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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light

The Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light was a cartoon show that ran in the Fall of 1987. It occupies an odd time in my childhood, that is to say not at all. I was 14 almost 15 when it came out. I remember watching it because it was somewhat DD related/inspired, but at the same time it felt awkward watching it. Hey, who wasn't awkward at that age? Despite I will freely admit I saw almost all the episodes. 

Visionaries were somewhat Thundarr like in the world where it takes place was a world were technology had fallen/failed. While not as over the top as Thundarr it was post-technological. It was also a mash up of Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table with the main mover and shaker a wizard named Merklynn who was nominally neutral in the dealings between the two factions: the Darkling Lords (obviously evil) led by the knights Darkstorm and Leoric the leader of Spectral Knights (the good guys).

What I think saved me from feeling too weird was the tie into magic, particularly the magical words of power that were invoked via their magic staffs. In the first episode "The Age of Magic Begins" the various knights climb to the top of Iron Mountain in a form of challenge. It is at the end of this episode that each knight gains a magical animal totem that mirrors themselves, Leoric a Lion, Feryl a wolf, Darkstorm a Mollusk, Reekon a lizard, etc. Those knights that do not possess staves gain the ability to power magical power vehicles, obviously a ploy to sell more toys? One upside is the cast of characters is pretty good and each bad guy has a good guy to mirror him/her. In some cases the knights knew each other prior to the age of magic.
Cryotek using his staff

To activate each staff the wielder had to recite a magical verse. Amongst my favorites were:

Cryotek's Staff of Strength - "Three suns aligned pour forth their light and fill the archer's bow with might!"

Witterquick's Staff of Speed - "Sheathe these feet in the driving gale, Make swift these legs o'er land I sail!"

Darkstorm's Staff of Decay "By what creeps, what crawls, by what does not; let all that grows recede and rot!" (Great for a staff of withering)

Lexor's Staff of Invulnerability
"The arrows turn, the swords rebel; let nothing pierce this mortal shell!

Come to think of it these would make great command words, phrases for more then just magical staffs, wands etc if one were so inclined. How about Lexor's for a potion of invulnerability? 

Another use in a a D&D campaign is the idea of the one shot nature of the staves; they required recharging at Iron Mountain. Now this could be a hindrance to a campaign as a whole as players might stay near the place of recharging rather then venture afar. However, if sufficiently powerful the players might husband their resource until the need is great, then head back (thats what I would do). Perhaps they are akin to power in relics/artifacts in AD&D. Its not inconceivable to have say Lexor's staff of invulnerability keep everything out much like a cube of force, can only be used once until its recharged and usable by any class. Possession of such items might bring prestige in said campaign world if the items are well known or perhaps foes seeking to claim or steal it.

In terms of visual style the Visionaries had a very similar look to the other cartoons of the 80s, were the rise of manga was beginning in the USA. Interestingly the series was created by Flint Dille, who met none other then Gary Gygax when Gary was working on the D&D cartoon. This is fateful as Flint is none other then the brother or Lorraine Williams... Any TSR nerd from back in the day can tell you how much she is hated for ousting Gary from TSR. Flint would work for TSR for a time and the rest of his details can be found here. Anyways I digress. 

In a way, Visionaries felt very much like the other cartoons of the 80s, MASK, G.I. Joe, He Man,Thundercats,Transformers etc, a bid to sell toys in the wake of the mega success of Star Wars. Looking back on it the series was a odd bird, it only lasted one season and felt even back then it was a attempt to cash in. It was also a short lived comic book series but I never saw one and was a fairly avid comic reader back then. Maybe that's me looking back on it through hindsight. 

Not that I condone such things but there are places on the web to watch all of the episodes,

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