Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Delving into The Barrow

"They moved in the dark...Sharpened bone spears dipped in shit and poison, curved swords and wicked implements of pain and war, fierce masks of horn and brass, short horn bows pulled with fire-sharpened arrows..."

Sounds like a description of a small horde of orcs tracking a group of adventurers through a dungeon, doesn't it?
That's an excerpt from a novel I picked up recently called The Barrow. I'd read a couple reviews of the book that compared it, in some ways, to a D&D dungeon crawl. Several of those reviews didn't mean that as a compliment, or see that as a good thing.
Now, I know that dungeon crawls don't always translate to great fiction! I've (tried) to read some of the more questionable Wizards of the Coast fiction, trust me. So I know that trying to depict the dungeon crawl in fiction can come to very bad ends, from a fiction standpoint.
At any rate, as I dug further into the lore of The Barrow, I discovered the author, Mark Smylie, is also a visual artist. And when I saw his work, I realized he contributed greatly to one of the campaign setting books I own: Midgard. Here's an example of his work:

I wonder what sort of author he makes. I'll let you know when I read the novel! The illo above is from a comic series that Smylie created a while back. I haven't read those...

Anyway, as I usually do, I started wondering about his created world's viability as an RPG setting. You know, because I'm an insane person that can't seem to separate his fantasy novel reading from his RPG obsession. Nevermind that I haven't read the damn novel yet! Oy vey, my mind...
Well, sure enough, when I went to the website for The Barrow, I discovered that an RPG already exists! And, a second edition is in the works.
Sheesh, I don't have enough time at the moment to go deeper into this rabbit hole. But I intend to write more here as I read the novel and explore Smylie's world.
Note: go here if you want to read an excerpt from the novel.

1 comment:

  1. I liked The Barrow quite a bit. There several allusions and nods to gaming strewn about. The dungeon crwaling aspects of the novel are are the beginning and towards the end, which makes the middle just a touch slow here and there, but as i was already a fan i enjoyed his fleshing out of this particular patch of the Known World. This is better written then his Artesia comics, but i miss his great watercolor art. The Artesia RPG is a beautiful book, but the rules seem a bit overly complicated, although I've never actually played it.