Ragnorak … of Doom

In the early 2000’s, I used to work on an online spec fic magazine called “The Tavern Wench” with my friend Garrett Calcaterra.  One of the best features was a massive Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style story involving our mascots (a representative of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, respectively).  Another element we had was a Ragnarok feature where the greatest heroes of all time met in battle.

We picked many of the classic characters from myth and literature. We mostly tried to keep likes vs likes: Fighters like Conan faced off against Heracles, for instance.  Gandalf and Merlin met in a match of magic.  And in a battle of rogues and itinerants, we pitted John Carter against Mad Max.

John Carter vs Mad Max, drawn by Chris Turk

To decide who won, we actually created an RPG-like system where each character had a full character sheet to encapsulate their abilities.  We then fought, using nerd dice, to see who won.  To give you an idea of the level of detail we used, part of the character sheet looked like this:

Equipment

Offensive (+1,2, or 3 to attack)
Defensive (+5, 10, or 15 to parry/block, -10, 20, 30 to dodge)
Attack Power (Strength + Experience/Know-how, 11-20 +1, 21-30 +2, 31-40 +3)
Magic (Endurance + Strength + Experience + Luck divided by 2)

This led to sequences like the following:

The day dawned quickly. From many worlds they came and gathered in Asgard, Odin’s home. Gods, heroes, and others alike crowded forward, unable to contain their excitement. Some would be fighting later, and wanted to see the competition. Others watched solely for the excitement. This morning, the first morning, was already well attended. The first bout promised to be among the best.

Hooves were heard upon the streets. Odin approached on his great eight-legged horse. His wife and sons rode beside him. From horseback, Odin would watch and, if necessary, moderate. His ravens flew overhead. A hush fell on the assembled spectators. The first match was to begin.

Conan of Cimmeria strode forward, a long sword in his hand. He had not made many friends in Valhalla—was content with his own company—but one look at his rippling physique intimated even the most worthy heroes. Conan’s eyes narrowed as his opponent stepped forward. “By Crom,” he muttered darkly.

Before him, clad in the skin of the Nemean lion, stood Heracles. Where Conan stood tall, clean-shaven, black hair streaming to his shoulders, Heracles seemed tiny. Almost a foot shorter, his swarthy beard and dark skin provided ample contrast to his opponent. As he stepped into the circle, a large cheer went up. Even in Asgard, the son of Zeus was popular.

Odin sighed. “You may begin,” he said simply.

Conan attacked. Not only was he taller, but Heracles favored a far smaller sword. Conan had a significant initial advantage. He attacked, whipping his large blade so fast at the Greek that no few in the audience could follow the sword strokes. Heracles was immediately on the defensive, a position that he was unaccustomed to. The weapons flashed; the noise of the blades striking an odd music that filled the air.

The crowd watched suitably impressed. Several of the observing heroes and gods placed bets on the outcome. Heracles emerged as something of a favorite, although the Cimmerian had a few supporters of his own.

Conan lunged again. With an agility that belied his stocky, muscular frame, Heracles slipped inside Conan’s guard. The Greek’s sword lashed out in a blur.

The brawny barbarian threw himself back but even as he sprang away his opponent’s blade bit his flesh, just between his stomach and his chest. A crimson rain flew from the wound. It would have splattered Heracles, but the lion head on his armor caught most of the moisture.

Conan now lay several feet away. Heracles was impressed by the distance covered in Conan’s backward leap, but knew his moment of advantage was now. Running at the fallen Cimmerian, Heracles lowered his sword so that it pointed directly at his supine opponent.

Conan’s own sword lay where it had dropped, several feet too far away to be of any use. He waited instead until his opponent was almost upon him. The silence of the crowd was almost audible. Dirt flew from Heracles’ bare feet as he sprang upon his opponent.

Anyway, all this is background to say that it’s exciting to see that the guys over at Suvudu are doing something similar.  Last spring, they had a battle of heroes and now with autumn in the air it’s time for the villains to get their own.  They decide by voting, which is more fair, but can lead to things like Eric Cartman defeating the Nothing from the Neverending Story.

Check out the entire bracket here:  CAGE MATCH FOR VILLAINS (Just don’t vote for Cartman, please).

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4 thoughts on “Ragnorak … of Doom

  1. Yeah I can’t believe how long ago that was. It would be fun to revisit the Choose Your Own Adventure story though. I also had forgotten that we did a new splash page each issue, featuring each of the characters from the accepted stories.

  2. “He had not made many friends in Valhalla”

    Not a surprise, since Cimmerians don’t go to Valhalla. 😛

    That said, I gotta say Conan’s not going to make so much as a scratch on Heracles. The guy held up the HEAVENS to let Atlas crick his neck and relax for a minute. The biggest thing Conan’s lifted was a big rock. Still, it’d be a fun fight.

  3. Hi Taranaich.

    You are of course correct that Cimmerians don’t go to Valhalla, but of course neither do Greeks. And while I do think Crom was influenced by the cold gods of the Norse Pantheon, you really have to suspend your disbelief for this one.

    In the end, I believe Heracles wins this fight. I’m more of a Conan fan, but the whole “demi-god” thing is difficult to ignore. I’ll try to put up the rest of the fight soon.

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