Dungeons & Dragons, comics and punk rock are my (un)holy triumvirate. Between them, they’ve helped me to cope with all kinds of first world adversity and a couple of hundred truckloads of the excrement that fates fan constantly blows my way. So when Rafer Roberts and Kristen Gudsnuk’s Modern Fantasy, a book that combines two thirds of my aforementioned trio arrived, my finely tuned geek radar nearly exploded.
Set in the city of God’s Helm, Modern Fantasy is the saga of Sage of the Riverlands, a twenty something college graduate Ranger and office drone and her motley collection of dysnfunctional friends and colleagues first adventure in a big, bad world full of monsters, magic and ancient artefacts. A blink and you’ll miss it collision of stolen jewellery, criminal fraternity’s, strange cults, hell-spawned demons, the trials and tribulations of dealing with the drudgery of low paying jobs, too many bills and the everyday maelstrom of relationships and trying to figure just who the heck you are and how you fit into the chaos of existence, Modern Fantasy aces all of its saving throws and rolls a non-stop streak of natural twenties and critical hits.
Light hearted, fun and full of the kind of energy that used to crackle and fizz at the gaming table during all night dungeon crawls and delves, Modern Fantasy transplants the seemingly effortless humour and on target characterisation of shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation into the world created by Gary Gygax. From the off, it’s glaringly obvious that Rafer Roberts loves D&D, as he plays with, and makes fun of, the tropes and stereotypes that litter it’s mythology with ease and crams his story full of fanboy references; and yes folks, that’s a good thing. It’s a very, very good thing. Completed by the cartoonish, snappy art of Kristen Gudsnuk, the perfect companion for Roberts narrative, Modern Fantasy is a hilarious treasure trove of geek pleasure that’ll enlighten, and warm, the soul of even the most embittered of first edition devotees. Tim Cundle