Friday, February 28, 2020

Divine Inspiration - Ray Harryhausen's Jason & The Argonauts 1963 & Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Campaign Commentary

"The legendary Greek hero leads a team of intrepid adventurers in a perilous quest for the legendary Golden Fleece. "

Sometimes you've got to go back to the well for inspiration & in this case its the Ray Harryhausen 1963 classic Jason & the Argonauts. Here's the low down on this film from its wiki entry; "Jason and the Argonauts (working title: Jason and the Golden Fleece) is a 1963 Anglo-American independently made mythological fantasy film produced by Charles H. Schneer and directed by Don Chaffey. the film stars Todd Armstrong as the eponymous hero, along with Nancy Kovack, Honor Blackman, and Gary Raymond. it was distributed by Columbia Pictures.
Shot in Eastman Color, the film was made in collaboration with stop-motion animation master Ray Harryhausen and is known for its various legendary creatures, notably the iconic fight scene featuring seven skeleton warriors.
The film score was composed by Bernard Herrmann, who also worked with Harryhausen on the fantasy films The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960), and Mysterious Island (1961)."

There is a ton of Appendix N references in this film & it doesn't get any better for Dungeons & Dragons mythological style action. From the set up of Jason as the man with one sandal & the shame of King 
The thing about 
"Jason and the Argonauts (working title: Jason and the Golden Fleece) is the fact that the gods take such a personal interest in the destinies of Jason & his crew. The gods are playing chess with the lives of the heroes around them.

From the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons perspective this is straight out of the Deities & Demigods play book. The gods set up the whole affair from "Pelias usurps the throne of Thessaly, killing King Aristo, but knows that a prophecy states that one of Aristo's children will avenge him." This is exactly how the Greco Roman gods manipulate the lives of the mortals to suit their games. A tactic that the dungeon master can use keep the action moving within a campaign.

Jason & the Argonauts also shows the proper place of artifacts & monsters  within a campaign. These monsters &  toys the gods use to motivate & destroy the lives those who have their place on the board of life. This is something that we see time in & out in the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master Guide with the iconic artifacts of Dungeons & Dragons. 

The thing about Jason is the fact that the 
Golden Fleece as an artifact floats in the background in the whole mini campaign of the film. This is the way that an artifact should be used & see how Zeus dangles the fleece in front of him several times. 

"Learning that Jason intends to seek the legendary Golden Fleece to rally support against him, he encourages Jason in the attempt, hoping that Jason will be killed.
Hermes takes Jason to Mount Olympus to speak with Zeus and Hera. Hera tells him Zeus has decreed that she can help him only five times. The same number of times that Jason's murdered sister, the lovely Briseis, called on Hera for protection. She directs him to search for the Fleece in the land of Colchis. Zeus offers aid, but Jason declines."

The dungeons & ruins of Jason & the Argonauts also have their roots within the divinity & creation myths of the gods. This is an absolutely perfect for the DM looking to quickly drop in a dungeon into a campaign. I've done this several times within the City of Greyhawk setting.

The ruins of the gods littered through out the film in the background especially in the preproduction Harryhausen artwork I've seen on line. Talos is a fantastic example of a divine guardian in 1963 film. The Argonauts are an example of a party of adventurers going to town on an adventure location with the consequences at the hands of Talos. 

Adventurers within this film have quest after quest & the action keeps moving along. There are so many iconic moments that can be used for motivation. And even after hundreds of repeated viewings this remains one of my all time favorite films. Even though I've heard countless times that this is a 'kiddie film' it remains an old favorite of mine. A perfect storm of a Harryhausen film that will both inspire & keep the dungeon master coming back for that oh so good stop motion action folks.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Review & Commentary Lich Lords Adventure Module By Lynn Sellers of Mayfair Games's Role Aids for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons First Edition & Your Old School Campaigns

"After countless millenia, A DARK POWER AWAKENS.

You have been summoned to appear before your king, who was once a great man, but is now held fast in the icy grip of fear. Trembling, he tells of mighty earthquakes to the north that destroyed villages and unearthed the... FORGOTTEN CITY OF THE LICH LORDS

Enter the catacombs of this buried city and find the way to destroy the evil before it brings the onslaught of eternal night. The fate of the living world is in your hands. Defeat the lords of darkness and great reward is yours. Fail and see a world... CRUSHED BY SKELETAL HANDS.

LICH LORDS is a high level quest for 6 to 8 adventurers of Skill Level 12 to 16. Brave every danger in the quest to rid the world of the most awesome of undead.""

1985 ... Lynn Sellers & Frank Frazetta (cover) ... 32 pages + centerfold cardstock map ... MGI 726 ... ISBN 091277133X"

It takes a certain mind set to run Lynn Sellers Lich Lords, as in this is a rather nasty piece of an old school Mayfair Role Aids adventure. Seems straight forward, the high level party of adventurers is hired by the king to destroy the evil undead lich lords. And that's where everything goes completely South. 

The picture was taken from this Etsy seller whose got the module for 30.00 dollars U.S. 
Lich Lords normally goes for forty five on Ebay.

In actuality the party is hired by the king but finds out that the lich lords despise  one another & the party has to decide how to enemy of my enemy is my friend. The problem is that the lich lords are in a weakened state & you can't fool around. By day fifteen their gonna be at full power & deadlier then ever! The downside to this module is the fact that its not a sandbox but a bit of a rail roadie dungeon setting.
There's a lot to like with Mayfair's Lichlords not only are they nasty high level undead for first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons but these guys will give any party of adventurers embolisms.  The maps & cartography are easy on the eyes & the lost city of the lich lords has some potential for even further adventuring.

Lynn Sellers is in top form here bringing the '85 undead pain to the party of adventurers & bring it hard. This is a module that works on the PC levels being twelve to fourteen for a reason. And that reason is the pure lethality of the undead royals. The problem is that the dungeon aspect is very linear. But there's so much to love here, the setting material is gold, the NPC's are completely nasty. And the adventure premise is pure eight five metal. My suggestion is to take the module adventure elements & completely ditch the dungeon crawl aspect. I'm not the only reviewer who felt this way either The Funky Grognard tumbler had this to say in his review of Lich Lords;  "Get rid of the dungeon crawl altogether.  Tear it up!  Toss it! Set it on fire!  Use it to line the bottom of your stupid parakeet’s cage! Focus on the political infighting amongst the Lich Lords and how the PCs either capitalize on their position as outsiders to take down these douchebag dickholes or become expendable pawns in their power games.  I would also opt to utilize an open world environment for this game, allowing the players to decide as to how they want the adventure to progress."

In fact I go just a bit further with Lich Lords & flesh out the undead city more. Keep the adventure's dungeon but use it for other undead NPC's possibly lesser undead nobles or the like. The Lich Lords is classic & classic for a reason & that reason is the whole cloth adventure, NPC's & actual solid use of the adventure material.

By using Lich Lords with the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons  first edition Dungeon Master's Guide its possible to back fill in some of the implied adventure back story & other dungeons that's talked about. Between the random dungeon generator & the random infernal monster generators the whole cloth back story of the 'lost city' could be filled in.

Mayfair games Lich Lords isn't by any means perfect but the quality is very ahead of its time for an Eight five product & it remains an old favorite of mine around the table top.

Books matter - OSR Campaign Setting Flip - World War I Godzilla - Prelude To War of the Worlds

"And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, must be to them at least as alien and lowly as are the monkeys and lemurs to us. The intellectual side of man already admits that life is an incessant struggle for existence, and it would seem that this too is the belief of the minds upon Mars. Their world is far gone in its cooling, and this world is still crowded with life, but crowded only with what they regard as inferior animals. To carry warfare sunward is, indeed, their only escape from the destruction that generation after generation creeps upon them.
And before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its own inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?
The Martians seem to have calculated their descent with amazing subtlety—their mathematical learning is evidently far in excess of ours—and to have carried out their preparations with a well-nigh perfect unanimity. Had our instruments permitted it, we might have seen the gathering trouble far back in the nineteenth century. Men like Schiaparelli watched the red planet—it is odd, by-the-by, that for countless centuries Mars has been the star of war—but failed to interpret the fluctuating appearances of the markings they mapped so well. All that time the Martians must have been getting ready.
During the opposition of 1894 a great light was seen on the illuminated part of the disk, first at the Lick Observatory, then by Perrotin of Nice, and then by other observers. English readers heard of it first in the issue of Nature dated August 2d. I am inclined to think that the appearance may have been the casting of the huge gun, the vast pit sunk into their planet, from which their shots were fired at us. Peculiar markings, as yet unexplained, were seen near the site of that outbreak during the next two oppositions.
The storm burst upon us six years ago now. As Mars approached opposition, Lavelle of Java set the wires of the astronomical exchange palpitating with the amazing intelligence of a huge outbreak of incandescent gas upon the planet. It had occurred towards midnight of the 12th, and the spectroscope, to which he had at once resorted, indicated a mass of flaming gas, chiefly hydrogen, moving with an enormous velocity towards this earth. This jet of fire had become invisible about a quarter past twelve. He compared it to a colossal puff of flame, suddenly and violently squirted out of the planet, "as flaming gas rushes out of a gun."" 

Chapter 1. The Eve of the War

So my latest blog posts about H.G. Well's War of the Worlds & Godzilla over the last couple of days has been getting me quite a bit of flack in my local antiquarian OSR circles. 

The War of the Worlds Godzilla 1898! - A Troll Lord Games Victorious rpg Campaign Set Up, War of the Worlds Godzilla 1914 - The Opening Salvo A Troll Lord Games Victorious rpg Campaign, & War of the Worlds Godzilla 1914 - Years Zero 1912 -1913 A Troll Lord Games OSR/ Victorious rpg Campaign blog posts.  The reason appears to be because I used the Siege Engine from Troll Lord Games as the basis for this OSR campaign set up. Gotta say I'm in a bit of a state of shock about this development but I can show you how to do this same campaign set up with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons resources & OSR systems easily.  So let's assume here for the sake of campaign setting easy that Europe has had during its existence many of the tropes & clitches that we take for granted in Dungeons & Dragons. Dragons, dungeons, wizards, Elves, Dwarves, etc. And lets assume that the occult, supernatural, mythology, etc. is real & true to history for the campaign's setting. 

So assuming all of the above let's quickly review the video that inspired this campaign above. Now without missing a beat, we've got the crown heads of Europe starring at each other & ready to go toe to toe with each other over a series of interlocking alliances & conflicts. Everything boiled over in World War one from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. But its seeds go back to the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the post-1848 rise of Prussia under Otto von Bismarck. And here's where the seeds of this campaign really start with the moves of Stephen d' Amberville against Otto Von Bismark. Stephen d' Amberville is an  undead arch lich & not taking it lying down! He's been going move for move against Otto Von Bismark. 
X2: "Castle Amber (Chateau d' Amberville)" (1981), by Tom Moldvay, takes center stage as the arch lich established by Tom Moldvay isn't resting peacefully. He plays human chess with real royals & the crown princes of Europe. 

But where's Godzilla?! Well if we assume that ancient dragons & tarrasques are real then it stands to reason that maybe that 'King of the Monsters' title isn't for show. He & his species has been been battling these bastards of the Earth for eons. Here's where you grab that copy of the Monster Manual II for stats kids on the tarrasques! 

All that weird radiation, strange magical energies, & incredible raw power that's been released into the Earth since the time of the dinosaurs? How ever will we as dungeon masters be able to play this?! Well there's Goblinoid Games Labyrinth Lord & the Advanced Labyrinth Lord Companion. But what about the 'modern' weaponry of WWI & the 
kaiju mutations?! Well Goblinoid also has Mutant Future to take care of all of that. 

Now personally I'd be using Adventurer, Conqueror, King rpg system for doing pre WWI Dark Europe. And as for the stats for Godzilla himself? Well I'd be using Chris Van Deelen's City Killer Mark I for the stats needed for Godzilla.  I'd also thrown in a healthy dose of Realms of Crawling Chaos for any Lovecraftian bits as well and for some really nasty fringe cults & relics.

Now if you really wanna add a bit of that old school D&D weirdness have many of the smaller houses competing against each other ala Frank Herbert's Dune but add in a  Ruritanian romance element to this campaign; "Ruritanian romance is a genre of literature, film and theatre comprising novels, stories, plays and films set in a fictional country, usually in Central or Eastern Europe, such as the "Ruritania" that gave the genre its name.[1]
Such stories are typically swashbuckling adventure novels, tales of high romance and intrigue, centered on the ruling classes, almost always aristocracy and royalty,[1] although (for instance) Winston Churchill's novel Savrola, in every other way a typical example of the genre, concerns a revolution to restore rightful parliamentary government in the republican country of Laurania. The themes of honor, loyalty and love predominate, and the works frequently feature the restoration of legitimate government after a period of usurpation or dictatorship" 

Fictional countries are established only to obliterated in the shadow of the on coming war & the invasion coming up. PC's could be working hard to avert the on coming horrors by globe trotting & trying to get a handle on both the espionage, saving heads of Europe, dealing with hidden witch covens, & trying to survive against the monstrous spawn of Kaiju. This is the perfect time to add the Lion & Dragon rpg, Dark Albion, & Cults of Chaos to the mix.

In fact much of the history of the  Lion & Dragon rpg could be used as leverage for ancient rivalries between modern national powers. There could be a modern witch hunting campaign in the works.
The ACK's Heroic Handbook is the perfect companion to this campaign with the ancient dragons being incredibly dangerous adversaries & opponents on the world stage.

The Martian invaders are not absent during this time frame at all they have H.G. Wells  Crystal Eggs scattered across the Earth. These eggs have made their way into occult societies, shadowy terrorist organizations, & the hands of dangerous Fey across Europe. Details on the Crystal Egg were written up by The Old School Heretic Blog back in 2012.
In fact many of the dark & sinster cults detailed in ACK's  Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu could be operating on the fringes of Earth during this time frame.

Next time the Fey, the Fairies, & the Fated! 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

War of the Worlds Godzilla 1914 - Years Zero 1912 -1913 A Troll Lord Games OSR/ Victorious rpg Campaign

"At any rate, in all the bodies of the Martians that were examined after the war, no bacteria except those already known as terrestrial species were found. That they did not bury any of their dead, and the reckless slaughter they perpetrated, point also to an entire ignorance of the putrefactive process. But probable as this seems, it is by no means a proven conclusion.
Neither is the composition of the Black Smoke known, which the Martians used with such deadly effect, and the generator of the Heat- Rays remains a puzzle. The terrible disasters at the Ealing and South Kensington laboratories have disinclined analysts for further investigations upon the latter. Spectrum analysis of the black powder points unmistakably to the presence of an unknown element with a brilliant group of three lines in the green, and it is possible that it combines with argon to form a compound which acts at once with deadly effect upon some constituent in the blood. But such unproven speculations will scarcely be of interest to the general reader, to whom this story is addressed. None of the brown scum that drifted down the Thames after the destruction of Shepperton was examined at the time, and now none is forthcoming.
The results of an anatomical examination of the Martians, so far as the prowling dogs had left such an examination possible, I have already given. But everyone is familiar with the magnificent and almost complete specimen in spirits at the Natural History Museum, and the countless drawings that have been made from it; and beyond that the interest of their physiology and structure is purely scientific."
The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
Chapter 10: The Epilogue

So War of the Worlds Godzilla 1914 got a bit of traction yesterday or today depending upon your side of the Atlantic or sea.  But I heard that there wasn't any room for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons characters or Castles & Crusades characters. In fact I'm gonna be doing this with the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide! The Europe of 1912-13 of War of the Worlds Godzilla 1914 is rotten with ruins. The Random Dungeon Generator in the Advanced Dungeon Master's Guide is perfect for creating them. 

The Martian Invaders  weren't through with Earth after the 1898 invasion & in fact the overgrown ruins scattered across Europe became the dungeons of the coming years. Rubble & ruins breed all kinds of conspiracies in the dark. And it also breeds occult  secret societies & much worse such as the terrorists organizations. Add to this the fact that just like the previous invasions the Martian invaders used psychic probes in the form of the Crystal Eggs. These were scattered across Europe and so fell into the hands of all kinds of organizations & secret occult societies. Now details on the Crystal Egg were written up by The Old School Heretic Blog back in 2012.  Throughout Europe Victorious rpg operatives & agents are engaged in a shadow war.

Not every nation had been so forth coming with their discoveries & break down of the Martian invaders technologies. Wilhelm The Second's scientists & departments had quite successfully developed an atomic bomb from the Martian Invaders power sources. The Germans were actually quite horrified by some of their black technologies. The biggest problem came with the testing of the Martian planar gate & special warp technologies. Men & soldiers were cut in half, many were burnt up in elemental fires, and some were swapped with other worldly counterparts. 

This planar gate  experimentation is one of the things that triggered the awakening of the Martian invaders for the second round. But many of the monsters that were triggered prior to the 1914 invasion were from both many world wide lost worlds & from elsewhere. These monsters are easily drawn from Castles & Crusades Monster & Treasure books with extra powers &  Kaiju abilities drawn from the Siege Engine Book of Powers. 

Make no mistake that this is a world where the crown heads of Europe are not only a reality but a historical fact. The traditional royal families are in full effect here giving the DM ample opportunity to add in magic or even D&D style classes into the mix as royal retainers. Here's the perfect spot to add in Lion & Dragon rpg  or even Dark Albion's setting or Cults of Chaos books. The Cult of the Star Gazer for example might be the perfect way of adding in a very dangerous alien or outsider element to the mix whist giving the party even more of a scare.  The Martian Invaders technologies & power sources are perfectly suited to be Chaotic by their very nature causing mutation, insanity or worse.

This is the perfect time to use a Ruritanian romance element to this campaign; "Ruritanian romance is a genre of literature, film and theatre comprising novels, stories, plays and films set in a fictional country, usually in Central or Eastern Europe, such as the "Ruritania" that gave the genre its name.[1]

Such stories are typically swashbuckling adventure novels, tales of high romance and intrigue, centered on the ruling classes, almost always aristocracy and royalty,[1] although (for instance) Winston Churchill's novel Savrola, in every other way a typical example of the genre, concerns a revolution to restore rightful parliamentary government in the republican country of Laurania. The themes of honor, loyalty and love predominate, and the works frequently feature the restoration of legitimate government after a period of usurpation or dictatorship" 

Fictional countries are established only to obliterated in the shadow of the on coming war & the invasion coming up. PC's could be working hard to avert the on coming horrors by globe trotting & trying to get a handle on both the espionage, saving heads of Europe, dealing with hidden witch covens, & trying to survive against the monstrous spawn of Kaiju. Add to the mix on very dangerous arch wizard in the form of the d' Amberville family & things get extremely weird.  Yeah that's right X2: "Castle Amber (Chateau d' Amberville)" (1981), by Tom Moldvay, is the perfect pre war kick in the teeth for a Pulp campaign such as this. Stephen 
d' Amberville is undead & not taking it lying down! He's got his fingers in the coming invasion & he's quite pissed about it. 

Stephen d' Amberville has been playing chess with the rest of pre WWI Europe & especially against his dedicated partner/opponent Otto von Bismarck. With his successor coming up & now this invasion business his game will be interrupted, again. This may never do. He's going to summon the party to his home & employ them for a series of missions!

But Castle Amber is only the half of it. 

War of the Worlds Godzilla 1914 - The Opening Salvo A Troll Lord Games Victorious rpg Campaign

"At any rate, whether we expect another invasion or not, our views of the human future must be greatly modified by these events. We have learned now that we cannot regard this planet as being fenced in and a secure abiding place for Man; we can never anticipate the unseen good or evil that may come upon us suddenly out of space. It may be that in the larger design of the universe this invasion from Mars is not without its ultimate benefit for men; it has robbed us of that serene confidence in the future which is the most fruitful source of decadence, the gifts to human science it has brought are enormous, and it has done much to promote the conception of the commonweal of mankind. It may be that across the immensity of space the Martians have watched the fate of these pioneers of theirs and learned their lesson, and that on the planet Venus they have found a securer settlement. Be that as it may, for many years yet there will certainly be no relaxation of the eager scrutiny of the Martian disk, and those fiery darts of the sky, the shooting stars, will bring with them as they fall an unavoidable apprehension to all the sons of men."The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
Chapter 10: The Epilogue

Wells' Martians as featured in a 1927 Amazing Stories reprint edition, artwork by Frank R. Paul

The other day I spoke of 
The War of the Worlds Godzilla 1898! - A Troll Lord Games Victorious rpg Campaign Set Up here on the blog. The Martian Invasion of 1898  is securely in the rear window of the history of mankind. We can get back to the business of killing each other as the events of World War One begin to heat up. Super human operatives have been increasing as the weird radiations of the Earth absorbed during the first invasion have spread across the planet due to the  Van Allen Belt.  Troll Lord's Victorious rpg system not only has the Martian Invasion of 1898 covered but some of the Barsoomian nation's technology who were speaking with mankind since the 1898 invasion in the Hunter & Hunter catalog.


Godzilla hasn't been seen anywhere since the last invasion, he's disappeared, & several expeditions haven't been able to locate him. A disparate warning comes across the Gridley wave, the warning from the Martian nation city state of Helium. The city ruins of the Invaders have roared to life. The Thark tribal nations warriors have seen the trails of the rocket launches! The second invasion has begun. The hyper spacial warp trail signature of the Martians is unmistakable.  But mankind is too busy to notice. 

The Earth caught within its own conflicts in Europe & is ill prepared for the coming onslaught! The opening events of World War I are interrupted by the sudden invasion of the Martians coming in full force during 1914! A solid overview of a possible docudrama resource for this Victorious rpg campaign is the excellent The Great Martian War 1914 -1917.

One of the prophets of the coming horrors might already be among the population but incarcerated within one of the most infamous prisons within the Victorious setting. One of Darkmore Prison's most infamous inmates may already hold the key to the Martian invasion! 
TLG 77041 Victorious: Phantasmagrio has an array of incredible NPC's perfect for piercing the vale of the Martian's vicious plans for mankind.

This is the perfect time to send a band of intrepid heroes deep into the jungles of South America. With information provided to them by a certain master of evil the party of adventurers makes their way to Maple White Land. The prehistoric realm described in British writer Arthur Conan Doyle
, 'The Lost World'. Godzilla has used the underwater & inner Earth tunnels to return to his ancient home land in the wilds of South America. The PC's must brave life & limb to awaken the great beast! 

Meanwhile the Martians are far more dangerous then the last time. They have adapted to Earth's atmosphere & the begun to twist their way through Europe! Their war machines are even more dangerous then the last time!

Another warning comes from within the Fey realms of Gary Gygax's Ex2   "Land Beyond the Magic. Mirror" The Fey know more about the coming darkness then anyone has guessed & the PC's must make a journey & a leap of faith. 

Here Troll Lord's The Codex Celtarum is the classic Castles & Crusades resource to add a bit more gravitas to the Fey of Dungeon Land. 

Can the players make it back in time to deal with not only the British government but the effects of having the Martians on their own door step?! Find out next time!

Return to Dwimmermount - Tides of Blood & War - Cha'alt & ACK's Dwimmermount

Its been a very busy morning but last night I wanted to get back to ACKs Dwimmermount within my Godbound/Cha'alt campaign. Way back in 2017 I stumbled upon this thread about Dwimmermount on the General ACKs forums. 

There are a few changes that would be made right off the get go. The fact that Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea's rpg system Hyperboreans & the Thulian empire are ancient enemies. These empires are too similar to get along. They compete for the same resources, the same turf, extra plus there are parallels with regards to the corruption that's been breeding through the lands of both.
Another change is the fact that I'd have the megadungeon existing in both Hyberborea & the campaign's Earth setting at the same time. That's right in the jungles of Bolivia & the high alien mountains of Hyperborea the mega dungeon would be sitting there 'lost'.

Lost is a relative term but one of the other things I'll be doing is adding in Lankhmar: City of Adventure (2nd edition) for the streets, cityscape, etc. of the the dismal City-State of Khromarium.  The reason is the over flow of the Hyperborean armies onto Earth side. 

I really want to bring home the Hyperborean menace home coming up! Squad to squad level combat with Earth forces, Hyperboreans, & especially the high tech forces of the Cha'alt raiders. Here's where I start dusting off Adventurer, Conqueror, King's 
Domains at War: Battles. But before doing that I've got to look deeper into AS&SH's wargaming potential. 

I've got a lot of options on the table to pull this off? But the question is what to use? The Cha'alt hard back by Venger offers quite a few insights into the mind set of the Cha'alt forces.

Can the PC's survive in a three way toss up with events accelerating?! There are certainly some options that my players have brought to the table over the last month or so. They might even shut me down with some clever moves. Tonight I'm gonna grab my copy of David Cook's X4 Master of the Desert Nomads & bring on the Cha'alt mutations! 

Why does Dwimmermount's appearance matter? The other mega dungeon's influence is huge! I can't stress this enough. The adventure location is like a beacon to the forces of Chaos in my campaign.
There are several reasons for this: 

  1. The corruption that Dwimmermount represents is huge. The impact of death & destruction is gonna be felt on a 'Lord of the Rings' level across the planet. 
  2. Artifacts & treasure bring the pain to the locals & could spread across the planet. This lures more adventurers. 
  3. The forces of evil themselves are drawn to the mega dungeon as well. 
  4. Night roads are twisted around the place making it very lethal. 
  5. Dwimmermount itself is seen as a prize for both the forces of law & chaos. 
  6. The slavers are going to come calling for it. 
  7. Blood & warfare follow in the wake of Dwimmermount. 
  8. The planar nature of the megadungeon is lethal to all in its wake. 
  9. Is there are greater force within the megadungeon that is advancing its agenda? 
  10. Dwimmermount brings the pain when it comes to OSR adventure. 

Monday, February 24, 2020

Setting The Stage of Mythology With Monsters of Myth & Legend by Greg Gorden and Neil Randall, Published By Mayfair Games

"Monsters of Myth & Legend is a supplement describing over 100 monsters drawn from the American Indian, Australian Aborigine, Chinese, Greek, Irish Celtic, and Norse mythology. Each includes game statistics and legendry; most are illustrated.
Monsters of Myth & Legend is a sourcebook play aid containing encyclopedic listings of dozens of creatures and deities to add to an existing fantasy campaign or to help designers in coming up with their own adventures. Norse and Greek mythologies are covered, along with the legends of Ireland, China, the Australian Aborigines, and the American Indians. Each entry includes physical descriptions, backgrounds, game statistics and hints on play. Also included as a thorough index, four pages of GM tables, and a bibliography of sources."

Today was one of those days where I reach back through the archives & started looking through one of my more obscure books from the stacks. Monsters of Myth & Legend by Mayfair Games isn't a terribly expensive book but its got a lot of potential at the table top level. Here's the by blow history on it from the Monsters of Myth & Legend wiki entry; "Monsters of Myth & Legend was written by Greg Gorden and Neil Randall, with a cover by Boris Vallejo, and was published by Mayfair Games in 1984 as a 96-page book." None of this is really remarkable but it was Rick Swan's review from Space Gamer magazine issue #75 that brought home some important points;"Rick Swan reviewed Monsters of Myth & Legend in The Space Gamer No. 75.[2] He commented that "Regardless of whether you actually ever use this material in a roleplaying campaign, much of it makes for fascinating reading, particularly if you're as unfamiliar as I was with the mythologies of the Aborigines or the Irish. [...] even a casual browse through the book should give a GM plenty of new ideas. All necessary statistics are given, and even though they're biased towards Dungeons & Dragons, they're easy to adapt to other systems."[2] He added: "With all of the care that went into the book, I'm surprised at the generally haphazard quality of the illustrations. Aside from the striking cover painting, most of the artwork is hit or miss, ranging from adequate to downright embarrassing – some of it looks like a junior-high artist's idea of 'scary.' The high quality of the text makes the amateurish visuals even more annoying, especially considering that a good illustration is a lot more effective than a column of written description in a sourcebook of this kind." [2] Swan concluded the review by saying, "Although roleplaying sourcebooks are invaluable for game designers, I'm not completely sold on their usefulness for your average player (or even your average GM). But if you go for this kind of thing, you'll have to look long and hard to find a more interesting one than Monsters of Myth & Legend. It's a good package, fun to read, and guaranteed to have a lot of information you've never seen anywhere else."

Used in the right way 
Monsters of Myth & Legend could be used to set off a campaign with some very different monsters of suitable divine temperament. The idea here is the mythology & legendary status off shoots the usual monsters. In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first editions PC's don't have that much a back story. Its only through actual play that some things become evidence.
This puts the PC's status in dangerous waters. When your facing down creatures straight outta of legend & mythology the PCs are quickly established by the foes they face & the deeds of daring that they create.

This means that the actual role playing defines the player's PC & not a thirty page back story with every type of add on. Monsters of Myth & Legend takes the idea of the monster & turns it on its ear. Your PC's are going to have to stare down the long corridor of history & decide if the mythology makes the PC's or is gonna be the monster encounter?
This is a tactic that Mayfair Games would follow with every one of their books. Each book dove tails into each other in a sort of campaign  puzzle piece resource.

When it comes to putting together campaign the Role Aids books are more mini tool box & adventure resource book rolled into into one. This means the DM can cherry pick what they want & need as best for the campaign itself. This is one of those cases where the source book really defines the whole campaign. The order of the campaign kinda hinges on the fact that the DM is dealing with the campaign demands.  takes this same approach & deals with it from a mature Deities & Demigods kinda way.

The monsters in "Monsters of Myth & Legend" are part of a whole cloth mythology. And it could be very dangerous for the continued health of the PC's. This isn't a book about gaining experience points but rather one that allows the inclusion of mythology & legends in old school or OSR game adventures, encounters, & more.