Appendix N, The Maze Of Peril By John Eric Holmes

51il4Qa XKL   If you're perusing this blog post, there's a great chance that you're an aficionado of old-school Dungeons & Dragons, or at the very least you have a burning curiosity towards the forty year old game of paper, pencils, funny dice, and your imagination.  That, or you Googled your way here and are desperately looking for your browser's back button.
  Assuming you're not here by accident or quirk of fate, (and if you are, why not stick around for a little bit.  Coffee?) think back to the times before you knew what a mortgage truly was, before the magic of utility bills, taking the little ones to little league, and  mandatory overtime dominated your days.  When you and your friends could devote all evening to pillaging the Caves of Chaos.  Back when you named your half-elf fighter/magic-user Melric (a combination of Merlin and Elric that you were sure no one ever thought of before).  The times you equipped a halfling thief with a grappling hook, and made sure to utilize said hook in every....  single....  encounter, gleefully shouting "Bonzai" all the while.  (No, I don't know why the night watch was not amused when you used the grappling hook to scale the city wall, after being granted permission to enter the gates.  Explaining that it was the thief-ly way to make a grand entrance probably didn't smooth things over, either.)
  Now take these (mis)adventures and employ them as the basis for a 147 page novella, and the end result would most likely resemble The Maze Of Peril by John Eric Holmes.  That is not a negative criticism.  On the contrary, it's the somewhat juvenile style of writing and assorted D&D-isms that give this work it's charm.  Holmes made sure not to take anything too seriously, and you get the sense that the campaign this book was based on was about, first and foremost, having fun, not being epic.
  The main protagonists are Zereth (I was Drizzt before Drizzt was Drizzt) the elf and Boinger (yes, Boinger!  I shit you not!) the halfling.  Their compatriots along the way run the gamut of fantasy tropes, from a portly priest and a knightly paladin, to a gruff dwarf and an alluring Amazon.  We're even treated to a segment where a centaur joins the party for a short while.
  If you can't take your fantasy literature with a grain of absurdity, then this is not the book for you.  If, on the other hoof (or paw or hand or mandible) you don't mind getting your peanut butter mixed with your centaurs and your centaurs mixed with your peanut butter, you will most likely enjoy the story and the memories of games past it can evoke.
  But wait, there's more!
  This novella is also an excellent snapshot of the way D&D was played back in the dark ages of the 1970's and early '80's.  There are lessons aplenty for students of the Old Ways, both players and dungeon masters alike.  Just the twists and turns around the flesh golem subplot is golden old-school-iness, and a great lesson on how actions can have unexpected consequences for the players.  What are you waiting for?  You can but it at Noble Knight Games


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