Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Archer: Fugitive From The Empire Television Movie (1981) For Old School Games


 When I was a kid there were certain movies that stick with you. The type of films that get stuck into your psyche for the rest of your life. The Archer: Fugitive From The Empire is that sort of movie. This was supposed to be a pilot for a television show. But like so many other pilots it was swept away into oblivion.  This film along with 'Hawk The Slayer' and 'The Sword And Sorcerer'. 
They were fodder for so many OD&D campaigns. The Archer : Fugitive From The Empire is also known as the 'Archer and The Sorceress' in the edited movie version.  
Finding information on the movie was interesting and I ended up having to using the Germany Wiki which is translated down below. 

The hero is given his mentor's bow (the Heartbow) which chooses its new owner when passed on. It fires arrows that blow up like grenades, but can only be wielded by the one chosen to wield her. The hero is a member of a nomadic tribe wiped out by the Draikian Empire's forces. He attempts to find the wizard Lazar-Sa who might be able to help him. He is joined by a thief looking for adventure and cash, and the daughter of a goddess, Estra, looking to revenger herself on Lazar-Sa for crimes against her mother
The Archer: Fugitive from the Empire (1981) Poster

Expanded plot according Wiki (Translated from German): 
The country Malveel, an area that is inhabited by nomads among warring clans is in danger from the ascending draikianischen Empire - commonly called the dynasty - to be conquered. Brakus king, ruler of the falcon clan, succeeded after a long time, to unite several warring tribes peacefully and tries to win the fight against the common enemy. However, he faces betrayal from their own ranks: Sandro and Riis, his nephew, have put in their hunger for power in connection with the dynasty, and their supreme commander, Gar, and his contortionist instruct, to eliminate Brakus. Brakus 'son Toran, meanwhile, has a hostile encounter with the beautiful Estra, a sorceress whose mother once Naestra of Brakus' had been murdered father under the authority of the master, the wizard Lazar-Sat. She gives him a cryptic prophecy in which she promises him a hopeless search.
The same night Brakus is murdered by cooking with torans dagger, could steal the secret Sandro, but lying dying struggles Brakus his son a promise from Lazar-Sa visit so his work should not be in vain. Toran is found with the corpse of his father and imprisoned for murder, his old teacher Mak, the leader of a magicarch , but freed him, and together embark the two in search of the wizard, followed by Gar and his contortionist who decided are to prevent re-Malveel alliance of clans among the hawks, so cooking can also Sandro and Riis murder.Exhausted from the flight and his age mak over to his apprentice the magic bow, but dies in the process, in which the arc assumes its new carrier.
Toran succeeds hard to Gar injured in a confrontation, and thereby gaining the attention of the Strolches Slant, who joins him unasked. Although Slant first attempts to appropriate the bow, he begins Toran with the time to like and support him with his worldly wisdom. Meanwhile, also on Estra makes the search for Lazar-Sa to kill him and thus to avenge her mother, and she crosses torans own way. The three in the city of Kamal meet an individual who claims to be a Lazar-Sa and tried to evict the residents from the area. Toran, Estra and Slant are requested by the City Council to eliminate the threat, and if only to find the answers to their search, they take on the task and travel to Endweltschlucht, the hiding place of the magician. But shortly after their departure also comes to cooking Kamal where he can track torans resume.
in the Endweltschlucht meet the three Lazar-Sa, but must find that he just a magical simulacrum is. He was controlled by Rega, a former slave from Kamal, who met Lazar-Sa and gave him a magical stone and glove, to take revenge for the humiliation of his slavery.Rega tells them where Lazar-Sa has recently stopped, but then committed suicide with the stone, now that his identity is out. Gar, the Toran is followed, klaubt on the glove and calls Toran out. During the battle, however, destroys the power of the stone, which has become dangerously unstable by a shot torans that Endweltschlucht; Toran, Estra and Slant just can not escape that. Estra then separates from her erstweiligen companions to follow their own path to Lazar-Sa, Toran shares but before even with that, they will meet again.

Using The Archer: Fugitive From The Empire In Your OSR Game 
Archer :Fugitive From The Empire is a great film for small parties as an adventure  model. The movie does hold up even after all this time. The pluses of  the film are: the scale of the film, the party is solid for PC's on the small, the movie is perfect for shamans and barbarians, there's definitely a Roman empire in decline feel to it and its not well known today making for easy mining.  
The  Draikian Empire's forces are perfect PC foils.Between the lizard men and the human mercenaries  all  are available in the Monster Manual and most of the basic sets of OD&D. And most of the retroclone sets have enough background on them to simply pick up and use them with the film. 

 The  Draikian Empire almost seems like the sort of outfit that works someplace between a fantasy version of the steppes and a strange Rome inspired empire.The technology level is very low and the magic and religion would fit right into the type of 'sword and scorcery' that Gorgon Milk's 'Petty Gods' is working right through. 

Small gods, barbarians, weird magic items, and lots of horse riding with television inspired violence make this a great small scale party film. 

 Using This Film For Your Old School Space Based Game 
Believe it or not I've used this film for a small scale science fiction space based game. This film's world makes a perfect lost colony. The tribes, the empire in decline, the weird lizard men, strange psychic abilities make this a film for a Stars Without Number game or even 'gasp' a Traveler game. 
A few days ago I posted about using the Original Battle Star Galactica series in an Egyptian inspired old school game.This film could double as a lost colony of  the Colonial Empire. The Cylons have cut it from trade routes eons ago and only now is it starting to emerge from total barbarianism.
 The door is open on this film and quite a bit could be done with it. To expand the scope of what was begun on screen in 1981 onto your table wouldn't take much.
 In closing 'Archer Fugitive From The Empire' is more then the sum of its pieces if you only look past the whole cloth of the film. 


  1. I clearly remember when this aired on TV. The heartbow was a memorable prop weapon - like the Atlantean Sword or Glaive from KRULL. Clean up this film with cg, and you could market it today. I don't think it has been sold in the US on anything other than tape :(

  2. It's available (in pieces) on YouTube. I'm watching it now!

  3. Lee B-
    The 'Heartbow' is one of the more memorable props and a very iconic piece of film history that might have been. Its available on DVD but I'm not sure if that's on black market or mainstream outlets.

    Tim - Yeah its on youtube for now! I've just gotten a chance to see it otherwise I've got a friend locally whose got the movie on VHS. Its a pretty good watch.

  4. The name Lasar Sa is where I got the name Lasar Sarkhon from

  5. Yeah I hear ya Stud, there's a lot of names that I've used over the years from this film and a variety of others. I'll be returning shortly to this one very soon.
    Cheers and thanks for the comment!


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