Thursday, August 9, 2018

OSR Commentary - Divine Power, Appendix N Madness, & Old School Adventures

There are more then enough rooms, locations, & features within B4 The Lost City to satisfy an entire campaign's worth of play.

But as I stated in the last blog entry this isn't the only connection between the pulp elements of the so called Pulp Trilogy of Tom Moldvay. According to the B4 Drivethrurpg entry author  Shannon Appelcline, the author of Designers & Dragons;
"Following his work on the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set, Tom Moldvay entered a period of extensive adventure design. "The Lost City" was the third book in what James Maliszewski calls Moldvay's "Pulp Fantasy Trilogy." It's a pretty apt name, as X1: "The Isle of Dread" (1981) contains a dinosaur-filled island, X2: "Castle Amber" (1981) directly references the pulp writings of Clark Ashton Smith, and B4: "The Lost City" (1982) features a city beneath the desert sands." Fine let's go with that analogy & then draw a conclusion that perhaps there could be further adventure literature connections that draw from the Appendix N author H. Rider Haggard's next book in the series She and Allan. Wait didn't you say in the last blog entry that Ayesha committed suicide?! Well in the universe of H Rider Haggard death is but another doorway. As we learned in She: A History of Adventure the Pillar of Fire source of the Spirit of Life grants immortality of the titan as well as the divinity of the 'gods'. But there's a terrible price for this, the person is subject to the alignment altering effects & corruption requiring a wisdom save every 1d6 days. Yes that right days. Subject to the Spirit of Life you gain the regeneration effects of a troll but also the overriding corruption of 'divine power'. The PC will tend towards lawful evil actions or towards chaotic evil should they perform 1d6 evil actions. This will cause them to have an aura of fear for small animals, children, & beings of less then 2 hit points. Those bathing in the Spirit of Life flames gain the vast abilities of the titans of legend.
You can use
chain lightning, charm monster , cure wounds , fire storm , dispel magic, hold monster, invisibility, levitate, illusion; 3/day—etherealness,  summon nature’s ally IX; 1/day—gate, maze, meteor swarm, daylight,  smite, remove curse, & resurrection as if the caster was a wizard or caster class of level 20th. But there is a down side the caster while immortal from the effects of aging can still be harmed by weapons of iron & take full damage from magical weapons. Anytime you die there is a 30% chance that your body will be reconstituted in another location or back at the home location of the local Pillar of Fire.
Each time this happens the person becomes less & less human & seem remote as well slightly insane -2 on their Charisma score. All of this can be seen in Haggard's She & Allan.
Adventurer and trader Allan Quatermain seeks a meeting with Aysha to see if he can communicate with those relations who have pasted beyond the veil of death. We come to another lost  "settlement called "Strathmuir" run by a Scot, Robertson, a drunkard and former sea captain, who lives there with his beautiful daughter Inez." Before this there have been meetings with powerful witch doctors, relic magical amulets, expedition set ups, & more as Quatermain journeys across Africa in search of Kor. But by this time the settlement has been attacked by cannibals & they cut a bloody swath across the minor characters of the novel.The royal power of Ayesha casts light on several other semi immortal characters & factions in Haggard's lost worlds of his fictional Africa.

So what does all of this have to do with X1 Isle of Dread?! Plenty! X1 Isle of Dread has any number of factions & ruins on its dinosaur filled acreage. As Allan Quatermain moves from one bloody encounter to another towards his ultimate destination of the lost city of Kor there is a sense throughout the novel that the characters are treading on the "powers of others''. What I mean is that the divine power of the Pillar of Fire is not something that man was meant to trifle with. Perhaps the gods weren't the first in the divine order, that right belonged to monsters far more terrible. In the case of the Proto Hellenistic Greco Roman gods it was the Lovecraftian Elder Titans whom the gods imprisoned in Tartarus. These themes are echoed in the '77 Ray Harryhausen film Sinbad & The Eye of the Tiger.

In X1 we see the remains of terrible monsters from the islands past laying in wait for the unwary. Are there ruins on the island that point to a terrible past where the titans once played with the creation of life itself ? Did they happen upon magical that allowed them to think they were unlike the gods themselves?! Through out She & Allan, Quaterman remains extremely skeptical of the divine power of the witch queen
Ayesha. Even when she shunts his spirit over into the realm of the departed & he sees the love of his life. Allan Quaterman remains suspect of this queen of the damned. Perhaps the semi  divine power seen in the factions of She & Allan are indicative of the same flaws we see in the gods of Dungeons & Dragons & mythology. The legacy of the gods theme is something we see over & over again in Appendix N fiction.  One peoples taking over the relics & occult legacy of those who came before them.

This is especially true of the fiction of Clark Ashton Smith's Hyperborea stories where the Hyperboreans have taken over various locations of the Elder Things from HP Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness. So to have the peoples of Kor taken over the lost city from the semi divine rulers of that city of the damned deep in the heart of Haggard's Africa. 

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