Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Lovecraftian Ecology Of The Serpent Men of Old Mars

Deep in the jungles of Old Mars the cold & evil alien eyes of an old enemy of mankind stirs. Where strikes the serpent men few can say. But their plague of evil once again comes for they have become a plague upon Old Mars! For Serpent Men are awesome monsters of the Lovecraftian Mythos. 

 Going all of the way back to 2012 I did a piece on Serpent Men on this blog. Since that time I've used these protagonists a lot going through OSR campaigns, one off adventures, and more. Serpent Men are very easy to use and at their height in both Howard, Lovecraft, & Merritt's work they had a sorcerous & technological empire that rivaled many human civilizations of history. So it makes sense they they'd have reached the stars and beyond.

Simon Burchell (Own work)

Now dealing with some of the works of these old school enemies of man kind can be interesting to say the least. Years ago I placed several colonies of Serpent Men on Mars as the main protagonists of an adventure storyline. The reason is that deep in the Kaolian forest clustered around Tharsis are lots of hidden swamp lands. Here three pyramids of the serpent men could remain hidden for eons in the shadow of Therns. They take the occasional sacrifice to their dark gods & move on into the wastelands of Mars.

Reaper miniatures 06208: Nagendra Warriors by Jason Wiebe

And what pray tell would these serpent men be doing on Old Mars? Spreading their chaos & corruption across the face of the wasteland & selling their own brand of that old time religion among the Martians. They'd have been there for centuries operating as Vivimancers, shape shifting assassins, mercenaries, & infiltrating the Therns from within. These serpent men are Lovecraftian bad guys of the highest order, and to get a really good look at some of the interior workings of the their religion I turn to two OSR publications. Now the first is from Mr. Rafael Chandler Obscene Serpent Religion is an Adult title from Neoplastic Press ( a little while back their titles & lines were put on 'pay what you want') which was very generous of him. Now suddenly the dungeon master has the inner workings & mysteries of the serpent men's religion & heinous rites. Want to know what the party of adventurers finds in the ruin location that the serpents have been operating out of? Its all there in gory details, but be careful because this is an Adult title & I don't say that lightly consider yourselves warned.

The second OSR resource that I'd use is  Dark Albion's Cults of Chaos. Because of the social classes of Barsoom, & many of the old science fantasy novels such as Leigh Brackett & C.L. Moore. Cults of Chaos gives not only structure but adventure hooks to use at every level of the social strata making such a cult very dangerous & creditable. Here's a review to kinda drive home the point.

When it comes to using serpent men they make an unexpected twist to throw into an old school game & they might pop up anywhere. They were extremely dangerous & one of the powers behind quite a few power structures in Robert Howard's Kull saga. According to HP Lovecraft's Shadow Out of Time they were one of the minds that the Great Race of Yith used to grab quite regularly.
"There was a mind from the planet we know as Venus, which would live incalculable epochs to come, and one from an outer moon of Jupiter six million years in the past. Of earthly minds there were some from the winged, star-headed, half-vegetable race of palaeogean Antarctica; one from the reptile people of fabled Valusia; three from the furry pre-human Hyperborean worshippers of Tsathoggua; one from the wholly abominable Tcho-Tchos; two from the arachnid denizens of earth’s last age; five from the hardy coleopterous species immediately following mankind, to which the Great Race was some day to transfer its keenest minds en masse in the face of horrible peril; and several from different branches of humanity."
H.P. Lovecraft, The Shadow Out Of Time

The stats for serpent men are available for Astonishing Swordsmen Sorcerers of Hyperborea Referee's Manual or for other OSR games Realms of Crawling Chaos from Goblinoid Games

There are several references to serpent men or reptile men in the stories of  Leigh Brackett especially the Sea-Kings of Mars (more commonly known as The Sword of Rhiannon) &" Clark Aston Smith's  adapted the race for inclusion in the Cthulhu Mythos, inspired by H. P. Lovecraft's short story "The Nameless City", which refers to an Arabian city built by a pre-human reptilian race. Lovecraft's story "The Haunter of the Dark" explicitly mentions the "serpent men of Valusia" as being one-time possessors of the Shining Trapezohedron. " 

However they were already in the Cthulhu Mythos via Robert Howard's Work;"However, the Cthulhu Mythos was already connected to the works of Robert E. Howard (a contemporary and correspondent of H. P. Lovecraft as well as a direct contributor to the Mythos itself). In this case, the Serpent Men were created for the very first Kull story, the character of Kull later made an appearance in a Bran Mak Morn story, Kings of the Night, while in another such story, Worms of the Earth, Bran Mak Morn explicitly refers to Cthulhu and R'lyeh. Many Conan stories by Howard are also part of the Mythos." Now given this it only makes sense to have them appear on Old Mars & Old Venus because of their connections with the writings of the other Lovecraft Circle writers.


Are there other hidden enclaves of these ancient horrors waiting in the Martian underworld for some foolish adventurers to stumble upon their lairs and activate their sleep chambers? Could these ancient horrors carve out their own sections of the wastes of Old Mars? They will be in my campaigns.

Note that this is for personal use only and is not an attempt to violate the copyright or trademark of The Dark Albion Rpg, Realms of Crawling Chaos, The Warriors of the Red Planet rpg or The Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg system. 
All material herein comes under the heading of fair use. This blog post is for educational and entertainment purposes only.

Ideas, items, names, adventure ideas, opinions to follow are the copyright & trademark of the author & Dark Corner Productions

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.