Monday, March 6, 2017

Commentary On Using Holmes B/X Dungeons & Dragons With The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence For Old School Campaign Fodder

So I've got kinda of a quandary with my Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, I've shipwrecked a bunch of first level PC's on Venger Satanis's The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence which I've cast into the waves of Hyperborea. Surely these fools will not survive upon the haunted black sands of the island as everything will try to eat them. Well that's the plan anyway or is it? Many of the hex crawl's encounters are pretty high level and for first level PC's a total wipe out. Well not quite. I have a cunning plan and it involves Holmes Basic Dungeons & Dragons. One of the things I've been doing is researching, & reading Holmes D&D  again. What could Holmes possibly have to offer?

Well a few things like advice on scaling encounters to fit the levels of the PC's & how to keep things moving. There was post about sandbox campaigns going wrong and I intend to avoid that. By  plugging in some of the lower level monster encounters from Holmes I can get a better rounded adventure path for the players & their characters. The stats are no problem because many of the monsters have AS&SH equivalents built into the rules set.

Because   The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence  is outside of known time & space the perfect excuse is available to encounter a plethora of horrors. So I can sneak in a wide variety of lower tier encounters without having to skimp on quality. What we're looking at is a cross selection of undead, skeletons, humans, berserk warriors, slimes, goblins, and many of the weirder monsters of OD&D. This would also include lizardmen and more dangerous horrors as middle men & finally minotaurs and some giants as boss creatures. The pulp aspect might be in the dungeon locations as the wreckage of flying saucers & space craft becomes the temples, stock dungeons, & ruin locations on the Islands now the home of some perhaps weird or mutated D&D monsters.

The sheer iconic weirdness of Holmes makes it one of my favorite go to sources for pulpy D&D wisdom & the vibe of this edition has always to me fit many of the gonzo aspects of early Seventies and Eighties old school. This also means that its always at the back of my mind as a reservoir of wisdom for these types of situations. The

Monster List by HD - Reference Sheet v1.1  is one of those invaluable resources for Holmes D&D from the Zenopus Archives site.
Given the weirdness of the Islands of Purple Putrescence the
"One Hit Point Monsters v1.0 - twenty new monsters with one hit point, for use with single characters, small parties " is a natural download to help give some of the alien flavor of the place.
 The artwork from the U.K. Games Workshop edition of Holmes is especially evoctive of the animal witch women that the party will be running into in next week's game.

So why does this work out so well for a weirdly generic gonzo OSR style book like the Islands of Purple Haunted Putrescence?  Because Dr. Eric J. Holmes was a huge fan of pulp magazines, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and he knew the aesthetic of pulp gaming. This was a man who wrote Mahars of Pellucidar by John Eric Holmes which was published by  Ace Books in 1976 with cover art by Boris Vallejo. This was an authorized sequel of the Pellucidar books by Dr. Holmes and given the green light by the Burroughs estate.

Everything here is keyed so that Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea will provide all of the necessary stats and monster profiles to set up & spawn any of the horrors for this campaign to succeed. The balance here is in the gonzo, weirdness, and otherworldly adventure that the
The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence  & Holmes provides all mixed up in an OSR cocktail with AS&SH as it backbone!

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