Thursday, February 23, 2017

Commentary On Nexus's The Infinite City rpg & Grimjack issue Sevenity Six 'Battle Rock' WIth OSR Overtones

There are some days when I get a point to prove & today happens to be one of those days. I ran a Nexus The Infinite City campaign for years,at its height I had nine players & we did everything from comedy to serious interdimensional science fiction adventures. Now there was poll over in the G+ OSR group
now about ninety two percent hadn't even heard of the game. Nine percent had played & liked the game and one guy who started the poll didn't like the game because it didn't capture the essence of the GrimJack comic book. The game wasn't ever meant to actually but it was meant to emulate certain aspects of the comic book series. Namely the idea of an interdimensional city at the center of the multiverse with different dimensions phasing in and out of the city. It was actually the forerunner of Feng Shui first edition.. Lots of folks used Nexus The Infinite City as an add on game supplement to Feng Shui's time war.
Now since I didn't have the time to address certain aspects of the discussion about the game I want to wanted to do a blog post about them. Let me make the following very clear, THIS ISN'T A PERSONAL ATTACK ON EITHER Norbert G. Matausch or Dave Sherohman. Mr. Dave Sherohman 
made the following statement; "Guess I didn't express myself clearly in my earlier comment. That seems to happen a lot...

Tech level scales are what I don't think fits Cynosure. Yes, there are places where certain tech or magic works and other places where it doesn't, and yes, there are "no tech zones" and the havens (which are completely devoid of magic), but it's not laid out in a line like every tech level system I've seen does it.

The best example of this is probably the issue Battle Rock (issue #86, according to google), based around a battle of the bands in a dimension where a well-played bass line can demolish a city block. It's never explicitly stated whether a machine gun works there or not, but I assume not, because people use electric guitars instead. So is that higher-tech or lower-tech than the universe we inhabit? It's neither! It's entirely different, not merely "more" or "less" than our world."
There are some aspects of his statement I'd like to address.
Right so the issue in question is Grimjack issue Seventy Six called Battle Rock, in this issue GrimJack's James Edgar Twilley incarnation goes to fill a blood oath to the Ragnarock n' Roll dimension. In this setting modern musical instruments are used instead of weapons & basically drums instead of guns,guitars & voices  instead of lasers,here a battle of the bands is a thermonuclear event. Grimjack goes to play at the FillAlmo and defend the 'Heart of Rock & Roll'. All of these events are sketched out by the artwork of Flint Henry!

In Nexus The Infinite City terms bards are going to be king but it can be a bit tricky here.
Ragnarock n' Roll dimension
Moderate Tech  High Magic

Here the laws of physics are quirky at best, a PC is going to need to make a performance or skill roll with an instrument to make an attack. Drums are going to do gun damage, guitars are going to have the same damage as a medium laser pistol, synthesizers are going to do similar damage to a heavy pistol, voices can do damage similar to a machine pistol, etc. The 'Heart of Rock & Roll lays at the center of  the FillAlmo and is the spiritual center of the entire dimension. Any performer who falls to the forces of evil has a bit of their soul taken by the heart. In extreme times of danger the heart may call upon these spirits to help defend it against the forces of music industry mediocrity.
The Philistines represent the forces of instability, mediocrity, & entropy they take the form of zombies, lawyers, record executives, & sometimes other undead. They are lead by media moguls & corporate magus of the lowest orders. Should they get their hands on the Heart of Rock & Roll then all is lost. A new heart will have to be forged and it could take centuries.

Time flows differently in the Ragnarock n' Roll dimension, two hundred or more years may pass in Nexus while only a 20 years passes in Ragnarock. This leads to many retiring to the life of battle rock within  the Ragnarock n' Roll dimension to battle new crops of Philistine forces & train the next band of battle rockers.

Now as far as OSR terms are concerned you've got to be a 2nd level bard or shaman to participate in 'battle rock' functions. A successful wisdom roll is needed to operate a modern instrument and a charisma roll is needed instead of a normal combat roll. Mutant Future or a similar retroclone would have the appropriate technological instruments to make battle rock.
I've run two adventures in the the Ragnarock n' Roll dimension using Gamma World 1st & 2nd edition where the PC's were battle bands on war tours.

This blog post is for educational & entertainment purposes only and is not a challenge to the trade marks or copyrights of any to first comics or the holders of the Grimjack copy rights or trade marks. Nor Nexus The Infinite City. None of the role playing games mentioned in this blog entry are responsible for it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Commentary On The Hyperborean Legacy Of Atlantis On The 'Old Mars' Campaign Setting

"Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars"
Robert Howard's Conan
Upon Hyperborea there are remnants & ruins of Old Earth's Atlantis but these are pale reflections of the glory and power of ancient empire. Scattered across space & time are the echoes of this once mighty nation. Now only the Deep Ones remain to claim the glory & power of this once great legacy or do they?

Throughout Hyperborea there are pockets & fully integrated populations of Deep Ones. They walk among mankind unnoticed and unchallenged. But there are rumors of older races of fish like men and aquatic peoples with gills who do not have the taint of the Deep Ones running through their veins nor hear the song of
Tulu. Atlantis faced destruction & its colonies on 'Old Venus' & 'Old Mars' were their only hope of survival. Clark Aston Smith wrote about this in the Poseidonis cycle of stories. Poseidonis is the last remaining island of doomed Atlantis and there are hints in those stories that perhaps the Atlanteans adapted themselves to their watery environment.
  1. "The Muse of Atlantis" (prose poem)
  2. "The Last Incantation"
  3. "The Death of Malygris"
  4. "Tolometh" (poem)
  5. "The Double Shadow"
  6. "A Voyage to Sfanomoƫ"
  7. "A Vintage from Atlantis"
  8. "Atlantis: a poem" (poem)
Throughout Lovecraft's Mythos stories there are hints about the Cthulhu cult & its world spanning organization that goes all the way back to the days of Atlantis perhaps even before. The Deep One's influence was felt all the way back to before the fall of Atlantis destroyed the mighty empire totally. The technologically advanced empire had pockets of mystery cults operating within various temples & woven into fabric of the worship of Dagon & Mother Hydra The Great Old Ones. Throughout the Atlantean empire there were renegade temples, mystery cults, proto-cults operating within the shadows of the technological achievements of the once mighty empire then turned decedent. Echoes of these can be seen within the Church of Starry Wisdom  & many of its later pre-mutations 
The thread of the Clthuhu cult continues well into the twentieth century & beyond if we except that Hyprborea is the far future of Earth. Dagon, Mother Hydra & the Great Old Ones continue their corruption well beyond the foundations laid down in Lovecraft's writing;
"men—at least, a certain sort of men; though the creatures were shown disporting like fishes in the waters of some marine grotto, or paying homage at some monolithic shrine which appeared to be under the waves as well... [T]hey were damnably human in general outline despite webbed hands and feet, shockingly wide and flabby lips, glassy, bulging eyes, and other features less pleasant to recall. Curiously enough, they seemed to have been chiseled badly out of proportion with their scenic background; for one of the creatures was shown in the act of killing a whale represented as but little larger than himself"
Dagon"  by H. P. Lovecraft,  July 1910

But what about the Atlanteans themselves there were pockets of other Old Ones & Outer Gods worshiped throughout the empire and there is evidence that lots these entities preserved their little corners of Atlantis on the sea bottom.

"It is well that the reader accept nothing which follows as objective truth, for since the events transcend natural law, they are necessarily the subjective and unreal creations of my overtaxed mind. When I attained the conning tower I found the sea in general far less luminous than I had expected. There was no animal or vegetable phosphorescence about, and the city that sloped down to the river was invisible in blackness. What I did see was not spectacular, not grotesque or terrifying, yet it removed my last vestige of trust in my consciousness.
For the door and windows of the undersea temple hewn from the rocky hill were vividly aglow with a flickering radiance, as from a mighty altar-flame far within."
The Temple HP Lovecraft 1920

Lovecraft wasn't the only writer who chronicled the survival of
Atlanteans, in 1929 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote The Marcot Deep but you might know it by its Nineteen Seven Eight title Warlords of Atlantis.

In The Marcot Deep we have all of the classic elements of Warlords of Atlantis & more;
"The novel begins with preparations for the dive, off the coast of Africa. Prof. Maracot claims to have located the deepest trench in the Atlantic and is vehement that he shall go down in the specially prepared submersible actually a bathysphere along with Headley and Scanlan. On reaching the edge of the trench, a description of the undersea world is presented. The team comes face to face with a giant crustacean who cuts off their line and hurls them down into the trench. Down in the trench, the team is rescued by the Atlanteans who are the last survivors of the land that was Atlantis.
Although the description of Atlantis may not sound quite futuristic and may seem fantastic, the fact that the novel was written in 1929 should be taken into account. One device in particular is often made use of. This is a thought projector which visualizes the thoughts of a person for others to see. This helps the team and the Atlanteans to communicate.
Descriptions of work habits, culture and various sea creatures are provided. The Atlanteans forage for their food from the sea bed and their slaves, Greeks who are the descendants of the original slaves of the kingdom of Atlantis work in undersea mines. This is made possible thanks to an exceptionally strong and light transparent material which is fashioned into helmets to enable people to work underwater.
The team eventually uses the levity of these spheres to escape to the surface. Headley elopes with the daughter of Manda, leader of the Atlanteans.
In the later part of the novel, Headley describes the encounter with the Lord of the Dark Face, a supernatural being who led the Atlanteans to their doom and was the cause of untold miseries to humanity ever since. This being is likened to the Phoenician god Baal who was demonized by later religions and cultures.

The being is defeated by Prof. Maracot who becomes possessed by the spirit of Warda, the man who managed to convince a handful of Atlanteans to prepare for the worst and thus built an Ark which saved them from the cataclysm which destroyed their land."
You Can Download The Maracot Deep By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Here

We know that some of the Atlanteans escaped their doomed world and fled into the solar system some even settled on 'Old Mars'. They brought with them some of  their guardian animals, prehistoric monsters, & other life forms.  This was chronicled in Aelita, or The Decline of Mars is a 1923 science fiction novel by Russian author Aleksey Tolstoy. It was later filmed as a classic silent film in 1924. It is one of the first science fiction films from Russia but what does it have to do with Atlantis? There's a fantastic article by Den Valdron that places our  Russian Princess on Burroughs Mars. Originally Aelita's Martian colony is a survival of Atlantis.

We know that the Atlanteans & the Deep Ones were competing for the same natural resources, materials, & land areas  this made competition & infiltration inevitable.  This collision course would once again rear itself when on 'Old Earth' when in  3994 a group of Deep One tainted river pirates under the control of Captain Kordon, Queen of the River Pirates attempted to steal the treasure of the Moks the fire lances of the ancients. This happened near Norfolk Virginia in the Treasure of the Moks episode of Thundarr The Barbarian. Later near Mount Rushmore, South Dakota Thundarr & co. would tackle a group of  Atlanteans Amazons who had used Great Race time travel technology to cast their minds ahead in time. Their queen had her rule taken over by Stryia, a Deep One tainted evil witch. These forces appeared in the
Attack of the Amazon Women of Thundarr The excellent The World of Thundarr The Barbarian Sourcebook -- Final Version For Mutant Future contains a great version of Stryia and her underwater Amazons.
Both C.L. Moore & Leigh Brackett would use similar artifacts to connect their work with both Edgar Rice Burroughs & Robert Howard's King Kull of Atlantis. When in The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune King Kull's consciousness is almost drawn away into an alternative world someplace in the time stream.

"Then came a day when Kull seemed to catch glimpses of strange lands; there flitted across his consciousness dim thoughts and recognitions. Day by day he had seemed to lose touch with the world; all things had seemed each succeeding day more ghostly and unreal; only the man in the mirror seemed like reality. Now Kull seemed to be close to the doors of some mightier worlds; giant vistas gleamed fleetingly; the fogs of unreality thinned; “form is shadow, substance is illusion; they are but shadows” sounded as if from some far country of his consciousness. He remembered the wizard’s words and it seemed to him that now he almost understood — form and substance, could not he change himself at will, if he knew the master key that opened this door? What worlds within what worlds awaited the bold explorer?
The man in the mirror seemed smiling at him closer, closer — a fog enwrapped all and the reflection dimmed suddenly — Kull knew a sensation of fading, of change, of merging...
“Kull!” the yell split the silence into a million vibratory fragments!
Mountains crashed and worlds tottered as Kull, hurled back by the frantic shout, made a superhuman effort, how or why he did not know.
A crash, and Kull stood in the room of Tuzun Thune before a shattered mirror, mazed and half blind with bewilderment. There before him lay the body of Tuzun Thune, whose time had come at last, and above him stood Brule the Spear-slayer, sword dripping red and eyes wide with a kind of horror."

Does this mean that in fact the Barsoomians of 'Old Mars' are actually
Atlanteans? Could the Deep Ones of Venus from ERB's Escape on Venus & numerous other 'Old Venus' science fantasy stories hint at a symbolic relationship between the humans & near humanoid races of the old solar system? I think so.

Leigh Brackett & C.L. Moore map out the relationship between the god like alien races that have their roots in HP Lovecraft & the Lovecraft circle's Mythos based mythology. Otis Albert Kline's Venus follows the same type of vein & there are Atlantean roots & ruins within his Planet Of Peril series.

The legacy of Atlantis can be seen throughout the Old Solar System & the influence of Atlantis echoes through out tradition of weird fiction and old school science fantasy gaming.

More To Come

This post is not an attempt to violate the copyrights or trademarks of any 
of the films nor properties named in this post. All ideas are for a 
private table top rpg campaign. None of the ideas or opinions expressed 
in this post are meant to violate the trademarks nor copy rights of any 
of the table top rpgs discussed nor are they in away responsible for the
 thoughts or opinions of the author. The writing, ideas, and opinions 
are copyrighted and trade marked to the author and Dark Corner 
productions. This post is for entertainment & educational purposes 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Old Mercury Under A Hyperborean Sun - Commentary On Several Free Novellas From Leigh Brackett For The Old Mars Campaign Setting

I've been looking over some of the OSR Goblinoid Games resources I have left (these are my table top gaming copies); my other ones were stolen by an ex friend of mine after he went off the deep end of sanity. Anyhow what do you do when you've got experienced & more then slightly jaded Dungeons & Dragons players who know all of the classic era TSR modules? They don't think Old Mars is challenging enough or Old Venus is weird enough? You send them where the planet separates the weak from the dead in spades; this place makes Hell look fun. I'm talking about Old Mercury. HP Lovecraft mentioned it;" H. P. Lovecraft's "The Shadow Out of Time" (1936): Later, as the Earth's span closed, the transferred minds (of the Great Race of Yith) would again migrate through time and space — to another stopping place in the bodies of the bulbous vegetable entities of Mercury." But it was really another member of the Lovecraft circle who really added in the creep factor with his Immortals of Mercury. Clark Aston Smith's Immortals of Mercury is a classic and an old favorite of mine.  These Engineer type immortals are in my Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Hyperborean survivors who have fled to Mercury and themselves off from contact with outsiders.  They've got living bio engineered suits worth a cool 70,000 to 80,000 gold pieces in the right markets
. Good luck trying to leave because Mercury is bombarded by cosmic storms and its tidally locked.

Once again its Leigh Brackett who gives this planet a Conan style treatment & its a proving ground for some of the most colorful as well as dangerous characters.
"In Leigh Brackett's short stories (especially "The Demons of Darkside" (1941), "A World Is Born" (1941), "Cube from Space" (1942), and "Shannach – the Last" (1952)), a tidally locked Mercury features a 'Twilight Belt' exposed to dangerous variations in heat and cold and havoc-wreaking solar storms. Some of Brackett's most colorful characters, like Jaffa Storm ("Shadow Over Mars") and Eric John Stark, were Mercury-born."

So what does this have to with Thundarr The Barbarian? Well a bit of everything, Mercury is a world where only the strong, fit, & resourceful are going to survive and thrive. Its also a lost world in many of the stories. And its a refuge for the Ancients according to many Gamma World & Mutant Future dungeon masters I've talked with.
Mercury is a world with all of its own internal alien ecology & logic able to test the mettle of any PC who goes there. There are several stories that are within the public domain . One of the best is Shannach - The Last which has a very Lovecraftian feel behind its science fantasy facade.
"An Earthman on Mercury stumbles into a long lost colony in a hidden air-filled valley, ruled by harsh Sunstone wielding hawk controlling lords - and, of course, an alien overlord behind them"

Shannach - The Last

So what does this have to do with Hyperborea? Well not only do we have the Mercurian Hyperboreans & the weird Lovecraftian ecology but there is also what the Great Race might have left behind on Mercury? In my campaigns in addition to the gateways & dimensional works there several minor space dungeons.

In The Amazing Stories July 1941 issue we're treated to No Man's Land In Space which gives us space pirates, inter system war and something more sinister. I'm including it because of the overtones of the Lovecraftian elements & the almost historic Australian like nature of Leigh Brackett's Mercury which the habitable asteroid shares.

The Amazing Stories
July 1941 issue Here

To really get a good solid feel for the isolated nature and dangerous elements of the tidally locked 'Old Mercury' that Brackett creates we have to go to A World Is Born. Here a lot of the penal colony frontier nature of Mercury is revealed and its not a pretty sight. 
You Can Download A World Is Born Right Here

 Mercury is not a world to be taken lightly & can easily take out an entire party of experienced adventurers easily between its monsters, hazards, and the ruins in its night side this is a world not to be underestimated. Good luck exploring the vaults of Old Mercury

This post is not an attempt to violate the copyrights or trademarks of any of the films nor properties named in this post. All ideas are for a private table top rpg campaign. None of the ideas or opinions expressed in this post are meant to violate the trademarks nor copy rights of any of the table top rpgs discussed nor are they in away responsible for the thoughts or opinions of the author. The writing, ideas, and opinions are copyrighted and trade marked to the author and Dark Corner productions. This post is for entertainment & educational purposes only.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Free Adventure OSR Adventure Resource - The Burial Mound of Esur the Red For Your Old School Campaigns

So way back in 2009 Dyson Logos did a nice little red herring style dungeon with a bit of a burial mound dungeon themed map which is perfect for an Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Keltic burial point.

"In order to defeat a great evil that haunts the land, or to fend off invading armies, or a similar task of heroes, the characters have to find the Ring of Esur the Red."

All of the ingredients are there for a good solid little evening's adventure crawl, nice dungeon crawl, plenty of DIY Dungeons & Dragons style customization for the dungeon master and its easily placed within your hex crawl or point crawl style Sword & Sorcery setting.

The whole premise of this adventure, including all the specific details, fit perfectly with the established background of the adventure location.

Because of how its set up & its keyed for Labyrinth Lord its an easy fit into Hyperborea especially within the Keltic homelands. This dungeon delve location can be used to fill in some lost king from before the Green Death. A king whose existence was obliterated all reference in the oral tradition making this location something only whispered about in certain forgotten tomes. One of the things that makes this one page adventure so deadly are the traps & tricks of the dungeon itself.

This is one of those dungeons that's easy to port over to your favorite retroclone and still have a return with players. PC's are in a lot of trouble if they don't think their way out of this dungeon, its not all force & violence. There's a good deal of thought that has to be exercised in certain areas.
Dyson Logos did a really nice job with this dungeon, its easy to use, quick to place, and nicely set up for an evening's entertainment.

You Can Download The

Burial Mound of Esur the Red Here

Hyperborean Bait & Switch With Expediation to The Barrier Peaks (sort of ) & The Free OSR Resource Adventure From Faster Monkey Games 'Realm Of The Technomancer'

So what do you do if your dungeon mastering for a bunch of experienced D&D players who have seen all of the classic modules.But they expect you as the DM to pull out S3 Expedition to The Barrier Peaks to introduce that old school science fantasy sweetness into your campaign? This is especially true if your using pulp magazine weird fiction for your Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea hybrid game.

In fact I wouldn't use S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks just yet.  I'd save that adventure until the PC's  were in the levels of six or seventh  in AS&SH. The PC's are called in by the Duchy of Geoff to investigate a series of weird disappearances, so their going to be expecting S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.

Instead I'd go for Realm of The Technomancer a double bill rpg adventure that has that sweet dark fantasy aspect mixed with the post apocalyptic wasteland vibe. It combines them very well and it short, sweet, and plants the post apocalyptic seeds into the players minds. This isn't a bait & switch adventure, its a dimensional crossover with some pretty epic results.
"Something new has invaded an important underground complex... Will you be wizards and warriors gearing up to save the gnomes from strange humanoids, or mighty freaks of post-apocalyptic nature hired to drive out the alien troops of the mysterious Technomancer? REALM OF THE TECHNOMANCER offers dangers, rewards, new gear, and new monsters for post-apoc games like Mutant Future™ and old-school fantasy like Labyrinth Lord™ alike. Plus, the TECHNOMANCY appendix gives simple, vivid rules for what happens when technology and magic try to mix, and the results are often not pretty..."
The Realm of the Technomancer is free and has some great encounters in it, a nicely balanced adventure that adds a bit of that wasteland wildness with a bit of that old fashioned pulpy goodness.

But how do you bait & switch these two adventures, the answer is very simple;"The Grand Duchy of Geoff has recently been plagued by a rash of unusually weird and terrible disappearance  of an unknown sort." So this set's up the Grand Duchy of Geoff as the perfect spot for the down space craft in S3 much later on in the PC's adventuring careers.

The key to getting this to work is situate the Grand Duchy of Geoff as some out of the way shabby, backwater province of Hyperborea near some of the mountains without making it too important to the rest of  the royal life of the Hyperborean capital cities.  Realm of the Technomancer does three things and does them really well. It allows the DM to connect the world of Underborea to a Thundarr style Earth. It offers a dangerous threat of an unknown humanoid race (one of my all time favorites) & it makes the underworld very weird, very unpredictable, & all in one neat package of an adventure.

Jeff Sparks does a great job with this adventure and it can be used with a wide variety of retroclone & classic old Dungeons & Dragons systems. Even though its meant for Labyrinth Lord, Realm of the Technomancer can be used with lots of old school and modern clones. Did I happen to mention its free? The down side is that its not in print at the moment folks.

Realm of the Technomancer
Is Available Right Over Here

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Commentary On Cult Classic Movies, Gamma World 1st Edition Legion of Gold, & The Android Conspiracy

I've been thinking about & mediating on Gamma World first edition's Legion of Gold, why? Because last night I settled down with a favorite Curt Russell film with my dad, Soldier from 1998. The film was a commercial flop but its been fodder for gaming for my group for years.When I got back to Connecticut & worked in a Block Buster for awhile, Soldier was on the rotation for a Saturday night rental.

The basic plot is classic 90's action movie sci fi fodder here's the break down according to wiki;

"In 1996, as part of a new military training program, a group of orphaned infants are selected at birth and raised as highly disciplined soldiers with no understanding of anything but military routine. They are trained to be ruthless obedient killers, and all those considered to be physically or mentally unworthy are executed. The survivors are turned into impassive dedicated fighting machines with no exposure to or understanding of the outside world.

In 2035, at the age of 39, Sgt. Todd 3465 is a hardened veteran and the best soldier of the original 1996 infants, but his unit is challenged for replacement by a superior unit. Colonel Mekum, leader of the original project, introduces a new group of genetically engineered soldiers, designed with superior physical attributes and a complete lack of emotion, except complete aggression.
Captain Church, the commander of Todd's unit, insists on testing the new soldiers' abilities against his proven older ones. A new soldier, Caine 607, easily defeats three of the original soldiers, but Todd gouges out Caine's eye before he seemingly dies when he falls from a great height; the body of a dead soldier actually cushioned his fall, and he is simply stunned and knocked unconscious. Mekum orders their bodies disposed of like garbage, declaring them obsolete, while the remaining older soldiers are demoted to menial unarmed support roles.
Dumped on Arcadia 234, a waste disposal planet."
Seems like a straight up balls to the walls action film doesn't it? Not so quick, Todd & co. are just the sort of faction one might see in classic Gamma World in Dragon magazine. In fact, the film is deeply connected with Blade Runner;"Soldier was written by David Peoples, who co-wrote the script for Blade Runner. Peoples considers Soldier to be a "spin-off sidequel"-spiritual successor to Blade Runner, seeing both films as existing in a shared fictional universe.[4] The film obliquely refers to various elements of stories written by Philip K. Dick (who wrote the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, on which Blade Runner is based), or film adaptations thereof. A Spinner from Blade Runner can be seen in the wreckage on a junk planet in the film" 

Is Arcadia 234 actually Earth? In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Earth is one huge junk pile of stuff & mankind has moved off the planet. The androids lack empathy & almost but not quite seem sympathetic within the novel.  Within Gamma World first & second edition the androids are a major faction of villains implied in the game's timelines.  So are the androids actually behind keeping Gamm erm 'Old Earth' in a continuing technological dark age?

Larry Elmore II Gamma World

The cybernetic entities of  Gary Gygax's Legion of Gold are the main villains & motivators for many of the adventure's plot elements. Its an interesting old school Gamma World romp and a classic.

"There is much to worry about in the mutated world of the future, but Baron Jemmas, Warder of Horn, has more on his mind than most. In recent weeks several of the outlying towns of his Barony have been wiped out by a band of mysterious golden marauders.

These creatures struck from nowhere and vanished without a trace when their deeds were done. The Warder has decided that they must be stopped before the entire Barony of Horn falls beneath their onslaught, and so he is offering a great reward to anyone who can defeat the Legion of Gold."
Thanks to Wayne's Books for the Gamma World reference.

But could the android conspiracy also be behind the events of Thundarr The Barbarian's world as well? Let's see some of the evidence. According to Mind Menace Mindok episode a full conversion cybernetic body was built in less then twenty four hours by a group of Nasa super scientists; this leads to the conclusion that cybernetics was very common two thousand years ago before the world was cast into ruins. John Kenneth Muir's Reflections On Cult Movies & Classic TV notes;"
In terms of 1970s allusions, the giant robot that Mindok utilizes to capture the scientists n this episode also has a more-than-passing resemblance to the police robots of George Lucas’s work of art, THX-1138 (1971)." That's a fantastic comment that stirs a dungeon master's imagination.

What were these cybernetic entities doing opening gate ways into space time? Summoning 'the Old Ones', opening a dimensional route for conquest, looking for alternative dimensional energy sources or all of the above. I'd say all of the above. They've turned the Earth into one vast junk world perfect for dungeon crawling & exploring  the ruins. Thunddar's world always reminded me of A. E. van Vogt 's  Empire of the Atom & The Wizard of Linn.Where a royal mutant child is given the education of a cleric of the Gods of The Atom. Here the technology borders right on magic & these novels are way ahead of their time. The Earth as junk yard dungeon planet sounds like a place that just might be a step away from the Boreas winds. More as this develops.

This post is not an attempt to violate the copyrights or trademarks of any 
of the films nor properties named in this post. All ideas are for a 
private table top rpg campaign. None of the ideas or opinions expressed 
in this post are meant to violate the trademarks nor copy rights of any 
of the table top rpgs discussed nor are they in away responsible for the
 thoughts or opinions of the author. The writing, ideas, and opinions 
are copyrighted and trade marked to the author and Dark Corner 
productions. This post is for entertainment & educational purposes 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Purpling The Isle of Dread Under A Hyperborean Sky - Franken Campaigning With The Isle Of Dread & The Island of Purple Haunted Putrescence

The Set Up For The Campaign
Under A Hyperborea Sky
 The weather here over the last couple of weeks has been terrible, Winter came back with a vengeance & the local hobby shop hasn't seen the local Dungeons & Dragons players in over a month. My plans for a game on the fifteenth of this past month have been put on the back burner. Or have they? Well I've been talking over plans this evening with some friends & getting caught up with possibly using Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers on Hyperborea. But I want to introduce the players to Hyperborea with a B/X adventure with a twist, so I went back to Isle of Dread for the set up with Venger Satanis Lovecraftian twist.
"The characters somehow find a fragment from a ship's log, describing a mysterious island on which many treasures can be found, & set out to explore it."  I want to add a few more island adventure locations drawn from The Trinity of Awesome +1  's  adventure Slaves of Tsathoggua
"There's something in that cave... the cave all those villagers are afraid of.  What's inside?  Will the adventurers be able to leave once they enter?  What does this have to do with Tsathoggua?" Then from there branch into the Isle of Dread in the Hyperborean seas which will connect up with the Island of Purple Haunted Putrescence with all of its mind/reality bending gonzo weirdness. 

"There is an island in the seas surrounding Hyperborea perpetually wreathed in purple fog where the locals talk about ancient damned gods who still reign. 'Off of the tip of Hyperborea there is a legendary island chain where boats vanish, fishermen have seen weird lights, & hellish things have washed up on the shores of Hyperborea. The corpses of things that the villagers don't talk about. The fires burn with strange flames that  rise from the corpses even as the screams from no where die away'

Here the The Baleful Sorcerers of Tsathag'kha have reign over an ancient village where a treasure is rumored to be guarded by incredibly deadly monsters. So why use The Islands of Purple Haunted Putresence, its not only a great hex crawl, it’s also a great little campaign source book. That's one of the ways of introducing the players to Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea by throwing them into the deep end of the seas. This is a huge hex crawl that takes place on a set of islands lost to the dimensional winds that's haunted by a malevolent ever present Lovecraftian purple cloud god & the haunted black sand beaches of this book are perfect for an island hopping  mini campaign.

Can I get the PC's to 'Old Mars' or 'Old Venus'? Well by using the myriad of   alien races,crashed space craft, high weirdness, random mutation, and much more. This is done with the sort of stylish humor and old school weirdness that we've come to expect from Venger over the years! Now given the twenty two character classes in the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Player's Guide this is going to be right up the Hyperborean alley of the players.

So the first thing to do is to contact the players & do a quick 'character work shop' work up some PC's, throw together a fast 'your all marooned on an island when you find the ship captain's log' routine. Then see where we head into the next phase of this. This isn't the first time I've done this setup for a game of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Beast Jewels Under A Cracked Hypreborean Moon Commentary On The Free Novella Leigh Brackett's The Beast Jewel of Mars For The 'Old Mars' Campaign Setting

Jack Kirby Thundarr artwork

The temperatures plunged into the teens last night here in Connecticut & after shutting down social media once again I dived back into a bit of Leigh Brackett & C.L. Moore especially the Martian stories. Leigh Brackett's The Beast Jewel of Mars is a classic & it appeared in Planet Stories, Winter 1948. I happen to have a treasured copy of this issue. The entire story centers around
the secret of Shanga which basically is a crystal that devolves whomever baths in its rays for 1d20 hours & does make their saving throw vs wands or devices. Victims will travel down an alternative evolutionary path of d30 thousand years for every twelve hours exposed.
The experience seems to be very addictive some who are exposed must make another save vs wands or device again or want to repeat the experience.

One thing I noticed right away is the parallels between these crystals & certain pulp setting elements from classic post apocalyptic Seventies & Eighties science fantasy classics both Thundarr The Barbarian & The Logan's Run television show not to mention some of Clark Aston Smith's cycles. This Shanga is the sort of stuff that we'd see run between colonies by Northwest Smith you know those same colonies that
were implied by other writers including Leigh Brackett, her husband Henry Kuttner, & Clark Aston Smith.

Planet Stories, Winter 1948 is now in the public domain and you can download the whole thing with some great pulpy artwork

"The wise men of Caer Dhu were not so wise. They found the secret of Shanga, and they escaped their wars and their troubles by fleeing backward along the path of evolution."  Another thing is the level of Martian on Martian tribal violence & harm that the Martians do to one another there is tribal codes and such but they'll sell out one another in a heart beat.

Now I mentioned Thundarr The Barbarian & The Logan's Run television show because

the secret of Shanga is just the sort of thing to keep the populations of degenerate tribesmen in line and productive along with a healthy dose of the 'death flowers'. It well could be that the Caroc lizard men are the product of an Earthly variation of Shanga.

This is just the sort of retro technology that would be available to some deep wasteland colony in the Logan's Run tv show, in fact a variation of the whole sale manipulation of the human mind is something we see in the episode 'Half Life' in which Jessica is split into two beings one of a good temperament & one evil.

This is also the sort of 'perfect' population control that would be used by wizards & even wasteland Forbidden Zone underdweller colonies in Apes Victorious & Mutant Future. We could also see the same methods of population control in Adventurer, Conqueror, King as an additional add on device for population selection for guards, guard beasts, and other desirable monsters. In Mutant Future this well could be the origin point for some of the prehistoric tribes & beasts. But where did this technology originate on 'Old Mars'? We know that there many examples of lost technologies in the Martian underworld but in Clark Ashton Smith’s tale “Ubbo-Sathla.” we see a different sort of transfer of mind. This is linked into the Elder Things from HP Lovecraft's at the Mountains of Madness & the Yithians from Lovecraft’s The Shadow Out of Time.

This basically means that one's consciousness might with the help of a wizard or other super scientist travel through parallel  worlds & gates ala both the Eighties film Altered States or HP Lovecraft's Through The Gates of the Silver Key. 
Where did these techniques originate? Who knows but one thing is that Lovecraft circle writers picked up on one another literary devices & often had Mythos races cherry picking forbidden technologies, magics, & relics from one another. So these mind altering crystals would be found on Hyperborea of AS&SH fame quite easily. There might be magics & super science there to reverse the effects of Shanga. This stuff clearly fits right into a sword & sorcery background
But the threat of the crystals is far more insidious then simply forbidden super science.In Old Mars Shanga addiction, trafficking, smuggling, etc. is one of the lowest crimes being fought. Why? Because it might lead to the extinction of the human & near human races including & especially the Martians. This is something that
I've used in Star Ships & Spacemen second edition games.


When it comes to the Adventurer, Conqueror, King Rpg system 
then the real damage can be seen as the addiction spreads through the underworld of thieves guilds, wizard's colleges, and the like. This stuff might be used in this game system as hidden tool of conquest with the right applications. 

A friend postulated that there are other crystalline gate systems deep in the wastelands of 'Old Mars' that can lead to other alternative Martian settings. Could these crystaline gateways be a variation the jewels strange radiation? This looks like the case for a Warriors of the Red Planet scientist.

Deep within the wastelands of 'Old Mars' time & physics can get very weird & dangerous. Here there are ancient things that bleed into our time as the Boreas winds blow strangely across the wrought red sands. Adventurers must tread carefully or they might become lost in time & as well as the spaces around the ruins that blanket the dead sea bottoms.

1d20 Random Deep Martian
Wasteland Encounters Table

  1.  A group of 1d8 Hyperborean monks & sorcerers on their way to some long forgotten dead bottom sea city to worship at a temple of one of the forgotten Martian gods who has recently awakened. They are carrying several golden and blue gold Martian weapons filled with 1d200 jeweled microdrones capable of ripping a man apart within 1d6 rounds doing 1d3 points of damage each. They wear the insect masks of their patron. They are friendly but guarded about their business. 
  2. A black gate sorcerer in the guise of a low lander pilgrim who is smuggling some delicate ancient texts he's found in the underworld. He's willing to talk but there are 1d4 white Martian android body guards with him. 
  3. 1d10 Green Martian warriors 2nd level on the backs of their throats looking for an easy mark or two. 
  4. A giant Martian sand lion on the hunt for its young. A dangerous and wily predator who hunts with telepathic powers. 
  5. 1d6 ancient Martian ghosts looking for souls to devour 
  6. 1d8 evil human bounty hunters looking for marks to bring to market for slaving. They have heavy stunners, hover bike's & sleep poison guns. 
  7. 1d6 Martian wights on the hunt for flesh and spirits!! 
  8. A single sand rat scouting for its 1d20 pack of giant sand rat brothers and sisters. 
  9. An ancient robotoid from a nearby dead city out exploring. 
  10. A flyer with 1d10 warriors on the hunt for slaves for the nearby auction! 
  11. 1d20 Mutant waste landers on move for anyone they can capture for their cooking pot! These used to be Red men whose tribes were subject to the secret of Shanga
  12. Giant drone craft on an attack pattern 1d8 of these insane things. 
  13. 1d8 ancient Amazon warrior women out for raiding on throats. 
  14. A delicate Ancient's sail barge from another age passes by. 
  15. 1d20 Green Martian warriors on a raid will you be caught?
  16. 2d6 Black Martian pilgrims on an alien holy pilgrimage deep into the desert. 
  17. 1d6 deep raiders on jet bikes out for prey armed with short bows, poisoned arrows & cavalry  blades they fight as second level fighters
  18. A black magician on a quest for an ancient artifact willing to pay five hundred gold pieces for your help
  19. An ancient temple has been uncovered by a recent sand storm 
  20. A fleet of flyers from a rogue Martian nation speeds over head and will kill anyone they can who witnesses their passing!
This post is not an attempt to violate the copyrights or trademarks of any of the films nor properties named in this post. All ideas are for a private table top rpg campaign. None of the ideas or opinions expressed in this post are meant to violate the trademarks nor copy rights of any of the table top rpgs discussed nor are they in away responsible for the thoughts or opinions of the author. The writing, ideas, and opinions are copyrighted and trade marked to the author and Dark Corner productions. This post is for entertainment & educational purposes only.