My schedule has been more then a bit erratic as of late with work to say the least, so I've been dividing up my time over the last couple of weeks here at Casa De Fabiaschi to concentrate on OSR sword & sorcery & pulp material that I already have. This turn of events has not going unnoticed in certain corners of the OSR namely those garage band marketing publishers and firms who are pumping out the usual fire hose of titles. So I've put a moratorium on reviews for the next six months because of work & familial concerns at home. Work has been going like gang busters with work. So I've had to devote my time to getting articles,blog posts, & whatnot ready to go for readers of this blog. So where does that leave us with? Well. it left me to dip my wick into the deep end of weird fiction for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea in the stacks of my gaming collection. I was specifically looking at AFS magazine issue #4, which if you're lucky enough to have a copy is one of their best. The contents speak for themselves and reads like a whose who of OSR gaming. But there's a specific adventure I'm going to be talking about tonight.
FS Magazine #4 - Table of Contents
New Monster – The Gurondu by Tim ‘Turgenev’ Hartin
Variant Class – The Burglar by Scott Moberly (written for Holmes Basic)
Artifact - The Iounic Loop – Reimagining the Ring of Gaxx by Allan T. Grohe Jr. (grodog)
Fiction – A Blizzard in the Sahara by Aleister Crowley (1911)
Table of Items – High Value Treasures by Scott Moberly
Variant Class – The Purloiner by Jeff Talanian & Colin Chapman (written for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea)
Adventure – The Lamia’s Heart, An Adventure By Jeff Talanian (set in Hyperborea
For 2–5 Zero Level Thieves)
Table – One Sentence Plot Hooks for Sandbox Gaming by Various (named) authors
Adventure – Theme for a Jackal (an adventure set in Hyperborea for character levels 2-3) by Scott Moberly
Article- Crawling Without Hexes by Chris Kutalik
Map – The Nooks & Crannies Level by Allan T. Grohe Jr. (grodog)
AFS magazine jacked up the idea of OSR fanzine & took it in a different direction. The thing about the OSR material was the quality of the articles. The magazine covers every retroclone from Swords & Wizardry, AS&SH, & even Holmes Basic. Do yourselves a favor and pick up copies the next time the magazine is published.
Theme for a Jackal by Scott Moberly really got me thinking about taking AS&SH's Hyperborea in a different direction & showed me a really well done Weird Tales style of campaign kit. The whole issue is outstanding really and acts as a sort of AS&SH preview of coming attractions for AS&SH second edition. But once again I digress. The adventure has a sort of Clark Aston Smith feel mixed with something I couldn't quite put my finger on. Then it hit me early this afternoon, it reminds me of A.Merritt's science fantasy/sword & sorcery pieces of fiction. His life is as interesting as the fiction he wrote & he remains one of my all time favorite writers bare few. His writing have a timeless and almost dreamlike quality that reflects many of the ideas that seem to present themselves in the Theme For A Jackel adventure and earlier Moberly AS&SH adventures.
If H.P Lovecraft is the father of cosmic horror then A. Merritt is the father of his own pulp style & sure has hell doesn't get his due today. "Merritt's writings were heavily influenced by H. Rider Haggard, Robert W. Chambers, Helena Blavatsky and Gertrude Barrows Bennett (writing as Francis Stevens), with Merritt having "emulated Bennett's earlier style and themes."" Umm. no I think Merritt doesn't emulate but improves upon Bennett's style of writing & makes it his own.
"Merritt's stories typically revolve around conventional pulp magazine themes: lost civilizations, hideous monsters, etc. His heroes are gallant Irishmen or Scandinavians, his villains treacherous Germans or Russians and his heroines often virginal, mysterious and scantily clad." Once again more pulp hand waving dismissive B.S. by Wikipedia. What really set's A.Merritt's work apart is his worlds, settings, originality, & pulpy sensibilities. Many of his novels & stories are now within the public domain. So let's get you some decent public domain downloads
- The Moon Pool (fix-up, 1919) Grab it Right Here
(The Moon Pool (1918) + Conquest of the Moon Pool (1919))
- The Metal Monster (1920) Download Right Here
- The Ship of Ishtar (1924) Download Right Here
- Seven Footprints to Satan (1927) Download Here
- The Face in the Abyss (fix-up, 1931) Download Right Here
(The Face in the Abyss (1923) + The Snake Mother (1930))
- Dwellers in the Mirage (1932) Download right here
- Burn, Witch, Burn! (1932) Grab It Here
- Creep, Shadow! (1934) Grab it Right Here
- A Merritt's Collected Short Stories Grab That Here.
- The Challenge From Beyond Features C.L. Moore, A. Merritt, H.P. Lovecraft,Robert E. Howard, Frank Belknap Long & it showcases the vastly different styles of these giants of fantasy as each one picks up and takes over their parts of this entertaining piece of weird fiction. Grab That Here
I've written extensively about A.Merritt before but he shares a sense of the alien & the lost world ethos that echoes many of the themes & ideas that creep through Astonishing Swords & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. I think that his writings exemplify some of the best of the pulp authors making them perfect fodder for old school campaigns.
While A Merritt was presented as a part of Appendix N for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragon's first edition Dungeon Master's Guide, he seems almost forgotten today by many of the fans of weird fiction and sword & sorcery literature. His writing reflects many of pop culture ideas of his time about Atlantis that one finds sprinkled throughout his work. There's some really incredible stuff to mine for adventures and campaigns especially for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. He's another writer that I'll be dipping my wick into for this upcoming campaign I've got happening soon.
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.