1989

Forgotten Realms (comic) is introduced in September 1989 with a 4-part series named “Hand of Vaprak” and as writer Jeff Grubb explains in his blog, these characters are fully aware that are living in a “fantastic universe.” So it’s more adventure than ordeal and the characters are allowed to have fun.

It’s a magical word. Magic spells, magic potions, magic vehicles… Magic gets the characters in and out of danger. So, it shouldn’t surprise you that 3 of the 6 main heroes and the dominant adversary in this series are spell casters and that they are all battling over an incredibly powerful magical artifact.

It’s a light-hearted world. If you were like me in 1989, you wanted your fantasy to feel as real as possible. That meant no silly, tongue in cheek nonsense. So, oddly, Forgotten Realms is a better match for me now that I’m cured of that confining perspective. And I’ll even admit that I chuckled a bit at this exchange in issue #2:

Assistant: The company of dragonslayers is no more…

Mage: What happened to them?

Assistant: They encountered their first dragon, milord.

It’s a Dungeons & Dragons world. If you are acquainted with the roleplaying game you will feel right at home. The D&D character classes and races, the names of spells and monsters, and even the almost sizzle of an almost thrown fireb– (see issue #3) are all here.

16 Words from a Jack Vance Book

The Eyes of the Overworld (1966), Chapter 1

cupola (small dome) – “…an eccentric structure of steep gables, balconies, sky-walks, cupolas…”

droll (amusing) – “…long inquisitive nose and droll mouth…”

erb [word created by Vance – guardian beast] “…I must shorten the chain of the captive erb which roams the premises during the night.”

gibbet (gallows) – “…occupies the site of the old gibbet, and has absorbed unlucky essences.”

homunculus (artificially made dwarf) – “…a bottle containing a pickled homunculus.”

libram [word created by Vance] “…a particular red libram, the casebook of Dibarcas Maior…”

manse (house, dwelling) – “…Iucounu the Laughing Magician had built a manse to his private taste…”

munificent (very generous) – “I have refused munificent offers…”

periapt (charm worn on a necklace) – “…four periapts, at prices barely above the cost of the lead itself…”

pertinacious (resolute, stubborn) – “…with a disposition at once flexible and pertinacious.”

puissance [archaic] (power) – “…charms, puissances, and elixirs.”

purgative (laxative) – “…which was used throughout Grand Motholam as a purgative.”

terces [word created by Vance] – “My price is a modest twelve thousand terces.”

thaumaturgical (magical) – “…a vast collection of thaumaturgical artifacts…”

vicissitude (change of fortune) – “He had known many vicissitudes gaining therefrom a suppleness…”

volute (spiral shape) – “…scarlet sunlight engaging itself in the volutes.”

1983

Golden Sword of Dragonwalk is a Twistaplot gamebook by the prolific R. L. Stine. It was published in 1983, nine years before Stine’s Goosebumps series began.

I speed through the first few choices, skim reading and this is the end of my pathway:

“In a few days, Grandma Carmen’s once quiet neighborhood is overrun by evil. Dragons roam the sidewalks, chewing up the hedges and swallowing pedestrians whole. Sorcerers change babies into toads…” (18)

Well yes, only children and rather silly adults enjoy such nonsense. Being rather silly myself, I restart. On page 5, I find a Morton’s Fork with one choice sending me directly to page 8 and the other having me read page 11 before sending me to the same page 8. I then have to choose which order I will fight the big dragon, middle dragon and little dragon. Six paths to choose from. Here are my choices and their results in the order I choose them.

  1. middle, big, little – I’m DEAD but it seems to give a clue to fight the big one first.
  2. big, middle, little – I’m DEAD but the wizard says never fight the big one first. Sigh.
  3. little, big, middle – I kill the little one. I kill the big one. Then…

“… the look in the dragon’s eyes is not one of anger, but of grief. With its two companions gone, the middle dragon has lost all its fight. It offers no resistance as you plunge the Golden Sword through its heart.” (29)

Considering this is a book for kids, Mr. Stine got away with murder.