Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

The Fallible Fiend Link Roundup

Okay, this one was interesting in that I wrote this up without ever coming out and using the word “satire”. (There you go. Not being an English major has its downsides.)  I know nothing about Greyhawk, either… which means I didn’t even have a chance to make the some sort of observation that James Maliszewski does. I think that means for this series to be any kind of complete, I’ll have to do a retrospective on Greyhawk– in light of the whole of Appendix N.

RETROSPECTIVE: The Fallible Fiend by L. Sprague de Camp

Grognardia — “The Fallible Fiend is an important book in understanding the kind of world Gygax saw as a typical one for D&D. Novaria is a parallel Earth in that there are lots of obvious historical and cultural similarities, but they’re echoes rather than mirror images, even twisted ones. Consequently, the geography is different, as are the nations. The flora and fauna are similar, but, again, not identical, with extinct species, not to mention fantastical ones, mixed in with the more mundane ones of our world. Magic exists and follows clear rules. There are gods who interact with human beings, just as there are demon planes from which such fiends may be summoned and bound into servitude. I found myself thinking of Greyhawk when I recall Novaria and I don’t think that’s an accident.”

Stephen Silver — “De Camp uses Zdim’s travels throughout Novaria as a pretext for unleashing slings and arrows of outrageous satire at governmental practices and systems. However, he is willing to expand further than the obvious. While each system he shows appears ludicrous, he manages to tie them into the republican democracy which is practiced in the United States, thereby highlighting the follies of our own system of government. Furthermore, Zdim comes into contact with the “noble savage” in the guises of the semi-human Zaperazh, the horse nomadic Hruntings, and the cannibalistic Paaluans. Each of these groups represent a different type of fantasy staple and de Camp clearly shows why each is as implausible as the more “corrupt” human institutions of civilizations.”


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