Sunday, January 10, 2016

Some Notes On Running Crimson Dragon Slayer By Venger Satanis For Your Old School Campaigns With An Eternian Twist!

I was reading through Venger's Crimson Dragon Slayer and his take on Thule, that's the planet that your PC's are whisked away too for adventuring. Thule is a mix of every Eighties post apocalyptic music video shot through with random minor warlords and cartoon graphics. Basically its the debris of our collective imaginations mixed with high octane nightmare fuel. Its a fun little game and basically doesn't require a huge set up and commitment on the DM's or the players part. Takes about ten minutes or so to have characters plotted out.
Crimson Dragon Slayer's byline describes it too a tee:"Crimson Dragon Slayer is heavily inspired by the 1980's.  The parts of it that are god-awful are god-awful on purpose (mostly).  Your adventuring party might contain a robot ranger with laser sword, infernal elf wizard with machine gun, and crystalline / pixie fairy princess hybrid brandishing a two-handed dagger, all tooling around in a Mel Gibson interceptor... looking for cyber crowns, magic items, and bodacious bimbos.  Can you bring Lord Varkon down before his crimson dragons rip Thule a new one? "
But what happens if your PC's have been on Thule for a long extended stay? Are the powers of Thule aware of Earth? If so would they plan to invade? Why does that sound so familiar to me?

Now in my Eighties kid's mind I know exactly what Thule looks like and whose ruling it. For me its basically CDS is the Eighty Seven He Man and the Masters of the Universe movie role playing game. This is a fan theory and adventure campaign execution.

The plot of the He Man and the Masters of the Universe film is pure cheese and it fits the vibe of CDS to a tee right down to the dimensional keys, the magick, mutants,  the henchmen, etc. Basically this version of Eternia could be a planet on the outer rim of the CDS universe or vise versa.

The plot line of Masters Of The Universe is completely different then the classic toy line that we know and love and that's fine. There's plenty of ideas and adventure plot lines to harvest from this film. Wiki of course has a huge swath of the plot already written up; "
On the planet Eternia, at the center of the Universe, Skeletor's army seizes Castle Grayskull, scatters the remaining Eternian defenders, and captures the Sorceress of Grayskull, planning to add her power to his own by the next moonrise.
Skeletor's archenemy, the warrior He-Man, veteran soldier Man-At-Arms, and his daughter Teela rescue Gwildor from Skeletor's forces. Gwildor, a Thenorian locksmith, reveals that Skeletor has stolen his invention: a "Cosmic Key" that can open a portal to anywhere by utilizing sound keys. The device was copied by Skeletor's second-in-command, Evil-Lyn, allowing Skeletor to breach Castle Grayskull.
With Gwildor's remaining prototype of the Key in hand, He-Man and his friends travel to the Castle. They attempt to free the Sorceress but are overwhelmed by Skeletor's army and forced to flee through Gwildor's hastily opened portal, transporting them to Earth. The Key is misplaced on their arrival and discovered by two teenagers, orphaned high school girl Julie Winston and her boyfriend Kevin Corrigan, who attempt figure out what it is and accidentally send off a signal that allows Evil-Lyn to track the key and send her henchmen, Saurod, Blade, Beast Man and Karg to recover it.
Kevin, an aspiring musician, mistakes the Key for a synthesizer and takes it to a music store run by his friend Charlie. Karg's team arrives and chases Julie until He-Man comes across her and rescues her. Karg's team returns to Grayskull where, incensed by their failure, Skeletor kills Saurod and sends the others back to Earth, with a larger force under Evil-Lyn's command. Unable to find Julie, Kevin is taken to Julie's house by Lubic, a detective investigating the disturbance created by Karg's team. Suspecting the Key is stolen, Lubic confiscates it from Kevin and leaves. Immediately afterward, Evil-Lyn captures and interrogates Kevin for the Key's location with a mind control collar, before pursuing Lubic.
Julie and the Eternians release Kevin from the collar before they go after Lubic. They manage to get hold of it in Charlie's store, but Skeletor's forces catch up with them, and a pitched battle ensues. Evil-Lyn recovers the key and summons Skeletor to Earth. Skeletor's forces overwhelm the Eternians and Julie is mortally wounded by Skeletor's lightning blast, simultaneously erasing the memory storage of Gwildor's Key. He-Man surrenders to save his comrades, and is returned to Eternia as Skeletor's slave. Skeletor demands that He-Man kneel before him for all of Eternia to witness, before he is killed. He-Man refuses and is whipped by Blade's laser whip in an attempt to make him kneel. He-Man is still standing when the moon rises and Skeletor absorbs the powers of the universe. Declaring himself the Master of the Universe, Skeletor asserts his victory and continues to torture He-Man with energy blasts.
Back on Earth, Gwildor repairs the Cosmic Key, and Kevin recreates the tones necessary to create a gateway to Eternia. The group, including Lubic who attempts to arrest them, are transported to Castle Grayskull, where they begin battling Skeletor's forces. Resenting that Skeletor absorbed the power of the Universe without sharing it with her, Evil-Lyn deserts him along with the other henchmen. Skeletor accidentally frees He-Man who then reclaims the Sword of Grayskull. The pair battle until He-Man shatters Skeletor's staff, removing his new powers and restoring him to his normal state. He-Man offers mercy but Skeletor draws a concealed sword and attempts to kill He-Man; He-Man manages to knock Skeletor from the throne room into a towering pit below. The freed Sorceress heals Julie, and a portal is opened to send the Earthlings home. Greeted as a hero for his bravery, Lubic decides to remain on Eternia."
Here's the entire film legally from the Paramount Vault for your Sunday cinema viewing pleasure. Can't tell you the number of times this film saved my behind babysitting in the Nineties.
Thanks to the folks at the Paramount Vault you can legally watch this film on Youtube or right here as necessary.

Basically take the elements of Masters strip out what's needed for your CDS game campaign and your ready to go! Raise up in rank and adjust as needed bring to a light simmer and pour on a heaping helping of a Google search for further adventure and campaign ideas!

The concept art alone is worthy for inspiring a whole plethora of adventures and campaigns unto itself.
Claudio Mazzoli has some incredible pieces for the film. There's a sense of the epic about these pieces of artwork and yes the film is full of lots of cheesetastic moments. But there is a sense of the larger universe then simply Earth/Eternia's conflict. There's something lurking in Masters of the Universe that has a bit of the cosmic dread about it.

Part of the reason for the look and feel of Masters of the Universe is the fact that Jack Kirby had a ton of influence on the production of the film. Masters of the universe is about as close as we can get to a Fourth World film according to Wiki: "
Comic book writer/artist John Byrne compared the film to Jack Kirby's comic book metaseries Fourth World, stating in Comic Shop News #497:
Director Gary Goddard clarified this in a letter appearing in John Byrne's Next Men #26, in which he stated:
Brian Cronin, author of the "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed" column, concludes that "the film itself was not intended to be literally a reworked Fourth World, although the intent WAS to make the film a tribute to Jack Kirby — just a tribute to ALL of his work, not just the Fourth World.""
You've got like half of the royalty from Thule fighting in this film and the other half basking in the afterglow of epicness that is the train wreck of this film.

Right so what does this have to do with the CDS universe? Everything! Think about it, you've got wall to wall Eighties greatness to mine from. The perfect plot as Thule ermm Eternia invades Earth. And lots of Eighties cultclassic moments to mine from.
The action here is on par with many other Eighties efforts and I while its been panned by critics for decades and could this be used as the set up for other OSR style games? You bet it could! The one that springs to mind is Dungeon Crawl Classics! But then Crimson Dragon Slayer and Dungeon Crawl Classics would be a hard combination to beat and there's already a perfect model to add into the mix. Crawling Under A Broken Moon the post apocalyptic fanzine has all of the other tools a DM could want to pull from including a complete He Man style homage class  in issue number #5!

To summarize you get a complete drop down gonzo movie table top campaign in one go and with little set up. Play rebels on Earth fighting for their planet or warriors from Thule dealing with the new alien experience. The choice is really yours!

Please note that this is not an attempt to violate the trade mark or copyright of the He Man and the Masters of the Universe movie. Nor are any of the designers and writers of the table top games mentioned in this blog post responsible for my twisted ravings & opinions. This blog post is for educational and entertainment purposes only. All of the opinions and ravings are mine.

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