Sunday, May 5, 2013

Outlanders Shadow Scourge By Mark Ellis As Source Book For Your Old School Post Apocalyptic Campaign

From The Back Of The Book. 
The bayous of Louisiana, steeped in magic and voodoo, are the new epicenter of a dark, ancient evil. Kane, a renegade enforcer of the new order, is now a freedom fighter dedicated with fellow insurrectionists to free the future from the yoke of Archon power.
 Never has a blurp on the back of a paperback not done a novel justice. In case your not familiar with the Outlander background material here's a quick background note from Wiki: 
Set in the same fictional universe as the Deathlands series but separated by a century,Outlanders follows the adventures of a core group of explorers, Kane, Grant, Brigid Baptiste and Domi who operate out of a secret military base known as the Cerberus Redoubt.
Although both Deathlands and Outlanders bear the "James Axler" byline, the latter series is primarily (although not exclusively) written by its creator Mark Ellis whereas multiple authors produce Deathlands.
 This adventure finds the heroes dealing with slowly uncovered the truth behind the barons, the Archons and the nuclear holocaust and finally the hidden history of humanity. 
They end up dealing with vampire cults, vodoo and some real pulptastic page turning moments. The action is heavy and the writing mostly fluid. It lags in a few points but for the most part allow the reader some real shocks. 
In Shadow Scourge (2000), the heroes contend with Ocajinik and its minions, cult, and rites. The book is one of my favorites of the Outlander series. 
We get a few real reveals into the world of the knowledge and technology of the Anunnaki. Any DM running a Mutant Future or any Post Apocalypse rpg should check this one out. The fact is that Ellis weaves the Lovecraft elements right into the world of the Outlanders. This book really shows what can be done when a DM wants to provide the PC's with a elements such as those seen in Realms of Crawling Chaos into a truly unique background. 

A Matter of Cults And Chaos 

The heroes contend with Ocajinik, apparently one of H. P. Lovecraft’s Old Ones. But this is only half of the story here. The book shows the cult of the Old One and the underpinnings of it as part of  the fabric of society. This could be used as a basis for a game involving not only the cult but the history of such an abomination within a world's ecosystem and social fabric. Another thing I noticed was the author's pacing of the action. Getting each encounter tight, fast, and viable for the characters. 
There are enough background here to allow one to expand the hold that such a creature might have upon a community. All in all this is a solid novel that a DM could pull at least enough ideas from for several games or an extended campaign. My only complaint was that there wasn't more. Seriously certain elements needed a bit of a heavier hand by Ellis. 
Outlanders Shadow Scourge As OSR Source book 
According to wiki : 
"Employing conspiracy theories and myths from all cultures as underpinnings, Outlanders quickly distanced itself from the survivalist tone of Deathlands and struck out in new directions, providing explanations and a backstory for many of the unresolved science-fiction elements in the earlier series"  
While this approach works for the novels of Mark Ellis this is especially true here where he finds his voice as the creator and originator of Axlerverse. Artifacts and PA relics take on importance in this novel as life or death points in the story not simply another "treasure" to be found. Its an important point to which the DM should also not be afraid to use. Take an alien artifact and make it sing as part of the back story. 
Another issue is the balance of the encounters. There is an element of horror survival here in this novel. It grabs the characters by the throat and moves the action along.
The atmosphere of the novel and community within the novel is as much an NPC as the monster seen within it.  
 Many of the "unresolved science-fiction elements" present in games needs to be solved in the first three adventures. They should and need to be tied into tighter plot points much later to build curiosity and pace. I'm not saying to write a script but allow the players some real solid breathing room with PA relics, forbidden tech, and alien gizmos. This novel uses that technique at least three times. 
My biggest complaint with this novel as sourcebook is three fold. One there is no such source book for a table top rpg of any type. Two the novel is not as self contained as other Outlander novels. Three there needs to be more expansion on the setting of the novel. I was left feeling like I wanted to know more about the place 
Outlanders Shadow Scourge is by no means perfect  but it could provide a DM with a blueprint to work for a game of Mutant Future with a good solid dose of Realms of Crawling Chaos thrown in. This novel could work as a source for an off world colony.  
Is  Ocajinik the only one of his his kind in the area? Could this thing be from a fantasy world trapped within the confines of the Outlanderverse? Could this in fact be a bridge gap between your Mutant Future game and Labyrinth Lord campaign setting? Sure it could. 
The novel's environs could be dropped ad hoch into any fantasy world and they'd work as a great jump off point. 

On Line Support : 
You can get more Outlanders background right over HERE On Wiki 


  1. Sounds cool. I'll have to check it out.

  2. Hope you like it as much as I do Jeremy! There's more PA action coming up! Thanks for the comment. That one is a favorite of mine.


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