Sunday, April 12, 2015

Revisiting Taken from Dunwich For Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea & Your Old School Campaigns

I've been wrestling with this Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea  title for a week solid. The problem is that I don't agree with many of the interpretations of Hyperborea that I've seen. I started looking into AS&SH way back in 2013. After rereading this pulptastic adventure there are several thoughts that go through my demented mind. This adventure brings to the table many of the little adventure nuggets that make AS&SH both eerily familiar and achingly alien at the same time. The adventure seems short on the surface but takes the PC's right into the heart of the Hyperborea of AS&SH. Here the players are thrust right into the heart of the Keltic adventure and Lovecraftian territory.  A series of encounters brings the characters into an old school storm of weirdness that brings home the vibe of both AS&SH and the deep end of the sword & sorcery heart of the game. 
Get it Right Over

Or from Rpgnow

The breakdown according to the product page: 
Murder, mayhem, and abduction! After the Keltic village of Dunwich is victimized by the vhuurmis, degenerate quasi-men covered in umber-coloured fur, local druids offer land and title to those brave souls who would repair the situation. The vhuurmis are considered witless savages, seemingly incapable of organized incursions, but these particular brutes attacked with purpose and precision, taking men from Dunwich, and slaying any who opposed their black will.
Author: Jeffrey Talanian

Art: Ian Baggley and Johnathan Bingham
Editing: David Prata
Cartography: Andreas Claren

The vhuurmis,  quasi-men are given their due in this adventure and really brought into the lime light as both survivors of a lost age and a threat to life as well as limb of the PC's. The action seems to center around their murderous B movie level of sword and sorcery horror but all is not as it seems. The action here is a vortex of both violence and terror that brings home the terror of AS&SH's Hyperborea.  There is a vibe of weirdness similar to reading a 70's Conan comic magazine or watching John Carpenter's The Thing from Another World with far more buzzing beneath the surface then simply what is presented here.  Taken From Dunwich is meant for AS&SH but could easily be used with AD&D 1st edition or OSRIC. Hell you could even use it with the Lamentations of The Flame Princess rpg with little adjustment but really its more about the introduction of the Hyperborean world from AS&SH. But knowing DM's the way I this adventure is going to get a ton of air play. This module could easily be used with any number of retroclone rpg systems such as Swords and Wizardry, Basic Fantasy role play and others. Note that this would require a full conversion of some of the adventure elements.

For me the art of  Ian Baggley and Johnathan Bingham captures the lonely and desolate feeling of  the adventure as well as the 'B' movie weirdness of  the background events of Taken From Dunwich. On the whole the adventure incorporates all of the high adventure elements of AS&SH.  The maps are easy to follow and nasty at the same time implying the danger and weirdness the PC's are under threat from.  
The Keltic village environments of the adventure reminded me of Scotland under the rule of the Romans. I think that the module captures the look and feel of the desolate landscapes of Robert Howard somewhat. This module mixes the swords and sorcery elements of AS&SH and then adds in the technological factor with a dash of alien weirdness while turning it up to eleven. I have to say I was quite impressed with Taken From Dunwich and I do think its well worth the price of admission.  I've run this adventure for friends more then a few times and its provide hours of inspiration time and again. Its one of my favorite pieces that works very well with the backdrop of Hyperborea presented in the Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg. Five out of five for me and I'll be coming back to it soon. 

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