Monday, November 2, 2015

'Why Halloween Never Ends For A Dungeon Master', Monsters Fit The Season Or Simple Seasonal Monster Ecology For Your Old School Campaigns

Well once again Halloween came and went, the various OSR publishers put out their Halloween themed modules, Drivethru & Rpgnow had their various sales, Lulu had their special codes, and now on to thanks giving. And Halloween is over! Adventurers don't have worry about horror, depravity,etc. Bull crap!

Adventurers should be stocking up on arrows, ammo, waxing their leather armor, and buying new shields. According to mythology and legends, the gates of Hell have opened and the evils of Winter are coming! Winter is the domain of the undead and the very time of survival. This is when adventurers would be employed to rid communities of the the evils that have come home to roost.
These are when the 'big evils' come home to call. Local demon & Chaos cults have opened gateways to the Abyss, and the Summoning spells from Lamentations of the Flame Princes  have been cast by jaded rich nobles. Unique horrors are stalking the old ruins and dead relatives, murderers, and whole host of horrors are stalking the landed gentry. The local villagers and probably entire urban centers as well. Now is the time when the Plague comes to call!
Now is the time when those seasonal monsters are going to come to call on various towns & adventurers. Dust off your old AD&D 1st edition Fiend Folio and grab a selection of those Trolls that you never use and customize the crap out of them with a few random mutations. Then set them loose in areas where they don't normally appear. The reason is simple, the local cults have been cutting deals with Hell and erecting altars to ancient gods that generate entire tribes of crazed monsters from the depths of Fairyland or the Outer Darkness. The hard work is done by James Mishler with his bits and pieces on this subject right over HERE

0e/ Swords & Wizardry Monster Book has a ton of zero edition monsters for Swords & Wizardry or OD&D for free. Very well done and ready to drop into a campaign. So the serene seasons of Fall & Winter fun are perfect to drop in your favorite horrors. Fairy, Fey, and fair folk were often associated with the powers of Hell and that alignment has never really gone away. Baby snatching & switching, horrors of bad luck, incredible journeys into strange fairy lands, and more can easily be trimmed in with this sort of an adventure. For Lamentations of the Flame Princess there's the Pale Lady by Zzarchov Kowolski which has the realm, the minor goddess and some great fairy elements to it. This would probably where an NPC
Enchanter Class for Labyrinth Lord and OSR From Weird Realm Games  might either come in handy or could become a major pain in the neck. This class has lots of potential in either direction. Another issue with the Fey and Fairy is the fact that they often create or tempt men with treasures or artifacts of their own creation, this is the perfect snare to lure and destroy murder hobos by the score.
This peaceful Winter scene is about to be interrupted by monsters of your creation! The perfect opportunity for monster exploitation!
Monsters should be customized and the various monster books, manuals,etc. can serve as templates. Orc,goblins,etc are fine but with a bit of flare monstrous minions can be very memorable and can serve as a bridge gap to get the DM's ideas and points across even during and adventure.

When it comes to menaces for AD&D 1st edition, there are two options on the table there's the Monstrous Tome - Volume One (no images)  and  Monstrous Tome 2 - Book of Beings. 
Winter is the time when serpents and their gods supposedly sleep but in a recent adventure that I played in the god's cult were the real menace. Using Obscene Serpent Ritual by Neoplastic Press  the DM came up with murderous cult operating in an a remote Antarctic location that went on a murderous spree to feed their god. The objects of power the party were after aligned with the extinction of the cult. Several other notable mentions include  The Teratic Tome and of course Lusus Naturae. Both of these tomes provide powerful cult centered objects of worship and depravity that can be the center of a seasonal campaign.

Other issues with monsters is that once a source of food is found, these monsters always seem to exploit them over the long haul. This gives the DM all kinds of options on the table to bring a sense of horror and weirdness to their local adventure and campaign areas. So don't let Halloween be the end to your season of horror! Instead let it be the gate way into a winter of discontent and terror! Remember snows conceal bodies, blood freezes, and corpses make great dungeon or ruin set pieces.

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