Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Hiero’s Journey Link Roundup

The latest installment in my Appendix N series went up this week over at Castalia House:

RETROSPECTIVE: Hiero’s Journey by Sterling Lanier

It is really an incredible piece of work. It’s like the Dumarest novels where you read it and you keep thinking… about half my game collection sprung directly from this! And yes, I do kind of slag off on the second half of the book. This is something I’ll point to when I go off on one of my tongue in cheek rants about why everything went downhill with science fiction and fantasy staring sometime in the seventies. But forget about that. For something that you’re going to loot in order to improve your game? This thing is the gold standard!

Grognardia — “Nonetheless, I continue to hold to the opinion that pulp fantasy frequently possesses strong postapocalyptic overtones, with the action taking place in the aftermath of the collapse of some mythical Golden Age. Exploring and looting ‘dungeons’ certainly makes more sense in this context, as does the lawlessness of the implied D&D setting. It’s yet another reason why I find high/epic fantasy a poor fit for the game.”

Tor.Com — “He is probably best known—if he’s known at all—for being the editor who brought Frank Herbert’s Dune series to publication, but he was fired for it, because Herbert’s work wasn’t an immediate success. Or maybe some know him for his sculpture work, crafting miniatures that have been displayed at museums.”

Raven Crowking’s Nest — “Here we have the seed of the cryptic alliances of Gamma World, the prototype of the Hool Marshes in Greyhawk, auguries being cast (and enigmatic answers being given), humanoid alliances against men, clerics in leading roles, psionics, intelligent animals, and some weird creatures that defy natural explanation.  We also have a truly dangerous fungal entity (House) and its attendant slimes….the abilities and descriptions of which seem familiar from Gary’s work in the Monster Manual and the Monster Manual II.  If you want to know why giant lynxes are intelligent in the Monster Manual, the answer is probably the influence of this book.”

Roles, Rules, and Rolls — “And then there’s psionics, and perhaps only an obsession with Hiero and the Deryni novels can explain why Gary mixed mental powers with magic in both editions he had his hands on. It’s pretty clear that the D&D psionic combat system draws on Hiero’s many mental duels with evil forces, which describe different modes of attack and defense. Very present in the novel, too, is the central balancing idea for D&D psionics – while characters can luck into these amazing powers essentially for free, using them opens you up to attention from a whole new range of unwholesome entities.”

Planet Algol — “So I’ve been getting ready to read Hiero’s Journey again, a buddy and I were talking about it and how great of an example of a D&D Cleric he makes. And it makes D&D sense, with high level clerics being better fighters than fighters, Hiero is a stone killer on account of than.”

Rogues and Reavers — “In both Hiero’s Journey and (to a lesser extent) Hothouse we observe a variety of mutated species which have developed from different animals, often with strange and unusual powers. Unlike what may seem implicit in Gamma World’s character generation, however, these are not one-of-a-kind critters each with their own unique powers. Instead, they are small tribal groups, usually living within a small territory, which are slowly developing their own cultures. Each have their own understanding of the world around them, and many have radically different viewpoints. Predatory catfolk, dolphin slavers, secretive bear-men, and so forth, each bearing a unique outlook.”


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