Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Totally Different Take On B10 Night's Dark Terror By Jim Bambra, Graeme Morris, Phil Gallagher For Your Old School Campaign

"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 will is strong. Will you answer the call, or are you afraid of the dark terrors of the night?"

So I've been thinking of aligning the events of the  Thirty Years War  with B10 Night's Dark Terror. 
B10: Night’s Dark Terror (1986) was made  the TSR UK brain trust of Jim Bambra, Graeme Morris, and Phil Gallagher.  You can't possibly use B10 with the Lion & Dragon rpg system?! Right? Wrong given the fact that there are a few improvements in black powder weapons, medicine,etc. from the Medieval period its not a stretch to move the time line forward a bit after the Rose War. Cut the reload time in half, adjust some of the healing checks, update the maps, revamp the religious issues & your ready to go! The Thirty Years war is perfect campaign fodder. We'll see where religion plays it hand in this campaign!
"The Thirty Years' War was a war fought primarily in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648."  Why would Night's Dark Terror work for a Dark Europe game? Fairyland has suffered extensively during the history of the world up till this time. Well sort of.
Fairyland is a collection of heavens, Hells, & pure Chaos where the dreams & souls of mankind are the stuff supernatural fuel. Given the religious nature of the Thirty Years War well this is perfect fodder for bringing goblins back into the world. Certain groups of Elves have been using the cover of the war to move among humanity almost undetected. Wherever Chaos touches or washes against reality we've got mutation, supernatural issues, and the old Elven hills & pagan groves in some places are still opening upon Fairyland. So the Elven courts are taking full advantage of the foolishness of Humanity & in someplaces opening the gates to Fairyland where their own alien wilderness is taking over! That's right Night's Dark Terror is the Elves uncovering the ruins of a former fortress right in the middle of their realm that hasn't been used in centuries. They're going to feed on the souls of those fools who fall into the wilderness to expand their own empire. This means that Night's Dark Terror could be set in Hungry, Bohemia, Austria, or the Black Forrest of Germany.


Don't forget this is a wilderness crawl and it can swallow entire parties quite easily and even with black powder weapons parties can easily die in the blackness of this adventure. I would probably set B10 Night's Dark Terror in the realms of the Hungarian wilderness. The elements of the slavers and more cry out for it. The realms of  Russia are way too far away from the clash of the Thirty Years war. When could this adventure be set? Right around the time of the Bohemian Revolution of 1618.
"The Bohemian Revolt (1618–1620) was an uprising of the Bohemian estates against the rule of the Habsburg dynasty that began the Thirty Years' War. It was caused by both religious and power disputes."
The Thirty Years War is just starting, events are far more up in the air in Europe then they've ever been. And there's rumors of the Devil about in every nock and cranny of Europe especially around the Czech lands.

But B10 Night's Dark Terror is a second level to forth level adventure & players want an adventure path right back into something resembling a character level  ascendancy. Fear not because by using Gary Gygax's  B2 Keep On The Borderlands its possible to get the PC's right into the thick of events!  The PC's are minor noble or upper class adventurers who get themselves sent onto the border of Bohemia or Hungry to look into rumors of supernatural horror. The woods, dungeons, etc of the Caves of Chaos are actually in Fairyland. The keep itself has been touched by the forces of Chaos & everything begins to come together from there. The PC's are low ranking royals whom the various families want out from under foot. They have the important job of investigating the border and they're out of the way of the events of the new Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II, coming to power!

B2 could get PC's up to level second or even third level but B10 Night's Dark Terror is perfect for shunting PC's with Elven fairy slavers taking full advantage of the chaos & fog of war. Even with black powder weapons its not going to make a blind bit of difference against an owlbear or worse.

So why use B10 Night's Dark Terror for Thirty Years War Campaign? Because this is a transition module and takes PC's into the big leagues. Should they survive they'll know of the dangers & possible alien threat that Fairy posses to the world of men. Beyond the petty religious squabbles of Europe there are alien things nipping at the heels of the world.

So how does a dungeon master deal with the serious nature of the Thirty Years War? There are lots of old wounds & prickly bits to deal with. That's actually very simple, you treat them as you would with a bit of humor & go the route of the classic BCC Black Adder television show. Have a good time and make sure everyone is open season and I do mean everyone! Don't leave your players hanging!

Don't worry dear readers I haven't abandoned Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. We've got a hook up campaign & adventure point coming up!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Fury & Horror - The Formorians Ecology In Old School Campaigns

I've been doing an extensive amount of reading into European mythology this week about the Irish, Celtic & its relation to deep significance into the historical events that shaped Europe. This little tidbit on Wikipedia got me;"The monarchy of England was itself thrown into turmoil during the last phase of the Hundred Years' War to 1453, and the Wars of the Roses (1460–85), and as a result, direct English involvement in Ireland was greatly reduced." We know that the turmoil & war had the attention of England directed elsewhere but what about Dark Europe?

The Fomorians, as depicted by John Duncan (1912)

Right off the top of my head I can think of one race that would immediately come straight out of old school gaming to take full advantage of the events in Ireland. The Formorians would be marching straight out of the sea to take down their blood enemies in the form of the humans!
So what are the Fomorians ?! Basically they are chaos giants, demons, spirits of incredible supernatural power that were once gods but were displaced by the
Tuath Dé but the relationship is very complex & complicated because of the ties of  intermarriage, relationships, & familial bonds comparable to the Norse Jotun.  They also have ties to Irish royalty & this makes things very complex especially with the Formorians on England's doorstep during the Hundred Years War.
From Wiki we get just a taste of what I'm talking about;"
The  The Fomorians seem to have been gods who represent the harmful or destructive powers of nature; personifications of chaos, darkness, death, blight and drought.[2][3][4] The Tuath Dé, in contrast, seem to represent the gods of growth and civilization. It has also been suggested that the Fomorians derive from an older group of gods who were displaced by a newer group."

In old school gaming starting all the way back to Eighty Three you've got the Fomorians appearing in Gary Gygax's  The Monster Manual II & before that in the acclaimed TSR  U.K. series of modules. The Monster Manual II has some of the best statted up monster profiles for them.

The Fomorians have a very complex relationship with the Elves of both Dark Albion & the Lion & Dragon rpg system. They should not be taken at all lightly & in fact should only be used with high level & experienced groups of D&D players. I'm not kidding because these monsters are litterer walking siege engines with the powers of the gods. In the Lion & Dragon retroclone they appear as chaos giants but the clay giants also make an excellent addition to their ranks. But there could also be other spirits & monsters with really strange powers & no one would bat an eyelash.

Its been suggested that during a Hundred Years Campaign set in Ireland the Formorian influence would start to be felt during the Norman decline (1300–1350).
Again I'm going to lean on Wiki here because they've got a good breakdown of events; "
The high point of the Norman lordship was the creation of the Parliament of Ireland in 1297, following the Lay Subsidy tax collection of 1292. The first Papal Taxation register was compiled in 1302–07; it was the first Irish census and list of properties, similar to the Domesday book. The Hiberno-Normans then suffered from a series of events in the 14th century that slowed, and eventually ceased, the spread of their settlement and power. Firstly, numerous rebellious attacks were launched by Gaelic lords upon the English lordships. Having lost pitched battles to Norman knights, to defend their territory the Gaelic chieftains now had to change tactics, and deal with the charging armoured knights. They started to rely on raids against resources, and surprise attacks. This stretched the resources of the Normans, reduced their number of trained knights, and often resulted in the chieftains regaining territory. Secondly a lack of direction from both Henry III and his successor Edward I (who were more concerned with events in England, Wales, Scotland and their continental domains) meant that the Norman colonists in Ireland were to a large extent deprived of (financial) support from the English monarchy. This limited their ability to hold territory. Furthermore, the Normans' position deteriorated due to divisions within their own ranks. These caused outright war between leading Hiberno-Norman lords such as the de Burghs, FitzGeralds, Butlers and de Berminghams. Finally, the division of estates among heirs split Norman lordships into smaller, less formidable units—the most damaging being that of the Marshalls of Leinster, which split a large single lordship into five.
Politics and events in Gaelic Ireland served to draw the settlers deeper into the orbit of the Irish, which on occasion had the effect of allying them with one or more native rulers against other Normans.
Hiberno-Norman Ireland was deeply shaken by four events in the 14th century:
  • The first was the invasion of Ireland by Edward Bruce of Scotland who, in 1315, rallied many of the Irish lords against the English presence in Ireland (see Irish-Bruce Wars). Although Bruce was eventually defeated in Ireland at the Battle of Faughart, near Dundalk, his troops caused a great deal of destruction, especially in the densely settled area around Dublin. In this chaotic situation, local Irish lords won back large amounts of land that their families had lost since the conquest and held them after the war was over. A few English partisans like Gilbert de la Roche turned against the English king and sided with Bruce, largely because of personal quarrels with the English monarchy.[7][8]
  • The European famine of 1315–17 affected Ireland as well. The Irish ports were unable to import wheat and other crops, or other foods, as none were available to buy. This was compounded by widespread crop burnings during the Bruce Invasion.
  • The third was the murder of William Donn de Burgh, 3rd Earl of Ulster in June 1333. This resulted in his lands being split in three among his relations, with the ones in Connacht starting the Burke Civil War, rebelling against the Crown and becoming new Irish clans. This meant that virtually all of Ireland west of the Shannon was lost to the Dublin administration. It would be well over two hundred years before the McWilliam Burkes, as they were now called, were again allied with the Dublin administration. In Ulster the O'Neill dynasty took over and renamed Clandeboye in the earldom's lands in County Down, and in 1364 they assumed the title King of Ulster.

The Black Death rapidly spread along the major European sea and land trade routes. It reached Ireland in 1348 and decimated the Hiberno-Norman urban settlements
  • The fourth calamity for the medieval English presence in Ireland was the Black Death, which arrived in Ireland in 1348. Because most of the English and Norman inhabitants of Ireland lived in towns and villages, the plague hit them far harder than it did the native Irish, who lived in more dispersed rural settlements. A celebrated account from a monastery in Cill Chainnigh (Kilkenny) chronicles the plague as the beginning of the extinction of humanity and the end of the world. The plague was a catastrophe for the English habitations around the country and, after it had passed, Gaelic Irish language and customs came to dominate the country again. The English-controlled area shrank back to the Pale, a fortified area around Dublin.
In the background the Hundred Years' War of 1337–1453 between the English and French dynasties drew off forces that could have protected the Lordship from attack by autonomous Gaelic and Norman lords."

Yes I'm doing incredibly broad strokes of history here but you can see the influence of darkness & death in the real world history. PC's would have their hands full dealing with the added horrors of the Formorians during such events.  The Fomorians are also mobile having the ability to use the sea to move from point to point during times of calamity. These are not forces to take lightly & add to this the idea of these former gods using cults, witches, & terror tactics until the
Gaelic Revival of 1350 - 1500.

This is a campaign where huge swaths of death, famine, disease, & bloodshed are at play. We're talking about a campaign that would take months or even years of play. Then the dungeon master could get into numerous threads of mythology & folklore to untangle from the Fomorians from their Elven ancestors. Yes I said ancestors. I believe that certain Elves rose to 'godhood' during the second Ice Age and didn't want to give up their ruler ship of parts of the Underworld & Fairyland. They'd been twisted by the chaos energies of Fairyland & their almost demonic some even having giving up physical existence. Many degenerated into demons & giants that we've come to know as the  Fomorians.

The Formorians are walking toxic waste dumps of chaos leaving corruption & mutation behind them. PC's are going to be cleaning up and healing the land within their wake. Anyone exposed to their wake might need to save vs wands or poison lest they gain a mutation or contamination to  poison exposure or one to the weird radiations of Fairy from a Fomorian.

This idea isn't original & appears in Glynn Seal's Midderlands setting in the form of Gloomium poisioning & the like. In fact many of the monsters & horrid lifeforms would fit right into this style of campaign! This is something he gets into even more in his new Kickstarter for the setting.
Myths and legends; the Celtic race (1910)
As time goes in Dark Europe the whole area is an ancient sink hole for the magical forces of Chaos & one of the last bastions of 'the old cults & ways of the Elves'. PC's are going to have their hands full dealing with some of the best magicians & wizards on Earth. The Elven blood is thick here allowing all kinds of adventures to take place during the Hundred Years War. In point of fact UK1 Beyond the Crystal Cave by Dave Brown, Tom Kirby, and Graeme Morris could be set during such a campaign as the waning power of 
the Tuatha Dé Danann 
gives way to events of history.

I see this entire campaign set up as something to bring a whole old school struggle against the powers of darkness in one of the Elven strongholds of Europe with the Elves stirring the pot to bring Europe to a boil during the Hundred Years War. The Formorians are about as dangerous a supernatural menace as a DM can use. From a Lovecraftian perspective its not Lovecraft here but Robert Howard whose writings have numerous Celtic & Proto Celtic pulp stories from
Bran Mak Morn to more of his later modern stories all have many elements that draw from the horrors of the Formorians as being survivals from the time beyond Atlantis. Just remember the powers of Fairy serve themselves & their connections to the Elves of Lion & Dragon are murky at best & dangerous beyond comprehension at worst.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Chaos & Cruelty - A Completely Ecology Point For the Goblin In Old School Campaigns

Goblin from the First Edition Monster Manual by DAT.

I've been thinking over the weekend about goblins in old school games & specifically OSR games. I've seen various threads, blog posts, etc. about making goblins great again or some such. But it got me thinking about goblins from the dungeon master's point of view. Goblins are a completely different humanoid  in mythology & that of course is where I want to start. So I went right back to my source material namely "An Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, & Other Supernatural Creatures" by Katherine Briggs from '78. This book delves into the origin of the myths and the various beliefs about Fairy creatures & the legends behind them. Great stuff if your looking for adventure plot hooks, etc. but you can probably find a copy at your local library.
Basically it the entry says an evil spirit that haunts certain areas so the entry is rather vague but the thing that caught my eye was that both the English name probably comes from the
Anglo-Norman *gobelin & the Old French gobelin also appears. Wiki actually has a decent entry on the mythological origins of the Goblin; "Alternative spellings include gobblin, gobeline, gobling, goblyn, and gobbelin.
English goblin is first recorded in the 14th century and is probably from unattested Anglo-Norman *gobelin,[1] similar to Old French gobelin, already attested around 1195 in Ambroise of Normandy's Guerre sainte, and to Medieval Latin gobelinus in Orderic Vitalis before 1141,[2][3] which was the name of a devil or daemon haunting the country around Évreux, Normandy.
It may be related both to German kobold and to Medieval Latin cabalus, or *gobalus, itself from Greek κόβαλος (kobalos), "rogue", "knave", "imp", "goblin".[2][4] Alternatively, it may be a diminutive or other derivative of the French proper name Gobel, more often Gobeau,[5][6] diminutive forms Gobelet, Goblin, Goblot, but their signification is probably "somebody who sells tumblers or beakers or cups".[7] Moreover, these proper names are not from Normandy, where the word gobelin, gobelinus first appears in the old documents. German Kobold contains the Germanic root kov- (Middle German Kobe "refuge, cavity", "hollow in a rock", Dial. English cove "hollow in a rock", English "sheltered recess on a coast", Old Norse kofi "hut, shed" ) which means originally a "hollow in the earth".[8][9] The word is probably related to Dial. Norman gobe "hollow in a cliff", with simple suffix -lin or double suffixation -el-in (cf. Norman surnames Beuzelin,[10] Gosselin,[11] Étancelin,[12] etc.)
The Welsh coblyn, a type of knocker, derives from the Old French gobelin via the English goblin"
The interesting thing that keeps coming up again & again is the goblin's connection with rocks, caves, coves, etc. in mythology.  The fact is that these places are the goblins are spawned! In the French, English, and European countryside these are places where the gateways to the world of fairyland manifested. 
Each time they did a pack of 1d6 goblins would be created like so much bacteria. 

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith, 1920

Each time the chaotic energies of Fairy touch our world there's a 40% chance that it might create goblin spirits mockingly patterned after the local area. This is where we get into the origin point for the generators seen & encountered in Seventy nine's Keep On The Borderlands's Caves of Chaos By Gary Gygax. The humanoids were generated by the caves themselves. This ties back into T1 The Temple of Elemental Evil but that's another blog entry. This helps to explain the scores of humanoids living check to jowl in the caves.

This also ties in with the wastelands of the French countryside seen during the Hundred Years War. I don't say wastelands lightly here, these are artificial wastelands created when the real world washes against the realms of Fairy. In Arthurian legend its tied into the impotence of its leader again it was resurrected to certain degree in the events of The Hundred Years War.
As the leader suffers so does his lands. This is the perfect spawning ground for hordes of goblins. Its more then simply another infestation in Rpg Pundit's Lion & Dragon. Its another nail in the coffin of a village or area of  Dark Europe..

Goblin warriors & other humanoid races in European mythology lead directly to the service of the Devil himself. And in Lion & Dragon goblins often serve demonic mid ranking leaders & Underworld warlords!

Given the amount of destruction & warfare of the Hundred Years War its easy to see entire regions being transformed by history & traces of the goblins being half forgotten legends.  These horrors are all too real in the world of  Lion & Dragon. Why? Because goblins are or were a limited life weapon system developed by the Elves who took full advantages of the chaos energies of Fairyland untold ages ago. The prehistoric generators that they created are still being used under Europe during the Hundred Years War. Where the wasteland appears might possibly be where the goblins are being spawned.
There are number of humanoid races that can be used to boaster the ranks of chaos. But goblins have sheer numbers, weight, and are a danger to vex even the most experienced of players.

There is another interesting note where the Arthurian literature  are concerned & this ties in with the Mythos of Clark Aston Smith.
"Scholars of the earlier 20th century devoted much study to the Wasteland motif. In one of the more popular works on the subject, From Ritual to Romance, author Jessie Weston suggested that the origin of the motif lies with an otherwise unattested pagan fertility cult. The book is mostly disregarded today, though T. S. Eliot credited it as the source of the title and the largest single influence on his famous poem The Waste Land."
In CAS's  Averoigne stories which are  based in a province in medieval France there are several stories which reference the interactions of mankind & the realm of Fairy. These do not go well at all. These include Maker of Gargoyles, The (1932), Disinterment of Venus, The (1934),& Enchantress of Sylaire, The (1941) respectively.
The wasteland is one of the points where if the forces of chaos from Three Hearts & Three Lions by
Poul Anderson win this will be the result for the local time space continuum. Goblins & goblin like monsters appear in the book along with the troll as well.

For Lovecraft the goblins have a much more sinister point in the spawning pools of
Shub-Niggurath itself.  We find reference to them in the embrace of the Outer God as it is mentioned as "Lord of the Wood" in HP Lovecraft's  story "The Whisperer in Darkness". This point also has some connections with Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique where goblins are cited as a menace but not given any further credence. This places the goblin race squarely within the Weird Tales setting allowing a DM to throw them lock,stock, and crossbow right into Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition without breaking a sweat. They are simply another spawn of the "Lord of the Wood".

Los Caprichos is a set of 80 aquatint prints
created by Francisco Goya for release in 1799.
Goblins raged across mythology &  classic TSR adventures & its easy to see why. They are the ubiquitous menace that never really goes way. Each time chaos rears its head they are their to serve it in all of its guises and menaces! Beware the warriors spawned in the nights who ride the wrogs! They come for your PC's heads & guts!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

"Blood On The Beach" An Old School Campaign Set Up For War - Using L1 The Secret of Bone Hill By Lenard Lakofka OSR Commentary

"Danger lurks in the Lendore Isles. Bands of evil creatures prowl the hills overlooking the town of Restenford, seeking unwary victims. Now you have come to this sleepy little village looking for adventure and excitement. You seek to fathom the unexplored reaches of Bone Hill and unlock the mysteries of Restenford."


 Lets get the details out of the way first;"The Secret of Bone Hill is an adventure module written by Lenard Lakofka for the first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and published by TSR in 1981. It is designed for novice and intermediate players with characters of levels 2-4. The module received mixed reviews from critics." L1 The Secret of Bone Hill is an old favorite & its perfect for modification into a Sword & Sorcery location especially if we're using the Saltmarsh series of adventures as a part of the adventure path for PC's. This works especially well with my 'Old Earth' setting for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition.

So if we're looking into the Saltmarsh adventure path it takes the PC's from level one through five but what background do we really have for the town of Saltmarsh itself? Absolutely nothing really. But I've seen over the last couple of years several threads about taking merging the fishing port of Restenford & the U series of adventures.
This unto itself unlocks several possibilities especially within my own home campaign where Iceland & Greenland were ripped from the Earth and put into the orbit around Saturn become the campaign's setting version of Hyperborea after the Hyperborea Wars. This event led to the rise of the remains of Atlantis out around Spain & its surrounding environs all tying back into Clark Aston Smith's Poseidonis cycle but with a far more Lovecraft Deep Ones style twist to it. Smith's Poseidonis is "the last isle of foundering Atlantis" & makes a great background for the fishing port of Restenford. These people count themselves as the last remains of Atlantis in an almost cargo cult like way. This whole adventure path is set up for an all out war with the Deep Ones that I don't know if the PC's can survive?
Once again the cycle for Clark Ashton Smith's Poseidonis cycle is:

L2 Assasins Knot would also fit the vibe of the U1 series as well as CAS's
Poseidonis cycle. The adventure  background & NPC's could further flesh out the entire affair with style and easy.

This campaign path will take the PC's from first all the way through fifth level with an option being to use Douglas Niles N1 Against the Reptile Cult as a way of dealing with the political  friction of the lizard men in the U series of adventures. This is a whole other blog entry for another time.

All of these adventures all center around the PC levels of 1-5 with some really interesting Clark Aston Smith & Lovecraftian details being able to be slipped into the campaign mix. All of this old school play sets the PC's up to face down the mysteries of another horrid situation  coming from the Port Greely area of the campaign. If the PC's have kept the Sea Witch from U1 Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh then its a perfect set up for the party to sail into North Wind Adventures  The Mystery At Port Greely.
"Until about three years ago, the peculiar town of Port Greely was renowned as a prolific exporter of crustaceans. Then the Greely lobstermen severed all ties with outside partners. Subsequent attempts at renegotiation were shunned." What is the extent of the Deep One taint in the region? Is there a full blown Deep One cult there? This is going to be a part investigation
Now the PC's can see the full on fury of the menace that the Deep Ones represent and maybe survive the bloody onslaught. By doing the U1 series, plus L1 and maybe a side quest into N1 the PC's might have enough experience & backbone to take on the menace of Port Greely.

So where do the horrors of this style of campaign go? Well I've got ideas about this too coming up!

There is a ton of free resources for the Lenore Islands over at Dragon's Foot but some of the material would have to be extensively modified to fit this campaign path. 

Still there's some killer OSR material over there for free. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Ravagers of Saltmarsh - OSR Commentary On U3: "The Final Enemy" (1983) By Dave J. Browne with Don Turnbull

" At last! An opportunity to avert the threat to the little town of Saltmarsh! The real enemies have been identified - evil, cruel creatures, massed in force and viciously organized. Can the brave adventurers thwart this evil and ensure the safety of Saltmarsh?"

So I had this dream last night about U3 The Final Enemy because I was reading through the module before bed. I've been on the move with work for three days running with service calls, errands, etc. which is why I'm a sort of late with this blog entry. Anyhow," U3: "The Final Enemy" (1983), by Dave J. Browne with development by Don Turnbull, is the final adventure in the "U" trilogy and the fourth product overall from TSR UK. It appeared in 1983" And this is more of a thinking man's module based around the fact that there are some very iconic elements, dangerous twists,& an all together large series of underwater adventure elements hence the 'U' letter in the title.

So what happens after the events of the U3 The Final Enemy? I've been thinking about modifying the U series for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition after reading through that game over the last couple of days. Sure I've talked about doing this before.
"The  sahuagin make excellent stand ins for Lovecraft's Deep Ones and they have wide variety of applications outside of this module and can be used to set up a cult within the environs of the Saltmarsh countryside." Let's just throw this idea out & simply fill in the Deep Ones of Lovecraft. I'm going to adapt this module series to some backwater area of my own 'Old Earth' campaign setting.

No this is different because this takes place after the events of U3 end. The Deep One temples  of the area around Saltmarsh are not going to be quiet. There could be very large military backlash that the PC's are not going to be expecting!? We know that there there other colonies of these aquatic bastards all over the map in the seas surrounding Saltmarsh.

If we're using HP Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Innsmouth then there might be a blood relative connection to one of the PC's making events of U3 The Final Enemy a bit complicated!!?
But the worst shock came when my uncle shewed me the Orne jewelery in a downtown safe deposit vault. Some of the items were delicate and inspiring enough, but there was one box of strange old pieces descended from my mysterious great-grandmother which my uncle was almost reluctant to produce. They were, he said, of very grotesque and almost repulsive design, and had never to his knowledge been publicly worn; though my grandmother used to enjoy looking at them. Vague legends of bad luck clustered around them, and my great-grandmother's French governess had said they ought not to be worn in New England, though it would be quite safe to wear them in Europe.
As my uncle began slowly and grudgingly to unwrap the things he urged me not to be shocked by the strangeness and frequent hideousness of the designs. Artists and archaeologists who had seen them pronounced their workmanship superlatively and exotically exquisite, though no one seemed able to define their exact material or assign them to any specific art tradition. There were two armlets, a tiara, and a kind of pectoral; the latter having in high relief certain figures of almost unbearable extravagance.
During this description I had kept a tight rein on my emotions, but my face must have betrayed my mounting fears. My uncle looked concerned, and paused in his unwrapping to study my countenance. I motioned to him to continue, which he did with renewed signs of reluctance. He seemed to expect some demonstration when the first piece—the tiara—became visible, but I doubt if he expected quite what actually happened. I did not expect it, either, for I thought I was thoroughly forewarned regarding what the jewelery would turn out to be. What I did was to faint silently away, just as I had done in that brier choked railway cut a year before.
From that day on my life has been a nightmare of brooding and apprehension nor do I know how much is hideous truth and how much madness. My great-grandmother had been a Marsh of unknown source whose husband lived in Arkham—and did not old Zadok say that the daughter of Obed Marsh by a monstrous mother was married to an Arkham man through a trick? What was it the ancient toper had muttered about the line of my eyes to Captain Obed's? In Arkham, too, the curator had told me I had the true Marsh eyes. Was Obed Marsh my own great-great-grandfather? Who—or what—then, was my great-great-grandmother?"
HP Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Innsmouth

The PC's would most likely have to contend with a small army of Deep Ones coming up upon Saltmarsh or half breed Deep One pirates likely sailing to retake the entire Saltmarsh area!? There is some evidence in the Poseidonis cycle of  Clark Aston Smith that something like this took place. Here people thought of themselves as Atlanteans — "members of an aboriginal race of Atlantis" survived on Poseidonis as slaves ("A Voyage to Sfanomoe", Clark Ashton Smith).
Can the PC's avert the bloodshed & chaos induced turmoil coming their way?! If your interested in using some of the
Poseidonis cycle of  Clark Aston Smith for DMing  here you are.

This whole cycle of branching adventure plots could be moved to Hyperborea where there are wide array of Deep One colonies all along the coasts of the continent. To survive this they're going to have to really pull the resources of the area of Saltmarsh together. 
For the  'Old Earth' setting I might put the whole thing right off
the shores of Spain.  Will the PC's survive the experience?! Only time will tell.

If I turn this entire idea upon its ear then it could easily be worked into a Lion & Dragon rpg game with easy. Here the adventure would be set on the shores of France right in the middle of the Hundred Years War. Here
the Marais salant has been a poor area for centuries avoided because of its legendary status as cursed & the home to the devils of the sea. But with the Hundred Years War wrapping up and the PC's having vanquished back the fish people &  frog demons  back to their ancestral home the danger has ended. Or so they think!
Here's where the vileness of the situation creeps in. The sea is the realm of horror unbound during the Hundred Years War. You can bet that the Church is going to get involved and that there's going to be a ton of executions. But will anyone notice during the turmoil of the Hundred Years War?!

Battle of Sluys from a manuscript of Froissart's Chronicles, Bruge, c.1470

U3 The Final Enemy has a ton of potential to act as a jump off point for a campaign in a wide variety of OSR theaters. There are a lot loose ends that the dungeon master can pick up and run with.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Cults, Chaos, & Dungeons Design Amid War - More D1 Descent Into The Earth By Gary Gygax Commentary

So PC's have explored Gary Gygax's D1 Descent Into The Depths of the Earth & now the world is safe! The Hundred Years War is wrapping up, all is right, & now events are in motion after  the Battle of Castillon. The party can relax & move on with their lives! Not in the least. Moping up the affairs of Europe are going to years and here's why.

Right so one of the side lines of talking about adapting the Hundred Years War into an actual campaign for Lion & Dragon is that fact Chaos is a constant threat & theme throughout a campaign. But where exactly is chaos coming from?  The simple fact is that the entire countryside of Dark Europe is riddled with ancient prehistoric highways created by the slaves of the Elves thousands of years ago. These tunnel systems lead throughout Paris, the countryside of France, England, Italy. most of Europe, & this includes Spain as well.

Battle of Poitiers (miniature of Froissart)

So where is Chaos coming? The dungeons both within this world of Dark Europe & outside of it in the realms of the Fairylands. This occurred to me reading through Gylnn Seal's Middenlands campaign which uses the idea of Chaos as a mutating and constant threat. Glynn Seal of Monkey Blood Design has a new Middenlands Kickstarter campaign expansion coming up I highly suggest that you support. The Middenlands isn't simply some backwater country area. The setting  exposes the mutating & near constant threat of Chaos.

Top this off with cults of witches & ghouls that are quietly striking at the heart of Europe from within and well scenes like this are all too common in Dark Europe.  You are going to get entire families wiped out by war, famine, & monsters. Titles,lands, & deeds are going to be the rewards of the day. The Church is going to another huge factor when the forces of Chaos are around.

But why are scenes like this common in both folklore & mythology in Dark Europe even admist the turmoil of the Hundred Years War? Because there is a marked history of conflict going all the way back to the Elven empires of thousands of years ago. So whose exposing these dungeons? The monsters are! They're basically operating a brush fire war amid the battles & mini wars of the humans! 

Why?! Because there's no Underdark but an Underworld! The Underworld is both physical & occult touching both the realms of the Fairylands & Earth. This is because it was arranged by the Elves thousands of years ago. The strange radiations & energies of these dungeon lands have very bad effects upon the humans who are exposed to them for too long. This has been happening since the time of the Greeks & well before that into the time of the secondary last Ice Age.

Peter Paul Rubens - Aeneas in the Underworld

So why would these dungeons, ruins, haunted mountains,etc. always be open & have adventurers stumbling into them? Well its the monsters of Chaos & the cults who are opening them up for the alien gods from below. At the end of the day this isn't our world sure it uses real world history as the basis for a campaign but there has to be a balance between the Dungeons & Dragons elements & real world history.

Frans Francken (II) - Orpheus in the Underworld.

The Church & the royals is going to be busy purging the elements of Chaos from amid their lands but for every one they catch two or three may slink back into the darkness. The forces of Satan & the Underworld are vast & very tempting for average man or woman during this time. Cults are going to flourish and dungeons in remote areas could well become full blown menaces to various kingdoms. Dungeons offer meeting places, hidden temple areas, and vast resources for a cult. Add in the alien influence of the Underworld here & well the uptick in secret societies we see during the Rose War is understandable. Clark Asthon Smith's Mother of Toads has some interesting notions about the alien influence of the occult upon the senses of his protagonist.
Given that its a part of the 
Averoigne stories it certainly fits the genesis of the themes today.

Orpheus Leading Eurydice from the Underworld

For cults dungeons are full on places of religious significant & all that implies. There are villages where the ruins at the edges of the place are places where forgotten sacrifices ensure a bountiful harvest and this means the difference between life & death. This is especially true during the Hundred Years War.

Don't forget that the vast mazes, warrens, etc.  that Gary Gygax describes in Descent Into the Depths of the Earth are a part of a far vaster network & its right below the streets of Paris itself. This puts the heart of Chaos right into the midst of the heart of France! This puts soul searing temptation, danger, & mutation right at the heart of the PC's during the Hundred Years War!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

La ePtite Mort OSR Mail Call & More OSR Commentary

So today I've been on the road & tomorrow I'm going to be on the road again with work. But I was able to sneak in some time for my personal OSR mail call. So I've been waiting for an inexpensive hardback of The Lion & Dragon Rpg from lulu. 

I like what I see from just the slight read through because I'm a Dark Albion & Dark Albion Cults of Chaos cheerleader.  I've used both books as settings for OSR games since they hit the market place & its one of the reasons why I instantly gravitated towards Lion & Dragon as an OSR system.

The system is described by the rpg blurbs as thus; "Lion & Dragon is a Medieval Authentic OSR game. With L&D, the rules of the original tabletop RPG have been adapted to create a more historically authentic medieval experience, to reflect the grittier and yet more mythic world of a magical medieval Europe." Which is both its boon & its bane. So is the hardback worth the price of admission, in a word yes. Basically this Dark Albion's Europe uncoupled from the world of Albion.
Sure I've seen some great reviews & done a ton of research but there are some excellent reviews out there already.Like this one below, but I really don't see anyone talking about what about if you already own Dark Albion & Cults of Chaos? Can Lion & Dragon enhance your experiences with those game settings?

In a word yes, because Lion & Dragon is basically an uncoupled Dark Europe from the Albion setting! There are a lot of similar aspects such as the social class system having a deep impact on the PC generation. Lots of changes to the magick system and less focus on the Vancian D&D business. There also the lovely bits & pieces of Chaos such as it appears in Albion. BTW you can easily use DA & Cults of Chaos with Lion & Dragon. We also get more monsters such as the Elven Mummy & chaos mutated giants!

Yes the frogmen are still there along with fishmen that I wasn't expecting, those Lovecraft bits I spoke about in other blog entries seem now entire possible. The system is similar to Fantastic Heroes & Witchery but again this has its own spin on things. I'll go into a bit more detail later on that. But the Lion & Dragon system can easily be ported over to almost any OSR centered retroclone.
The layout is easy on the eyes & the artwork is very appropriate to the product. There's an expanded alchemy section, magic item section, & lots of Dark European weirdness bits throughout. Dominique Crouzet is up to his usual standards here.

There has to be an OSR balance between classic D&D or AD&D & the Lion & Dragon system. What I'm I talking about?! Well, there are certain expectations in classic Dungeons & Dragons players. Adapting classic modules such as T1 Temple of Elemental Evil can easily be done with Lion & Dragon rather then a specific world  setting book such as Dark Albion. Lion & Dragon keeps the classic bits & pieces of the Dark Albion system without the world specific baggage. Don't take this the wrong way. The Dungeon Master is the one going to be carrying the burden for world & adventure creation because they can use real world history to flesh out details, historical events, & finally an old school adventure campaign. This is a very rules light weight game with a deceptively simple appearing concept. The execution of this OSR system is anything but simple. DM's are going to have to put on their thinking caps & work a bit to live up to the high quality resources that Lion & Dragon provides.

For the Dark Albion DM, Lion & Dragon prove a solid system expansion possibly into a whole cloth  other world building aspect of a possible mirror verse or other realm!  The L&D dungeon master can dip into both Dark Albion & Cults of Chaos for an expansion of Dark Europe whist not even waiting for more material from the author. But there's also a whole slew of support material on the market for the game in the form of the
One of the latest is a perfect introductory adventure encounter for Lion & Dragon called , Issue 14 (Jan 9, 2018): The Secret Order of the Red Lady

Band new cult appears and all is not as it seems, this is an excellent opportunity to test the PC's mettle and have the players ramp up their OSR gaming skills. The quality of the Lion & Dragon Lulu hardback is excellent! I'm really going to be using this with my OSR campaigns.