Monday, October 31, 2016

Demons, Darkness, & Dark Albion As OSR Tool Kit Of Horror For Your Old School Campaigns

Over the weekend I began to take a look at Dark Albion by Rpg Pundit and some of the magic, and sorcery sections.With it being Halloween on it seemed to be a great time to get into the workings of Chaos on the empire of Albion. Now there's two reason why this is an important point for me as a dungeon master. One is the fact that Albion is an empire in flames burning from within as its being eaten from without by forces that are taking full advantage of the Albionian Civil War. Notice I said Albionion & not the War of the Roses; because while it takes full advantage of the real world history of the War of the Roses this isn't our world. Magick, chaos,cults, dungeons, and all of the full trappings of lower tier adventuring are there and they can tip the wars one way or another. Because of the lower levels of the NPC's, the impact that the PC's can have on the world setting of Dark Albion is immense.

This is a bad time for Albion & after looking at the Dark Albion books in some detail over the weekend I can honestly say that terror stalking the land in the form of Chaos leads me to think that perhaps the Church of  the Unconquered Sun  isn't all that far from the truth. You've got frogmen and their cultists, Elven cults & their followers, and a host of evils just waiting from the shadows to strike! The strip & burn method of handling cults isn't that far from the truth. The country of Albion doesn't have time to dally with the horrors waiting in the hills.

Between the machinations of wars were fought largely by the landed aristocracy and armies of feudal retainers, with some foreign mercenaries. "Support for each house largely depended upon dynastic factors, such as blood relationships, marriages within the nobility, and the grants or confiscations of feudal titles and lands." This is the stew that PC's are going to find themselves in & it would take a very clever NPC patron to navigate such waters and perhaps real world history has already provided. Your going to need a good head of the occult, the landed aristocracy, battle tactics, warfare, and a near genius.Meet "John Dee (13 July 1527 – 1608 or 1609) was an English mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occult philosopher,[5] and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. He devoted much of his life to the study of alchemy, divination, and Hermetic philosophy. He was also an advocate of England's imperial expansion." who although born in the wrong time period would have felt at home in the darkness, blood, and court intrigues of a Dark Albion campaign.


Dee straddled the worlds of science and magic just as they were becoming distinguishable. One of the most learned men of his age, he had been invited to lecture on the geometry of Euclid at the University of Paris while still in his early twenties. Dee was an ardent promoter of mathematics and a respected astronomer, as well as a leading expert in navigation, having trained many of those who would conduct England's voyages of discovery.
Simultaneously with these efforts, Dee immersed himself in the worlds of magic, astrology and Hermetic philosophy. He devoted much time and effort in the last thirty years or so of his life to attempting to commune with angels in order to learn the universal language of creation and bring about the pre-apocalyptic unity of mankind. A student of the Renaissance Neo-Platonism of Marsilio Ficino, Dee did not draw distinctions between his mathematical research and his investigations into Hermetic magic, angel summoning and divination. Instead he considered all of his activities to constitute different facets of the same quest: the search for a transcendent understanding of the divine forms which underlie the visible world, which Dee called "pure verities"."
Dee would make a perfect patron for a shadowy war and spy campaign where magick & chaos are going to play a central role. For the movers and shakers of behind the shadows of the Rose War there would need to be another piece of the puzzle for Chaos. Enter the "Stolas, also written Stolos, is a demon that is illustrated in the Dictionnaire Infernal published in 1863 and described by Collin de Plancy and the Pseudomonarchia daemonum of Johann Wier 1583.

In demonology , Stolas is a Great Prince of Hell , he ordered twenty - six legions of demons (twenty according to other authors), and teaches astronomy and knowledge of toxic plants, herbs and precious stones.
It is depicted as an owl crowned with long legs, like a crow, or as a man."
These demons make excellent patrons for a Dark Albion Cult of Chaos campaign or adventures. The author goes into several real world resources that could be used to flesh out even more details about these horrors.   

If you like research then there's some great resources there.

In my various old school campaigns players know better then to screw with owl headed demons. There actually is a historical evidence that fleshes these creatures of chaos out far better. According to The Devil and his Works: the Owl in Hieronymus Bosch (c.1450-1516) from ;

"The art of the early Netherlandish painter Hieronymus Bosch should be understood as part of the theological framework of the Renaissance (14th-16th centuries) and earlier Christian art. In Christian symbolism the owl stands for the devil and his works, and this article investigates the possibly of this interpretation for several works of Bosch. The owl makes a regular appearance on the Dutchman’s paintings and many in the Christian society of Bosch’s day were familiar with the religious implications of its presence. This bird of the night and darkness is a key to understanding Bosch’s thinking and the message of his paintings, which were largely produced for a religious setting, e.g. as altar paintings. Bosch painted in a society where the devil was seen as a real and present danger to any person. This article concludes that from the perspective of Christian symbolism and medieval Theology, the owl should not be taken as a traditional symbol of wisdom, but as representative of the devil and his schemes."
A perfect addition and adversary for your Dark Albion games and a great vile villainous foil for your party of adventurers and foes of Chaos.
They can even be used as an unexpected encounter for a mid tier group of Lamentations of the Flame Princess adventurers for an unexpected twist!

Becareful the next time you crawl into that dungeon ruin in Albion there might be an owl headed horror waiting down there for with his coven of cultists for you!

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