Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Commentary For The Great Race of Yith, Free OSR Lovecraftian Resource, Second Edition Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2nd Edition & The Operation Unfathomable Kickstarter

Swords & Sorcery table top rpg's are often defined by their players & dungeon masters as well the action of the world campaign setting around the game itself. This is very true of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea & many old school campaigns. With the new edition of AS&SH coming out and much of the great artwork that's been released by Jeff Talanian of North Wind Adventures it was this piece by" +Jason Sholtis is a man who really enjoys exploring the "weird fantasy" aspect of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, so it was with little hesitation that I assigned to him a series of monster illustrations inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. Here is Jason's rendition of the Great Race of Yith -- weird, alien beings that were featured in HPL's novella, "The Shadow Out of Time"."
This piece of a member of the Great Race of Yith has me very excited, these time traveling bastards are one of the most devious and technologically advanced races of Lovecraft.

[T]he Great Race ... waxed well-nigh omniscient, and turned to the task of setting up exchanges with the minds of other planets, and of exploring their pasts and futures. It sought likewise to fathom the past years and origin of that black, aeon-dead orb in far space whence its own mental heritage had come – for the mind of the Great Race was older than its bodily form. . . The beings of a dying elder world, wise with the ultimate secrets, had looked ahead for a new world and species wherein they might have long life; and had sent their minds en masse into that future race best adapted to house them – the cone-shaped beings that peopled our earth a billion years ago.
— H. P. Lovecraft, "The Shadow Out of Time"
These guys are one of my favorite antagonists & monsters of old school campaigns because they're masters of time & space. If you think that the  coned things are their actual form think again. That's one of the forms of these time jumping bastards. They are summed up really well by Wiki;"The Great Race of Yith are a fictional race of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. Introduced in Lovecraft's short story "The Shadow Out of Time," the Great Race was a prehistoric civilization that populated much of the Earth until their demise in the late Cretaceous era. Their great power derived from their mastery of precognition via time travel." These cone beings simply their latest victims but don't worry they're are lots of other guises that these bastards wear & what do they have to do with Hyperborea? Well they were once masters of an empire upon that world as well as countless others. But they weren't the only masters of time & space travel there was another race; "In the short story "The Challenge From Beyond", H. P. Lovecraft describes a race of grey worm/centipede-like, creatures (Yekubians) which have similar abilities to the Great Race of Yith, but without the power of time travel by mind transfer. They use an odd hieroglyph-engraved cube, sent out into the cosmos, and; once landed on a planet, it is activated by biological interaction and light. This then engages the life form in a similar process to the Yithian's mind transfer. One of these cubes is what apparently landed on the earth during the reign of the Great Race and transferred some of their minds. It was therefore stored away so it could not affect them again, but not destroyed as the technology was new to them; the Great Race being great compilers. This was later "translated" by Reverend Arthur Brooke Winters-Hall, a clergyman with occult tendencies, and resulted in an account of the exploits of the Yekubians."  That's available right here as The Challenge from Beyond By C.L. Moore, A. Merritt, H.P. Lovecraft,Robert E.Howard, and Frank Belknap LongOr you can download it from Gutenberg Autsrailia but check your local laws before doing so in your home country.
So throughout the Hyperborean countryside there are pockets of ruins & various dungeons belonging to the Lovecraftian races. Do the humans of Hyperborea even begin to stand a chance?

The new edition of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea adds a brand new twist with subclasses such as the RUNEGRAVER;" Del Teigeler did an amazing job illustrating the RUNEGRAVER for the forthcoming second edition of AS&SH. Want to play a character like Egill Skallagrímsson, straight out of The Sagas? The runegraver, a subclass of the cleric, is described as "a mystic warrior who carves rune spells on bone, metal, stone, and wood". The runegraver possesses many interesting abilities, such as the "ale rune", turning water to a healing ale; "casting lots" which allows the runegraver to make predictions; and "nithing pole" which allows the rungraver to create a special device that lays a curse."

Is this going to be the only new subclass of the usual classic AS&SH twist on PC classes? Not at all according to Jeff Talanian we are going to see a bunch of new and interesting wrinkles to the family of AS&SH adventurers.

The new subclasses are:

- Cryomancer: a sorcerer who commands the elemental power of ice
- Huntsman: a wilderness warrior who glories in the hunt
- Runegraver: a mystic warrior who carves runic spells on bone, metal, stone, and wood
- Purloiner: a religious thief who also practices the esoteric mysticism of a cleric
Here's a piece of artwork for the Huntsmen by Del Teigeler, its got a He Man meets Dore in a back alley quality interwoven with a sword & sorcery vibe to it.

Many of the dungeons & underworlds of Underborea remind me of "The Operation Unfathomable" which from what I've been reading on the Kickstarter could actually be used as an ad junction to the Underborea underworld.

I can totally see some Great Race alien dimensional doorway opening into the underworld of Operation Unfathomable with some hapless bunch of Hyperborean adventurers totally unaware of danger that they're in. The sheer volume of weirdness & primal chaos from what I've heard could easily overwhelm a lesser party. If you don't have a clue what I'm talking about check out the Kickstarter video for Operation Unfathomable. I can totally see AS&SH adventurers hanging on for dear life against the hordes of weirdness from this campaign adventure source book.

If you haven't checked out the Jason Sholtis video for Operation Unfathomble you really should. They've already unlocked one of the stretch goals and there are more to come.

The beauty about the latest batch of neo OSR products is the fact that they work well together & could be used to create all kinds of under world adventure havoc in you home campaigns. AS&SH 2E Kickstarter to Launch this Friday, October 21 & I can't wait!

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