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‘Treading on the Threshold of Doom’
The Castle of the Wizards: Chapter IX of The People of the Black Circle by Robert E. Howard
I will not give away any of this adventure-packed plot, but rather discuss the importance of The castle of the Wizards to the many alternative realities that disenfranchised men, males and boys of today retreat into in the form of adventure video games.
The castle of the Black Seers on Yimsha was essentially the blueprint used by Gary Gygax to structure the concept of the Dungeons & Dragons game, the game that took table top miniatures battle rules, the folklorish fantasies of J.R.R. Tolkien and the plunder-based adventures of Howard’s Conan yarns, into a fad that eventually spawned video games. From healing potions found on site to enable further adventuring [Xuthal of the Dusk] to hellish Dungeons [The Scarlet Citadel and The Hour of the Dragon] to the fortress keeps of mighty wizards inspired by this chapter. The multi-level, obstacle-rich fortresses of evil swarming with progressively lethal enemies and culminating with an ultimate confrontation with the “boss” villain, was born here, in this masterpiece of an adventure novella. What is more, Howard’s trademark fatalistic grit, heroic tension and the interpersonal play of dynamic wills driving their bodies through the fields of human and extra-human endeavor that are the signature of the author increase in depth with the tactical peril they face.
If you play role playing games or role-playing game inspired video games and have not read The People of the Black Circle, you should.
A Well of Heroes
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the world is our widow
den of the ender
pillagers of time
behind the sunset veil
winter of a fighting life
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