Ronin Round Table: What is Best in Life?

gCRtnbVzidrPwv2VLfFTQ7W0aafBy Guest Bloggers Arnold T. Blumberg & Scott Alan Woodard

It all started at the horror store Dark Delicacies in Burbank, California back around 2011 or so. Arnold T. Blumberg (The “Doctor of the Dead”) was doing a signing for his guide book to zombie cinema, Zombiemania, when friend and fellow writer Scott Alan Woodard (The Sixth Gun Roleplaying Game, Doctor Who: The Juggernauts) discovered a copy of the Deathstalker II soundtrack in the store. Both of them noted how much fun it would be to write a book similar to Zombiemania but focused on their mutual love for the sword and sorcery genre. And the rest is history…ancient history, foretold in legends and destined to send the two men on the quest of a lifetime!

What would become the 400-plus page Cinema & Sorcery: The Guide to Fantasy Films began as a massive research project that involved choosing fifty feature films to cover with in-depth chapters packed with information on plot, production, soundtrack, and detailed ruminations and reviews; the chapters would also provide features on how to adapt characters, creatures, artifacts and more from the films to the reader’s game table. The rest of the book would catalog every other existing sword and sorcery feature film from the birth of cinema to 2015, cross-listed with alternate titles. No small feat, but a worthy adventure for two dedicated cinemaphiles!

The biggest challenge in working on the book was that since Arnold and Scott were 3,000 miles apart (Scott is based in Portland, OR, while Arnold lives in Baltimore, MD), they were denied the opportunity to sit together while plowing through the best and the worst of the genre. Fortunately, the era of social media and online communication enabled them to overcome the obstacle, and there was at least one occasion where a shared convention experience afforded them a bit of downtime to see one film at the same time. And what a film, a veritable conquest of all logic and sanity!

The sprawling sword and sorcery genre index would not have been possible without the book’s “secret weapon” – our third author, Rochelle Blumberg. And if the name looks familiar, it should, because Rochelle is Arnold’s mother! A powerhouse researcher in her own right, and a champion of list-making and attention to detail, Rochelle worked on compiling the index of all sword and sorcery films according to Arnold and Scott’s criteria in the same way that she had assembled the index way back when for Zombiemania. And lo, the quest was completed!

For the authors, the joy of working on this kind of project comes down to sharing a passion for film with fellow fans, and hoping that the next time readers revisit a favorite film, they check the book to see what they had to say about it. It’s the next best thing to Scott and Arnold sitting there and watching with you!

You can also hear Scott and Arnold chat about the book’s origins and features in a special episode of their G2V Podcast, which you can find here.

Joseph D. Carriker

Joseph D. Carriker

Joseph Carriker is developer for A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying and the Chronicle System. He has worked in the gaming industry since 2000, and intends to keep doing that for the foreseeable future. He's an avid proponent of diversity in gaming spaces, and regularly runs LGBT-oriented panels at gaming conventions, including GenCon's "Queer as a Three-Sided Die." He recently sold a novel, Sacred Band, available this winter from Lethe Press.
Joseph D. Carriker

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