Welcome to the Flaming Faggot

Callovia is called "the boundless empire" yet you have managed to find its northern border - a notorious roadhouse deep within the Madrasan Marches on the edge of the wilds of Llanvirnesse. The sign above the door reads "Flaming Faggot," which would suggest a cozy, homey inn with fresh biscuits served at teatime if not for the severed troll heads mounted on pikes at the gate.

As you cross the threshold the raucous din quiets momentarily as all eyes dart to the door and calloused hands drop instinctively to well-worn sword hilts. The threat, instantly assessed, is dismissed and roadhouse patrons go about their business hardly missing a beat.

Grim, hard-eyed men huddle around tables in close conversation thick with conspiracy; caravan guards gamble away their earnings; Caemric rangers sit close to the fireplace cooking the damp of the Black Annis from their clothes as they warm their innards with Red Dragon Ale; minstrels play and buxom wenches dance for the pleasure of men who pay them little attention - until they need a companion to warm their bed.

As you approach the bar, a huge, bald barman with a greatsword slung across his back slides a mug of freshly-pulled ale towards you, its frothy head dripping over the rim.

"Pull up a seat, lad," he says, "and let me tell you a tale of high adventure."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Epic Thursday!

In October of 1981 I was taking driver training during lunch hours at my high school, in eager anticipation of receiving my 'learner's licence,' one of the great rites of passage of adolescence.

That month's issue of Epic Illustrates sports a cover by Howard Chaykin:

There isn't too much I want to comment on in this issue because, aside from an installment of Metamorphosis Alpha, which is quickly winding to a close, the rest of the magazine is filled with fairly unremarkable short stories.  This, of course, is a reflection of my personal bias.  I've never really enjoyed short stories very much, especially in magazines like Epic and Heavy Metal.  I far prefer longer serials with their greater depth of story telling and character development.

So, here's a synopsis of this this issue's chapter of Metamorphosis Odyssey.  With the Zygoteans in hot pursuit, Aknaton and his companions race for the planet Dreamsend, resting place of Aknaton's apocalypse weapon, The Infinity Horn.  They arrive at the temple in which the horn has been kept for 100,000 years, just ahead of their pursuers. While Vanth remains outside to hold off the Zygoteans, Aknaton leads Juliet, Za, and Whis'par inside and down a seemingly infinite staircase to a different plane of existence - the mystic heart of the galaxy.  They arrive at Aknaton's Hall of Death and Mercy, which, surprise, surprise has the ubiquitous skull entrance.

"Let me guess, the dungeon has a skull entrance, right?"
Within, they retrieve the Infinity Horn, with which Aknaton hopes to destroy the galaxy and create a fresh start for Juliet, Za, and Whis'par to create a new and innocent race.  Aknaton then leaves them with the horn, and goes to make his last stand with Vanth at the temple entrance.

I have something of a preoccupation with old newspaper and magazine advertisements, and I find it interesting that most of the ads in Epic don't seem to be targeted at a particular audience, namely the fantasy/sci-fi crowd.  Instead, the ads are for mainstream products like TDK cassette tapes, Purolator oil filters, and Yukon Jack Whiskey (the "black sheep of Canadian liquors").  One of the only ads specifically targeted to Epic's readership is the series of Dungeons & Dragons adventure ads.  These are pretty neat because they have a sort of ongoing story line in each ad.

In this one we are treated to a synopsis of the dangers so far encountered by Auric, Tirra, and Khellek, who have slain the Jackalwere they encountered in the last ad.  They ponder what to do next, and Khellek advises that they delve deeper into the dungeon, to the deepest vaults where lie the Treasures of Roakire.

It kind of makes me want to play D&D.  Must be an effective ad.


Trey said...

I love me some Metamorphosis Odyssey.

Sean Robson said...

Me too. I think this would have made a great graphic novel.

Shane Mangus said...

1991 or 1981? I think I know what you should have typed, you old goat! :-)

Sean Robson said...

Oops. Good catch, thanks. Typo or subconscious denial? Hard to say.