Wednesday, June 20, 2018

1d12 Random High Level Stone Age Supernatural & Occult Encounter Table For Your Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaigns

Ajax scanned the horizon for a something, he wasn't sure why his palms felt weird. Those strange dreams had started again. There was nothing on the horizon & then suddenly out of the heat they appeared. Haggard, dressed in rags, & surrounded by a buzzing of flies a group of twelve subhuman warriors moved weirdly down the old game trail.
Ajax woke Evin with a start,'They're here about three hours ride away. We've got to get the horses, & break camp quickly'. 

'Right' Evin knew better then to run afoul of his blood brother's hunches. He drank the last of his Traesian cold tea & the ate his rations as he packed.
'Leave nothing behind, not a trace brother, for they belong to something else. I'd swear they were part spirit.', Ajax was nervous which made Evin even more wary. His sword felt heavy by his side for the second time this morning. The first was when his blood brother woke him. The air seemed heavy & pregnant with deadly possibilities. 

Adventurers on the road in Stone Age areas can run into the unexpected & the unexplained. There are those beings who cross the paths of adventurers that can alter their lives forever. These encounters are tinged with destiny & more then some horror. Adventurers should be very wary when encountering these wanderers of the wastelands.

These wanderers are hold outs, possible mutants, & others cast out from their various tribes for taboo reasons. There is more then a little fear surrounding these beings, for animals & monsters of 2 hit dice or less a low level fear spell surrounds these beings. There is a 20% chance when encountering them that this aura is active. Animals, small children, old people, & even other hardened adventurers will try to flee from these beings.

Encounters with such beings often seem to be surrounded by destiny & fate. There is a 10% chance that such encounters may be seen as life altering signs by shamans,wizards, clerics  & other tribal leaders.

1d12 Random High Level Stone Age Supernatural & Occult Encounter Table 

  1. Small cave man warrior has a spirit of hunger bound into his flesh. Anyone who who sees him will try to drive him away! Anyone attacking, pushing, or even taunting him with physical action will release the evil vrock spirit within his flesh.
    This vrock is a nasty spirit of chaos & evil. It has all of the standard powers & three times per day anyone within a 2o yard radius can be sent  into a  berserk state with hunger. Any PC's within the zone of evil must save vs spells or try to consume strangers, friends, or relatives. As they do this horrid act they will chant the dead gods spell of evil which has a 5% chance of summoning more of these horrors. Killing the poor possessed fool has a 60% chance of freeing the spirit to take possession of another. The demon spirit is then free to take on 1d4 more victims of its evil. An 8th level shaman can bind the demon to the flesh of another in a dangerous rite. The demon will be harmlessly bound into the living flesh of such a person.
  2. 1d6 strange tattooed  4th level warriors tainted with the 'plague of the ages' wanders from place to place seeking a good & honorable death. Those who engage them will age 1d20 years & become tainted with the occult power of entropy. Unless a save vs spell is made the weird entropic energies will infect PC's after 1d10 minutes. They will be slightly out of sink with normal reality making it difficult to understand them. These beings will no longer have to eat and food will turn to ash in their mouths.
  3. The Thin Ones there will be 1d8 of these warriors. These strange beings appear as normal cave men but in actuality they are beings whose outer form masks the alien hell worms within. Each one contains a larva as per the Monster Manual AD&D first edition. These things are small enough to force their way into the mouths of their victims. The victim is now under the control of the worm. These beings are damned souls who have escaped from the previous incarnation of the world & now seek to cause mayhem & chaos wherever they go. 
  4. A 7th level Stone Age black wizard who has fallen afoul of the Dark Forces now wanders with 1d8 warriors looking for the demon who has escaped him with his black soul. He is mad & very dangerous, he will promise anything to get the soul back but also is psychotically murderous. 
  5. A cave man whose eyes have been replaced by entropic eye implants he's escaped his master. This being can see into many alternative dimensions & worlds but also eleven possible futures. Once per day the eyes can create a blast with 2d6 points of damage in a twenty foot radius. His black wizard master will do anything to get this poor sap back.
  6. 1d6 undead foot soldiers of a black wizardess that seeks her dead husband. These undead are well preserved & can move around in daylight. They have the abilities of mummies and can lay a minor curse on those who displease them. 
  7. A lone cave man with 1d10 mutations that is caught between realities. The poor fool will infect anyone he comes across should he touch them unless a save vs spell is made. There are 1d6 versions of him that split from the main cave man after 3 rounds. These can be found with a 50 foot radius of the main person. They will reassemble after 5 rounds. This thing mostly whines, screams, & grunts.
  8. A 6th level fighter & hunter killed 1d8 years ago now a brutal undead killing machine that seeks someone but whom is unknown. The thing goes out of its way to slay anyone that crosses its path. The thing can and will regenerate as a troll. Its supernatural agenda is unknown. 
  9. A type III demon bound into the flesh of six cavemen that seeks to make war for eternity. This evil hive mind entity is a chaotic mess of a mercenary that will serve any black wizard able to meet its disgusting price. The cave men each have a small portion of the demon's abilities and are bounty hunters for black wizards of all stripes. These beings are cruel & very murderous. 
  10. A cave man that is actually a supernatural android for some unknown alien intelligence. This being is a cold & cruel hunter able to track anyone across miles of unknown territory. This thing seeks some unknown relic & yet will plunder any dungeon for treasure only to destroy it in frustration. The thing sometimes has 1d10 evil minions it recruits by implanting strange cybernetic occult implants. 
  11. An ancient alien bound into the flesh of a tribe of cave men seeks to find its missing relatives but its having a hard time. The alien takes the form of an infectious yellow mold like life form & its on a one man mission of murder & mayhem. There 1d8 yellow musk zombies that it uses as shock troops & a black alien vegetable wizard whose actually a form of yellow musk plant that works for it. 
  12. A whole tribe of cave people who are actually a fully functional cult of the demon god Orcus on a holy mission. They seek an ancient shrine while they pose as traders & merchants but they can't hide the unholy aura of evil that overhangs them.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Tegel Manor Legacy - Ghostly Action,Giga Dungeons & Sword & Sorcery Strangness

"Tegel Manor, a great manor-fortress on the seacoast, is rumored to be left over from ancient days when a charm was placed over it protecting it from most of the ravages of time and human occupation. The hereditary owners, whos family name is Rump, have been amiss in their traditional duty of providing protection for the market village to the west. "

"Some have said that this failing and their bizarre eccentricities have led to their corruption. Many have found the manor and area to be a dangerous place to visit!"
Its been a long while since I dusted off my version of  Tegel Manor.The first thing I want to clarify is that Tegel Manor is not an old school adventure. Instead, Bill Owen and Bob Bledsaw's Judge's Guild classic Tegel Manor is a playing aid. So its basically set up to be a sprawling haunted house challenge for player's PC's. Its basically a 240 room giga dungeon adventure location & has all of the considerations including a village base of operations for the PC's. But its haunted house dungeon ecology isn't up to modern OSR code  like the Adventurer, Conqueror, King rpg  Nethercity's adventure going on Kickstarter here's a sample of what I'm talking about;
"the ecology of the Nethercity. The combination of the sewage flow from the collapsed cesspit (1a) with random traffic from the teleportation portal (12c) and the underground river (16) has created a strange and complex ecology within the dungeon. It works like this: 
  • Organic material from the refuse, animal droppings, and washed-in plants in the sewer sludge provides a haven for fungus and mold which feed on the material. Yellow mold, fungal creepers, green slime, ochre jellies, black puddings, gelatinous cubes, and similar growths in the waste are the most evolved of these “decomposers.” Yellow mold grows extensively in the huge deep cave (3b).
  • The herbivorous insects or vermin such as cavern locusts, tunnel prawns, and insect swarms of millipedes and cave crayfish feed on the decomposers and/or the sewer sludge. Such creatures are found close to the source of the sewer sludge, primarily in areas 1 and 3. 
  • The insectivorous and omnivorous insects and vermin such as giant beetles, giant rats, and rat swarms feed on the herbivorous insects and scavenge from the animal waste. For instance, a nest of bombardier beetles (in 3d) feeds on the nearby insect swarms.
  • The troglodytes (degenerate mutants made long ago by the elves from Thrassian stock) hunt the larger insects and vermin, and scavenge from the sewer sludge. They are found in the deep level caves (area 9) south of the central caves (area 3).
  • The giant ants in the abyssal caves (12) gather organic material from the sewer sludge to create fungus-farms in empty wall graves.
  • The white apes (cave-dwelling descendants of ancient Argollëan alchemy, precursors to beastmen) of the northern caves (13) hunt, steal, and scavenge from the adjacent farms of the giant ants. 
  • The larger carnivores and omnivores such as caecilians, carcass scavengers, giant carnivorous flies, giant pythons, giant rhagodessa, and pit vipers feed on the various insects, smaller vermin, and occasional troglodyte or ape. A caecilian in the central caves (3f) feeds on cavern locusts, while the rhagodessa of the lower level central caves (6n) prefer troglodytes. 
  • Giant crabs, giant leeches, and giant fish sometimes wander through the underground river (16). 
  • Skeletons, wights, and mummies wander or slumber in the ancient tombs, temples, and crypts. Incorporeal undead, the lingering spirits of long-dead Chthonic worshipers or simply attracted by the sinkhole of evil, plague much of the complex. Ghouls from the sewers are common due to the availability of carrion. Most of the Nethercity (2, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11, 17, 18, 19, and 20) is given over to the undead.
Prior to 329 BE, when the cesspit broke open, the Nethercity’s ecology was much less complex. Only a few tiny groups of troglodytes and white apes – experimental subjects of the elves – survived the Nethercity’s fall. The apes and troglodytes fed on fish from the underground river and on whatever stumbled in via the teleportation platform (12c). Eventually, both groups discovered the platform itself and figured out that it could take them to hunting grounds outside the Nethercity. Some of the apes and troglodytes that departed on the teleportation platform never returned to the Nethercity, but a few continued to lair there even as they hunted on the surface.

Tegel Manor does something very different, it allows the DM to fit the adventure location into their own old school campaigns. Tegel Manor has a lot going for it including the outline here that it could be customized to the DM's haunt house specifications. That's been one of the tickets to using the supernatural elements of the Rump family. Customizing the weirdness of the Rump family. In the past I've used many of David A. Hargrave's Arduin supernatural elements & undead twists to give Tegel Manor a whole different adventure  feel.
Arduin's gonzo elements make Tegel manor feel like something out of a classic Eighties VHS horror comedy flick like Ghost Busters or the House series of movies.

Flip the adventure location over to Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition. Suddenly the adventure location becomes the perfect pre Green Death plague location. The Rump family did have survivors after the plague but many of them have become representatives of the various strains of undead found in classic Dungeons & Dragons. The whole adventure affair becomes very Clark Ashton Smith in nature echoing strains of Zothique &
the Averoigne stories. In fact the undead of the second edition of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea are ideally suited to running Tegel Manor.


"Tegel Manor vexes the Grognardia blog", well it didn't vex me at all. And in fact provided the ideal old school location to add in as a multidimensional adventure location that would move across the planes on its own. Tegel Manor & its village move from place to place causing havoc & mayhem where & when it went.
As one reviewer put it,"It must be said that there is a certain Castlevania-esque feel to the whole thing, which is a huge plus in my book."

The idea of the Castlevania-esque advantage of Tegel Manor is exactly how I'm going to use the adventure coming up!

Monday, June 18, 2018

1d12 Random Stone Age Gang Encounters Table For Your Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaigns

Evin had seen the sign for 'horns of power' carved into the trees nearly a dozen paces back in the treeline. The subhumans had been trailing him for the better part of four hours now. These cannibals belonged to the witch 'Tarari The Poisonous' but Evin wasn't impressed. Ajax had wronged her back two years ago & the cold Hells hath no fury but a witch's fury was the worst. The subhumans were supposed to kill Evin but they didn't know that Ajax the half caste warrior had flanked them.
'Well we've finally caught up with you Ajax!' the snarling response was the stuff of nightmares for lesser men. 'Evin' the name was dropped from the warrior's lips casually with a lazy Northern drawl.

The gang of subhuman outlaws were confused & not used to dealing with foul ups.
'My name is 'Evin' & you've been trailing me for two full days.'
"We have no quarrel with you then our mistress only wants the other warrior's head"  

'That might be a problem then!'
That's when the subhuman warriors heard the twin sounds of Ajax's blunderbuss cocking & the gun becoming active. 

The subhuman's brain reacts fast & the words are out before he can think, 'Parley!?!'
'Good choice my friends' Ajax's words were cold as the flint in the weapon.

The game trails between worlds are often fraught danger & peril. Many times adventurers meet others who have strange or downright dangerous agendas. These beings often serve alien god like masters, seek dangerous treasure or even their own fortunes among the myriad realities. However they also pose some of the greatest dangers to others. These visitors from various Stone Age like cultures are some of the most dangerous opponents & NPC's that parties are likely to run across.

These NPC peoples  are advanced enough to have primitive horses or horse like creatures depending upon your home campaign.

1d12 Random Stone Age NPC  Encounters Table
  1.  The Demon Spider Gang
    A group of 1d6 second level cavemen fighters who are also cannibals on a holy raiding mission for their demon goddess. They carry slings, stones, & heavy spears for working large prey. These men also have sharp +2 flint daggers for their mission. 
  2. The Goddess's Claws
    A gang of mercenary women warriors whose men were wiped out by a murderous tyrant. These 3rd level thieves are on the road of Hell & seek to slay their tribe's killers. They ride primitive horses & are armed with war clubs & short bow & arrows. They've become very good at passing themselves off as traders to gauge potential enemies or allies. An aura of doom hangs around them & they are not to be taken lightly. 
  3. The Prey
    A gang of 1d6 half ghoul cavemen & women who are a bit more human & go about the land acting as scouts for their demonic master. They carry knives & arrows but will not attack unless provoked. They seek something of value for their master. 
  4.  The Fortunate Ones
    A group of 1d8 native Americans time lost who have banded together for mutual protection. They are armed with a wide array of weapons & there are 3rd level fighters & thieves among them. These people are seeking a home land for themselves after being stolen from various communities by a wizard. 
  5.  The Departed
    A dangerous tribe of 1d8 2nd level fighters who work for a local undead warlord, they are armed with slings, short bows & arrows, and +2 flint knives. They seek sacrifices for a demonic offering.
  6.  The Horde of the Dove
    A gang of cut throats & thieves 2nd level numbering ten whose outlaw ways have come to them after their tribe was driven from its lands. They have become corrupted by the wealth they have accumulated. They are armed with slings, long bow, and war clubs. 
  7. The Minions
    This gang of 1d6 half demonic cavemen & women travels around murdering & sacrificing others while posing as traders & farmers. They have three wagons filled with trade goods but also war clubs, slings, & spears. No one knows what demonic master they serve. They move from village to village. 
  8. The Vile Ones
    A group of  1st level cave men warriors who have been cursed with leprosy by a vampire. They seek to die in battle against a powerful foe. They have flint war swords & colorful shields marking them for what they are. Originally there were 10 but now they number six.
  9.  Those Who Fight
    A band of women warriors who have been touched by a goddess of war. There is a mix of 1d8 warriors of 2nd & 3rd level. They have spear, pike, bow & arrow, sling, & chariots among their ranks. They are mercenary protectors & skilled fighters. No one is sure of their agenda
  10.  Nuns for Og 
    A group of 1d20 warrior nuns whose convent was ravaged by a wizard. They have become blood thirsty fanatics for the cannibal cult of Og chaos god of death & war. These women have war carts, bows & arrows, spears, pike, and sling shots. They pose as healers, holy travelers, etc all of the while fully intent on murdering & pillaging any they run across. 
  11.  Fuller's Folly
    A band of 1d8 cavemen soldiers taught war by Colonial Joseph Fuller after he slipped through a time warp. The Folly as they are known are professional soldeirs on a mission to recover Fuller's  officer's sword. They move from battle to battle on their mission. They use Iron Age weaponry & equipment making them very advanced. But their numbers & knowledge die with each battle. This group claims it for the money.But many believe they battle because of an odd death wish. 
  12. Those Who Seek
    A group of 1d6 cavemen adventurers who have simply taken to the life of adventurers & they have among their ranks a 3rd level wizard of no small cunning. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Of Space Princess Machinations & Alpha Blue Busts - Venger Satanis's Latest Kickstarter & OSR Space Opera Campaign Stall

So there's seven days to go on Venger Satanis's No One Warps For Free! Kickstarter & I've been quietly making campaign notes. I've been thumbing through  my copy of Machinations of The Space Princess & Alpha Blue. Coming up with ideas, beginning encounters, etc. all as a launch point for this sleazy sci fi campaign. Sounds great right?!

Here's the problem, the real world has caught up with several of my players! Yup the dread specter of work scheduling has prevented me from actually hatching this hybrid of evil & sleaziness on my players.
The heart & soul of this idea was to give the free range ideas of Alpha Blue a bit of an OSR backbone with Machinations of the Space Princess. In the world of the OSR there are two flavors Dungeons & Dragons! So the core of Machinations is the Lamentations of the Flame Princess system done right with a space opera overlay. Not that new Disney Solo flavor but the Eighties 'Space Hunter In The Forbidden Zone' goodness. I had everything aligned with Machinations classes emulating Alpha Blue's space opera bordello vibe.

"Classes cover many of the basics; Experts, Killers, Psions, and Scholars. Each class has their own sub-specialties, HD, Attack Bonus and Skill Points. Psions get Psi Points and Power Points. In what seems reversed to me Psi-Points are your reserve of power to use your psionic powers and Power Points allow you to buy your Psychic Powers."

Many of the ideas that presented in Alpha Blue's Universal Exploits expansion book along with Girls Gone Rogue are already built right into the Machinations of the Space Princess system. So its kinda of a shame that I won't get to run this now. By the by a friend has borrowed my copy of Machinations of the Space Princess & now apparently gone to Florida with my book. I needed a new copy anyway. But seriously much of the Eighties Sci fi action that my players were looking for was covered in spades in Machinations. There is a lot of modifying out of PC elements & sci fi background material for PC's. So its not a big deal for the moment.

Its not as rules heavy as say Stars With Number but it gets the job done in style over space opera substance. Machinations of the Space Princess is closer to Lamentations of the Flame Princess in that regard. But structurally it works on a closer level to the type of O5R system that Alpha Blue thrives on. So my campaign notes, adventure ideas, & some of the conversion notes go up on a shelf for the moment.
So what happens when a campaign stalls out like this due to real world concerns:

  1. As the dungeon master don't get pissed off & frustrated! Seriously this sort of thing happens all of the time. Try to be understanding to your players. 
  2. Shelve it folks! Yeah I know it was a lot of work to get to this point & it sucks that you've got put it on a shelf but that happens. 
  3. Take it on line and look for players. With things like Roll20 & G+ there are a lot of options on line these days. 
  4. Now is the perfect opportunity to look for new players locally. Make a flyer & put it in the local hobby shop or comic book shop window. Be sure to interview players and get a good mix. 
  5. Re look at the campaign, seriously you can find holes you didn't know were there when you get some distance. 
  6. Make sure that the material is going to suit your players!

The  Alpha Blue supplement Alpha Ass, Hydrogen Gas, or Cosmic Grass... No One Warps For Free Kickstarter! Go Here! 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

1d12 Random Mercenaries Encounters Table For Your Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaigns

Evin crossed the field with purpose & watched the two warriors just emerging from the tree line. They had not seen his position yet. The way they held their spears indicated Jackian spearmen but this meant that they were a long way from home. It could also mean they were desperate & very dangerous individuals.
They didn't see Ajax the half caste warrior until he had circled around them. Asking these men for directions to a city the giant of a man already knew the way too.
Everything seemed to go well with them even though they held their spears in the ready position but Evin had expected this.There wasn't a Jackian wizard nearby or their might have been considerable trouble. The wizards ate their victims especially warriors in order consume their souls & their vitality. But these men were looking for work & asked Ajax for any leads. These were indeed strange times when even the enemies of the Northmen were looking for work through their enemies.
Evin put compound bow down as soon as Ajax began the long trot back to his blood brother's position.

The paths of fortune & glory are littered with adventurers, sell swords, & mercenaries of all stripes. These beings travel along a path shod with violence, gore, & danger. Adventurers are always encountering those in their own trade. These adventurers are often mercenaries given over to the life of adventure, danger, & intrigue. It is the perfect breeding ground for professional contacts in a life style that affords true real friends.

1d12 Random Mercenaries Encounters Table

  1. Uma The Bold - This 3rd level Amazon fighter is on a mission to avenge her family of over 30 years. She is brutal & very dangerous but also determined to have her revenge. She also seeks glory and the head of her sister's murder. 
  2. Tas Rel - This barbarian warrior of the 5th level seeks danger and treasure but will fight for a just cause. He often attaches himself to hopeless causes. 
  3. Rebara The Foolhardy -  This former wizard has turned his attention to the warriors ways but he holds onto the occult as he seeks the demon who drained his family dry. 
  4.  Takus - Warrior who loves his bastard sword & bow with his ancient arrows. He is 4the level but its often that he gets in over his head. 
  5. Hrus -  A sell spell that loves black magick so much that this wizard goes into battle trying to catch a glimpse of certain forbidden Hells that contain the greatest forbidden knowledge. 
  6. Gwir - This viking warrior is on the tract of a sect of demon worshipers who murdered  this man's family to their foul god of death.
  7.  Mary Revus -  A young woman taken from her world & thrust into the heart of this chaotic spider's web of lies and deception. She has become inducted into an Amazon tribe of cultists and warriors. She is now a 5th level warrior on a mission to find & slay her manipulator.
  8.  Randel the Wise -  This wizard of 6th level skill has become the terror of tribes of desert dwellers. He seeks the cup of ages and to slay its assassin owners.
  9.  Ava Rera - This Amazon warrior princess has taken to the life of a sell sword with abandoned as she slays those of a demon cult's army. She seeks the treasures of this order for dangerous occult reasons. 
  10. Dr. Tiss - This vile mercenary assassin seeks the soul of a pure & innocent to protect them from men like himself. He is a ruthless mercenary who seeks redemption on the countless lives he's ruined and family's he's destroyed. 
  11. Cardth Ray -This barbarian chief seeks the black magcians who slayed his entire family. He pays in gold and favors for he's services. 
  12.  Chi Gan - This 5th level mercenary fighter/monk seeks the men who murdered his mother. But he has become disillusioned with his chosen profession but seeks to make amends to those he has wronged!

Labyrinth Lord Free Across The Planes! The One Man Crusade Continues!

So yeah, I've been on this one man crusade for Labyrinth Lord for the past three or four weeks now. Why?! Well because the game doesn't get enough attention damn it! So its been an interesting uphill battle to say the least.
So I've gone back to the source material in this case way back to the Saturday, April 21st, 2012 Black Gate article by Daniel Proctor as to why he created Labyrinth Lord.

Already the kickstarter is half way funded! Seems that LL's on the uptick again! But how does the game stack up against Swords & Wizardry?Well in my research on the game I came across,  How does Swords & Wizardry differ from Labyrinth Lord?
Yes I totally posted this the other day but then I contrasted it with this Dragon foot forum thread; " BECMI, B/X, Dark Dungeons or Labyrinth Lord?"

" LL is derived from Moldvay/Cook/Marsh Basic/Expert but instead of a level 14 cap it goes up to level 20. LL is nice as it may not take your character up to level 36, but you do get to level 20 (with some classes) instead of level 14."
This was posted by

Dark Dungeons From Gurbintroll Games.

This wonderful little OSR retroclone has a number of  one very interesting wrinkles in it. One of those happens to be cross compatible rules for planejammers in it! They're not called that but that's exactly what they are so have at thee across the planes! Did I mention that Dark Dungeons is also a free PDF? Its one of my all time favorite clones & does an excellent job!

Friday, June 15, 2018

1d12 Random Sacred Totem Artifacts & Treasures Table For Your Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaigns


Evin Thornkill watched the herd of one horns pass before him. He had no wish to get the giant animal's way. For his tribe these things were sacred animals but there was a strange skull sticking out of the patch of swamp ground. He'd seen in it last night glowing in the marsh land but he had a limited time before Alas Sure Walker the half caste warrior & his blood brother got back to camp. Alas was checking on the latest payment from their client. They had successfully navigated the low lands following the game trails until they found the ruins of the old fort. They had no wish to meet the hyena devil warriors who made their home there. They'd made camp some two miles East & Evin was on a scouting mission. Last night the first of the visions started in Evin's mind but his mother had taught him the way of such things. Now making his way around the herd he found himself staring into the black morass of the muck & slime. His hands grabbed the the painfully white bone instinctively & instantly he was taken elsewhere across the universe. He was something alien & else, he held the three bones skull in his tendrils & whispered the scared chants in the three tongues of the moon.The skull held the power for his brother's & sister's clutch even as the dreaded shoggoths closed in on the halls of power.
Suddenly he was awoken by the violent shaking of Alas, "Ahh your awake again! It is good to not have you screaming for the whole night. I've had to put this leather hide in your teeth to keep you biting off your own tongue"
"How long?!" the voice was alien & weird but it was own. He remembered bits & pieces of his far journey.
'About three days old friend'
'The skull?'
"That thing? Well I threw it back into the swamp. The dogs hated it & it must of smelt of the 'Ancient Things'.
'Don't worry I threw it very deep into the deepest part of the swamp'
"Why is the camp filled with these strange purple lizards?'
'Oh they started showing up about a day ago & always hover around you my friend' 
'What do they want?!'
"I don't know but '
'I do!', the voice was high pitched, excited & belonged to a lizard shaman covered in the purple silks & skins of the scared lizards.
Something tells me we are in for a long day', Alas shrugged & Evin groaned as he felt his head ache return.

Down from the hard winds of the Outer Darkness come artifacts & treasures belonging to the Tribes of Men who lost these during the Great Passing. These items are blessed with mysterious occult powers some say come from the Dark Forces. Others insist these artifacts were things lost in the Chaos Conflicts as Old Terra passed away. In addition to the major powers listed on these totem artifacts there is a 20% chance of these items having 1d6 minor spell like abilities. Those who pick up these items are blessed by the totem animal.
They may 30% chance be sought out by a shaman of the appropriate totem animal or spirit. These beings will have some small favor or boon to ask of the totem object's owner.
1d12 Random Sacred Totem Artifacts
& Treasures Table

  1. A bronze coated skull belonging to a small dinosaur that once belonged to a member of the Great Race of Yith. The skull has the ability to banish great undead or flying polyps once every new moon. This skull also speaks in prophetic rhyme each week  and those that hear it may be granted a +2 in battle 
  2. This beautifully carved bone & jade figure is of a bear spirit. The object will put its owner into a very deep meditative trance once per week. During this trance the owner will wander the lower astral realms & gain the wisdom, strength, & power of the bear. The owner will return in 1d4 days from this trance. 
  3. This small round geode has within it millions of crystals of amethyst & is sacred to the butterfly spirit. A being of utter chaos trapped with an amber prison. The owner is a able to obtain the fire of this being once per week. The owner's hand strikes gain +2 to all damage. 
  4. This strange brass & tin object is the essence of the warthog spirit. This spirit can once per day can possess the owner  granting them the power of a berserk. The warthog spirit can also heal 1d8 points of damage. 
  5. This long stick is holy to the three ice women of La Neara. The thing may be broken and instantly freeze everything within a 40 foot radius. This stick enables the owner to speak with the ice women who can grant several small boons to the owner. 
  6. This jade figure of a panther enables those who hold it to commune with the panther god. He is a fickle and difficult god at the best of times. 
  7. This is the foot of the conqueror  & it enables the owner to access the deep memory banks of humanity. This foot enables the owner to journey back 1d30 years 
  8. The spirit magnet of the Little King - This magnet allows the owner to attract themselves along the lines of the spirits. They can cast as if they were one level higher then what they are. The abilities of the magnet enable the caster to use offense spells at their leisure
  9. Twelve needles of the pain goddess enable the owner to determine the best course of her influence on any patient suffering with disease or illness. The needles allow the owner to commune with her once a week. 
  10. This totem doll enables the owner to access one of the twelve high spirits once a week. It also enables the owner to cast a sphere like cone of darkness within a 12 foot radius. The doll gives a strange aura about enabling the owner to cross over into the spirit realm for 1d20 turns 
  11.  Wise Councilor this strange statue enables the owner to speak in any language and to gain access to the totem bird spirit. The owner can rebuke undead and cast a power word stun as strange signs man was never to see appear. 
  12. The horn of the unicorn allows the owner to gain the speed of the unicorn & gain a aura of awe for 1d20 rounds. The  horn will not however perform in any evil act but once per day the horn can be used to cast a cure light wounds as per the spell.

Set Up, Back Stage, & Lovecraftian Maintenance For Dungeons With Adventurer,Conqueror, King, Arduin, OSR, & Classic Old School Flavors

Its about 2:00 A.M., I've been off line most of the day with work & some of the general necessities of life. As it stands at this moment several of Dark Albion's elements have been re introduced again into my general campaign.  The concept of the kilodungeon has shifted its way back into the consciousness of the OSR with Autarch’s eighth Kickstarter project: The Secrets of the Nethercity. The concept of the kilodungeon goes back further then most folks realize & pops up in places that dungeon master's least expect it. All the way back to T1 The Village of Hommlet By Gary Gygax. Hommlet's moat house is the perfect metaphor or preview of coming attractions for PC's before they get to the main event.

Everything about Hommlet is the perfect PC base that mirrors many of the elements later found in the the rest of the Temple of Elemental Evil. That is once its been cleared of any & all resistance by the player characters. The dive into the moat house is a dive into the evil of the Underworld infecting the rest of the campaign world. That is to say that its a boil on the face of world & its not one to be taken lightly. This is a mini dungeon setting with plenty of 'shoot from the hip encounters'. The second the PC's enter this place is the second that they're taking on Chaos in all of its glory! Chaos in Advanced or Basic Dungeons & Dragons has always been there as soon as the player or dungeon master has read his first monster alignment that says 'Chaotic' or 'Chaotic Evil'.

Oh and if you don't think that the occult forces of Law & Chaos are just as important in OSR games such as Adventurer,Conqueror, King? Well let me let you feast your eyes on the Kickstarter for Secrets of The Undercity;
"The adventure takes place in the Auran Empire campaign setting, the default setting for ACKS. The eponymous Nethercity lies below the city of Cyfaraun, just fifty miles northwest of Türos Tem, making it a perfect sequel to our introductory adventure The Sinister Stone of Sakkara. But if you don't play in the Auran Empire, don't worry - a special appendix in the book offers advice on how to adapt the adventure for use with our Kanahu setting or with your own favorite campaign world. The Nethercity can be placed under any long-inhabited urban settlement that's changed hands between law and chaos over the centuries."
The really important bit here is,
"The Nethercity can be placed under any long-inhabited urban settlement that's changed hands between law and chaos over the centuries."
This is exactly what we see in T1 The Temple of Elemental Evil By Gary Gygax & Frank Mentzer. The moat house of Village of Hommlet is the set up for the bigger & nastier temple which we got a taste of.

The Auran Empire campaign setting,has had its major bush fires with Chaos before & destroyed it outright time & again. But Chaos is a festering disease that breeds in the hearts & minds of the campaign setting. The results can be & are catastrophic for a world. Don't believe me? Just take a look at Barsoom whose Green Martians consumed the entire world of Mars & whose presence is found all over early Dungeons & Dragons adventures encounter tables. Edgar Rice Burroughs creations are some of the most destructive warriors your party is ever likely to encounter. And they are the symptom of a much larger disease. The death of your campaign world should the forces of Chaos get the upper hand.

For world of Dave A Hargrave's Arduin there's one dungeon that consumes the heart of chaos & comes back for more that's Death Heart. This living & breathing chaos magnet lays at the core of a tractless wilderness. The place is pure evil, simple & quick to understand as an adventure location. Its a horrid place that deals in pure chaos and should not be placed too close to a civilized area. There's no warm up dungeon location for Death Heart merely a lone sentinel of evil & choke point for the forces of chaos in Arduin.

 Now I've talked about Lovecraft's Dream cycle & I'm going to again. The Underworld of the Dreamlands represents what happens after the battles have been lost & one. There was an apocalyptic battle in the Dreamlands, the cost was horrid for the gods of Earth. A deal was struck & the role of the gods of Earth was reduced to a mere shadow. Then you might ask where are the forces that fought in this apocalyptic event? Does the Vale of Pnath contain them? Yes it does but these of Chaos forces are right where they were when they were banished! The ghouls & ghasts are some of the most common inhabitants of HP Lovecraft's Underworld. But its in the Gugs of HP Lovecraft's The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926) that we get our answers about this apocalypse.
The Gugs were partially responsible for this apocalyptic event, "The gugs were banished to the underworld by the earth’s gods, the Great Ones, for an unnamed blasphemy. Now they reside in a terrifying, underground city, dwelling in lofty, round, cyclopean towers. Nearby, colossal monoliths mark the cemetery of the gugs."
Whose responsible for what happened during all of these events? Well the answer is writ large all over the events of the background of The Dream-quest of Unknown Kadath & its easily Nyarlathotep.

 He holds the keys & the ruination of mankind. Chaos was given a stale mate  but the cost was terrible to the dreams of mankind. There are more hints about it in the writings of Zothique by Clark Ashton Smith.

 The real question for Secrets of the Nethercity what's the mega dungeon that Secrets is warming the characters up for? After the events of the adventure location for Adventurer, Conqueror, King what comes next. This is only taste of what's to come & we get a similar vein of adventure in T1 Village of Hommlet.
Secrets of the Nethercity's Cyfaraun might be the PC's base of operations for connecting the kilodungeons of the Nethercity with some of the upper levels of ACK's Dwimmmermount
. Many of the hoards described in this product have direct corroborations with Labyrinth Lord's treasure & horde tables.
Chaos never sleeps & sooner or later the PC's are going to be confronting it again. This is where Dark Albion comes in very handy. Cults of Chaos for Dark Albion goes down exactly the same route as Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu . Lovecraft's mythos forces are chaos unbound in all their glory & they're dangerous as Hell itself. 
This is the same treatment that we see of the Mythos from the Arduin books where Lovecraft's creations jump from one civilized world to another destroying wantonly and dangerously again & again.

Most folks don't know that the Arduin books don't have this take in the main rule books but in the adventures themselves as a part of the monsters & NPC forces of the dungeons of Dave A. Hargrave. These forces though are left overs from apocalyptic events of Arduin's campaign setting.
Here are six rules for bringing the pain of the Mythos to your favorite science fantasy game setting: 
  1. Its not always about Cthulhu, there are literally legions of Great Old Ones & Outer Gods to use in adventure settings. 
  2. Alien artifacts & treasure can convey far more then miles of exposition during an adventure leading to rolls to help figure out the item 
  3. Make up stuff on your own, got a Lovecraft scholar among your ranks than create your own Old One or Outer god for fun & profit during adventures. 
  4. Don't get bound by the scale & BS of the Mythos. If you need a god or other thing to be certain way for an adventure then change it. There are so many contradictions in the Weird Tales literature. 
  5. Make the Mythos your own & let it work to enrich & not hinder your campaign world. 
  6. Earn treasure & items as needed during adventures especially with a cult or mythos flavor.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Arduin,The Underworld, Lovecraft, 'Kilodungeons', & More Science Fantasy & OSR Dungeon Commentary

Sewing machine repair work  pretty much defines my life & its been taking up most of my day today. I've had the thought bubbles about 'Kilodungeons' which seem to clock in at about 200 or more rooms. These dungeons have been brought back to attention by Adventurer, Conqueror, King's latest kickstarter for Secrets of the Nethercity;
"An epic "kilodungeon" with 240 location entries spread across 20 different dungeon sub-regions that can be explored in a nonlinear fashion over the course of your campaign."
The concept is much older then that however & it goes all the way back to Judge's Guild product lines. No scratch that, the concept belonged to Gary Gygax's Keep On The Borderlands .

The idea of the adventurer base campaign location being  right off the adventure location dungeon is a homage callback to B2 .
"A home base (the city of Cyfaraun) for use by your adventurers in between dungeon delves. The city is presented in summary format in the adventure itself, and the city and the sewers below it are presented in more detail in a supplement called Capital of the Borderlands (available at $20 and above pledge level). With every bonus goal, we'll expand the city and sewer levels!"

But its more then just a simple homage, when the PC's enter the lower levels of a dungeon such as the Caves of Chaos or even your home campaign they're treading on the entrances to the Underworld.
That wasn't by accident folks. The fact is that many early old school dungeons had levels or rooms that I've played in connected with the Underworld. In Dave Hargraves three Arduin books you've got the twenty two Hells & they're ripe with fallen cities, ancient ruins of alien civilizations, etc.

The Lovecraft circle of writers including Clark Ashton Smith all cite to varying degrees different aspects of the Underworld.  H.P. Lovecraft has his own version of the Underworld & in Lovecraft's novella The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926) we get a glimpse of it.But there were hints of the alien nature of the Underworld going all the way back to Edgar Allen Poe & even older writers of weird fiction.
But all of these hint at the Fall of ancient & alien civilizations predating mankind but whose survivals live on in our dreams. Could it be that dungeons are actually sinks of evil which connect to these alien places attracting greater evil. A sort of ecology of madness & depravity which must be cleaned out from time to time lest the surrounding countryside & urban areas be destroyed?!
We get hints of this in Labyrinth Lord's Realms of Crawling Chaos but elsewhere in the Labyrinth Lord rules set. This actually goes back to original Dungeons & Dragons even the Basic/Expert rules have it with.

Make no mistake the mythos of H.P Lovecraft is chaos, horror, & insanity unbound, its the evil outside the door & its scratching to come in. Rpg Pundit's Dark Albion setting & Dark Albion's Cults of Chaos are perfect for rooting out & destroying the mythos in an inquisitor style game. All of this ties in perfectly with the dream worlds of Lord Dunsany where the Underworld is used to extremely good effect and he's essential reading for anyone looking to create solid dungeon worlds. 
When it comes to tying all of this in with science fantasy here's where it counts:
  1. There are always hints of an ancient & forgotten civilization which is often alien & corrupt but don't give out too much detail during adventures let the players fill in the details. 
  2. The hint of chaos is in the monsters & dungeon surroundings, again the adventure location is everything. 
  3. Let the players do all of the heavy lifting when it comes to getting the most out of the science fantasy or the fantastic 
  4. The adventure play is everything & the players have a good time but let them earn it in sweat, blood, and mud 
  5. The Lovecraft circle of writers isn't the end all. Be sure to expand your scope into other writers to provide you the DM with everything.
  6. Spare the treasure in favor of the mundane as well was the fantastic. Don't over indudge the players in this setting.

Next time more OSR material, the dangers of the other Apocalyptic Events of Mythology & the dungeons