Daily Archives September 18, 2013

Revisiting the Dungeons and Dragons Animated Series at 30

This week, the Dungeons & Dragons animated series turns 30 years old. Thirty years since the kids first set off on that magical roller coaster ride that brought them to “The Dungeon Master”. To say that this show wasn’t exactly beholden to the world of D&D is an understatement, but rather it used the game like you would a spice, sprinkled throughout the show to provide flavor to the fantasy setting.

It also can’t be understated how 80s this show is – something which anyone will notice upon popping in the first episode. For those of you who aren’t familiar – here’s some quick highlights:

  • A group of kids at an amusement park go on a roller coaster that takes them into “The Realm of Dungeons and Dragons” where they meet “The Dungeon Master”.
  • The kids are each given a weapon (and thus a class) to defend themselves and work to find their way home, while also performing side quests along the way to help people. Come to think of it, the overall plot is like a less techy Digimon.
  • Throughout the series the party battles Venger (an evil wizard) and Tiamat a five headed dragon.

If you aren’t sold yet on the show you should know that Peter Cullen and Frank Welker provide the voices for Venger and Tiamat respectively. That’s right – Optimus Prime and Megatron are involved.

To celebrate this magnificent and ridiculous show; I’m going to do a re-watch of the entire series, with recaps and commentary. Crazy right? But I might as well do something productive with all this free time I have.

The recaps won’t start till next week, so if you’d like to be involved – you have time to grab the DVD set and follow along. The show is available on DVD on Amazon at a ridiculously cheap price, which seems to be your only option. So grab a copy, and get ready – because next week we’re hitching a ride into the realm of D&D, with all the awesome 80s synth music we can handle.

This is either going to be awesome…or terrible.

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Numenera: Exploring the Lands

Numenera - Lands - Obelisk of the Water God

When I did my one-hour review of Numenera, I had to skim through some of the densest parts of the books to fit an overview in. This included the Setting and Creatures sections, which were not apparently essential to understanding what the game had to offer, though they looked interesting and imaginative. Now that I’ve had some more time to go back and look through these sections, it’s clear that the game designers managed their goal of merging science-fiction and fantasy well.

It’s maybe handy that I’m finally getting around to A Memory of Light, the final book in the Wheel of Time  series, as I’m reading through Numenera because there are some handy connections. Like the Ninth World, the lands in Robert Jordan’s series live amidst the ruins of a former time that they don’t really understand and that seems crazy. Through glimpses into the past, we know that people before the Breaking had hovercars and laser guns just as people in earlier eras before Numenera likely did.

The difference here, though, is that the Ninth World is distinctly sci-fi in it’s themes and outlook. There are some heroes to celebrate and monsters to slay, but the hooks and adventures provided focus more on exploring and understanding. The unknown regions of the Ninth World feel more like the “new worlds and new civilizations” of Star Trek than the wild regions of Conan’s Hyperborea, as one example of contrast. It’s a hard thing to explain the feel of this game (a hallmark of Monte Cook) so I’ll just outline it by showing off the book instead of groping more.

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