Thursday, March 8, 2018

Pan Tangian Dreams Within OD&D's Gods, Demi Gods, & Heroes By Robert Kuntz and James M. Ward For Your Old School Campaigns

I was quietly taking a trip down memory lane thumbing through OD&D's Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes by Robert Kuntz and James M. Ward  again. Its been a long while since I'd perused the the Melnibonéan Mythos from Michael Moorcock's Elric novels in the book. Then I noticed something I hadn't seen in many years. The section on the warriors of Pan Tang in Melnibonéan Mythos section;

Move etc. as men
An army of fighters all able to fight with the ability of a 10th level fighter. These humans never
check moral and ride a 6 legged reptile which stands 15 feet tall and moves 20" per turn.
Armor Class — 4 Fighter Ability: As Tigers
Move: 19" Psionic Ability: Class 6
Hit Points
These are 10 feet tall tigers able to bite for 4 (8-sided) dice of damage and claw for 3 (8-sided).
They always appear beside the Pan Tang warriors, one to a mount.

That's some pretty high level stuff right there but then that's the whole point of OD&D's Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes.
"The supplement intends to set guidelines to enable DMs to incorporate mythologies into their own campaigns. The supplement presents the deities of various cultures of Earth and elsewhere in a form which can be easily assimilated into the existing D&D game structure"

To understand what these warriors are we need to quickly look at the fact that Jagreen Lern The cruel ruler of Pan Tang & head of the church of Chaos was sending raiders into alternative world & other dimensions to raid temples,  kill gods  & demi gods to cement his own power of rule over other worlds. This was something that I came across in the Games Workshop version of the Stormbringer rpg especially when looking at the Citadel Pan Tang figure line. These warriors & chaos laced mutated fighting tigers were the center pieces of my own chaos army back in the 90's when you pick up the figures for a song.

So while everyone at the table top was fielding a chaos army from the Lost & The Damned I was fielding a kick ass Pan Tang army with customized chaos mutated tigers! Alright what does this have to do with Dark Albion, Clark Ashton Smith, The Thirty Year War, & Arthurian Literature? Well, here's where things get interesting. The Pan Tang are a nation of chaos worshipers led by the driven mad man leader Theocrat Jagreen Lern. Their own racial origin is closely tied to The Mabden of which they are very twisted branch.

A week or so ago my other half pointed out that the Pan Tang figures bore a striking resemblance to the Telmarines of C.S. Lewis's book Prince Caspian, the second book published in   The Chronicles of Narnia series.

Theocrat Jagreen Lern ambitions know no bounds especially spreading the cults & religions of chaos. These army raiding parties across dimensions might be a way of getting rid of the excess warriors & forces to leave only the best for the conquest of the Young Kingdoms. This means that these forces could appear anywhere & when. There are number of mercenary & weird armies in Arthurian literature as well as the fact that Arthur would have been king prior to the Norman invasion of 1066 AD.  So time would be dangerously weird & strange for this to happen. A small scale invasion is possible given the fact that this isn't our world. Especially with some of the fictional  history of the ties of the Von Beks to the Holy Grail. 
The Von Bek family  involvement in the Thirty Year war is well known to Micheal Moorcock fans.

This brings me to Rpg Pundit's break down of Lion & Dragon & something that he revealed during his recent blog entry. Many of the Magistar spells have an underlying Medieval occult chaotic element to their magick;
Magisters are a lot more complicated.  All magisters have the potential to learn a number of magical techniques (in the L&D rulebook, there's seven techniques in all, but in theory there could be more techniques and some of these are elaborated upon in some of the RPGPundit Presents supplements).
There's one technique that every magister starts with potential knowledge of: Summoning.  This works largely the same as the Summoning rules in the Dark Albion book. However, to summon and control a demon you need its true name and its sigil, and Magic-user PCs don't actually possess any of these at 1st level. They'd need to obtain them. Note that also, technically, anyone (not just magic-users) could perform summoning, only non-magisters would be much worse at it (and therefore under much more risk of catastrophic failure and demonic possession).

The other six techniques are Astrology, Cures, Banishing, Battle Magic, Astrological Talismans, and True Alchemy.  Each of these have a variety of different rituals under their aegis, and/or different tiers of ability, so techniques can be selected multiple times to get access to more or better rituals in the technique.

Clerics, with their powers, are largely similar in practice to D&D regarding how they use magic (even if the power themselves are a little different from Vancian Clerics). But magisters in Lion & Dragon work radically differently from D&D wizards.

For starters, apart from a couple of spells (the most basic form of banishing, a spell to become partially invisible, etc), almost all of what magisters do require complex rituals.  Most of these require materials (special objects, incense, precious metals, or a full alchemical lab) that are quite costly, meaning that a magister will either need to come from wealth, amass wealth by some means, or have a powerful patron to fund them. These rituals take time and sometimes have associated risks.

But in many cases, the rituals being completed, the result is something the magister can then use very easily in actual situations.
So for example, a magician who knows Astrological Talismans needs to go through a whole process to create a talisman, but after that, as long as he has it on him, he need only touch it for its power to work. A magister can't cast the "light" spell like in D&D, but one that gets a lab, the complicated material components, and succeeds at the ritual to create it can make an ever-burning lamp. High-Level magisters can be ridiculously powerful; but not because they could throw fireballs or lightning bolts. Instead, because they can produce Byzantine Dragonfire (or 'Greek fire' as we knew it historically) that they can fire (or more likely give to someone else to fire) out of a flamethrower-like pump or from little grenades! Master alchemists can even try their hand at creating the Philosopher's Stone (if they can get a Royal Charter permitting them to do so; or if they want to risk execution if they can't get a Charter) to make lead into gold and do many other wondrous things. Or they can try their hand at creating the most difficult and valuable magic of all: the Elixir of Life that could grant immortality"
This idea is very much in keeping with many of the occult elements that are present within the Moorcock presented ideals behind chaos because the Melnibonéan Mythos & especially the cycle of Corum Jhaelen Irsei (the Prince in the Scarlet Robe) draws deeply from Western European occult traditions for many of its foundations.

For Lion & Dragon the ideas of both Clark Ashton Smith's Hyperborea cycle coincides with Michael Moorcock's mythos of the falling away of the old world while the newer world pulls from the ever changing struggle between the Great Old Ones & the newer gods,  Chaos vs Law or God vs The Fallen Angels. The cycles continue to echo throughout the multiverses.

"In Hesiod's Theogony (c. 700 BC), Chaos was the first of the primordial deities, followed by Gaia (Earth), Tartarus (the nether abyss) and Eros (Love).[4] From Chaos came Erebus (Darkness) and Nyx (Night)." This basically means that chaos can never be 'beaten' merely driven back from the edge of the darkness of the world. This was something that the Elves of old mythology realized. Fairyland is a greedy macro entity of chaos & primal magick washing and flowing with various heavens & hells of old. The underworld sometimes comes into contact with it but most often various black wizards use it perhaps including at times the black wizards of Pan Tang. The black occultists of Dark Albion, the alchemists of Lion & Dragon's Europe, & even Blackmoor's various wizards all are looking at the elephant in the macro cosmos called chaos.

The concept & magick  of Chaos is very ancient something the frog men of France know all to well.
"Pherecydes of Syros (fl. 6th century BC) interprets chaos as water, like something formless which can be differentiated." This is perhaps the final form of chaos after it scrubs all life from a world unlike the sameness of the expanse of law. Cults of chaos are subtle & very dangerous in the world of the supernatural because the entities of it & those about it are subject to its effects.
There has always been an associate of chaos with the Underworld & the dead of mythology particularly in Europe.

"Passages in Hesiod's Theogony suggest that Chaos was located below Earth but above Tartarus.[17] Primal Chaos was sometimes said to be the true foundation of reality, particularly by philosophers such as Heraclitus.
The notion of the temporal infinity was familiar to the Greek mind from remote antiquity in the religious conception of immortality.[clarification needed][18] This idea of the divine as an origin[clarification needed] influenced the first Greek philosophers.[19] The main object of the first efforts to explain the world remained the description of its growth, from a beginning. They believed that the world arose out from a primal unity, and that this substance was the permanent base of all its being. Anaximander claims that the origin is apeiron (the unlimited), a divine and perpetual substance less definite than the common elements. Everything is generated from apeiron, and must return there according to necessity.[20] A conception of the nature of the world was that the earth below its surface stretches down indefinitely and has its roots on or above Tartarus, the lower part of the underworld.[21] In a phrase of Xenophanes, "The upper limit of the earth borders on air, near our feet. The lower limit reaches down to the "apeiron" (i.e. the unlimited)."[21] The sources and limits of the earth, the sea, the sky, Tartarus, and all things are located in a great windy-gap, which seems to be infinite, and is a later specification of "chaos".[21][22] Primal Chaos was sometimes said to be the true foundation of reality, particularly by philosophers such as Heraclitus"
Any exposure to Primal Chaos means that a PC must save vs death or gain 1d4 random mutations. Passages into the underworld especially near Tartarus have always been very dangerous in European & Roman mythology. This was especially true of knights of Arthurian & Grail lore who quested for the Grail in French & Welsh literature

The Grail has strong symbolism within the Thirty Year War especially because the
conflict in the Hapsburg-ruled Kingdom of Bohemia. The Bohemian Period (1618-1625). In 1617, the Bohemian Diet elected Ferdinand of Styria as king of Bohemia. Ferdinand, a member of the Hapsburg family, became Holy Roman emperor two years later. Chaos cults benefited from all of this conflict within Europe at the time tying in dangerous events into the whole affair. Could there be a chaos Pan Tang raiding party waiting for the party on some Fairyland location? I personally think so given on the whole because of the affairs of the Thirty Years War.

This basically means that PC's could run into all kinds of monsters of mythology and horror at the edges of Fairyland where the energies of chaos run wild.

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