Monday, June 26, 2017

OSR Commentary- Patterns In The Snow The Horrors of The Shoggoth Legacy In Old School Campaigns

"The steady trend down the ages was from water to land; a movement encouraged by the rise of new land masses, though the ocean was never wholly deserted. Another cause of the landward movement was the new difficulty in breeding and managing the shoggoths upon which successful sea-life depended. With the march of time, as the sculptures sadly confessed, the art of creating new life from inorganic matter had been lost; so that the Old Ones had to depend on the moulding of forms already in existence. On land the great reptiles proved highly tractable; but the shoggoths of the sea, reproducing by fission and acquiring a dangerous degree of accidental intelligence, presented for a time a formidable problem.
They had always been controlled through the hypnotic suggestion of the Old Ones, and had modelled their tough plasticity into various useful temporary limbs and organs; but now their self-modelling powers were sometimes exercised independently, and in various imitative forms implanted by past suggestion. They had, it seems, developed a semi-stable brain whose separate and occasionally stubborn volition echoed the will of the Old Ones without always obeying it. Sculptured images of these shoggoths filled Danforth and me with horror and loathing. They were normally shapeless entities composed of a viscous jelly which looked like an agglutination of bubbles; and each averaged about fifteen feet in diameter when a sphere. They had, however, a constantly shifting shape and volume; throwing out temporary developments or forming apparent organs of sight, hearing, and speech in imitation of their masters, either spontaneously or according to suggestion.
They seem to have become peculiarly intractable toward the middle of the Permian age, perhaps 150 million years ago, when a veritable war of re-subjugation was waged upon them by the marine Old Ones. Pictures of this war, and of the headless, slime-coated fashion in which the shoggoths typically left their slain victims, held a marvellously fearsome quality despite the intervening abyss of untold ages. The Old Ones had used curious weapons of molecular disturbance against the rebel entities, and in the end had achieved a complete victory. Thereafter the sculptures shewed a period in which shoggoths were tamed and broken by armed Old Ones as the wild horses of the American west were tamed by cowboys. Though during the rebellion the shoggoths had shewn an ability to live out of water, this transition was not encouraged; since their usefulness on land would hardly have been commensurate with the trouble of their management."
HP Lovecraft At The Mountains of Madness

Looking back through the annals of Weird Tales & pulp science fiction its not hard to see the connection between John Carpenter's The Thing & HP Lovecraft's novella  At The Mountains of Madness. But there are far deeper connections here then at first meets the eye.

There have been suggestions that 'The Thing' is in fact an advanced form of shoggoth. The Thing has some similarities to the shoggoths from At the Mountains of Madness, which Lovecraft  described as "Formless protoplasm able to mock and reflect all forms and organs and processes". Another thing about the shoggoths is the fact that they have been growing more intelligent as time has gone on. So could the thing actually be an advanced weaponized shoggoth that was simply returning home over 100,000 years ago? I think so. John Carpenter's The Thing was a pretty faithful adaptation  to John W. Campbell Jr.'s Who Goes There?. The Thing seems to have had an agenda having crashed the saucer in the opening credits. Could it have been reacting to a homing instinct built into its design by its creators? I think so but 1982 wasn't the only brush that the Earth had with a shape shifting alien species.

In 1958 in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, a protoplasmic alien blob landed in a meteor and began a reign of terror happens again in 1972 in a different part of the United States. But what exactly is the Blob? Well there is fan speculation that the blob is in fact a form of a proto shoggoth. A prototype of  Elder Thing weapons system that has come back from deep orbit. Although it lacks the intelligence of the Thing, the blob is a different subspecies of shoggoth.The blob is an absorber where in the 'the thing is a copycat or imitator organism. In other words the blob is a proto shoggoth or a completely different configuration of the shoggoth organism.
"He has on rare occasions whispered disjointed and irresponsible things about “the black pit”, “the carven rim”, “the proto-shoggoths”, “the windowless solids with five dimensions”, “the nameless cylinder”, “the elder pharos”, “Yog-Sothoth”, “the primal white jelly”, “the colour out of space”, “the wings”, “the eyes in darkness”, “the moon-ladder”, “the original, the eternal, the undying”, and other bizarre conceptions"
HP Lovecraft At The Mountains of Madness.

In 1951  a United States Air Force crew is dispatched from Anchorage, Alaska at the request of Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite), the chief scientist of a North Pole scientific outpost.

At first Howard Hawks The Thing From Another World doesn't seem like a likely candidate to include here. But the alien carrot as its described in the film has many of the characteristics of the Elder Things. The alien of this film has many of the same same features as the Elder Things in humanoid form:
  1. The alien is humanoid but bears many of the characteristics of mankind. Its biology is vastly different then our own having many of the characteristics of plants. This is very similar to the Elder Thing's make up.
  2. Its an incredibly patient organism & spends its time picking off crew members. Also its an organism that seems to be yet another variation of the profile we've seen before.
Its concerned with food, shelter, and reproduction. Also its another alien organism with a grasp of advanced alien technologies & a tremendous agenda for Earth. So what does this mean? The Howard Hawk's alien monster could be another product of Elder Thing radical biological genetic engineering. Surely, this radical fan theory violates the shoggoth/At The Mountains of Madness. Not at all this alien might be an advanced shoggoth entity prototype.

So what does this all have to do Dungeons & Dragons & Swords & Sorcery? The fact is that in Deities & Demigods Shoggoth's entry there's a clue about the D&D connection. It is stated that Shoggoths are often found in out deserted ruins &  areas often helping other Mythos races. The Elder Things prints are still found in a wide variety of places where their technologies are still in place. This goes back all the way to the ancient marshes of Mars as told in
John W. Campbell's Brain Stealers of Mars.

In D&D terms the Elder Thing's biol technological legacy using Shoggoth tissues are evident all around certain dungeon & ruin locations.

These shoggoth based monsters  include the gelatinous cube, doppelganger, mimics, trappers, lurker above,  a wide variety of oozes, jellies, including the infamous Green Slime, and many more.
All of which are simply minor applications of the advanced biological mastery of the elder thing race. The spread of these creatures comes from certain cults & monsters as well as the preprogrammed behavior of the shoggoths themselves. Adventurers should be ware of the lower levels of certain dungeon locations.

"It was a terrible, indescribable thing vaster than any subway train — a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down upon us, crushing the frantic penguins and slithering over the glistening floor that it and its kind had swept so evilly free of all litter.
— H. P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness"

Ultimately the source of all of this is of course  Clark Ashton Smith's ' Ubbo-Sathla. Ubbo-Sathla ("The Unbegotten Source", "The Demiurge") or he who dwells in Y'quaa from which the dire arts of the Elder Things created the shoggoths themselves. This Old One is directly connected to  Abhoth ("The Source of Uncleanliness") for they are one in the same.

"There, in the grey beginning of Earth, the formless mass that was Ubbo-Sathla reposed amid the slime and the vapors. Headless, without organs or members, it sloughed from its oozy sides, in a slow, ceaseless wave, the amoebic forms that were the archetypes of earthly life. Horrible it was, if there had been aught to apprehend the horror; and loathsome, if there had been any to feel loathing. About it, prone or tilted in the mire, there lay the mighty tablets of star-quarried stone that were writ with the inconceivable wisdom of the pre-mundane gods.
Clark Ashton Smith, Ubbo-Sathla"

There is an indication among Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith fans that many of these shoggoth based life forms ultimately no matter how intelligent or advanced must return to the original source of their creation at some point in their life cycle. This might have been a built in biological instinctive safety feature or a preprogrammed behavior. Or simply a flaw in the design that not even  the elder things could remove. Regardless this life forms and its attendant side creatures are ultimately some of the most dangerous horrors adventurers will encounter both in the dungeons and in ruins!

Ten Ways To Use The Shoggoth Legacy In D&D & Retroclone Adventures
  1. If all of these various traditional dungeon monsters have their basis in shoggoth tissues then it might indicate that there is a telepathic thread running through all of them enabling someone or something to use these monsters as a complex spy or communication network across time & space. 
  2.  Ubbo-Sathla is an incredibly potent Lovecraftian entity with a myriad of worshipers and cults that might appear across the dimensions and planes. If ultimately it has its own agenda then entire planets could be in incredible danger. 
  3. Shoggoth based life forms might appear in any epoch or era and might be a primary foe in a post apocalyptic or other planetary location such as a failed interstellar colony world. 
  4. The monsters & life forms we've seen could only be the tip of the tendril DM's should create their own versions of these classics 
  5. Could the elder things return to take charge of their renegade creations There have been rumblings among certain D&D Lovecraftian fans that PC could be in real trouble if this was to happen. 
  6.  Could the blob simply be a worker proto-shoggoth run amok? What would the long term conditions be of such a world where this has happened?
  7.  DM's shouldn't be afraid to create entire ecological systems in dungeons based around one shoggoth life form to give a base line to players as to how powerful one of these entities might become.
  8.  Why are shoggoths helping cults of Mythos worshipers what's in it for them? Whose agenda are they really furthering
  9. Powerful shoggoths might be ruled as gods or demons in their own right. Could  Juiblex of  AD&D fame simply be a powerful primorial shoggoth that has become a demonlord countless eons ago
  10. What is the ultimate goal of the shoggoths & what will happen to a campaign world when these things come from out of the snows?!  

Sunday, June 25, 2017

1d15 Random Transcomic Encounters Table For Your Old School Campaigns

MAN HAS CONQUERED Space before. You may be sure of that. Somewhere beyond the Egyptians, in that dimness out of which come echoes of half-mythical names -- Atlantis, Mu -- somewhere back of history's first beginnings there must have been an age when mankind, like us today, built cities of steel to house its star-roving ships and knew the names of the planets in their own native tongues--heard Venus’ people call their wet world “Sha-ardol” in that soft, sweet, slurring speech and mimicked Mars’ guttural “Lakkdiz” from the harsh tongues of Mars’ dryland dwellers. You may be sure of it. Man has conquered Space before, and out of that conquest faint, faint echoes run still through a world that has forgotten the very fact of a civilization which must have been as mighty as our own. The myth of the Medusa, for instance, can never have had its roots in the soil of Earth. That tale of the snaky-haired Gorgon whose gaze turned the gazer to stone never originated about any creature that Earth nourished. And those ancient Greeks who told the story must have remembered, dimly and half believing, a tale of antiquity about some strange being from one of the outlying planets their remotest ancestors once trod.
Shambleau C.L. Moore

There are more dangers & hidden horrors that pass by us in our everyday lives then we are even remotely aware of . In the dusty streets of Mars to the winding back alleys of the colonies in Neptune's shadow there are more horrors that pass by us. There are beings with weird natures older then time that are carrying on centuries old agendas.

The streets of the Old Solar system colonies are filled with alien refugees & strange beings from across the planes. Some of these are dangerous trans-cosmic beings with weird & sinister agenda of a nature completely inimical agenda.
Many of these beings float across the 'Old Solar' system as insects across the face of a pond. They go where & when the solar winds take them. Saturian drug king pins sit in the darkness of Martian taverns from Plutonian pimps selling the finest in slaved VR A.I.'s. Meanwhile in a quiet corner an agent of the Elder Things is quietly brokering a deal for alien biological cargoes.

Adventurers will soon realize that there are far greater beings out in the blackness of space then they are even remotely aware of. Trans cosmic beings who wear the cloak of  flesh but carry out missions for both themselves & far greater beings some call them demons while others call them gods. This is about their agents and they're right now searching for your PC's.

1d15 Random Transcomic Encounters Table
  1. Here a gang of 1d10 Plutonian colonists is hovering watching the crowds on the streets. They are actually R'e a hive mind from twelve dimensions away in search of human flesh for their master. They are a powerful telepathic mentalist capable of blasting a human mind to nothing. Yet they are slaves to a far more sinister alien wizard godling. 
  2. Three Elder Things in humanoid guises are waging a shadow war across time & space with a pair of Yithian agents in the guise of inner solar space pirates. They care little to nothing about whom they murder in pursue of their goal. 
  3. A Martian mutant space pirate with delusions of grandeur is actually a host for a Rellian mind slug named Chris looking for his lost love. He is on a mission to collect twenty one humanoid minds from the local space time continuum. But his love is actually a double agent working for an extinct interstellar empire half a billion years dead. 
  4. A'erus - Saturian drug lord who is harvesting the brains of humans and near humans for the chemicals for a synthetic/organic drug called Ell worth thousands of gold pieces. He is sinister and very dangerous. A 5th level fighter and quick with an energy pistol but is working for a cult of Narthaloper a particularly vile form of Nyarlathotep. 
  5. Bruris is a Deep One cult agent out of the straits of Neptune working his Shoggoth tissue weapons trade for his masters. He is also kidnapping human males & females for breeding experiments. 
  6. Hreus The Shadow King is/was a human caught in a teleportation accident that has become an organic trio of beings that works for a heinous aspect of Nyarlathotep hunting the minds of near humans for some unknown purposes. He has all of the abilities of a B/X D&D shadow but there are 1d4 of him at anyone time able to carry out separate actions. 
  7. A set of nine Plutonian drug lords working for the Mi Go securing the brains of super scientists for unknown purposes. They are armed with laser guns and blasters for violent encounters. Very dangerous beings in the short term with hair triggers and a strong telepathic bond. 
  8. 1d4 Martian Yetis working for a transcendent black lama with a black magick  agenda for any tourists they run across. 
  9. A shoggoth wearing typical Panamanian shirted human suit named Bruce. He seems bored but is a spy selling his services to the highest bidder but working his own angles. 
  10. A Mercurian Hyperborean scientist wearing a bio suit with lots of biological attachments on it selling medical supplies and her services. She experiments from time to time on her patients. 
  11. 1d20 Martian engineering dwarves selling their services that work for a fire elemental lord & his Effreet Lady. They are purchasing the souls of humans for a project and magic item of a horrid nature. 
  12. Qrrous Row - Jupiterian brain & soul smuggler selling his services & black magick powers while collecting the spines of certain individuals with alien rhyme and reason. He is armed with a blaster & is a 6 th level black occultist. 
  13. Trus Venusian thief & assassin killing humans for some black purpose. He targets men with blue eyes and keeps the eyes after each murder. Loves knives and darkness for his crimes. Working for 'Fly The Light' through a magick gem. 
  14. Snee Con A Deep One black Sorcerer with a shoggoth familiar working on securing 'the waters of humans' a strange alien agenda of this 7th level wizard. He steals the waters and souls of his victims for some unknown purpose. 
  15. Tigurs Ru - A Yithian in the body of a Red Martian hunting down a particular human within whose mind is a critical Yithian library.  A future version of Tigurs Ru hid the alien database within the human monkey's mind but doesn't know why. A past doppelganger of Tigurs Ru wants him to find this being and kill him. Could one of your PC's have the alien database within their mind? Sure they could!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

OSR Saturday Retro Old School Campaign Set Up Second Reel With Ray Harryhausen's 1963 Jason & The Argonauts

In Eighty One on a baking hot Saturday afternoon a bunch of kids myself included were treated to a bunch of classic films including this one. I had read about the Nineteen Sixty Three Jason & The Argonauts picture numerous times in Famous Monsters of Filmland. But to see it on the big screen is something entirely different. The experience blew my mind as a kid & I've loved the film ever since.

So let's talk classic sword & scandal mythological pictures with 'Jason & the Argonauts' from 1963. 
"Jason and the Argonauts (working title Jason and the Golden Fleece) is a 1963 independently made American-British fantasy film, produced by Charles H. Schneer, directed by Don Chaffey, that stars Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack, Honor Blackman, and Gary Raymond. It was distributed by Columbia Pictures." There are films that are classics & then there's the ones that have a special place in millions of folks hearts. Jason & The Argonauts falls into the latter I think.

Even as an infant Jason has been a pawn on the chess board of the gods. This view is interesting because it up points the symbolically divine relationship between the gods & mankind especially those chosen by the gods.
"Pelias (Douglas Wilmer), misinterpreting the prophecy given to him by the god Zeus (Niall MacGinnis), usurps the throne of Thessaly, killing King Aristo and most of his family. The god Hermes (Michael Gwynn), disguised as Pelias' soothsayer, holds back his army long enough for the infant Jason to be spirited away by one of Aristo's soldiers. Pelias slays one of the king's daughters, Briseis (Davina Taylor), as she seeks sanctuary in the temple of the goddess Hera (Honor Blackman). Because the murder has profaned her temple, the angry Hera becomes Jason's protector. She warns Pelias to beware "of a man wearing one sandal".
Twenty years later, Jason (Todd Armstrong) saves Pelias from drowning (orchestrated by Hera), but loses his sandal in the river; Pelias recognizes him from the prophecy. Learning that Jason intends to find the legendary Golden Fleece, he encourages him, hoping Jason will be killed in the attempt."

In this scene you get the feeling that this is a game this couple has played many,many times. Something that goes back thousands of years under different guises. There is an undercurrent throughout the picture that there were many worlds before this one & its only now that things have gotten a bit interesting again for them. These are gods that play the long game with mortals something that DM's might want to consider doing in their own campaigns. Jason is an agent of the gods willing or otherwise, like many characters of fiction before or after him. He's a reluctant hero but a competent one whose doing a great public relations campaign for the gods of Olympus. There's also something caprice,cruel and more then slightly chaotic about these gods they have a bit of an undercurrent of menace about them.

"Jason is brought to Mount Olympus to speak with Zeus and Hera. Hera tells him Zeus has decreed he can only call upon her for aid five times. She directs him to search for the Fleece in the land of Colchis. Zeus offers his direct aid, but Jason declares he can organize the voyage, build a ship, and collect a crew of the bravest men in all Greece.
Men from all over Greece compete for the honor. Because their ship is named the Argo after her builder, Argus (Laurence Naismith), the crew are dubbed the Argonauts. Among them are Hercules (Nigel Green), Hylas (John Cairney), and Acastus (Gary Raymond), the son of Pelias, sent by his father to sabotage the voyage.
Hera guides Jason to the Isle of Bronze, but warns him to take nothing but provisions. However, Hercules steals a brooch pin the size of a javelin from a treasure building, surmounted by a giant statue of Talos, which comes to life and attacks the Argonauts. Jason again turns to Hera, who tells him to open a large plug on Talos' heel, to release the giant's ichor. Talos falls to the ground, crushing Hylas, hiding his body. Hercules refuses to leave until he ascertains the fate of his friend. The other Argonauts refuse to abandon Hercules, so Jason calls upon Hera again. She informs them that Hylas is dead and that Hercules will not continue on with them."
Yeah & this is another picture with one of the classic 'oh crap' moments in movie history & also this is a film with lots of side quests that all dovetail back into the main thrust of the adventure. Even the side characters or NPC's are engaging. Is there room however for other adventurers to pick up some of the slack in the plot holes that get left behind. Take for example the valley of statues that is found on the island of Crete. Hercules is still there looking for Hylas.

The hands of the gods is constantly meddling in the voyage of Jason & his crew. You can almost but not quite sense the amusement of  the gods as Argo faces down its next peril. Take note her DM's at the fact that the gods are always but not quite close at hand.

"The Argonauts next reach the realm of King Phineus (Patrick Troughton), who has been blinded and is tormented by harpies for his transgressions against the gods. In return for his advice on how to reach Colchis, the Argonauts render the harpies harmless by caging them, whereupon Phineus tells them to sail between the Clashing Rocks, which destroy any ship in the narrow channel, and gives Jason an amulet. Arriving at the Clashing Rocks, the Argonauts witness another ship suffering that fate. When the Argo tries to row through, the ship appears doomed. Jason throws Phineus' amulet into the water, and the sea god Triton rises up and holds the rocks apart so the Argo can pass them. The Argonauts rescue a survivor from the other ship, Medea (Nancy Kovack), high priestess of Colchis.
Challenging Jason's authority, Acastus engages him in a duel. Disarmed, Acastus jumps into the sea and disappears. Jason and his men land in Colchis and accept an invitation from King Aeëtes (Jack Gwillim) to a feast. Unknown to them, Acastus has survived and warned Aeëtes of Jason's quest for their prized Golden Fleece. Aeëtes has the unwary Argonauts imprisoned, but Medea, having fallen in love with Jason, helps him and his men escape.
Meanwhile, Acastus tries to steal the Fleece, but is killed by its guardian, the Hydra. Following right behind Acastus, Jason is able to kill the beast and retrieve the gift of the gods. Aeëtes, in pursuit, sows the Hydra's teeth while praying to the goddess Hecate, producing a band of skeletal warriors. Jason, together with Phalerus and Castor, hold off the skeletons while Medea and Argus escape back to the Argo with the Fleece. After a prolonged battle in which his companions are killed, Jason escapes by jumping into the sea,[2] and he, Medea, and the surviving Argonauts begin their voyage home to Thessaly. In Olympus, Zeus tells Hera that in due time he will call upon Jason again."

Medea (Nancy Kovack), high priestess of Colchis is an interesting characters in her own right. She represents a much older order & cult. There's also the fact that these skeletons have inspired the look of many other undead, skeletons, etc over the years this includes the Deadites in Army of Darkness. This was something that my buddy Peter used to connect the history of the Necronomicon Ex Mortis back to the cult of Colchis. There's also the undercurrent of the younger divinities using their knight Jason to murder the old goddess Colchis & steal her treasure the Golden Fleece for themselves. A very interesting way of using an artifact.

Ten Ways Of Using The Classic
Ray Harryhausen's 1963 Jason & The Argonauts
For A Campaign Build 
  1. The cult of Colchis isn't going to take the loss of the Golden Fleece lying down. cult assassins, spies, etc are ripe to throw at an older Jason. The PC might have to step in to be the heroes. 
  2. There were treasures of the gods left behind on the Island of Bronze isn't it time for some PC's to go back for them. 
  3. The gods are fickle at best and there are certainly other adventures connected with them that the PC's can enter into and over lap with the events of  Jason & the Argonauts.
  4. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First edition's Deities & Demigods  has many of the treasures, gods, etc described in this film. Its quite easy to dovetail other Greek myths into the mix for an old school campaign. 
  5. There's a very dark undercurrent about the cult of Colchis. Could there be a far more sinister Lovecraftian connection to their doings? Could the PC's stumble into their secrets and more? 
  6. There are vast differences between this film and the actual mythology that a DM could exploit for even more old school adventures.
  7. Are there other islands out there where the gods of Olympus have be experimenting with their creations? What weirdness could the PC's find? 
  8. Was there more happening in the lands of King Phineus? Are there dungeons of ancient lands below his realm? Did the hydra simply guard the fleece or was there more to its cult? 
  9. The gods are not done with Jason indeed. The PC's might need to lend a hand in his next adventure! 
  10. The god's glory is fading and its up to the PC's to once again journey into the realms of the gods.

Friday, June 23, 2017

OSR Saturday Retro Old School Campaign Set Up With Ray Harryhausen's Clash of the Titans

There's something to be said for going back to the source material when your looking for ideas. In this case we went back to 1981's Clash of the Titans which stars  Harry Hamlin, Judi Bowker, Burgess Meredith, Maggie Smith and Laurence Olivier. "The film features the final work of stop motion visual effects artist Ray Harryhausen. It was released on June 12, 1981 and grossed $41 million at the North American box office."

Sneaking into the Warner Theater on a Saturday afternoon through the side back entrance enabled me and my crew of miscreants to see this film. It was hugely influential on a generation of film goers in the Eighties. Especially gamers, for a time it seemed that you couldn't throw a rock and not hit ten different old school  campaigns all centered around Greek mythology.
The basic plot centers around Argos the land  that Perseus lands in after Zeus's jealous wife Hera sets him down in but there was far more going on around the plot of the film;
"King Acrisius of Argos imprisons his daughter Danaë, jealous of her attracting suitors. When the god Zeus impregnates her, Acrisius banishes his daughter and his newborn grandson Perseus to sea in a wooden chest. In retribution, Zeus kills Acrisius and orders Poseidon to release the last of the Titans, a gigantic sea monster called the Kraken, to destroy Argos. Meanwhile, Danaë and Perseus safely float to the island of Seriphos where Perseus grows to adulthood.
Calibos was always a favorite villain of mine warped by the curse of Zeus into something far more and far less then a man. Calibos has been and continues to be my primer for playing divine curses on NPC's. Even
in this film there is something of the fickle & the undercurrent of the chaotic nature of the Greek Harryhausen gods.

" Calibos, son of the sea goddess Thetis, is a young man engaged to marry Princess Andromeda, the daughter of Queen Cassiopeia and heir to the rich city of Joppa; but for committing several atrocities against Zeus, including hunting and destroying Zeus's sacred flying horses (excepting only Pegasus), Zeus transforms Calibos into a monstrous deformed creature with one hoof, goat-like horns, and a long tail. This left Calibos an outcast where he lived in the swamp. In revenge, Thetis transports an adult Perseus from Seriphos to an abandoned amphitheatre in Joppa, where he is befriended by an elderly poet named Ammon and learns that Andromeda is under a curse and cannot marry unless her suitor successfully answers a riddle whose failures are burned at the stake. In order to aid his son, Zeus sends Perseus a god-crafted helmet from Athena which makes its wearer invisible, a magical sword from Aphrodite, and a shield from Hera. Perseus, wearing the helmet, captures Pegasus and follows Calibos' giant vulture that is carrying Andromeda to learn the next riddle. Perseus is nearly killed by Calibos but manages to sever one of Calibos' hands, losing his helmet in the process."

There are a couple of things to keep in mind for an old school dungeon master looking at Clash of the Titans:
  1. The hero & his party of adventurers & hirelings go on a few side quests before achieving their goals. 
  2. Scattered all throughout Clash of the Titans are the remains of the world before the gods. This is something that echoes throughout the film. The feeling that there was 'a world before'. The Kraken itself can be considered a part of this.
  3. The prison of Medusa at the edge of the Underworld is pure dungeon crawl & has many classic elements of an old school adventure including a guardian monster in the form of the two headed dog Dioskilos.
  4. There are other echoes of earlier Greek mythology films such as Jason and the Argonauts from 1963. 
  5. Burgess Meredith as Ammon is a perfect pure bard, sage, and councilor NPC & his performance makes an excellent reference for old school DM's 
  6. The interaction between the gods and humans in '81's Clash of the Titans is fickle at best and downright dangerous at worst. This sort of interaction might be typical for human and god interactions. 
  7. There is treasure just sitting around several of the picture's adventure locations and this could lead a party of adventurers to follow the trails blazed by Perseus and co.   
  8. The Kraken isn't the only monster that the gods have imprisoned. There's a bunch of horrors implied by the film but never seen. 
  9. There isn't much back story given to the Stygian Witches but its clear that their very dangerous. Could a relative of  the PC's have been one of their victims? This might make for a good side quest. 
  10. The gods make several references to the moves of other humans on their chess board. Could these be the PC's interfering in the plans of the gods? 

"Perseus seeks a way to defeat the Kraken, while Pegasus is captured by Calibos and his men. Zeus commands Athena to give Perseus her owl Bubo; but she orders Hephaestus to build a golden replica of Bubo instead, who leads Perseus to the Stygian Witches. By taking their magic eye Perseus forces them to reveal that the only way to defeat the Kraken is by using the head of Medusa, who lives on an island in the River Styx at the edge of the Underworld. The next day, the group continues on their journey without Andromeda and Ammon, who return to Joppa."

The Kraken comes to claim Andromeda.
"On the Gorgon's island with three soldiers by his side, Perseus fights Medusa's guardian, a two-headed dog named Dioskilos, who kills one of his companions but Perseus intervenes in the nick of time and kills the beast. Perseus leads his two remaining allies into the Gorgon's lair. His two other companions die on encounter with Medusa herself; she shoots one of the soldiers with an arrow and turns the other to stone. Perseus uses the reflective underside of his shield to deceive Medusa, decapitates her, and collects her head; but the shield is dissolved by her caustic blood. As Perseus and his party set to return, Calibos enters their camp, forces Bubo into the water, scares the horses away, and punctures the cloak carrying Medusa's head, causing her blood to spill and produce three giant scorpions called Scorpiochs. The scorpions attack and Thallo is able to kill one of them, but he and his fighting companion are both killed by Calibos himself. Perseus slays the other two scorpions and thereafter kills Calibos and grieves Thallo's death."

The scorpion scene still creeps me out but its indicative of the fact that the mortals are playing with the materials, items, & events of the Greek gods. This is one big entertainment for those same gods something again implied in '63's 'Jason & the Argonauts' film. In fact there's always been deep connections between Clash of the Titans & Jason & The Argonauts.
Is the whole set up with the Kraken simply another entertainment in a long line of such events of the gods? Both pictures imply this very thing.

There's this feeling to both pictures that there's far more going on then we the audience are seeing. There have been other heroes & adventures that we are not even aware of. These films imply a history and deep backstory that one gets from a Harryhausen film. I'm not waxing lyrical here or clouded by nostalgia. These were films with weight to them and mythological backgrounds to them for old school campaigns. An early look into Clash of the Titans can be found in Starlog issue #38 which has a really solid article on the film.

So the Kraken is defeated & all ends well for Joppa. Well not exactly you've still got the gods plotting their next move on the city state & then there are the families of the poor bastards that went with Perseus.  This is where the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition Deities & Demigods book comes in. Almost but not quite everything is stated up in this book except the Kraken.

I know that your thinking that surely you can't plug this into Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea? Can you? Well actually you can. The heroes & some background elements were placed in the constellations by Zeus himself. What if there's shadows of these NPC's in the stellar namesakes. Could there be a quest in the making between the Outer Darkness of the night between the stars? I have a feeling of something along those lines. 

For now keep em rolling!  Clash of the Titans remains an old favorite of mine and millions out there.  A perfect game night film and perhaps set up for your old school campaigns?!