Monday, May 22, 2017

Some Commentary On ASE1: Anomalous Subsurface Environment By Patrick Wetmore & Free OSR Adventure Resources For Your Old School Campaigns

 ASE1: Anomalous Subsurface Environment By Patrick Wetmore  is one of the most seldom mentioned mega dungeons on the OSR market. This  is a great mix of the traditional old school fantasy & gonzo science fantasy adventure elements packaged around a great campaign world setting all for the Labyrinth Lord rpg system. 
"Put those dark elves back in their box and get your gonzo on! Riches, glory, and super-science await the bold and the clever in the deep places under the ground. This module describes the dinosaur- and wizard-infested future of the Earth, the city of Denethix, and the first level of the megadungeon that beckons from below: the Anomalous Subsurface Environment" This makes this great adventure/campaign setting  to introduce a mix of Mutant Future/Labyrinth Lord without the traditional 'Thundarr The Barbarian' stereo world type that almost every post apocalyptic dungeon master seems to using according the internet. This is a fantasy world where the post apocalyptic is still bubbling right below the surface in a pulpy morass mess just waiting for adventurer's to pop the boil of it!

What started off this whole quest into ASE1, was looking into resources for Labyrinth Lord.  I found  this question on Stack Exchange's rpg section
"How does Swords & Wizardry differ from Labyrinth Lord?' which has a really good breakdown of the two systems. This was followed by,
"What are the differences between Labyrinth Lord and Lamentations of the Flame Princess." There is also this was followed by this little question on Reddit,"Opinions wanted Labyrinth Lord or Lamentations of the Flame Princess"
I have a lot of history with Labyrinth Lord, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, & B/X Dungeons & Dragons as a lot of folks know so I love to cross compare these systems. Finding out how the clock work of a system works is part of the fun for a dungeon master. 
It also makes it easy to move PC's from one setting to another. How is the opening of a mega dungeon such as Anomalous Subsurface Environment going to impact a campaign setting? Its going to be a huge world changing affair actually. Sparking the equivalent of a science fantasy gold rush across a fantasy world.  This is one of the reasons why ASE2-3 is a necessary step for a DM planning on introducing the city of Denethix.

"The Anomalous Subsurface Environment is more than just robots and lasers – it's clowns and dinosaurs, too! Levels 2 and 3 of the critically ignored gonzo megadungeon are finally available – with more classes, more tables, and more cruel and unusual ways to die deep beneath the surface of the post-apocalyptic Earth!" There are going to be other adventurers, rumors, and all kinds of legends surrounding  the Anomalous Subsurface Environment.
This brings me to the free Dungeon of Signs LAND OF 1,000 TOWERS (ASE) ADVENTURE LOCALES which are the perfect way to introduce a party to the whole ASE1 setting. This can be done without dropping the poor bastard adventurers into the deep end. Obelisk of Forgotten Memories  is a low 1-2 level adventure perfect to introduce new PC's into the setting of ASE. Part outdoor adventure & part dungeon it has many of the author's take on the world of ASE. The Wreck of the Anubis adventure is another location adventure designed for parties of adventurers levels 2-3.With a whole different take on the 'lair as adventure' trope of D&D.
The Land of 1000 Towers is a dangerous little setting that can be added into the DM's old school campaign. This brings me to the idea that the mega dungeon as domain level campaign changer. Suddenly the appearance of a mega dungeon heralds a major change in the world setting. This is something that we've seen in a few B/X  or Holmes Dungeons & Dragons adventures.  With the Adventurer,Conqueror, King rpg system this leads ASE dungeon being a huge influence on politics, warfare, fashion, etc. across the whole range of society. Nations might go to war over the resources the mega dungeon offers, cities  could have their entire social dynamic changed, and more. The religious implications of this location are huge for an on the ground sword & sorcery setting especially one set in an alternative  Age of Sail or post Roman empire.

This brings me to the 'FALLEN EMPIRE' setting adventures of Dungeon of Signs, there's some really good pulpy sword & sorcery stuff here. 'Lone Colossus of the Akolouthos Sink' is a weird pulpy adventure for 1-5 level PC's in the guts of a war machine.  Stone Ships  is an experiment in random dungeon generation  for level 1-4 PC's that includes blood sucking monkeys & there's more. Just go and download the whole lot of it. Its that good. Of course I'm going to try working 
the Anomalous Subsurface Environment adventure  into Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. The city of Denethix & the surrounding countries could be used as another world with doors onto Hyperborea which would be the best route. There are some damage thresholds that would have to adjusted from Labyrinth Lord to AS&SH especially when it comes to ASE's artifacts. My advice is to use AS&SH as the back bone system & convert damage on the fly as needed.

ASE might actually be another remanent of 'Old Earth' in another world in the form of a mega dungeon location. Given the races,classes, etc. there are lots of lost world potential here with cross overs making things very dangerous & dicey for parties of adventurers.
'Hel's Crow's Final Rest'  is a great adventure for low level Viking parties for AS&SH as well.  Adrift on the Sea of Love has all of the charm of a pirate with scurvy in a good way and would also work for a low level AS&SH party with a pirate focus.

You can grab The FALLEN EMPIRE LOCALES Adventures
  In The Middle Of The Download Page & LAND OF 1,000 TOWERS (ASE) ADVENTURE At The End.

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