Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

High Art and Hawk the Slayer...

Those who know me personally know that I have a crippling Hawk the Slayer fetish I'm unabashadly, perhaps embarassignly proud of. I know it's a true B-lister complete with a late-70s Love Boat soundtrack and questionable effects and writing choices. I've heard many aspiring Siskels (or Eberts, whatever) call the film rubbish. They might be technically correct, and who am I to judge? Me, I think it captures gaming better than anything... 

There's nostalgia, of course; but it's more, for despite our pretensions, we aren't making anything close to high art. We're a motley bunch of like-minded folks gathering to have fun over our battlemats, fueled by Mountain Dew and Monty Python. Our rulebooks might be professional affairs; but the stories we tell with them come from amateur screenwriters, acted by amateur thespians (or comedians), and played out in the theater of the mind.

The miniatures may be cool, and our internal presentations epic; but it's really just Hawk the Slayer in its absurd glory. I mean no offense here. It's my personal belief that Hawk nails everything earnest and fun about our hobby. From cool villains chewing up the scenery to epic-level heroes with infinity crossbows, this cheesy masterpiece, the one some call rubbish, nonetheless captured the unbridled fun of tabletop gaming like nothing since. 

But what about the serious films? The Dragonslayers and whatnot. I love 'em all, especially Vermithrax Pejorative. But these are closer to serious novels which just happen to have dragons and working magic. The emphasis here is on proper character development; and even when the heroes possess miraculous powers, they aren't defined by them (a mistake of inferior fantasy, by the way). No, when it comes to replicating a game, Hawk rules.

There's always the one lobbing puns like grenades while their friend passes notes to an indulgent (or long-suffering) GM proposing well, antics. Serious treatments aren't equipped to handle gaming's shenanigans, and too-serious GMs who discourage this might pull it off, although I rather suspect they throw in the towel once their players catapault dead orcs into a hungry dragon's lair to distract it. Hawk played at serious; but it felt like this...

Here's an unpopular opinion, but Hawk the Slayer did D&D better than the D&D movies, however good, perhaps because it was under no obligation to smuggle in its various Easter Eggs - and of course, any official D&D release absolutely should have them. But no slick, professional game survives contact with fun-seeking hobbyists, each with an amateur's blood coursing through their veins. They channel the soul of the hobby - so all hail Hawk!

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