Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Air Borne Monstrosities For Your Old School Fantasy & Post Apocalypse Games

Sometimes all it takes is an off handed remark or odd off the cuff bit by a friend to get your brain racing. I wrote about Ancient & Accursed Terra yesterday & what modifying out as well as the importance of tone in a setting. We today I was going over several of the options for my new campaign when a friend brought up how neat it would be to have air ships in this upcoming campaign. He was referring to our storied history with the Champions of Mystara box set way back in Ninety Three from the pens of Bruce Heard & Ann Dupuis. Its an odd beast of a box set but very much beloved by the B/X D&D community.

"Developed from the original DRAGON® Magazine series, Champions of Mystara™ is a major compilation of the Princess Ark adventures, a magical flying ship that explores the World of Mystara. Discover the heroes of this legendary skyship, their deadly foes, and their wondrous ships. Packed with background information and adventure ideas, this set allows DMs and players to run a long-lasting, globe-trotting campaign based on a unique flying ship.

Champions of Mystara goes an extra step and also provides experienced players with new rules on magical flying ship construction, operation, and movement! As a final gift, this set offers a Gazetteer developing the region west of the Known World, from the burning lands of Sind to the mysterious jungles of the Serpent Peninsula. A make-your-own world guide finally helps DMs expand the horizons of their favorite campaign world."

I still have my box set & the rules for creating, maintaining, running sky ships were easily some of our group's favorites in the past. But could these craft of the sky be adapted to other OSR mediums such as post apocalyptic or science fantasy?

So I'm zipping around the Mutant Future Wiki and come across their air ship rules there.
Along with several key air craft rules for Mutant Future . Sometimes ideas just won't let go and Dark Roasted Blend has several pages of retrospective air ship articles just brimming with inspirational art wok, photos, advertises, and more. See I have a soft spot for air ships because my grandmother once upon a time as a teen rode on one. She was very fond of them late into her life.

Then I start seeing all of the familiar pulpy fifties magazine artwork  influences & even earlier Twenties as well as the Thirties stuff. This includes this 
Airship Skyport from the November, 1939 issue of Popular Science which would make an excellent adventure location or ruin for any OSR game.

Let me give you the scale of the sorts of engineering we're talking about here according to the article;"
US Navy actually built two zeppelin aircraft carriers: USS Macon (info) and USS Akron ZRS-4. You can see them on the archival photos shown below: these tiny dots at the bottom are people!"
This sort of scale is very similar to the level of "Thundarr The Barbarian" war machines that everyone loves. In fact the Arkon was beginning to head that way in its design generation;"

"Akron" could carry four airplanes, "Macon" could carry five, and the further models were designed to carry up to 22 airplanes!... All of this found its culmination, perhaps, in this idea: "The Aerial Landing Field" from Modern Mechanix, October 1934

This is just the sort of technology that we see in Michael Moorcock's steampunk novels;"A Nomad of the Time Streams[1] is a compilation volume of Michael Moorcock's early steampunk trilogy, begun in 1971 with The Warlord of the Air and continued by its 1974 and 1981 sequels, The Land Leviathan and The Steel Tsar.[2] The trilogy follows the adventures of Edwardian-era British Army Captain Oswald Bastable in alternate versions of the 20th century." A future version of passenger luxury might be this extreme beast; "screwy-looking dirigible from Modern Mechanix (August, 1930): revolving spiral vanes propel it through the air, while the ENTIRE gas shell revolves around the stationery aluminum framework!"

This might be rich pickings for a group of post apocalyptic or wasteland adventurers indeed it could mean the difference between starving or gaining back several systems that a community could use to begin unraveling the secrets of this type of travel or military applications. That's when the real dangerous stuff comes to the surface especially in one of the weirder war machines that seems like it came straight out of a Thundarr episode. "
Frank Tinsley drew this image for the 1957 book "Airships in the Atomic Age", including the interior for the Atomic Airship"  The addition of nuclear or atomic power is something that is going to affect a community or city across the board. The ripples are going to change the entire economy and dynamic of a city state or other post apocalyptic fantasy world.

So what does this have to do with Adventurer,Conqueror, King? Everything because once the atomic genie is out of the bottle then a city state's manufacturing base, market's, everything across the board changes. This makes adding in the atomic option very tricky and I've done it with several post apocalyptic campaigns. There is very little balance in games such as Mutant Future or even Apes Victorious, but a weird mix comes into a game such as B/X style D&D and it raises some very interesting issues. Given the advanced manufacturing  base that the Apes have in Apes Victorious and the Animal kind of DC's
Kamandi have this type of weird technology would be right up their alley.

In fact entire quests and campaigns might revolve around the recovery, retro engineering  & manufacturing of such craft. You'd need to have some very solid numbers across the board. And we'll get into those in part two tomorrow. You can find the original article here.

All images and artwork belong to their respective owners & Dark Roasted Blend. 
No copy right nor trade mark infringement is meant to the owners of the artwork,trademark or copy right holders  of the original artwork nor Dark Roasted Blend.
None of the table top role playing writers,game systems  nor companies mentioned in this article are in anyway responsible for the content of this article. This article is for entertainment & educational purposes only. The ideas are my own and the content of the opinions are expressly the writer's.

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