Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Truth To Power

Earlier this evening, I was doing dishes/cleaning the kitchen while waiting to take the boy to basketball practice, and I told him about today's dissection of the Desert of Desolations series, including such things as Hickman's manifesto and the way-too-low treasure count of I4: Oasis of the White Palm.

[sorry...I just got momentarily distracted. As I type this I'm sitting in a neighborhood bar, having a beer, and there is what...what I assume of those Fast/Furious films on the screen. I assume, because I've never watched a single minute of a single film till now (I just recognize the actors). The sound is off...all I see are visuals. I can already tell (without sound) that: the acting is terrible. The cinematography is terrible. The writing must be nonsensical. Someone's house blew up...from a small package on the porch. Diesel is trying to look "shaken;" perhaps with sound there would be "dramatic music" but without, he just just looks confused and kind of sad. Mmm]

ANYway...I was telling him about I5: Lost Tomb of Martek and the substantial lack of treasure, including the whole each-PC-gets-three-items-from-the-vaults thing at the end as a reward as well as the whole all-treasure-is-magicked-to-stay-here-and-cannot-be-removed-without-Martek's-permission thing.

"Why couldn't we just kill Martek? Wouldn't that allow us to take all the treasure?"

You know, the thought had honestly never occurred to me.

You CAN'T kill Martek...not only does the module not give the literally provides no stats for the character. And this is, frankly, amazing considering all the NPCs that have been statted out in this series (sometimes multiple times, with regard to I4). But, of course, it makes sense: the player characters are supposed to be HEROIC GOOD GUYS that are SAVING THE WORLD from an evil, giant (noble) efreeti. You are supposed to watch as Martek, etc. does battle with the thing and destroys it. 

Which is, in the end, the final insult. The "heroism" of your characters matters not one shit in the scheme of things...check out this ending (after the PCs watch from afar Martek's victory over the Big Bad):
Martek's voice comes to you again: "The desert is returned to its people, the Efreeti is no more. One final gift I give to you. Those people that cast you into this desert will no longer remember you. You are once again free to travel the face of the world as you want. All to whom you tell this tale will believe it to be but a fable. Only you shall know the truth of what you have seen."
Fuck. You. Martek. AND Hickman. Seriously. You BOTH suck.

What a rook.

Okay, tomorrow: dromedaries.

Good picture; shitty adventure


  1. Amen to that. I never cared for any of the Hickmans' stuff.

    1. While I dislike being a “Hickman apologist,” I think it’s only fair to point out that I am nearly twice as old now as Tracy was at the time he published Pharaoh, and that he had AT MOST seven-ish years of experience with D&D at the time of Martek…whereas I’ve got four DECADES under my belt.

      The POiNT being…at the time these adventures came out, they were neat and new and trying to do innovative things, but the hobby was still young…and now with clear eyes we can acknowledge these early pioneers’ contributions (good AND bad), but we should not hold their work as sacrosanct or place them on too high of pedestals.

  2. "Only you shall know the truth of what you have seen" seen being the operative word, because the players don't even get to fight the big bad, correct?

    1. Right. Oh, you face the bad guy at the end of I4, but he runs away (entering the astral plane) after three rounds, or upon being reduced to half HPs.

      Only the Untouchable, Un-Stat-able, Super-Cool NPC (Martek) can ACTUALLY defeat the a "cut-scene" box text bit that the players are forced to listen to.

  3. Re: Fast/Furious - I've watched all of them, those movies are a guilty pleasure of mine. They're... utterly terrible, and don't get any better then what you related. Only watch if "action movies that make no sense" is something you're into. :)

    1. Hm. I've come to the age where I don't enjoy action cinema just for the sake of the of the reason I abhor the live-action Hobbit trilogy.

      But I don't fault folks having guilty pleasures. I have several myself.
      ; )