Saturday, June 16, 2012
Greyhawk Adventures: Gord Musings
If you never read one of Gygax's Gord novels before and only judged the book by its cover (as you may have back in 1985) you can see the similarities between Gord and Conan are there in this illustration by Clyde Caldwell. Gord like Conan, is brooding, dark haired and muscular. He is dressed light as a rogue but carries himself in battle like a fighter with a sword. Alone, he faces a brutish monster standing atop a pile of skulls; motifs common in Conan covers. Saga is a good novel and if Gygax was going for that Conanesque, pulp-era feel, I say he achieved it.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Gord is not a complete rip-off of Conan. For instance he is not a barbarian, but rather urbane, which means Gord also draws as much from other fictional characters like Fritz Leiber's fantasy swordsman the Grey Mouser. When you're trying to write a story based in a D&D world, you can hardly be blamed for borrowing fantasy tropes. I wondered if maybe pulp-era figures like Gord were out of style back in 1985, but looking at some other new releases perhaps not: that same issue advertizing Saga also saw the launch of CA1: Swords of the Undercity (a module for the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser inspired Lankhmar setting) and Tarzan and the Tower of Diamonds, an Endless Quest novel. Pulp fare all around.
The point of my observations I suppose is to wonder more about Gord the character's place in the pantheon of Greyhawk lore. As the game setting is concerned, Gord himself is almost non-existent. For some "Gordhawk" might be incompatible with their game setting and not worth discussion. Indeed, the post-TSR novels were only loosely based on Greyhawk and the series catastrophically ended. That I can understand. But had these novels come out sooner than 85, would have Gord's adventures influenced Greyhawk setting development more? If fans had supported Gord stories more voraciously (as they would later do for a few notable Forgotten Realms characters), then perhaps (barring Gygax leaving TSR and all) Gord might be mentioned in the same company as other great fictional heroes? I know I was no help. I didn't discover Saga until the 90's or read Gygax's later novels until 2000, which was way too late by then. This is why the topic may be old hat for many in the community, but it's fairly new territory for my own Greyhawk musings. So anyhow, Gord might not have attained the popularity he deserves, but in a world full of notable wizards like Greyhawk, he is still the most popular rogue character the setting has got.