Monday, June 14, 2021

Old School Reflections - Alignment, Arioch, & Elric In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition

This blog post picks up right where this one left off because the PC's can't always  very careful about which gods they worked for & with because not all gods are working for the benefit of humanity nor its allies.
 When we're talking about alignment in Avanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition then we are talking evolution of the game in action. When we go back the halycon days of 'The Dragon' magazine we can see such evolution in The  Dragon #9 September 1977. Issue 9 of the Dragon magazine contains the article, 'DM's Brew (Mixing Alignments in D&D)' by Gary Gygax. This article sets up the bar for creating the alignments for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons that we all know & love. 

Michael Moorcock's Elric & The Young Kingdoms make it quite plain that they fall under the preview of the Chaos Gods. What makes the Young Kingdom so dangerous is two fold. One is the fact that the realm is that Young Kingdoms is a post empire setting. The Melinbonean empire is fading fast. Humanity is on the rise as Chaos's new champion species. Law in the Young Kingdoms is a half forgotten nicety. The gods of Law are on the way out & up becaiuse the winds of change are on the way. The  Melnibonéanss are a perfect example of a society in decline. Elric for all of his Chaotic Evil is well awate of this. And his pledge of fidelity to Arioch forever pushes him further into Chaos's clutches & as an agent of Chaos itself. This aspect of Chaos is the destructive & highly dangerous side. The side opposite side that seduced the Melnibonéans. Do the Melnibonéans even have it within them to come back into the world of the Young Kingdoms?! Personally I don't think so. Their secret side of magick & darkness is written in both destiny & within a hundred pacts with Chaos. The fact is that the lines of Melnibonéans secret hearts to Chaos. The race's alignment swifts towards evil & in point of fact Choatic Evil. And this allows the humans of Pan Tang to tollow in the foot falls of those who came before them. Black Magick is a part of their legacy as much as the ruby throne. One does not exist without the other. 
And this brings up the fact that this may be a part of these two world dominating powers. Remember that Arioch is the patron to Elric's royal line & as such his corruption flows through the doomed prince. 

This corruption has been sown through myriad centuries. And we have no idea how or what the royal lines have done to be treated  so well by a dangerous Chaos entity such as Arioch. Not to mention the numerous other Chaos gods that look with favor upon the Melnibonéans. And now the clock is ticking for the humans as well. Humans have taken the Melnibonéans as the favored status of Chaos. And this is measured by the fact that these  race's alignments have gone to total corruption. Simply look at Pan Tang's legacy. Almost as if the powers of Law & Chaos were grooming the races of Man & the Young Kingdom's. Grooming them for the next cycle of the world. But Elric isn't the only eternal champion to have dailies with Arioch. According to the villain wiki entry on Arioch; "Arioch has been encountered by another Eternal Champion, Corum Jhaelen Irsei. Arioch was known here as the Knight of the Swords, one of three gods who ruled over Corum's world. The Knight of the Swords was the creator of the humans, or Mabden, as they were known in this world. When Corum first saw Arioch, he was a massive, filthy creature, with Mabden servants all over his body. Later, he appeared to Corum in the more familiar form of an attractive man"
Is this because the races of Man gravitate toward's pure chaotic evil?! No, its because the Chaos gods & gods of Law sew the corruption early into Man during his creation in the world almost like Biblical Judio Christian Fallen Angels. Because the Chaos gods & the Gods of Law's myriad forms throughout the multiverse & planes includes their aspects as 
Biblical Judio Christian Fallen Angels. And alignment reveals what these 'god ' entities are after! They hunger for the souls of humans & even as they prepare the Young Kingdom for the next cycle. On a myriad of other worlds these entities spread their corruption. Think we're kidding?! The appendix of 'The Primal Order' rpg has a quick path to power in the form of the alternative path of Chaos. And it does give power but with the cost of mutation & madness at its black heart. 
Why is this so damn creepy because if you look at the nature of Elric & Arioch's relationship. Its one of pusher & junky or whore & pimp. Take your pick as to whose got whose role in these relationships. The fact is that the alignment of Elric & co. Reveal far more about the fate of the Young Kingdoms then they do about the nasty underbelly of the dark sorcerous heart of t
he  Melnibonéans society & culture. Magick & chaos corrupt because the demonic magicks of the Young Kingdom have become so routine to the jaded sociatal pallette's of the citizens of the Bright Empire. The Bright Empire one of the many titles of the former powerhouses of the Melnibonéans. The Elric saga reveals far more about the society of the kingdoms of the Young Kingdoms then it does about Michael Moorcock's writing. And AD&D first edition pulls no punches with revealing Elric's true nature. Chaotic Evil?!Oh he most certainly is! Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition doesn't once shy away from revealing the underbelly of some of the true puposes alignment. 

Evil with a capital 'e' is revealed for what it is. And I'd go so far as to say that it doesn't praise it in any fashion. And James Ward goes on to talk about this in an interview about the fact that in Gary's design of D&D how good with a capital 'g' would eventually triumph. Mr. Ward talked about this in a recent interview with the Inapropraiate Character's Crew. 

And while this fact may seem trite to many of today's jaded old school & OSR players remember that this is also a part of many of the Appendix N literature including in some fashions Michael Moorcock's literature. Why?! Because Moorcock's pedigree is centered in the Pulp traditions of Sword & Sorcery. A sub gerne of Science Fiction that he helped not only to create but define! Alignment isn't easy to deal with because its far more then simply a line on a character sheet. Its the measure of the player's desire for how their PC acts & twists in the wind during the play sessions. Does alignment have a place in a grand old game such as Choasium's Stormbringer rpg?! Well that's another blog entry coming up kids. So same Eternal Champions channel same time, will our heroes escape their moral life defining quandry?! Tune in next time! 

Elric from AD&D first edition Deities & Demigods artwork by Jeff Dee used without permission 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Above As So Below - The Hidden Agendas & Robert E. Howard - Cepheus Engine rpg & The Gerry Anderson Factor Continues

"I am older than the world:
Older than life.
The race of man is a babe in the cradle of Time.
I am Alpha and Omega.

The first and the last;
The circle without end.
I am a serpent with its tail in its mouth;
I am a triangle whose tips overlap a circle.

I am the older sister of Destiny.
Before man was, I was:
And after man has vanished from the Universe, I will be.
Time is a phantom, built by the mind of man;
There is no Time.
The thing that men call Time flies before my wind;
Time has beginning, duration, ending.
I am that which was, is and shall be;
Unceasing, Neverending, Eternal.
Number all the sands of all the shores of all the worlds
Of all the Universes.
And let each sand represent a million centuries;
And they all shall not be a single instant
Of Eternity.

For I am numberless and unnumbered,
Eternity had no beginning nor shall there be ending.
I am Alpha and Omega.
That which was, is and shall be;
Numberless and unnumbered."
by Robert Ervin Howard

Let's pick it up for a Seventies Sci fi rompe with the influences here coming hot on the heels of our last blog  entry here.  This blog post pick up in another direction entirely namely plugging into the another tactic with another storm front of another set of unknown space craft. What the Hell are we talking about here?!? 

Artwork by Andrea Bonazzi used without permission.

Imagine if you will that the UFO's we see in our campaign are not the only craft kidnapping people for ages from Earth prior to the moon being wretched from orbit? 
One of the keys to this is  Michael Brown's Omega 99 campaign setting.  Omega 99 offers a moon with some interesting alien neighbors in the form of  the Edari, the Kahgg, and the Mecharchs.  These neighbors might be familiar to the inhabitants of Earth because the Earthlings have encountered them before! 
Last time I spoke about these aliens being servants of Greys or Reticulans. But imagine for a moment that Zozer Games Attack Squadron Roswell's discs. Are rival Reticulans or another race that is running scared about humanity. 
 ‘Attack Squadron Roswell’ by Zozer Games  is a  pre-Cepheus Engine (it uses the MG1e / Traveller rules set) game. Now this rival group of Greys works for a different Lovecraftian entity.  

These aliens see the Reticulan empire of 'These Stars Are Ours' rpg setting  as rivals & competition. Competition because the clock is ticking. Humanity is becoming far more wise to the intrusions within our solar system. Reading through this review of  'UFOs - Ships of the Reticulan Empire' from the Alegis Downport Blog the seed is planted. Why?! Because the Reticulans have a fully formed empire. But their motivation for humanity is one dating back thousands of years. 

Once the monolith on the moon is found ala 2001 a Space Odyessy all bets are off. The signal is sent & all other aliens powers are going to be aware of this. For humanity the motivation is FTL & the reaching for the stars.
For the aliens its harvesting of a valuable reasouce in the form of mankind. A very malliable resource that they can shape into tools to help across the interstellar void. And both of these go back to my adopted uncle from the U.K.'s 
2000AD prog, issues circa 1978 with the iconic Dan Dare series. In this scence Dan could have solved the FTL issue quite quickly with some of the artifacts in this scene.

If we take the point of view that there are rival factions of Greys serving higher dimensional Lovecraftian gods. And these are opposed to the 2001 style aliens where does that level humanity?! Could humanity be merely a commodity at this point. Imagine that by the time of the 1980 of U.F.O. humanity became aware of the Deep Ones or other underwater Lovcraftian races. 
Humanity would be desparate for some advantage perhaps submarine the technologies of SHADO Skydiver submarines had far more unnatural sources?! 

Humanity occupied by its recent devestation of the Moon leaving orbit is now open to praying by dangerous forces above & below the waves. SHADO has to step in & take charge as the Martian colonies seize the opportunity to raid Earth. And SHADO moves into the position of global & interstellar military power in keeping with the Robert E. Howard ethos of action & violence begets order. Again this situation & others are indictive of the type of affair that we see in Orbital 2100 from Zozer Games. 

Appendix N - The Remeberance of Robert E. Howard & Set the Elder God of Kull of Atlantis

 So a couple of days ago this piece of Robert E. Howard inspired artwork.. Now its been many years since I've been down to Cross Plains Texas. And over the last couple of days Robert E.Howard's life & literature has played on my mind. 

Artwork by Mark Wheatley used without permission 
Go visit Mark Wheatley's gallery here. You won't be sorry.

Now Robert E. Howard's Conan is the usually the literatery character that folks bring up. Conan is the solid barbarian. But for me its gotta be King Kull & the Thuria stories.
These stories are so important to the Cthulhu mythos & even the Marvel universe they never get mentioned in OSR or old school circles according to the HP Lovecraft wiki; "Thuria is a fictional supercontinent created by Robert E. Howard. It first appeared in "The Shadow Kingdom" (Weird Tales in August, 1929), the first of his King Kull stories and, according to Lin Carter, both one of the first three stories contributing to the Cthulhu Mythos and written by others than H.P. Lovecraft

Thuria is more then the Kull though it marks the real meat & patatoes of the appearance of the Cthulhu mythos in Robert E. Howard's Thuria tales. King Kull himself was far more successful then Conan but who is he?! According to the wiki entry on Kull of Atlantis; "
Kull of Atlantis or Kull the Conqueror is a fictional character created by writer Robert E. Howard.  Kull was born in pre-cataclysmic Atlantis c. 100,000 BC, depicted as inhabited at the time by barbarian tribes. East of Atlantis lay the ancient continent of Thuria, of which the northwest portion is divided among several civilized kingdoms. The most powerful among these was Valusia; others included Commoria, Grondar, Kamelia, Thule, and Verulia." 

Kull of Atlantis  first published appearance was "The Shadow Kingdom" by Robert E. Howard  in Weird Tales (August, 1929). In later Kull of Atlantis stories one of the most dangerous if not the most dangerous foes are the serpent people. According to the H.P. Lovecraft wiki on the creation of the serpent people; "The serpent people were invented separately, but almost simultaneously by Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton SmithH. P. LovecraftLin Carter, and John R. Fultz have all expanded the information. Richard L. Tierney added the goat-spawn and shoggoths in "The Temple of The Abomination" by Howard and Tierney." 
For my money the Bronze age Marvel version of serpent people are the depiction that comes to mind from the pages of Kull the Conqueror series.

But the iconic cover of  issue #1 in 1971 still resonates with me. The tagline still rings in my mind; 
"A King Comes Riding!" – Before there was Conan - before many-towered Atlantis sank - there was King Kull! Robert E. Howard's first great barbarian hero - never before in comic-book form! " 
Kull was a thinking man's king & able to deal with many of his threats with common sense as well as violence. But there are vast differences between Robert E. Howard's Kull of Atlantis & Marvel's Kull the Conqueror of the 616 universe. Seriouly go read up on that here. 

But it was Valusia the empire of the serpent people & their gods Set as well as Yig. That's right Yig is separate from the great serpent set. Valusia is the land of serpents and the great empire of the serpentmen. Many of the changes of the serpent men came from the pen of Lin Carter; "
In the Mythos works of Lin Carter related to Hyperborea, Shuggon is the ancient continent of the Mesozoic serpent people destroyed in a cataclysm c.65 million B.C.E. which caused the surviving serpent people to migrate to Elder Valusia and aided the extinction of the dinosaurs. Shuggon is named in the Necronomicon but goes unnamed in most other texts. May be the same as Altuas or Altuan." After all its not like Robert E. Howard wrote about Set setting up parameters of his serpent god except in the most general terms in Kull, Conan, El Borak, & throughout his works right?! 
Well, yes & no. Yes he wrote about the great serpent in the one place that all of his readers except his die hard fans forget to look in his poetry. Robert E. Howard was as prolific a poet as H.P. Lovecraft & Clark Ashton Smith. So in addition to the man serpents & other wonderful serpentine creations Robert E. Howard  also wrote the poem' Serpent' which is public domain;
"I am the symbol of Creation and Destruction
I am the beginning and the end.
With my tail in my mouth
I am the Circle of Eternity.
Wisdom is in my eyes
And the dusk of wisdom lurks amid my coils.
My track circles the world
And I loop my coils around the Universe.
My head waves among the stars
And the nations fall prostrate before me.
Coiled, head upright, I am the spirit of the sea.
The world-shaking dinosaur was my henchman
And the flying dragons were my footmen.
The ancients knew me.
They reared shrines and altars
And I taught them dim, dusky wisdom.
I coiled in the ruins of Troy and Babylon
And on the forgotten streets of Nineveh.
The Norse called me Midgaard and built their galleys
Like a sea-serpent.
The Egyptians and the Indians called me Ysis
And the Phoenecians Baal.
I am the sea that girdles the world.
I am the first and I shall be the last.
I am the Serpent of the Ages."
by Robert Ervin Howard

Conan film 1982 

There will be more Robert E. Howard blog posts coming up this week! 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Old School Reflections - Alignment, The 90's, & Elric In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition

 This morning we came across this excellent post on alignment in old school, OSR, & even fifth edition D&D from the Methods & Madness blog. Alignment at least for me as a DM & player is the secret measure of a man. Why do I say this?! Because having run multiple Sword & Sorcery old school, OSR, & on going campaigns. Alignment has become the short hand of who & what makes pacts with the entities of the Outer Darkness, aligns with the Elder Gods, & even who deals with or dailies with demons or devils. Everything is spelled out in the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide by Gary Gygax. All of the following took place with  first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.. 

It doesn't take a genius to see how & why the alignment system can be used to create interactions between NPC's & PC's. It can also be used in matters of religious conflict within campaign settings. This is something that many folks don't even have a clue about. This is important in world & campaign creation where the gods are the back bone of the setting. This brings into focus 'The Primal Order' by Peter Akinson, this 'caps system' has been incredibly useful for creating adventure campaigns where the focus is on the cosmic. 

The back bone of this campaign setting was the AD&D alignment system that allowed the worth of a man to be measured by the gods. And with that came all kinds of wars, battles, trade entanglements, etc. Religion playing a huge part in this Nineties campaign. 

The alignment system would later on pave the way for a huge sprawling Elric AD&D game that I got sucked into. And this actually involved the Primal Order's book Knights. The PC's were just men & elves but they got involved in the affairs the Chaos Gods. Or druid got uppity with Elric & was cut down by Stormbringer. The party was shocked! But Elric is Chaotic Evil & he needed a soul for the working of a ritual. The sword took the druid instantly! 

Elric from AD&D first edition Deities & Demigods artwork by Jeff Dee used without permission 

The player was beyond pissed as a matter of fact. But as I've said Elric is an evil SOB who serves one of the most evil Chaos gods around. And we're talking one of the heavy hitters here. The PC's working quite nicely together were able to get around Elric with a cleverly staged natural disaster. 

Blood & souls for Arioch from AD&D first edition Deities & Demigods artwork by Jeff Dee used without permission

But the PC's were very careful about which gods they worked for & with because not all gods are working for the benefit of humanity nor its allies. Alignment reveals the secrets of a man's true heart. Its always a matter of where the pendulum swings. 

Friday, June 11, 2021

Session Report One - High Tech Mysticism & High Caliber Adventure campaign - Amazing Adventures Fifth Edition - Influence of the Jungle Tomb of the Mummy Bride By Levi Combs From Planet X Games

 Tonight's Amazing Adventures fifth edition session picks right up from last week's zero session. 

A player hand out printed from the papers recovered from Mr.Smithers the town historian. 
The photo was marked with the following;"Wehrmacht officiers, 1941. Unidentified site, picture from the personal archives of Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr." 
The following artwork is used without permission from Andrea Bonazzi

The players are poking around the old Morley mansion & came across the town historian's belongings?! Mr. Smithers had set up a makeshift room inside the old mansion & they found a bunch of classified papers from WW II & a four foot high jar. The jar began to move & out bust a swarm of thousands of  tiny hand like creatures that crawled towards the PC's!? There was an odd disembodied cackling that came from off in the ether. There were a series of photographs, an oddly annoited & noted map of the seas around South America & a journal in archaic German!?!  The same Wehrmacht officiers appeared in front of a dire looking jungle tomb in the South American bush! Smithers himself isn'r anywhere to be found?! 

The PC's decided to press deeper into the Morley place & discovered a secret tunnel passage that led down into tunnels running below the Morley place. In one of these the PC's came across a dug out room with an alchemist lab set up within it! And there was a rather nasty blood splatter across the floor & green ichor mixed with it. None of the player's PC's touched the foul bubbling stuff mixed with the blood. 

We drew tonight's game to a close rather early because of work schedules for tomorrow morning. 

A few take aways from tonight's game of slipping in the adventure  crow bars of Jungle Tomb of the Mummy Bride. Amazing Adventures fifth edition has the classic Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition's or Castles & Crusade's alignment system in full effect. Running away is always an option esepcially for OSR style adventures. 
The PC's also have run into a little sip of paper that contained the following; 
 "Keep women, thrones and kingly lands,

Grant me—to work all mankind dole

To cleave their skulls and split their hands,

To kill the body, damn the soul." 
Keep women, thrones and kingly lands ...
by Robert E. Howard

They have no idea what this verse means but their about ready to charter a plan to South America near a little fishing village where  Mr. Smithers was staying at some months ago. 

OSR Review & Commentary On Michael Moorcock's Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne Hardcover by Julien Blondel (Author), Didier Poli (Illustrator), & Robin Recht (Illustrator)

 One of the startling conclusions that has come my way over the last ten years is the fact that many gamers don't read. Oh all of the excuses come down the pike, 'I don't have enough time'., 'My wife or husband won't let me', or my personal favorite, 'Sorry but reading isn't as exciting as 'insert latest video game title here'. So when Michael Moorcock's Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne Hardcover came my way via a friend who was moving out of Connecticut. I jumped on the chance to own the whole series of books. These books came out in 2014 by  Julien Blondel  (Author), Didier Poli (Illustrator), & Robin Recht (Illustrator). Note that this is only one half of the Elric saga by Michael Moorcock here!   

Michael Moorcock's Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne Hardcover is gorgeous! The artwork is on point & all of the favorite characters are here. Elric isn't the bad ass demon sword wielding mercenary here.. yet. This is events & lead ins with all of the events surrounding the pallid prince. And its captured so well. Everything is here the inhumanity of the people of the ruby throne. The weirdness of the saga is captured nicely. And this is a an excellent entry point for the new comer to the saga. 

The scale of the saga is evident here & its rendered very well. For dungeon masters who want to show the stark Sword & Sorcery world of Elric this is the saga that you can easily use. The scale, scope, grandeurs & romance  is all here. 

And make no mistake that this is an Elric that lives up to the write up in Kuntz & Ward's Deities & Demigods!  Michael Moorcock's Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne Hardcover brings home the evil & alieness of the  Melniboné very well.
 Even without the demon blade Elric is within his Sword & Sorcery element. He has all of trappings of life within confines of the ruby throne that make the events that happen all that more tragic. 

Jeff Dee artwork from Deities & Demigods. 

For DM's that actually want to run Elric & co. through their own campaigns as adventure elements & NPC's. The Michael Moorcock's Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne Hardcover is a choice morsel to add to their libraries. Even though its only the first half of the saga. Michael Moorcock's Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne Hardcover is an excellent beginning with some truly jaw dropping artwork, excellent pacing, solid character studies, & a piece of Sword & Sorcery history not to be missed. 

Michael Moorcock's Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne
Hardcover is available right here. 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

War, Raids, & H.P. Lovecraft - Cepheus Engine rpg & The Gerry Anderson Factor Continues

 "Who fares to find the sunset ere it fly,

Turning to light and fire the further west,
Shall have the veils of twilight for his guest,
And all the falling of an ashen sky.

On lands he shall not know, the splendor lies—
A pharos on some alienated shore,
In foam and purple lost forevermore,
Where dreams are kindled in remoter eyes."
Ashes of Sunset  (1922) 
by Clark Ashton Smith

Artwork by Andrea Bonazzi used without permission. 

So let's get back on this campaign & pick right up from where we  last left off. What preceded the moon being wrenched out of orbit?! If we look deeply into the U.F.O. show's prehistory. Then there's indicators that the unnamed aliens were kidnapping people for ages. 
One of the keys to this is  Michael Brown's Omega 99 campaign setting.  Omega 99 offers a moon with some interesting alien neighbors in the form of  the Edari, the Kahgg, and the Mecharchs.  These neighbors might be familiar to the inhabitants of Earth because the Earthlings have encountered them before! 
   If we look at other Jerry Anderson shows there's a clear indicator that various aliens have used other alien races as servants & slaves. But not for the reasons you might be thinking. 

These aliens information  would be classified & only available at the highest levels of the world's  government. These aliens were questioned & hopefully returned to their people. Hopefully. 
But what happened to the aliens from U.F.O.?! If these were higher dimensional beings & opposed to the monolith aliens from 2001 A Space Odyssey where did they go?! Two possibilities spring to mind. They perished after the implementation of the IX Hawk  program after their resources ran out.  This could be implied from the Hawk space craft's  engineering evolution from the SHADO's Interceptor models. 

Could something much more insidious have happened?! The aliens in point of fact may have infiltrated Earth society & come into their own. They may have revealed themselves to the higher levels of the U.N..  In exchange for the secrets of FTL drives simply slipped into Earth's leaders & scientists hands. This accelerated the Monolith alien's time table for humanity. And so the Moon was wrenched from orbit. This is the test for humanity using the 'random' course of the Earth's moon. 
Earth however was already using these drive systems with the Ultra mission (see Space 1999 season 1 episode 8 Dragon's Domain). The Ultra mission & others are indictive of the type of affair that we see in Orbital 2100 from Zozer Games. 

Communication with Mars  & her colonies is lost for months after Earth's Moon is wrenched from orbit. The Mark IX Hawks that were kept there were turned to a much darker use against the Earth & her colonies. The Martian colonists  starving, half out of their minds, & perhaps under the alien influence of the Mi Go attack the Earth, her colonies, etc. in a series of daring, dazzling, & unprovoked raids. 
The loss of life is  shocking the Earth! 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Character Workshop & Zero Session - Now With More Tomb of The Mummy's Bride By Levi Combs From Planet X Games

"Tales of the cursed pyramid and the sleeping tomb of the Mummy Bride have long been a traveler’s tale, passed along by wayward explorers and greedy plunderers alike. Deep within the verdant jungles of the south, amidst a Green Hell of impenetrable jungle, savage cannibals and ancient myth, lies the shattered remnants of a once-powerful civilization and the terrible gods who ruled over them. Rumors swirl of untold riches and un-plundered magic for those brave (or foolish!) enough to claim it. Will your players survive… and what will be left of them?" 

We've closed up shop for the moment on the Veterans of the Supernatural Wars rpg mini campaign for the moment. So we're in the planning stages for an Amazing Adventures 5th editions rpg campaign romp. Except we've already got a fifth edition AA mini campaign already on the run! This one takes place in 1965 when a group of adventurers is looking into the legends of the Goblyn Glass. 

This goes back several months & the fact that we had a group of players go through Goodman Games Classics Reimagined #2 Isle of Dread . The isle appeared off the South American panhandle. The problem?! A complete party wipe on the isle & its chain of mini islands. 

So where does this leave Jungle Tomb of the Mummy Bride?! The fact that this undead dark lord is on the rise on this Earth! But what's the connection to small Connecticut town of Bingham?! We'll there's a ton of connections with the town historian Mr. Smithers whose family has a strong ghoul strain running through it. This family line slides in with the witches history that  interconnects with Skirmisher Publishing's ' Games  Mythos Guide To New England '

Mr. Smithers has several artifacts in his possession that have deep ties to the Mummy Bride herself. Smithers has consulted the renowned occultist John Grimlan whose recently comeback into the world of the living.  John Grimlan is the occultist  from the classic horror story by  Robert E. Howard' called 'Dig Me No Grave
'. The U.S. army has the Goblyn Glass at the moment. 
Now things are starting up again at the old  Morley Manor property. There's been several disappearance in & around the old place. And Smithers has had the where with all to call in the player's PC's. Now however Smithers has disappeared! 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Boots on the Ground - Mini Cepheus Engine Hostile Setting & Campaign Starter With HOSTILE Situation Report 003 - Repellant By Paul Elliott

 "It's been a long trip through hyperspace, but now the stasis pods pop open and you get dressed. To your horror, you see on the bridge, that you are still in sanity-shredding hyperspace!

What's gone wrong? Why has the ship's mainframe awoken you? 

More importantly ... can you fix whatever needs fixing before you and the crew become insane?"

HOSTILE Situation Report 003 - Repellant is another bit sized adventure nugget from Zozer Games that puts the PC's in the middle of the space board action of the Hostile universe right away. With a new second colour edition of Hostile on the way. The HOSTILE Situation Report series has been flying fast & quickly. We've been getting lots of this series for the Cepheus Engine rpg or the 1970s 2D6 RETRO RULES to hit the ground with player's  PC's. 
HOSTILE Situation Report 003 - Repellant is a particularly dangerous encounter for the Hostile rpg setting putting players right into the middle of awakening in hyperspace. A sanity shattering version of the science fiction adventure campaign element. The PC's have their backs against the wall & have to ge their ship's systems back on line ASAP. Our recommendation?! Grab an  Introduction to HOSTILE  to get the campaign ball rolling right out of the gate! 

There's a desparatation to this particular adventure seed?! This is more like a fully fleshed out encounter with the PC's put into harm's way. The free Hostile Tool-Kits supplement is an essential tool for both the DM & players. And this adventure takes the PC's to the edge of their resources as PC's. Sanity & limb are at full on risk here. 

HOSTILE Situation Report 003 - Repellant is short, sweet, & self conrained. But its that tighness that makes the adventure work. It reminds me of those 'true to life danger' thrill movies based on a true story. All of the classic elements are here. The ship in danger, the high tension, high drama situation, and the eventual resolving of the dangers. But this isn't going to be an easy mission situation even for a Hostile rpg adventure. 
All in all we think that HOSTILE Situation Report 003 - Repellant  is a solid way of introducing a group of players to the Hostile uniiverse setting. 

OSR Commentary - Expanding Borders - Greyhawk Adventures & Astonishing Swordmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Crossovers

Become part of the oldest continuous fantasy campaign as you explore parts of Oerth never seen before. Learn about Greyhawk's deities, heroes, monsters, arcane items, magical spells, and much, much more. A book for lovers of Greyhawk and players of all fantasy role-playing games."

As a bit of an independant & OSR theorist, as I happen to be a big fan of James M. Ward. Now a recent interview that  James did with the Inapproriate Characters crew got our group thinking about some  Greyhawk & specifically Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Greyhawk Adventures.
This was one of the last hard backs that TSR did back in September 1988. You can read a whole history on the book on the Grehawk Wiki here. 

So the importance in Greyhawk Adventures is the fact of how many interesting twist & turns that this book brings into the Greyhawk campaign setting itself. We're talking about the background world setting material & not simply just the rules here. Greyhawk Adventures represents a transition between first & second edition;"As suggested by the note on the cover, the contents of Greyhawk Adventures represent a transitional state between the 1st and 2nd edition AD&D rules (Bambra 1989)." 
And there's more! This Greyhawk campaign  spill over means that these elements effect other campaign worlds that cross into Greyhawk. Not so much by design but unintended campaign side effects. This is something that we see within Greyhawk Adventures pages. And now your saying that your players are lunatics?! Not really because Greyhawk Adventures expands & increases the range of the campaign setting. This means that the plane of Greyhawk's reach also expands. 

Many of the Gods, monsters, & even the major NPC's can be crossed into other realms. And the reason?! Well that reason goes straight back into; 
"As suggested by the note on the cover, the contents of Greyhawk Adventures represent a transitional state between the 1st and 2nd edition AD&D rules (Bambra 1989)." Because my friends this crosses over into one of the most popular OSR Sword & Sorcery retroclone systems that's got an upcoming Kickstarter soon. Yes, we're talking about The Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg game.  

If  we cross over Hyperborea with Gary Gygax's Oerth then the trasition is easily done with one of North Wind Adventures modules. Each module has numerous addition ruins that are perfect for planar gates. These same gates could host more then a few monsters from Greyhawk Adventures. Because this is exactly how such a hook could involve the PC's crossing over from Greyhawk into Hyperborea. The monsters cause havoc & adventurers follow to destory or subdue these creatures. 
Suddenly there's an incredibe world of Sword & Sorcery ripe for the exploitation by the rulers of Greyhawk. Such cross polenization creates rich opportunities for a DM who wants to exploit erm offer expansion for his player's PC's. 
Hypeborea offers some very unique possibilities for an enterprising crew of adventurers if they know how to twist them towards their avantage. Take for example 
 Corey R. Walden on The Anthropophagi of Xambaala which if used as a mini campaign up off point allows the DM to draw in the players into a nasty primitive little island of Sword & Sorcery weirdness . One that has all kinds of sinster & dangerous items for the rich of Greyhawk. 

And what about the potential to study incredible new schools of magic?! Greyhawk Adventures adds a ton of new spells & occult options for wizards to take prime advantage of. This means that wizards from Greyhawk making pillgrimages to Hyperborea & vice versa. The flow of magics between worlds could potentially make the Ixians of Hyperborea very nervous indeed. 
And not to mention the reach of the Great Old Ones of Lovecraftian fame. Or the horrors of Elemental Evil religions. Let's start with the fact that on Hyperborea many forgotten & forbidden monsters are ripe to exploit such a gateway for thier own hideous agenda. Fighting such a crossing unto Greyhawk may be a campaign unto itself. 

OSR Review & Appendix 'N' Commentary - The Michael Moorcock Library: Erekose, The Eternal Champions - The Swords of Heaven, The Flowers of Hell by Michael Moorcock (Author), Howard Chaykin (Author, Artist)

 Sometimes its all about going back to the well of Sword & Sorcery in this case its The Michael Moorcock Library: Erekose, The Eternal Champions - The Swords of Heaven, The Flowers of Hell. It was ages ago when this collection crossed my desk a gift from my wife. Maybe it was Michael Moorcock's prose or the artwork of  Howard Chaykin. 

This aspect of the Eternal Champion is a hard one for me to digest. And its the themes of love found, lost, & the aspects of this story that in only sixty pages ring true. The romantic in this reader takes the whole affair on board & it really echoes here. The prose of Moorcock is strong & the artwork set's it off. Howard Chaykin solidly captures the tone, artwork, & feel of The Swords of Heaven, The Flowers of Hell here. He does it in a different flare then the usual Sword & Sorcery. This is a different Chaykin for this reader. The tone & graphic is hard & soft in the places it needs to be. The action is swift & dangerous but it does so with a different brush. The tone is the same as the Erekose paperbacks but the art takes it in another angle. 
Moorcock's writing keeps pace with the art & doesn't drown in it. The volume is one of slim but packs the punch where & when its needed. This is a truly good collection worthy of Appendix N. 
The whole graphic novel is tight & taunt in a way that gives the reader exactly the right amount of the Erekose, The Eternal Champion dosage without cutting them up with yet another 'over the top' Sword & Sorcery adaptation! The whole graphic novel works because it does all of the heavy lifting with Chaykin's artwork hit all of the high notes. Highly recommended! Thanks honey for the wonderful collection!