Monday, March 27, 2017

High Tech Mysticism & High Caliber Adventure OSR Campaign- Between A Rock & The Claw An Actual Play Event For The Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts Rpg System By Thomas Denmark

So the PC's from last week's game aren't going to let them be keep in the same time space continuum, so they began to brain storm about another possible time machine or gateway to help them defeat the machinations of the German forces man Professor Fenton. The PC's trail of adventure led them to the shores of the Pacific island nation of Ricca, & its sleazy highly dangerous harbors. They were in search of information and possible weird science dimension hopping technology that had been smuggled in. They got far more then they bargained for when they almost were imprisoned in the dungeons of the demonic lich ruler of Ricca, The Claw.

The PC's came face to face with a brotherhood of pirates who wear in the employ of 'The Claw' and about to deliver  a rare gem. The PC's were able to acquire a rare diamond gem relic 'The Blue Fire'  which belonged to another forth level treasure hunter/assassin The Cobra. Rather then face the wraith of the Claw, the pirates fled & their leader the Cobra went to deal with the PC's but they were gone having flown away by that time. The Claw is an occultist of the highest order & a god like figure on the island nation. The party started having bad dreams, mechanical problems in their plane, and almost ended up dying but managed to escape with a few lucky rolls. Meanwhile the Cobra is now on their trail & he's not going to stop until he gains revenge on the adventurers!

Meanwhile the Blue Fire seems to be exerting an unhealthy influence on the party's occultist & there's reason to suspect that The Claw himself is behind this. The party needs a port in a storm and there are several in the party's flight plan but how long can they remain airborne with the 'God of Hate' on their tale and what's the strange ghostly plane that's trailing them now? Only time will tell if the Claw catches up with our heroes but they've heard tales of another treasure!

In tonight's game everything seemed to work out quite smoothly by using the strengths of both retroclone systems.  I powered tonight's game adventure  using a combination of Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts  By Thomas Denmark & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea as the back bone system. On the whole everything seemed to have a very golden age pulp feel to it and the encountered seemed to really challenge the player's tonight. I'm curious to see what's going to happen if the 'Claw's forces catch up with the PC's! The only complaint I have is that I need a physical copy of Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts, the pdf copy is driving both myself and my players nuts. I'll have to wait a couple of weeks until my next pay day and Lulu's next sale.  My eyes are ready to fall out of my head from reading the pdf.

Review & Commentary 'Play Your Character Like A Fucking Boss' By Venger Satanis From Kort'thalis Publishing

Play Your Character like a Fucking Boss is the latest title from Venger Satanis and is his book end to his other work How To Game Master like a Fucking Boss. Clocking in at about fifteen pages this book is really geared towards OSR style players, well mostly. What this book is actually is a primer or manifesto for Venger's wit and wisdom when it comes to his style of gaming for the player. So what your getting is a primer for the player's side of the screen. 

The cover is pretty awesome with a Venger style wizard taming his three headed dragon and yeah the cover is boss. The advice inside is as well for players up to a point, the break down here is the finer points of this book is the fact that at certain levels its not really a primer for players. But a set of guidelines for smoother play & more cooperation between dungeon masters & the players. It has more between its pages then a simple review of it can kinda of encompass. There are some ideas for PC guidelines, quick idea backgrounds, how to approach both both play at the table, and how to deal with the dungeon master at your table. All of this is done with Venger's usual unique take. It kinda boils down like this.
Without the players you don't have a game & its really not about being a complete jerk. Talking & having complete communication across the table is key here. Which basically makes this book something  a look into a set of opinions, PC guidelines, & some solid advice. This isn't so much a book of incredibly awesome ideas but simple on the ground common sense. That right there makes this book far more valuable to me as a player. Do I agree with everything in this book, umm no but then I'm not meant to and neither are you as a player. Play Your Character Like A Fucking Boss is a box of chocolates in this regard. Pick and choose the pieces of advise that are in  there for you.

If your DM is like Dexter then run now!

The part about the OSR I agree with mostly but then again I don't; "Players, you have a lot more power than you realize.Banding together with common goals is the equivalent of forming a union. If I was part of this player union, my first order of business would be to find an easy, fun, rules-lite system that the majority will enjoy. I'm sure you can think of several off the top of your head, but indulge my blatant pimping… Crimson Dragon Slayer, The Outer Presence, and Alpha Blue are prime examples of simplistic yet awesome
roleplaying games. On the flip-side, strong unions - when thoroughly corrupted by power - deserve to be broken. By the way, I feel the same way about strong, corrupt corporations. That's all part of the fascinating pushpull dynamic between the Game Master and players. Neither side has absolute power, and thank the gods for that, as the game would lose its fun. The second old school element I dislike is that player  characters were occasionally… what's the opposite of putting something on a pedestal? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for initiation - the risk of a quick, unceremonious death comes with the old school territory. However, when you beat the odds, make the right decisions, and lady luck smiles upon your character, succeeding despite all the nasty shit the  GM throws at you… I expect a fucking parade!"  Which I mostly agree with but many OSR games find their own level and quite quickly.  This is one of the reasons why its been easier to get players to play Dungeons and Dragons rather then Alpha Blue. This product is part manifesto and part advise primer by someone whose been in the hobby a long while. The artwork is very well done and the layout is top notch. The advise is right on target & for what it does 'Play Your Character Like A Fucking Boss' By Venger Satanis gets five out of five.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Carcosa/Gamma World Actual Cross Game Event - Lost In The Yuthlugathap Swamps With Five House of Hammer Prehistoric Film Influences

So today I got a chance to throw back a few beers & get together with friends for a bit of Gamma World second edition/Carcosa mash up event & five favorite prehistoric & cult classic monster movies playing in the background. We're going to go in for some serious cult films today. We'll start with the house of Hammer prehistoric trilogy One Million Years B.C. (1966), Slave Girls (1967), The Lost Continent 1968, & When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth (1970).
One Million Years B.C. is a 1966 British adventure/fantasy film starring Raquel Welch and John Richardson, set in a fictional age of cavemen and dinosaurs. And its a perfect example of the type of primitive conditions that folks are dealing with on Carcosa.

Or As I like to refer to em Appendix 'C' films for Carcosa. Sure I can't be at GaryCon but that doesn't stop us from doing a bit of retroclone old schooling. One of the players in last night's Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea/Islands of Purple Putrescence game was messing around with a time/space pylon. This caused the pylon to appear in today's game & suck in the party of adventurers from Gamma Terra! And where were these poor mutant bastards and adventurers deposited? Well right over on LoFP's Carcosa & what they didn't know is that the party had picked up a shape shifting serpent man half caste priest named Nadri'al (this priest was on the Purple Islands doing a bit of recon work for his own sinister goals). The PC's ended up in The Yuthlugathap Swamps.

They ended up running into a band of Amazon women who worshiped a scared white dinosaur species which I liberally stole from the '67 film Prehistoric Women.

There are several key plot points I borrowed for today's game including the assassination of one of the Amazon women's key leaders by our serpent man/assassin NPC. 

"David Marchant (Michael Latimer), a British explorer, along with Colonel Hammond (Robert Raglan) and a guide are pursuing a leopard on an African safari. The Colonel takes aim but misses and only wounds the animal. With the guide warning that it will soon be dark, David decides to find the beast and put it out of its misery before following the party back to camp.
Walking some way, he passes various trees with a picture of a white rhino but ignores them. Finally, the weakened leopard attacks him and he shoots it dead, whereupon David is ambushed and captured by a primitive tribe. They accuse him of disturbing the spirit of the white rhinoceros, and take him to their leader's temple. As the high priest/leader makes his decision, David notices a large, ancient stone statue of a white rhino and realizes this is what the tribe worship"

The players were forced to flee into the wastelands & besides a whole host of lizard men, and some mutated crabs they dealt with several encounters with Grey Aliens & their flying saucers. They dodged most of these encounters and learned very quickly to run away. But they quickly dealt with a tribe of  Blue Men who wanted to sacrifice them to the Shubnarth spawn they worshiped because of the color of their hair. Obviously a nod to Hammer's When Dinosaur's Rule The Earth.
But what really freaked the players out was running into their boat from a 2011 Carcosa game that had been taken its nods from The Lost Continent from 1968. One of the mutant fools erm adventurers was killed by the vampire sea weed that was still aboard. The rest of the PC's blew the boat to kingdom come with an energy weapon they had recovered and continued on after the serpent man after he had almost succeeded in killing them in some ruins. He left them to die with a group of killer robots! If it wasn't for the party's mutant warriors they would have been toast.

They finally found the gate way back home but it was guarded by a group of tribes whom I lifted directly from Creatures The World Forgot from '71. There was a bone man sorcerer living in disguise among these people as a priest of a particularly nasty spawn of Shub-Niggurath. The players figured out who he was after he met with the serpent man assassin in the triple moonlight that night. The party followed him back to his cave and that's where they discovered his dimensional gate way. He cooked one of the mutants with a death ray but the party managed to take him out with a laser pistol they had. The serpent man NPC managed to slither away in the confusion.

All in all for a spur of the moment one shot I think things went rather well, the THE YUTHLUGATHAP SWAMPS module worked rather nicely because of its Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition gaming background. This made it rather easy to blend with Gamma World. I ended up using a good bit of second edition Gamma World to round out some of the system and artifact kinks. Everything went off without too much of a hitch thanks to the notes in the AD&D 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide. Several of the charts from Islands of Purple Putrescence also came in handy to round out some of the random elements of today's game. So all in all it was a great one shot game.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Renagades a Go Go On The Islands of Purple Putresence - Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Actual Play Event

Tonight we got together for our weekly The Islands of Purple Putrescence game powered by the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea first edition rpg engine

So earlier this evening my players have embarked upon the interior of the Islands of Purple Putrescence. What I really began to draw from was the Eighties classic Holmes D&D edition mixed with a healthy dose of classic era Pulp resources. I created several factions & ideas for this game which I set upon first edition Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea campaign world.

Over the last several weeks the PC's have collected crystals, pissed off minor hedge wizards, explored the ruins of a Roman fort & generally almost gotten themselves killed several times over. Well in tonight's game the stakes began to go up the group's shaman has traded in several crystals for an animal woman slave whose become his bodyguard. Nula was this particular animal woman's name & she is a third level assassin. Blessed with an almost supernatural psionic empathy sense & the ability to communicate without actually speaking she  was more then a match for several of the NPC's  the party encountered on the island.

Deeper in the thick of the jungle the party ran into several mutant slavers who were in a bad way; the slavers last week had run into a rather dangerous cosmically radioactive horror & seemed to be easy pickings for the party. A bit too easy but the party managed to recover several artifacts & even more Purple island crystals but that's when after a moment the party encountered one of the island's pylons.
The party's Hyperborean shaman started to mess with this dangerous device of alien horror & created several doppelgangers of himself as the Einsteinium time space hi jinks started. 
The player is completely unaware that the island has already marked him as one of its own & the crystals keep finding the party. Time and again at several of the Roman forts they've encountered along the way there have been several ape men traders & slavers who have been warning the party of the islands alien influence. Now it seems that the Lovecraftian powers of the islands have been quietly exerting more & more power over certain events but only time will tell how this turns out. 

The party has met several of the various Greyhawk mercenaries that I've used over the years including a renegade Amazon princess whose taken an instant dislike to one of the PC's. Needless to say that a future confrontation has been set up. Needless to say she's not at all what she appears to be, she's actually Joane De Val'u servant of Shub-Niggurath and renegade Amazon cult leader on the islands furthering her mistress's twisted goals.

The players are quite unaware that they've been followed by this dangerous and deranged cult leader. The question is whose goals is she furthering her own or the islands. Only time will tell. Joane was created using Venger's Free OSR resource Three Swordsmen From Kort'thalis Publishing  
& several suggestions from  Play Your Character Like A Fucking Boss. 

We ended with our characters camped for the night & several horrors out in the jungles closing in on them. What will happen? Will our heroes survive their night's terror and why are powers of the islands taking such an interest in them?

Old School Domain Level Play With S2 White Plume Mountain As Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaign Jump Off Point

"White Plume Mountain has always been a subject of superstitious awe to the neighboring villagers. People still travel many miles to gaze upon this natural wonder, though few will approach it closely, as it is reputed to be the haunt of various demons and devils."So let's talk S2 White Plume Mountain here for a moment, this is one of the classics & has to be run for a group of experienced players. When it comes to classics this one of the more twisted ones, with the designation of special & it lives up to that designation. Its also one of the higher level modules that whilst designed for the world of Greyhawk can be adapted for other worlds. That's what we're going to be talking about today.

At S2's heart & soul are the three Moorcock style weapons,"
precipitated by the theft of three magical, sentient weapons:[6] a trident named Wave, a war hammer named Whelm, and a sword named Blackrazor (all three were introduced in this adventure).", this adventure puts the PC's in the cross hairs of danger where they belong. "It is also the favorite adventure of Wired magazine's Ken Denmead, who described it as the "amusement park of dungeons", & this comment is where we're going to kick things off. Because with a bit of clever dungeon mastering S2 can be moved lock, stock, and puzzles right over to your favorite campaign world in this case Hyperborea. Why Hyperborea? Well last night I got into a discussion with one of my players. What was Hyperborea like before the Green Death? The high level weirdness and puzzles of White Plume Mountain for me answer the question. A decedent adventure location that has been taken over by wizards & all sorts over the centuries. But what does this have to do with domain level play? Everything really. S2 is the ultimate expression of the fun house dungeon with a ton of intimidating monster encounters. There are several reasons for this.

Why? Because the entire module is built around that premise. Its built to quite literally rip PC's apart. "The recommended number of players is four to ten, with levels ranging from fifth to tenth." This is a convention level group of players but many times over the years I heard of groups of smaller players completing the adventure. How? By taking the parts and pieces of S2 apart and dealing with the parts rather then the whole over time of game play. In other words using S2 as an episodic television series type of game. Which brings me to the domain element of S2 White Plume Mountain, this adventure is dungeon creator Keraptis the 1,300-year-old wizard's front & back yard there's whole range of other high level horrors living within the adventure location. This is because in Adventurer, Conqueror, King terms S2 White Plume Mountain is a sink of evil in the worst way possible. If you've been paying attention to the Heroic Fantasy & Barbarian Conquerors Collection Kickstarter then you've been seeing some of the leaked updates that
Autarch has put out then you know exactly what I'm talking about. Sacrilege is going to be the cry from certain corners of the OSR but hear me out here. "White Plume Mountain" is very loosely connected to Greyhawk & given the amount of weirdness of the place I've used it as a mini domain of fairy multiple times.
This one is a favorite of mine because the Great Swamp, White Plume Mountain, and Castle Mukos didn't match up with anything else within Greyhawk though the text of the adventure clearly places White Plume Mountain in the Shield Lands, near the Great Rift. It can easily be moved where the DM needs it go. I've even seen a customization or two place White Plume within a fantasy version of Iceland and Greenland for a game of Lamentations of the Flame Princess. I could also see using White Plume as a part of a very gritty and dangerous Dark Albion campaign. Hence why I've said that it works for domain level play.
There are several reasons why S2 White Plume Mountains works for sword & sorcery style play:
  1. Players are going to take years turning this place into a domain by clearing out every nook and cranny of the dungeons of White Plume. 
  2. There's lots of weird occult tech that keeps White Plume running and its perfect fodder to connect with Expedition to the Barrier Peaks 
  3. Make no mistake those three Stormbringer style weapons are perfect fodder & excuses for war with other Hyperborean nations. Yeah their certainly that powerful and dangerous
  4. Anything from the DM's aresenal of monsters and horrors can be customized to add to White Plume Mountain. 
  5. Dealing with some of S2's NPC's is going to be campaign play unto itself. 
  6. There are several hooks scattered throughout S2 that can be used to cement S2 into the volcanic lands of Hyperborea which could tie in other dangerous AS&SH NPC's. 
  7. Piece meal play of White Plume Mountain means that the DM has more time to avoid DM burnout and far more time to make S2 their own for campaign play. 
  8. Adding in more mini levels and to S2 is one way connect S2 up with B4 The Lost City  and I've seen this done several times with AS&SH's Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes 
  9.  Taking over White Plume Mountain is going to be very tricky for the PC's & there's plenty of opportunity to add another layer of danger to this sort of an operation. 
  10. More locations and more trouble DM's should take full advantage of the dangers of domain play from their favorite rules sets.

    Classics are classic for a reason and this one still holds up and because of the high level nature of the adventure it attracts players like moths to an old school torch flame.
    Keep em rolling folks.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Ecology of Kong Skull Island, AD&D 1st Edition Carnivorous Apes, & Old School Campaigns

So my father & I got a chance to catch Kong Skull Island over at the local dollar cinema last night. We loved it and mostly had the movie theater to ourselves so see it in a theater if you get the chance. The basic plot line follows an American Army crew into the heart of Skull Island. The special effects are well done the basic plot is a homage to Apocalypse Now with a mix of classic popculture mythology.

Of course this film counteracts & completely wipes away the floor with Peter Jackson's 2005 King Kong film. Umm not at all really at all. Skull Island itself is really at the center of all this but what is Skull Island itself? Skull Island is one of the remnants of Atlantis or Mu that has been perpetually sinking into the ocean but how does this interact with the films? And why would there be an OSR connection?

Seismologist Houston Brooks blurts out the Gygaxian ecology of the Skull Islands, he states that he had a paper in college that describes pockets of inner Earth or Hollow Earth theory. Is it any reason that Project  Monarch picked him up? If there was an incursion by mankind or series of  expeditions or landing onto the various Skull islands then this could explain the aggression by the apes. We know that species like the Skull Crawlers & much more dangerous monsters are found in these environments. But if  Monarch knew about about the apes then it might have been because of the 1933 New York King Kong incident. But how do you explain the vast ecologies of the islands? These are various islands that have been thrown up and torn down by the seas over the past sixty five million years. These are predator top heavy because of the fact that the predators wait for the openings for migration from the inner earth to open up. These are routes from the "hollow earth" land of Pellucidar that have been there for millions of years. In fact the latest King Kong picture could tie in with the rest of the King Kong incidents even going into the 1970's Kong picture. They don't really counter act one another. Monarch has been very good at their job.  This might also help explain the boat load of various ruins & mega dungeon like structures that have been scattered in remote places across the globe.

Now here's where the Gygaxian ecology comes in, these are not the only apes that have been seen over the years in the various Appendix N literature. Carnivorous apes have been standard fare since the beginning of OD&D but I think you're looking at an entirely other inner Earth species here. These apes species are closely associated with these variations of mankind. The states of the cultures of the tribes of the Skull Island chains are simply reflections of the survivors of the sinking of Mu, Atlantis, or whatever other lost world happens to have been thrust up by the tops volcano chains that make up these places. These apes have close ties to these people because actually they're the degenerate remains of other survivors of the disasters that sank these lost countries. This all ties back into Lovecraft & the killer ape theory, "

The killer ape theory or killer ape hypothesis is the theory that war and interpersonal aggression was the driving force behind human evolution. It was originated by Raymond Dart in the 1950s; later it was developed further in African Genesis by Robert Ardrey in 1961."  All of this actually ties in with HP Lovecraft's "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family" & the many killer ape stories out of African pulp adventure fiction including the connection with the 1995 film Congo.

Your not looking at normal apes when we speak of Carnvous apes your looking at a creature part man & part something else entirely. This ties in with Clark Aston Smith Voormis/ HG Wells Time Machine Morlock connection & equation which other bloggers have put forth in the past.  I think the most dangerous thing that might come from below the surface might not be the giant monsters but the horrors that are just like us.

Now the Voormis had, from their remotest origins, considered themselves the chosen minions of Tsathoggua, the sole deity whose worship they celebrated. And Tsathoggua was an earth elemental ranged in perpetual and unrelenting enmity against the Rhan-Tegoth and all his kind, who were commonly accounted elementals of the air and were objects of contempt to those of the Old Ones, like Tsathoggua, who abominated the airy emptiness above the world and by preference wallowed in darksome and subterranean lairs.
—Lin Carter and Clark Ashton Smith, "The Scroll of Morloc"
 But how would these islands not be discovered until the Seventies? Those perpetual storms that surround the islands because of the on going volcanic activity. In H. P. Lovecraft's fictional manuscript The Pnakotic Fragments we get most of the story but there might be more including the round about connection to the eight armed white apes of Barsoom.

Bronze Age Miniatures' great white ape

We know that the survivors of Skull Island use a very subtle form of telepathy that we see on screen.  ERB's inner Earth cave men have similar senses as do his Barsoomians. So could all of these be survivors of the disasters that took out Hyperborea, Atlantis, Mu?

Well that's up to you in your campaigns. As for me I already know the answer to the question but next time I'll begin to really explore some of the connections to some of the most dangerous challenges that adventurers can face.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

High Tech Mysticism & High Caliber Adventure OSR Campaign Now Powered By The Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts Rpg System By Thomas Denmark An Actual Play Event

So last night I dusted off an old imprint time traveling/dimension hopping  pulp campaign of mine but this time I powered it using a combination of Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts  By Thomas Denmark 
& Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea as the back bone system. This isn't the first time I've done this but I've reconnected this OSR powered system with my High Tech Mysticism & High Caliber Adventure OSR  campaign setting. Basically this is a 1920's world that has been exploiting dimensional hopping technologies & the Germans are in a desperate race to get a hold of every last shred of it after discovering the occult secrets of relics in WWI. They've been opening dimensional gateways. They've been mutating & trying to create super soldiers to bolster their nation's ranks. The Germans have been using The Beyond for some of their dark occult technologies but they've also have been making in roads onto other worlds

So after a quick twenty minute PC roll up the group of six players had a good array of PC's.
We had decided that these would be the kids of heroes who were stepping into their adventurer parents shoes to help stop the on coming inevitable war. William Bruce played by Allen was the son of The Super American. He was only a 2nd level mercenary & has been trying to live up to his father's image for years. He also had access to his father's
" Chronopticon" dimensional hopping time machine. The party would be using that machine to head off the German forces man Professor Fenton. Fenton was after the Grail of Thruisu' a lost relic of an ancient African tribe that promised immortality to the owner along with ancient power. 

The professor's connection had been discovered by Jason Quinn aka the Black Avenger the son of second  The Black Bat.  Jason had inherited his father's 18/00 strength but not his dark sight. So he's been using super science goggles & blackout bombs ala the OD&D darkness spell to compensate.  Of course there's always a Quatermain along for the ride & Sarah Quatermain has inherited grand father's curse along with his adventurous spirit. She's one of the group's Treasure Hunters & also only a first level PC played by Jason's wife Holly.

Shiala Piper had inherited her father's dead white skin, evil purple white eyes, & has gained possession of the Moonstone Amulet along with his fetish cane but she doesn't have the Spookman's experience. As the group's 2nd level occultist she's always in the thick of things. She's backed by Harry Wissop the protege of the Ghost whose also the group's second occultist and scientist. But he's only a first level green kid whose head over heels in love and in deep extra dimensional weirdness. Then there's Crash Cranson whose the group's pilot and another mercenary. The party immediately was stranded in another time period by Fenton after confronting him on his lost Pacific island. Here the party met up with Peggy Allen aka the Woman in Red or as another of the party put it, 'Its Peggy Allen's daughter' 'I've heard of this wannabe'! After which she saved their butts from a mutated dinosaur.

After dealing with a horde of ape men, a few of the harrowing traps of the professor, the party did manage to recover the Grail but Fenton made it away with some lost Hyperborean technology! The party went up a level but they've been banned from using the
"Chronopticon" again. But is this the end or only the beginning? The players will have to find a way.

All characters mentioned are public domain but these versions are trade marked and copy righted to the players. Raiders of the Lost Artifacts is copy righted and trade marked to Night Owl Workshop who is in no way responsible for the contents of this blog.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Using The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth & The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun Adventures To Construct An Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Rpg System Mega Campaign

I've been thinking today about the connections between The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth & The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun how these two adventures can be used as a touch stone to create a mega Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea campaign.

“There have been times when only a hair's-breadth has intervened betwixt myself and the seething devil-ridden world of madness; for the hideous knowledge, the horror- blackened memories which I have carried so long, were never meant to be borne by the human intellect. ”
― Clark Ashton Smith

I've been mediating quietly today on the daughter of Iggwilv.I'm speaking of Drelzna, the vampiric daughter of long-deceased archmage Iggwily himself.  
I've spoken of the connections between The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth & how it impacts my views of Hyperborea before. But when you begin to dive below the surface of  The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun some of this get's downright Lovecraftian.

"In the Yatil Mountains south of Perrenland there is rumored to be a magical hoard of unsurpassed value, a treasure of such fame that scores of adventurers have perished in search of it. Find the perilous Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and you may gain the hidden wealth of the long-dead arch-mage — if you live."
Cover blurb for The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth
The more I'm looking into the twisting corridors and winding passages of  The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth the more it feels like the passages of Underborea to me. The connections to the The Forgotten Temple feel like some sort of unresolved incident from the time before the Green Death in Hyerborea. This beast of a module introduced some the major players of the D&D world in the form of monsters, demon lords, & horrors that would later find their way into the Fiend Folio. Somehow 
Drelzna, the vampiric daughter is a quarter Hyperborean, demonic, & something otherworldly.

I keep thinking about the Norker being some sort of Clark Aston Smith solar system half demonic humanoid created for working on distant gravity heavy worlds of the Solar System. They've always struck me as being more alien then the Fiend Folio portrays them. I see them as miners, heavy muscle, & cannon fodder for the samurai like demon clans of the Hobgoblins who are a quarter demon in my Hyperborea campaigns.

I keep thinking the second that Drelzna awakens she's going to revive the cults that were responsible for the imprisoned god Tharizdun & bring the horrors of  the Black Cyst upon the face of Hyperborea itself. It feels to me as though there's a connection between the Ashen Worm & the horrors of the  The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun

We know that the events of  The Forgotten Temple are kicked off by an incident from The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. These two modules represent some major players in the planes;"The treasure is a remnant of the wealth amassed by the archmage Iggwilv, former ruler of Perrenland, prior to her presumed death at the hands of the demon Graz'zt, whom she had "imprisoned and forced into servitude."" So already we're on Elric style footing here with some major movers & shakers. These modules also mark the first appearance of the 'Grell' & its really nasty version of the monster. Grell (Karen Nelson, AD&D module WG4: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, TSR, 1982)  The original grell made 11 attacks per round, 10 with tentacles and one with beak.

I don't think its an accident at all that there's a connection between HG Well's War of the Worlds Martians and the Grell. We know that Gary Gygax was fan of both Wells & Burroughs as well as Clark Aston Smith. For the more I study these two modules the more I'm convinced of the connection with CA Smith's The Coming of the White Worm;"
In much fear and wonder he descended and flung wide the portals. Before him were two men, or creatures who had the likeness of men. Both were strange of visage and bright-skinned, and they wore for mantles such rune-woven stuffs as wizards wear. The runes were uncouth and alien; but when the man bespoke him he understood something of their speech, which was in a dialect of the Hyperborean isles.
"We serve the One whose coming was foretold by the prophet Lith," they said. "From spaces beyond the limits of the north he hath come in his floating citadel, the ice-mountain Yikilth, to voyage the mundane oceans and to blast with a chill spendour the puny peoples of humankind. He hath spared us alone amid the inhabitants of the broad isle Thulask, and hath taken us to go with him in his sea-faring upon Yikilth. He hath tempered our flesh to the rigour of his abode, and hath made respirable for us the air in which no mortal man may draw breath. Thee also he hath spared and hath acclimated by his spells to the coldness and the thin ether that go everywhere with Yikilth. Hail, O Evagh, whom we know for a great wizard by this token: since only the mightiest of warlocks are thus chosen and exempted."
Sorely astonished was Evagh; but seeing that he had now to deal with men who were as himself, he questioned closely the two magicians of Thulask. They were named Dooni and Ux Loddhan, and were wise in the lore of the elder gods. The name of the One that they served was Rlim Shaikorth, and he dwelt in the highest summit of the ice-mountain. They told Evagh nothing of the nature or properties of Rlim Shaikorth; and concerning their own service to this being they avowed only that it consisted of such worship as is given to a god, together with the repudiation of all bonds that had linked them heretofore to mankind. And they told Evagh that he was to go with them before Rlim Shaikorth, and perform the due rite of obeisance, and accept the bond of final alienage."
This mirrors the coming of the Ashen Worm in AS&SH which might reflect the rise of the cult of
Tharizdun itself. 

I'm half convinced that these two modules could be used to create a nasty & very high level section of Underborea. The feeling of this material will have the weight of both a sword & sorcery setting as well as the irony of Clark Aston Smith's sardonic wit to it. The god Tharizdun is pure evil, simple clean & utterly alien in its malevolence.

Eons before Man walked the Earth, Tharizdun was chained and his name struck forever out for history; his crime unspeakable. By interconnecting the underworlds of The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, with The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth & then back tacking it into the dungeons of B4 The Lost City Adventure it links up a network of Underborea for the Temple of Elemental Evil show down.

There are several reasons why this sort of a sword & sorcery campaign would work with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea: 

  1. Levels the PC's can start out with Keep on The Borderlands and then climb up very quickly or die trying.

  2. Sword & Sorcery connection this sort of a mega campaign could have cosmic connections taking the PC's from the depths of the dungeon into the realms of the gods or their remains. 

  3. Science fantasy weirdness given the material in Expedition To The Barrier Peaks this sort of a campaign could help to explain the weird science fantasy 'in' of that adventure. 

  4. This could take years, looking over this sort of a campaign your probably looking at twenty five or more years. 

  5. World Spanning or ending threat given the nature of Tharizdun & the gods behind the Elemental Evil this could have happened to many worlds in the multiverse or solar system. So its not a far stretch to see where this could lead, perhaps the asteroid belt of the Sol system had this happen. 

  6. Little beginnings - Starting with both Keep on The Borderlands & In search of the Unknown there could be a natural progression across many modules. 

  7.  Generational threat - By using the time line of AS&SH its possible to create entire families whose PC's have been fighting this sort of evil upon the face of Hyperborea for a very long time indeed. 

  8. Living to Spend It - Given the levels of AS&SH its very possible that during this sort of campaign several PC's might have complete careers in adventuring and retire if they live that long. 

  9. Earlier I mentioned this being a threat that might stretch across the planes & this could see PC's journeying to other classic era TSR  systems such Gamma World or Boot Hill. 

  10. Treasures between worlds - There could be one or more treasures or relics that have deep connections to bringing this sort of a campaign to a head. These should be focal points and very dangerous to both NPC's & PC's alike something we see time and again in Marvel classic Seventies & Eighties Conan. 




Free OSR Appendix 'S' Science Fantasy Download - Science Fiction Adventure Classics #01 (1967 Summer) For Your Old School Campaigns & Details on The New Aurach Adventurer,Conqueror, King Rpg Kickstarter

Pulps can be difficult things to sometimes get a hold of or they used to be Appendix S material is a very mixed back of stuff. Appendix 'S' is what I refer to as my go to science fantasy index.

Science Fiction Adventure Classics which ran from '67 to '74 was a God sent in some respects, according to the Pulp Trader Website;"A series of reprint magazines.
In Spring 1969, Ultimate Publishing Co. started printing Strange Fantasy, which ran issues #8-13 and made it look like they were changing the magazine name. But then they went back and continued Science Fiction Adventure Classics with #8.
In 1970 they repeated this by starting Space Adventures with issues #9-14. They continued the original name with an Annual and a Yearbook edition, but those were not numbered. Finally, they restarted Science Fiction Adventure Classics with #12.
--Gordon, February 11, 2002"
They even feature a check list for the magazine which is important for the downloader/collector like me.

Science Fiction Adventure Classics was always a mixed bag for reprints but there were some great stuff here from Hugo Gernsback to the classics of Murray Leinster. So here's what we're going to get in this issue:

I'm really interested in Thia of The Drylands which is a science fantasy novella from the Gernsback era of science fiction. Known to a few devotee's of Mars science fiction it first appeared in the  June 1927 issue of Amazing Stories magazine.
Synopsis: A woman aboard the captured space liner “Poseidonia” is taken to the Red Planet amid a clandestine campaign by Martians to steal Earth’s water. Its got a ton of stuff to loot for a Mars style game from the  Martian city of Risapar on the banks of the Canal Pyramus, one of the canals mapped by Schiaparelli in the late 19th century. This rip roaring tale takes place in the future post Colonial era of Mars & its got a bit of everything for the enterprising DM to pilfer. There's a really good break down of this classic story right over here from '09.  
 There is a ton here to draw from and use for any science fantasy Mars but given my recent preoccuptation with my Mars. This is an excellent look into one of the human city states.

Download & Grab Science Fiction Adventure Classics #01 (1967 Summer) Here  
So when we look into the possible recent OSR connections I'm drawn to the new Aurach kickstarter which has two books their trying to get off the ground the Heroic Fantasy Handbook™ &  the Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu Setting Sourcebook™. But for the moment let's look at the the Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu Setting Sourcebook™. (I'm not crazy about all of the trade mark symbols of the new books. They're off putting reminding me of the classic TSR era's Marvel Super Heroes game).

Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu Setting Sourcebook is their science fantasy setting book & it has the usual science fantasy bells and whistles but toned into the ACK's world setting :
While the Heroic Fantasy Handbook explores the classic heroic fantasy genre, Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu embraces what might be called “barbarian fantasy” or perhaps “pulp fantasy.” Barbarian fantasy is an amalgam of three distinct but related genres. The first is sword & sorcery literature, exemplified by the likes of Howard's Conan and Moorcock's Elric. This genre counterpoises corrupt, decaying cities and empires with rough-edged barbarian upstarts. It contrasts the decadence of urban life with the vigor of those untainted by it. This might have been inspired by the fall of decadent Rome to the Germanic "barbarians"who set themselves as kings of its ruins, or even by Samson's divine-inspired exploits against the urbanized Philistines.  
The second is sword & planet, exemplified by Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom, a fantastic vision of Mars. This genre explores similar themes to those of sword & sorcery but does accept certain "science fiction" elements such as alien planets, radium pistols, flying craft, and other technological wonders. Sword & planet still follows the vision of a morally-ambiguous 'outsider' protagonist, archetypically an earthling on Mars, using his might to smash the decadent villainy of the local society.
The third is science fantasy proper. This book, however, presents a "science fiction" milieu closer to a fantastic setting once the outer trappings of starships and rayguns are stripped off it. This genre is exemplified by space princesses, dashing interstellar rogues, space combat which looks suspiciously similar to WWII air combat, and a relative disregard of actual science when it conflicts with the plot. The same tropes of the barbarian fantasy genre also apply here: it is easy to envision the mighty lost-world barbarian smashing through the ranks of raygun-wielding aliens with his massive sword, answering their advanced technology with his brute strength.  
With barbarian fantasy as its inspiration, Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu presents new monsters, magical items, technology, spells, classes, and variant rules, all packaged together in Kanahu, a dangerous world of pulp fantasy. Kanahu draws on the myths of the Ancient Near East and pre-Colombian Mesoamerica and blends them together into a gonzo milieu with dinosaurs, Cthulhoid creatures, giant insects, crazy sorcerers, muscled barbarians, city-states, alien visitors, and super-scientific technology. You get:  
  • A set of 15 new character classes from the world of Kanahu, including the scurrying roach-like bugman, the dreaded cultist, the inhuman deep one hybrid, the mighty dragon incarnate, the stealthy geckoman stalker, the savagely sorcerous lizardman witch-doctor, and the mysterious alien Nephil.  
  • A collection of 45 new monsters, with chthonic deep ones and shoggoth, verminous giant cockroaches and giant mantises, pack-hunting velociraptors, sinister serpentmen and scorpionmen, and mysterious alien flying saucers, robots, and more.  
  • A catalog of super-scientific technology ranging from weapons, armor, and vehicles to chemicals, robots and devices. Add fusion launchers, laser rapiers, force fields, hoverbikes, and war-drones to battle and bedevil your adventurers. 
  • A gazetteer of Kanahu, with a complete setting history; continental, regional, and city overview; and a ready-to-play sandbox with over 60 points of interest. 
  • And much, much more!
Given the quality & type of books that comes out of
Autarch I'd back this one. It looks like there is a ton to use in these two books but their not out otherwise I'd be contacting Alexander Macris  for the books now!

Actually both books are right up my alley so if it was me I'd back this one now.
I'll go into more detail on the kickstarter in another blog entry soon. But for now that's all I have the time for. Keep em rolling.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review & Commentary Of The Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts Retroclone Rpg System By Thomas Denmark

Bare with me as I'm going to dive into Raiders! of The Lost Artifacts but I've got to finish my lunch time beer.

Some days you just need to go out with your buddies for a beer to get your head out of your ass. So over the weekend I happened down to my favorite watering hole with three other very experienced dungeon masters who were able to get away from the familial ties for a bit. That's when Billy pulled out his tablet & proceeded to tell me that Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts had made pay dirt & was loose out out in the wilds of the OSR. Thomas Denmark & the folks over at Night Owl Workshop are very strange because they don't Kickstarter any of their projects & they churn out quality product.  The background for Raiders! of The Lost Artifacts has its roots deeply in the Raiders of the Lost Ark pond. See way back in '81 Raiders Of The Lost Ark changed everything. The film was a surprise hit & everyone wanted to jump on the band wagon. Suddenly everything pulp was hot again. Everyone and his brother were making pulp based movies & we got Tale of the Gold Monkey(classic stuff). Throughout the Eighties, Nineties, etc. the world hasn't been the same since. This whole phenomenon hit the Gangbusters rpg & there were stats for whips. Every other brother's D&D game had a thief who was an artifact dealer & there were time traveling Nazi officers

Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts is exactly what it sounds like an 'Eighties Pulp Resurgence'  inspired pulp retroclone with a parody Raiders of The Lost Ark D&D inspired pulpy background. Not so fast kids, despite its roots there's far more here then meets the eye. You've got four classes: Mercenary, Scientist, Treasure Hunter, and the optional Occultist. The optional Occultist is derived from the Warriors of the Red Planet which is great because I actually love the pulpness of that optional character class. So the idea here was that Gary Gygax & Dave Arneson in some alternative universe were inspired by the Thirties & Forties cliff hanger serials & created Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts.
"What if the first roleplaying game had been about skulking around in ancient ruins, underground tombs, and ancient graveyards in search of treasure, magic and secrets Man Was Not Meant To Know… but the heroes themselves were pulpy archaeologists, explorers and mercenaries from the 1930s instead of the wizards and warriors of fantasy"

It actually does live up to its premise and then some, the authors know the original material and the Eighties Pulp Resurgence stuff. They've dipped a bit into the OGL but its been edited, stripped down, & clarified for OD&D style adventures .So your going to end up playing Mercenary, Scientist, Treasure Hunter, and the optional Occultist. Which is right along the alleyway of the pulpy inspired material & they do it with style & the flourish of a whip. This is cut down & opened up rule sets which is perfect for a Saturday afternoon's pick up & go game. 

Where the game really shines is in the Relics section, these are the treasures of myth, legend, history, & even pulpy popculture according to the add, "Hundreds of new, incredibly powerful magic items called Relics and here's a good example of exactly what your going to get;
"Agrippa’s Book of Occult Philosophy: Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535) is the most influential writer of Renaissance esoterica, and indeed all of Western occultism. The Book of Occult Philosophy (De Occulta Philosophia libri) is Agrippa’s study of occult philosophy, acknowledged as a significant contribution to the Renaissance philosophical discussion concerning the powers of ritual magic and its relationship with religion. The book was printed in 1531 in Paris, Cologne, and Antwerp. It was an ambitious attempt to rejuvenate the art of magic which had degenerated during the medieval ages. He did this by assembling an intellectual and theoretical foundation from his extensive collection of sources. Agrippa started with a “systematic exposition of Ficinian spiritual magic and Trithemian demonic magic and treatised in practical magic” (I. P. Couliano in Hidden Truths 1987, p. 114). Other major sources used by Agrippa include Liber de mirabilibus mundi of pseudo-Albertus Magnus, Giovanni Pico’s Oratio de Dignitate Hominis and Apologia, Johannes Reuchlin’s De Verbo Mirifico, Pliny’s Historia Naturalis, as well as Picatrix and the Hermetic and Neoplatonic texts. The resulting text circulated widely in manuscript form.
Unknown to most was that the original hand written book contains true occult power, filled with spells, incantations, and alchemical recipes. The original has long been lost, but recent clues have arisen that might reveal its actual location. The volume was published in three books (and it might make for a more interesting adventure to have the players collect three originals)."
This basically means that you could literally see hundreds of your favorite items from Excalibur, Merlin's staff, to whatever tickles your fancy can trickle in. Here's another example from the author's blog ;"The Aegis

This was a form of magical armor born by the goddess Athena in Greek myth, and also sometimes carried by her father Zeus. It was symbol of military prowess and defense. Athena may have crafted the aegis from the hide of one of her monstrous foes, perhaps the giant Pallas, whom she killed in the war against the Giants. In form it could vary, but it was often worn wrapped around the wearer’s body, and also hanging down behind her as a cloak. It was said to have a surface like golden snake skin. After the Gorgon medusa was slain, Athena arranged to have its severed face integrated into the folds of the garment; when uncovered, the gorgon’s red eyes stared out from her chest and its writhing snake-hair hung like tassels, and its petrifying gaze could fall upon all who faced her. The Aegis could also be rearranged and attached as a cover to a stout shield (again with the gorgon-head facing outward); Zeus, if he used it, often preferred this form. It takes two rounds to change the Aegis’s form.

The aegis was sometimes leant by Athena to favored individuals  such as mortal heroes, and perhaps it passed into one of their possessions after the gods left the earth (and hid whatever palace they had on Mount Olympus from mortal eyes). Should this be the case, it is possible it might be found in some ancient Greek hero’s tomb or temple, possibly one sacred to Athena, that in or around the Mediterranean region

As a garment, the Aegis provides AC -2 (22) to its wearer; as a shield cover it is a +4 shield (not cumulative with any bonus an existing magic or high-tech shield already provides, but if the shield is itself +4 or better, the combination provides a +5 bonus). In addition, when the medusa-head is uncovered anyone who is looking directly at it and comes within 50 feet must make a saving throw or be turned to stone (after making a saving throw, they are immune). When the Aegis is worn as a garment, anyone grappling its wearer may be stung by the live snakes; they collectively attack in close combat with 4 HD with a hit doing 1d4 damage and requiring a saving throw vs. poison to avoid death.

Even with its face covered, the aegis is also a potent symbol of power and victory; should a leader wear the aegis, any troops with him will have +2 to morale checks or saving throws made against fear, and the wearer or wielder of the aegis is themselves immune to fear.

Groups who might be seeking in the Aegis could include those archeologists or occultists who believe in the truth of Greek legends like the Illiad, as well as Greek nationalists and Hellenophiles (many of them British) who revere Athena as a symbol of justice and democracy. Political leaders who fear assassination may also wish to possess the aegis merely for its protective qualities, although its benefits to leadership would also help. Possible guardians for the Aegis include the usual array of mythical Greek monsters, and the danger of finding the thing uncovered and being turned to stone..."
Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts has a decent monster section with monsters from mythology, legend, etc. The most dangerous 'monsters' in the game are mankind & since this game was inspired by Indiana Jones there is going to be Nazi forces & baby there are in there. Large, in charge, and ready to blow your guys to Hell. They'll be Nazi spies in every port & harbor from here to Bombay & this is followed by some of the most dangerous bastards ever to don a black uniform. They're being sent around the globe to gather those treasures.

The classes are decent, the lay out easy on the eyes, and book makes you want to actually run a game. So is there support? Well yes there's a brand new G+ group & the game is only now starting to make OSR headway. Raiders! is also cross compatible with all of the Night Owl Workshop games and many OSR games! So technically this game could be used to bridge gap into say Adventurer, Conqueror, King for a domain level pulpy campaign. The mind boggles with some of the possibilities!

YOU CAN GRAB THE PDF RIGHT OVER ON DRIVETHRURPG (there isn't a print option yet these things take time to be ready for Drivethrurpg print). 

Or You Can Grab A Print Copy Right Here On Lulu

Do I think you should buy a copy? In a word yes! The book is well done and solidly presented, the material is solidly done and can easily be used right out of the gate. Th artwork is on target for the material and presents the golden age of adventuring easily & without getting to deeply into the morass of stuff that D20 has! The fact is that the Raiders! of the Lost Artifacts game is also open for cross compatible OSR content! So Grab this one today!
Five out of five for one that I've got to wait a couple of months to get because I just got a huge lulu order! Damn it! I should have waited another week or so. Anyone want to spare a copy? Anyone?