Thursday, March 1, 2018

Blood & The Old Magick Of Eldritch Wizardry by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume For Your Old School Campaigns

Deep in my heart, as in the hollow stone
And silence of some olden sepulcher,
Thy silver beauty lies, and shall not stir—
Forgotten, incorruptible, alone:
Though altars darken, and a wind be blown
From starless seas on beacon-fires that were—
Within thy tomb, with oils of balm and myrrh,
For ever burn the onyx lamps unknown.
And though the bleak Novembral gardens yield
Rose-dust and ivy-leaf, nor any flower
Be found through vermeil forest or wan field—
Still, still the asphodel and lotos lie
Around thy bed, and hour by silent hour,
Exhale immortal fragrance like a sigh.
Sepulchre  (1918)  by Clark Ashton Smith

The old magicks have died & the world has moved on or at least that's how I happen to view the Original Dungeons & Dragon's Eldritch Wizardry rule book by Gary Gygax & Brian Blume which hit the book stands in 1976. Its always been a mixed bag of a supplement for some folks but for me its one that hits close to home because of its approach to OD&D. This was one of the big boy supplements for the original Dungeons & Dragons game. Thumbing through Clark Ashton Smith tonight I was struck by how much of the material here is still useful to OSR dungeon masters.

"Eldritch Wizardry introduced psionics and the druid character class.[1] The sixty page supplement added several other new concepts to the D&D game, including demons (and their lords Orcus and Demogorgon), psionics-using monsters (such as mind flayers), and artifacts (including the Rod of Seven Parts and the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords).[2] Any human of any alignment or any character class, except monks and druids, may have a chance to have psionic ability. Each of the character classes has its own list of psionic abilities which it may gain, and the book offers psionic attack and defense modes of various types.[3] The druid, first introduced in the Greyhawk supplement as a monster, is expanded in Eldritch Wizardry as a clerical sub-class, a priest of a neutral-type nature worship.[3] The book introduces seven distinct types of demons, as well as creatures that have psionic attack capabilities and/or astral or ethereal creatures, such as brain moles, thought eaters, su-monsters, and intellect devourers.[3] Eldritch Wizardry includes a modified combat system which takes into account a player's armor type, readiness of weapons, encumbrance, level of spell being used, and more.[3] The over twenty artifacts and relics included have tremendous powers unknown to the players, who must rely on rumor or trial and error"

Once again I was doing a bit of research for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition especially in some of the weirder portions of Hyperborea. There's something very Weird Tales about the demonic & artifact  material in Eldritch Wizardry. There's also some classic Lovecraftian horrors of psionics such as the su-monsters, and intellect devourers. I've had nightmares about the horrid Su Monsters since I was a kid, what makes these horrors chaotic evil & so damn nasty. I have visions of these mad bastard children haunting the jungle covered ruins of alien planets around dead stars.
 Scattered across time & space the Hyperboreas were experimenting with forbidden magicks & technologies. 

Su Monster from the original AD&D first edition Monster Manual

The Su Monster seems like its an invasive psionic species that loves to torture humans with a random psionic power. They are highly evil in my games and adventure haunting the ruins & dungeons of Venus with abandon. These mad creatures are the result of an alien security species gone horribly wrong or at least that's the explanation within my own games. Eldritch Wizardry's artifacts & material add much needed mystery back into the OD&D  game. This same approach works well for AS&SH second edition.

The artifacts section is one that we'd see more of later on in the Dungeon Master's Guide for AD&D first edition. These artifacts might be added into an off world haul or two sitting in the treasure rooms of a lone black wizard who rules nine star systems. The all powerful sorcerer Maal Dweb is exactly the type of black wizard who'd have an artifact or two laying around waiting to cause bloody havoc for a  dungeon master.
Both of the stories of
Maal Dweb tie into the background weird of many of OD&D's classic artifacts.

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.
Because OSR games like Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition takes place in the far future of Earth there is plenty of ways to connect up with CAS's world of
Zothique's cycle blurs the line between science fantasy, horror, & the Dying Earth concept as fodder for old school games. Eldritch Wizardry plugs right into this vibe as a grab back of  'big boy' concepts for the OD&D game. This same sort of a grand standing at the table top fits well with the epic tone of AS&SH. There's  always been a sense of a greater whole due to some of the parts of Eldritch Wizardry. All of this plugs into the greater cycle of
Here the rich and dark world of Zothique  plugs right into the rich and weird history of OSR games. The DM is going to have to careful to not let the lack of game balance bother them. These are epic level quests that will cross the line from science fantasy & Weird Tales straight into the mythological areas for their games. The far future of CAS's
Zothique   is the perfect playground to introduce the PC's to some of the more fantastical elements of Eldritch Wizardry.

One tone is mute within the starry singing,
The unison fulfilled, complete before;
One chord within the music sounds no more,
And from the stir of flames forever winging
The pinions of our sister, motionless
In pits of indefinable duress,
Are fallen beyond all recovery
By exultation of the flying dance,
Or rhythms holding as with sleep or trance
The maze of stars that only death may free—
Flung through the void's expanse.

In gulfs depressed nor in the gulfs exalted
Shall shade nor lightening of her flame be found;
In space that litten orbits gird around,
Nor in the bottomless abyss unvaulted
Of unenvironed, all-outlying night.
Allotted gyre nor lawless comet-flight
Shall find, and with its venturous ray return
From gloom of undiscoverable scope,
One ray of her to gladden into hope
The doubtful eyes denied that truthward yearn,
The faltering feet that grope.

Beyond restrainless boundary-nights surpassing
All luminous horizons limited,
The substance and the light of her have fed
Ruin and silence of the night's amassing:
Abandoned worlds forever morningless;
Suns without worlds, in frory beamlessness
Girt for the longer gyre funereal;
Inviolate silence, earless, unawaking
That once was found, and level calm unbreaking
Where motion's many ways in oneness fall
Of sleep beyond forsaking.

Circled with limitation unexceeded
Our eyes behold exterior mysteries
And gods unascertainable as these—
Shadows and shapes irresolubly heeded;
Phantoms that tower, and substance scarcely known.
Our sister knows all mysteries one alone,
One shape, one shadow, crowding out the skies;
Whose eyeless head and lipless face debar
All others nameless or familiar,
Filling with night all former lips and eyes
Of god, and ghost, and star:

For her all shapes have fed the shape of night;
All darker forms, and dubious forms, or pallid,
Are met and reconciled where none is valid.
But unto us solution nor respite
Of mystery's multiform incessancy
From unexplored or system-trodden sky
Shall come; but as a load importunate,
Enigma past and mystery foreseen
Weigh mightily upon us, and between
Our sorrow deepens, and our songs abate
In cadences of threne.

A gloom that gathers silence looms more closely,
And quiet centering darkness at its heart;
But from the certitude of night depart
Uncertain god nor eidolon less ghostly;
But stronger grown with strength obtained from light
That failed, and power lent by the stronger night,
Perplex us with new mystery, and doubt
If these our flames, that deathward toss and fall
Be festal lights or lights funereal
For mightier gods within the gulfs without,
Phantoms more cryptical.

New shadows from the wings of Time unfolding
Across the depth and eminence of years,
Fall deeplier with the broadening gloom of fears.
Prophetic-eyed, with planet-hosts beholding
The night take form upon the face of suns,
We see (thus grief's vaticination runs—
Presageful sorrow for our sister slain)
A night wherein all sorrow shall be past,
One with night's single mystery at last;
Nor vocal sun nor singing world remain
As Time's elegiast.

Lament of the Stars  (1912)
by Clark Ashton Smith

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.