Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Eternal Champion With A Bit of Genocide On The Side - Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion & Old School Gaming

 "John Daker dreams of other worlds, and a name: Erekosë. He finds the strength to answer the call, travelling to a strange land ruled by the aging King Rigenos of Necranal."


Michael Moorcock. The Eternal Champion Vover Art by Frank Frazetta .

"Humanity is united in a desperate fight against the inhuman Eldren, and John must fight with them. But the actions of his brethren turn his loyalties—and, as Erekosë, he will take a terrible revenge." 

The Eternal Champion is one of those books that seems to be forgotten in the shuffle of Appendix N lore. The book concerns a hero who is taken from his twentith century life to affect the outcome of a different world or universe; "
John Daker, an ordinary 20th century man, is pulled through time and space to the tomb of Erekosë, a long-dead hero of a version of Earth that may be the distant past or distant future." Imagine if you will that a party of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons or B/X PC's are whisked to a campaign world only to find out that thier the reincarnations of the heroes of the past. This is exactly what happens to John Daker the protagonist of 'The Eternal Champion'. 
The Eternal Champion by Michael Moorcock is the first of his Eternal Champion series and the wiki entry reveals a very interesting detail about it's publication; "
The Eternal Champion is a fantasy novel by Michael Moorcock that introduces the hero known as both John Daker and Erekosë. Originally written in the late 1950s, it constitutes the first novel of Moorcock's sprawling Eternal Champion series. The tale was first published in 1962 as a magazine novella [1] Moorcock expanded the novella to novel length for publication in 1970. He revised the text for its 1978 publication. Along with expanding the original story, the novel makes some minor changes to narration and scenes, and also includes references to other short stories by Moorcock. The Eternal Champion is the first in a trilogy of novels known as the Erekosë series (though the lead character adopts other identities in subsequent novels). The sequel novels are Phoenix in Obsidian (1970; published in the US as The Silver Warriors), and The Dragon in the Sword (1987)." The revised text of 'The Eternal Champion' brings this series of novels into line with Moorcock's Elric line. John Daker realizes that he is an aspect of the Eternal Champion; "Daker realizes he is the reincarnation of the warrior Erekosë and is now being called to assume that identity again by the people he once served. Daker also sees memories of other lives he's lived or will live and realizes he is one of many incarnations of the Eternal Champion, a key figure in the mythology of Michael Moorcock's multiverse. The Eternal Champion is often called to restore or maintain the multiverse's balance between the cosmic forces of Law and Chaos. With his memories of Daker's life and family quickly dimming, the warrior accepts his identity as Erekosë, and armed with a radioactive sword called Kanajana, joins a great war between humans and an alien race, the Eldren. Throughout the novel, he is skeptical about the just nature of the war he fights and feels conflicted about his duty to humanity in contrast to his duty as an Eternal Champion who may need to defy humanity. He is also occasionally tormented by the lingering memories and principles of his 20th century life, as well as glimpses of his other lives under a multiplicity of names."
The Eternal Champion is written in a Moorcock Pulp style & is a very questional book because Moorcock wrote it when he was seventeen. Many of his attitudes are reflected in the book throughout especially when it comes to the Eldren vs the Colonial attitudes of the book's version of  humanity. 

The Eternal Champion By Michael Moorcock
Cover art by Bob Haberfield. Mayflower Books, London, 1970.

"Many incarnations of Moorcock's Eternal Champion are unaware they serve this role and/or have no memories of their other lives. Daker/Erekosë stands apart by being able to remember aspects of his multiple lives. While his books were not as popular as those featuring some of Moorcock's other characters, Erekosë is frequently mentioned in other stories of the author's multiverse. Along with his own novels, the character has appeared in crossover stories involving other Eternal Champion incarnations. His radioactive, poisonous sword echoes the vampiric, living sword Stormbringer wielded by the other aspect of the Eternal Champion called Elric." 
Daker/Erekosë stands apart from other versions of the Eternal Champion because the forces of the Balance keep him from his lovely Eldren. Could PC's encounter Daker as Erekosë?! Without a doubt! The book emplies that he's had many,many, adventures against both Law and Chaos throughout his multiple lives. Erekosë is tormented by his memories as Elric, Hawkmoon, etc. According to the Wiki entry Daker is tightly woven into the Eternal Champion incarnation; " Daker's trip through time and space reveals scattered memories from many other incarnations, such as Erekosë and Michael Moorcock's other characters such as ElricPrince CorumDorian HawkmoonJerry Cornelius, the Rose, and members of the family Von Bek." This means that PC's could theoritically run into 
Erekosë on Greyhawk, the Forgotten Realms, the Young Kingdoms, or any campaign world. Daker is extremely deadly after his killing of humanity during the Eternal Champion era (yes they had it coming but still it bothered many of the players in our group). 

The Eternal Champion introduces the Eternal Champion concept to the Moorcock multiverse. And it was innovative for it's time during the 1970's. What does it mean for old school gaming?! Well, it means that PC's could run across  Erekosë and his deadly radioactive demon sword. 
Our party of adventurers ran across him during one of our encounters with Karl Edgar Wagner's Kane. Kane was selling a piece of information to the Daker personality &  Erekosë was paying for it with a quest for an artifact. Our party of adventurers got drafted to accompany him into the dungeon. Given  Erekosë's passion for depression and violence. We ditched him after the end of the dungeon! We skipped the pay and the world only to run into Kane back in Greyhawk.. We ended up working for Kane because of the 
 Erekosë affair! 

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