Thursday, August 17, 2017

Review & Commentary On The Battle For The Purple Islands By From Kort'thalis Publishing For Your Old School Campaigns

I have a very strong connections with The Islands of Purple Haunted Putrescence, its a very flexible & dangerous adventure location/setting from the warped mind of Venger Satanis. A gonzo science fantasy setting with  liberal doses of  'R' rated  sex, gore, & lots of mayhem. All of which collide with the  concepts from H.P. Lovecraft's circle of Cthulhu mythos writers. But what are the islands themselves & the brand new factions, horrors, & the adventure kit? Wait what?! Didn't you know that the new Heavy Metal style magazine aesthetic adventure & expansion book The Battle For The Purple Islands has hit the shelves of Drivethrurpg

"What are they? A forbidden sanctuary of weirdness in the middle of the ocean. Three large islands next to
each other with dark purple sand, unbelievable creatures, and treasures untold. It’s a gonzo science fantasy paradise!
You see, much of the dark forces reigning supreme over the purple islands were vanquished by adventuring heroes. They came, they saw, and they slaughtered. A few years went by without incident.
Everyone started coming to the islands after things quieted down—colonists, anthropologists, big game hunters, sightseeing tourists, etc. But then obscene purple blasphemies deep within the islands began to resurface"

The islands have a bit of an overhaul & get back into the multi dimensional madness that them great as an adventure location in the first place. There's lots of reasons for your PC's to be on the islands and the book actually provides a number of random tables to give your characters a reason to be there. The whole affair clocks in at about twenty three or so pages. There's Venger's usual OSR & O5R vibe through out but in this case that's not a bad thing. Basically this book is a number of interconnected adventure plot points with factional information scattered throughout as much adventure as tool kit. Battle for The Islands of Purple Haunted Putrescence is Venger's Seventies & Early Eighties wet dream love letter with blood slime from 'Cannibal Holocaust' mixed with 'Stop Motion' dinosaurs from 'Land of The Lost'.

There are expansions of existing Islands of Purple Haunted Putrescence factions & new ones like 'Cannibal' tribes that will eat your PC's in heart beat, yes you do meet HP Lovecraft & yes there is an Alpha Blue adventure in for you Satanis veteran players. This is an extremely dangerous little book with lots of new pit falls & weirdness waiting for PC's. I'm talking new factions such as the Sorcerers of the Crescent Moon who are serpent men from another time just waiting for PC's. "When at least one of the purple moons is crescent, a snake-man sorcerer named H'ssan comes down from the mountain to steal warm-blooded humans. Under cover of darkness, H’ssan procures sacrifices for Xivirinthi, the ancient wyrm who lives inside the third moon."
Then you've got Talking Apes an in for Apes Victorious if you ever needed one! Why? Why not because everything is better with apes! "The purple islands allow for travel through time, space,
and other dimensions. So, it’s no wonder that certain areas of the jungle have been altered by the
quantum upheaval. Such changes bring civilizations from parallel worlds and alternate universes. Talking apes that walk upright like men is just one example.
The apes are part of a community called New Ape City. They carry machine guns, attempting to conquer the purple islands whenever they meet a force that threatens them—both physically and intellectually… radical ideas that go against their
religious-scientific belief system."
The ones you really don't want to meet are the brotherhood of the Unquiet Void, "A religious order calling themselves Brotherhood of the Unquiet Void devote themselves to those outer
abominations whose slime drips down from another universe, a universe of throbbing, twitching, screaming
flesh, gory and insane and spilling out into the unreachable darkness. The brotherhood worships
entities that hail from such places, and they have a leader named Kaion Vasus" Sort of a combination of the underdwellers from Battle For The Planet of the Apes & what happens to the world population in the film In The Mouth of Madness. These are not folks you want to invite over for supper. Then there's encounters with Lovecraft younger & older(don't ask). Lots of encounter tables for hex crawling across the islands. This is where the book shines of OSR style games especially if your into own a couple of OSR retroclone systems and want to expand your players adventuring! This also takes place in a timeless setting meaning that this is the book your going to want to pick up to introduce new players to the gonzo Lovecraftian sleazy jungle dripping action of The Islands of Purple Haunted Putrescence.
Is Battle For The Islands of Purple Haunted Putrescence worth the five dollar price tag? In a word yes, even if you don't own the original then Battle is your entry level drug for the weird science fantasy setting. This book brings home the setting and there are several tables that should have been in the original book. Your not paying twice for same setting folks this book has lots and lots of new material that isn't the 'special features' that ended up on the cutting room floor. Instead this is an add on book for the setting. Which leads into the next question should there be another book in the Purple Haunted Putrescence setting series of books? In a word yes.
If your into the All Night Long USA style gonzo cheese and weirdness of Venger Satanis's science fantasy setting then this is book for you. Will I be using it in future and upcoming games? In a word yes!
But this isn't a perfect book, I wanted more awesomeness and cult crazy gonzo adventure but this is a gateway & continuation book. In this alone the book sustains and in some points exceeds its goals. I'd say an even five out of five for purple haunted weirdness!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

OSR Commentary On The Basic Dungeons & Dragons Adventure 'M4 Five Coins For A Kingdom' By Allen Varney For Your Old School High Level Campaigns

"In an instant, the city of Lighthall vanishes from you very midst! In its place come five coins of amazing powers - power to transport you to a realm of fantastic worlds and incredible magic. In this realm, islands float in air and vast armies battle at the brink of oblivion. The return of Lighthall depends on the defeat of one man: the evil enchanter, Durhan the Conqueror.
Surrounding himself with the armies of Volde, Durhan musters his strength for the final assault on Trann. Defeating Durhan insures the preservation of Eloysia. Saving Lighthall, however, is another story. Lost in the raging core of the sun, the city balances on the edge of destruction. The rescue of Trann, its Ruling Wizards, and Lighthall itself all depend upon the powers of the coins - and the brave adventurers who take the quest upon themselves.
For characters of levels 28-32.
Last night I cracked open M4 'Five Coins For A Kingdom' of the high level B/X Dungeons & Dragons adventures because I've been on a Clark Ashton Smith kick for the last six to eight months. This is one of those underappreciated adventures that seldom gets mentioned. Not because its all that bad but because hardly anyone has PC's that make the 28-32 plateau levels.

Allen Varney comes in with a really high level adventure for B/X Dungeons & Dragons in the form of M4 'Five Coins For A Kingdom'. The real star of the adventure is Durham The Conqueror who dimensionally warps an entire city right out of existence.  The PC's are the fulcrum here to the action standing the way of the conquest of their lands & their existences!

With a flourish & weirdness that we've come to expect in the '87 high level B/X adventures after the tepid M3, M4 manages to capture the imagination and high concepts of science fantasy all in one go.  This adventure takes the concepts promised in the higher level B/X box sets and tries to deliver on them. Something that would later carry over to the Dungeons & Dragons  Rules Cyclopedia. But does it work as an adventure?

The PCs stand between the evil sorcerer & the total obliteration of their homelands. To a certain extent the adventure succeeds in this. There are lots of bits and pieces that I like in this adventure including the science fantasy bits.
The plot is interesting & to  it  lives up to the high level promise on the tin;"On a clear day, bright lights appear in the sky over a vibrant city as the player characters stand in the market, and then the city vanishes, leaving the party alone in a grassy field. Five coins fall from sky, each imbued with the spirit of a power wizard beseeching the party to free them and save their world from destruction. Using the magic coins, the party travels to the outer plane of Eloysia, explore what is left of the city of Solius and free the wizards. Before saving Solius, the party must defeat an invasive army led by mad Durhan. Finally, the party journeys into their own sun to save their city." But there's also a weirdness to the design and writing of it. This adventure doesn't follow the adventure plot strings of the M series and for that alone I'm thankful for. The villain is a one off and wizard that could be used in other adventures for campaign play if the DM wants or needs a recurring high level foe. He has to a certain extent some of the tropes of a Dr. Strange wizard draining the life force of hundreds of victims. This plot bit is something that Mr.Varney would actually use for his
Doctor Strange gamebook, Through Six Dimensions (1986) written a year earlier. So what the hell is it that appeals so much to me about M4 Five Coins For A Kingdom? I think its the fact that it delivers on its high level promise. Would I play it or run it today? Yeah I think I definitely world there's a weird Roger Zelazny Chronicles of Amber or Clark Ashton Smith vibe that strongly runs through this adventure.

I hate to say that I've done rude things with M4 Five Coins For A Kingdom but I have. The truth is that I've used this adventure as the basis for an Amber Diceless Rpg campaign but there we are. Yes it worked out quite well back then. But I was playing with experienced D&D players back in then. But then today what retroclone system would I play M4 with? Hmm two different systems immediately spring to mind.

One is the Dark Dungeon Rpg system which has all of the tools for handling this style & level of play. Easily accessible as a pay what you want system. The hardcover has everything that the DM would need to run M4 Five Coins For a Kingdom.

Well the second choice is far more interesting in my opinion and that would be Adventurer, Conqueror, King! This is a tailor made adventure for that style of system and play, the high stakes and the kingdom being up for grabs makes this a nature for just that style of domain level and high stakes weirdness but this adventure is not without the need for modification. Adventurer,Conqueror, King's PC's levels should be carefully examined and modified as needed for M4.

The style of play demanded by the adventure requires certain modifications for it to work as a part of a campaign going adventure:
  1. The encounters have to be tailored to the DM's world and he or she can't be afraid that there will be consequences to their campaign setting. 
  2. Certain restrictions on treasure, artifacts, relics, etc must be observed read this adventure carefully several times. 
  3. Amber style campaign play is built into M4 and the dungeon master should keep this in mind. 
  4. PC's are going to have a huge number of responsibilities on an almost Stormbringer rpg level. 
  5. Reality & dimensional travel is a must here! 
  6. PC death will have dire consequences for their homelands and could lead to further adventures and DM's should make note of this. 
  7. There are several forces of Law who are jerks in M4 and another thing to keep in mind. 
  8. DM's should not be afraid to modify this adventure as they see fit for certain adventure elements to work within their own games. 
  9. Durham the conqueror could make an excellent recurring campaign villain. 
  10. Don't be afraid to go over the top with this one. This is a high level adventure and almost but not quite in the realm of the gods.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Further OSR Commentary On The Free 'Old Mars' Downloads For Your Old School Campaigns

So I'm making some notes and doing some adjustments to my Old Mars material, this means cracking open one of my favorites by Leigh Brackett, Clark Ashton Smith, and C.L. Moore. Here's some thoughts and ideas for background on my next cycle of 'Old Mars' adventure setting material.

For me cracking open a copy of Sea Kings of Mars from Thrilling Wonder Stories v34n02 (1949 06) is pretty much like coming home. The thing is Mars has always been my favorite adventure location since I was a kid. The dead sea bottoms, the desert sands, & the places where John Carter would never be caught dead in are all true of Leigh Brackett's stories of Mars.

Download & Read Sea Kings of Mars Here

This is a rough & ready Mars of the Colonial era where the ancient past is intruding on and bursting into the reality of humanity's push into the solar system. There are connections here that Brackett makes with Atlantis, Lomar, and many of the other Lovecraft circle writer's creations. This isn't as small of a novella as it seems. There are connections, adventure hooks, ideas, and more if the DM is willing to put some time into the novel.
Leigh Brackett's Mars is far more clannish, dangerous, and in some cases alien then what we've seen in Edgar Rice Burroughs or is it? Barsoom has its own feel very similar to the samurai states of Japan on  Earth just before the incursion of the West. Brackett's Mars is the back alleys & shifting sands of clans thrown about by the coming of the humans. This is an old world that has seen far more then the violent more recent cycles of Earth. The ancient past isn't done with the present of Mars by a long shot. The ancient alien remains of Mars are still out in the hidden valleys, weird lost worlds, and in the interior world waiting for their chance to live & thrive again.
In this regard it reminds me of Clark Ashton Smith's Mars cycle, the humans have come to the dying world of Mars. The human see themselves playing tourists taking over from the ancient dying Martian race as they trade baubles in Igarth's 'old quarter'. But  'The Aihai' old beyond time and preserved by the machinations of the plant like Old One Vulthoom and its siblings. These novellas and stories represent not as different a Mars as one might think from Sea Kings.
Humans are the intruders here & they are colonizing and dabbling in places that have seen far older races to be sure. But is there enough room for E.R. Burroughs's multi colored races, Brackett's Martian races, & Clark Ashton Smith's? Yes from the perspective of looking at the plethora of Martian pulp stories I think that 'Old Mars' is a world that has seen its share of an incredible parade of races with room for more. The Green Martians of Edgar Rice Burroughs didn't stay when the planet went entirely extinct. They fled into the dark of space & continued to be employed out in the far flung corners of the universe.
The far future of Old Mars is going to a very rude awakening for the human population on the planet as the Martians come back with the vengeance of a millions swords and radium pistols. This gets into some of the ancient past implied by C.L. Moore's North West Smith stories.

The horrors of the past seem to leak into & ooze into the future because of the very nature of the Martian mythology. There's a promise of faded glory & future bloodshed just under surface of the Martian stories. This makes me wonder about the far future of this style of Mars is there far more that the Human government is worried about? I think so. The implications of the great push outward seems to have far more bubbling just below the surface. The 'Far Future Old Mars' might be a very alien place indeed highly dangerous and aggressive to human and near human beings. That's a blog post for another time. For the moment I'm organizing my notes and making some adjustments to my upcoming adventures!

This  post is not an attempt to violate the copyrights or trademarks of any 
of the films nor properties named in this post. All ideas are for a 
private table top rpg campaign.  The writing, ideas, and opinions 
are copyrighted and trade marked to the author and Dark Corner 
productions. This post is for entertainment & educational purposes 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Further Mediations On B5 Horror on the Hill By Douglas Niles For Your Old School Campaigns

The end of the road. A lonely fort stands on the banks of a mighty river. It is here the hardy bands of adventurers gather to plan their conquests of The Hill, the hulking mass that looms over this tiny settlement.

The Hill is filled with monsters, they say, and an evil witch makes her home there. Still, no visitor to The Hill has ever returned to prove the rumors true or false. The thrill of discovery is too great to pass up, and only the river stands in the way. The adventurers' boat is waiting!

I've been looking into Dark Albion & some of the other Retroclone systems tonight along with B5 Horror on the Hill. Its been a couple months since I've cracked open this wonderful little old school gem by Douglas Niles. ""Horror on the Hill" (1983), by Douglas Niles, was published in 1983. It was the fifth Basic supplement published and the first one that wasn't introductory in nature. Though B5 is intended for characters of levels 1-3"
This adventure has the reputation among my circle of friends as being the straight on the fly beginning adventure right after Keep On The Borderlands. Horror on The Hill is mix of many old school elements from wilderness & outdoor encounters to a bit of dungeon crawling. Infact many of my friends would often pair this adventure with Keep on the Borderlands because of Guido's fort as part of a string of forts along a border wilderness ala Conan's Pictland adventures.

For Dark Albion these adventures would be set along the crumbling borderlands of Dark Europe where the demarcation on the map marks the end of empire & the beginning of horror. This reminds me of the Roman occupation of England & Harridan's wall. The Empire is suffering with the internal War of the Roses and PC's are called back but not before the demands of empire have them go on one last romp of adventure or the PC's are looking into ruins and horror that might give their royal house a bit of a leg up in the war.

The plot is perfectly pulp like according to Wiki with leanings from the pages of Weird Tales more then the usual Tolkien tropes;"The scene of the action is Guido's Fort, located at the end of a road, with only the River Shrill, a mile wide, separating it from "The Hill".[1] At the Fort, hardy bands of adventurers gather to plan their conquests of The Hill, the hulking mass that looms over this tiny settlement. They say the Hill is filled with monsters, and that an evil witch makes her home there. No visitor to The Hill has ever returned to prove the rumors true or false. Only the mighty river Shrill separates the player characters from the mysterious mountain.

A series of caves awaits, full of goblins and hobgoblins. At the lowest layer lies a young red dragon. Set on a volcanic island in the midst of a river."  This module is as much D&D DYI adventure kit as it is adventure just look at the contents,
"This module is designed for use with the D&D Basic Rules. Included in the module are 11 maps, 3 new monsters, and a complete set of prerolled characters."
One reviewer noted something that struck me quite well today, "
As for content, Hunter noted that it gives little detail on the Fort itself, so that it can be easily incorporated into an existing campaign."
The entire module is non world specific meaning that DM's can and should change details to suit their own home game campaign world & settings. There are tons of humanoids and this means they can easily become mutated humans touched by chaos or other worldly influences. This adventure is going to put the PC's center stage and keep them there. That's fine as long as the DM remembers that this a very dangerous module. This one is one of those modules that you bring extra PC's just in case something happens. And believe me it will and this is not a module not to bring your 'A' game to it. Your going to have sharp eye on the rubber NPC's or else they will die.  This is not an adventure that your going into without bringing your 'A' game to the table. This is an adventure that will challenge even the most jaded players if used right.
Horror on the Hill has a bit of everything that places the circumstances of the module firmly into the back yard of the PC's. There is enough here to get an almost complete adventure campaign off the ground. 

There are some reasons for this happening- 
1. Horror on the Hill contains all of the tools that a DM needs to launch this module as an extended adventure / campaign. 
2. There are some design & adventure elements that can make or break this adventure as a whole. 
3. There are enough NPC's here to keep things moving along at a leisurely pace. The action here is not as carefully plotted as some of the  other adventures in this line are. 
4. Dark Albion is a perfect beast to run D5 Horror on the Hill, the extra element of danger adds another set of books to help  circumstances  move along at a brisk case. 
5. There are more NPC's that can help or hinder the part as the same rate of old school goodness. 
6. As I said D5 has some excellent resources to really keep things going and it certainly fits in the Labyrinth Lord's back yard of old school retroclone adventures. But I really feel that Horror on the Hill suits Dark Albion's feel and pressures.

1d6 Random Encounters With Adventurers From Beyond The Planar Winds Table For Your Old School Campaigns

When Old Earth became a restless memory & the hidden things crawled back from the hidden places there were those lost to the world winds. Adventurers,outlaws, & fools who were trapped 'elsewhere'. Often these fools bring with them horrors beyond the pale of man that have taken an unhealthy interest in feeding on them.These horrors sense the thread of destiny on them. They long to feed on their souls & swallow them to draw upon them for all eternity. Those who get involved with them are doomed too share in their fates, but often times few can heed their cries of help. They are brought hither and yon by the winds of madness only to share in the doom of the cold Hells beyond the worlds of man.

What hast thou seen, O wind,
Of beauty or of terror,
Surpassing, denied to us,
That with precipitate wings,
Mad and ecstatical,
Thou spurnest the hollows and trees
That offer thee refuge of peace,
And findest within the sky
No safety nor respite
From the memory of thy vision?

Often times there other far more unscrupulous traders, scavengers, & the like who employ necromancers & black wizards to read the stars of the damned to find these poor souls. For they then seek them out to rob & strip them of their valuable 'Old Earth' relics & artifacts. These parasites are called 'Vultures' and they are the bane of such damned souls. Each adventurer or party that has been lost to the winds of madness will have 1d20 relics and artifacts worth from 100,000 to 300,000 gold pieces. But this is a fools errant because often these vultures end up become prey themselves to the horrors that pursue & murder the damned. An alien demon of type four  or better will be hot on the heels of such a party of the doomed.

1d6 Random Encounters
With Adventurers From Beyond The Planar Winds Table
  1. Captain Carl Nash & crew have been on the run from something that's been picking off his crew for months now (Its actually been over a hundred years 'real time'). He has a pair of valuable custom made blasters 1d8+4 and his crew of adventurers are equipped with disintegrator rods for 1d6+2 with a twenty foot radius. His crew is being chased by a Lovecraftian demon that they disturbed in orbit around Mars. They'll be shocked at the state of Earth if that's where this encounter takes place. 
  2. Natasha Corbin an African/Russian adventuress & renegade captain of her own crew of space cut throats (1st level fighters) are on the run from something that has been absorbing her crew over the past year. They have laser crossbows, silver short swords, and some grenades but this horror can appear almost anywhere. They seem ragged and almost cursed by their fate. 
  3. Naz Grulra - A half human/mutant of Chinese descent she has been heroically saving her crew from the horror that has run them from Mercury to Jupiter and now here. They have a 500,000 gold piece artifact that has enabled a spawn of Cthulhu to track them half way across eternity. She needs help but even they feel there's no hope. Some of her men have started to give up. 
  4. Lar BrU'rau - A red  Martian adventurer whose band of pirates robbed the wrong space liner and acquired a soul gem of an ancient prince from Uranus. The prince's soul is guarded by a demon from beyond the Outer Darkness & the pirates are in a bad way. They have a 50,000 gold piece treasure on them but they're blasters don't seem to do all that much. The demon has been toying with them for ages. 
  5. Larra El - A strange adventuress from a doomed world with her crew that has been pursued across seven worlds. She is armed with a named weapon of alien design that takes out the dimensional hounds that feast on the souls of her crew but these alien wolf like things are lean, hungry, and very dangerous! She has 1d6 minor artifacts upon her person that she'll bargain with but these things want her bad for their demonic mistress!! 
  6. A crew of 'Old Earth Ancients' is pursue of their princess whose run afoul of a nasty Lovecraftian demon lord. They have over 400,000 gold pieces worth of relics on them that they will bargain with the party for but there is a nasty set of winged horrors capable of slicing through an ether ships hull on their heels! They need help or else their doomed!

    This  post is not an attempt to violate the copyrights or trademarks of any 
    of the films nor properties named in this post. All ideas are for a 
    private table top rpg campaign.  The writing, ideas, and opinions 
    are copyrighted and trade marked to the author and Dark Corner 
    productions. This post is for entertainment & educational purposes 
    only. All artwork is public domain as is the Clark Ashton Smith poetry. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ghouls, Ghosts, Shadows & More Swords & Strangeness - Actual Play Adventure Event

I got together with my players last night for my Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers Of Hyperborea game taking place in the Judge's Guild  mega dungeon adventure location of Tegal Manor The PC's in last night Tegel Manor session managed to make a good showing. They went over a bit of their treasure & some of the relics they'd picked up over the last couple of games. Things have been interesting as they find out the unsavory & horrid revelations of the family history of the Rumps. A history including piracy, smuggling, slavery, and debauchery of every strip. These are not the family you really want related to you let alone exploring their Roman style house. This was something the party are slowly finding out. The 'safe bedroom' the PC's spent the night in was adjoined to two other rooms and a secret alchemical workshop. 

One of the bedrooms held a really nasty Ye Liveliest Awfulness/yellow mold hybrid monster. The thing resembled to lovely yellow ladies whose victim was slowly being digested under the covers of the bed. A flaming sphere handled the Lovecraftian bastard & the PC's managed to recover a valuable shield. The horror was brought back on one of the numerous expeditions by the Rumps to Venger Satanis's The Purple Islands of Purple Putrescence.

The PC's managed on to the next room which happened to be the foot of one of the towers of Tegel. There they found another alchemy workshop/ playroom and this one housed a Lovecraftian ghoul blooded member of the Rump clan. She's been having an on going war with her uncle a vampire at the top of the turret & her rather camp & obnoxious cousin a necromancer & reverent of her uncle. He's both insane & completely nuts about games & toys, to that end there's two Roman style ancient Bocce ball courts set up in the room. Along with two Roman statues holding some stylized Bocce balls. The balls came to life nearly taking off one of the heads of the PC's.

Photo by
Queensland Museum

The PC's managed to blast the two balls & the other metal sets which infuriated our necromancer who then dropped two other black balls down the stair well of the tower. Eight shadows slithered out of three holes on each ball and the fun really began for the PC's a running game of cat and mouse ensued! This encounter taxed the PC's and our alchemist had to help the PC's with the remaining shadows after they managed to make a good show of themselves. They made it over the alchemist's table and she quickly whipped out a potion to take care of the remaining horrors. The PC's decided to parley with the alchemist even as they were taunted by her cousin above.

But the PC's still have to content with her uncle with whom the war of attrition continues night after night. This means the PC's not only have a vampire to contend with but the whole place is riddled with giant rat holes that enable him to direct his minions where and when he'd like. The PC's were able to taunt the bastard cousin back but the encounters left them very nervous and they actually retreated back to their room locking the door behind them for safety's sake. This is a good thing, the players are engaged & interested. Note that unlike AD&D first edition AS&SH's vampires are constitution drainers and very dangerous.

What happens now? Well, that's going to be up to the players. There are a six things that they sort of missed in this past week's game.
  1. The corpse hidden in the far corner of the game/play room is a human colonist from some far flung colony. A possible victim as the plane lost manor makes its rounds has been killed by one of the numerous undead. 
  2. There's far more going on within the house then it seems and there are other adventurers about within it. 
  3. The relics collected by the Rumps always seems to make their way back to the manor.. eventually. 
  4. There's other members of the Rump family stalking the adventurers as I write this. 
  5. Other corpses in the halls of Tegel Manor hold vital clues to the destiny & fate of the PC's. 
  6. The cult of Old Ones is alive, active, and very much on the scene in Tegel Manor. 
Tune in next week for more old school weirdness  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Further OSR Mediations On X13 Crown of Ancient Glory By Stephen Bourne For Your Expert Dungeons and Dragons Games & Old School Campaigns

'All is not well in the kingdom of Vestland.

Not only is the king dead and the holy Sonora Crown missing, but the heir to the kingdom was lost at birth and no on knows where to find him. As if this wasn't bad enough, the forces of the Ethengar Khanate, never on the best of terms with Vestland, are now massing on the borders, hoping to take advantage of Vestland's plight. To complete the rosy picture, traitors from within also threaten to speed the downfall of the High Kingdom.

Sounds like a job for you. You must find the long-lost heir to the kingdom and recover the Sonora Crown, the mystical device without which a king cannot be crowned. Standing in your way are traitors and spies from within and invaders from without the kingdom of Vestland. Time is running out! Can you save Vestland from disaster? '

X13 Crown of Ancient Glory isn't a module that gets mentioned around the table whilst drinking beer & talking old school gaming.
This module marked the end of the B/X era & its another Stephen Borne affair whose TSR work was always marked by the different. His modules had fortress assaults instead of dungeon crawls, actual political intrigue instead of simply 'kill the monster & take the treasure' & adventure events had long term consequences. This is a good solid module with lots of potential for a long term campaign in play. This is a module aim around domain style campaign play for B/X D&D levels 7-10.
'X13: "Crown of Ancient Glory" (1987), by Stephen Bourne, is the thirteenth and final Expert-level adventure for Basic D&D. It was published in December 1987.'

So what makes this adventure different? The whole feel of Crown of Ancient Glory is proto Norse/Russian  mythology turned & strained through a D&D lens. The basic adventure plot has lots of twists & turns, plus its as much resource as its adventure more on that in a moment. Here's the basic outline according to Wiki;"

In Crown of Ancient Glory, the player characters must find the heir to the kingdom of Vestland and retrieve the magical Sonora Crown to unite the country before the Ethengar Khanate invades.[1] The module includes plans for a longship.[1]
The player characters assist the kingdom of Vestland, whose High King has recently died. They must also recover the missing holy Sonora Crown, which is also a powerful artifact. The characters must deal with traitors and spies from within, and invaders from the forces of the Ethengar Khanate, massing on the borders to take advantage of Vestland's plight."

So basically there's a massive cold war Vestland and the Ethengar Khanate,  on the verge of a violent and dangerous hot war  over the stolen holy Sonora Crown. But all is not as it seems. And that's one of the strengths of X13. You can really build on the events of Crown of Ancient Glory Within your own campaign. Many of these very events remind me of the Vikings rule of parts of  Russia during the 9th century, there's a flavor of the mythological & a real sense of destiny.

If this module is combined with Night's Dark Terror it could be used to create an entire over arching old school sword & sorcery campaign  with little effort. Its that powder keg politcal/cold war  aspect that mates up nicely with both modules & it creates a whole cloth setting that that can be ported over into a dungeon master's own campaign world easily. Names would have to be changed. setting ideas could be added or dropped as needed. These adventures combined could take PC's from second level all the way up as needed.

X13 could easily be used as fodders for a campaign involving dark and twisted barbarians as well as Russian influences with the bounds the lands of the D&D adventure Night's Dark Terrors.

Ten Ways To Use  X13 Crown of Ancient Glory By Stephen Bourne
For A Totally Different OSR Spin 

  1. Use the lands, situations, ideas, etc. as fodder for your own OSR based domain level of play. Dark Albion or Adventurer, Conqueror, King springs to mind here. 
  2. Further the war situation after the events of X13 and then bring in lots of other Mystara factions because of the instability created in the first part of the adventure. 
  3. The dark powers of the Crown of Ancient Glory are not so easily twarted and there will be more hell to pay as time goes on look to real world Russian and Norse history for examples.  
  4. Other nation states are going to take full advantage of the adventure's political situation to move in. The PC's job isn't over this could be connected to Dark Albion's War of the Roses by taking X -13's whole plot and moving it over to the world of  Albion.  
  5. Humanoid tribes are going to be cooperating with the barbarian forces of X-13 and there could be lots of trouble after things cool down within the kingdoms of  Crown of Ancient Glory. Lots of opportunity for war. 
  6. X-13 is perfect for Adventurer, Conqueror, King, and could be used as jump point for whole sessions of play and wargaming. 
  7. Lots of potential for sword & sorcery subplots here and there a lot of dangling adventure hooks at the end of X-13 
  8. X-13 has potential for a whole host of DYI adventure opportunity for a DM with the time and effort to put into the adventure 
  9. Lots of the forces and factions of X 13 didn't happen over night and that means there's going to others waiting in the wings to take down the PC's for their actions. Create more and varied dangerous NPC's for the task. 
  10. Power begets power and the PC's are going to be an up & coming threat to those within the halls of power. Assassins, poison, etc. are all going to be gunning for the PC's by the time X-13 ends. There's no happy ending for the adventurers!? 

Friday, August 11, 2017

1d6 System Lost Relics of Ancient Atlantis For Your Old School Campaigns

"Above its domes the gulfs accumulate.
Far up, the sea-gales blare their bitter screed:
But here the buried waters take no heed—
Deaf, and with welded lips pressed down by weight
Of the upper ocean. Dim, interminate,
In cities over-webbed with somber weed,
Where galleons crumble and the krakens breed,
The slow tide coils through sunken court and gate.

From out the ocean's phosphor-starry dome,
A ghostly light is dubitably shed
On altars of a goddess garlanded
With blossoms of some weird and hueless vine;
And, wing├ęd, fleet, through skies beneath the foam,
Like silent birds the sea-things dart and shine."
Atlantis A poem By Clark Aston Smith 

The destruction of Atlantis echoes across the corridors of eternity even today & there are objects that tumble through history & the treasure chests of the lost or damned. The ancient city state empire's reach even went to the stars! Out among the Outer worlds even today objects from  the ancient legacy of Atlantis turn up sometimes much to the tinge and horror of explorers and outlaws.

Objects such as this have a 20% chance of carrying a minor curse or to have a history tinged with tradedgy and adventure meaning a Great Old One or minor demon lord might have some vague interest or connection to the piece. Often these objects or relics are guarded by horrors such as 'Squirmers'  &  other far less savory entities.

These relics & objects often turn up in the asteroid field near the outer debris fields of Mars. The inner worldlets near Jupiter also from time to time have turned up some dangerous relics from the capital of Atlantis. These worldlets sometimes only partially exist within our universe and from time to time drift on the tides of the Outer Darkness. There is a 5% chance of attracting the attentions of a deadly demon of the Outer Void when using atomic drives or rockets in these areas.

'We will roam in the marts of forgotten cities of jasper, and carnelian-builded ports beyond Cathay; and I will buy you a gown of peacock azure damascened with copper and gold and vermilion; and a gown of black samite with runes of orange, woven by fantastic sorcery without the touch of hands, in a dim land of spells and philtres. "
The Muse of Atlantis By Clark Ashton Smith

So here are 1d6 objects tainted with the legacy & weirdness of ancient Atlantis where the PC's are least likely to expect to find them out in the Old Solar System.

1d6 System Lost Relics of Ancient Atlantis 

  1. A bracelet worth 700 gold pieces of beaten bronze & lupus for an older noble woman that contains a miniature star map of a long forgotten system. The place was once the  home to one of the star traders to the Atlantis merchants and contains a vast dungeon of forgotten and forbidden alien artifacts. The information can be read with a 'read technology' spell. 
  2.  A bronze head containing the preserved brain of a lich once the court wizard to a minor ruler of Mu. The head could be made to function with 400,000 gold pieces worth of work by a necromancer or black wizard. The thing will be vengeful, mad, & will try to possess the body of a male youth of Eighteen years or older to exact vengeance on the living but he knows some very interesting & valuable forbidden secrets. 
  3.  The Right Hand of GoT - This preserved hand is actually a mechanism designed by the artifact maker Got of Thebes, its actually a clock work computer that when a piece of coal or a pencil is put between its fingers will draw out ancient star charts and forbidden system maps now lost. The thing is priceless to an astronomer or astrologer and they will pay minimum of a 130,000 gold pieces. There is however an alien race that wants the thing back and will gate in within 1d8 months after the thing is found. They will demand it back. 
  4. A ring belonging to a knight who was tracking down a murderer from Atlantis. The ruby, bronze, and gold ring contains his spirit & he will make himself known as his spirit is still within the ring. The murderer went off world and so did the knight. He doesn't know that the murderer was a creature of ancient Mars and still dwells within one of the forgotten red sea bottom cities. The ring is worth 6000 gold pieces to the knight's order as it was originally used for trading and other monetary purposes.
  5. A  slab of pure gold that is a map to a treasure vault now lost among the debris and worldlets of the belt. The original location was smashed but the vault is intact and tablet tells of it. The reverse side has a summoning spell that summons a spirit of 'Thoth' that will tell the legend of the vault's place in the merchant history of the empire. The tablet is worth 40,000 gold pieces but the treasures was originally meant for one of the Great Old Ones cults and they'd love to recover it still. 
  6. The mirror of PU - This mirror is a black onyx & silver metal affair that shows the soul & its astral auras but its true purpose is to teleport the owner to the abode of several minor Lovecraftian entities that live among the asteroid belt. These Lovecraftian alien demons will grant a twisted and horrid form of lichdom & immortality to the owner. The mirror is worth 760,000 gold pieces but its better that its lost in the sands of the asteroid belt.