[SfA] What is Sword & Sorcery?

Fra den engelske udgave af “The Slaver Trader from Ascalon”.

Se omskrivning i de sidste linjer ift. vores diskussion omkring hvorvidt Slavehandlern er racist.


If you google “Sword and Sorcery” you’ll discover that it was the american fantasy writer Fritz Lieber who invented the concept. Lieber is an amazing writer who’s stories about Fahrd and The Grey Mouser is some of the best fantasy literature ever written. Other Sword & Sorcery includes Michael Moorcocks epic about about the antihero Elric and not least Robert E. Howards stories about Conan the Barbarian. If you know any of these writers you already know where I’m going.

There is no shame in namedropping these writers when you try to establish the mood of the adventure, but if your players (or you) are not so well versed in classic fantasy (having spent your reading time more sensibly than me), Sword & Sorcery can be described without nerdy literary references. The primary aspect of Sword & Sorcery is that it makes violence an aesthetic object. It describes violence in a way that makes it not only grand and glorious, but beautiful. This doesn’t just happen in Sword & Sorcery literature. It is also seen in other genres like Hollywood movies and some political rhetoric, but within fantasy literature Sword & Sorcery is certainly the subgenre where it happens the most.

Another foundation of Sword & Sorcery is that unique and singular individuals (the main characters) are faced with a chaotic and grim world, that wants only to tear them down. Luckily these individuals have been shaped and hardened by this world themselves, so they have no moral filter stopping them from striking back at whatever the world sends at them. Stricking back hard. The world is not beautiful in itself – it is messy and dangerous. But the actions of our heroes makes it glorious (and violent).

This is the aesthetic you should nourish. When someone is wounded by a sword it isn’t enough that the bleed and it hurts. It needs to be described how bleeding and hurting is beautiful (and just as importantly awesome) the blood glistens like rubies in the sun, how the pain is exquisite agony. Pain and violence is beautiful (and awesome). The same goes for the world descriptions you make as you play. They should evoke an evil, dirty, revolting and yet beautiful grand world. A rough world with tough people (and where the player characters turn out to be the toughest).


Sword and Sorcery has, unfortunately, a racist and sexist heritage which is uncool. Be a nice person and do not repeat this hertage in your game. Thank you.

5 tanker om "[SfA] What is Sword & Sorcery?"

  1. troelsken

    Du har sværdet fint dækket, men mangler der ikke en linje eller to om trolddommen (mystisk, forfærdelig, kvindagtig), mao fantasy-aspektet?

    Og så har du stavet Leiber som Lieber. 🙂

  2. Morten Greis

    Jeg savner, som Troels, noget om trolddommen, og nok også lidt det, at der sjældent eller aldrig optræder hele sortimentet af klassiske fantasy-racer (orker, elvere, dværge), og monstre er ikke sjældent cthulhuide.

    Jeg kan godt lide din afsluttende bemærkning i teksten (men skal det ikke være ‘be’ i stedet for ‘being’?).

  3. Frederik J. Jensen

    Sword and Sorcery has a racist and sexist heritage which is uncool. Be a nice person and do not repeat this heritage in your own life. Thank you.

  4. johs Forfatter


    Du har ret i at jeg ikke skriver noget om trolddommen, men det er fordi den ikke spiller så stor en rolle i mit scenarie ligesom jeg heller vil definere S&S positivt end negativt. Derfor nævner jeg ikke orker mm.

    Forslag v.2:
    Sword and Sorcery has a racist and sexist heritage which is uncool. Be a nice person and do not repeat this heritage in your own game or life. Thank you.

  5. troelsken

    En slem heks med illusioner, en slangedæmon med kultister, en nekropolitaner og en mesopotamier. Er det ikke nogen stor rolle?

    Forslag v.2 har min hyldest.


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