East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Hammer-style sword & sorcery


coverThere’s a thing we’ve been talking for a while, with my friend Alex – that is a fine Italian writer of genre fiction – about doing something somehow similar to the legendary Hammer “failed pilot” Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter1.
And indeed Alex did something like that, with his series about the Uhlan, a fine line of horror/adventure books.
As I said, we talk about something of that kind roughly once a year, usually in the whereabouts of Halloween, when we reminisce like old men about old Hammer movies, old games of Ravenloft and even more obscure geekeries like Chill, the old, classic horror game.
We might call it Hammer Style Sword & Sorcery – that is not a thing, as far as I know, but works with us.

Let’s sum up the basic elements of this project that will never be…

  • a non-Medieval, European setting
  • “classical” horror elements
  • folklore references
  • high adventure
  • ale & wenches

299a9adb7aeb2e255ac3dee44a39d371As I said, Captain Kronos would be a good reference, but also not-so-memorable flicks like Van Helsing (urgh), Hansel & Gretel Monster Hunters, The Brothers Grimm or the Russian Viy (aka Forbidden Empire, aka Forbidden Kingdom). And why not, Solomon Kane.
Admittedly not the top of the crop, but what the heck, let’s stick to the spirit of these projects, not the execution.
I’d even throw in Verhoeven’s indispensable Flesh + Blood.
And Hawk the Slayer, just because.

Now, having mentioned Solomon Kane, I would say that The Savage World of Solomon Kane should be the one-stop choice should we ever decide to play in our – so far only roughly imagined – universe.
The reasons are obvious: it’s Savage Worlds, it’s Solomon Kane.
Nice and smooth.

On the other hand a few days back, thanks to a Halloween promotion, I found a game that, if possible, is even better for the sort of thing I have in mind.
The game is called Zweihander, by Grim & Perilous Studio, and it’s the result of a successful Kickstarter.


Almost 700-pages thick, running on a simple d100 engine, this supposedly grimdark game2 – that feels a heavy influence from the old WArhammer Fantasy (but that’s a good thing) – is just what I was thinking in terms of a perfect setting for some kind of Hammer-style sword & sorcery.
And very close to the Verhoevemn movie.
A dark Renaissance setting, characters from all the walks of life, rampaging bands of mercenaries, monsters…
The game is flexible enough to take on different styles and themes, and so probably others are not playing it like I imagine to do, but that’s part of the good things of this book.

mummy_origIt would be fun to play3, and a nice world to explore in fiction.
Well, maybe “nice” is not the right word.
But fun it would be.
Like Ravenloft, but moving faster, and hitting harder.

But not right now – the Nile calls, and the next weekend will be spent (also) planning the forthcoming series.
But somewhere, in a dark corner of my mind, another project is growing.
So little time, so much to do…

  1. I’ll have to do a post on the subject. 
  2. it’s a well known fact I don’t care for the definition. 
  3. hmmm – I might spring it on my players as soon as our games start again… 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “Hammer-style sword & sorcery

  1. Hammer & Sorcery


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