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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Chalk giant

Any excuse for a classic Gary Chalk cover from the Golden Age of White Dwarf. But it's a good excuse. Gary has got together with the guys at Megara Entertainment to launch a crowdfunding campaign for Autumn Snow: The Pit of Darkness, a new gamebook set in the Lone Wolf universe.

For once it's not Kickstarter but Megara's own home-grown crowdfunding platform. In effect you're pre-subscribing to buy a copy of the book when it's ready, and for 29 euros you'll get a PDF and a black-and-white hardback with two dozen all-new Gary Chalk pics, plus fillers.

The new book is by Martin Charbonneau and features the adventures of a female Kai monk. I mean nun. She begins her adventures by picking a thoroughbred from the monastery stables, so a bit of a risk taker, then - which is just as well, as it looks like this mission will take her to the Darklands and beyond.

Money raised will go towards the purchase of dipthongs, digraphs and apostrophes... but more importantly, to pay for those lovely illustrations, meticulous editing by Richard S Hetley, and the deluxe printing we've come to associate with Megara. Oh, and the whole shebang is being overseen by Joe Dever, who will check every detail to ensure this fits in as an official part of the Lone Wolf canon.

I'll finish with Gary's own words, as he knows this world better than almost anyone:
"It’s great to have the chance to go back to Magnamund again, although this time my drawings will be featuring a new character: Autumn Snow. The servants of the Darklords and the warriors of Sommerlund are some of my favourite subjects, so I’d better start sharpening my pencils." 
Read more about The Pit of Darkness here and you can place your order for a copy here.

20 comments:

  1. I'm going to get in first with the comments for once. Mikael Louys of Megara has questioned my use of the term monk, on the grounds that Kai fight with weapons, not barehanded, and are really rangers. So I should clarify that this is a D&D-free zone. In reality, a person who studies at a monastery is a monk. The Knights Templar were monks, though no doubt D&D would class them as paladins. The real paladins, or Twelve Peers, were the marshals of Charlemagne's court.

    However, yes, I'm sure if you're playing Lone Wolf using D&D rules, you would classify Kai as psionic rangers or something, not monks. Or just Jedi for short.

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    1. Argh, now somebody has emailed to say knights are a subclass of fighter, so Jedi are actually psionic multiclassed ranger-fighters..! Dude, I'm gonna go Shatner on you in a minute.

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    2. Yes, different systems of worldbuilding can peacefully coexist between games, so long as each makes sense. For Lone Wolf, a check of the first book shows an early background paragraph starting with the words "The Kai monks"--they were intended as monks from the beginning.

      By comparison, this world also contains a group called the "Border Rangers," who are part of the royal army.

      That said, I'm unaware of the use of the word "nun" in this world. Gender among the Kai Lords was a bit of an uncertain situation, exacerbated by how Lone Wolf was the last of them for quite awhile. But things change over time, and hopefully Autumn Snow will be welcomed as a new addition.

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    3. Was Lone Wolf definitely male, then, Richard? I always assumed the books were gender-neutral.

      Whether the same word is used for monk and nun in the LW world is another question. But the place names suggest a Latin/Germanic language, so that would imply different words. You have to go back to ancient Greek to find a genderless word for monastics.

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    4. That's a fun question. Off the top of my head, I can recall no reference to Lone Wolf as male. However, unlike many other books, this series has clear illustrations of a male-looking figure called the hero.

      Related is the term "Kai Lord." Is there a parallel "Kai Lady"? Given that Lone Wolf was the only one alive for a long time, there was little compulsion to discriminate terms, and I do not believe "Lady" appeared anywhere in the books I've read.

      However, there then comes the roleplaying game content, which I ALSO have not read. Could a gamer advise on what it says?

      Either way, the Autumn Snow text refers to "Kai Lady," which should be accepted past editing only if it were a real term in the world. Thus, Lone Wolf the Kai Lord has an implied gender.

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    5. I suspect what happened is that Joe and Gary started off intending that Lone Wolf could be either sex. Hence the name and the early illustrations, both open to interpretation either way. But as the series progressed it must have become clear that wasn't sustainable - maybe at the point that Lone Wolf is made a lord - and so the box was opened and Schrödinger's wolf was found to be unequivocally male.

      Incidentally, "kai" in North Germanic languages means "keeper of the keys". I don't know whether than has any significance, but the culture of the LW world seems Scandinavian/Germanic, going by the maps.

      Many monastic orders of the Dark an Middle Ages were primarily nobles, of course. For example, in Legend (Dragon Warriors and Blood Sword) the Knights Capellar consist of monks (gentry mostly, some nobility) and below them are lay brothers, drawn from yeoman stock. There's not a lot of room for promotion, I must say, most societies being considerably less socially mobile & meritocratic than the West in the 21st century. (And we're far from perfect!)

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    6. Kai Ladies? Female Kai Lords? A few points to mention: -

      1) Glimpsing through the original Mongoose RPG, I can only find the term 'Kai Lord'. Never 'Kai Lady'. The book has a picture of a female Kai on the cover, but I can't find any specifically female Kai mentioned therein.

      2) Ditto the LW Multiplayer Game Book, also by Mongoose.

      3) (Kai definitely can be female, of course. Joe Dever has mentioned that himself.)

      4) We get a picture of a female Kai 'Lord' in LW 18, Dawn of the Dragons... but sadly, no name or title is given.

      5) We see a female Kai monk(ette) in the LW graphic novel 'The Skull of Agarash'. But again, no specific title is used. I'm starting to get the impression people were deliberately avoiding its use because of the ambiguity, at this point.

      6) The Kai Grand Master in LW books 21+ is supposedly gender-neutral - though a villain does cry 'Get him!' in one of the books.

      My overall inclination is that 'Kai Lord' can also be used for female Kai, purely because I've never seen the term 'Kai Lady'. But, overall, I think the verdict is still out.

      Any help?

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    7. [Sucks teeth.] But a female lord just smacks of solecism to me, Paul. Fantasy world-builders can do what they like with the laws of economics and human behaviour, but in my book they don't get to change the English language.

      I think what's really behind this is that people are used to thinking of "lord" and "monk" as cool terms, having been reared the likes of Star Wars and kung fu movies, but don't find that "lady" and "nun" have similarly buffed-up connotations. And there's only on way to deal with that kind of gender prejudice: head on. So here's to ass-kicking Kai Ladies and nerve-striking nuns!

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    8. I have incidentally been going through the first Falcon book removing all gender references such as "Get him!" (There were a lot, mainly because Falcon seems to have been modelled on Strontium Dog.) It might not seem like a big deal, but back in the day about 5% of our readers were girls, and I figured it was probably tough enough being an 11-year-old female geek in 1987 without being made to play male characters too!

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    9. Maybe Magnamund is an equal-opportunities fantasy world. Maybe there are no waitresses, only waiters. No actresses, only actors. No police men or police women, only police officers.

      No baronesses, only barons who are both male and female. And no ladies or nuns. Just lords and monks, who happen to be men and women.

      Actually, no. There's definitely a baroness in LW 18. And a princess in books 1 and 4.

      Damn.

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    10. It would be weird indeed to find a basically feudal world without contraception and yet with gender equality. It would, indeed, be the "Medieval America" of D&D!

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    11. Also, gotta say my god-daughter would be hugely unimpressed if I told her about a world with no princesses, lol.

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    12. There we go: RPG information. I was waiting for that.

      I was fairly certain that "Kai Lady" hadn't been used. It seems like a matter that needs a definitive statement sometime, assuming there isn't actually one out there and I'm still missing it. I'd be fine with either way, since so many other writers have had to handle similar issues and there are only so many means to resolve it (including changing the vocabulary, but it's a bit late to invent new words here).

      Funny how many discussions about gender I've seen crop up around these games.

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    13. The English language is quite useful in having the same pronoun for 2nd person singular and plural. That helped in the Blood Sword books, where there might be up to four protagonists. And useful too that English doesn't come festooned with gender-specific adjectives and nouns like French.

      Or we could just set all gamebooks in worlds where the language only caters for one kind of "you" and for ungendered roles. And then only publish them in Esperanto :-)

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  2. You cannot be the Sensei , oh wise Dave as I'm oodles older than you. Or should that be noodles? See? Told you I was off kilter.

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    1. Now zen, now zen. Make sensei, eh, Russ :-)

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  3. You could argue that Lone Wolf would be a Mystic... you've got some fighting skills and some psychic skills and that. Plus the whole "monastery without clearly defined religion thing" going on...

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    1. Lol. Fantasy roleplaying does seem to be filled with religion-free monasteries, James. Is that the influence of Tolkien, do you think, or just a generation of backpacking authors? This is why I prefer settings like Tekumel, Legend, Heian Japan - monasteries there are both doctrinal and political.

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