Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Appendix N OSR Reading & Clark Ashton Smith 'The Hunters From Beyond' 1932 Adapted For Your Old School Campaigns

 'In God's name, what are you trying to do here?' I burst out. 'What does it all mean? Do such abominations really exist, on earth or in any hell?'

He laughed again, with an evil subtlety, and became evasive all at once. 'Anything may exist, in a boundless universe with multiple dimensions. Anything may be real — or unreal. Who knows? It is not for me to say. Figure it out for yourself, if you can — there's a vast field for speculation -- and perhaps for more than speculation.'
Clark Ashton Smith The Hunters From Beyond 1932 

Out among the foaming soap bubbles of reality that wash against the lower dimensional & planar realities of our local time & space continuum there are hunters. Among these shores these  hunters from other places feasters from afar & very near at hand. Clark Aston Smith's "The Hunters from Beyond" was first published in an issue of Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror for which it proves the cover story

 "The Hunters from Beyond" trods the same terrority as H.P. Lovecraft's 'The Horror In The Museum'; '"The Horror in the Museum" is a short story ghostwritten by H. P. Lovecraft for Somerville, MA writer Hazel Heald in October 1932. It is one of five stories Lovecraft revised for Heald. The story has been reprinted in several collections, such as The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions
These hunters come from a plane that overlaps our own on occassion. They are often called from; " a lower dimension described as "a long, gray, oozing plain, beneath skies where the fumes of Hell were writhing like a million ghostly and distorted dragons." In this dimension thousands if not more Dimensional Shamblers live."
What happens when we go back to Clark Aston Smith's "The Hunters from Beyond"?! We suddenly find out several interesting things. The creature in question wasn't called into our 1932 reality with any magick what so ever. The creatures differ greatly from Lovcraft's works & there vast difference in the monster's methods sort of. In the Dimensional Shambler wiki entry on Lovecraft fandom.com we get the following; "In "The Horror in the Museum" (1933), the Dimensional Shambler is described as black in coloration and resembling something half-ape, half-insect. These traits differ it from the creatures described in Clark Ashton Smith's "The Hunters from Beyond" (1932), which are pale-grey and look more canine-like in appearance; although they've also been compared to apes. It is possible, however, that the difference in coloration at least might be due to the fact that the Shambler in "The Horror in the Museum" was long-dead; being merely a preserved hide. Then again, the fact that the "Hunters from Beyond" cannot interact with the material world properly could lead one to question whether a deceased specimen would even become tangible enough to be preserved in the first place." 
The answer to this comes in the form of the occultists, sorcerers , & black wizards of original Dungeons & Dragons or Lamentations of the Flame Princess rpg summoning spells.  Twisted occult technologies or artifacts left behind could easily proved the gateway for such creatures into our reality. 

The Hunters From Beyond 

No Encountered: 2d4 (3d8)

Alignment: Chaotic Evil 

Intelligence High & Up With A Rabid Animal like Cunning 

Movement: 90'/280'  

Armor Class:4 

Hit Dice :4 

Attacks 2 (Claws) 

Damage: 1d8/1d8 

Save F3 

Morale 8

Psionic Strength 2d6+6 

Hoard Class IV 

XP 80 

Hunters from Beyond  can shift between planes once per hour, using an effect that is similar to that created by the plane shift spell, & also have the ability to blink as per the spell once per hour as well. The Hunters from Beyond may also teleport without error once per day to their prey once they have encountered a victim. The hunters also have an uncanny gate like ability to gate in 2d4 more of their ilk to take a victim back to their own home plane. 
They may be summoned to our reality by a simple variant of the  first level summon spell found in Lamentations of the Flame Princess rpg. The hunters & the dimensional shamblers are always looking for access to our reality. They are deadly hunters & horrors beyond human understanding. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

High Tech Mysticism & High Caliber Adventure - Nightshift Veterans of the Supernatural Wars By Jason Vey & Timothy Brannan - The Vampires of Carl Kolchak & Appendix N Seventies TV & Literarture


If there are two book ends to Seventies Dungeons & Dragons its gotta be the Seventies  Kolchak series of films & television series. Oh sure you'll hear the Nineties dungeon masters talk about the X Files television show by Chris Carter. But without Kolchak you'd never have had X Files end of story. The older I'm getting the more I understand  wire service reporter Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin). Strike that, growing up I wanted to be Carl Kolchak. Originally the book was written by Jeff Rice under the title 'The Kolchak Papers' it was optioned into the 'The Night Stalker';  "

ABC approached Rice with an offer to option The Kolchak Papers, which was adapted eventually by Richard Matheson into a television movie, The Night Stalker. It was produced by Dan Curtis and directed by John Llewellyn Moxey. Darren McGavin played the role of Carl. The cast also included Carol LynleySimon OaklandRalph MeekerClaude AkinsCharles McGrawKent SmithStanley AdamsElisha Cook Jr.Larry Linville, Jordan Rhodes, and Barry Atwater as the vampire Janos Skorzen" 

The director Dan Curtis back in '04 went into the backstory of The Night Strangler. But Dan Kurtis was so much more then simply Kolchak. Mr.Curtis was pretty much unsung 60's & 70's vampire horror royalty because this was the gentleman responsible for Dark Shadows the TV show. 

Now I can already hear the manure from the OSR from here. What the Hell does this have to with original Dungeons & Dragons because it all comes from Hammer horror films. And yes it does but the vampires from Original Dungeons & Dragons Monsters & Treasure book volume two are slightly different; "VAMPIRES: These monsters are properly of the "Undead" class rather than Lycanthropes. If they are exposed to direct rays of sunlight, immersed in running water, or impaled through the heart with a wooden stake they are killed; otherwise they can be hit only as Spectres, but such hits do not kill them but only force them to assume gaseous form if they lose all hit points. Vampires drain two life energy levels as do Spectres when they hit an opponent in combat. They regenerate during combat as do Trolls, but they do so immediately upon being hit at the rate of three hit points per turn. Vampires can command help by calling to them from 10 to 100 rats or bats or from 3 to 18 wolves. They can polymorph themselves into either a huge bat or into a gaseous form, doing either at will. They Charm men-types merely by looking into their eyes (treat as a Charm Person spell with a minus 2 for the object's saving throw against magic). Vampires cannot abide the smell of garlic, the face of a mirror, or the sight of cross. They will fall back from these if strongly presented. They must always return to a coffin whose bottom is covered with soil from their native land during the daylight hours. Men-types killed by Vampires become Vampires under the control of the one who made them." 
Oh so what! There's no connection here to Kolchak or Tolkien are you nuts? Well what if I told you that there are vampires similar to the ones in Kolchak right in Tolkein you can find that information thanks in part to the Men of the West video series here. 

But what about Conan?! Robert E. Howard's barbarian adventurer comes face to face with Princess Akivasha. The Pharaoh Tuthamon the Great's eldest daughter and the immortal Stygian vampire princess who existed more than 10,000 years ago before the birth of Conan from Robert E. Howard, "The Hour of the Dragon". Her first appearance at The Hour of the Dragon from Weird Tales (1935-1936). She plays a major role in CM2 Conan Against the Darkness By Ken Rolston. 

The question that always plagued me is the following, 'Did the Stygians survive into the present day' or Did the Stygians survive into Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane era in the deepest parts of unexplored Africa. Solomon Kane's 'Hills of the Dead' was first published in Weird Tales, August 1930. May it was because at the time I devoured anything Conan or Solmon Kane. But it seemed to me that these vampires in 'Hills of the Dead' were hold overs from ancient ages past. And did Kane kill every last vampire?! I think not these creatures were survivors. These undead creatures were hold overs from another era. And they seemed to be very much in charge of an entire ancient kingdom. 

All of this ties deeply into the fact that between Kane & Kolchak the book end of this series of inspirations at least for me is 1979 Toby Hooper's Steven King TV mini series  Salem's Lot. 

The real innovation when it comes to Hooper's vampires is the fact that he treats them like a disease. An undead  disease that takes out Salem's Lot's residence one after another. Now this entire plot could be used for an original Dungeons & Dragons game adhoc. Or if we go the Lamentations of the Flame Princess route & why not. Then there's a very nice little OSR book by James Mishler games called Vampires of the Olden Lands. Has the entire spectrum of the vampire as plague covered. 
 Now we've covered Salem's Lot extensively on this blog going back ages. But Kolchak's follow up 'The Night Straggler'   to the Night Stalker has some very interesting connotations. '
The Night Strangler' has an alchemy compondent to it that translates well as an LoFP adventure element. 
This adventure angle could be used as a hook for a Weird Tales style LoFP adveture or as a come along for a party into a campaign. 

Here's how I would actually use these vampires for LoFP, I link this totally back around to Robert E. Howard's 'Hour of the Dragon' which you can read here. Then grab Jason Vey's Age of Conan hack for original Dungeons & Dragon available here. 

I have to mention that Richard Matheson is intimiately tied into Kolchak & he did the book 'Iam Legend'; 'He is best known as the author of I Am Legend, a 1954 science fiction horror novel that has been adapted for the screen three times, the first of which, The Last Man on Earth, was co-scripted by him and starred Vincent Price. (The other two adaptations are The Omega Man with Charlton Heston and I Am Legend with Will Smith.)' These films were used as destinations for planar gates over the years in classic Gamma World & original Dungeons & Dragons. 
Imagine a group of Lamenations of the Flame Princess adventurers suddenly landing on one of the worlds of Richard Matheson's vampire plague?!

But what does all of this mean to the Nightshift Veterans of the Supernatural Wars rpg players & their PC's?! Plenty.. These vampires are each servants of Chaos in no uncertain terms. These undead are almost complete chaotic  serving 
murderous parodies of themselves. But the Dark Shadow TV version of these are quite the opposite in many ways. The OSR library blog by David Baymiller has an awesome write up & optional PC OSR write up the for the Dark Shadows vampires here. 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Appendix N Sword & Sorcery Commentary - Sword Mistresses of Robert E. Howard & C.L. Moore

 Tonight its a night spent  with C.L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry, a French Sword & Sorcery sword mistress of the first caliber. According to the wiki entry on her; "Jirel of Joiry is one of the most notable creations of writer C. L. Moore, who appeared in a series of sword and sorcery stories published first in the pulp horror/fantasy magazine Weird Tales. Jirel is the proud, tough, arrogant and beautiful ruler of her own domain—apparently somewhere in medieval France. Her adventures continually involve her in dangerous brushes with the supernatural."  And its these brushes with the supernatural & the occult that set Jirel of Joiry on a simlar path to Robert E. Howard's Dark Agnes de Chastillon (also known as Agnes de ChastillonDark AgnesAgnes de la Fere and The Sword Woman) who has her adventures in in 16th Century France

The Robert E. Howard stories have a very similar Sword & Sorcery element but the occult is only present in the last story. Jirel of Joiry drips with he presence of the supernaural. The world is a hostile & dangerous place for a swordswoman whose talen it both natural & trained. Both of these adventuresses possess a fiery temper. And yes I'm purposely avoiding Red Sonja. She has her own blog post coming up. Jirel of Joiry is one of the first ladies of Sword & Sorcery. Because her brushes with the supernatural come at a steep price for her. The ego she has is vast but her attitudes humanize her. 
Her adventures are both understandable but her attitudes separate her from the pack of later swords women.  
Jirel of Joiry is the master plan of a mercenary adventurer taught her sword craft by a master swordmen. Only to have her teacher murdered in the second half of the stories. 

There's something about the Pulp writing of C.L. Moore's that speaks volumes to the Appendix N aspects of both the OSR & the old school Dungeons & Dragons. Both of these Pulp swords women are easily the equivelant of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess rpg adventurers. Both  Jirel of Joiry & Dark Agnes are ladies pushed into the life of adventuress by circumstances beyond their control. Both have brushes with the supernatural 

Neither of these ladies is superhuman in any way shape or form but they do fit the heroic Pulp heroine. And they more then a match for thier respective time periods of history. An excellent overview of the red haired sword women of both Robert E. Howard & C.L. Moore can be found at this episode of Pulp Crazy here. 
According to the wiki entry on Moore's Jirel stories there's a little nugget of information included; 

"Moore's Jirel stories include the following:

  • "Black God's Kiss" (October 1934)
  • "Black God's Shadow" (December 1934)
  • "Jirel Meets Magic" (July 1935)
  • "The Dark Land" (January 1936)
  • "Quest of the Starstone" (November 1937), with Henry Kuttner
  • "Hellsgarde" (April 1939)

These stories, except for "Quest of the Starstone", appear in the collection Jirel of Joiry (1969), and in the Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks compendium Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams (2002). All six appear in a collected edition under Paizo Publishing's "Planet Stories" imprint, compiled under the title Black God's Kiss." 
The volume to get that contains all of the Jirel stories is 
the Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks compendium Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams (2002) available from Amazon for 18.00 dollars US a real steal. 

The Saga Of Crystar - As Influence On Your Sword And Science Fantasy Campaign

 File:The Saga of Crystar.jpg

Way back in 1983 there was a comic book series that seems to have faded into the background of the pop cultural landscape. The other day I was looking into my comic bins and came across this cultural relic from the Mighty House of Marvel.
I'm speaking of course of Crystar Crystal Warrior one of a wave of comics that came out during the height of the sword and sorcery craze of 1983.
According to Wiki : 
The Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior was a 1983 11-issue fantasy-based Marvel comic book with an associated toy line from Remco, consisting of seven figures, some vehicles and accessories.

The plot : 
Years ago, The Demon Lord sent his demon armies to conquer the world of Crystallium. The King of Crystallium led the fight against the Demon Lord in the Chaos War, but he was killed during the war. The forces of Order then sent the wizard Ogeode and the Prisma-Crystal to drive away The Demon Lord's minions and the forces of Chaos. In his defeat, the Demon Lord made the "Prophecy of Chaos", that he would one day send another of his servants to divide the planet against itself and bring ruin to all.
After the end of the Chaos War, the wizards Ogeode and Zardeth visited two princes, the brothers Crystar and Moltar, who had to decide whether their people would ally with Chaos or Order. Crystar chose Order and its champion, Ogeode. As Moltar considered Chaos, their uncle Feldspar tried to convince him that Chaos was evil. Moltar, feeling that his uncle had always favored Crystar, became enraged and fought Crystar, injuring Feldspar in the process. Leaving them for dead, Moltar led his followers to the Fountain of Fire to find the wizard Zardeth and ally with Chaos.
Ogeode saves Crystar's life by merging him with the great Prisma-Crystal, rendering the prince's body into crystalline form. Similarly, at the Fountain of Fire, Zardeth magically transforms Moltar and his followers with the power of lava. Moltar and his magma men then attempt to conquer the city of Galax. Crystar and his warriors, feeling that flesh and blood would prove ineffective against the transformed armies of Moltar, selected an elite group to be transformed into crystal form like Crystar: Koth, Stalax, and Kalibar.

 The weird thing was that Crystar never had a cartoon show, but there were a boat load of action figures, and he never had any appearances in any really major Marvel comic book series except Alpha Flight and a few of the Marvel second stringers appearances. They were great Marvel second stringers but still. 

The comic book series was set parallel to the Marvel Universe and featured guest appearances by Doctor StrangeNightcrawler and Alpha Flight.|

The comic only lasted eleven issues and there was a ton that Marvel was trying to do be hind the scenes with the property. It was a time when toy properties with synergistic multi-media marketing tie ins were the word. Remember this was the Eighties 

Who's Who On Crystallium

 The following is a quick overview from Wiki :


  • Crystar - One of the twin princes of Crystallium. Leader of the Crystal Warriors for Order.
  • Ambara - Former valet to Lavour. During the conflict between the princes, Ambara and Crystar develop a romantic relationship.
  • Warbow - Crystal Warrior. Warbow shot Zardeth in the left eye with an arrow. Losing the eye, but otherwise unfazed by the injury, Zardeth shot out Warbow's left eye in return, leaving Warbow mortally wounded. Ogeode used the Prisma-Crystal on Warbow as he did on Crystar to save his life. Warbow secretly has romantic feelings for Ambara.
  • Koth - Crystal Warrior with a ribald sense of humor.
  • Stalax - Youngest of the Crystal Warriors.
  • Kalibar - Crystal Warrior.
  • Ogeode - Wizard champion of Order. An old man with a bald head and white beard. Father of Ika, whom he willingly sacrificed to become a crystal being in an experiment to learn the secrets of the crystal warrior physiology (so that he might learn how to heal one of Crystar's injured followers). Frequently, Ogeode claims to be of diminished mystical ability and of little use to the Crystal warriors thanks to the strain of turning the tide during the great war, yet manages to perform mystical feats during times of crisis.
  • Ika - Half-enchantress daughter of Ogeode. Ika was compelled by her father to undergo a transformation to turn her body into crystal so that he could learn the secrets of the Crystal Warrior physiology.


  • Moltar - One of the twin princes of Crystallium. Leader of the Magma Men for Chaos.
  • Zardeth - Wizard leader of Chaos. Lost his left eye in an altercation with Warbow.
  • Lavour - Betrothed to Crystar before the princes went to war. After she thought Crystar was dead, Lavour allied herself with Moltar for the opportunity to become queen of Crystallium.
  • Magma Men - The rank and file of Moltar's army.


  • Feldspar - The appointed regent of Crystallium since the death of his brother, the King of Crystallium. Uncle of Prince Crystar and Prince Moltar, Feldspar has taken authority over the planet until the princes have settled their conflict. He arranged for both Ogeode and Zardeth to alter his body into a partly crystalline and partly molten form to symbolize neutrality in their dispute.

Using Crystar For Your Old School Sword and Science Fantasy Campaign 

Crystar Is weird sword and sorcery comic with lots of potential. There are elements here of the struggle of Law vs Chaos with warriors transformed into Quisi Elemental creatures from the pages of the Monster Manaul II or they might be giants. I've had these races as giants transformed by the powers of Law and Chaos.
In a recent Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea some of my PC's ran across Moltar and his crew. They counted as Fire Giants and if you take a look at the scale of the figure compared to Crystar. They're fire giants alright at least in the AS&SH universe.

Crystallium itself is a demi plane that shifts its position throughout multiverse. I had the Evil Elemental princes( from the Fiend Folio) try to take over the demi plane 

Crystallium which caused an alliance among the forces of Chaos and Order. There are also loads of artifacts left over from the Chaos Wars still on the demi plane guarded by both Crystar and Moltar's minor minions. They're just begging to be taken. All in all most folks have forgotten about Crystar which gives the DM ample opportunity to trot out this relic world and its crystal inhabitants. The fact is that the these brothers are cursed to fight forever after all they're made from the very forces of Chaos and Order itself. What is thirty years to these poor souls. 

On line support :
Every Thing You Ever Wanted To Know Crystalium
Crystar Himself
Zardeth Chaos Wizard
Oegeode The Wizard Of Order
Once again this is a fan based entry and for entertainment purposes only. This is not a challenge to Marvel, its trademarks, copyrights, or anything of the kind. Crystar and its characters belong to their respective copyright and trademark holders.