Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Old Mercury Under A Hyperborean Sun - Commentary On Several Free Novellas From Leigh Brackett For The Old Mars Campaign Setting

I've been looking over some of the OSR Goblinoid Games resources I have left (these are my table top gaming copies); my other ones were stolen by an ex friend of mine after he went off the deep end of sanity. Anyhow what do you do when you've got experienced & more then slightly jaded Dungeons & Dragons players who know all of the classic era TSR modules? They don't think Old Mars is challenging enough or Old Venus is weird enough? You send them where the planet separates the weak from the dead in spades; this place makes Hell look fun. I'm talking about Old Mercury. HP Lovecraft mentioned it;" H. P. Lovecraft's "The Shadow Out of Time" (1936): Later, as the Earth's span closed, the transferred minds (of the Great Race of Yith) would again migrate through time and space — to another stopping place in the bodies of the bulbous vegetable entities of Mercury." But it was really another member of the Lovecraft circle who really added in the creep factor with his Immortals of Mercury. Clark Aston Smith's Immortals of Mercury is a classic and an old favorite of mine.  These Engineer type immortals are in my Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Hyperborean survivors who have fled to Mercury and themselves off from contact with outsiders.  They've got living bio engineered suits worth a cool 70,000 to 80,000 gold pieces in the right markets
. Good luck trying to leave because Mercury is bombarded by cosmic storms and its tidally locked.

Once again its Leigh Brackett who gives this planet a Conan style treatment & its a proving ground for some of the most colorful as well as dangerous characters.
"In Leigh Brackett's short stories (especially "The Demons of Darkside" (1941), "A World Is Born" (1941), "Cube from Space" (1942), and "Shannach – the Last" (1952)), a tidally locked Mercury features a 'Twilight Belt' exposed to dangerous variations in heat and cold and havoc-wreaking solar storms. Some of Brackett's most colorful characters, like Jaffa Storm ("Shadow Over Mars") and Eric John Stark, were Mercury-born."

So what does this have to with Thundarr The Barbarian? Well a bit of everything, Mercury is a world where only the strong, fit, & resourceful are going to survive and thrive. Its also a lost world in many of the stories. And its a refuge for the Ancients according to many Gamma World & Mutant Future dungeon masters I've talked with.
Mercury is a world with all of its own internal alien ecology & logic able to test the mettle of any PC who goes there. There are several stories that are within the public domain . One of the best is Shannach - The Last which has a very Lovecraftian feel behind its science fantasy facade.
"An Earthman on Mercury stumbles into a long lost colony in a hidden air-filled valley, ruled by harsh Sunstone wielding hawk controlling lords - and, of course, an alien overlord behind them"

Shannach - The Last

So what does this have to do with Hyperborea? Well not only do we have the Mercurian Hyperboreans & the weird Lovecraftian ecology but there is also what the Great Race might have left behind on Mercury? In my campaigns in addition to the gateways & dimensional works there several minor space dungeons.

In The Amazing Stories July 1941 issue we're treated to No Man's Land In Space which gives us space pirates, inter system war and something more sinister. I'm including it because of the overtones of the Lovecraftian elements & the almost historic Australian like nature of Leigh Brackett's Mercury which the habitable asteroid shares.

The Amazing Stories
July 1941 issue Here

To really get a good solid feel for the isolated nature and dangerous elements of the tidally locked 'Old Mercury' that Brackett creates we have to go to A World Is Born. Here a lot of the penal colony frontier nature of Mercury is revealed and its not a pretty sight. 
You Can Download A World Is Born Right Here

 Mercury is not a world to be taken lightly & can easily take out an entire party of experienced adventurers easily between its monsters, hazards, and the ruins in its night side this is a world not to be underestimated. Good luck exploring the vaults of Old Mercury

This post is not an attempt to violate the copyrights or trademarks of any of the films nor properties named in this post. All ideas are for a private table top rpg campaign. None of the ideas or opinions expressed in this post are meant to violate the trademarks nor copy rights of any of the table top rpgs discussed nor are they in away responsible for the thoughts or opinions of the author. The writing, ideas, and opinions are copyrighted and trade marked to the author and Dark Corner productions. This post is for entertainment & educational purposes only.

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