On the edge of civilization violence & horror has been visited upon the villages of Bohemia.Strange raiders from Hell itself or so it seems have been looting, burning, and rampaging across the countryside! Weird humanoids have been taking out many of the larger villages & bastions of civilization!
B1-9 In Search of Adventure: The Grand Duchy of Karameikos Anthology is one of my treasured mega modules and a perfect set up adventure as an introduction to the Lion & Dragon retroclone rpg. Since the PC's start as zero level characters, they need a mega module to really get them over the hump & onto upper levels for the Thirty Years War's time line with the Lion & Dragon retroclone. Why is In Search of Adventure: The Grand Duchy of Karameikos Anthology adventure perfect for this?
Because it put's the PC's at ground zero & at the center stage as the Elves stage a big push in Bohemia to take over. They begin acting through cells of witch cults, & a huge population of humanoids who have been manufactured in Fairyland.
"In Search of Adventure is an abridged compilation adventure module published by TSR, Inc. in 1987, for the Basic Set of the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy role-playing game. Its product designation was TSR 9190. This 160-page book features cover artwork by Keith Parkinson."
This super module is a mix of many of the most popular module with a lot left on the cutting room floor;"The modules B1-B9 include: B1 In Search of the Unknown, B2 The Keep on the Borderlands, B3 Palace of the Silver Princess, B4 The Lost City, B5 Horror on the Hill, B6 The Veiled Society, B7 Rahasia, B8 Journey to the Rock, and B9 Castle Caldwell and Beyond."
These events are happening around the Bohemia Revolt's beginning & the Bohemia is a great stand in for the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Why would the Elves let loose their dogs of war on humanity during this time?
"The death of Emperor Matthias emboldened the rebellious Protestant leaders, who had been on the verge of a settlement. The weaknesses of both Ferdinand (now officially on the throne after the death of Emperor Matthias) and of the Bohemians themselves led to the spread of the war to western Germany. Ferdinand was compelled to call on his nephew, King Philip IV of Spain, for assistance."
"The king-elect then sent two Catholic Councillors (Vilem Slavata of Chlum and Jaroslav Borzita of Martinice) as his representatives to Prague Castle in Prague in May 1618. Ferdinand had wanted them to administer the government in his absence. On 23 May 1618, an assembly of Protestants seized them and threw them (and also secretary Philip Fabricius) out of the palace window, which was some 21 m (69 ft) off the ground. Although injured, they survived. This event, known as the (Second) Defenestration of Prague, started the Bohemian Revolt. Soon afterward, the Bohemian conflict spread through all of the Bohemian Crown, including Bohemia, Silesia, Upper and Lower Lusatia, and Moravia. Moravia was already embroiled in a conflict between Catholics and Protestants. The religious conflict eventually spread across the whole continent of Europe, involving France, Sweden, and a number of other countries."
Because these events involve all of Europe,PC are going to be scrambling to play catch up with the hordes raging at the fringes of Europe. The old strongholds of the Elves now in ruins, being used as dungeon locations, & as gateways to Fairyland are going be the targets of adventurers. So are these old school adventures presented perfectly or is there more going in B1-9? Actually there's a very solid thread about this subject on Dragon's Foot.
The PC's are going to have to deal with bands of trolls, ogres, and worse as Fairyland becomes aware of the plot by several of the secret societies of royals who are in actually keepers of the sacred knowledge of the Kings Under The Mountains.
Of course there is an Arthurian tie in with hordes of knights waiting in sleep for Europe's greatest hour of need. Part of the time may involve the PC's questing to awaken various champions of Europe & summon the Kings Under The Mountains.
- "Ječmínek, legendary Moravian king will, according to a prophecy, return to save his country from enemies" and this looks like its it.
- "St. Wenceslas (Václav) of Bohemia (Czech Republic). He sleeps in the Blaník mountain (with a huge army of Czech knights) and will emerge to protect his country at its worst time, riding on his white horse and wielding the legendary hero Bruncvík's sword."
- "Knights of Sitno in Slovak mythology are a legion of knights supposedly sleeping inside the mountain Sitno in Central Slovakia, waiting to be called upon in times when the Slovaks are in danger. It is said that every seven years, the oldest of them climbs up the hill and shouts the question: "Is it time yet?" in every world direction. If nobody answers, he climbs back inside."
All of these events center around the messianic awakening of Arthur and his return to help with the banishing of the Elven darkness from England & Europe's shores.
The real problem is knowing who is really on the PC's side and whose going to be turning on the party as Europe deteriorates under the weight of the advancing humanoid hordes. Lion & Dragon has some very solid rules for handling the assassination bits of some of these modules.
For Clark Ashton Smith's end of things there are several of his stories that spring to mind but one that stands out is End of the Story, The (1930). This tale takes place in in 1787, its the only Averoigne story to take place outside of the Middle Ages or the early Renaissance. But within it are elements that have much in common with some of the central themes that run through B1-9 In Search of Adventure: The Grand Duchy of Karameikos Anthology. This is anything of a standard love story, and in this The End of the Story transcends the usual limits of its own mythology. As an NPC the exquisite lady Nycea would be right at home during the events of the Thirty Year War. Another possible Elven royal mover and shaker among the landed and high born royals making war with the lives of their lessers.