Monday, October 26, 2020

Commentary On Adapting Necronomicon: Book of Dead (1993) As Old School Campaign

 I sat down with an old VHS horror classic with Jeffery Combs ! Not the Reanimator series but the seldom mentioned but often rented Necronomicon. Its one of those films that came out in the Nineties.  H.P. Lovecraft's: Necronomicon, always seems to have been out at the back alley hole in the wall video rental place I worked in. Its a weird beastie of an anthology film with an 'R' rating meaning plenty of Nineties T&A with a wrap around story starring Combs.


So what does this film have to do with old school gaming? There are loose connections & more that can be mined here so bare with me for a moment. First of all this film has a hell of a cast; "H.P. Lovecraft's: Necronomicon, original title Necronomicon, also called Necronomicon: Book of the Dead or Necronomicon: To Hell and Back is an American anthology horror film released in 1993. It was directed by Brian YuznaChristophe Gans and Shusuke Kaneko and was written by Gans, Yuzna, Brent V. Friedman, and Kazunori Itō. The film stars Bruce Payne as Edward De Lapoer, Richard Lynch as Jethro De Lapoer, Jeffrey Combs as H. P. Lovecraft, Belinda Bauer as Nancy Gallmore, and David Warner as Dr. Madden."
It sort of goes for a weird 'Bordello of Blood' meets 'Tales From the Darkside' in a back alley for a quickie with a side of  H.P. Lovecraft's Mythos thrown in as its framing device. Its sleazy, humorously dark, not PC at all, plays very fast & loose with the Mythos.
Its actually partially the framing device that allows the DM to draw on it for old school games but we'll get to that in a moment.
"The three stories in the film are based on three H. P. Lovecraft short stories: The Drowned is loosely based on The Rats in the Walls,[1] The Cold is based on Cool Air,[2] and Whispers is based on The Whisperer in Darkness.[3]"
Yeah its actually the The Whisperer in Darkness that helps to move the entire anthology along & its the Mi Go who are actually the secondary antagonists in the film. They've set up a small monastery where Comb's Lovecraft goes to access the Necronomicon for research for his fiction. What he actually wants to do is steal the forbidden book & things don't quite go as planned or do they?
"In the wrap-around story of the film, H. P. Lovecraft (Jeffrey Combs) learns of a monastery where a copy of the Necronomicon is held. Having been a regular there for his research, he sets up an appointment, his cab driver told to wait outside. Taking insult when the head monk calls his work "fiction", Lovecraft insists that all his writings are true. Requesting to read the Alchemical Encyclopedia Vol. III, Lovecraft steals a key from another monk and flees to the cellar where the Necronomicon is being held. Unknown to him, a monk has seen him. Unlocking the vault where the book is held, the door closes behind Lovecraft unexpectedly, making him drop the key down a grating and into the water below. As that happens, one of the seals is opened.
Lovecraft sits to read and record what he is reading. It's not specified if he sees visions of the future through the book, or if the book contains future accounts. It's likely the stories will come to pass, and for the Necronomicon have already passed, alluding to the Necronomicon's timelessness, as all the stories take place well beyond the 1932. " "
So who the heck are the Ommati monks & why are they setting up shop as an occult society right in the middle of  Los Angeles? Simply put these Mi Go were part of the second wave of occultism that swept through America in the 30's. Note that this H.P. Lovecraft is more of an occultist then our 'real world' version. He's brave, conniving & the perfect media for the Lovecraftian gods to get their messages of insanity into the world.


Yeah its all a set up, the Necronomicon shows him stories & visions of its forbidden knowledge in the form of stories with snippets of its forbidden wisdom thrown into the mix. Not enough to really drive him mad per say but him insight into the dark recesses of its true potential. The film is great because it drives Lovecraft purists up a wall. Take for example the 'Drowned' which has figments of The Shadow Over Innesmouth


& the Rats In The Wall. Edward De LaPoer, a member of the De La Poer family is tracked down & given an envelop from which he learns of the tragic fate of his uncle. The creature featured  might be an avatar of Cthulhu with hints of its own very small remnants of a cult around it. 
Then you get into the 'Cold' with a twist of weird science gone very wrong & the twist of medical conditions gone very wrong. Cold is three parts boring, insane, & whole unique with some ideas that are so twisted that they could shock even the most jaded of palettes.


'Whispers' is the final installment taking place in modern day Philadelphia which is in the grip of "the Butcher" a dangerous serial killer. Its a really twisted tale of two police officers, Paul and Sarah of the Philadelphia Police Department who run afoul of a group of degenerate Mi Go who are using humans for reproduction. Its a really nasty Nineties gore fest with a twist of the usual VHS classic gore.



Then we flash back to Lovecraft whose had access to the Necronomicon this entire time & there are a wide variety of traps with various sigils that have been revealed within the 'vault' where the book was kept. There's a degenerate avatar of 'Dagon' down below the grate where Lovecraft was sitting but he rolls a 'twenty' with his sword cane. Then the final reveal as a child of the Outer gods comes to claim Lovecraft's soul & he manages to escape the 'monastery'. The 'Necronomicon' is in his possession & roll credits.
Surely there is no way that this film could be used as old school adventure fodder? Actually it could be & has by me several times. Right off of the top let me clear up why the
Ommati monks would let Lovecraft have access to the book. They were ordered to by Nyarlathotep in order to spread the madness of the Outer Gods. This version of the book of the dead would probably have 1d20 minor black magick spells with 1d6 major Lovecraftian spells.

 "The Black Man", artist Jens Heimdahl's rendition of Nyarlathotep,
according to H. P. Lovecraft's story "The Dreams in the Witch House".


As for why the Mi Go would be using the Twentieth century as jump point is because this is merely a beach front in a war that has been going on across space & time with other aliens such as the Great Race of Yith.



We have no idea where or when the Ommati monks got their copy of the Necronomicon nor where it came from making this a perfect set up for PC's to do a recovery job sometime in the past. While this book does seem like a potent artifact its certainly not up to the standards of the original book.  This makes me suspect that this might have been or is a fake copy that's been created as a prop to keep cultists of Nyarlathotep safe. The monsters, cultists,etc. all mentioned in the movie are dead ends to the Old Ones & Outer gods. So instead of merely destorying them outright they use them as fodder for others such as the Inquisition or other investigators of the Lovecraftian. While this is not a great film its a great piece of VHS weirdness from the golden age of horror of the Nineties. There are lots of angles to mine here and Combs Lovecraft makes a great occultist NPC & one that players don't expect. A man of action & some bravery instead of the usual sniveling depictions I've seen in several novels.


There are certainly several things I love about the film but this is one that devides both the horror comunity and the Lovecraft purists. There's lots of fodder in HP Lovecraft's Necronomicon Book of the Dead. But you've got to look around for a copy on the internet or VHS. Its never had a Blu Ray release. For the record this trailer drives me crazy, Clive Barker never took much inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft. He's always had his own imagination to pull from.



Please note that this blog post is not an attempt to violate the trademark or copyright of the film Necronomicon: Book of Dead (1993) This blog post is for entertainment,  informational, & educational purposes only.  All other ideas are  copyrighted to the original writer.

1d10 Random Lovecraftian Time Haunted Ruins Table For Your Old School Campaigns

 




'The process of delving into the black abyss
 is to me the keenest form of fascination.'
H. P. Lovecraft


There are ruins that travel between dimensions and planes, sliding between in  places, time, &  space. Those who encounter such places are sure they are haunted and the lives of many adventurers have been changed over a visit to one of these places.
                                               1d10 Random Time Haunted Ruins Table
  1. A set of monoliths with the signs and symbols of the Great Old Ones carved in the top of them. There are ghoul worshipers who come at night to dance and have rites under the uncaring stars of the damned. There will be 1d6 random monsters or spawn of the Old Ones around these monoliths. There will 1d6 random minor relics around the place scattered. 
  2. This is a supermarket mostly in ruins but there are two tribes of mutants living around the place; staying for more then 1d4 round will cause the PC's to have to make a mutation check. There are several cars in the parking lot of unknown make and model. There will be 1d4 super science relics in these. 
  3. A set of alien statues whose rock and stone is actually living flesh, these lifeforms will act as giant mimics and adhere to anyone foolish enough to approach the 1d4 'stone' chests scattered around. These chests are actually mimics who worship the larger mother statues. There are 1d8 corpses scattered around the place of past adventurers who have stumbled upon these things. There are treasure type D scattered about.
  4. A whirling mass of elemental air marks the passage of dimensional energy to the elemental plane of air, several genies will tear apart anyone trying to enter this place. There is a chest of gold suspended in the air on a cushion of solidified pseudo matter. The tinkling of bells marks the location of this point. 
  5. Ruins of a home once stood on this spot and now it marked by the burned out shell of a place. A smaller then human set of stairs leads into a pit in the ground. There are 1d100 bodies or bones that might be corpses piled high in one corner. The thing will turn into a composite monster of incredible destructive capacity. It will not leave the house's ruins though.
  6.  A former military bunker marks this point and a strange glow fills the air, this is actually the creation of fungus and not radiation. There are 1d8 rare relics of a post apocalyptic nature. The place is marked out by the constant drone of a small mechanism. The thing is actually a motor that powers the last survivor of this place. His brain is a psionic construct able to appear in 1d4 rounds, he will not attack but will ask questions of the PC's but he is actually stealing 1d10 years from his victims. 
  7. A garden shed that is actually an entrance to one of the planes of the Abyss, there will be 1d4 minor demons milling around the building. There are +3 garden and farming implements scattered about and a +3 ax of sharpness in a stump. Around back is a rotting pile of heads of various humanoid types piled high.
  8. A train station has two groups of old West outlaws who fight over the place with guns blazing and horses but they have no idea why. Anyone staying in the place for more then 1d6 rounds will become trapped in the time loop that goes on continuously repeating itself for eternity. There are several major treasures within crates on the landing of the place. 
  9. A strange pulp style alien space craft has just landed, actually the thing has been on auto pilot, the crew are now alien zombies hungry for flesh. Aboard a shaggoth in suspension is held in place by a force cage. 1d6 crates scattered in the back of the ship will have some random treasure within. The whole place is infected with a zombie plague as well. Save vs disease must be made upon leaving this hazard. 
  10. A strange haunted miniature castle of stone and brick is the playground of the gods of the Earth's dreams and there are 1d8 fey servants and attendants. Those who stay will be drafted into a warped version of a mid Summer Night's Dream. All of this will dissolve when the dream of the god awakens stranding the party in the Astral.

Campaign Matters Infernal : Beer & Judges Guild - Inferno By Geoffry O. Dale

 So on Sunday it was get together with friends over beer & discussing our  varsious campaigns over one of my player's houses. Things have been pretty chaotic in Connecticut with the Pandemic & the rise in cases. But not so much that we didn't get together but half our players were missing so it was a beer night. And things turned as they do to past games & one of which was TPK romp through Inferno By Geoffry O. Dale. Where do we start with this module? Well at the time it offered an alternative infernal cosmology to Dragon issue #75.  Old School hersey I can hear the AD&D first edition crowd screaming. Inferno By Geoffry O. Dale came out in Nineteen Eighty. 



So over the years my uncle Jack mixed,patched, matched infernal adventure & campaign elements as needed.  This is no slight on Geoffry O. Dale's creation & we gained a very healthy appreciation of Dante's Inferno. So let's jump right into the thick of things here;

"Inferno is based primarily upon the poem "Inferno" by Dante and is also fitted as a scenario into my campaign, Nidevellir. My purpose in writing it is twofold -- first, to answer the perennial question of Judge's when the party finds a cursed scroll: "GO DIRECTLY TO HELL!!" now what do I do? And secondly, to provide a power base to the evil immortals in the campaign. There may arise occasions in which an irate Cleric will geas some poor fighter into returning something that is on the Devil's plane and this allows the character somewhere to go for the adventure."



This brings up  where & when I would use O'Dale's modern creation looking into the classic review of this module from Dragon #44 (December 1980).


Which if you don't have is worth it for the classic 'Food Fight game alone. Simplier times folks. Anyhow, 
William Fawcett goes deep into the module hitting the high points;

"Inferno was reviewed in Dragon #44 (December 1980) by William Fawcett. He commented that "This is one of the more expensive and longest modules offered by Judges Guild. It is a mixed offering with some excellent points and some potential problems. Many DMs will like this module just because it is perhaps the one situation where they can validly play with Asmodeus as a wandering monster!"[3] Regarding the commentary on TSR's placement of the archdevils, he stated that "Actually there is support for both placements; the argument harkens back to the days of the “angels on a pin” discussions. Depending on their sources, both authors have them placed correctly (or relatively, incorrectly). In any case this is of little importance to the play as most characters will be reluctant to face any of the Archdevils anyhow."[3] Fawcett added: "Obviously, this is a very high-level dungeon. A party of no fewer than eight members and averaging no less than 10th to 14th level is suggested. Even for these levels, this is a very deadly place. This puts a strain on the judge; there is a fine line between playing this module well and playing it either so deadly as to be discouraging or crossing over into Monty Haul dungeoning. [...] This can lead to a party that is terribly over-encumbered with new major magic items."[3] He continued "Another problem inherent with playing characters and monsters who are this high in levels is that it takes a long time to resolve most melees. Either the characters have a lot of hit points or the more complicated magics take longer to roll up and compute. Several new spells are also suggested for use in the module, many of which would unbalance a campaign when (or if) the characters return. Even with these problems this module can be a real experience if played with a capable DM. There are some excellent descriptions in the early sections that set the mood beautifully for the players. The DM is further aided by suggestions throughout the book on how to play certain situations. These, for the most part, are quite useful. The module handles encountering and generating high-level monsters very well."[3] Fawcett concluded his review by saying, "If you are looking for something that will challenge players who have characters grown to great heights or are looking for a suitable ground to play high-level characters as a change, this is an excellent choice. This is definitely not a module for a new DM to attempt, but correctly run it offers an unusual challenge."" 
One of the ways of handling the magic item problem is very simple, some magic items don't work outside of Hell. Even escaping Hell is going to be problematic enough. 
So we started brininging this discussion into our Castles & Crusades rpg game. Now recently the Troll Lords are going to be producing a planes book. That's great but I really don't care. Most of my infernal goings on have come from the above sources & material that has appeared in Tome of the Unclean. 




DM choice for their campaign trumps rpg creator, writer, & company's vision every single time at the table top level. This is something that going all of the way back to the first 'official' world setting has been a problem. Homebrew campaign world's settings  always beat the above. I'm not picking on Troll Lords in particular at all but over the last forty years numerous incidents have rammed this point home. Games should be bought, read, torn apart & the dungeon master along with his or her players should make it their own. This is part of the philopshy that one sees with some of the Troll Lord Kickstarters.   This level of customization on the DM's part doesn't equal micromanagement. That get's thrown out the window by the players as soon as they start playing a high level adventure like Inferno. It takes a steady hand to do these adventures. Because players are gonna screw your plans up royally and its glorious folks. 




What I don't agree with is  Ron Shigeta review about Inferno  in The Space Gamer No. 31;"Ron Shigeta reviewed the adventure in The Space Gamer No. 31.[2] He commented that this adventure "is for those that have gotten cursed scrolls saying, "Go to Hell!!" or owe a Geas to some Lawful Good cleric. Hell is everything it's cracked up to be. Not just anybody can dash in and out of this place. As a matter of fact, it would be the achievement of a character's career to get out alive, as it should be. Everything is covered, from Tiamat's cave to the palace of Minos – and nothing is easy; both new and old Devils and monsters abound here."[2] He continued: "But not everything is as it should be. Minos' Palace has 13 rooms and Tiamat's cave has four paragraphs, where it should have a book of its own. Often a description of some new magical item will take up more room than the overall description of the level it's on. Usually the only major encounters are those on the road through, leaving the rest of the circle one big random encounter area."[2] Shigeta concluded the review by saying, "I bought Inferno because I wanted the plane of 9 Hells in my campaign and didn't have the time to do it myself. Anybody who wants to spend a few weeks on it can probably do as well or better, and with the gaps in Book 1, I feel little confidence in the forthcoming book 2, which contains the remaining five levels, the infernal City of Dis, all the Monster Manual Arch-Devils, and the only way off the plane .... Perhaps Mr. O'Dale should be playing Napoleon instead.""

Sigh, Hell has been the back bone for my campaigns for over thirty years.
Here's how it works, Hell is main stage & the Abyss is the backstage of Hell.
The whole cloth of the game campaign is based around it. Anything even romotely 
associated with the infernal is choatic.



Things of Earth & the material don't last 
in the infernal at all. Hell adapts as it wants & needs to but
 its always evil, destructive, & destructive. That brings up Hell coming into its own 
with its latest incarnation in the Metallic Tome by 
Rafael Chandler.
 


But if you want to deal with the hardcore metal forces of the infernal darkness along side the Metallic Tome. Then I suggest going with 'The Dragon' magazine issue #20. This issue has quite a few variations of the usual infernal themes that would fit along side of horrors of the Metallic Tome. Especially 'Demonology Made Easy' By Gregory Rihn. p. 15  a perfect article for those lawyer demons;

"Any demon or devil should be a hard bargainer in making a pact of service, attempting to get as much from the operator as possible in return for as little actual work as can be. The demands of lesser fiends will be in the area of material rewards. They will demand a small animal sacrifice each time they appear, or else a small taste of the operator’s blood or tears. This is because the lesser fiends cannot bind the operator’s soul to perdition, or enforce their will upon him once he is in their clutches — the big ones will take him away!" 




So there are only four levels to O'Dale's Hell? Getting a party of adventurers to even get past the first would be a trick unto itself. But this isn't very Dungeons & Dragons at all. Well let's talk for a moment about Michael Moorcock's The Warhound & The World's Pain. An aspect of the eternal champion takes up the familial search for the Holy Grail. 


To run this campaign in a more modern setting I turned to an older game that happen to love because its easily adaptable and that's The Lion & Dragon rpg. Not only did I use it with a modern infernal game but used it quite nicely with adventure elements from Inferno By Geoffry O. Dale. 




Gaming is what you make of it and always has been. Judges Guild material is very adaptable to old school & OSR campaigns as needed. Beer often leads to Hell but this time it lead down several memory holes and perhaps a campaign hook or two.. 




 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Giant Mutant Lemurian Ripper For Your Old School Campaigns - Revamp

 



The swamps and waterways along the coast of  the former country of Lemuria hide some of the most dangerous of monsters. Lemuria is a now cracked,broken seething serpent men haunted shell of itself. Dark occult forces haunt the waterways and moss haunted forests. But adventurers and outlaws of all stripes come here for it  houses some of the richest relic and treasure peppered ruins that are to be found across the planes. But's also the home of the Giant Mutant Lemurian Ripper, a reptilian horror that once served as the Lumerian military machine's mascot. Now this horror has answered the warped call of the serpent men priests who have arisen from the depths of the Earth. They have come to serve as the reptilian watch dogs to their ancient and twisted serpent god priests.


Giant Mutant Lemurian Ripper
Frequency: Uncommon 
Number Appearing : 1-4 
Armor Class: 4 
Move: 15"
Hit Dice: 10
% In Lair: 3%
Treasure Type: D
No of Attacks 3 
Damage /Attack : 1-6,1-6,4-16
Special Attacks: Mutation 
Special Defense: Nil 
Magic Resistance: Standard 
Intelligence: Low 
Alignment: Neutral (Evil tendencies)
Size: M (14''long)  
Psionic Ability: Nil 
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil


Giant Mutant Lemurian Ripper are greedy dangerous and incredibly cunning hunters of the Lumerian woodlands and swamps. These apex predators are capable of bringing down prey animals three times their size and move with incredible cunning. Because of the magickal run off and dimensional sludge run off  these horror often sport 1d6 minor mutations that only add to their fierce reputations. 
The ancient Lumerians through genetic manipulation and selective breeding of the species increased the mental capacity of these monsters and the serpent men have continued this program. These reptilian horrors are capable of coordinating actions, using pack tactics, and out maneuvering even seasoned warriors.
The monsters have been known to take a victim lop off a limb, take the victim to an isolated location, and lure other party members into ambushes. Giant Mutant Lemurian Ripper love human and near human man flesh above all else. They maim and murder prey as it suits them often taking trophies to be found near nest enclaves to lure prey into close quarters where the packs can easily take down victims to be dragged back to the nests. 
The bite of these predators can piece soft metals quite easily and they relish the taste of blood and gore across their gums. They can quickly rake prey for 1-6 points of damage with powerful bone like claws and their speed enables them to hit twice in a round followed up by a powerful bite for 4-16 points of damage. Their jaws sport powerful bites from animals bred over thousands of  patient and careful applications of alien Lemurian super science.

The Giant Lumerian Ripper is equally at home in the fetid waters of the swamps as the land but prefer hunting across the landscape of their jungle homelands. They have been spotted anyplace that the strange and deeply disturbing operations of the Lumurian serpent men have been encountered. These horrors are also known to guard the ancient ruins and assets of the alien Lumurians that the serpent men have reclaimed in the name of their goddess.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Review & Commentary On The Free OSR module - 'HM6: The Equinox Demon' By Todd Hughes For Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition

 


"On the Equinox, a sacrifice of grain is offered to the Nature Goddess. However last year, during the ceremony, a horrid demon arose, demanding tribute. It did not want grain, but gold and gems! The friar made a stand, but it was not enough and now the hamlet is terrified! Will a band of heroes have the guts to face the Equinox Demon? An adventure for 4-6 characters, level 1-3"






You know over the years of doing this blog time after time we see tons of high end & high level OSR adventures. But a basic lower tier adventure for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons?! That's a horse of a different colour & that's exactly the what 'HM6: The Equinox Demon' brings to the table top level. 'HM6: The Equinox Demon' has a solid core of old school Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure that makes an excellent beginning adventure with its quick pick up hook;

"The Hamlet of Stallington is not preparing for the customary spring celebration even though it is nearing the spring equinox. Typically, a sacrifice of grain is made to the nature goddess, on the equinox, at the mouth of a cave in a forest glade. However, last year when the elders gathered to make the sacrifice, a great fog arose, and a horrid demon emerged from the cave entrance. The demon had many smaller servants with it, and they surrounded the elders. The demon spoke in a frightening voice that seemed to rise from the bowels of the earth itself. It demanded tribute or it would destroy the hamlet and slay the residents. The demon did not want grain however, it wanted gold, silver, and gems. The local priest Friar Dane went, along with his acolyte Tames, to confront the demon. The Friar’s body was discovered outside of town the next day and Tames was never seen again. The elders gathered the villagers together and it was agreed that the tribute must be paid. In so doing the village drained most of its coffers and the people were left with very little to pay for this season’s supplies. As a result, the people are hungry and have very little food and much of the livestock died over the winter from lack of feed." 
Everything within 'HM6: The Equinox Demon' is pure Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition goodness from its intinial encounters to the wandering monster tables. 'HM6: The Equinox Demon' brings quite a few good things to the table. 



So how does 'HM6: The Equinox Demon' do this?! By leaning heavily into both the twin old school monster pools of both the Monster Manul & Fiend Folio. This isn't a mistake & takes 'HM6: The Equinox Demon' & grounds it squarely in both the old school & reminds the OSR of its roots. 



'HM6: The Equinox Demon' only clocks in at thirteen pages but what it does with that thirteen pages is lay down a tight & well written module. Highly recommended as a quick campaign starter & a solidly done little module. 

Can it be adapted into the OSR?! Yes and this is a great module to begin a Castles & Crusades campaign. Everything is here to roar into the fight & get the players started into a campaign. 


'HM6: The Equinox Demon'  makes an excellent introduction into a campaign by giving the player's lattiude & actual chance to get into the middle of an important series of events that could affect a ton of folks. 


Review & Commentary on The Free OSR Module 'Terror under the Sea' By Joseph Mohr For Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition & Your Old School OR OSR Campaigns

 

"Cthulhu still lives, too, I suppose, again in that chasm of stone which has shielded him since the sun was young. His accursed city is sunken once more, for the 
Vigilant sailed over the spot after the April storm; but his ministers on earth still bellow and prance and slay around idol-capped monoliths in lonely places. He must have been trapped by the sinking whilst within his black abyss, or else the world would by now be screaming with fright and frenzy. Who knows the end?"
Weird Tales (vol. 11no. 2)  (February 1928)  edited by Farnsworth Wright
The Call of Cthulhu by H. P. Lovecraft


"Your ship has come across a strange island where none should be. Are you brave enough to explore this strange, unsettling place? A Cthulhu Mythos based adventure for characters of at least 10th level"

Terror under the Sea is full on & free  throttle Lovecraftian AD&D first edition horror just in time for Halloween 2020. Does the author know something we don't?! 
































Joseph Mohr is a machine & while poking around Dragon's foot I came across a copy of a module that I wasn't aware of that he did. 'Terror under the Sea' is a high level Advanced Dungeons & Dragons module  that hits the Lovecraft vein hard. This is a tenth level module and its a nasty one to boot. The intro gives the set up;

"The storm put us way off course. When it ended we drifted for days on end. Without wind we were left at the mercy of the gods to get us to our destination. On day thirteen we spotted an island in the distance. It was not on our charts but we were desperate for provisions. We were very low on water and had nearly run out of food. The island had a peculiar spire rising out of it. The design was like nothing we had ever seen. Our brave wizard decided that we should explore this place. Perhaps there might be great treasure here. In the end it would have been better not to have found this accursed place. Living without food and water would have been far preferable to the screams I wake up to each night. What is truly terrifying...is that the screams are my own....."

This module takes the AD&D Deities & Demigods Lovecraft section & turns it up to eleven. The PC's find themselves in the middle of the most infamous island in the Lovecraft mythos! And they have to survive! This is a world shattering module for 2020. The premise lays someplace between oh my God  that's metal to full on how the heck would I run this!?! 

The nice part is that you don't have to own a copy of 
the AD&D Deities & Demigods book because everything is provided right there here for you in the module. A very nice change up. 
This is really a nice little module & its not bare bones but it fills in quite a bit of the Chthulu mythology for the end times of a campaign. This is world & campaign breaker stuff here within 
'Terror under the Sea'. The encounters are fierce, deadly, & sanity shattering for a party & I'm not saying this lightly. 
Deep Ones,Shoggoths, and many of the heavy hitters are here in this module and its for more then mere affect here. 'Terror under the Sea' is the bloody big leagues & the adventure should not be used lightly. The layout is well done, the cartography is solid, and this is a perfect high level campaign Lovecraftian  game runner. 

Now with all of that said this is a perfect module to use with the  Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg! This is a perfect module to use as a follow up to the events within 
The Mystery at Port Greely. 
The PC's are sailing away from that module when the  'Terror under the Sea' comes to sweep them into its clutches! 


Bottom line  'Terror under the Sea' is a nice & solid no nonsense AD&D first edition Lovecraftian module with lots of possibilities if used right by the DM. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

In Memorum For TSR Writer, Wargamer, & Module Designer Lenard "Len" Lakofka (1944-2020)

 


Well, Lenard "Len" Lakofka (1944-2020) has passed & we had the odd email here & there. He was a very nice & personable person whose works always graced my table. He was one of the original TSR alumni & pioneers of the original Dungeons & Dragons leading right next to other greats. 
 L1 The Secret of Bone Hill is in my opinion the essential Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh module. Len on the other hand did a Hell of a lot for the OSR through the release of L4 Devil Spawn &  L5A: The Kroten Campaign Guide. 







I found Len Lakofka's modules solid & were well recieved at the table top with my players. There isn't a month that went by when I didn't look forward to his  monthly feature, Leomund's Tiny Hut, appeared in Issue #30 of 'The Dragon'. The Dragon issue 30 was released in October of 1979 & Its October 23, 2020 that Len passed. Pass the dice, miss the player, another one us has left the table. Rest in peace Lenard "Len" Lakofka you will be missed at our table tonight. All my best, condolences, & respects to the  Lakofka family this evening. 








The Continuing Outer Realm War Round Two - Godbound/Cha'alt Play Session Six - Manticores & Tactical Demons


 

So last night it was the middle of the Godbound/Cha'alt/Stars Without Number Session & here's where the party had to deal with a Cha'alt manticore. It took them quite a bit of time to deal with the horror of it through melee. 


If you'll remember last session we ended on a cliff hanger & the party had picked up a hitchhiker.  Steve's character had died & things have been going down hill for the party when they encountered a manticore with full on Cha'alt mutations. 
Their hitchhiker revealed herself to be Demonic a cleric of Ishtr created when
that crazy metal headed bastard of the OSR Rafael Chandler released 'The Demonic Tome' onto an unsuspecting OSR as a pay what you want title.


The party's ride & horses were slaughtered during the melee & because of the violence of it my NPC was forced to reveal her true colours. I had this whole cloth build up for it! Lisa Watts is the lead singer in the 'Crags' a hard core metal band & adventurer. The party hiked back to where they had picked her up & her band whom it turns out had been slaughtered by the pig faced orc forces of chaos  from  AX1: The Sinister Stone of Sakkara


One of the US military's mecha had crashed on her band's van. The party's wizard Jaro' The Impossible  & their mechanic/ranger Crazy Charlie went to work on the van. A tactical demon appeared on their doorstep whist they were work on their van demanding to know why they had killed her pet manticore. Tacticl demons are straight out of 
 The Metallic Tome. Once again they tried to use their summoned lawyer demon & that didn't go well for the party. 

Boy the players had to talk their way outta of that little exchange as the lawyer demon & the tactical demon turned on the party. They had to think very fast & sacrificed ammuniaton,junk food, and a very special tv remote control to the demons for their skins! But now they've taken on a bargain for a hit on an angel! 
So the party is stuck out in the middule of nowhere near the California,Nevada, Utah, & Arizona deserts odd Cha'alt ruins, dungeons, & cityscapes have appeared. One of these has been my campaign's  version of Simon Forester's AX4: Ruined City of Cyfandir. This dungeon plugs nicely into Cha'alt's  Cha'alt: Fuchsia Malaise 's tattered & corrupt Elven empire. 

Steve hasn't come back into the game because of two our player's passings.. yet. There's a lot to unpack her yet stay tuned! 
There are several things going on here at once  during this campaign: 
  1. There's a ton of pressure to consolodate two of my campaigns especially my Castles & Crusades campaign because of the kickstarter. 
  2. Lots of loose ends that DM Steve has left me on purpose. 
  3. There's two huge classic D&D  artifacts lumbing through this campaign & causing destruction on a massive scale. 
  4. We've lost two of our strongest players! Their passing has caused a huge hole in my games. 
  5. The round robin of DMing is creating a lot pressure with fall out. So its now a matter of picking up the pieces.