noisms and the Hall of the Third Blue Wizard

I interviewed noisms, who blogs as Monsters and Manuals, publishes noisms games, and is best known for his fantasy game setting Yoon Suin, the Purple Land. Right now he’a running a Kickstarter for The Corridor of the Seventh Green Magic User  The Hall of the Third Blue Wizard, a zine featuring high-quality commissioned RPG modules and short stories. Although I fucking hate acronyms, for sanity’s sake I’m sure I’ll be referring to it as THOTTBW or THotTBW or THot3W by the end of this post, however dirty that makes me feel.

Here are audio and video versions of the interview, and below them are a summary of what we talked about with LOTS of notes and links and other good stuff.

Apologies for my many interruptions (in my defence, even face-to-face it’s a struggle working out who gets to speak-when. Over Zoom, on a dodgy internet connection, with NOISY FUCKING BIRDS in the background. Fucking nightmare).

All of the books mentioned below include affiliate links to my shop, a site which helps independent bookshops. If about 20 of you click through and buy the books then I might be able to afford a new book myself. There are also affiliate links for that other site at the bottom of the post, in case you want to help Jeff Bezos build a stockade with a pyramid in it.

On to the contents of our conversation. After establishing that we can hear one another, we move on to:

9 minutes in we finally, briefly, discuss noisms’ work:

my motto, a 50th birthday present from Erika MP.
This was also once a T-shirt

At 14:35 we talked about the origins of the name “The Hall of the Third Blue Wizard”, leading us on to:

  • Tolkien lore and the History of (and songs about) Middle Earth, specifically the books the Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and Children of Húrin
  • Who is writing the stuff for Hall of the Third Blue Wizard? Mostly not noisms, it turns out.

At 17:30 we talked about stretch goal, additional Yoon Suin material, Leading into…

Burnt Thouchesterhead et al

Back onto noisms’ work at around 26:50, with some of his past and future projects:

At around 32 minutes, we talk randomly generated worlds such as Yoon Suin, and the tables from which they are created

At 34:40, a quip about Heraclitus’s quote about how you never step into the same twice leads us to Greek philosophy and history:

Herodotus, at around 40:10, led us onto questions of diet, beginning obviously with cannibalism

Ladies and gentlemen, my kids
  • Would I like to be eaten? Would I eat another human? Have I, in fact, perhaps already done so?
  • Vegetarianism, and the switch to eating meat
  • Paleo diets
  • Just how bloody lovely is cheese?
  • And BUTTER! Butter makes everything better. Mmmm, buuuuttter!

43:50 in, back on to the Hall of the Third Blue Wizard, and what’s in it:

  • The magazine’s split between short fiction and adventures/modules/settings/whatever you want to call them.
  • The crazy price of RPG publications (which Daniel Sell calculates should retail for around 10x what they cost to print; THot3W retails for a lot less than that. Despite paying its contributors!) 
  • The increasing cost of everything
  • Why you should call your zine a book if you don’t want to be taxed on it
  • Knock – is it a magazine, is it a book?

The “magazine or book” question led us on a long literary meander from about 49:20, including

We’re 58 minutes and 30 seconds in and onto William Morris, whom there’s something about in THot3W, but it still takes us another couple of minutes to get around to it

  • Fin de Siecle fantasy art, such as Sidney H Sime whom I wrote about recently, and Arthur Rackham. Fantasy worldbuilding I can get behind!
  • The Well at the World’s End – an essay by by Roger Giner-Sorolla in THot3W about the William Morris book of the same name, and how to use it to inform old school play
  • Random tables in RPGs (again) and how they can also be used as prompts for writing fiction (something I discovered while playing Solitary Defilement, a solo adaptation of Mörk Borg, and which I’ve continued to explore by writing Yoon Suin fan-fiction)

This lead, at around 1:01:20 in, to a discussion about the importance of editing.

  • Writing advice from… Stephen King? Raymond Carver? Anyway: wherever your story starts, it ought to start later
  • Cut, cut, cut. Always be cutting
  • The forthcoming thriller novel 17, by my friend John Brownlow, which is fucking excellent (“the  must-read book of 2022 according to its publishers, Hodder & Stoughton) and you should pre-order it now. I wrote a short review of it here
  • Why directors’ cuts are always worse than the original film
  • We’re looking at you Peter Jackson
  • The Lord of the Rings/Hobbit films, which actually started off quite good, and got worse. And worse. And worse. And worse.
  • Peter Jackson’s other films, which are generally very good. Especially that World War I thing, The Lovely Bones, Heavenly Creatures, and his directorial debut, a fucking hilarious mould-breaking gorefest of a zombie film.

Running out of time, at 1:06:50 we finally get around to the question on everyone’s lips: WHEN IS THE SECOND EDITION OF YOON SUIN COMING OUT?

Things we didn’t talk about but I wish we had:

  • Monsters & Manuals and it’s phenomenal, always interesting 14-year history
  • Reading and reviewing a lot of books
  • Books that changed your life
  • A Gaming Podcast About Nothing
  • Playing your own work – run any Yoon Suin campaigns? Fixed World?
  • Behind Gently Smiling Jaws – how could I forget about the FUCKING CROCODILE and its MIND PALACE as a setting for a campaign!?! This was the first thing I ever read about of Monsters & Manuals, and I cannot even imagine what something like that would look like.
  • Anything else I missed?
  • How the fuck do you find the time? blogging, running a game, reading & reviewing heavy-duty books, THot3W, Yoon Suin, Fixed World, … all on top of having a family and a fairly demanding job.
And that’s it. I have just published a new adventure setting, Gespenwald, and my collection of wilderness encounters inspired by English folklore and humour, Mostly Harmless Meetings, is also available. noisms’ Kickstarter is The Hall of the Third Blue Wizard – please check them both out.

All those books again via the Bezos Stockade & Pyramid Fund:



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