[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mignolaillmetbs_7764.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:The pair of rogues themselves]]


->''"Now about Lankhmar. She's been invaded, her walls breached everywhere and desperate fighting is going on in the streets, by a fierce host which out-numbers Lankhamar's inhabitants by fifty to one -- and equipped with all modern weapons. Yet you can save the city."''\\
''"How?" demanded Fafhrd.''\\
''Ningauble shrugged. "You're a hero. You should know."''

One of the most seminal pieces of SwordAndSorcery was Creator/FritzLeiber's ''Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser'' series of short stories and novellas. Set in the world of Nehwon (except for one story set on Earth), often in the city of Lankhmar, it starred '''Fafhrd''', a seven-foot tall [[BarbarianHero barbarian]] from the North, and '''the Mouser''', a trickster [[LoveableRogue thief]] and former wizard's apprentice, who find and befriend each other one day. A {{deconstruction}} of the Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian stories that Leiber had grown tired of, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser showed two heroes closer to actual human beings. To quote TheOtherWiki: "They spend a lot of time drinking, feasting, wenching, brawling, stealing, and gambling, and are seldom fussy about to whom they hire their swords. But they are humane and - most of all - relish true adventure." A massive source for inspiration for much of modern roleplaying, specifically D&D, either directly or indirectly, and pretty much any ''swashbuckling'' - as opposed to ThudAndBlunder - fantasy story written after about 1970 or so probably owes a debt to these stories.

There are seven books containing all the stories: ''Swords and Deviltry'', ''Swords Against Death'', ''Swords in the Mist'', ''Swords Against Wizardry'', ''The Swords of Lankhmar'', ''Swords and Ice Magic'', and ''The Knight and Knave of Swords''. There is also the [[OutlivedItsCreator authorized novel sequel]] ''Swords Against the Shadowland'' by Robin Wayne Bailey.

----
!!This series provides examples of:

* AdjectiveAnimalAlehouse: The Silver Eel Tavern.
* AnthropomorphicPersonification: Death
* AuthorAppeal: Especially some of the later stories, though Fafhrd is something of an AuthorAvatar throughout.
* BarbarianHero: Fafhrd. Subverted/Deconstructed/Unbuilt in that he's based on actual historical barbarians - he wears armor, seldom ever uses two-handed weapons, is a skilled horse archer, is a well-trained seafarer, and generally tries to avoid fighting more than one enemy at a time.
* BarbarianLonghair: Fafhrd, the tall northern barbarian, is described as having long, flowing red hair. The Mouser, who hails from the civilized south, often comments on Fafhrd's unkempt appearance.
* BashBrothers: Guess.
* BazaarOfTheBizarre: In the story of the same name.
* BrainsAndBondage: The Mouser has some pretty heavy tendencies to sexual sadism, with increasing explicitness over Lieber's lifetime.
* BrainsAndBrawn: Massively averted. Fafhrd is single-minded, but sometimes has as many utility skills as the Gray Mouser. The Mouser, while conspicuously intelligent, is inclined to let his ego lead him into foolhardy actions. To make it more plain, it's usually the Mouser who does the most damage and fights the toughest fights.
* BrokeEpisode. All the time. The two never manage to hold on to any of the riches they come across in their adventures.
* TheCallKnowsWhereYouLive: Ningauble and Sheelba went to a lot of trouble to gain the duo's (nominal) fealty.
* CartwrightCurse GirlOfTheWeek: They almost always have love interests, they never seem to last from one story to the next. Eventually averted in the final tales of the series when both the heroes got two new steady girlfriends.
* CityOfAdventure: Lankhmar.
* CosmicChessGame: Ningauble of the Seven Eyes and Sheelba of the Eyeless Face use their champions this way.
* DamselInDistress: While the duo is not as susceptible to these as ''Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian'', they do crop up and sometimes get the plot moving. Often to our heroes' detriment.
* DarkMagicalGirl: Almost as common as evil sorcerers. In some cases, [[MadScientistsBeautifulDaughter they're related.]]
* DeadpanSnarker: The Mouser.
* DeathByOriginStory: When they first meet in ''Ill Met in Lankhmar'', both Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser have serious girlfriends. [[spoiler:Neither survives the end of the story.]]
* DoubleStandardRapeDivineOnMortal: Mouser got raped by the Goddess of Pain ([[DoubleStandardRapeFemaleOnMale which he sort-of enjoyed]]). She's a goddess--what are you going to do? Complain?
* DualWielding: Both heroes are experts at this.
* EarthDrift: The first Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories Leiber wrote (as opposed to the first published) took place on Earth, before the world of Lankhmar was written into the series, with the result that when collected, some lines had to be added explaining why they were on Earth.
* EvilSorcerer: Lots.
* ExtraEyes: Ningauble of the Seven Eyes.
* EyelessFace: Sheelba of the Eyeless Face. All that is seen inside his hood is featureless darkness.
* FantasyCounterpartCulture: Played up by the one story that takes place on Earth, with the two being exactly the same characters despite their nominal different origin.
* FogOfDoom: "The Cloud of Hate".
* GirlOfTheWeek: They are even called out on it in one story.
* GodsNeedPrayerBadly: In several different stories.
* HalfHumanHybrids: Here and there.
** In ''The Swords of Lankhmar'', the main antagonists are the product of long-going interbreeding between humans and sentient rats.
** In ''Swords in the Mist'', the antagonist's father is a [[spoiler:stone god]].
* HatePlague: In the short story "The Cloud of Hate", a cult generates a magical cloud, converting almost everyone it touches into a murderous psychopath.
* HereThereWereDragons
* HeroicRROD: In one of the stories the villain fights the lightning-quick Mouser to a standstill -- for a while. When defeated the tremendous overstrain caused the villain's corpse to go into immediate rigor mortis. [[spoiler:Or at least, the heroes ''think'' it's rigor mortis... The truth is much more bizarre.]]
* HeterosexualLifePartners: Lampshaded, as they actually ponder the fact that they've never had any desire to fool around with each other.
* HumanoidAbomination: Depending on the story, Ningauble and Sheelba sometimes have this vibe. And sometimes, they seem simply like two quirky wizards, who just happen to look weird.
* ICallItVera: Fafhrd has a broadsword named Graywand and a poinard named Heartseeker. The Mouser has a rapier named Scalpel and a dirk named Cat's Claw. Leiber plays with this one, though, by having the pair lose their weapons ''all the time''. They just use those names for whatever blades they happen to be carrying at the moment.
** The Cat's Claw gets referenced by a number of early [[Creator/SquareEnix Square RPGs]] ([[Videogame/FinalFantasyI Final Fantasy]], [[VideoGame/SaGa SaGa]]), appearing as a store-bought dagger/sword that's usually one of the better daggers in the games. Later games seemed to have forgotten the original reference and made the Cat Claw/Cat Claws into an actual paw-shaped glove weapon with claws.
* InHarmsWay
* IntercontinuityCrossover: In the 1970s, they appeared in a ''Wonder Woman'' comic. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:WW202.jpg Don't believe me?]]
** DC did a comic adaptation of these, so this guest appearance was probably considered as a fairly standard in-house crossover.
* InterspeciesRomance: Fafhrd hooked up with a ghoul (see below) and had a brief fling with a Djinn; Mouser with a girl who was descended from rats (in ''Swords of Lankhmar'').
* JerkassGods: Most gods of Nehwon are.
* JumpedAtTheCall: The both do this a lot. See DistressedDamsel and {{Plunder}}.
* TheLittleShopThatWasntThereYesterday: "The Bazaar of the Bizarre"
* LoveableRogue: The Gray Mouser.
* LowFantasy: One of the major works of the genre.
* MagicKnight: Not really that much of a knight, but Mouser was a failed sorcerer's apprentice who turned mercenary. He is primarily a swordsman but he casts a spell once in a while.
* MarsNeedsWomen: Gender-inversed. In one of the novels, a mountain-dwelling race of invisible people is on the brink of extinction, as almost all their males have become sterile. They decide to send a call for human heroes in order to breed with them: by their calculations, the invisibility will breed true. [[spoiler:The catch is, their king doesn't intend to let said heroes to have ''sex'' with the invisible girls: he prefers more, shall we say, cutting methods of extracting genetic material.]]
* MediumAwareness: In the origin story ''Ill Met in Lankhmar'', the Mouser's response when Fafhrd introduces himself is to ask how "Fafhrd" is ''pronounced''. Fafhrd also made sure to carefully spell it out to him, because else he couldn't have known how it was spelled, [[MindScrew since they were, you know, speaking]].
* MrExposition: Parodied with Ningauble of the Seven Eyes -- in one scene, as he tries to exposit, the Mouser keeps interrupting him again and again just for fun.
* OddJobGods: Many of the gods in Lankhmar.
* OurGhoulsAreCreepier: Ghouls are a humanoid race that have transparent skin, muscles, and organs, giving them the appearance of animated skeletons . . . oh, and they just so happen to be cannibals too.
* PlayAlongPrisoner: In ''The Knight and Knave of Swords'', the Gray Mouser captures a girl and ties her up. She submits to this at the time, but later she grows spines out of her body and uses them to cut through the bindings.
* {{Plunder}}: A typical adventure hook, most notably in ''Swords Against Wizardry.''
* RedOniBlueOni: Ningauble is the red to Sheelba's blue.
* ReligionOfEvil: Many, of various levels of evil. Usually they seem to have a beef against Lankhmar specifically as well.
* SdrawkcabName: Nehwon is backwards for Nowhen.
* ShapeshifterBaggage: In ''The Swords of Lankhmar'', a shrinking potion does, in fact, displace mass, as the now rat-sized Mouser has to swim his way out of a good-sized puddle of meat, cloth fibers, and metal fragments (flesh, clothes, armor, and weapons). Later, he grows back to his full size away from that puddle, and the mass is taken from nearby objects (and people!), stripping some enemy {{Mook}}s of armor and weapons-- and giving a nearby FatGirl a magical liposuction. Great news for her, {{Squick}} for the Mouser?
* ShoutOut:
** Nehwon is named after the pattern of "Erewhon", a fantasy land created by Samuel Butler.
** In the introductions to the Ace paperback edition, Leiber also listed a number of swordsmen that Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser [[TakeThat were better than]]. Said list included [[Literature/TheThreeMusketeers d'Artagnan]], JohnCarterOfMars, [[Literature/TheWormOuroboros Lord Brandoch Daha]], Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian, and [[Literature/GloryRoad Scar Gordon]].
** The names of Ningauble and Sheelba may be a ShoutOut to the dwarven princes Schilbung and Nibelung from ''Literature/{{Nibelungenlied}}''. Neither of them was eyeless or seven-eyed, though.
* TheSneakyGuy: Gray Mouser.
* SnowballFight: The women of Fafhrd's barbarian tribe are described as throwing snowballs with such force and accuracy that they can ''break bones.''
* SoulJar: One of the {{Big Bad}}s put his in an egg.
* SwordAndSorcerer
* ThievesGuild: Possibly the TropeMaker
* TricksterMentor: Ningauble and Sheelba may fall into this, as they send Fafhrd and the Mouser off on some wacky adventures -- stealing the mask of Death or the highest star from the sky, for instance.
* Troll: The Mouser often makes comments deliberately designed to provoke, annoy, harass, or agitate simply for the fun of it. Fafhrd and Ningauble are often targets.
* WeirdTradeUnion: The Slayer's Brotherhood and Thieves' Guild in Lankhmar, though they've become [[ThievesGuild such common tropes themselves]] that it's likely many modern readers wouldn't realize that Leiber meant them as a joke.
* WhatYouAreInTheDark: Although their moral conduct is often questionable, when the world of Nehwon needs heroes it knows who to call.
* WitchDoctor: ''Two'' of 'em: Ningauble of the Seven Eyes and Sheelba of the Eyeless Face, mentors to Fafhrd and the Mouser respectively.
* WretchedHive: Lankhmar.
* YouKnowTheOne: Parodied.
--->'''Ningauble:''' --the dread city, mention not its name--\\
'''The Gray Mouser:''' Is it Khatti?
----