Tuesday, February 20, 2018

'Something Wrong', 'Something's Amiss' - A Twisted Arthurian OSR Campaign Commentary

Once again the underbelly of pop culture suggestions another avenue of adding in the gonzo into the backbone of a very different Lion & Dragon retroclone  campaign. I've been wracking my brains to add some of the OSR weirdness into the Lion & Dragon mix. Then I slipped in Army of Darkness into the blu ray. Army of Darkness is a horror  comedy classic from 1992 and its  turning twenty five & its pure Arthurian old school gonzo gold.

The film actually has elements of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court with Ash Williams  taking the place of a Yankee engineer from Connecticut named Hank Morgan. But for Lion & Dragon elements are far more pronounced with the action of the film taking place around 1300 A.D. on an alternative Earth. The Deadites are perfectly presented demonically possessed chaos undead who are spread by the Necronomicon Ex Mortis's influence. There are several other options available to the dungeon master.
In fact the actual ideas within 
Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court 
could be used to port over some of the interesting elements of the book into a Lion & Dragon campaign or adventure.
  1. The PC's could be time displaced which gives the DM ample opportunity to add adventure elements as needed. 
  2. A demonic threat of chaos which might be not well known to the inhabitants of the land. This leads to the idea of the quest being a part of the adventure path itself lending a more mythological quality to the whole.
  3. The use of Morgana Le Fey as antagonist with Sir Mordred taking the central part of murderer of Arthur once again places the PC's front & center.
  4. Merlin is a dangerous element of the occult who sends Hank Morgan back to his own time via a suspended animation spell.
    On the whole it reminds me of Poul Anderson's Three Hearts & Three Lions in the fact that the hero has no real power over his destiny. He is a pawn send off by the cosmic forces of universe to deal with the greater evil only to return him to his own time once the evil is vanquished. 
  5. The Arthurian  wasteland is in full effect because of the inadequacy of the local leaders & the possible influence of the real grail.
    "In the Arthurian Grail material, the Wasteland's condition is usually tied to the impotence of its leader. Often the infirmity is preceded by some form of the Dolorous Stroke, in which the king is injured tragically for his sins but kept alive by the Grail. In Chr├ętien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail, the Fisher King has been ."

Both Army of Darkness & 
Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court 
play fast & loose with their Arthurian elements whist adding in modern technology. But even with comedic elements these pieces of pop culture still allow the epic hero to have his due. This same formula could be applied to the PC's. But can we warp this formula a bit for Lion & Dragon. The central lynch pin that holds all of this together that has to go is the Necronomicon Ex Mortis & instead we get a false Grail. B2 The Keep of The Borderland By Gary Gygax contains a great basic adventure outline that could be used as  a template for a whole campaign segment in this vein. Imagine if the film Army of Darkness was the merest echo of a campaign centered around the Keep of the Borderland module. Necromancers similar to the ones found in Clark Ashton Smith's Empire of Necromancers have been messing around the ruins of several classic cities on the edges of the France & Spain empire borders in the 1300s. There are rumors that the 'Holy Grail' has been found.

There is reason to believe that a dangerous demonic life forces has been let loose into the world & is taking over the corpses of  warriors & soldiers from recent battle fields. A coven of chaos worshiping necromancers has moved into the area & taken over 'the caves of chaos' resting place of the "grail". Here one of the many 'cauldrons of resurrection'  has been hidden centuries ago by Elven forces.  The PC's have been called from many different times to deal with this ancient hate of old. This cauldron summons 1d6 semi free willed undead from the depths of Hell each day under the 'command' of the necromancers. Once this number reaches a hundred or more the spell of the necromancers will be broken & a champion among the undead will rise. This cauldron was in fact one of the many artifacts of mass destruction of  the Elves back in the time before the pre Biblical flood.

Destroying the cauldron will restore the land & vanquish the evil infecting it. The power of  real 'Holy Grail' might in fact be responsible for bringing the party into conflict with the forces of Chaos.

This sort of a campaign even using time displaced PC's is going to be a bit of an investigative &  more then a little PC violence towards the foul forces of the 'damned'. Dark Albion's Cults of Chaos is going to be full focus for this sort of a mini campaign.  Even if the PC's manage to save the keep, wipe out the necromancers, close the portal Hell via the cauldron, & cleanse the land one of the bastards of chaos could escape enabling the damned to crawl back onto Earth. This might set things up for a full blown 'End Times' situation extending the campaign for more.

This blog entry is not an attempt to violate the copyright & trademark of the Army of Darkness films nor the character of Ash Williams. Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court is public domain. The makers of the Lion & Dragon rpg or Dark Albion are in no way responsible for the content or opinions of this blog. The contents and ideas are trade marked & copyrighted to the author & Dark Corner Productions.

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