Author Archives: Yora

Peoples of the Dark World

The peoples of the Dark World are different but closely related populations of the same overall species. They are all very humanlike in appearance and build, grow in height between 1.60 and 2.00 meter depending on population, and live between 120 and 160 years. Most people are lean of stature, but some populations lean more to broader builds than others.

As with many other things, I am reusing and recycling many ideas I’ve used or worked on before, so I already have pretty clear images of what they look and are like. Making all the mortal peoples very human like somehow seemed appropriate for this type of setting. Really not sure how I would work gnomes and beastment into this (even though they are very cool) and I quite like the idea of different peoples being distinguished mostly by culture instead of being fundamentally different and separately evolved.

Wood People

The wood people are one of the three major population groups. They have brown skin and their hair ranges from light brown to chestnut red and almost black. They inhabit many of the forest lands along the northern coast.

Ash People

The ash people are the southernmost of the six groups and live mostly on the coast in a land of many volcanoes and earthquakes. Their architecture and weaponmaking is the most advanced and sorcery is widely spread among their magicians. Ash people have tanned skin and black hair.

Stone People

The stone people are the inhabitants of the mountains of the East. They are the tallest and by far the heaviest build of the six peoples. Their skin is a dusty ocher and their hair ranges from black to a dark stony gray.

Snow People

The snow people live in the forests and mountains of the distant North. Their population is smaller than that of the ash people and wood people, but their culture just as advanced and sophisticated. Snow people have pale skin and hair ranging from pale blond to white.

Fog People

The fog people are a small population living only in the swamps and moors of the Northwest. They are the most barbaric of the six peoples and considered to be primitive as their inhospitable homeland offers little resources. Fog people have fair skin often with a grayish tint, but deep black hair that clearly distinguishes them from the snow people. The fog people are not very welcoming of outsiders and don’t tollerate any magicians except for witches.

Sea People

The sea people are a tiny population inhabiting only a small handful of the many islands lying in the ocean to the west. They have slightly blue to purple skin and dark hair, but have the remarkable ability  to dive under water for unnaturally long periods of time. They have either been changed by spirits of the sea or even descended from them. The skin of the sea people is ill suited to withstand the heat of the sun and they are often easily recognized from a distance by wearing light hooded robes when out during the day.

A Dark World forming from the Mists

Having had a week to think about my initial concept and browsing for more and alternative ideas, theDark World is slowly starting to take on a more defined shape.

Dark Ages Northeast Europe and Bronze Age City States

The more I have been thinking about it, the more the idea has been growing on me to make the landscape and culture of early and pre-medieval Northeast Europe the primary stylistic reference for the setting. It really isn’t the sexiest part of the world for tales of great adventure. Or for pretty much any purpose. Summers and mild and wet, and winters too. There are some places that are quite pretty during a good summer or winter, but the landscape doesn’t really have majestic wonders of nature like you can find in Asia and America. On the North Sea and Atlantic you have at  least proper storms that have an invigorating energy to them, while the Batic Sea is the very definition of “meh”.

But as a native, I guess you just can’t help but have a certain affection for it.

And if there is one thing that a cold, wet, dark, and quiet is actually really suited for, then it is dark fiction of things living in the misty forests and swamps. It’s our thing! This is the one niche where we can shine in contributing something to the greater world of fantasy. Except that dull grey and murky brown don’t shine. Ghostly lights, swamp witches, and fair maidens dragging travelers into black pools are what we have to offer.

But simply following in the footsteps of The Witcher, Symbaroum, The One Ring, and Skyrim wouldn’t satisfy my creative drive and there isn’t really much point in rehashing something that has already been done very well by others. So I want to combine this influence with my interest in Bronze Age city states and priest kings. It’s easy to see that mediterranean empires don’t really feel like a fitting addition, but I think by reducing it to the kings and their palaces within confined cities could actually make it work. Some of these kings may claim to speak for a god or be chosen by a god, or even claim to be a god. And in some cases a city might prosper under the guidance of a powerful spirit.

The soggy cold and rot of the wild swamps and forests should be complemented quite well by cities that have an atmosphere of lethargic decadence. The aristocracy indulges in opulence and extravagance, but it’s not ennergetic and flashy, rather leaning towards the delirious and often gloomy. They crave majestic splendor, but it really is more of a distraction than an expression of exuberance. There is a lot of bronze and gold, but it often has an air of tomb treasures to it. A display of wealth, rather than an expression of prosperity. It seems more than fitting to make wine and opium the two main exports from southern lands.

Out of Place, out of Time

I am actually of the opinion that the most fantastic feeling fantasy worlds are the ones that don’t have a propper history and geography. Tolkien did it, so lots of people did it too, and Howard’s Hybrian Age was basically filling in the unknown period just before the beginning of recorded history. On the other hand you have worlds like the Young Kingdoms of Elric, the world of Kane, and the particularly hazy universe of Dark Souls. There are things existing in the present that seem clearly ancient, but there is no sense of past events that go back more than a few years. It brings a dreamlike quality with it that I really enjoy. You don’t know how you got here and where here really is, but you just go along with it and don’t question it too much.

As far as people in the Dark World are concerned, things aren’t really changing over time. The oldest people around tell tales of how their grandparents had already lived in the same towns and in the same way as they do and there aren’t really any accounts of how it had been before. History and mythology are both completely unordered fragments of isolated events. They don’t form any kind of coherent narrative and there is little in the way of hints in what particular order they happened, how much time passed between them, and even where they took place.

Maps are just as bad. There are pretty clear and reliable maps that show the routes between the major cities and the more prominent towns, but towards the edges of the map details become much more sparse and complete conjecture before fading out into blank space. Merchant sailors know how to reach some of the major ports in the south through which the cities trade with distant lands, but even they don’t have any real understanding where the exotic goods they bring north originally came from. Southern merchants take pelts, cod, and salt and give wine, opium, and spices in return. That’s as much as the captains need to, and care to know.

However, there is undeniable evidence that the world does change, at least over long stretches of time. While nobody remembers a time before the cities and their ruling dynasties or immortal god-kings, ruins of past civilizations can be found in many places. It is actually quite common to find burried (or even only partly burried) ruins below the streets and palaces of most cities. Where these ruins come from is of course as much a mystery as everything else to do with the past. But they often contain ancient treasures that are of particular value to magicians. Occult knowledge may become lost, but magic doesn’t change and these ancient rediscoveries are more valuable to them than silver and gold. Or lives.

The lack of a sense of the past also brings with it a lack of sense of the future. People usually don’t care to plan ahead for the future and certainly not any further than their own lifetime. Things appear to be the same as they have for as long as anyone can remember and they probably will remain for much longer than anyone can imagine. As said in the RPG Sorcerer & Sword, “No one has a single thought on about being socially constructive in a large sense”. If you want to have any kind of change, you can only change things here, and change them now. You can destroy a gang of bandits or dispose of an unpopular despot, but you can’t end banditry or despotism. You can change your position in the game, but you can not change the game.

The Otherworld and the Supernatural

The true extend of the world extends well beyond what ordinary mortals can perceive. A fish thinks that the river is the entire world, but there are many more places that it can never reach by itself, and that will almost certainly be its death. Every place that  exists in the mortal world also exists in the otherworld, but it is much bigger than that. There are many more places in the otherworld in addition to those in the mortal world, places that exist between places. Journeys through the otherworld are normally considerably longer than in the mortal world, but there are also some routes that end up being much shorter, though these are among the most well guarded secrets known to witches and sorcerers. In many places the otherworld very much resembles the mortal world, but it follows very different rules. The passing of time and the normally experienced chain of cause and effect have little meaning in the otherworld. Instead the otherworld is entirely govered by the thoughts and whims of spirits. The dominant spirit of a domain can change the environment of the otherworld in whatever ways it sees fit. Depending on the spirit’s power, trees and rivers can change position, castles crumble to dust within moments, and shrines be eternally on fire. Strong minds can resist the changing of reality around them which limits the power of lesser spirits, but no mortal stands any hope of resisting a true god of the wilds.

The sky of the Dark World is dominated by a huge moon shrouded in a haze of beige and blue clouds, which orbits the planet once every 16 days. During each new moon there is a chance of an eclipse, particularly during spring and fall, which tend to last for half an hour. During an eclipse the borders between the mortal world and the otherworld dissolves and spirits are freely roaming the lands. Anyone who is wandering around during an eclipse is at risk of finding themselves trapped in the otherworld when the sun returns so people lock themselves in when an eclipse approaches and don’t move from the spot until it ends. Travelers avoid making journeys shortly before the end of the month and the third day of the month tends to be a day of particularly high activity on the roads and in inns.

Magic is an art that comes naturally to spirits but can also be learned by mortals. However, delving into the occult knowledge and eldritch powers of the otherworld does profoundly change the mind and the very essence of a magician. As their power and knowledge increases, practitioners of magic become more and more like the fey. Ultimetely they can lose all of their humanity and becomes eldritch beings that wander off into the otherworld, rarely to be ever seen again. Many magicians believe that at lease some of the god-kings are former witches and sorcerers who somehow returned to the world of mortals to rule over their lesser subjects. To maintain a hold over their humanity and sanity, magicians have developed a number of traditions that incorporate philosophy, forms of meditation, the extracts of certain plants, and other means. (I’m thinking of running a Symbaroum campaign and this is an adaptation of the game’s mechanics.) The dominant traditions of theurgy, witchcraft, and sorcerey have developed in quite different ways, enabling their followers to focus on certain elements of magic with little risk of eldritch change, but still many find it tempting to delve into areas beyond those that are considered safe. Particularly among witches and sorcerers many are wondering if the changes are actually something to be avoided. Witches are often venerated for their closeness to the spirits and sorcerers frequently find the prospect of transcending their mortality highly attractive. Witches and priests more often find the discipline to practice restrained in their commitment to serving their people as spiritual leaders rather than abandining them for a quest into the unknown.

Monsters

The Dark World has no real distinction between civilization and nature and spirits are not seen as beings from another age or domain. People and spirits are both just as much part of the natural world as animals, though spirits are standing on the top. People living under the rule of a city are mostly left alone by spirits, but this doesn’t have anything to do with civilization having driven them out. Spirits in civilized lands stay out of sight because the power of the priest-kings and god-kings forces them to behave. They have to obey the overlord just as the people do. Those spirits that are not bound to any specific landmark usually tend to wander off and avoid the proximity to settlements. But people know very well that spirits are roaming out there beyond the ends of the fields. Out in the woods encountering them face to face becomes significantly more likely. Some spirits are merely curious while others are outright hostile, but all of them can be extremely dangerous. Even though some of them can look suspiciously like mortals, they are drastically alien beings whose minds are much weirder than almost anyone can imagine. Predicting their behavior is always very risky and all of them have the power to inflict great harm, even if they don’t really intend to.

Like spirits, undead are also simply a part of the way the world is. While most religions have no concept of an afterlife, and the remaining ones never could really prove the existance of one, those who die don’t always stay truly dead. Ghouls, wights, shades, and wraiths rise under various circumstances, though I have not yet fully decided which ones these would be.

Other fictional creatures are normally nothing more than ordinary animals. The wildlife of the Dark World is in many ways very different to that of Earth, but they are natural beasts with the same limited abilities and mental capabilities as wolves or bears. The exception are spirits that come in the shape of animals, but these are fully supernatural creatures with no true overlap between the two.

I love it when a plan comes together

While looking for good ideas for my new Dark Fantasy setting, I remembered a couple of interesting concepts that had come to me some time back but which didn’t seem like something that could be worked into the Ancient Lands. And going through my old posts, I also found a couple of ideas I did intent for the Ancient Lands, but never really implemented in the way I wanted to.

Much of my growing unhappiness with the Ancient Land seems to trace back to me having to actually quite different ideals for a fantasy world based on strange magic. Many of my ideas didn’t work in a barbarian forest setting as I wanted to, but now that I am aiming at a dark city state fantasy world they are once again looking really inviting.

Is The Witcher Romantic Fantasy?

Working on a new setting that draws heavily from The Witcher and considering starting a new campaign in the forseeable future, I was remembered of how Joseph and Trollsmyth defined Romantic Fantasy and it’s application in RPGs.

And all of them really lines up very well with The Witcher. It’s not actually wrong to describe Geralt’s story as him trying to save the last true heir to the throne of Cintra from being murdered in a struggle between ruthless monarchs. But it’s much better described as the story of an aging warrior who stops at nothing to rescue an orphan girl he has taken in his care from impossibly more powerful foes. And despite being the protagonist, he’s not doing it alone but is always a part of a greater circle of friends.

I think it’s actually one of the best examples around for what Joseph is talking about.

Friendship is Magic.

In related news, I just learned that the Witcher RPG by Talsorian Games is still being worked on, and from what scraps of information have been released recently, it appears to be very far in the development process, already dealing with the layout of the book. It was announced well over two years ago with barely anything heard since then, so I don’t know how soon we can expect it, but it’s nice to see that it hasn’t completely faded off the world.

Dawn of a Dark World

It’s starting to take shape. It’s still all very vague but writing these things down always helps me turning wild collections of general ideas into concrete design decisions and finding the spaces where there are still elements that need to be filled in. This is as much work in progress as it gets, but I really like how things are going so far with the design of this new setting.

The Basic Concept

The world takes many inspirations from the Eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age, Ancient China, and Morrowind. It’s an age where civilization is relatively small but already highly sophisticated. There are large fortified cities with grand castles and temples, institutions of administration and learning, organized armies, and complex international networks of trade. Yet at the same time, civilized lands make up only a very small part of the huge land masses of the world. Beyond them lies a vast expanse of oceans and wilderness that stretches far beyond the edges of any maps. There are barbarians living in the wilds, but they can be thought of more similar to Iron Age Gaels and Slavs than savages wearing furs and bones.

The geography consists of five great kingdoms, mostly located on the coasts of a large central gulf that opens into the ocean. The climate is generally temperate to sub-arctic, with stretches of sub-tropical and arctic lands on the very borders of the maps. It’s based somewhat on the Baltic Sea region, Northern China and Japan, and the American Pacific Northwest. As a native of the Baltic Sea, I can tell you that you can’t reach the highest degree of dreariness if it isn’t wet, foggy, and cold. There’s a reason that Scandinavian fiction is the way it is, and that Lovecraft and Steven King set their stories in their native Rhode Island and Maine.

When it comes to the darkness, I am leaning strongly towards the intrigue and decadence of Noir than savage wilderness. As the common people are concerned, their world isn’t really that bad. There is hardship and the occasional calamities, but overall it’s a life worth living and they are content. To find the darkness, you have to descend into the underworld of the occult and journey into the forbidden lands beyond the borders. It is no secret that monsters and arcane arts exist, but most people chose to stay away from this world whenever possible, and it is generally a wise choice.

The Peoples

I’m a big fan of more exotic settings far removed from worlds based on medieval Central Europe. But for a Dark Fantasy world you can’t get too colorful and varied either. So I decided that the people inhabiting the setting are somewhat related races of semi-humans. Similar to the Melniboneans, the Red Men of Mars, or the Dunmer of Morrowind.

This is still very much unspecified, but I am leaning towards not giving any of them any significantly usual traits and abilities. It’s mostly an aesthetic choice.

The God Kings

The world is by nature a wild and savage place. There are many spirits that have great power over the environment and its creatures and they don’t apppreciate people making too much of their own mark on the land. Out in the wilderness, people are limited to living in small scattered clans that survive by hunting, fishing, and relying on some low intensity farming in forest clearings. They have to make regular offerings to the spirits of the land they live on and even then they are still frequently plagued by natural disasters and attacks from other clans. But such is the life in the wilds and the way things are meant to be.

The five kingdoms are an aberration and they exist only because of the power of the god kings. The god kings draw great supernatural power from the natural energies of the lands they rule, which grants them a great degree of control over the weather and the elements and leaves the power of the spirits greatly reduced. Under the rule of the god kings, the people are enjoying an unprecedented degree of prosperity and security, being able towork the land, build great cities, and raise large armies to protect the realm from hostile neighbours or barbarian raiders. But this prosperity and security comes with a price. The people are forced to obey the orders of the god kings and their priests and governors, pay taxes in grain and serve in the armies and build their palaces.

For most people of the kingdoms, this is a price they would gladly pay many times over to be safe from angry spirits, earthquakes, floods, and famine. The god kings are rarely beloved by their people, but in their eyes the loss of a god king would plunge the realm literally into hell. To the barbarian clans such a life is unthinkable. They are used to make important decisions by consensus and elect their leaders and the thought of being slaves to a ruler who ursurps the power of the true gods of the land is abhorrent.

The Supernatural

In the five kingdoms, the presence of the supernatural is greatly reduced and often obscured. The people are performing their rites to the god kings, say their prayers of protection, wear their charms and carve runes into their houses, and don’t go outside during ovrcast nights. And most of the time it works. There is little influence of the spirits felt in the villages and towns and those that do make their presence known generally don’t cause much real trouble. However, while the power of the god kings seems absolute, there is a dirty little secret that the priests would like the people not to think about. The god kings are not divine and their abilities are not unique. Magic is a skill that can be taught and learned and there are a large number of occult and esoteric societies, orders, and cults that practice their arts away from public sight and scrutiny of the priests. However, none of them possess powers that come even close to those of the god kings and how they managed to transcend the limitations of mortal sorcerers is one of the great mysteries. Despite of what the priests claim, god kings are also not immortal. There are ruins of previous civilizations below many of the great cities and palaces and scattered in the wilderness. Who they were and how they disappeared is another great secret presumedly known only to the god kings and their highest priests.

The power of the god kings over their realms is also not nearly as complete as the priests are teaching it. The strength of their influence varies from place to place and there are large numbers of holes in their realms where spirits still roam mostly unrestrained. These places are considered to be haunted by the common people and it is often forbidden by the priests to enter them under any circumstances. Occasionally something manages to slip out of these forbidden lands and the low ranking priests serving in these remote parts of the kingdom are often poorly prepared to handle them. And of course there is always the vast unclaimed wilderness beyond the border where neither god kings nor priests have any influence at all.

Sorcerery and witchcraft in the world is generally a rather low-magic affair. Most occult knowledge deals with potions, protective charms, and the means to harm and repell spirits. The binding of spirits is the greatest form of sorcery and gives a sorcerer access to powers far beyond mortal capabilities, including divination and shapeshifting. There is no throwing of fire and lightning, creation of matter, or teleportation though, or any similarly flashy forms of spells.

As with the people, the world is inhabited by many exotic fictional creatures, but for the most part they are simply ordinary animals. Monsters are always some kinds of spirits or undead and there is a very clear and unabigous distinction between what is an animal and a monster.

So what is going on?

Despite the powerful presence of the god kings and the paranoid fear of barbarian invasions, the setting is not actually about them. What it really is about are the various secret societies that exist within the kingdoms. While the common people don’t notice much going on, there’s actually a huge bustle going on out of sight. Everyone is hungering for every shred of occult knowledge like the writings of past and rival masters, the means to bind spirits, artifacts from overgrown ruins, the locations of sites of power, and of course any hints towards the secret of the god kings’ power. And as in the criminal underworld of Noir stories, most sorcerers will use any means neccessary to get their hands on these invaluable treasures before someone else. While in the background there are always the priest trying to maintain the priesthoods monopoly on supernatural power in the society. As priests are often incapable to deal with hostile spirits that break free of the god kings’ influence, it frequently falls to sorcerers, witches, and their disciples to take care of it.

The typical heroes of the setting are not usually reclusive scholars spending their days over scrolls and cauldrons. Most are warriors first and possess a collection of charms and potions to help them deal with spirits. Magic is of little use in a fight against mortal opponents and those are the ones that stand in the way to occult secrets and esoteric relics. With characters I am drawing heavily from the wuxia genre as well as the world of The Witcher. Think of heroes as kung-fu masters, taoist monks, witchers, or sorceresses.

Overall I am quite happy with the state of things so far. I still feel that it’s a bit bland, but that’s not too surprising at this stage where everything is pretty much placeholders and there exist no information about any specific kingdom, god king, or secret society. I am very much looking forward to how this will be working out as I keep going.

Refocusing

Building on my post from last week, I have made some more significant insights into the telling of fantastical stories. I had my start in creating fantasy material with drafting up a campaign setting of my own after I had become dissatisfied with the world of the Forgotten Realms, and the Ancient Lands literally had their origin as the realms of the High Forest 4,000 years in the past. It quickly grew into more and more of a unique thing as I made changes I considered improvements and artistic upgrades and added ideas from other sources that I found very appealing. However, I have to admit that I never was really satisfied with the Ancient Lands as a campaign setting. In the several campaigns that I ran, I always had the feeling that I wasn’t really able to showcase it’s creative features and make it feel to the players as something more than a pretty generic D&D world. I had great ideas that I still really like, but was never really able to work them into the active game.

When I started dabbling at writing, I took a lot of the aesthetic ideas and concepts from the Ancient Worlds, but for this purpose they turned out to work even worse. And I think I am starting to see why. The style I refined and the worlds that I designed are tailored to what I consider interesting, inviting, and attractive. But at the same time they are completely different from the many works that I find really inspiring. Asthetically, the Ancient Lands style takes a lot from Warcraft 3, Morrowind, and the Tales of the Jedi comics. But I don’t really enjoy any of these for their stories and they are actually pretty bad in that regard.

When I want to tell a story that I find compelling, or set up an environment that funnels players into creating stories of that kind, I need a setting that is designed for such stories. A quick look at my favorite stories that inspire me to be creative makes it very easy to discern a pretty specific shared style and tone: There’s movies like The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Arc, Princess Mononoke, Blade Runner, and Ghost in the Shell. There are the Witcher books and the Hellboy and B.P.R.D. comics. There are videogames like Metal Gear Solid, Thief, Legacy of Kain, Mass Effect 2, and Mirror’s Edge. None of them are set in vast wildernesses inhabited by barbarian tribes. I find it a culturally fascinating environment and aesthetically very pleasing, but these works are all dark and set in quite advanced societies with complex political environments.

Bronze Age tribes are a very fascinating environment, but I am starting to see that I don’t really have a good idea what kinds of stories would fit into such a setting that I find compelling. This is not where my creative capital is located. I don’t have the toolbox to craft stories for it.

So with the creation of the Kaendor setting I want to go all the way back to the start and refocus on what the essential elements are that I want to and can work with. With the Ancient Lands I put some considerable effort into not doing what has been done a hundred times before, like going with Dark Lords, demonic invasions, lost Golden Ages of magic and technology, a good and evil duality, an intelligently designed universes (that is about to break down), and a generic medieval European setting. But in hindsight I think I went a bit overboard in some of it and ended up designing a world in which there isn’t really anything to replace these things as big background sources of conflict that force characters into action. Right now, I think I might be able to salvage the idea of small clusters of civilization separated by vast stretches of uninhabited wilderness. While a tribal Bronze Age society and settlements don’t look like they would work, I can take the asthetic styles of various Bronze Age empires to create a style that is distinctively different from the medieval European Standard Fantasy Setting. And the ambigous and unsettling spirits could become more actively prominent with a big Lovecraftian boost of weirdness.

In a way, I could see many of my ideas work in a setting that is actually more similar to the fantastic world of Morrowind. More great houses, more tongs, more daedra, and more living god kings.

Comic Review: Hellsing

Though review might be stretching it a bit.

A while back I was on a work training course and shared a room with a guy who happened to have brought the first three volumes of Hellsing. I had heard a lot of great things about it over the years and the anime seems to be widely considerd as one of the great classics, like Full Metal Alchemist and Death Note. I had long planned to look it up but never got around to it, so I jumped at the opportunity to give it a try. This review only covers these first three volumes.

For comics, the visual style is obviously a major factor but not as relevant to the narrative, so let’s get this one covered fist. My impression of the drawing is that it’s okay. I’ve seen it praised, but I didn’t feel impressed by it myself. But it looks good and the images are not overcrowded with stuff that makes it difficult to figure out what’s going on. It works, that’s always the most important part.

But now to the story. Hellsing is set in a world that is plagued by vampires. Two main organizations are presented that are fighting against them. The Hellsing Organisation of the Anglican Church in Britain and Section XIII Iscariot of the Catholic Church. Both groups appear to be in a state of cold war but have made agreements to not operate in each others territory so they can focus on the main threat posed by the vampires. Hellsing’s top agent is Alucard, a vampire himself who dresses in a red coat and hat and has two big ass guns. The story begins with the recruitment of Seras Victoria, a police officer who was fatally wounded in a massacre commited by vampires and made immortal by Alucard who happened to have been send to deal with the situation. Shortly after the Hellsing headquarters get attacked and a majority of their staff slaughtered, which leads to Alucard and Seras going to Brazil to track down the people behind the attack.

What I quite liked of what I’ve read so far are the character design. Seras, Integra, Walter, and Bernadotte, as well as the two catholic nuns, all seemed like they could be really interesting or at least entertaining people to follow around in a story. But unfortunately I have to say, not in this story.

Even though it spans across three volumes, I found the plot to be very thin. Very little actually happpens or is explained and I had no real understanding of what’s going on for pretty much the entire time. The plot, or what little there is of it, seemed to me to be little more than an excuse to depict endless piles of slaughter and gore. It’s not that I have any problem with this in general. I like both the anime and manga of Neon Genesis Evangelion and have to say I am quite a fan of Elfen Lied. (Though the anime is awful, it drops almost all of the plot.) I’m still planning to get to Berserk in the near future. Extreme violence in manga can be great. But in Hellsing it felt very different to me. It didn’t seem like the blood and guts where there to make any point but that the comic exists only for the sake of violece and gore.

All in all, I have to say that the first three volumes of Hellsing left me very much unimpressed. Actually rather disappointed. Maybe “it gets better later”, but as it is I really feel no desire to get back to this one.