Mark McAndrew

Mark McAndrew's avatar
Manchester, England
Member since
September 2006
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Sci-fi/fantasy is the world’s favourite genre. Hobbits, lightsabers, wizard schools, extra-terrestrials, superheroes, vampires and high-kicking teenagers are behind the best-selling books, the most-watched TV series and highest-grossing films of all time. Only one gap remains in the market.

There has been plenty of successful comedy sci-fi, but hardly any fantasy. Where are the psychotic hobbits, megalomaniac warriors, drug-addled wizards and truly poncy Elves? Stuck in The Tower, of course. One of each, in fact, trapped in a dead wizard’s laboratory - the magic of the place ensuring virtual immortality.

If they didn’t hate each other beforehand - and they did - then the prospect of eternity in the same room, no matter how grandiose, is only made tolerable by long-time bearing of grudges and finding ever more exquisite ways to inflict mental torture on each other. Every few days they try another plan of escape, but the point is ‘every few days’. Many fail with agonising, last-second, Wile E Coyote improbability.

All the action occurs in one room, a large study/bedroom/lab. Three doors lead to a privy, an armoury and ‘the stores’, the latter both unseen, Tardis-like repositories of supplies which the four prisoners continually make use of. To begin with they are looking for a means of escape. After a while, they are just bored. The large main room becomes homely and personalised as the four adapt to student-life, then family life and finally prison life. A crystal ball becomes the TV and arguments rage over washing duties (as in, the hobbit should start).

Signature moments for the four characters include Gorlim (our resident pointy-hat) and his Antiques Roadshow bit; ‘a magical latex potion-stirrer dedicated to a Rabbit God,’ etc. and Rodrik (the knight) refusing to even acknowledge his unbelievable, never-ending good luck. The hobbit is a thieving drunk and the Elf an effeminate 2000-year old virgin.

The Tower is set in a future Earth, long after our civilisation has fallen. Magic now works just fine and the world is very Tolkienish. In the finest tradition of character-driven comedy, the entire series is based on genuine people - or at least their alter-egos. In the early 80s, the authors and two friends were Gorlim, Rodrik, Falco and Silval for a roleplaying game, playing almost every night of the week, for five years...

The GameMaster had to ensure none of our beloved characters died - at least, not for long - and was often required to bestow incredible fortune upon the hapless party. Such were our adventures: implausible, pompous and unwittingly amusing. The Tower is less a sit-com and more a behind-the-scenes expose of how legendary heroes and idiots with infinite luck can be so easily confused. Especially by Rodrik.

Only the setting is fantasy. The incompetence was all real.