Category Archives: Appendix N

Digital Aardvark!


As if in answer to my silent prayers, formulated by unuttered for the first time this very week, Cerebus is now starting to be released on Comixolgy. It’s just the first two issues of the High Society story arc so far (though the first ish is free), but one presumes there’s much more to come.

I never managed to read much Cerebus back in the day and I’ve always wanted to rectify that. But I’ve got so very little room left on my shelves that I’ve avoided buying any of the phonebook compilations. Hence my hope that this classic series would see digital release someday. Sometimes the universe hears your thoughts and does something with them.

So if you’re all into the idea of digital comics (whether viewed on a desktop/laptop or some kind of tablety device) and are also interested in reading the adventures of the earth pig, rejoice along with me.

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What Fresh Pao Is This?

Well howdy there, anyone who still happens to have Strange Stones in their RSS readers! Yeah. I know. Long time, no blog. I just haven’t had anything I felt compelled to share. But I have been gaming some, at least:

  • The year-plus Call of Cthulhu campaign I was playing in just went on hiatus after, well, more than a year.
  • The Dungeon Crawl Classics game I started up with some friends has made it through three sessions and the fourth is going to happen, just a little delayed because of work schedules and new babies and such amongst the crew.
  • Another guy I know is talking about starting up a 1st edition AD&D campaign that I’m leaning towards playing in.
  • Oh, and I got to play in a session of Mythic Iceland (BRP) that was pretty cool.

And since it’s now October I find my mind turning to:

  • The Chill/Ghostbusters thing I always want to run around Halloween but never do (and probably won’t again this year)
  • The Thanksgiving game I’ve run the past few years with my oldest of gamer buddies (but probably won’t this year due to some logistical stuff)
  • The half-dozen or more games I want to run, kinda sorta (but probably never will, for assorted reasons ranging from lack of player interest to lack of time in anyone’s schedule and beyond)

But hey, I’m gaming at least semi-regularly and that’s a good thing.

In Other News
The Sword’s new album comes out in just two weeks. And the advance tracks I’ve heard have been tasty. So that’s exciting.

And speaking of music, I’ve been playing a lot of bass lately (I’ve been playing bass almost as long as I’ve been gaming), having taken up with an absurdist jazz punk art noise rock ensemble here in Austin. We’ve even, in spite of the expected limitations of the genre, had a couple of actual gigs and there are at least a couple of additional shows on the horizon. And some recording that should actually lead to some kind of released album of some sort. So that’s a thing or two.

What Now?
Well, I’m not going to shut the blog down or anything. There’s stuff here that people keep finding and enjoying (the mighty G-Man’s BoL adventures, if nothing else). And really, who knows when inspiration will strike and I’ll have to start posting like mad again or risk burning up from the inside? So there’s not really an answer to the question I’m afraid. I just decided I should poke my head in and say hello, yes, I’m fine, thank you, how are you? So I did.


p.s. I’ve been trying to read a lot more of the Appendix N classics lately, too. Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword is on my table right now. Just beneath it in the stack you’ll find Clark Ashton Smith, the smattering of Lovecraft I’ve never read, Beowulf, the recent non-Conan REH compilations, Vance, Moorcock, and more. Yay, books!

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Appendix N: Three Hearts And Three Lions

So I just finished reading Poul Anserson‘s Three Hearts and Three Lions, which has the unique distinction of being the first book listed in the (in)famous Appendix N of the 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide. The book was clearly an influence on the good Mr. Gygax and company, though its prominent place in the alphabetized list is probably due to the author’s last name as much as anything else 🙂

The book itself is interesting enough, though I found myself somewhat disappointed with what seemed like a rushed ending right at the moment things were about to get truly epic. The characters are generally solid and there’s plenty of set pieces that feel rather like encounters in an RPG. Some of these are even handled with cleverness rather than steel (imagine that!).

As far as its influence on D&D goes, Three Hearts and Three Lions is likely the source for the whole Law vs. Chaos alignment thing*, big-nosed, regenerating trolls, several Paladin-y things, and perhaps a few other concepts.

I don’t know if I’d call it an absolute must read, but if you’re looking for some enjoyable heroic fantasy that draws on the Carolingian cycle and features what might be the earliest heavily-accented Dwarf (and some nasty human-hating elves, too) in our geeky literary history, then you could do much worse than giving Three Hearts and Three Lions a bit of your time.

*Of course, Moorcock’s works also focused heavily on this concept, and probably drew from Three Hearts as well. Anderson’s book does pre-date the melancholy albino’s first appearance by a few years, after all.

And it’s a much scarier troll than any D&D troll has ever felt like to me. Maybe that’s because we all know you just need to hit the damned things with fire. Man, I hate playing with people who break character to bust out their encyclopedic knowledge of the Monster Manual (and similar works), don’t you? I mean, can we have some effing immersion occasionally, please?

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Notes And Video From The Michael Moorcock Reading

Moorcock, Reading

Moorcock, Thinking

Below are a couple of relatively short video clips from this afternoon’s reading by Michael Moorcock here in Austin (where he lives, in case you didn’t know).

Big thanks to Austin Books for making this experience possible for those who were able to take advantage of this intimate little reading, Q&A, and signing opportunity with one of the absolute greats of fantasy.

Things I Learned Today

  • I will actually enjoy Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
  • Mike’s favorite Doctor was Tom Baker
  • Mike knew Tom Baker, and Baker was apparently prone to, shall we say, chemically induced improv while working on Dr. Who
  • The BBC has some quaint, vintage standards rules they apply to Doctor Who novels (alas, no miniature smoking lizard dudes allowed)
  • Mike is working on some fresh Jerry Cornelius stories

And I really can’t stress enough just how nice Mike and his lovely wife Linda are. If you ever get a chance to meet these folks, do not pass it up.

Mike’s Intro

Mike Actually Reading

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New Mutants, Michael Moorcock

No, Mr. Moorcock hasn’t gone in for that particular crossover (thankfully). Instead I’m combing two posts into one.

First, as you’ve probably already read elsewhere, Mutant Future is getting a facelift in advance of its coming out party (i.e., going into actually gaming store distribution). Three cheers for Goblinoid Games on this one. Though, as my wife who deeply loves the game said of the new cover this morning, “Hey! Where are the spider goats?”

Second, Michael Moorcock, who may not be writing for Marvel but who has now written a Dr. Who novel, is doing a reading and signing at Austin Books this afternoon. You can bet yer boots I’ll be there to hear the man and shake his hand (again, he did a reading/signing there a while back in ’08 the first volume of the Elric reprint/compilations was released).

I’ll let y’all know how it went and maybe even share some pictures or something. Or, if you’re in Austin, go. Mike, as he insisted we call him last time, is a very funny and engaging person to chat with. Plus, it’s Michael Moorcock, people. I’m not insisting he’s god or anything, but damn. Michael Freaking Moorcock.

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Clark Ashton Smith

Found while trolling various other geekblogs (thanks, Bite The Bulette): a bunch of Clark Ashton Smith stories online. I’ve never read any CAS myself, so I’m sticking this here so I do actually read some.

I’m digging my way through a bunch of Lovecraft right now, and I’ve got Hawkmoon on deck. Plus there’s still all the Elric books after Stealer of Souls to get through. And I’m pretty sure I haven’t actually finished all of the Conan stories in the recent reprints. Oh, and let’s not forget the Kull and Solomon Kane reprints, too.

But hey, these are online, so maybe I’ll sneak them in over lunch or something. Anyway, enjoy them as you can and I’ll do the same.

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