Boy, did I stir up a hornet's nest among my friends locally when they took a look at my latest little mash up campaign idea when I proposed combining Warriors of the Red Planet & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea for a Mars Campaign Setting. Well just to piss them off further I'm going to talk about taking it further and then tomorrow at sometime I'll bring the whole OSR affair into a classic era TSR module. No not the one your thinking of.
I mentioned about using a post Colonial Mars of Burroughs, the Northwest Smith stories (1933–1936) by C. L. Moore & the Mars stories published between 1940 and 1964 by Leigh Brackett. And using this in conjunction with Clark Ashton Smith's Lovecraftian Mars. I was charged with the fact that there was very little Lovecraftian about the above writers various works. "Brackett was known as the Queen of Space Opera, and famous for a series of vivid planetary romance adventures, particularly those of Eric John Stark." Her works are intimately connected with both Lovcraftian elements & a post Colonial Edgar Rice Burroughs style solar system. In fact the Leigh Brackett (ology) by Blue Tyson has an extensive breakdown of her various works & their elements. Its a free download that is essential reading for the dungeon master who wants to use her public domain stories as a part of such a hybrid campaign.
Leigh Brackett's Future History is another free download by the same author & is an incredible help for setting up such a campaign.
So what does this have to do with North West Smith? C.L. Moore's North West Smith character often found himself at odds with various ancient and very Lovecraftian alien gods. "North West Smith stories often involve ancient alien beings who have been worshiped as gods. This theme is similar to the tales of H. P. Lovecraft though, unlike Lovecraft's tales, Moore provides a hero who always manages to win out over hopeless odds. " If we look further into the North West Smith stories the various settlements, towns, etc of the stories give a really good feel for the Martian city states of the humans. A mix between a post apocalyptic Old West style settlement & an interplanetary space port with various ancient decadent alien cultures of the solar system mixing together. The perfect breeding ground of the sorcerers of the black gate faction and group. An anti human & alien colonial group similar to the ones seen in Eighteenth & Nineteenth century China of Old Earth history.
C.L Moore's Works Can Be Downloaded Here
Now I've mentioned Warriors of the Red Planet which has Black Gate magicians in it which are an NPC or PC option for play. I think you're looking at one of the most dangerous factions on Mars. Take Black Gate magicians and use the PC classes of Wizard or Necromancer from Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea again as the back bone system to run these bastards. These things are total servants of the darkness & would feel right at home serving the black empire of Mar's former rulers from Clark Ashton Smith's Mars stories. This faction is one of most insidious because every level of Martian society would have been infiltrated by this cult like society. There might even be nation state governments secretly controlled by such a faction. Because of the Burroughs connection there is an assassin (PC/NPC) arm of these wizards, mentalists, & more. This brings forward the horror aspect of Clark Aston Smith's cycle of stories.
These stories are of course the Mars stories & give a good overview of the deadly & terror filled creeping underworld of Smith's Old Mars rulers, races, & the eldritch horror that hides in the dark.
- Dweller in the Gulf, The (1933)
- Mnemoka (1955) Fragment
- Vaults of Yoh-Vombis, The (1931)
- Vulthoom (1935)
- Seedling of Mars or The Planet Entity [plot by - E M Johnson] (1931)[An alternative background to the proceeding 4 stories]
But how could a dungeon master run these stories of planetary sword & terror? The simplest way is too make one area or former empire country setting the confined area of these horrors. Ignarh the capital of C.S. Smith's Mars is a decadent den of ancient inequity & Martian sleazy. The type of place that is perfect for adventurers,outlaws, and type of sword & sorcerous scum that PC's seem to gravitate towards.
These are old worlds where the face of evil exists in strange & exotic ways among aliens far more ancient then mankind. This is a world of survivals from beyond the pale of mankind & we'll get into more coming up. Remember to keep those dice rolling.
Note that this is for personal use only and is not an attempt to violate the copyright or trademark of The Warriors of the Red Planet rpg or The Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Neither is this an attempt to violate the trademarks nor copyrights of the authors named. Sword and Stitchery would like to thank the Elder Dark Website for their continued work on the behalf of Clark Aston Smith. All material herein comes under the heading of fair use.
Ideas & opinions to follow are the copyright & trademark of the author & Dark Corner Productions