All Copies Have Gone to Fulfillment

I promise I will get to talking about how the Mass Combat playtest worked out soonish; I’ve just been swamped this week with real work, mailing copies out, and other stuff. Will things settle down? I don’t know, but at least I’ve got my short review for Friday in the can!

Hardcovers should have shipped by now, and all softcover orders are in; according to Amazon, softcovers should be arriving by the 9th.

Typically, every time I send out tracking #s, folks have already gotten their copies before I even send them. So, if you think your package is late or missing (hasn’t arrived by the 15th), just let me know, and I’ll look into it for you. If your package arrives damaged (this time of year, water damage in post is the most common issue we hear about), let me know, Amazon is really good about replacing damaged orders.

Some of you may have already had a chance to read the digital versions. For those who have read issue 7, it would be a tremendous help to us to leave a review on Amazon when you get a chance.

Also, please support our advertisers! Advertiser support let us go back to quarterly for this year; if you pick something up you see in one of our ads, be sure to let them know you picked it up because you saw it in Cirsova!

I just passed Issue 8 off to Mark for his round of copy edits, and I should be getting art back soonish, too, so that’s where we are on that.

In Loving Memory: Enrique “Doc” Miyares (Guest Post by Madelyn Miyares)

As those of you who read the Notes from the Nest in our Fall 2017 issue might remember, I dedicated our Hugo nomination to Papa Doc, Enrique Miyares, who was a fan of Cirsova in the last year of his life. What I will remember most about him was that he was a great storyteller and loved to share his stories with friends and family.

This piece by my cousin, Madelyn, does well to capture the man in his own words, and I am very proud to share it with all of you.

“Papi?” I say softly, sitting on the floor of my grandparents’ apartment. I’ve always loved it here. The comfy couch with its knit blanket. The rocking chair holding my frail grandmother. The green recliner holding my grandfather and his white wisps of hair. The walls filled with adventure. Every shelf holds pictures, books, tapes, paperweights, papers, each telling its own story. I’ve always loved the pictures most. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. There must be a thousand pictures here. How many words is that? One wall has always intrigued me more than all the others. On it hang many pictures. To the right side is the graduation photos. Every graduate from my oldest aunt right down to some of my older cousins. I’ll be up there too someday. Then there’s the left side. The best part of all. That’s where the wedding photos hang.

Today my eyes rest on two pictures in particular. These two stick out from all the others. Both are black and white. The first is of my grandmother, not as I have always known her, but as a beautiful young woman. Her hair is up in a veil, and her dainty hands hold a bouquet.  This one is from my Nana and Papi’s wedding. Back in Cuba. Papi once told me that back then a groom was never to be in the wedding pictures, just the bride. The other picture is my favorite of all. It’s the first picture of my grandparents together. They sit beside each other, in the distance. I think I love this one most of all because that was just so long ago. And here we are today.

“Yes, Princess?” Papi’s raspy voice replies. All this time in America and you can still hear the accent in his voice.

“Will you tell me a story? About Cuba?” I ask.

“Well, yes of course. What story would you like to hear? How I met your Nana?”

I let out a small chuckle. “No, Papi, you’ve told me that one before.”

“Have I? Well, how about our wedding day?”

“Papi, I’ve heard that one, too.”

Then Nana looks up from her knitting and chimes in. “Why don’t you tell her how we got here to America.”

“Yeah, tell me that one!” I cheer excitedly.

“Alright, alright. Well, where to begin? As you know, we lived in Havana, Cuba. Your Nana and I. We had four children while we were there, your aunts Beatriz, Gracie, Ines, and Mari. Life was nothing out of the ordinary. I was a defense attorney and I worked for the government. We were Catholic. Of course, 95% of the population claimed to be, but less than 10% were actual practicing Catholics. I was member of Agrupacion Catolica Universitaria, the first private Catholic university in Cuba. I worked there as a professor from 1953 until 1961 when Castro closed the school.

“The country was successful economically during our time there. Many industries thrived. We supplied nearly half of the world’s sugar production. Our tobacco was the best in the world. And did you know the best canned milk came from Cuba? All was well until a school fellow of mine, Fidel Castro, came into power. The government had been under the control of Fulgencio Batista, a war general who staged a coup, with US help, in 1953. Castro had attempted to rebel, but was unsuccessful. He spent some years in Mexico before returning to Cuba. Fidel eventually forced Batista to leave the country on December 31st, 1958.

“Our new leader was not actually a Communist. He was a radical Socialist. The USSR offered him help, though, and Cuba became allied with the Russians. I continued to work for the government under Castro until realizing the Communist connection. An “underground” of anti-Castro people had formed attempting to oust the Communist government. I defended several of its members in court, some of whom were executed. When the Bay of Pigs fiasco occurred, I was arrested and held for a week. The Castro Gestapo had their eyes on me as part of the “underground,” so we decided to leave the country before things could get any worse.

“You often hear immigrant stories of people who had grand illusions of what America would be like. Some said the streets were paved with gold. Or that nothing bad would ever happen to them in America. Our story is not like this. America was not exactly unknown to us. We has honeymooned on the Massachusetts Northshore, and I had visited Miami after my graduation. One thing was for sure, we were not going to America as refugees who planned to one day return to Cuba. No, we were to be immigrants who would start a new life in America. We knew that finding a way to make money and live our life would be hard, but it was well worth the risk to leave Cuba and its failing economy under Castro.

“The actual journey was not so rough, but making preparations was. The plan was to fly out of Cuba to Jamaica. Doing so was an expensive endeavor. Finances were provided by an uncle of your grandmother, Nat Simpkins and his wife Carmen. Carmen, as you may know, was an artist. We have some of her paintings here in the apartment. Years later, when I had made some money, I offered to repay them. Nat said to me ‘What money?’ and insisted that I not worry about it. I will always remember, on September 13th, 1961 we finally were able to leave. One of our relatives and I arrived first at the airport with the luggage and the tickets. Your Nana and the girls followed behind us. They were stopped at the gate since they did not have tickets. I returned to the gate to make sure they were allowed through. As I said before, I was under the nose of Castro and his Gestapo for my actions on the part of the underground. We were picked up and interrogated in the airport. Our luggage was searched, which was very minimal to begin with. Each of us had nothing but a change of clothes. Except your aunt Gracie. She brought with her a doll, Carlos, as well. We pretended that we were only vacationing. A few of our items were confiscated, but we were eventually let go. Then we boarded the plane, the last commercial flight to ever leave Cuba. As the plane took off, I gazed out the window and said ‘take one last look at Cuba,’ for I knew we would never see that beautiful island again. On the plane, Bea complained saying that she wanted a coke, which was to no avail.

“When we arrived in Kingston, Jamaica, we went straight to the US Consulate to request immigrant visas. This was no easy process. It took thirteen days to receive out visas. During those two weeks, we stayed with a kind Jamaican couple on their farm. It was very different living there than in Havana. The girls especially found it hard. They had been used to living in the city. Bea, I remember, would play with the dog. I told her not to since she could get fleas from it. Each morning, we would be woken by a rooster. During the day, I helped in the refugee center at the Bishops office. Many other Cubans were there trying to make it to America, and we aided them in filing paperwork.

“On September 28th, 1961, Gracie’s fourth birthday, we boarded another plane, this one to Miami. The flight landed at 6 o’clock PM. We had made it. I remember always, a friend of mine said to me: ‘Do not move to far away, because we are coming back to Cuba next month!’ What an illusion! He could not have been more wrong. I had no intention of ever returning to Cuba. This new land, America was now home. A fellow member of the Agrupacion University – which moved to America as well – met us at the airport. From there, we were brought to the house of my cousin Henry Giroud. He could not let us lodge with him, since he already had a lot of family staying there. Instead, he took us to a motel. Two cousins of my father who lived in Miami also helped us and fed us. The trip itself had cost our money, and we could afford nothing ourselves. The Father at Agrupacion was able to give me twenty-five dollars, and the resettlement center gave me another twenty-five. It was not much, but it was just enough to pay the motel. After that, there was nothing left. As soon as I had money, I offered to pay back the $50, but they insisted I did not have to. After that, I made sure to support Catholic Charities whole heartedly.

“While at the resettlement center, the director asked me if we were staying in Miami. I told him no, that we would be moving to Buffalo. ‘Why Buffalo?’ he asked, in shock. I explained that Buffalo was where my parents were, as well as my tio Jordi and tia Conchita. On September 30th, we arrived in Buffalo. There we were met by my parents and a close friend, Harry Tiernan. We called him our “fairy godfather” for all his help getting us to America. For a while, Nana and I, along with Mari and Ines lived with Harry and his wife. Bea and Gracie stayed with my parents until I was able to find a job and a place to stay.

“On October 21st, my birthday, believe it or not, I received a call from a man by the name of Dr. Ferdinand di Bartolo. ‘Are you available?’ he asked. He offered me a job working at Bennet High School teaching four classes of Spanish and one of French. I gladly accepted the offer and began to work. Nana did not work, since she was busy eventually raising eight children. Working at Bennet High was a great experience for me. I became President of the Foreign Language Teachers Association, Teacher of the Year, and Chairman of the Building Committee. I was known as “Doc” by everyone in the school from the superintendent right down to the youngest freshman. I will always remember, one year, a girl signed in my yearbook, ‘If I ever need another Daddy, it would be you!”

“While living in Buffalo, my oldest daughter Beatriz started school. She attended Catholic school, which was very different from the private school in Havana. It was hard for her, since she spoke very little English. She had a tough time with the nuns at her Catholic school because they kept insisting that her name ought to be spelt ‘Beatrice.’  The other girls had time to learn English before they had to start school. . The first American girl, Carmen was born in November of 1961, but she passed away from the flu in 1963. It was a lot colder in Buffalo than any of us were used to. Cuba is a tropical island after all. Finances were tough at the beginning.  Back then, there was no such thing as food stamps. Instead we got surplus food boxes, which provided canned and processed food. Eventually, money became less of an issue and we were able to eat well again.

“We lived in Buffalo up until 1977. That year, there was a teachers’ strike which I supported and led. In June, I was offered a position as a bilingual editor. I took up the position, and we moved to Orford, New Hampshire. By then, the oldest girls had graduated. Bea was in Cincinnatti teaching, Gracie had received a scholarship for nursing school, and Ines was on her way to California. I worked in Orford until all the kids had graduated. I had become Managing Editor, and Nana worked as my top proofreader. When it was time to retire, we moved back to New York, right here to Chili.

“America has been great for us. I will always remember the times we had back in Cuba. Where I was born. Where I grew up. Where I went to a birthday party and met the girl of my dreams. Where I married her. Where my first children were born. It holds a very special place in my heart, but America is just as important to me. It is home. I will always remember, we all became American citizens on January 5th, 1967. Sometimes people ask me if I wish I could return to Cuba. To those people I say no. I have never even dreamed of going back to Cuba, which is a good memory.”

I can’t help but to smile as my grandfather’s story comes to a close. All my life, I’ve wondered what it would be like to go to Cuba. To explore where my family came from. Now, hearing all this, I realize how, even though Cuba is an important part of my heritage, America is even more important. My family would not be what it was today if my grandparents had not made their journey here all those years ago.

“Thanks Papi,” I say. “That’s a really cool story.”

“I’m glad you liked it,” he replies. “Always remember this one fact, Princess. The history of Cuba cannot be written without mentioning members of our family. My great-great grandfather Perucho Figueredo wrote the Cuban national anthem, and his nephew Fernando Figueredo fought for ten years in attempts to gain independence, which was not won. Many of our ancestors, including my grandfather and namesake, Enrique, were leaders in the fight for freedom. Even I tried to rebel against communism. You should be proud of our heritage.”

At this, I smile even more, because I am proud. Hearing tales of my family’s achievements makes me sure that I too can do something special here in America. I am so grateful to be a part of this family and its legacy. It makes me feel like I am a part of something greater. And in more ways than one, I am. Not only am I part of a great family, but part of a great nation, where new futures can begin. It gives me hope that one day, I too can be something great. Maybe I won’t lead a rebellion against the government, but I could. And even if I don’t, I can make an impact on the world around me.

“Now have I ever told you about the 1965 AFC playoff game against the New England Patriots when Cookie Gilchrist–“

I sit quietly and listen, even though, yes I had heard this story, and no the game was not actually against the Patriots. My eyes drift once again to the walls. I smile at the black and white ones form Cuba, but now I look at the others, too. The wedding photos, the graduation photos. They’re all beautiful. I can’t help but to be glad, because if my grandparents had not decided to come to America, none of that would be here. Their children would not have grown up, gotten married, had kids, become successful. My father would never have met my mother, and I would not exist. What a sad thing that would be. Yes, I still long to learn about Cuba, its history, its food, its culture. But I long just as much to appreciate my life here in America and the opportunities in front of me, thanks to my grandparents. I will always remember the importance of both nations and my family to my life.

Mass Combat Rules Alpha

Given a week and a bad idea, this is what I came up with and will be testing out later tonight. There may still be some things that will get handled on the fly as they come up, but I feel comfortable handing this off to my players who are asking “what the heck are we doing?”

The scenario involves 11 Lvl 20 (or demi-human max) PCs leading “Elite” units (second column Saves & Thaco). 40k “good guys” vs. an army of just shy of 100k undead. Undead army is led by 30th level Lich, and his forces are broken into 16 brigades of vampire-led skeletons & zombies, plus a few regiments of wights, ghouls and thouls, plus a battalion of bone golems acting as his elite guard.

Note that these rules don’t constitute the “system”, are scenario specific, and leave out a lot of details that are included on the “character” and “unit” sheets which I won’t be posting.

Turn Order:

  1. Roll Initiative: Side with higher initiative goes first.
  2. Declare Casting
  3. Winning side’s Archers
    1. Archer may not move and fire
    2. Halfling skirmishers may move and fire, fire then move, or move, fire, then move again
  4. Winning side Movement
  5. Charge Combats are resolved
  6. Losing side Archers
  7. Losing side movement
  8. Non-Charge Melees are resolved individually, with individual initiative rolls per encounter.
    1. Damage is calculated simultaneously if initiative is tied.
  9. Winning side’s spells are resolved
  10. Losing side’s spells are resolved

(AOE damage spells in melee affect 50/50, unless casters have LOS on flank or rear of a Division/Brigade)

Movement is written on bottom of pieces; it’s based on unit’s equipment.

  • Regular movement costs 1 per hex
  • Rotating/pivoting a large unit costs 1 per 15 minutes (any point of axis)
    • “Facing” only matters for Brigades/Divisions (2-3 hex units)
    • A unit may do an “about face” for 1 movement point
    • Units may rotate/pivot or about face on the same turn they charge, but must use the charge movement to move in a straight line.
  • Leaders may double move, though this may mean they leave their units. Units without their leaders do not get the CHA bonus to hit.
  • Charge: units may move double their normal movement – this constitutes a charge
    • The additional movement from the charge MUST be in a straight line.
    • Unit with long weapons win first initiative over short, regardless of who charges
      • Unless defending unit is flanked or engaged in melee with another unit
    • If a unit charges and does not engage in melee, it misses its next movement
      • Missile/magic troops that miss their movement in this manner MAY fire on their next turn.
    • Leaving Melee – a unit may voluntarily leave melee in either of the following methods, or must in the 2nd method if a leader flees/is killed
      • On unit’s melee init; may not attack; costs 2 movement; retreating player chooses facing; does not provoke an attack


  • On unit’s melee init; may not attack; costs 1 movement; unit faces direction it moved; provokes an attack.


Normal units do 10% of their strength in damage/kills. +10% per bonus for special.

Cavalry units do 50% of their strength on their initial charge, plus an additional attack. (This is noted on the cavalry character sheets, for a total of 4 attacks)

Magic units

  • Targeted/multi-target spells – 1 damage = 1 kill x10% unit str
  • AOE spells – 1 damage = 1 kill x 10% unit str

Magic User (individual)

  • Targeted spell – 1 kill
  • Multi-target spell – 1 kill per die
  • AOE spells – 1 damage = 1 kill

Turning – 2d6 x 10% of a cleric’s unit strength, adjusted by undead type.

Split Melee – if a unit is in melee with 2 units, it may make 2 attacks, halving any damage dealt.

Leaders – Leaders may fight with their troops. This provokes 3 individual monster attacks per round. Doing so, they will have a 1-6 chance per round of confronting an enemy unit leader. Both leaders may seek one another out, rolling on their initiative.

  • +1 leader is mounted with a foot unit.
  • -1 leader is hiding

Leaders may also leave their units and fight alone. Attacking alone provokes 1d4+4 monster attacks on an individual per round. Unmounted leader may not leave combat when attacked by a unit, unless a friendly unit engages the enemy unit in melee, allowing them to “escape”.

Lich Rule – Human/demihuman units may not voluntarily move within 6 hexes of the Lich. Units MUST attempt to maintain this distance, moving away from the Lich during their movement phase, even if it means breaking melee (see leaving melee). Heroes must fight the Lich alone; soldiers’ weapons cannot harm him.

(Scenario) Siege Engines – it takes a unit 1 round to destroy one point of siege engine. Certain damage spells such as fireballs may also destroy them.

  • XX – Division
  • X – Brigade
  • III – Regiment
  • II – Battalion

Errata (Halfling sling range 40/80/160); all Human and Elf PCs may have Standard War Mounts (15 HP AC15 (1d6/1d6; AB: 3)); Cleric units adjacent to units in melee may reduce that unit’s losses by 50%. They may use this ability up to 3 times, including on themselves.


Skeletons Need to REEEEEEEE!

I feel like skeletons have kinda lost their luster in a lot of games, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. They’re often used as obvious tableau monsters–skeletons at a table playing cards? They’ll get up and attack you; skeletons laying down in beds? They’ll get up and attack you. At one hit die and easily turned by priests, they just never seem like that big a threat unless they can get economy of action on you. And even then, they’re often mundane mooks; players aren’t really scared of them. Then I remembered…

Skeletons are supposed to REEEEEEEEEEEE!

Skeleon Reeee

None of the games I’ve been in have done this, and I’ll admit I’ve failed to include it myself. But when skeletons attack, they are supposed to shriek for up to three rounds. And during each of those three rounds, there’s a 50/50 chance that a wandering monster will come check out what the hell is going on.

So, you go from a blah encounter with a few skellies that the clerics turn and the fighters hack to bits to a cascading nightmare as the dungeon’s alarm system has just alerted half the dungeon to your presence.

Edit: Oops! Looks like I screwed this up! The picture for skeletons are under the entry for Shriekers. No wonder! But hell, why not have skeleton shriekers?


Vote for the best stories of 2017

Cirsova stories “The First American”, by Schuyler Hernstrom, and “Death on the Moon”, by Spencer Hart are finalists in the Short category for this year’s Planetary Awards. Be sure to vote by leaving a comment!

Planetary Awards

If you’re a blogger, podcaster, or youtuber, then you’re eligible to vote in the 2017 Planetary Awards.  The nominated science fiction and fantasy stories are:

Short Stories / Novellas

Acadie” by Dave Hutchinson

The Bitten Body” by AC Spahn

“Death on the Moon” by Spencer Hart, found in Cirsova issue #6

“The First American” by Schuyler Hernstrom, found in Cirsova issue #5

“The Pilot” by Andrew Mayne, found in Predator: If It Bleeds

“Trouble in an Hourglass” by Jody Lynn Nye, found in Straight Outta Tombstone


Age of Assassins” by RJ Barker

Good to the Last Drop” by Declan Finn

The Guns Above” by Robyn Bennis

Kings of the Wyld” by Nicholas Eames

Legionnaire” by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole

Out of the Soylent Planet” by Robert Kroese

The Rogue Prince” by…

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On Eric John Stark and the D&D Barbarian Class Part 2 – Civilization and Barbarism

The other day, during the discussion about Stark and Barbarians, I noted that Stark does NOT come from the template of European Barbarians, and would be more akin to an African warrior or Indian wild-boy. Cirsova contributor Jon M. Weichsel (whose story “Going Native” will appear in our Summer issue) jumped in, and we drilled down a bit on the nature of “barbarians”, though it’s a digression that took us fairly far from the original topic of Dungeons & Dragons.


Gitabushi: I still think y’all are overthinking this. Appendix N is supposed to be inspiration, not source documents. The authors draw upon Euro-American legend to make stories, just like the game does. Europeans were barbarians to the Greco-Romans, but the Norse were barbarians to Euros. Hence, barbarians are norse/scandi berserkers. And Brackett, REH, et al, drew upon the *Euro* legend to make their barbarian characters.

Cirsova: Except that’s not the case for Stark, at all. He’s closer to either Mowgli or a sub-saharan african.

JonWeichsel: Yes. Stark is closer to Mowgli or Tarzan than Conan. He was an orphan raised by savage aliens on Mercury and was then rescued and civilized by a human but still carries some of the savage ways he was brought up with. I wouldn’t call him a barbarian.

Bushi: I think there’s an argument for that. There’s also an argument that Mowgli and Tarzan would be barbarians, too. Comparing Conan and Stark in text, they’re both uncivilized men who can function in society but still hold it in contempt.

JonWeichsel: But Conan is a foreigner who adheres to a Barbarian code despite the pressures of civilization. With Stark/Tarzan/other feral children there is an internal conflict between their wild upbringing and their humanity.

Bushi: I understand the distinction as you are laying it out, but I don’t get how they can’t all fall under the barbarian umbrella.

Cirsova: Well, in part because we need to define what we mean by “Barbarian” mechanically. If we mean “Barbarian” in the 1e mechanical sense, Conan’s a Barbarian, Stark is not. If we mean “Barbarian” in the trope as it was understood during the 70s S&S revival, then yes [Stark is]. Also worth noting, in 1e, there’s no restriction on a Barbarian’s armor, so yes, your Conan-esque barbarian could be wearing full plate.

Bushi: I mean a barbarian can mean a tribesman, sure. But it can also just mean a savage, uncivilized person, no?

JonWeichsel: Stark does combine the feral child and barbarian tropes, but as far as literature goes, I’d say barbarian is a social class while feral child is a condition of being. Like, if you found some guy living in the woods who had been raised by wolves, would you call him a barbarian?

Bushi: I probably wouldn’t reject the classification, but it’s possible that [I] don’t have an accurate conception of “barbarian.” As I suggested, I’ve always just kind of thought “one who is apart from civilization; a savage.” I’m sure it’s a useful distinction, just not one I’ve drawn (though perhaps I should?)  Following that line of thought, it’s maybe barbarian vs wild man.

Cirsova: It’s a one-way window. The Civilized person can observe and perceive the Barbarism of another, but to the Barbarian, he simply sees himself and his way of life, not any barbarity. It’s a false/illusory binary. Because Conan and Stark and Tarzan have come to the other side, they can see their own Barbarism from the perspective of civilization, and they are analytical of their past and/or present condition.

Bushi: So would you class Stark, Conan, Tarzan the same?

Cirsova: We’re getting into philosophical stuff that doesn’t reflect at all on D&D’s mechanics, but they all existed in a condition that the civilized man would call “Barbarity”, they all move to a place where they could observe and reflect that Barbarity from a civilized perspective, and they all took very different things from their self-reflection on what the conditions of Barbarity meant and how they contrast for better and worse with a “Civilized” state. The reason it is a false/illusory binary is that the “Barbarian’s” state may also be one of Civilization and a Civilization’s may appear to another as a state of “Barbarity”. Barbarity is not an absence of civilization but a one-sided perceived drastic imbalance between them. Tarzan and Stark were born into more savage (less civilized) circumstances than Kull or Conan, but even Tarzan’s upbringing among the apes was not anarchic.

Bushi: Ok well. I am going to make the great leap and say that absent other evidence barbarian rage comes from Stark. Because it will help me sleep tonight.

On Eric John Stark and the D&D Barbarian Class

I’ve realized that one of the reasons why you don’t see as much gaming content here as you once did is that much of my energy now goes towards having discussions on game and Appendix N theory with Cirsova Contributor PC Bushi (whose story Antares will appear in our Fall issue) instead of blogging.

So, for those of you who mostly just follow the blog, I thought it would be worthwhile bringing the discussion over here to share some of our insights.

Bushi muses that Stark may have been a more likely inspiration for the Barbarian Rage trope than Conan. The most interesting highlights, though, are that I dug up both Tom Moldvay’s stats for Stark (15th level Fighter), which predates the official Barbarian PC class, and the first official writeup for a Barbarian class in AD&D. While the ur-Barbarian PC class does not feature a “Rage” ability, Moldvay’s Stark does, in which he ‘reverts to N’Chaka’ and gets crazy stat bonuses for a short period of time.

Bushi: So not that Conan doesn’t get pissed and kill people/things, but it strikes me that Eric John Stark is a more likely inspiration for the tropey barbarian rage.

HP: If you’re going to use “barbarian” as a distinct class in an RPG, Stark is the better source material in general.

Bushi: An interesting thesis. Tell me more.

HP: I sort of touch on it here.

Bushi: I don’t think any of that is wrong, but it doesn’t exactly make the argument that Stark is more of a barbarian than Conan. At least the literary Conan.

HP: I’m not saying he more of a barbarian, just better grist for a barbarian class.

Cirsova: I mean, I have made the argument in the past that Conan is what you get when you have 16 STR and 18 CON and say “Think I will roll a Thief then Dual-Class over to Fighter at some point so I can wear heavy armor.”

Gitabushi: Y’all might be overthinking this. D&D draws upon European history (or bad history) as much as fiction. And it draws upon fiction that draws upon fanciful variations of European history. That’s why the Cleric and Paladin are based on Catholic priest-warriors rather than Muslim. So rather than the Barbarian class being based on a literary figure, the class is best seen as based on the legendary Scandinavian Berserker that the literary figures are also based on.

Bushi: Sure. I’m just specifically thinking about the “barbarian rage” thing, which I think D&D probably made ubiquitous. I didn’t mean to imply that barbarians came from D&D. Was talking about “barbarian rage” as a game/media trope. Which I’m sure in part comes from historical berserkers, sure.

Cirsova: I somehow have the sneaking suspicion that most folks playing Barbarians wouldn’t know this and at best would picture Fafhrd & book Conan and at worst picture movie Conan.

“I am playing a barbarian. Basically he’s just a dude who is not Greek.”

And the game probably takes more inspiration from fantasy BS barbarians than actual Norse or Celtic warrior cultures. But it would be interesting to work some equivalent of the Ragnarok passion plays. It would make a great funnel.

Youth of the tribe go to collect their gravegoods, meet with the grave-maiden, fight the “werwolves” in the symbolic world’s death battle around winter solstice, then surprise! Something vaguely Fenrir-like shows up and starts killing people for realsies!

Count Donku: I’ve been beating this drum since forever, but Conan is definitely more of a fighter who dipped a few levels of rogue early in his career, which isn’t really optimal as a PC but he makes up for that with insane stat rolls.

Cirsova (aside): Actually, it would be good at early levels, because with the high con bonus and how quickly thieves level up, he’d have Fighter HP and decent thief skills by the time most folks were reaching level 2.

Bushi: I mean it kind of depends what we mean by “barbarian.” Conan is basically a tribesman who’s accumulated all sorts of different martial and leadership experiences, but Howard always stresses his disdain for civilization. In that regard I’m not really sure he’s any less barbarian. His sharp, primal instincts are often called by by Howard. What I’m referring to is more how Stark seems to fly into legitimate berserk rages and Conan doesn’t. Sure, but Stark also goes to cities. Not like he hates civilization so much that he’s become a hermit, either.

Cirsova: Stark also has PTSD from being left alone on hell world as a child having to fend off giant lizards with a stick until a space cop found and adopted him.

Bushi: Yeah, that could be a big contributor. Anyway my main point was that Stark seems to me like a likely genesis of the sterotypical barbarian flying into a fit of blind rage and killing everything. And yes, as [Gitabushi] says, that can go back further to berserkers.

Cirsova: Stark makes more sense if you look at him as more nuanced version of the Angry Black Man trope; he was marginalized himself, and is an outsider even in the world that took him in, so he sympathizes with and is angry for other marginalized peoples. Sometimes that anger boils over.

Gitabushi: I still think y’all are overthinking this. Appendix N is supposed to be inspiration, not source documents. The authors draw upon Euro-American legend to make stories, just like the game does. Europeans were barbarians to the Greco-Romans, but the Norse were barbarians to Euros. Hence, barbarians are norse/scandi berserkers. And Brackett, REH, et al, drew upon the *Euro* legend to make their barbarian characters.

Cirsova: Except that’s not the case for Stark, at all. He’s closer to either Mowgli or a sub-saharan african.

Bushi: Also Conan is basically a proto-Celt, no?

Cirsova: Yeah

Bushi: I’m sure the Norse berserkers were an inspiration for these guys, even if they weren’t the only ingredient.

Cirsova: Also, Tom Moldvay has Stark as a 15th level Chaotic Good Fighter in AD&D.

Bushi: Did AD&D have the barbarian class?

Cirsova:  Stark’s stats apparently pre-date the Official inclusion of the Barbarian class. And Moldvay’s stats for Stark include “reverting to N’Chaka” ability, which is basically Rage. Dude, we are “an hour or two’s more research than I have time for” away from a major breakthru in proving you may be right! There is literally now evidence that would support the theory that “Berserker Rage mechanics as it appears as an ability of the Barbarian Class directly descending from some BS Moldvay cooked up to stat Stark.”

Okay, now to burst your bubble. Original AD&D Barbarian class didn’t have Rage. It was originally an outdoorsy, high HP Fighter/Thief/Ranger mix.

Bushi: My question is when did they pick up rage, and was there any cited or suggestion inspiration?

Cirsova: Well, I linked the original official class. I don’t know when Rage was introduced. I don’t have time to research it right now, but I’ll try to aggregate some stuff for a post next week.

Also worth seeing how Rage stacks up to N’Chaka Beastmode: +5 to hit +7 to damage +5 AC penalty +8 save vs. empathic spells/charms 2d4 rounds

There’s an interesting digression on the nature of Civilization vs. Barbarism, but I’ll save that for tomorrow!

Bulk/Retail Orders, Review Copies, Summer Advertising, and More

The release of Cirsova #7 is almost upon us!

We offer discounted bulk rates for softcover copies:  5 Softcover Copies – $30 + $20 for each addition 5. They have an SRP of $10.

If you are a blogger and are interested in a review copy, we can provide you with your choice of digital format for review. Just drop a line with a link to your blog.

We have very limited advertising space available in issue 8. If you are interested in advertising with us, our rates can be found here.

I finished my 2nd round edits on issue 8 last week, and am in the process of getting them incorporated into the work files. Once that’s done, I’ll be handing it off to our copy editing team, so we’re on track for a June 1 release.

Hopefully I will have issue 8’s cover art in soon, and will be getting issue 9’s commissioned within the month.

I’ll be mailing out issue 7 hardcovers now and softcovers beginning next week.

When Issue 7 does come out, we may run a promotion on back issues.