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Daunting, Daring, Dark Fantasy

By Megajoule, author of The Warlock Ruthless

Jul 12, 2018: Full disclosure: this was done as part of a review swap, but I always endeavor to be honest.

Vorrgistadt Saga is dark fantasy with no cream or sugar, it is daring in its willingness to kill characters you sympathize with, and, both to its benefit and its detriment, it is a daunting read.

The Saga reminds me of a classic D&D adventure, especially the first episode, and as I am a huge fan of D&D, running three games and playing in one as well, the Saga appealed to that side of me. It has a very old school feel to it, a 90’s veneer of dark fantasy that evokes a near gothic/Lovecraftian horror underneath the magic and high fantasy trappings.

Though, you’d think if someone was just writing a D&D adventure, you’d get several powergamer type characters that were just Mary Sue/Gary Stu types, murderhobos looking for treasure. That’s not the case here. The characters are immediately engaging and sympathetic, but neither are they squeaky clean or free from flaw. This is GOOD character building, folks, which normally suffers in fantasy.

What’s even better, the writer is willing to be daring in their choices with those characters, to let them suffer, die, and make bad decisions (though nothing that struck me as outright plot stupidity, just regular human stupidity on one character’s count)

There were some daunting elements that made the story difficult to start for me, however. The writer throws a lot of terms and one or two "as you know, Bob"s in the first few episodes. This settles off as we get into the meat of the story, but it does make beginning seem like a daunting task. There are a few spots that could use a slight edit to clean up some blocking, grammar, and such, but overall the writing is competent, and daunting in a very good way, as well. The descriptions of an early monster are very very well done, a masterful laying of tension and dread.

The magic system is well put together, not too much, not too little. Vague enough that there is still mystery, but not so vague that characters pulled convenient solutions to their problems out of their asses. This is used to great effect in terms of mystery and dread; in this world magic is not something to be trusted, it is not a science, it is a lethal, deadly art that can kill the artist just as easy.

All in all, if you long for classic fantasy of a dark, evil nature, aren’t shy about gore and horror, you’ll find something to love in Vorrgistadt. This is a labor of love to the tropes of dark fantasy, and to me, it evokes those late night D&D sessions with friends, enraptured at a table with the lights in the house low, with only candlelight to go by.

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