This week I read:
Corum: The Prince with the Silver Hand by Michael Moorcock
The second Corum trilogy, and set a thousand years or more after the first trilogy, with Corum being summoned to do battle against the Fomorians. The first Corum trilogy felt vaguely Welsh-inspired, this second trilogy was definitely much more so. In each book, Corum has to undertake a quest to retrieve some legendary treasures created or brought by ancient Sidhe warriors to fight off the Fomorians—the Sidhe and Fomorians all being extra-planar beings not native to the world of Corum and the Mabden.
Unlike most of the other Moorcock stories I’ve read, there isn’t really much in the way of the wider multiverse—Law, Chaos, the Balance, the Eternal Champion—in these stories. The closest we get is that someone theorises the Fomorians may be degenerate Lords of Chaos, trapped in Limbo and driven mad, and Gaynor the Damned makes an appearance as a servant of the Fomorians. The stories feel much more like something out of mythology, which makes sense as that’s clearly what Michael Moorcock was heavily drawing from.
Black Sword Hack
This week I ran a one-shot of Black Sword Hack. I prepared a super-tropey adventure inspired by the Slayers of the Blood God scenario in the rulebook, the tower break-in scene from the Conan the Barbarian film, and the Michael Moorcock story Elric of Melnibone.
Originally I was just going to run Slayers of the Blood God, but then I thought that if this is just a one-shot and we’re likely never going to return to the system, I wanted to cram in as many Moorcock tropes as I could: runeswords, gods, magic, different planes of reality, etc.
And so, Murjana—a sophist and natural diplomat, born and educated in the richest palace of the Caliphate—and Rina—a decadent, storytelling, warlock raised in a necropolis by ghosts—found themselves tasked to break into the tower of Lord Suren and steal a powerful artefact, the loss of which would greatly set back the plans of the setting’s antagonist: an evil empire of Law.
Black Sword Hack has a little system for generating a sword-and-sorcery world, so we did that, then created characters which tied into the world, and finally I slotted the details in, madlibs style, into the adventure I’d written previously. The players ended up setting fire to a tower full of priceless artefacts, making a bargain with a trapped Lord of Chaos, finding a runesword, and slaying an evil shadow-clone. We ended the session with them trapped in the dead world where the runesword was hidden, wondering how they would get home. Good stuff.
It was fun, fairly fast-paced, and definitely different to our usual Arden Vul game. There were a few things we messed up with the rules, but that’s always the case with a new system. I’m not sure I’d use Black Sword Hack for a campaign, there’s a possibility of bringing it back for future one-shots; but, then again, there’s always more systems I want to try.