For the first part of this series, I figured I’d start with the first book, 1991’s Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi. I originally bought this book back in the early 90s, but at that time I was probably about 20 or 21, and I only got about two chapters in.

What stopped me? Well, to be blunt, I went in expecting a standard Indiana Jones adventure. I wanted trapped temples, evil Nazis, epic stunts, dangerous animals — the lot. But that’s not what this book delivers.

Peril at Delphi opens on Indiana Jones as a young man. He’s still in college, all those temples and Nazis and adventures still way in his future. Instead, he’s pulling campus pranks and spending his nights at a jazz club with a good friend, Jack Shannon. Indy is majoring in Linguistics, under pressure by his domineering and highly-traditional father (played so well by Sean Connery in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).

We then move forward to graduate school, where one of his teachers, Dorian Belacamus, asks him to accompany her for some field work in her native Greece. A recent earthquake has damaged the site of the Oracle at Delphi, and she needs an assistant to help her inspect the site. There, they discover a strange carved stone (the “Omphalos,” or Navel of the World). Things seem fine at first, but soon Indy is caught up in a plot to overthrow the Greek government and discovers that Belacamus believes herself the reincarnation of the Oracle itself.

Part of the Delphi temple complex, where most of the book’s central action occurs.

I didn’t have any issues with the setup. In fact, I relish the idea of a series that shows Indiana Jones in his first adventures, dipping his toes into the world of “pulp archaeology” (a glorified version of treasure hunting that bears no similarity to real-world archaeology, which is slow and meticulous, cataloging and mapping everything, where Indy’s methodology is to smash his way through to the high-price relic inside). But I want a little more high-action out of an Indiana Jones story than this book delivered. There were a few fistfights, there was a scene where he dangled over a deep pit in an compromised position, and there was a car chase, but I’d have liked to have seen more intensity.

That lack of intensity seems to be MacGregor’s style, as I’ll see in the next books in the series.

Canon or Not?

So this is a tough one. As I’ll no doubt mention again, I have a hard time accepting the version of Indiana Jones’ early years that was given to us in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and in the opening sequence of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In the TV series, he’s first a little kid traveling with his father around the world and meeting famous people as he learns important life lessons, and then later he impetuously joins the Belgian army at 17 so he can fight in WWI. In Last Crusade, he’s a Boy Scout who tries to stop some treasure thieves and ends up gaining all his notable characteristics in five minutes (which is just lazy writing, IMO). I have many problems with how he was depicted in these sources, but most of all, it just doesn’t feel like Indiana Jones. He’s a scholar and rogue, not a soldier. I fully believe he would have spent his teens and early 20s in academia, not in trench warfare.

Based on that, I’m much more willing to accept this book’s vision of Indy’s humble beginnings. I’ll count it as canon.

Skip It or Read It?

If you’re interested in exploring Indy’s (possible) other adventures but don’t want to waste your time with bad offerings, should you read this one? I’ll go ahead and say read it. You could do worse, for sure, and as plausible origin stories goes, it’s the best of the bunch.

Those who know me know I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan. Ever since seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark on the big screen when I was 10 years old, it has remained my all-time favorite movie, never unseated despite serious contention from a host of other amazing movies. Indiana Jones embodies who I want to be in life: daring, clever, scholarly, resourceful, and bold — even if I don’t always live up to those ideals. And the Indiana Jones movies sparked a lifelong love for adventure, action, and fiction of that genre, where mysteries are ancient, peril is imminent, villains are villainous, ruins remain unexplored, and everything is bigger and more sensational than real life.

This love for Indiana Jones (and, by extension, pulp adventure in the vein of serials from the 1930s) was reignited after a somewhat more dormant period when, in 2017, I took my family to Disneyworld. I’d forgotten how much I loved Adventureland — the whole look, feel, and vibe of it, not to mention the Indiana Jones ride!

Following that trip, I decided to reconnect with my old hero by finally diving into the various stories about him that aren’t from the movies. The idea was first sparked by the backstory of the Disneyworld ride, which one gleans from information provided during the queue: Indiana Jones was heading up an archaeological dig in Southeast Asia, but has gone missing. Alas, by that point his fame has grown large enough that people flock from around the world to the site, and you — the riders — hop into a jeep and drive into the ruins to rescue him.

I know Indiana Jones appears in quite a number of other fictional media. There are comic books, television shows, novels, video games, even choose-your-own-adventure books. Since 2017, I’ve been slowly expanding my “Indyverse” collection, buying some of those items.

I’ll be reviewing them here, letting you know which ones are good and which ones are not so good, and deciding whether I’d consider them worthy additions to the canon.

If you have any suggestions, feel free to share them in the comments.

The Torg Eternity universe continues to unfold. Our team just started the next wave for Aysle, the realm of high fantasy. I co-wrote the mega-adventure, “Revenge of the Carredon,” with Darrell Hayhurst. We’ve already passed $50k in just four hours!

Issue 1 of the Savage Sign is now available in print!

The first issue of The Savage Sign, the amazing new periodical for Savage Worlds, is finally out in the wild and I received my copy. This magazine offers all kinds of content, from settings to adventures to threats you can use in your games, and features some amazing art and design work.

My content for this issue is the adventure “The Bride,” as well as much of the creature material for the “Virulent” setting.

We’re already starting up work on Issue 2, which will feature my setting Islands of Fire. Can’t wait!

Since December, I’ve been on the development team of an exciting new magazine for the Savage Worlds RPG called The Savage Sign, and I have to say, it looks absolutely amazing. This premier issue features four new settings, several standalone adventures, and tons of content. My contributions are the short Sword & Sorcery adventure “The Bride,” along with the write-ups for vampires and werewolves from the post-apocalyptic monster horror setting, Virulent.

We’re already working on the next issue, which we hope to put on Kickstarter soon. It will feature my mini-setting, Islands of Fire, a Polynesian-inspired fantasy setting many years in the making. Future issues will include other material from me.

Link below, if you’d like to check it out. If you’re a Savage Worlds fan, this is a great resource.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/273119/The-Savage-Sign-01

My interview with the folks over at The Savage Cast went up a few days ago. In it, they ask me about my history with RPGs, what got me into Savage Worlds, what work I’m doing right now, and any upcoming work. My part is the first 30 minutes or so of this podcast. Have a listen!

The Savage Cast
Episode 30: The Savage Sign – Brian Reeves & Aaron Acevedo

Back in December, I joined on as a writer/developer at the Savage Sign, a new content magazine for the Savage Worlds roleplaying game. They’re currently in the last few days of the Kickstarter for issue 1. I’ve contributed a standalone adventure for it, as well as some creatures for a mini-setting included in this debut issue.

Take a look at the Kickstarter for more information:

They liked my pitch for Islands of Fire, so you can expect to finally see my mini-setting finally coming to life in the next few months.

I’ll also be writing a mini-setting for them called The Orb, which is a futuristic setting in which the heroes are contestants in a Hunger-Games-style battle royale competition that changes weekly. Watch for more information on that setting.

Lastly, I was interviewed today for the Savage Cast, a podcast that explores all things Savage Worlds, hosted by Christopher Landauer, the creator of the Buccaneers: Through Hell and High Water setting for Savage Worlds. One of my first publications since the early days of Savage Insider was with Buccaneers, an adventure called “Bloody Bones” in which the heroes end up unwitting pawns in a struggle between two cursed pirates. It was great fun talking RPGs and getting to share my ideas about Savage Worlds, the Savage Sign, as well as pitch some of my work. Thanks to the Savage Cast fellas!

http://www.savagecast.com/

This week, Ulisses Spiele is previewing Fires of Ra, the epic adventure I co-authored for the Torg Eternity roleplaying game. This preview is the beginning of Act 3 (out of 7), where the heroes must journey to a cursed ruin deep in the Congo to retrieve a powerful artifact. 

Torg Eternity – Fires of Ra Preview #1

Now that the Kickstarter campaign for the Nile Empire (the RPG setting I helped write) is underway – and going gangbusters I might add – the team and I are planning to do a 1-hour live Q&A session tomorrow, December 6 at 5pm Pacific. I’m not sure what I’ll talk about yet, but most likely I’ll share my background with this game, how I drafted the adventure, and what movies/games/books I pulled on for inspiration. I’m not very comfortable with public speaking so I’m definitely nervous, but also excited. I just spent half an hour fiddling with the background so it looks professional. I chose my reference library; shelves full of RPG manuals and gamebooks would have been better, but what can you do.

Anyway, here’s the link if you’d like to tune in!

https://live.kickstarter.com/ulisses-spiele/live/nile-empire-adventures?fbclid=IwAR30-1AU_ecQ4H8w1MNyrIzBfpHPo1VYwjlml8OTL5iKDMLLNDsMyrzeK4U

I spent three hours last night reading through the current draft of The Fires of Ra, which is heading off to the editor on Monday. Other than a few small issues, it’s mostly ready. However, I’m not ready. Reading through it I can see several things I’d have done differently if I wrote them today – and I only penned them within the last year!

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus supposedly said “No man can step in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” That saying is very true for the relationship between an author and his or her written works – we always see things we’d like to change, because our perception has changed, perhaps even just a little, since we last wrote it. The more time goes by, the greater that change in perception.

But there’s another saying that applies, this one by Leonardo DaVinci: “A work of art is never finished, only abandoned.” At some point, every writer must simply declare his written work finished and push it out of the nest. There will always be small things (or large things) that could be revised, reworked, replaced – but unless one stops that urge, the work will always languish in an unfinished state.

From here out, any changes will have to exist in my head. I’m proud of what we (Darrell and I) have created and I’m sure people will enjoy it. And that’s all I can really ask for.

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