Stories: Lean Times in Lankhmar, Under the Thumbs of the Gods, The Mouser Goes Below
Issek is known as a god of peace and as a symbol of strength and perseverance for those who suffer hardships such as poverty or disfigurement. He offers Waters of Peace from the Cistern of Cillivat. His manner of death was racking.
Issek’s creed was preached by Bwadres who was an apologetic old dodderer. Under Bwadres’ preaching Issek never became popular and in fact, was declining towards the Marsh Gate. Only when Fafhrd became an acolyte under Bwadres did Issek of the Jug become popular.
Issek of the Jug, as sung about in Fafhrd’s poetry, cavorted with beasts, and dumbfounded rulers by suffering colorful tortures without harm while delivering majestic sermons on brotherly love in perfect intricately rhymed stanzas. Fafhrd’s Issek did not merely die on the rack but broke seven racks before expiring on the eighth, and even then he broke loose and broke the thick brass band of office from around his torturer’s neck and fashioned it into a beautiful symbol of the Jug before his spirit departed.
Issek’s popularity reached a peak when Fafhrd unwittingly appeared as an avatar of Issek and enacted Issek’s second coming before a crowd. Afterward Pulg the extortionist took over the running of the church of Issek and deliberately ground down rival churches with his extortion racket. The church of Issek flourished for exactly three years after the second coming with five large temples, numerous minor shrines, and a swelling priesthood at its height. During the third anniversary when it became apparent that Pulg planned on overthrowing even the Gods of Lankhmar, those same gods destroyed the church of Issek, defiled all its temples, threw down all shrines, and killed the clergy of Issek down to its last member.
Issek of the Jug still resides in the Godsland as a minor god, keeping his ear open to all worshipers, especially his greatest and lapsed one, Fafhrd.
Hello Exidy YT,
Thank you for visiting these ancient, crumbly tomes (over twenty years on the Internet!). As it happens, I had my first exposure to Nehwon and F&GM through Deities & Demigods as well. It was many years later before I read one of Leiber's stories, and my introduction was through one of Asimov's Hugo winner anthologies.
As far as the copyrighted material goes, it was the Melnibonéan and Cthulhu mythoi that were removed, and I am happy for Moorcock to be paid for his work. Lovecraft will have to collect his the next time he flies over Earth (read “To Arkham and the Stars”). Lieber was paid royalties by TSR, and his stories were adapted to numerous D&D products. Nowadays, Savage Worlds and Dungeon Crawl Classics are producing licensed Lankhmar products. With any luck, these products will introduce Leiber to new generations.
Cheers, Srith of the Scrolls
Both the character of the newly Nordic Hero-ified Issek and the story “Lean Times in Lankhmar” have been all time favourites of mine ever since I read of the stories of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, which I sadly admit I would not have without reading of them first in the initial print of the AD&D 1st edition “Deties and Demigods”. If I am not mistaken the Nehwon and Melnebone mythos were removed from subsequent editions of this book due to copyright lawsuits from the publishers of the novels. I've always felt this was stupidly shortsighted of them, I know it's very likely I wouldn't have bought or read either the Elric of Melnibone or the “Swords against X” series of books for a long time later, or possibly ever, depriving them of who knows how many thousands of other AD&D players who werent able to find a First Edition and never knew better?
I would like to think times have improved with the Internet, but the rash of DMCAs against fan-interpretation or analysis of published book heroes makes me sadly think otherwise.