Monday, February 3, 2014

Review and Commentary Vault of the Ages (1952.Winston) - Poul Anderson For Your Old School Space Opera Campaign

Download It Right Over
Years ago I received this book from a friend. Recently, I've been looking into actually using some of the ideas here. This is one of Paul Anderson's first novels and while it is a juvenile book and another in the Winston series. It also has the whole post apocalytpic interstellar Dark Ages cross over thing going for it. Much of the ideas here sound like they came out of 'A Canticle for Liebowitz' but this is pure adventure and much less depressing then that classic.
The basic plot goes something like this: 
'Five hundred years from now, rival groups battle for the contents of a vault containing remnants of 20th century civilization which could guide their society out of its primitive state.'

Weirdly enough this novel might make a great cross over point for a game of Stars Without Number and OD&D. I've used the vault several times as a jump off point for several one shots over the last couple of years. 

Using The Vault of the Ages For Your Old School Space Operas 

There are at least three options that come to mind for using the Vault of The Ages. One is to simply use the basic plot as an adventure to get your O level PC's into space or taken by the ancients. This method has worked several times to cross Labyrinth Lord over into Mutant Future as well another mechanism to deal with space issues in Gamma World. Two is using Vault as a sort of 'Foundation Series' style time capsule for a very Dark Ages Style planet. 
If we take a deeper look into the plot we get more solid idea of the themes that were're dealing with. 
From an  Amazon review : 

The story is set in the Alleghenies roughly 500 years after a nuclear holocaust, Vault of the Ages tells the story peaceful farming tribes vs. fierce warriors. Carl, our lead hero and son of the village Chief is responsible for trading with the people from the ruined city to obtain metal and other needed materials form the remains of skyscrapers etc...

Carl and his companions discover a "time vault," basically a large time capsule remaining from the pre-holocaust civilization, containing numerous tools, books, models of apparatus and more depicting the sciences that have since been lost. With the aid of the newly discovered sciences and much common sense he is able to help his people.

Because of  the nature of 'Vault of the Ages', I used the book several times now with W2 for Stars Without Number. 'Relics of The Lost Age' is just the sort of artifacts, things, and nastiness that might be lurking in the vault of the novel.

You can get this one right over
I'm not going to lie, years and years back I ran across 'Vaults of the Ages' in my grammar school library and used in a rather sneaky little crossover campaign. For months my players during the regular OD&D game were playing through what they thought was the usual Dark Ages Style OD&D game. It turns out that the world of Vaults of The Ages wasn't their usual campaign world but a level of the Star Ship Warden. 

Of Course that Is Available Right Over

Lately I've used The 'Earth' of  The  Vault of the Ages as a jump off point for a HM Piper Space Vikings style campaign where the culture of the world was merely a forgotten focus for the interstellar one lurking out in the cosmos. The PCs were really put in the cross hairs. Does your world step into the unknown void and risk being plunder and pillage for those rascals from the Sword Worlds, do you stay isolated and content or strike out among the stars, or do you merely build your world into a power allowing your sons and daughters to shine. This last game worked well for both SWN and X plorers where the vault became one of many and the 'dungeons were more then mere toys and play things for the local wizards. 
So what's it going to be? What will be in your version of the Vault of the Ages? Treasures to rebuild your world or treasures to take you to many other worlds. 

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