Friday, August 5, 2016

Frogmen, Dark Albion, & UK1 The Sinister Secret of Salt Marsh For Your Old School Campaigns

This isn't going to make a whole lot of sense unless you've read this mash up commentary from yesterday.
So let's talk about taking these ideas and incorporating them towards Dark Albion's England. This is going to involve some guidelines & conceits for this pulpy sword & sorcery mash up to work.
The first part of this mash up of a campaign is going to involve the classic U1 series of AD&D modules 'The Sinister Secret of Salt Marsh'. Let's quickly get into the social rank conceit of the fact that your party are going to have to be mid level royal court nobodies in Dark Albion whose lords expect your party of adventurers to step and fetch for them.
Thing two is the fact that lots of folks think that this is a Scooby Doo style module and that's fine with those meddling adventurers getting into the thick of it. That's not going to do a damn thing to how this might come off. So why the Sinister Secret of Salt Marsh? Well,because it has just the RIGHT mix of problem solving and bad-guy fighting. It's also low level enough where the events and ideas of the module can be molded and fitted into the Dark Albion mode of play.

The Sinister Secret of Salt Marsh is going to take place early in the events of the War of the Roses. The strife is building, things are beginning to heat up & the Frogmen are beginning to lend a hand to Margaret of Anjou through human agents and their witch cults. The PC's are going to get caught right in the middle of all of this and its only the start of something much more dangerous as we shall see in future installments.

"Desolate and abandoned, the evil alchemist's mansion stands alone on the cliff, looking out towards the sea. Mysterious lights and ghostly hauntings have kept away the people of Saltmarsh, despite rumors of fabulous forgotten treasure. What is its sinister secret?"

The PC's are going to get caught right in the center between the smugglers & the hide out of the witch cult as the connections between the two are pretty tight going all of the way back to the time of the Roman occupation of England & France a fact that the frogmen have taken full advantage of. Because of the instability of England the frogmen are beginning to make they're move. There have always been connections between witches, storms, and black magick in Europe & remember Dark Albion isn't our world. Why are the frogmen more primitive then they are in France? Well the frogmen of England are actually traditionalists and adhere more closely to the old religions of Dagon and his ilk. Because this isn't a haunted house scenario things are going to go in unexpected directions & The Mystery At Port Greely was only the start of it. These cults have been at play for centuries & the smugglers are all tainted by the worship of the frogmen. The old religions fell but they never left; Robert E Howard and The Worms of the Earth make mention of Dagon as does legend & history. So its not a far throw to use this angle to bring the action of the adventure right into play here.

If we delve into Pundits origins of the frogmen we also get this little nugget of wisdom from his blog entry on the subject;"As to the Frogmen's origin, I would hearken them back to ancient times, before humans dominated the world.  We know from Albion's prehistory that when humans were created as slaves for the ancient Elves, it was the Elves and the Dragons who ruled over most of the world, the two not always friendly with each other.  I would like to think that things like lizardmen and frogmen were created by Dragons in the Dragons' image, to act as slaves and ground troops to oppose the humans and goblinkind that the Elves had created.

You'll note that in The Wash, Albion's own swamps, there are also Frogmen, who are primitive and degenerate, rather than the sophisticated variety that rule Frogland.  They were probably left over there from the time of the Dragons."
So the frogmen & lizardmen were created in dragon kind's own image?! Well dragons have been a part of English culture for a very long time and perhaps its all much older then Rome's occupation of English soil. This might also mean that perhaps the genetic line in the sand between fishmen, lizard kind, and frogmen isn't so far. Given the corrupting nature of chaos in Dark Albion this isn't so far fetched. Remember this is a lower level adventure and many of my ideas come from this review of the Sinister Secret of Salt Marsh

Perhaps all of this hearken back to a triangulated three ended war between human kind, lizard men, and the frogmen these conflicts boiling up and out because both the lizard men and the frogmen are opportunists of the highest caliber with really long memories. Given the events of The Rose War is it any wonder that they would  take advantage of the situation.
But perhaps this all goes back into 'Saint George and the Dragon'  which according to legend;" The town had a small lake with a plague-bearing dragon living in it and poisoning the countryside. To appease the dragon, the people of Silene fed it two sheep every day. When they ran out of sheep they started feeding it their children, chosen by lottery. One time the lot fell on the king's daughter.[9] The king, in his grief, told the people they could have all his gold and silver and half of his kingdom if his daughter were spared; the people refused. The daughter was sent out to the lake, dressed as a bride, to be fed to the dragon.[8]

Saint George by chance rode past the lake. The princess tried to send him away, but he vowed to remain. The dragon emerged from the lake while they were conversing. Saint George made the Sign of the Cross and charged it on horseback, seriously wounding it with his lance. He then called to the princess to throw him her girdle, and he put it around the dragon's neck. When she did so, the dragon followed the girl like a meek beast on a leash. The princess and Saint George led the dragon back to the city of Silene, where it terrified the populace. Saint George offered to kill the dragon if they consented to become Christians and be baptised. Fifteen thousand men including the king of Silene converted to Christianity. George then killed the dragon, and the body was carted out of the city on four ox-carts. The king built a church to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint George on the site where the dragon died and a spring flowed from its altar with water that cured all disease"
All of this sounds very much like a perfect fit for an allegory of the Deep One/Frogmen whose daughters are being given over to the Dagon ermm dragon & the hero of  Sol Invictus comes along to save the day.

One alternative legend of Saint George has George putting away all of his doubts & fears to 'slay the dragon' in a golden box. This might actually be St.George using the help of the cults & state religion to drive back the forces of darkness in allegorical style;"One version of the tale tells St. George as losing the battle with the dragon early on in the encounter. St. George retreats, and wanders down to the river. He prays over his challenges, and removes his armor to melt it down. He takes the melted metal and forges it into a metal box. He places his fears, doubts, and lack of faith inside the box, and goes out to face the dragon again, without armor. St. George instantly slays the dragon."
Casks & chests  have a long and storied history in English mythology and Arthurian legend. Perhaps there was more to this legend. The box might still be out there in some lost ruin containing the soul of St.George guarded by something far more sinister then frog or lizard men. Perhaps the alchemist was working on something far more then what meets the eye, and perhaps the smugglers of Salt Marsh are merely more pawns in the ever expanding game of  The War of Roses.
All of this ties back into The Sea Witch and the events of Port Greely, if the PC's have seen too much and dealt with the frog men of the port then they know the level of horror that could be unleashed upon the world. This could all be tied back to Margaret of Anjou and her connections with the frogmen which could cost the characters their lives, lands, and even sanity.
Well get into how this all ties in with the lizard men, the arms deals and U2 in the next installment.

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