Saturday, December 17, 2016

Retro Commentary On The Reskinning Of I3 Pharoah (1e) By Tracy Hickman & Laura Hickman For Your Old School Campaigns

Your skin was blistered all day before the hot desert sun sank slowly below the horizon. Now, the deep blue mists of the desert night swirl about you in the lazy wind. The cool night air seems to soak up the heat of the endless desert sands. You shiver as you and your friends huddle around your campfire, glancing nervously at the giant pyramid in the distance. There is an eerie and mysterious feeling about that place.

Gradually, the winds change direction, carrying a thin streak of white mist that swirls into the shape of a faceless man dressed in ancient robes. The moonlight seems to shine through him as he raises his arms toward the pyramid and speaks.

"I am the Pharoah Amun-re, son of Takosh-re of the House of Mo-pelar. I am now only a shadow who has walked these sands for a thousand years in search of wise and mighty warriors to break into my pyramid and plunder my tomb."

The winds shift again; his robes begin to swirl about him and he fades back into the mists and winds. Why does this desert spirit want you to plunder his tomb? Can you survive the challenges of a pyramid that has stood for a thousand years? Or are you being led into a trap?

So here in my little corner of Connecticut we're getting ready for some snow, I spent a good portion of the day with my father traveling from store to store. But I've had some little corner of my mind thinking about other Ancient & Accursed Terra locations because last night I got off the phone with some friends. They turned me on to I3 Pharaoh, possibly reskinning it for use as an ad junction adventure for use with my upcoming campaign. First of all my apologies to Tracy and Laura Hickman who are friends of mine & folks I met way back in Two Thousand or so at a GenCon. What I'm about to do isn't pretty to I3 Pharaoh but it was partly inspired by this review of the module from the Dungeon of Signs.

Years back about 2013, ran a group through a highly modified I3 where the desert was once the domain of the mysterious cloud giant space gods & their servants/rulers the hybrids kings. The desert was full of their green ruined ceramic & porcelain cities which stand besides the black & sinister pyramids. The desert is very dangerous surrounded by strange and deadly ley lines that flicker & explode with mystic energies. Dimensional doors open & strange time space vortexes assault the deserts as a result of some ancient war that happened thousands of years ago. Doorways open to Carcosa, Qelong,Narcosa, and many other worlds & those unlucky enough to fall through them seldom return 'normal'.

Vatungbaurnag is a city that has made part of its fortunes from the gold, artifacts,treasures, lost black technologies and more from fools who have pulled many things from the desert ruins. Think of the city as a combination of 1500's Constantinople & Alexandria with all of the drama that goes with those legendary cities wrapped up in one cosmopolitan package.Vatungbaurnag is a Class II market.
It is from this city that my modified version of Pharaoh picks up with the actual plot branching from;"In Pharaoh, the player characters (PCs) are driven into the desert for a crime they did not commit. The characters journey to the sunken city of Pazar and from there must travel to the haunted tomb of an ancient pharaoh.[3] While in the desert, the characters encounter the spirit of Amun-Re, a pharaoh cursed to wander the desert until his tomb is robbed. Amun-Re begs the PCs to remove his staff of ruling and Star Gem from his tomb to break his curse. The tomb was built to be thief-proof and has so far lived up to its reputation.[2] While in Amun-Re's pyramid, the characters can use an item called the dome of flight to control or reverse gravity; carelessness can cause them to fall upwards. The palm trees in this room bear exploding fruit.[4] The characters also encounter a maze with numerous traps."
Pazar now holds the unliving corpse of a cloud giant lich which will awaken if the PC's are not careful. Amun-Re has been cursed by his unliving lord to wander the desert until his brothers return from the depths of space.

The PC's are driven into the desert by my version of Ghazia an old public domain jungle comic book character that I heavily modified. Ghazia was a Terran  7th level priestess & witch  who worshiped a vulture headed demonic aspect of the Black Pharaoh. She used an army of re-animated cultist mummies and had a demonic familiar vulture. Ghazia also allied herself with the Spotted Men, a group of mercenary Lovecraftain cultists the players had earlier run afoul. She's not someone to trifle with as she has a deal going with the ghouls of Pazar.

So what's happening in the desert surrounding the pyramid of Amun-Re? Well he's actually the last in a long line of pharaohs who were in charge of the empire of Hyperboreans who ruled this land through their vassal pharaohs. The PC's have been set up & are now being used as cannon fodder for a long term plan for power by several minor factions in the desert wastelands surrounding Vatungbaurnag. The tribes of ghouls have moved into the lost city and the pyramids and had deep Lovecraftian ties to several of the local cult factions.

I took I3 & moved it away from strictly the pseudo Egyptian theme in the Forgotten Realms resulting in it having a far more black powder and sword & sorcery base with far more pulpy leanings. This made an adventure with a backbone akin to the Weird Tales roots which suits  AS&SH. The lesser undead ecology of this adventure reskinning has far more in line with this blog entry then it does the Forgotten Realms leanings that I3 has taken on.
This makes this reskin a very nice bridge gap right to the The Lost City (B4)  by Tom Moldvay.

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