The Hill is filled with monsters, they say, and an evil witch makes her home there. Still, no visitor to The Hill has ever returned to prove the rumors true or false. The thrill of discovery is too great to pass up, and only the river stands in the way. The adventurers' boat is waiting!" This is the beginning of the affair as they push into the temperate and unforgiving wilderness. Here the old ruins lay after the Green Death has taken down everything. The wilderness has come to reclaim everything and ruins are overgrown with the weight of ages. Scattered like islands of civilization are minor city states & kingdoms that have endured the centuries. Half inbred & decedent nobble families vie in warfare that only weakens them and ancient horrors from beyond the Outer Darkness prowl the forests.
There are towns(more like settlements) that have sprung up here and there along the rivers. But there are dark things in the night, "The Hill is filled with monsters, they say, and an evil witch makes her home there. Still, no visitor to The Hill has ever returned to prove the rumors true or false. The thrill of discovery is too great to pass up, and only the river stands in the way." Here you put together the ingredients for a fully realized sword & sorcery campaign. The legacy of Hyperborea is just under the roots of trees that have sprung up. The half breed remains of a once proud people are found in the forests while the degenerate remains of the giants children the hobgoblins seek your life at every turn then there is the matter of the witch
& her machinations.
There is life beyond death, I know, and I know this, too, Conan of Cimmeria"--she rose lithely to her knees and caught him in a pantherish embrace--"my love is stronger than any death! I have lain in your arms, panting with the violence of our love; you have held and crushed and conquered me, drawing my soul to your lips with the fierceness of your bruising kisses. My heart is welded to your heart, my soul is part of your soul! Were I still in death and you fighting for life, I would come back to the abyss to aid you--aye, whether my spirit floated with the purple sails on the crystal sea of paradise, or writhed in the molten flames of hell! I am yours, and all the gods and all their eternities shall not sever us!"
Robert Howard "Queen of the Black Coast" (1934)
There are rumors in some of the forest villages of Lirdrium Arkayz a wizard who seeks to know about the Hyperborean ruin know as the Rock. "The road to The Rock leads to danger and hidden peril - dangers that have claimed the lives of many brave adventurers. Rashness and folly will lead to quick death, but riches await the clever and the brave." this is the talk of old women & cunning folk. There are forest demons and other horrors that await the brave or foolish if they journey to the Rock. There are many leagues between here and that pile of rot and ruin.
The city state of Tuma has many opportunities for the wise and willing adventurer, the Rock is a place of death and destruction though, its trails and byways are dangerous & deadly.
But the wilds and wilderness of this trackless country has many challenges including the impenetrable Dymrak forest where rumors of cults, strange things & even trolls await you fools after growing fat & foolish sampling the pleasures of the city of Kelven. "Barely one day's march from Kelven, the uncharted tracts of the Dymrak forest conceal horrors enough to freeze the blood of civilized folk. Those who have ventured there tell how death comes quick to the unwary - for the woods at night are far worse than any dungeon.
But you are adventurers, veterans of many battles, and the call of the wild is strong. Will you answer the call, or are you afraid of the dark terrors of the night?"
So this sort of a sword & sorcery campaign cycle for use with Astonishing Swords & Sorcerers of Hyperborea or Adventurer, Conqueror, King. This grouping of modules provides the DM with hundreds of miles of manageable wilderness set in a proto Russian campaign setting rife with opportunity and danger. Here the sun doesn't even touch the ground! There are influences of Hyperborean, Norse, Russian, and far weirder influences still.
How does this work? Well this series of modules is put together in a rather large stretch of wilderness kingdoms that have become intertwined with the Green Death. Huge swath of abandoned cities, ruins, etc. have returned to the wilderness. This is prime real estate waiting for the right adventurers to carve out their own domains but even while Hyperborea has gone on with itself. These lands have become reoccupied & inhabited by monsters, men, and demons. This is the perfect time to introduce monsters from the Fiend Folio Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition into Hyperborea especially those monsters with an Eastern or Near Eastern Russian style flare. Everything from throat leeches to apparitions are perfect fodder to throw in. They'll be completely unexpected and very dangerous to PC's.
So how do these old school resources match up and why go this route? Well there are several reasons why this is going to work and work out very well. The fact is that each of the above modules have factions, ideas, adventure hooks, etc. all relating to the wilderness elements of old school gaming. Here's ten reasons why the 'B' series is perfect adventure fodder for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea:
- Horror on the Hill has some really choice pulpy elements that a DM can exploit & use to motivate his adventurers and especially the players. These factions and encounters are really well done if used correctly. The wilderness is actually manageable for the DM even though it looks 'huge' on paper.
- Classic adventure can be given the AS&SH twist to get the players to be a bit off guard especially if they've played these classics before. Look to mythology and legend for a plethora of influences that you can use.
- Journey To The Rock can be twisted a bit to provide further adventure hooks by limiting the paths or later opening them up for more adventure! The plots hooks & encounters are already built in.
- The expanding frontier of adventure is perfect for the adventurers to actually be the ones to be exploited instead of the natives! This means they might end up penniless and very desparate!
- Picts and minor undead are your friends! Have a favorite Russian or Mongolian animal? Create a fictional tribe of NPC's based on it and go to town! Twist the Picts by making them far more 'civilized' then the city state dwellers! Turn the city state into a cannibal nation ala Edgar Rice Burroughs.
- Do you have dungeon or adventure location of ruins that you've always wanted to run? Now is the opportunity to throw it into the mix. With miles of abandoned cities and ruins there is the opportunity to throw in anything and get away with it.
- Witches, hags, and horrors are perfect NPC's to throw at the players these are corner stones of this style of adventure campaign. Conan literally ran into hundreds of these in the Marvel comics and magazines. Perfect excuse to exploit these for your gain. There is a strong Norse influence felt throughout this sort of a campaign. Use tons of NPC's with these influences to help reinforce the adventure aesthetic. Traders, merchants, slave traders are all found wandering though and selling their wares.
- Never underestimate the power of Indian or Mongolian monsters. There are literally hundreds of these monsters that never get used in traditional D&D games now is the time to change that. These can be used as boss monsters especially with Adventurer, Conqueror, King's sink of evil rules!
- Vampire species make perfect Hyperborean undead nobles and horrors use them.
- There are several Lovecraftian elements in these adventures use each and everyone of them to their fullest extent.
"Conan stood paralyzed in the disruption of the faculties which demoralizes anyone who is confronted by an impossible negation of sanity." Robert Howard "The Devil in Iron" (1934)