Friday, May 19, 2017

Adapting Shannach - The Last by Leigh Brackett & More To The 'Old Solar System' Campaign Setting

Yesterday I looked at Leigh Brackett's The Jewel of Bas & how it relates to the Old Solar System setting that I've been working on and off for a year now. Partially as an adventure campaign thought exercise & as an actual sandbox play setting. Today I want to re examine Shannach - The Last by Leigh Brackett
What exactly happened to Mercury in The Old Solar System setting? Something similar to what happened across the Old Solar System. The Hyperboreans coped with the destruction of 'Old Earth' as best they could by seeding small minor colonies across the solar system. They tidal locked Mercury, used their super science to terra form it as best they could, seeded it with adaptable life, installed a trans cosmic custodian or small minor race & moved on. They installed a few of their race to oversee the projects and these are some of the factions that PC's might have to deal with. This also a process that they repeated throughout the solar system's asteroid belt & beyond.

Who were these Hyperboreans? Were they a dying race of monstrous overlords? Not quite at all. I think from looking into the stories of Leigh Brackett they were a group of semi religious zealots dealing with the not quite extinction of their belief system. It was really another member of the Lovecraft circle who really added in the creep factor with his Immortals of Mercury. Clark Aston Smith's Immortals of Mercury is a classic and an old favorite of mine.  These Engineer type immortals are in my Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Hyperborean survivors who have fled to Mercury and cut themselves off from contact with outsiders.  They've got living bio engineered suits worth a cool 70,000 to 80,000 gold pieces in the right markets. Good luck trying to leave because Mercury is bombarded by cosmic storms and its tidally locked.

Mercury is a world of campaign micro settings & its own internal Lovecraftian or Smithian ecologies. Its also one of the most important worlds in the Leigh Brackett solar system. Why? Because its the proving ground for her heroes and it can be for your PC's as well. "Once again its Leigh Brackett who gives this planet a Conan style treatment & its a proving ground for some of the most colorful as well as dangerous characters. "
"In Leigh Brackett's short stories (especially "The Demons of Darkside" (1941), "A World Is Born" (1941), "Cube from Space" (1942), and "Shannach – the Last" (1952)), a tidally locked Mercury features a 'Twilight Belt' exposed to dangerous variations in heat and cold and havoc-wreaking solar storms. Some of Brackett's most colorful characters, like Jaffa Storm ("Shadow Over Mars") and Eric John Stark, were Mercury-born."
Mercury is the proving ground of the strong, the smart, the resourceful, & its a world that creates adventurers, outlaws, & outsiders.

If you're looking at a Mercury that has seen the hand of the ancient Hyperboreans. Its a world where PC's might be looking to carve out their own kingdoms or zonal planetary spheres of influence for a game like Adventurer, Conqeuror, King then your going to be having to import followers, etc. to maintain everything. This is a harsh setting & just the type of place that games like Adventurer, Conqueror, King & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea talk about using as the focus for an adventure. Every game & adventure element  about Mercury is going to apply to the asteroid belt, the outer Old Solar System worlds, & beyond.  This almost makes the Mercury seem like the colonial penal colony days of Australia or the American West. "On the Mercurian frontier a small group of volunteers, prisoners from the previous war, struggle to make the world habitable to human life. But, there are those who want the planet for themselves. This story originally appeared in Comet magazine, July 1941"

You Can Download A World Is Born Right Here

This of course is the same style of gambit that players are likely to pull on the DM with Mercury or the minor planetoids in the asteroid belt between Mars & Jupiter. This is fine because it makes perfect sense for an experienced party of adventurers. But their going to have to contend with the factions, monsters, hazards, etc. that they find in these places. But the real question is why were the Hyperboreans hiding? It wasn't simply the extinction of an ancient religious belief system. There's more to it then that. PC's are going to have to contend with the trans cosmic entities that Lovecraft & his circle wrote about. The Outer gods are out there in the void between the Boreas winds and the Outer Darkness waiting for the right moment when the stars are right again. Heavy is the head that wears the crown especially when so many are depending upon basic survival & sanity. The decisions that the king makes effect not only the entire party but perhaps the entire world. The pseudo super science used by the Hyperboreans in the past isn't going to last forever, that means that adventurers are going to be on the hunt for more. This is part of the outlaw & perhaps space pirate angle that one finds so often in these stories, that desparate criminal element that underlies many of Brackett's & Clark Aston Smith's solar system stories. Making this perfect fodder for an "Old Solar System' campaign setting.

There are going to be lots of issues that PC's are going to have to contend with not the least of which is mere survival. PC's who carve out their own trans cosmic domains are going to faced with lots of potential for both adventure & the horrors that await them in the darkness of Mercury.

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 

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