Monday, January 18, 2021

The Halls of Tizun Thane

A constant lament of this blog since its inception is the extent to which fantasy games and gamers are ignorant of the literary origins of the genre on which they both depend. This lament is not universally applicable, however: many older games and game writers were better versed in the foundational works of fantasy. A good example of this can be seen in issue #18 of White Dwarf (April/May 1980), which contains a low-level Dungeons & Dragons adventure entitled "The Halls of Tizun Thane" by the late, great Albie Fiore, whose title is clearly a riff of that of the titular wizard from Robert E. Howard's "The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune."

"The Halls of Tizun Thane" is a remarkable piece of work from the early days of White Dwarf, as this terrific map of more sixty-five keyed areas amply demonstrates.

The scenario involves a party of adventurers exploring the former abode of Tizun Thane, "a high level evil magic user, who was as cruel as he was cunning." Thane, we learn, had a hall of mirrors in his abode, and, if one stared into them, one could see "not reflections but instead a scene from another scenario" – a clever echo of what Kull observes in the short story linked above. Otherwise, the adventure doesn't have any other obvious connections to the story, but the fact that it has any whatsoever is a testament, I think, to how much more commonplace familiarity with pulp fantasy stories was among early RPG players. 

7 comments:

  1. Thank you for this reminder that I am not entirely alone in this lamentation.
    I suspect that we are of a similar "age", both in years and outlook. :-)

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  2. There are some other Howard references in the scenario, especially to the Conan story Shadows in the Moonlight. Albie Fiore was an interesting character, as can be seen from his obituary- https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2009/aug/18/albie-fiore-obituary

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    1. "Shadows in the Moonlight," eh? That's a story I haven't read in a long time. I may need to revisit it.

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  3. I never read the Kull books, but I have always been drawn to this scenario (and thus immediately thought about it when I saw the title of the Kull post). I'm not sure I ever ran the scenario, or at least completed it.

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  4. BBC archives have a video clip with Albie Fiore ref’ing the adventure in question here: https://twitter.com/BBCArchive/status/1000045807226228736?s=20

    On the podcast Grogtalk, there was an actual play of this module (with myself as one of the players, as it happens). It can be watched here: https://youtu.be/mfhnNVCxNj4

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    1. I've seen that BBC clip before, but thanks for reminding me of it and sharing the link here. Anyone interested in the early history of the hobby should find it worthwhile.

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    2. One of the players -- the sharply dressed one with the beard -- is Steve Jackson, co founder of Games Workshop, and I'd be very surprised if the shop in which they are playing isn't the first proper GW in Hammersmith.

      I'm not sure who the other two players are, although the woman looks familiar. I remember another, similar video, with a young Jervis Johnson, and she may have appeared in that one too.

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