Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Using Classic TSR Era D&D B/X Adventures For An Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Campaign Path Plus Free OSR Adventure Resources

So I've been thinking about running PC's through some basic adventures for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea but I need some old school options to get the player's juices going. Fortunately I've got several real world friends who have run several player groups through classic TSR era adventures and modules.

I've been talking with some folks in the real world about Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea; customizing the sword & sorcery setting to fit into a more pulp 'on the edge' of the dangerous wilderness & wanton ruins sort of mode. So I started to dig back through old notes & blog posts of adapting 1st edition AD&D & B/X D&D modules for an adventure path that emulates the sort of a feel that I'm going for. This adventure path might include the following classic TSR era ones& beyond :
B2 Keep on the Borderlands but then I'd take a left at Judge's Guild & use Frontier Forts of Kelnor create more ruined forts along the borders of Hyperborea left vacate by the Green Death.
Then I'd run the PC's through  the free OSR adventures of
RC Pinnel aka Thorkhammer's XS1: Luln &
XS1A: The Ward of Wereskalot  both of which contain OD&D &  adventure elements that echo the Keep On The Bordlerlands ethos. So some assembly is required for AS&SH. This is going to get players ready for
X1 Isle of Dread which could include a lot of the Free Threshold
Issue 3: The Sea of Dread & Issue 4: The Sea of Dread material but a lot of adaption is required here. 
Some of the material found in those two issues could lead the PC's across the face of Hyperborea into the desert regions which takes them into the classic  B4 The Lost City. The Lost City is vast & could be used as another Hyperborean lost colony deep within the desert interior of  Hyperborea itself. It could contain vast dangers to the outside world that if not dealt with could be very dangerous to the continued existence of mankind on the face of Hyperborea.

There's more then enough room to include the Iron Ring of B10 as a subfraction of the weird remains of the Elemental Evil cult of The Lost City. The humanoid races of the Lost City are actually degenerate Hyperboreans warped by the presence of the evils of the cult of the demon god  Zargon. Finally the Lost City adventure location leads deeper into the Hyperborean countryside which resembles the a weird Russian interior ala B10. Why B10? 

There is a lot that can be done with 'The Lost City' module especially by taking Hyperborean adventurers deeper into the Lower Catacomb's dungeons and mysteries. This could raise AS&SH adventurers beyond the limits of the game's PC's levels.

B10 Night's Dark Terror is a good module to expand the PC's horizon's deep into AS&SH's adventure domains & possibly into extensions of Hyperborean politics and domain play.

"B10 Nights Dark Terror -
The module begins in a beleaguered farmstead. The PCs then explore more than 20,000 square miles (52,000 km2) of wilderness, with eighteen locations, including a number of mini-dungeons, a ruined city, a riverside village, a frontier town, and a lost valley, with the minions of the Iron Ring waiting for the PCs at every step."

By dropping out the usual D&D races & trappings then just concentrating on the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea PC gaming & setting elements B10 goes into a pulpy adventure module with tons of campaign play.

I've been thinking of the usual humanoid and goblinoid races which could be all that remains of the Hyperboreans, degenerate and dangerous beastly things mixed with traces of alien demonic blooded horrors from beyond the pale of Hyperborea.

Because these modules are now available on Drivethrurpg & Rpgnow with a print option its not hard to figure that they'd make excellent fodder for a sword & sorcery campaign. Especially B10 would can easily be customized as the dungeon master needs or wants.

Cosmic Hi Jinks - Commentary On Nexus's The Infinite City rpg & First Comics Series Warp With Even More OSR Overtones

My working/playing  copy of Nexus The Infinite City so used with the cover worn off.

So I spent the last couple of days in the presence of the royal family of Cynosure, yeah that's right we're in for more Nexus The Infinite City & First Comics commentary. So the Wikipedia entry on the pan dimensional city of Cynosure reads;"
Cynosure is a fictional pan-dimensional city that exists within the First Comics multiverse.[1][2][3] It is described as floating in a "bubble" in the "pan-dimensional vortex." Because of its unique situation, Cynosure is an important center of multi-versal commerce and much of the city's government is geared toward maintaining favorable trading conditions.
Different zones of the city operate under different physical laws because of the proximity of other dimensions. Guns and other technology work in some parts of the city and not others. Similarly, magic is operable some places and not others. Swords generally work everywhere. Different dimensions variously move in and out of phase with Cynosure, regularly in some instances and randomly in others. Occasionally dimensions will seemingly exist entirely within the confines of Cynosure, as for example the so-called "snowball dimensions" which roam throughout the city, or at "Infinity Lanes," a bowling alley in which each lane is a separate dimension.
Perhaps the most noted resident of Cynosure is John Gaunt, also known as Grimjack. His fate is uniquely tied to that of the city, as he is doomed to be reincarnated for as long as the city exists. This doom came about when Gaunt voluntarily walked out of Heaven to save the life of a friend who, if he were to die, would have been condemned forever to Hell. It is through Grimjack's experiences during two of his incarnations (Gaunt and James Twilley) that much of what is known about Cynosure was revealed."  Its also completely wrong & our favorite pan dimensional city predates Grimjack by an entire comic book series and setting. Going all of the way back to 1983 when Warp issue #1 premiered with 'The Coming of  Lord Cumulus'  a cover by the classic Frank Brunner graced the cover .

Wait, what the heck is Warp? "Wasn't that a comic book style super hero broad way play way back in the 1970's & early 80's? " , the hard core comic book fans reading this  are saying this  right now. Yes it was.
"Warp!, also spelled Warp, was an American science-fiction play created at Chicago, Illinois' Organic Theatre Company in 1971 by co-authors Stuart Gordon and Lenny Kleinfeld, the latter under the pseudonym Bury St. Edmund"
Issue one follows the 1973 broad way production of Warp!  pretty closely except with a few minor but points.
"David Carson, an everyday bank teller, learns that he is Lord Cumulus, "avenger of the universe & protector of Cynosure ". Suddenly transported from an annual employee-awards dinner to the mystical realm Fen-Ra, he finds himself battling for the destiny of the multi universe  against his brother &  antagonist  Prince Chaos. In this world, he encounters the sage & wizard Lugulbanda who sends him on his quest aided by the leather-clad Amazon warrior Sargon Mistress of War. They battle Valaria the insect sorceress and Chaos' henchman, the purple ape Symax"
Here's where things get interesting the citizens of Fen Ra are essentially gods not unlike DC comics New Gods or The Externals. God like cosmic beings who have all of the foibles of humanity with all of that power eternal. Lord Cumulus is one of the biggest jerks I've encountered in science fantasy, he's like this over the top Prince Charming on steroids with the power cosmic who messes things up. In fact the entire line of citizens are flawed & many are betrayers throughout the series. The families & citizens of Fen Ra have a lot in common with the Roman gods of mythology & more modern incarnations of  flawed demi gods such as featured in the work of Roger Zelazny's  Amber and the Courts of Chaos.
These holy royal bloodlines all back reference P.J. Farmer's World of Tiers series of novels which also uses and exploits many of the Golden & pulp age setting ideas & world building. That series also back references one of my all time favorite myth makers  William Blake's mythology.
"The Jadawin family (or at least their names) are taken from William Blake's mythology.[2] This mythology is referred to by the characters in the stories (mainly in The Gates of CreationRed Orc's Rage, and More than Fire)." "

This series was later homaged (ripped off) for the classic & some what infamous rpg system  Lords of Creation by Tom Moldvey for  Avalon Hill. The World of Tiers was also talked about in the classic
From the City of Brass to Dead Orc Pass in One Easy Step
Alts: Theory and use of gates: From the city of Brass... to dead Orc Pass in a Dragon magazine article in issue #37 & The Best of Dragon #2.

This all ties back into the roll of Lord Protector of Cynosure really. How? Well way back in Warp issue #7 we learn about Cynosure and that earlier incarnations of Lord Cumulus was the Lord Protector of the pan dimensional city

"The Lord Protector of Cynosure is an artificial being constructed from cells and energies representing all of the various dimensions. As a result, The Lord Protector is charged with vast reality warping powers to be used in the preservation of the city. During Gaunt's time, the Lord Protector was Phaeton. He was killed and possessed during Dancer's second rebellion and Gaunt and his allies created a new Lord Protector from a cloned being infused with the essence of a sorceress called Sphinx. It is unknown if there continues to be a Lord Protector in Twilley's time. Lord Cumulus also spent much time on Cynosure and was idolized by the citizens. After his untimely death, many others including Phaeton tried to replace him. "

This in fact was the set up for the Demon Wars for when the last issue of Warp wrapped up there were a lot of loose ends that were picked up in later issues of  Grimjack. Personally I was always a Prince Chaos fan (the brother to our 'hero') & a 10th level super scientist in his own right with the ego to match. He's so over the top that he deserves his own blog entry on his own but that's another time.

So what's all of this have to do with Nexus The Infinite City & Gamma World First & Second Edition? There is a lot of water under the bridge with this one so excuse me if I take my time with Warp. There were a lot of realities that were left broken & time lines screwed up in the wake of the disappearance of both Lord Cumulus & Prince Chaos. These also included several dimensional realities where the Ancient's touch off the apocalypse because of their absence. In fact the ending of this series paved the way for Starslayer & Grimjack.

Warp exploited a lot of comic book pardon the pun here comic book tropes & with the disappearance of Lord Cumulus at its end set in motion a series of cosmic events that I turned into full blown campaign cycles that the PC's had to wrap up. They never even encountered Fen Ra but they sure did encounter a number of trade house NPC's & several PC's that traced their watered down royal  blood back to Fen Ra, The Courts of Amber, William Blake's various mythological family members. Later I would use Warp as a sort of blue print to create my own arching families of flawed demi gods for deeper Nexus The Infinite City play.

Warp by First comics is so over the top that it's a great resource for not only Nexus but Dungeon Crawl Classics and other OSR systems! May you never get fleas from the fur of the
purple ape Symax!

Keep em rolling folks!

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

Monday, February 27, 2017

Running A Sword & Sorcery Mystery Campaign As A Viable Old School Setting Option

The legends speak of another world of the past, a world where adventure was just around the corner. That world was a long time ago! Things have changed much, the legends & myths foretold by our ancestors came to pass. Now things are very dangerous for there are monsters that come from the Shadowdeep and worse now! Welcome to Mystara Reborn!

So this little request appeared on G+ today with the following heads up from Brett Slocum, "You might want to read +Eric Fabiaschi's blog. He has a lot of insight into making a setting more Swords & Sorcery-styled" the gentlemen in question's blog post has a good start but let's go in another direction.
but work & real life got in the way but that's another blog post. Let's kick this into epic mythological high gear, the Ragnarok spoken of in numerous places in Mystara happens!

Let's say that events at the end of Wrath of the Immortals went very wrong & something broke with the spell of preservation in the Hallow World. Ragnorok happened! Numerous pieces of ancient City of the Gods technology have been uncovered by the upheavals of land & oceans boil across Mystara. The Elves & Dwarven Immortals walk the land as numerous human champions return to the world from beyond. Humanoid & Giant races hidden in communities have emerged as Drow tribes & champions rise from within as the sun turns the color of sack cloth. The way has been paved by numerous demonic cults and factions over the centuries.
There is betrayal from within the Immortals court & double crosses.

Engines of destruction are seized & these are used across the face of Mystara & entire populations are laided low. There are swaths of wastelands created as the destruction happens on an unprecedented level. This cracks the local space time continuum & the demon lords such as Orcus & Juiblex run ramrod over parts of Mystara.  Orcus leads the faceless hordes of undead across the world. Demogorgon raises wild in the hills as his cults take village after village.

There are rumors and signs that the Egg of Croot and his forces are behind many of these dire events! Once more the enemy of all Blackmoor has made its presence felt in the world and the world buckles & changes under its ministrations! Ancient orders of paladins & knights are needed to root out the horror of the Egg! The ancient Elemental Evil cult iwith its deep and mysterious ties to the Egg from Threshold
Issue 11: Thyatis and Alphatia has deep roots wound around the world of Mystara and in this new world are going to be major enemies and evils.

 Just when all seems lost and world of Mystara is going down that final spin into the Abyss 'The Spell of Preservation' cracks and breaks! From numerous tunnels and byways out pours the ancient heroes & peoples to take back what's there's! The Grand Battle Is Joined! Everything changes!
Nothing is ever going to be the same again. The weather patterns have changed, the land itself is weird and very dangerous! Monsters & ancient prehistoric beasts that have not been seen in centuries except in lost corners of Mystara now stalk the land! Here's where the Issue Nine of  the freeThreshold magazine comes into play!

Now given the numerous weird technological relics & odd artifacts that have been whispered about in legend a forbidden tribe of Elves is needed. They alone now the forbidden ways & means of these secret & dangerous things. Their blood is also needed to help revive the Elven race which is almost extinct because of the blood shed and warfare. The name of
Blacklore is curse and a forbidden word in numerous households but they alone know the secrets of these legendary artifacts of myth and forbidden legend.

The nasal filter - Male elf, by David Nash

But this is a world of men, cave men, and humanoid races not seen in centuries! Welcome to a world reborn welcome to a world of magic, super science, sorcery, & pulp adventure!
Welcome to Mystara Reborn!

Commentary On The Trinity of Awesome Returns Kickstarter From Kort'thalis Publishing For Your Old School Campaigns

Alright I've known Venger Satanis from the dark days of Alt Cthulhu rpg whatever I've known him to be passionate about his table top gaming. He's one of those writers/designers whose work I've come just put on automatic pilot so it goes to the top of the pile so to speak to run.

But +Venger Satanis  rpg products are not old school necessarily & adult oriented. Yeah, your completely right on that account but his stuff is the some of the most easily adapted O5R stuff into OSR products around. He's been in & a part of the OSR a long while. We're usually on the same page of gonzo old school adventures as me but from a totally different angle which is fine. The basics of his system go something like this;"


On the other hand, all three of my self-created RPGs are simple to learn and use.  Here are the basics - considering the type of character you're playing and present circumstances, you roll 1d6, 2d6, or 3d6 based on the likelihood of success.  
A routine task the character is prepared for would be assigned 3d6.  Another character attempting a difficult action - but still within his wheelhouse - would be assigned 2d6.  Let's say a third character is an accountant by trade, but suddenly he's thrust into a situation where he has to defuse a bomb that's about to explode.  I'd assign a 1d6 for that character's demolition attempt.
Rather than add up these d6, you take the highest result of the dice pool and compare it to the following chart.  Same goes for combat, I'll put the number of damage d6 to be rolled (based upon the result of a character's attack) in brackets.
1 - Critical failure  [miss - and usually something bad happens]
2 - Ordinary failure  [miss, no damage]
3 - Mostly failure or partial success  [miss, no damage... although, there's GM latitude here for something like inflicting minor damage but then incurring an extra attack]
4 - Mostly success  [1d6 damage, exploding]
5 - Success  [2d6 damage, exploding]
6 - Critical success  [3d6 damage, exploding... each additional "6" to-hit result adds yet another d6 of exploding damage]

Yeah like I said its a good way to go folks, for me its really the adventures that I like we get thrust into the deep end of Crimson Dragon Slayer second edition land;
"The Stairway of V'dreen [Eldritch Science-Fantasy for Crimson Dragon Slayer and O5R systems]:  This is a location-based scenario... a weird location.  There are many planes connected to the realms of our world, and some of those dimensions are strange beyond imagining.  V'dreen is one of those weird places, and where its stairway reaches no living or sane man can say.
Each PC will have his own reason for visiting V'dreen - a random table will personalize every character's desire/need.  Reaching the stairway, V'dreen's greatest treasure, will not be easy - alien, mutant dreamland hazards bar the way!
This location will be the most bizarre thing I've come up with yet.  The main Kickstarter picture above gives you an idea of what's in store. But I've got some additional details and a b/w illustration directly below...
Fruiting bodies.  The scent of V'dreen is that of a corpse blooming with strawberry and apricot preserves.  A fragrance that one cannot easily forget.  Pungent jam and jelly intermingling with the sweat of human fornication.
Rumored tales of V'dreen: a magical timepiece is buried in the ground, preventing this place from aging, neither evolving nor decaying.  However, some believe the timepiece to be broken in some way - or perhaps it had always been corrupted - because slavering demons roam free, wizards scry and watch and influence life on V'dreen with their little knobs and levers and buttons... my God, even the tentacles have tentacles!
The stairway leads to an even more distant realm.  It is a personal voyage... the discovery of self-annihilation, where travelers lick savage dreams and ride bareback upon the sparkling-scaled magenta snake-thing with golden eyes coiled at the heart of eternity."

Knowing Glynn from Monkey Blood Designs's artwork & skill the way I do I know where we're going with the next adventure in terms of quality & design work. Venger's cleverness is interesting and no doubt in my mind that he's pulled off something very interesting & entertaining to add to the table top.

High Stakes Q'uay-Q'uar
 [Retro Sleazy Sci-Fi for Alpha Blue]:  The annual Galactic-Series of Q'uay-Q'uar Main Event - sponsored by every lifeform's favorite grape beverage Purple Prizm - is about to convene.  It's a high-stakes gambling tournament not to be missed!  The PCs have various reasons (based on a random table, of course) for attending.
Chances are, they owe someone money or someone owes them.  Traditionally, the Q'uay-Q'uar Main Event is when outstanding gambling debts are settled.  And whatever amount is still owed from last year, once the final Q'uay-Q'uar wager of the tournament has been made, determines weeks, months, or even years of servitude.
Once there, gambling, interactions between degenerate lifeforms, a surprise visit from an old girlfriend, and an unexpected murder keep the PCs occupied, entertained, and struggling to figure things out while trying to survive, make a few credits on the side, and get their space rocks off.
I've created this game called Q'uay-Q'uar (which means "purple-yellow" in the Q'tari language).  Q'tarians are reptilian crystalline beings who believe in predestined fate, rather than individuals struggling to make their own destiny.
Glynn Seal of Monkey Blood Design is turning my terrible-looking prototype into something awesome that can be printed-out and used right at your game table.

Alright so there's another piece in the Alpha Blue setting. This is like one of those gambling games we used to see in the old 1970's Battle Star Galactica episodes and always wanted to play but couldn't. Well now you can.
There's some very weirdly awesome cover art but you can see that at the Kickstarter page. But I have a feeling that Venger is actually a very frustrated Neo Noir Lovecraftian mystery writer because we get a brand new Outer Presence adventure;"
His Flesh Becomes My Key [Pulp / Investigative Horror scenario for The Outer Presence]:  There's a serial killer on the loose.  The killer is carving strange glyphs in his or her victim's flesh.  These glyphs looked like they were starting to add up to something, possibly a clue to help the police understand the serial killer and eventually catch him or her.  
Unfortunately, the lead forensic investigator on the case, Richard Black (a friend to one or more of the PCs), has mysteriously vanished. 

The PCs can try to help the police by starting their own investigation into this enigmatic serial killer... that will also hopefully reveal the whereabouts of their missing friend."

Anyhow the Outer Presence rpg is based around an old school horror Lovecraftian Mythos aesthetic but its its really its own rpg system. That being said way back in December of last year I adapted the first Trinity of Awesome +1's A Green Jewel They Must Possess into a space based science fantasy adventure one shot with some friends. Alright bottomline do I think this kickstarter is worth your time and money? In a word? Yes. I've got no dog or pony in this race at all per say but Venger does deliver the goods and more.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Commentary On The Free OSR Resource - Companion Expansion From Barrataria Games For B/X D&D & Retroclone Systems

Ask any OSR blogger or publisher & they'll tell you that they publish for the sheer love the of old school rpg hobby. Today there are literally hundreds of good, solid publishers out there but there are lots that have fallen through the cracks. Which is a shame.

Case in point with  Barrataria Games which produced one of the best damn B/X D&D & retroclone companions out there going all the way back to 2009.
Like I said I'm digging deep here folks but what's in it? Well according to The Companion Expansion presents additional classes, spells, weapons and equipment, creatures and magical items for fantasy roleplaying games for basic- and expert-level players and gamemasters. It includes 8 additional character classes (bard, druid, wildwood elf, gnome, half-elf/half-orc, half-ogre, illusionist, scout), expanded experience, combat, and saving throw tables, two additional types of magic (druid and illusion) and additional magic-user and cleric spells (90 in all), over 130 new or additional creatures (with a comprehensive index and suggested experience point awards), dozens of new or additional magic items, and extended treasure generation tables. There are also expanded spell tables for use with Labyrinth Lord, Basic Fantasy, and Swords & Wizardry.

These rules will be the basis for the WORLD OF STRONGHOLD gazetteer(s) as that setting is further developed. There will be additional or variant monsters and classes presented, and other information including stronghold establishment and management and additional information on maritime adventuring and combat, but I felt that a "world neutral" version could be immediately useful to GMs running basic- and expert- level games."

So what happened to Barrataria Games? 
I don't know but hope that Barrataia is doing well. What happened?  I have no idea at this point but the OSR market isn't an easy place to make a living in.  One thing I've learned about being in this hobby since 1977 is that there are no winners or losers in a zero sum game only to be the last man standing. The idea is to have fun at the table & for this hobby to create new friends and continue gaming with those friends. This needs to happen or the hobby of table top rpging will die a slow death.
Surely some free OSR download from 2009 can't be relevant to today's OSR games? Well actually I would say its even more so. The The Companion Expansion is a tool kit for B/X D&D that can also be used with Labyrinth Lord, Basic Fantasy, and Swords & Wizardry. Which means that it can also be used with Adventurer,Conqueror, King,  Stars Without Number & other retroclone systems with some adjustments. This basically means that your range of material for everything is expanded by three fold. This means you can take your home campaigns up the level  ladder without spending a huge fortune & the quality of material is there.

This companion expands the products of the imagination with new races, classes, kits, etc. all done with NEW thief skills, new spells, monsters and magic items etc. But I've got  the Rules Cyclopedia or the free  Dark Dungeons retroclone system From  Gurbintroll Games. 

That's perfectly fine & this companion actually complements those fine products but the focus here is narrower. This companion focuses on PC expansion with lots of interesting little twists.
Here's my advice if you own B/X D&D or Dark Dungeons, Or any of the retroclone systems  then grab this one too.
Alright So You Can Grab The Companion Expansion From Barrataria Games For Free  Here

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Free OSR Weird Fiction Resources of A.Merritt & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea As Well As Your Old School Campaigns

My schedule has been more then a bit erratic as of late with work to say the least, so I've been dividing up my time over the last couple of weeks here at Casa De Fabiaschi to concentrate on OSR sword & sorcery & pulp material that I already have. This turn of events has not going unnoticed in certain corners of the OSR namely those garage band marketing publishers and firms who are pumping out the usual fire hose of titles. So I've put a moratorium on reviews for the next six months because of work & familial concerns at home. Work has been going like gang busters with work. So  I've had to devote my time to getting articles,blog posts, & whatnot ready to go for readers of this blog. So where does that leave us with? Well. it left me to dip my wick into the deep end of weird fiction for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea in the stacks of my gaming collection. I was specifically looking at AFS magazine issue #4, which if you're lucky enough to have a copy is one of their best. The contents speak for themselves and reads like a whose who of OSR gaming. But there's a specific adventure I'm going to be talking about tonight.

FS Magazine #4   - Table of Contents

New Monster – The Gurondu by Tim ‘Turgenev’ Hartin

Variant Class – The Burglar by Scott Moberly (written for Holmes Basic)

Artifact -  The Iounic Loop – Reimagining the Ring of Gaxx by Allan T. Grohe Jr. (grodog)

Fiction – A Blizzard in the Sahara by Aleister Crowley (1911)

Table of Items – High Value Treasures by Scott Moberly

Variant Class – The Purloiner by Jeff Talanian & Colin Chapman (written for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea)

Adventure – The Lamia’s Heart, An Adventure By Jeff Talanian (set in Hyperborea

For 2–5 Zero Level Thieves)

Table – One Sentence Plot Hooks for Sandbox Gaming by Various (named) authors

Adventure – Theme for a Jackal (an adventure set in Hyperborea for character levels 2-3) by Scott Moberly

Article- Crawling Without Hexes by Chris Kutalik

Map – The Nooks & Crannies Level by Allan T. Grohe Jr. (grodog)

AFS magazine jacked up the idea of OSR fanzine & took it in a different direction. The thing about the OSR material  was the quality of the articles. The magazine covers every retroclone from Swords & Wizardry, AS&SH, & even Holmes Basic. Do yourselves a favor and pick up copies the next time the magazine is published.

Theme for a Jackal  by Scott Moberly really got me thinking about taking AS&SH's Hyperborea in a different direction & showed me a really well done Weird Tales style of campaign kit. The whole issue is outstanding really and acts as a sort of AS&SH preview of coming attractions for AS&SH second edition. But once again I digress. The adventure has a sort of Clark Aston Smith feel mixed with something I couldn't quite put my finger on. Then it hit me early this afternoon, it reminds me of A.Merritt's science fantasy/sword & sorcery pieces of fiction. His life is as interesting as the fiction he wrote & he remains one of my all time favorite writers bare few. His writing have a timeless and almost dreamlike quality that reflects many of the ideas that seem to present themselves in  the Theme For A Jackel adventure and earlier Moberly AS&SH adventures.

If H.P Lovecraft is the father of cosmic horror then A. Merritt is the father of his own pulp style & sure has hell doesn't get his due today. "Merritt's writings were heavily influenced by H. Rider Haggard,[6] Robert W. Chambers,[7] Helena Blavatsky[8] and Gertrude Barrows Bennett (writing as Francis Stevens),[9] with Merritt having "emulated Bennett's earlier style and themes."" Umm. no I think Merritt doesn't emulate but improves upon Bennett's style of writing & makes it his own.

"Merritt's stories typically revolve around conventional pulp magazine themes: lost civilizations, hideous monsters, etc. His heroes are gallant Irishmen or Scandinavians, his villains treacherous Germans or Russians and his heroines often virginal, mysterious and scantily clad." Once again more pulp hand waving dismissive B.S. by Wikipedia. What really set's A.Merritt's work apart is his worlds, settings, originality, & pulpy sensibilities. Many of his novels & stories are now within the public domain. So let's get you some decent public domain downloads
  • The Moon Pool (fix-up, 1919) Grab it Right Here
    (The Moon Pool (1918) + Conquest of the Moon Pool (1919))
  • The Metal Monster (1920) Download Right Here
  • The Ship of Ishtar (1924) Download Right Here
  • Seven Footprints to Satan (1927) Download Here
  • The Face in the Abyss (fix-up, 1931) Download Right Here
    (The Face in the Abyss (1923) + The Snake Mother (1930))
  • Dwellers in the Mirage (1932) Download right here
  • Burn, Witch, Burn! (1932) Grab It Here
  • Creep, Shadow! (1934) Grab it Right Here 
  • A Merritt's Collected Short Stories  Grab That Here.
  • The Challenge From Beyond Features C.L. Moore, A. Merritt, H.P. Lovecraft,Robert E. Howard, Frank Belknap Long & it showcases the vastly different styles of these giants of fantasy as each one picks up and takes over their parts of this entertaining piece of weird fiction. Grab That Here

    I've written extensively about A.Merritt before but he shares a sense of the alien & the lost world ethos that echoes many of the themes & ideas that creep through Astonishing Swords & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. I think that his writings exemplify some of the best of the pulp authors making them perfect fodder for old school campaigns.

    While A Merritt was presented as a part of Appendix N for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragon's first edition Dungeon Master's Guide, he seems almost forgotten today by many of the fans of weird fiction and sword & sorcery literature. His writing reflects many of pop culture ideas of his time about Atlantis that one finds sprinkled throughout his work. There's some really incredible stuff to mine for adventures and campaigns especially for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. He's another writer that I'll be dipping my wick into for this upcoming campaign I've got happening soon.

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