Friday, June 19, 2009

Blood on the Snow

Started reading Elizabeth Boyer’s The Wizard and the Warlord again…haven’t it picked it up more to thumb through the last couple years, but it’s one I keep coming back to. This will be at least the third time I’ve started reading it from the beginning (with the intent to finish). I know some people (like my wife!) think I’m weird to re-read books or re-watch films, but there’s something so enjoyable about a good piece of fiction…I guess it may be the same “escapist gene” in my DNA that keeps me interested in RPGs, even as an adult.

(from an astrological point of view, it’s most likely due to Neptune being conjunct my Ascendant in the First House)


I don’t know what it is about Tales of the North, but after the sand and sandal setting, “Viking” is my second favorite flavor of fantasy. Not sure what it is exactly about the Norsemen I love…I have almost as little northlander in my blood as Mediterranean/Middle Eastern (which is to say, NONE). I guess I’m some sort of germanophile or something.

Hell, I even get choked up watching when I see the charge of the Rohirrim (basically Vikings on horses) in those Lord of the Rings films…literally, brings tears to my eyes. Of course, that’s probably as much attributable to Tolkien’s prose as to those gleaming helms and spears.

While Conan the Cimmerian is cool and all, I don’t really consider him a true Norseman, and not just because of how he is artistically depicted (though he’s a pretty swarthy-looking barbarian). Mostly because he spends more time in jungles, deserts, and arid plains then in a longship or on a snow-covered cliff. Plus he just doesn’t wear enough fur and mail. Vikings should wear furs and mail.

You know, part of it has to be the axes. I love the axe. Burton writes that the sword is the “queen of weapons,” but the axe is definitely the king in MY book (yes, both the spear and club are more phallic, but…that’s not the point!). Over the years, I’ve created many fighter-types for various RPGs, and except for a couple rapier-armed exceptions all were axe wielders…one-handed, two-handed, dual-handed, it doesn’t matter. Some of my exploits as a player are still brought up by friends, quoting me by saying “talk to the axe.”

There’s just something so…primal, maybe?...about hitting someone with a sharp, wedge, using mass and leverage to split armor, flesh, and bone. Who the hell’d want to be hit by an axe? Sure, a sword can slice you open, slash through limbs or major arteries. But an axe hit is just severe blunt force trauma behind and edge. You think the chiurgeon’s going to be able to sew that wound closed? You think someone’s going to walk away from that?

Beards are good for warriors, helms (sans horns historically), heavy cloaks, furs, and mail…these things say D&D fighting man to me. Going a-Viking with one’s buddies and coming back in a longship loaded with booty? That says “adventuring party” to me.

Plus you’re encountering fell-beasts, trolls dragons, and sea-serpents? Come on! THIS is D&D, folks!

I also like adventures that take place in any kind of snowy or cold environment. Again, I’m not sure why…personally I much prefer the pouring rain to the snow (I’m a born-and-raised Seattleite). Snow can be miserable stuff. But snowy adventures are great…M1: Blizzard Pass, G2: Against the Giants…heck, I even enjoyed the Mountain of Mirrors endless quest book as a kid. Cold, dark, and dangerous simply by nature of the elements. I almost purchased the D20 supplement Frostburn, but my better judgment prevailed in the end.

More on snow and Vikings later…I’m just setting groundwork, here.


  1. Have you seen the "Deadliest Warrior" episode that pits Vikings against Samurai? They show an axe blow against a balistics gel torso. When the ER doc inspects the damage, he says, "I've seen damage like this before... on people hit by trains!"

  2. I love deadliest warrior, though I don't give much credence to their battle outcomes (so many different factors come into play). But it is fun!

    Yeah, getting hit by the sharp end of an axe is about the last thing you want to have happen to you...I just can't imagine much more painful ways to die besides being hacked to pieces.

  3. Isn't being hacked to pieces and getting hit with axe synonymous?

    Axes are berserker weapons. All attack, no sissified parrying that you get with swords.

  4. Well, I suppose if you get your head staved in with an axe you may die without the necessity of being hacked to pieces.
    : )