Author Archive

Installing new company. Progress: 96.5%

We’re almost there.  All hands are to the pumps making the final preparations for the Serpent King Games edition of Dragon Warriors to hit the e-stores, and the officially licensed product will be available once more.

We would hate to disappoint, so to be clear this is a “continuum” edition – the same books as you know and love (or are about to) from Magnum Opus, with a little further cleaning up of pesky persistent errata. An ongoing task with any rule book.

Just as soon as the books are available again we will let you know right here, so stay tuned!

And since we’ve announced that we shall also repeat that there are no current plans for a new reworked/revised/completely new system edition of Dragon Warriors, which we are often asked about.  We’re full steam ahead on the Players Book (speaking of which I better start some artwork, eh? – Jon) and some new really cool supplementary material is beginning to take shape.  And that’s our focus right now.

If you just can’t wait for something new, we’ve put up a brief history and description of the game, along with some useful links here: What is Dragon Warriors? which will hopefully be of use in spreading the word to those yet to experience the full thrill of a big dose of Legend right in the face.

And you saw this, right?:

Exciting times!

Dragon Warriors: Reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated

Hi All,

Judging from our in-box it would seem that a lot of you out there are concerned by a couple of announcements you have seen around the net, and specifically in recent Mongoose Publishing forum ads, that indicate Dragon Warriors is going out of print and being permanently deleted from their catalogue.  Which you could be forgiven for thinking sounds very final.

These things are completely true for the Mongoose/Flaming Cobra Dragon Warriors line.  On April 1st that line will cease to exist, and Mongoose Publishing/Magnum Opus Press will no longer have a license to produce or sell Dragon Warriors material.  However Dragon Warriors will continue with Serpent King Games at the helm.  By agreement with James Wallis at Magnum Opus Press we will be reprinting and making available the reissued Dragon Warriors books that you might be familiar with, the only difference being a Serpent King Games logo rather than Flaming Cobra and Magnum Opus ones.

The ink is still drying on a couple of contracts necessary for this process, so there may be a a day, a week or even a month during which time the books are not available.  So for a short time Dragon Warriors will indeed be out of print.  Rest assured that as quickly as we are able to do so Serpent King Games will get Dragon Warriors back into print and available to you, as well as working on the next generation of supplements, starting with the much anticipated Dragon Warriors Players Guide which is currently in production.  Much as we would love to be able to be more transparent about our exact plans for the future right now, these things take a little bit of time and it would not be right to make announcements prior to everything being in place.

If the stars are right, and assuming you fellows haven’t snapped up every Flaming Cobra book there is, we may have some printed stock for sale direct from us. Details will follow as soon as we have them to share.

We’re on record here at SKG as recommending anyone wanting to get into Dragon Warriors take advantage of the great deals on offer from Mongoose Publishing right now.  You have only a few days left, so get busy if you would like to grab the DW rules at a bargain price!

UPDATE! Oh my gosh, how could we have forgotten – if you don’t fancy paying shipping nor waiting for your DW goodness, then do take advantage of the last few days of Magnum Opus’ e book sale here:

Derek Smalls’ Two Handed Sword

Hmmm.  I’ll confess up front this feels a bit weird.  I feel that perhaps pieces like the one I’m about to write should have been made for Magnum Opus Press, since they were kind enough to pay for the creation of the existing covers.  But then I can perhaps assuage that guilt with a hearty cry to go buy the MOP DW books whilst they are on sale.  Don’t wait for us to take over. Get them whilst the goodly folks who brought DW back from the dead can make their justly reward.

You’ll be buying the new books we do anyway.  Seriously, the things we have been discussing are extremely exciting.  I know you want to know more, but all in good time.

Anyway. This is all preamble.

So making the covers for the MOP edition was a pleasure. James Wallis is a fantastic art director, and certainly one of the people I seek to emulate when I’m doing my art direction duties for Cubicle 7.  Whilst he always brought something to the table he was as interested in my ideas as his own. Which is very rare, but absolutely brings out the best in a freelance artist. Well this one at least.  Sometimes you get hired as what a few of us call a “rentapen”.  The client directs you so tightly that you may as well be a robot arm.  But that was not the way of it on these pieces.

So up there is the cover we did for the Elven Crystals, along with a couple of the sketches.  We thought it was important to show something from the scenarios themselves, much as we loved the old cover. No we didn’t I’m completely lying but you know, it’s nice to be nice.

The demon Rimfax seemed particularly ripe for a starring role, which if I remember rightly was James’ idea.  I was pretty keen on doing Ned the Hobgoblin, but with the benefit of hindsight he would have been a harder sell.  And what’s not to love about a skeletal horse (horse skulls are the business – qv: Sauron’s helmet in the LOTR movies) with a body made of writhing black snakes made of smoke?

Bit of a challenge that though.  There are some things which sound awesome in text.  Black fire is one.  Things made out of smoke is another.  These things can be extremely challenging to paint.  But I said I’d have a go, and I think it worked out ok.

At the time I was painting this I was discovering very late in life, the joys of Led Zeppelin. And there’s something very fitting in listening to the Zep whilst painting DW stuff.  It’s British, it’s riffing (excuse the pun) off an American idea but bringing the folk angle.  It is kind of dirty.  There’s the whole Spinal Tap thing too if we’re honest.  Whilst I think many of us into fantasy and folklore are in it for the serious stuff there’s a whole gonzo side full of ludicrous overblown gestures, pomp and pretension, which I really enjoy.  And all of that is in Led Zep too.

So anyhow, when I sketched and painted this one I had Immigrant Song on repeat, and I still think there’s something of the rhythm of that song in the image, and I imagine the ensuing fight to play out to that music.  To name drop I mentioned synesthesia the other day to Dave Morris, and it turns out we both have a bit of that going on.

So there we go.  No really moral to this tale, but a load of anecdotey stuff for your hopeful enjoyment.

Who’s laughing now?

Hello one and all. Jon Hodgson here.  I’ll be your art director for this crazy flight to Ellesland.

Funnily enough, my roleplaying games “career” such as it was as a teenager runs the other way to Ian’s, who graduated from D&D to DW.  I went the other way.  My very first proper roleplaying game after Fighting Fantasy books which I adored and positively devoured, was Dragon Warriors.  Like so many I bought the books from the school book club thinking they were Fighting Fantasy style choose your path adventure books. Smart move, Corgi.

I would have been about 12, an age when boys often turn to roleplaying games to escape the fact they are diminutive nerds with no hope of excelling at anything remotely physical in the real world.  Thus it was that my first DW character, Ellidyr the elf knight, sprang to life, name stolen from the pages of Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain. Which was a pretty good place to find a DW character, even if in these modern times actually playing an elf PC is “doin it rong”.

I can clearly recall a feeling that Dragon Warriors was probably a bit too dark for us as kids.  Which of course made it all the more exciting.  The bit of back cover blurb about hobgoblins screaming across desolate moors still gives me a shiver. As does the recollection of getting our miniatures and dice stamped on as we played at lunch break.  I bet those bullies are running multinational conglomerates whilst I sit here blogging from the helm of a small press rpg company. Who’s laughing now, eh?

So anyway, my imaginative wellspring has always been full of things such as Prydain, The Mabinogion, Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, The Illiad, Robin of Sherwood and the like.  A very British (ok, the classics aren’t British and yet in another sense they are) very low key sense of mythic fantasy, which my adult work has never really escaped.   Little wonder then that I had such a marvelous time when things came full circle, as they so often do if the myths are to be believed, and was offered the chance to help with making art for Dragon Warriors under the auspices of the mighty Magnum Opus Press.  The challenge was a weighty one, with a great personal investment in getting it right: For Legend, for the overseeing eyes of Dave Morris and Oliver Johnson, for James Wallis and most importantly for the 12 year old Jon having badwrongfun playing that elf knight.

Painting the covers was relatively stress free – the original covers were never quite right for Legend, although clearly they were right for the paperback gaming market of the 80s.  When it came to the internal art I almost passed on the opportunity. Walking in the shadow of greats and personal favourites such as Leo Hartas and Russ Nicholson was not something to be taken lightly, and replacing such well loved art was never going to be an easy task, nor win over everyone.  The presentation, tone and artwork of the original game is tightly bound up in it’s appeal for many of the fans, and indeed to me.  But I decided if I wasn’t going to do it I’d have to spend a lifetime moaning about whoever did.

Getting started was difficult. I wanted to reference the style and feel of the originals, and to carry on something they began. But time and styles have moved on since those heady days.  I’m not a pen and ink artist, and it would be foolish to try and become one overnight.  So I just resolved to make my Dragon Warriors.  You can’t please all the people all the time, and whilst you can’t be completely unmindful of the audience, the bit of the audience that I wanted to please was in me too.  If I liked the feel and tone, then hopefully other DW fans would too.  It’s always a gamble making something anew, and making something genuinely from the heart.

So far no one has thrown a bottle of piss at me in the street, for which I am most relieved.  And on the up side Dave Morris is on record as saying: “Jon Hodgson, for me and Oliver, the DW artist”, which practically caused me to pass out.

And hey, don’t tell anyone ok, but I might have been speaking to some artists which might have been mentioned above, about making a slight return. We shall see if we can make it happen.

So I guess this post is about cycles and circles and how we come back to the start of things. And so I would just like to take this opportunity to apologise to Neal, a member of my original DW group, who’s character was left to die in the pool in the ruined villa in Gallows Wood in 1986 or thereabouts, for the heinous crime of saying “I follow the rest of the party” a bit too much.  Sorry Neal.  12 year olds are horrid.  Dragon Warriors is good though, innit?

Return top

Latest news

Serpent King Games launches!