Saturday, October 22, 2016

Under The Influence Of A Cracked Moon OSR Sorcery As Commentary For A Post Apocalyptic Campaign

"The year: 1994. From out of space comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the Earth and the Moon, unleashing cosmic destruction! Man's civilization is cast in ruin!
Two thousand years later, Earth is reborn...
A strange new world rises from the old: a world of savagery, super science, and sorcery. But one man bursts his bonds to fight for justice! With his companions Ookla the Mok and Princess Ariel, he pits his strength, his courage, and his fabulous Sunsword against the forces of evil.
He is Thundarr, the Barbarian!"

Last night I shut down social media & threw in Thundarr The Barbarian on to the blu ray. The episode in question was Secret of the Black Pearl. Now this episode was in fact very pivtol to the entire run of Thundarr & features one of my all time favorite vile villains Gemini the wizard. Gemini is a real power behind the wasteland in this episode, he's cagey, smart, & one of the true wizards with access to relics but he's also a whiny little bitch. He eventually reappears twice but there are some very interesting things about this episode. Especially how they relate to domain play, relics, & Adventurer, Conqueror, King & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers.

Gemini has access to a lot of relic weaponry, vehicles and all kinds of old Earth style technology & throughout the series most of the wizards do. There's also something really off about Thundarr's world from the on set. Relics, technologies, magic & weirdness don't match anything in our world at all. That's because its not our world or even Thundarr's world for that matter. At some point in the past of Thundarr's world the United States military was messing around with time space gate technologies and contacted a parallel Earth. Relations between the two worlds were alright for a time but there was a magical pollution between the worlds. Mutation, sorcery, the rise of the wizards, and even the Empire of the Petal Throne like artifact the 'black pearl' are from this other Earth. What is the black pearl? Well its concentrated magical energy that is capable of nullifying any magic it comes in contact with. Personally I think that the Unite States military were messing around with the magic & gate technology of this other world, they brought down the 'runaway planet' upon themselves and the inhabitants of this other world merging the two dimensions into one.

So what does all of this have to do with Adventurer, Conqueror, King & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea? Quite a bit actually, I think that just like in ACK's your looking at wizards who have ascended levels of cosmic ability and established domains as well as magical relics. They're actually survivors of the holocaust who have been growing in power and mutating for two thousand years. Gemini aka Janus the cyborg wizard  is a prime example of the sort of mutations and outright evil we're talking about. He's got his minions in the form of the groundlings (aka his rat men), a full domain of degenerated humans ala Apes Victorious.   and a wasteland full of mutant tribes, trackless wilderness, NPC henchmen & assorted mutated monsters. 
Yet when it comes to  the power of magick where is it coming from? Well, Thundarr's world is full on full primal chaos. Yes the same primal chaos of the underworld that we see in The Operation Unfathomable campaign setting. Wiki defines it as;"Chaos (Greek χάος, khaos) refers to the formless or void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, or to the initial "gap" created by the original separation of heaven and earth"
It whispers and suggests things to those who use it & is often used to create technological magic relics. We see a ton of these in Thundarr's cartoons. 
In fact why is the nuclear missiles in Beneath the Planet of the Apes as powerful as they are? Well because they were also messing around with retro 70's alternative dimensional gate way time travel & faster then light technologies. The very presence of these technologies mutates those around it warping both mind and body. Some of the technological  creations of Kamandi's world also seemed to follow these lines.

But another aspect that we see is the return of the old gods of chaos & law but law is far more subtle in a Thundarr kitchen sink approach campaign. As I said yesterday over the past two years I've made careful purchases of OSR products that work well together such as OSRIC, Basic Fantasy, Fantastic Heroes & Witchery, ACK's, AS&SH, Dark Albion, and many others. This was done in order to have a palette of OSR goodness that would work well with original Dungeons & Dragons as well as Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition. Which beings up the Kickstarter juggernaut that is the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition. 
Thundarr's world always seemed to me to an Old Earth not a step away from the Borea Winds. A place where PC's might start as cavemen & end up as barbarian adventurers.

Hyperborea lends itself to being that campaign alien element that uses the familiar tropes of D&D with a very hard sword & sorcery taste. The fact that some of the Lovecraftian gods transcend the setting is a plus & AS&SH features one of my all time favorites Xathoqqua/Tsathoggua whose worship would fit right in with the wasteland wizards of Thundarr. In fact I've used his religion many times in such campaigns this is one of the strengths of the kicksink approach that I happen to favor. That being said the Mutants and Magic blog has a whole mapped out Xathoqqua/Tsathoggua religion with PC classes that I've used several times.

Tsathoggua by Ruud Dirven

" Tsathoggua (the Sleeper of N'kai, also known as Zhothaqquah) is a supernatural entity in the Cthulhu Mythos shared fictional universe. He is the creation of Clark Ashton Smith and is part of his Hyperborean cycle.
Tsathoggua/Zhothaqquah is described as an Old One, a godlike being from the pantheon. He was invented in Smith's short story "The Tale of Satampra Zeiros", written in 1929 and published in the November 1931 issue of Weird Tales.[1] His first appearance in print, however, was in H. P. Lovecraft's story "The Whisperer in Darkness", written in 1930 and published in the August 1931 Weird Tales."

Xathoqqua/Tsathoggua presence in the wasteland or adventure location in question in fiction seems to break the local laws of time & space. There are several monsters in both Marvel comic's Planet of the Apes & other 70's publications that would be perfect avatars or of Xathoqqua/Tsathoggua's kind that fit into the paradigm of Thundarr The Barbarian. The toad god fits easily into other games and Realms of Crawling Chaos has some stats for use with Labyrinth Lord style adventures.  He also appears in Petty Gods which meant that he was easily adaptable as the big bad for a Dark Albion adventure and corresponds to several characteristics for Cults of Chaos for the French Frogmen.

As I said I happen to take the Thundarr kitchen sink approach to my gaming. What does all of this have to do with the technologies, mutants, and horrors of Thundarr don't worry we'll get to that tomorrow.

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