Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser

It is interesting.  The fantasy fiction you were raised on, often informs the tone and attitude of the world you imagine when you play D&D.  This goes equally for the DM and the players.  In the past, I've had players raised on very different forms of fantasy, that sort of didn't "get" my world or my game (none of my current players fall into this category).

The books of Fritz Leiber, specifically his Lankhmar series, greatly inspired 1st Edition D&D...and greatly inspired me.  I devoured the stories of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, reading though the series innumerable times.  The books are dark, but somehow full of life and humor.  Fritz Leiber wrote this about the main characters of his most popular series of books.

"Fafhrd and the Mouser are rogues through and through, though each has in him a lot of humanity and at least a diamond chip of the spirit of true adventurers.  They drink, they feast, they wench, they brawl, they steal, they gamble, and surely they hire out their swords to powers that are only a shade better, if that, than the villains.  It strikes me (and something might be made of this) that Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser are almost the opposite extreme from the heroes of Tolkien.  My stuff is at least equally as fantastic as his, but its an earthier sort of fantasy with a strong seasoning of "black fantasy," - or of black humor, to use the current phrase for something that was once called gallow's humor and goes back a long, long way.  Though with their vitality, appetites, warm sympathies, and imagination, Fafhrd and the Mouser are anything but "sick" heroes."

And he continues:

"One of the original motives for conceiving Fafhrd and the Mouser was to have a couple of fantasy heroes closer to the true human stature than supermen like Conan and Tarzan and many another.  In a way they're a mixture of Cabell and Eddison, if we must look for literary ancestors.  Fafhrd and the Mouser have a touch of Jurgen's cynicism and anti-romanticism, but they go on boldly having adventures - one more roll of the dice with destiny and death.  While the characters they most parallel in The Worm Ouroboros are Corund and Gro, yet I don't think they are touched with evil as those two, rather they are rogues in a decadent world where you have to be a rogue to survive.  Perhaps in legendary, Robin Hood comes closest to them, though they are certainly a pair of lone-wolf Robin Hoods..."


None of this is to say that fantasy, magic, strangeness, the undead, gods, and the truly weird are not included in my campaign.  They were included in Fritz Leiber's stories as well.  He commenting on tone.  The "feel" of the stories.  And also the nature of his main characters, as they encounter the truly strange and fantastic.

Now, if a player comes to me with a character concept or story-line that does not quite fit the darker, earthier tone of my campaign, I do what I can to accommodate.  And bringing in other influences is good.  But, it is also important for players to understand the world their characters live within.  

Anyhow.  I saw these quotes by Leiber, and thought I would share them.  :-)




    • Mark Stinson

      That is why I like lower leve I play the best. Though Eldemont convinced me that play at higher levels can definitely be cool.

      • Jay

        It gets at the heart of Are the heroes ideologic symbols or are they men with all of their flaws and anxieties.  I always assumed that’s why you prefer to play in the early levels.  Once you get to level 15 you are pretty much a god among men.

         I also think it is an interesting contrast where Fafhrd is the main character but he doesn’t really drive the narrative things often seems to happen to him.  Where as the heroes in high fantasy seem to be more the center of everything the happens in the universe