Friday, August 19, 2016

More Frog Men, Dark Albion, & U2 Danger at Dunwater For Your Old School

Good day, I've had an email request for my thoughts on combining Dark Albion & U2 Danger At Dunwater especially sprinkling in The Mystery At Port Greely for the Astonishing Swords & Sorcerers of Hyperborea as the campaign backbone. Your going to want to read here & here for more of the background of this thought exercise. So why would the PC's who are going to be middle mangement royals working for the royal court & possibly as Inquistion agents be investigating the alchemist's house from U1 Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh?
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?This all has to do with the Rose War and the state of the realm; "
The rule of male primogeniture generally applied to the royal succession. Since the civil war known as The Anarchy, caused by the death of King Henry I of England in 1135 without a male heir, was brought to an end by the accession of his grandson Henry II, there had been no major conflicts over the succession.
Following defeat in the Hundred Years' War, English landowners complained vociferously about the financial losses resulting from the loss of their continental holdings; this is often considered a contributory cause of the Wars of the Roses" Basically your carrying out the wishes of your master whose acquired the mansion as a part of the spoils of war. Running The Mystery At Port Greely first is going send your party into the heart of Lovecraftian corruption on the coast of Spain or France. Should they survive the experience they're going to know the extent of the danger to Albion itself.
This style of campaign is going to be a mix of horror (The Mystery At Port Greely), investigative work & inquisition style adventure (U1 The Sinster Secret of Saltmarsh) & straight up messing with even more horror( Danger At Dunwater).

Townies by Del Teigeler

Danger At Dunwater picks up where U1 ends & begins to expand upon the central themes in spades with the introduction of the adventure location of Saltmarsh itself ."Saltmarsh is a small fishing village facing serious problems. Lizard Men are gathering a force nearby and buying many sophisticated weapons. A party of adventurers is hired by the town council to investigate the Lizard Men so the villagers can live in peace"  So where did the lizard men come from in England? Well they've always been there from when before the time when the oceans drank Atlantis. The Picts of Robert Howard's Worms of the Earth are the starting connection here & as we're about to bring it around again to Dark Albion. According to Wiki;"
At 13, Howard, being of Scottish descent, began his studies of Scottish history and became fascinated with what he calls "the small dark Mediterranean aborigines of Britain."[1] As these Picts were portrayed as inferior to later tribes, Howard imagined them as a link between modern and ancient times.
His Picts originated on a group of islands near what was once Valusia, the kingdom of the Atlantean Kull. When Atlantis, Lemuria, and Valusia sank into the sea, the Picts survived and were flung into a period of cultural decline. They forgot the art of metalworking and returned to the technique of flintknapping.
They migrated to the North until they reached Caledon, the northern lands of the later British Isles. They drove the extant tribes northward until the Aryans, Celts, and Germans invaded.[2]
The Picts were pushed to the North, where they mingled with the tribes they had defeated earlier. Forgetting most of their technological skills, they became brutish and skilled in warcraft.[3]
Although Bran Mak Morn has dark eyes, he does not resemble the Caledonian Picts as Howard depicts them. He refers to himself as a Mediterranean, possibly meaning that he associates himself with the more ancient Picts."  The Picts of Robert Howard's Worms of the Earth & Children of the Night are the last remains of the slaves of the Elves of Dark Albion. Centuries of breeding,warfare, & Elven cult acclivities have driven them almost to extinction. By the time of the Roman occupation of Britain the final nail has been driven into the coffin or so it seems. The Elves of Dark Albion have been using the Picts to make war on the Lizard Men or Worms of the Earth for centuries.

According to Pundit & his genesis for Dark Albion Cults of Chaos; "Elves in Albion are a bit of a mix between darker faerie stories and aliens from abductee accounts.  Creepy, inhuman, decadent, alien of thought, incredibly powerful.   In Cults of Chaos you'll get more details about the ancient history of when the Elves ruled Albion, where they live now, where they still show up and how, and what they do when they do show up. You'll also get some straightforward old-school info: encounter types and sizes, Elven equipment and powers.   Info also on elven magic items, and changelings."
This sounds exactly like the tactics of the 'Worms of the Earth' themselves according to the Cthulhu Wiki entry on the Worms;"The worms of the earth, also called the Children of the Night, are a race of almost-human beings created by Robert E. Howard. It is said that they came to the British Isles at a very early time. They were followed by the Picts and later the Celts, who fought the "worms" and drove them out. By the time of Bran Mak Morn (somewhere between 100 and 300 C.E.), the "worms" were horribly degenerate things that lived underground, and by modern times could be expected to have fallen even further from stock humanity. Howard's stories make it clear that the "worms" are descended from humans and had once been human, before degenerating into bestial, sub-human, nocturnal things reminiscent of reptiles or serpents.
In the time of Bran Mak Morn they appeared to be individually weak but wielded powerful magic as a group. They lived in the west of the British Isles near what they call the Dagon-Moor. There they kept a Black Stone as an idol. The worms can be bargained with like men, and those who steal the idol can force the worms to do their bidding in exchange for the return of their prize, though any who would do so should beware the treachery of the worms.
The "worms" are master engineers, having digged great honeycombs of passages and vaults beneath the earth, and master stonemasons, and can tunnel through rock, pulling entire fortresses down into the earth. They also seem able to enter rooms from underground without being seen. Those taken by the "worms" into their subterranean hell-world will be hard-pressed to stay sane. The "worms" may also keep more human-looking people or "witches" - the wild, half-mad, bastard changeling offspring the worms have born upon their unfortunate human captives - above their caves as collaborators and spies to send adventurers to them or away as needed." 
So the the Lizard Men & Elves have been fighting for centuries; Bran Mak Morn might have been the last of the human kings ruling on behalf of the Elves when the Romans showed up. The Worms might have pushed the Romans back for a time but by the time of Dark Albion this is a blip on the historical map. But the Royals of Dark Albion have a long memory & they know about the fate of the Roman Commander from Worms of The Earth. Now why would there be cooperation between the frog/fishmen/Deep Ones of France & the lizardmen of Dark Albion?

If we are using the Worms of the Earth novella then the answer is very simple, Dagon Moor itself where the action takes place with the Worm is key. According to the Cthlhu Wiki;"Dagon-Moor is in the west of the British Isles, near Wales. The moor contains several oddities. These include a large and possibly bottomless pool, where an "unspeakable creature" lives, probably Dagon. Similarly a circle of standing stones also is said to be connected with Dagon." So some aspect of Dagon itself resides in Dagon Moor surrounded by witch cults & changlings. Given the events and civil unrest of the War of the Roses this is a prime opportunity for the non humans to mount an offense against humanity & put the uppity humans back under the heel of non human control once again. Bran Mak Morn is a figure of legend and worship among the humans; another figurehead for the chaos & witch cults to use to stir the people on. So what does all this have to do with Saltmarsh as a whole? Well given the climate of the time of the War of the Roses Saltmarsh is an important but minor point for spies, smugglers, outlaws, & witch cults.
"This growing civil discontent, the abundance of feuding nobles with private armies, and corruption in Henry VI's court formed a political climate ripe for civil war. With the king so easily manipulated, power rested with those closest to him at court, in other words, Somerset and the Lancastrian faction. Richard and the Yorkist faction, who tended to be physically placed further away from the seat of power, found their power slowly being stripped away. Royal power and finances also started to slip, as Henry was persuaded to grant many royal lands and estates to the Lancastrians, thereby losing their revenue."

Margaret of Anjou through human agents and their witch cults is using her control of the pulse of Worms to stir the old hatreds of the Elves, the Worms(lizard men), and the Frog Men.  But she's not the only player with Frogmen backing. As we shall see in further installments of this series. Make no mistake  Margaret of Anjou was a real life spy mistress & royal manipulator of great skill. Her role in Dark Albion is not to be under estimated and as an NPC she can be a party's undoing. 

So where are the lizard men, monsters, etc. getting all of their numbers of warriors & troops? Well from the local population which they've been inbreeding with for centuries. All of these sources especially HP Lovecraft & Robert Howard had cross breeding going on in all of their stories as does myth & legend. All of this goes right back to the influences of Pundit on Dark Albion;
"The idea in Albion of the supernatural and inhuman being found mostly in the margins of society and the geographical frontiers (borderlands?) of the setting is also a natural extension of default D&D play."

So all of this is going to hinge on the fact that the link between France & England is going to be the lesser cousins of the French frogmen. These witch cults are going to act as a buffer between the two groups. Why? Because the very presence of Dagon & that god's word is going to make all of the difference. Why not take full advantage of the blood shed & silly wars of the humans?
Lesser Boglings II - Wilderness Encounters - Otherworld Miniatures (x3 figs)

All of this has to do with the Mystery At Port Greely because of the connection between the events of the U1 Sinister Secret of Salt Marsh. If your PC's were lucky enough to escape the events of Port Greely & then continue to slowly uncover the smuggling going on in Saltmarsh. Then the affair of U2 Danger At Dunwater is simply going to be another cog in how deep & high the corruption goes in Albion.

Witch cults, twisted mutated human mutant hybrids, dark magicks, corruption at the highest levels & intrigue is going to make things very dangerous for the PC's at every turn. If this sounds like it might be a Inquisitor campaign that Dark Albion's Cults of Chaos talks then it could possibly be played that way but remember the corruption goes all the way too the top here. Your PC's are going to be in extreme danger at every turn.

Dark Albion and Cults of Chaos has both a pdf and print run on Lulu. Its a great addition to the arsenals of a DM! 
Grab The Mystery At Port Greely Here
More coming
very soon with U3 The Final Enemy!

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