Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Further Meditations on B4 The Lost City Adventure For Use with the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set And The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea

"Lost in the desert! The only hope for survival lies in a ruined city rising out of the sands. Food, water, and wealth await heroic adventures inside and ancient pyramid ruled by a strange race of masked beings. "

I busted out my old copy of B4 The Lost City and began to thumb through it thinking about the adventure and setting it on its own within a desert mini plane all on its own. B4 The Lost City was by Tom Moldvay 
and it represents some very early efforts by him. There is something very subtle about the sinister sword and sorcery nature of this module. All of the elements work in this module these include the desert pyramid, the masked factions, the insane society, &  the Lovecraftian  Zargon.So I pulled out the Lost City and began to think about how would I use this module with my current campaign. Part of this involved actually using the various peoples and factions from within the module itself. Thanks to the Vaults of Pandius website most of the hard work was done for me.

This freed me up to start mapping and writing out expansions for my own home game campaign. A nice guide to this is in a thread on Dragon's foot here

B4 has Moldvey's style all over it from the ground up and locating the adventure within your own home campaign means really doing a bit of work especially if your using Greyhawk or Blackmoor. There are so much room for expansion and because this adventure works within your campaign and is possibly one of the best DYI adventures around. Its sort of like a mini Tomb Of Horrors for OD&D. Its also one of the modules that really brings home Moldavy style in spades. The scale of the Lost City is what really gets to me, this could be a mini campaign that could take years to deal with. The real heart and soul of the module are the factions of Cynidicea which remind me of some of the Cryptic Alliances from first and second edition Gamma World.
And in fact I have. One of the strengths of  The Lost City is the fact that it stands on its own as an adventure setting apart from a regular campaign setting.

So what's all of this have to do with The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg? Quite a bit actually I've been rereading and digesting  Beneath the Comet, and the other recent adventures and thinking about the classics such as B4. These adventures work as isolated one offs taking parties to the edge of the map and beyond. They don't affect the regular campaign world at all. But really there are reasons for this and why it works both in old school and neo OSR systems like AS&SH.
Not as the plants and flowers of Earth, growing peacefully beneath a simple sun, were the blossoms of the planet Lophai. Coiling and uncoiling in double dawns; tossing tumultuously under vast suns of jade green and balas-ruby orange; swaying and weltering in rich twilights, in aurora-curtained nights, they resembled fields of rooted serpents that dance eternally to an other-worldly music.
Read more at:

 Strangers In A Much Stranger Land

"Eibon saw that Zhothaqquah was indeed a god of his word: for the scene beyond the panel was nothing that could ever find a legitimate place in the topography of Mhu Thulan or of any terrestrial region. It did not altogether appeal to him; but there was no alternative, save the inquisitorial cells of the goddess Yhoundeh. Envisaging in thought the various refinements and complications of torture which Morghi would have now prepared, he sprang through the opening into Cykranosh with an agility that was quite juvenile for a wizard of mature years."
The Door To Saturn
Clark Aston Smith

The reason why The Lost City and any of these adventures work is because the strange and unusual upon the party. They're literally exploring and exploiting adventure locations across the board even when their dealing with the ins and outs of wandering monsters, hazards, and more. That's where the DYI aspect of these adventures like the Lost City comes in. The adventure can be made or twisted in the direction that the DM really wants. One of the things that I've noticed is how easy it is for players to become jaded and disenchanted with the usual trappings of D&D and even dark fantasy.
This is one of the places that the Lost City can help and one of the reasons why it can be made very unusual indeed:
  1. The wandering monsters are all insane members of the various factions and there is room for role playing as much as killing. 
  2. If there is something unexpected that you always wanted to stick into an adventure that won't wreck you're campaign then do it in this module. The unexpected isn't simply welcome its something that should be done. 
  3. Shadows in Basic are not undead and that fact can be brought forward and into AS&SH for some very dangerous moments for PC's. 
  4. Undead are your friend as the DM and there are tons of rooms, hallways, etc. that you can use to populate them with but be careful. This module is very easy for a total party wipe. 
  5. If there is a weird or unusual magic item that you've always wanted to but have never used in a game now is the time to drop it in. Seriously this is a lost world or city location that can be used to house all kinds of strange and unusual items. 
  6. The Lost City is the perfect location from which to launch campaign threatening back story for your campaign. Here's the perfect location to turn in a Robert Howard or HP Lovecraft world threaten set of gods or beings from. This is also a perfect venue for a horror themed adventure location and one that I've used to great effect over the years for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. 
  7. Need a location for Spelljammer or other defunct science fantasy technologies? This is a perfect location for wizards to seek it out infact that was the perfect excuse to get my player's wizards and occultists to seek out this adventure location of insanity. 
  8. Zargon's cult makes perfect Call of Cthulhu fodder and or fodder for a modern occult pulp game and they work very well as assassins for other lower tier modern games. 
  9. Go back to Basic and Expert D&D for variations on monsters that PC's have encountered before for some very dangerous twists and then place them within B4 saying that the location's magical emanations cause strange effects. Players both worry and get very intrigued at this. 
  10. Exploit the high holy hell out The Lost City for campaign and world building. This is one of the most underappreciated campaign/adventure resources currently available.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.