Tales from the Magicians’s Skull is a periodical, published by Goodman Games, focusing on Swords & Sorcery in the vein of “Appendix N” authors. It is inspired by classic pulp magazines, like Weird Fantasy. It was initially funded via Kickstarter. Issue No. 1 was released a few months ago (PDF) and issue No. 2 was recently published in print and PDF. No. 3 is in the works. Unfortunately, that kickstarter was just prior, to me realizing what this whole “Appendix N” thing is/was or finally taking the advice of Hankerin’ to read DCC RPG.
I may create another post specifically reviewing the regular magazine, but this is a post focused on Issue No. 0. You also might see it referred to as “Special” since that’s what’s printed on the cover. This small magazine was given out to backers of the kickstarter who pledged at the Legion of the Skull level. And, let me tell you, I’m very disappointed I missed that. It’s exactly the kind of thing that I love to see happen in Kickstarters. Snooze you lose!
I happened upon No. 0 when Goodman Games published on their blog that they found a bunch of limited edition stuff when cleaning out their warehouse up in Fort Wayne. No promises by the time you read this, but it’s currently still in stock. Maybe it’ll get listed on eBay from time to time?
This issue is mostly a collection of essays that were published as public updates to the Kickstarter. It is 22 pages (including the front and back cover) with some classic DCC RPG style illustrations by Ian Miller, Brad McDevitt, and 3 illustrations from an artist that I can’t determine (maybe Michael Wilson?)
The short story is a quick and interesting read. I don’t happen to know the author (yet). I get the impression that the main character, Hanuvar, is a recurring character in other stories? He’s a cool guy, is a badass, does a heroic thing and saves a girl. I’d call it a story reminiscent of REH Conan, and certainly in the vein of Pulp S&S fantasy (IMHO). I’m simple. I like these kind of stories!
The essays are certainly interesting. The first one, “Defining Sword & Sorcery”, I think, does a very good job of exactly that. At least, I learned something from it. A couple essays are Excellent jumping points to other authors/books that I’m already making a list to check out. Other essays are just some thoughts on the genre, and others probably give some good advice to an aspiring author…. or to DMs? I think so. I’m gonna mull these over tonight.
In the Table of Contents listed below, the title links to the Kickstarter update. The exception is the single short story titled, “The Way of Serpents” that is exclusive to this print magazine. So, in that way, the entire contents (minus illustrations) is public domain.
Table of Contents:
- Cover Illustration is by Ian Miller
- Layout & Design by Lester B. Portly
- Front Inside Cover. “The Skull Speaks” and Foreward by Joseph Goodman
- Page 1. “The Way of Serpents” a short story by Howard Andrew Jones with Illustrations by Michael Wilson
- NOTE: This is in the 2016 Goodman Games GenCon Program Guide
- Page 9. “Defining Sword-And-Sorcery“, an essay by Howard Andrew Jones
- age 10. “Sword-And-Sorcery’s Grandfather“, an essay by Howard Andrew Jones
- Page 11. “Dynamic Duos of Fiction“, an essay by Bill Ward
- Page 12. “Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser: Two Who Sought Adventure“, an essay by Bill Ward
- Page 12. “The Dark Tower of Jaquays“, an essay by John C. Hocking
- Page 13. “The Three Ms” Writing Horror in Sword-And-Sorcery“, an essay by Aeryn Rudel
- Page 14. “Celebrating Leigh Brackett“, an essay by Howard Andrew Jones
- Page 15. “It Came from Appendix N: Roger Zalazny’s Jack of Shadows“, an essay by Chris Willrich
- Page 16. “Celebrating Robert E. Howard“, an essay by Howard Andrew Jones
- Page 17. “By the Sword: Adding Realism to Sword-And-Sorcery Combat“, an essay by Aeryn Rudel
- Page 18. “Striking the Balance“, an essay by Bill Ward
- Page 18. “Your Illustrious Ancestors“, an essay by James Enge
- Page 19. “Finding Sword-And-Sorcery“, an essay by C.L. Werner
- Page 20. “Valen the Outcast“, an essay by John C. Hocking
- Page 20. “Horror in Sword-And-Sorcery“, an essay by C.L. Werner
- Back Inside Cover. “The Pledge of the Sword“, an essay by Howard Andrew Jones
Smoking: Sutliff Aged Maduro Cavendish
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