Thursday, February 1, 2018

Clark Ashton Smith, Old School Adventure, & That Old Time Religion For Your Old School Campaigns

In a lost land, that only dreams have known,
Where flaming suns walk naked and alone;
Among horizons bright as molten brass,
And glowing heavens like furnaces of glass,
It rears with dome and tower manifold,
Rich as a dawn of amarant and gold,
Or gorgeous as the Phoenix, born of fire,
And soaring from an opalescent pyre
Sheer to the zenith. Like some anademe
Of Titan jewels turned to flame and dream
The city crowns the far horizon-light
Over the flowered meads of damassin ....
A desert isle of madreperl ! wherein
The thurifer and opal-fruited palm
And heaven-thronging minarets becalm
The seas of azure wind....
(Note: These lines were remembered out of a dream, and are given verbatim.)

The City in the Desert  (1922) 

The old gods are dead but their ruins & temples continue on. I've always preferred Clark Ashton Smith to many of the other authors in the Lovecraft circle. To a certain extent even over Lovecraft himself. Last night I found myself with the classic Original Dungeons & Dragons Gods, Demigods, & Heroes book by Robert J Kuntz & James Ward. I was doing a bit of research for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition and this book has some material in it that could be useful for dungeon masters.

A lot of times I go back to the original well  & source material from which I've plucked knowledge from when I first got into gaming. Time & again this strategy has worked when its comes to old school gaming especially when designing adventures . This become especially true when it comes original Dungeons & Dragons which has so many bits of wisdom tucked away here & there. This is especially true going over Gods, Demigods, & Heroes by Robert J. Kuntz & James Ward. 
Coming out in Nineteen Seventy Six it covers information on the pantheons and constructs of the Egyptian, Hindu, Greek, Celtic, Norse, Finnish, Aztec, Maya, Chinese, and Japanese mythologies, as well as Robert E. Howard's Hyborea and the Melnibonéan Mythos from Michael Moorcock's Elric novels. Supposedly it doesn't go too deeply into the various pantheons but that's not what I'm looking for. I've spoken at length about how in my 'Old Earth' campaign using AS&SH second edition as  I freely dip into science fiction (fantasy), mythology & Weird Tales fiction.

In my AS&SH Hyperborea the various end of the gods tales have come & gone. This is borne out by the overview of the gods in AS&SH but there's more to it then that. Its very hard to kill a god per say & as borne out in Clark Ashton Smith's fiction, gone doesn't necessarily mean dead. There are literally thousands of temples, ruins, & dungeons all belonging to unknown gods of various pantheons scattered across Hyperborea after the 'Green Death' CAS's  The Isle of the Torturers (1933) bares this out.  So dead gods do not rest easy on Hyperborea even as it crosses Saturn's face.  They don't rest easy on my 'Old Earth' setting either but that's another blog entry.

Yesterday I wrote about using B10 Night's Dark Terror with the Lion & Dragon retroclone system during the . I also hinted at using that module as a set up campaign during 
"The Thirty Years' War " events
PC's fighting in that module could easily cross over into Hyperborea & become lost in the world of AS&SH. What?! Sacrilege, horror, how?! AS&SH is the far future of an Earth in the far distant future & acts as a sieve for time & space! Dimensional gates, time warps, and worse happen all of the time on Hyperborea. The artwork of the product proves the answers!  This also helps to explain where all of the PC races of  people of Hyperborea have come from. Scattered across time & space the Hyperboreas were experimenting with forbidden magicks & technologies.  

I've said this before & I'm going to say it again all of history is the dungeon master's plaything. The only thing you're limited by in the OSR & old school gaming is your imagination. CAS's
Ubbo-Sathla (1933) gives a great case for why magic items are scattered across human history; the reach of the Old Ones & the Outer Gods is immense. Dungeons & other ruins are not always going to be where they belong in AS&SH. Plugging  in CAS's Beast of Averoigne, The (1933) gives us even more fodder with that forbidden French providence providing more fuel to the adventure mix.  Attacking X2 Castle Amber by Tom Moldvey we've got the perfect location to get PC's into all kinds of time & dimensional gateway  related trouble especially from AS&SH.

Remember the door swings both ways & PC's who find themselves thinking that this going to be a quick raid for riches, fame, & adventure are going to be in for a brutal surprise as the 'gods' might have far more other worldly plans for them. There may be far more to that dark and stormy night then the PC's realize.

Harry Quinn's Wild Hunt artwork from X2 Castle Amber

We'll get into the hows & whys of X2 Castle Amber possibly tomorrow. But for now keep those dice rattling.

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