do.  After arriving at the meeting point, we followed the hunter’s trail north and west.  The small band spotted an old fort on a peninsula, still mostly intact, housing around fifteen persons.  Grossly outnumbered, we turned back the way we came, and met another hunting party carrying deer back toward the fort.  They were surprised to see us, and seemed about to draw weapons – luckily, Pashi mentioned that she was a priestess of the sea-god Owscheith, and the hunters responded favorably.  They claimed to be sailors, who compete for business (what business was unspecified) with merchants in town.  We parted peaceably, even on some good terms, though there was some lingering distrust – several of their number still seemed to be sizing us up as we left.

Wary after coming upon so many well-armed and dubious folk, we posted an extra watch and tried to leave a false trail to a cold camp.  A bear wandered in while Pashi was taking her turn at rest, but the three on watch successfully scared it away with little trouble.  Jadi had a nightmare of dark wings and dark clouds, though he didn’t want to discuss it, and the next morning, Elyse opined that the forest felt cursed to her.  As the forest thinned to the northeast of where the hunters were first encountered, we came upon a boar (which we avoided) and then to what seemed to be an abandoned sugar cane plantation, left to run wild.  We could see little but the two story house with its caved-in roof and a large cistern on the back side – Jadi warned of a place where a well-to-do family used to eat passerby in the region.  After Elyse heard singing on her stealthy approach, Pashi cautiously approached, the rest of the party under orders to do what was needful, including paralyze her with poison, if things seemed amiss.  Approaching openly, the singing stopped, and a figure with green hair emerged from the water.  She gave her name as Namia, and asked if we had any rum to drink.

Taking the excuse to consult with the party, Elyse offered that she’d heard of creatures like this before – it was probably a nymph, and was unlikely to harm us, if not necessarily trustworthy.  We shared our libations and talked through the rest of that third day of travel – Namia told us of the curse placed upon the Watcher’s Wood.  Long ago, to make a long story short, there was much bloodshed and atrocity committed, and the land was cursed.  She advised against committing any barbarous acts in the wood, though she said if we hunted what we needed, we should come to no harm.  We talked at some length that day and the next, resting and hearing a great deal said and sung about Namia’s favorite subject, the creations of man and their fall into ruin.  The songs had a sweet sorrow to them.  We broached the idea of re-settling the plantation, which pleased Namia greatly, especially if it meant more rum for her to drink.  After the second night, we headed to the east, where Namia thought there were hills which could fit the rumors heard in town.

Pashi took Jadi aside on the way and got him to open up privately about his nightmare.  He talked about a black cloud with glowing red eyes and dark wings chasing him, toying with him, always faster than him.  Comforting him, Pashi said she could understand how such an uncanny out-maneuvering the lightning-quick fighter could be unnerving indeed.  The party chanced upon some giant beetles, which seemed to focus on Pashi at first.  As Elyse withdrew to safety, leading Crusher at a run, she goaded Vixen into the fight, who charged into one of the three beetles surrounding Pashi.  Blaxjax and Jadi joined the fray and made short work of the beetles.  While healing wounds after the fight (and harvesting the beetles’ glowing glands,) Pashi was stricken with shame at the abysmal account she gave of herself in the fight and remained humiliated the rest of the day.  Continuing roughly east, we came across a large sinkhole late in the day, roughly 100′ across and some 25′ deep.  Getting well away from the unstable terrain, we set up camp.  Continuing southeast into the nearest hills, we came upon a shack in front of what seemed to be a cave or mine.  Blaxjax kicked in the door, finding four barrels of silver ore in what amounted to a tool shed.

Realizing the value of the find, we immediately loaded two barrels to each mule and left behind an assortment of rations and inexpensive starting gear, allowing the mules to move at half-speed back toward town.  As we finished redistributing the loads around noon this sixth day, lightning without an apparent storm erupted – noted folklorist Jadi Amar told us that this was rumored to be a portent of the cannibals he feared in the area.  Heading back through the forest as directly as possible, we pushed through the night to make it to the northern watchtower in short order, and then on toward town.

Back in Greyhold, we bought four tents and eight bedrolls, as we decided we’d had more than enough of sleeping on the ground.  We also hired on nine carpenters and a nine mercenaries led by [Leah?] Hawkeye, an expert markswoman.  Stopping by the guard tower the next night, we explained our plan to resettle the plantation a day’s travel through the Watcher’s Wood to the guards posted there, and requested that they make weekly patrols.  The seven guards demurred, since they were undermanned at their post.  After arriving back at Namia’s plantation, we filled in the carpenters’ foreman and sergeant Hawkeye about the dangers in the area; the cannibal-bandits and the fort to the west in particular.  They weren’t especially pleased, but that’s why they got hazard pay.  We promised we wouldn’t leave them at risk for too long, and promised to take care of any threat the fort may pose shortly.

Returning to town, we lobbied the town’s government to increase the patrol at the northern watchtower, which they did for a small bribe.  There should be weekly patrols between the tower and our farmstead and the garrison should be doubled to fourteen guards.  Discussing what should be done about the fort, Pashi volunteered to scout the fort, since we suspect the sailors are the same group as the fort’s inhabitants, and they reacted well enough to her at first.  (She is willing to come up with some manner of subterfuge if need be – plans laid to signal when she might open the gate from inside, or perhaps poison the garrison with some of the near-ridiculous amounts of toxic and deadly substances we’ve been amassing.)  The plan was agreed upon as a general strategy, since we have no solid evidence that the fort is a threat, and there’s little to do but pick off hunting parties failing solid intelligence on the fort’s defensive situation.

A freak storm blew up, and Pashi threw caution to the wind, heading toward the shore to ride out the storm in honor of Owscheith.  Little seems to have come of that, though sailors newly-arrived in port report of a previously-unseen island in the approach to the town’s harbor.  Blaxjax tried his luck once more in the fighting pits of Zig and won, losing Pashi some gold but gaining the favor of the warrior god.  Back at the Happy Harpy after the bout, Pashi tried to talk Jadi into being the face of the party’s rum brand, when the time came, but he declined – Blaxjax is by far the superior fighter, in his mind.  Elyse offered some true-to-life drawings she picked out of a mark’s bag during the first bouts some two weeks ago (I told you this would come up again.)  The lewd drawings are recognizably of a noble’s young (not *that* young) daughter apparently engaged in some tryst; Elyse suggested that we use these ‘artworks’ as our label.  Pashi approved of the plan – a small release at a selected gathering of the town’s upper crust seemed destined to bring interested parties forward to pay sizable sums to have the label changed.

tl;dr – we found a fort, then an old sugar cane farm inhabited by a lush water spirit, then a bunch of silver in a mine to the northeast.  we plowed the money into restarting the farm, but didn’t find the healing crystals we set out to find in the northeast, and have promised our hirelings to clear the area of bandits soon to make the farmstead safer.

In more rote fantasy arcs, characters get strongholds, castles and kingdoms, because that is the natural progression of things.  In free-form open world games with emergent stories, they can build plantations, plan distilleries and aim to corner to local rum markets by playing factions off against each other.  This wasn’t some grand planned out design by our DM; he just put the tools at our disposal – a hex with a bandit fort, a hex with an abandoned sugar cane farm, a few hexes of creepy cursed woods, rumors and some stuff from random tables – and let us run with it.  Even the supply puzzle aspect with our mules became a fun element when questions arose like “If we had to ride a mule to escape something, how much equipment will we have to dump?” and “How much vendor trash, spare equipment and rations do we cut loose so we can strap on all of this silver and get out of the wilderness at half-speed before something kills us?”

The best worldbuilding emerges on the micro, rather than the macro, level.  No one is going to remember the names of the races or lost cultures or the extensive history of your locations.  They may not even remember the names of the various gods, except for the ones who are immediately affecting the party by way of their clerics and cultists.  It’s the ruined farms, the dolmens, the weird statues, abandoned cairns and forest outposts that will stick with players.  They won’t remember the ancient king’s name, but they’ll remember that the woods to the north is full of bears.  They won’t care about the fall of some kingdom on a distant shore, but you’d better believe that when a vendor is selling “snake proof boots”, everyone at the table will be all “aww, man! Snakes!” and be on the look-out for caves filled with slithering serpents.

Thanks again, James, for letting me share this, and a big thanks to our DM for running this kind of game for us!

Lodoss, the Accursed Pink Slime

I wanted to respond to a comment over at the Castalia House blog in regards to Appendix E, 5e’s answer to/updated Appendix N.  At one point, I’d had something typed up over there, but the comment was eaten because I wasn’t logged in.  Rather than try to retype it, I decided to rethink it and take an opportunity to talk about Record of Lodoss War.

“I’d argue that Appendix E, along with the other 5e appendices, has more to do with filling the pipeline with more fantasy product. Mechanically, World of Warcraft has a more visible influence on the game design than most of the Appendix E additions. But the fantasy genre has reached a point where it is flooded by authors who recycle campaigns and characters into novels, to various degrees of success. Appendix E is designed to fan the world building bug as Ahmed, Lynch, Rothfuss, and Sanderson earn their places via their settings and not by their contributions to fantasy gaming tropes. (The first three are rather generic in character and ‘class’, while Sanderson’s magic systems are so strange that no correspondence to D&D caster classes is possible.) By promoting world building, Appendix E hopes to inspire the Next Great Fantasy Saga, or at least the next Lodoss War or Slayers.”

The invocation of Lodoss War really touched a nerve for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved Lodoss Wars, and I think it’s a thing of beauty, but not because it’s a good show or tells a good story.  Lodoss Wars is perhaps one of THE most Pink Slime of Pink Slime fantasy stories, such that when I’d seen it, I began pondering and crafting all sorts of theories about Occidentalism.

You see, Record of Lodoss War is what you get when you try to craft a western style fantasy adventure when late 80s Dungeons & Dragons is your primary exposure to western style fantasy.  Based on a group of Japanese D&D players’ session logs, Lodoss emerged from a culture where the western fantasy canon we take for granted is, if not completely absent, simply not a shaping force.  The result is stark and strange and perhaps gives us a look at what the game looks like from the outside looking in devoid of the context of classic SFF.

Lodoss 1

Record of Lodoss War tells the story of a Fighter, a Wizard, a Thief, a Cleric, a Dwarf and an Elf fighting goblins and orcs, an evil king, his evil fighter, the evil fighter’s evil elf girlfriend, an evil wizard with an army of dragons, and the lich whose spirit is in a piece of jewelry orchestrated the whole thing.  Some of the cheese is almost terribad!  For instance, whatever the elf casts her spells on seemed to always make their saving throws.  I just felt awful for her!  Not to mention, I think she might’ve been slow or something.


Lodoss Wars tries so hard to be grim-dark before grim-dark was an in thing.  Episodes begin with the haunting phrase “Lodoss… the accursed continent…”  But for all of the beautiful artwork (and Lodoss IS gorgeous) and impressive set pieces, it comes across as just feeling so incredibly empty. Interestingly, the advertisements for Lodoss used its D&Dness as a selling point (‘for people who like Dungeons & Dragons’ or somesuch).

Appendix E should be trying to inspire DMs to create games worth playing, but WotC showed their hand by including all of their branded D&D fiction.  I’m surprised they didn’t include the Magic: the Gathering books, as well.  Appendix E feels less to me about offering inspiration and more for ensuring a branded D&D experience.  Because of the nature of the game, everyone will bring to the table their ideas and play styles and DMing styles; but if D&D is trying to inspire the “Next Great Fantasy Saga”, Record of Lodoss War shows us the sort of cold sterile high fantasy that can result from D&D in vacuum.

I do think I should make a note about Slayers, as it was brought up in the comment as well.  Slayers may be the other side of the Lodoss coin, but I don’t know if that does it justice.  Slayers is very self-aware and lampshades a lot of the cheesiest D&D fantasy tropes; of note, in nearly every season, the big twist reveal is that the main characters’ murder-hoboing has played right into the hands of whatever the big bad was scheming, and, in the end, it is somehow always Lina Inverse’s fault.  You get Lodoss when you’re trying incredibly hard to capture not actual western fantasy but D&D; you get Slayers when you take the sort of fantasy you get from D&D and mock the hell out of it.

I’m seriously not trying to take the piss out of Lodoss; it’s one of the most beloved fantasy franchises in the east, and has a number of redeeming qualities (namely art and music), but if you watched the first episode above and are familiar with the classic fantasy canon, you’ll totally get what I’m talking about.

Later today, I have something of a guest post from one of the guys at my table.