Thursday, October 13, 2016

Commentary On Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers Of Hyperborea, Free Clark Aston Smith Mars Stories, & A Possible Mini Campaign One Shot

Over the years I've had to laugh at the cycles of OSR kickstarter darlings & the rapid decline of the fashions of these little rpg darlings. By all means support these books and systems please; one of three hot anticipated kickstarters I'm watching for is the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea's second edition.  Jeff Talanian of North Wind Adventures has been stoking the fires until October 21th when the new Kickstarter campaign hits. Its stuff like this has really been stoking the OSR fires lately.According to Mr.Talanian;" Daisey Bingham is the feature colorist for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Her creative vision has been applied to the art of Val Semeiks, Del Teigeler, and of course her husband, the talented Johnathan Bingham. Here we see Daisey bringing her unique vision to an amazing illustration submitted by none other than Val Semeiks. This piece will serve as the chapter divider (or "frontispiece") for AS&SH Vol. II, "Sorcery". Here we see the picture in full colour, but actually printing it in colour (as well as the other five frontispieces) will be one of the early stretch goals of the forthcoming Kickstarter campaign, set to launch on October 21."

So then last night on G+ this video came up in my feed which did nothing but stir my desire to play a bit of AS&SH. Ivan Mike does a great job of stoking the sword & sorcery fires with his review of AS&SH. So why mention the box set of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea when the second edition kickstarter is coming out soon? Well because your not going to be out of luck if you happen to own the first edition both will be fully compatible.

Which brings me very quickly to the next reason of posting about AS&SH, I've done & run lots of games of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. One of the games that I've done in the past is to use AS&SH to run Mars games of pulpy goodness but not the usual Edgar Rice Burroughs stuff no; I've used it to run Clark Aston Smith's Mars. This is a post Colonial Mars shot through with age, ancient ruins  and barrel chested Martians. Smith’s Martians call themselves “Aihai,” & they have barrel chests, multi-articulated arms, high flaring ears, and pit-like nostrils. The one of the other ancient ancestral dead races, the Yorhi, had physical similarities to the Aihai but left behind malevolent ruins, along with hellish legends of their passing. The humans colonists live primarily in the Martian cities, principally the trading port of Ignarh. The stories seem to follow similar  plot lines of the 1979 film Alien. Human explorers uncover the some ancient secret, alien life form, ancient Martian god or relic upon Mars and terror ensues. So what does this have to do with AS&SH's Hyperborea? In my campaign setting version of Hyperborea  Clark Aston Smith's Earth is part of Hyperborea's ancient history known in legend as Old Earth. AS&SH game's setting is actually part of  a far future dying universe far older then even the inhabitants know. Cycles of time & space are far more fluid then reason would have us believe allowing adventurers to step from one world to another. There are other far stranger worlds that flow through the Boreas winds.

Smith's Martian cycle starts with a story many consider not part of the Mars cycle at all ;“The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis”Completed August 1931. First published in Weird Tales, May 1932. Next comes “The Dweller in the Gulf” Completed August 1932. First published in edited form as “Dweller in Martian Depths” in Wonder Stories, March 1933. Unedited version first published in The Abominations of Yondo, Arkham House 1960. Finally we get to “Vulthoom”Completed February 1933. First published in Weird Tales, September 1935.

This is an old and very dangerous world hoary with age, horror, and alien gods dwelling in its underworld. So why not use Warriors of The Red Planet for this style of game? Well, as much as I love a game of WoRP(pick it up if you haven't), my players really liked the game they loved the system of AS&SH to capture the weird tone of Clark Aston Smith's vision of Mars. That being said I'm working with my systems guy to do a partial conversion so we'll see how that pans out. Way back when I was lucky enough to get a copy of this book from Necornomicon Press, such great artwork for the Clark Aston Smith fan!

More on this as this mini campaign idea develops, personally blame Forrest Aguirre  & The Drink, Spin, & Run crew with their episode on  Blending Sci Fi & Fantasy in Your RPGs.

I've also got to throw in  this detailed review of AS&SH up but also post this one which goes into far more detail on the system

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