Friday, May 10, 2019

Rogues Gallery: I is for Indel the Elf

If you don't know Indel--or have forgotten the little schmuck--he was the bumbling elf in the party of adventurers from the famous D&D comic ads, a series of 1 page cartoons that appeared in comic books in 1981 and '82.  Rust Monster did a pretty good riff on the dude a thousand years ago, perhaps if everyone pesters him enough he'll finally complete the series.

Berkeley Breathed - Bloom County
Don't drag me into this.
And that's pretty much as far as I'm interested in discussing Indel; he's just an excuse to talk about the old D&D comic/ad. What I really want to talk about are elements of this cartoon that appear elsewhere in D&Darium, namely Zenopus Castle.

Everyone familiar with old time D&D now knows that the sample dungeon in the back of the first basic rules by Eric Holmes is called The Tower of Zenopus. Except it wasn't really called that at all. It was just the sample dungeon, it had no name. Zenopus is of course mentioned in the background as the crazed wizard who once occupied a tower in the Graveyard District of Portown, but both he and the tower have been gone for 50 years by the time you and your party catch wind of the scenario whilst quaffing ales at the Green Dragon Inn.

The edifice you will be exploring, dear friends, is comprised of the tunnels and corridors found underneath the ruin of the tower, so the adventure would more accurately be termed The Dungeon of Zenopus.  But since there is actually a magic user-occuppied tower attached to the dungeon (room S), you could call it the Tower of the Thaumaturge, which is, after all, everyone's favorite word for a caster of spells. And although the evil MU of said rank (aficionados will acknowledge that a Thaumaturgist is a 5th level MU) is unnamed, it is probably safe to assume that its name, as with all Thaumaturges, is Brad.
Also, until listening to a podcast recently, I don't believe I'd ever heard the word "Zenopus" spoken out loud. I can't remember which podcast it was, sorry, but the dude pronounced it with the accent on ZEN, so it sounded sort of like octopus. I've always put the accent on the second syllable, like you're combining zen with a musical number. Or that penguin from Bloom County.


JB said...

Huh. I've never heard Zenopus pronounced out loud either. When I read it, I tend to hear something like Ze-NAW-pus in my head. But a portmanteau of "zen" and "opus" makes more sense.

Zenopus Archives said...

I've said it out loud once or twice. Zen-uh-pus. But I've heard other pronunciations. There's a frog genus named Xenopus, so there is a science way of saying it.

Zenopus Archives said...

The Greyhawk dungeons are usually called Castle Greyhawk, so there is a good precedent for naming dungeons for their ruined edifices.

Timrod said...

No worries, Z.A. I'm not arguing that Tower of Zenopus isn't a good name for Holmes's masterpiece; just making the point that the name is colloquial and not enforced by law.

John Bragg said...

Want you to know that I love your take on Ned Snakeshaft, and am adding it in printout form to my Ghosts of Saltmarsh splatbook.