Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Using The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth & The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun Adventures To Construct An Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Rpg System Mega Campaign

I've been thinking today about the connections between The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth & The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun how these two adventures can be used as a touch stone to create a mega Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea campaign.

“There have been times when only a hair's-breadth has intervened betwixt myself and the seething devil-ridden world of madness; for the hideous knowledge, the horror- blackened memories which I have carried so long, were never meant to be borne by the human intellect. ”
― Clark Ashton Smith

I've been mediating quietly today on the daughter of Iggwilv.I'm speaking of Drelzna, the vampiric daughter of long-deceased archmage Iggwily himself.  
I've spoken of the connections between The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth & how it impacts my views of Hyperborea before. But when you begin to dive below the surface of  The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun some of this get's downright Lovecraftian.

"In the Yatil Mountains south of Perrenland there is rumored to be a magical hoard of unsurpassed value, a treasure of such fame that scores of adventurers have perished in search of it. Find the perilous Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and you may gain the hidden wealth of the long-dead arch-mage — if you live."
Cover blurb for The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth
The more I'm looking into the twisting corridors and winding passages of  The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth the more it feels like the passages of Underborea to me. The connections to the The Forgotten Temple feel like some sort of unresolved incident from the time before the Green Death in Hyerborea. This beast of a module introduced some the major players of the D&D world in the form of monsters, demon lords, & horrors that would later find their way into the Fiend Folio. Somehow 
Drelzna, the vampiric daughter is a quarter Hyperborean, demonic, & something otherworldly.

I keep thinking about the Norker being some sort of Clark Aston Smith solar system half demonic humanoid created for working on distant gravity heavy worlds of the Solar System. They've always struck me as being more alien then the Fiend Folio portrays them. I see them as miners, heavy muscle, & cannon fodder for the samurai like demon clans of the Hobgoblins who are a quarter demon in my Hyperborea campaigns.

I keep thinking the second that Drelzna awakens she's going to revive the cults that were responsible for the imprisoned god Tharizdun & bring the horrors of  the Black Cyst upon the face of Hyperborea itself. It feels to me as though there's a connection between the Ashen Worm & the horrors of the  The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun

We know that the events of  The Forgotten Temple are kicked off by an incident from The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. These two modules represent some major players in the planes;"The treasure is a remnant of the wealth amassed by the archmage Iggwilv, former ruler of Perrenland, prior to her presumed death at the hands of the demon Graz'zt, whom she had "imprisoned and forced into servitude."" So already we're on Elric style footing here with some major movers & shakers. These modules also mark the first appearance of the 'Grell' & its really nasty version of the monster. Grell (Karen Nelson, AD&D module WG4: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, TSR, 1982)  The original grell made 11 attacks per round, 10 with tentacles and one with beak.

I don't think its an accident at all that there's a connection between HG Well's War of the Worlds Martians and the Grell. We know that Gary Gygax was fan of both Wells & Burroughs as well as Clark Aston Smith. For the more I study these two modules the more I'm convinced of the connection with CA Smith's The Coming of the White Worm;"
In much fear and wonder he descended and flung wide the portals. Before him were two men, or creatures who had the likeness of men. Both were strange of visage and bright-skinned, and they wore for mantles such rune-woven stuffs as wizards wear. The runes were uncouth and alien; but when the man bespoke him he understood something of their speech, which was in a dialect of the Hyperborean isles.
"We serve the One whose coming was foretold by the prophet Lith," they said. "From spaces beyond the limits of the north he hath come in his floating citadel, the ice-mountain Yikilth, to voyage the mundane oceans and to blast with a chill spendour the puny peoples of humankind. He hath spared us alone amid the inhabitants of the broad isle Thulask, and hath taken us to go with him in his sea-faring upon Yikilth. He hath tempered our flesh to the rigour of his abode, and hath made respirable for us the air in which no mortal man may draw breath. Thee also he hath spared and hath acclimated by his spells to the coldness and the thin ether that go everywhere with Yikilth. Hail, O Evagh, whom we know for a great wizard by this token: since only the mightiest of warlocks are thus chosen and exempted."
Sorely astonished was Evagh; but seeing that he had now to deal with men who were as himself, he questioned closely the two magicians of Thulask. They were named Dooni and Ux Loddhan, and were wise in the lore of the elder gods. The name of the One that they served was Rlim Shaikorth, and he dwelt in the highest summit of the ice-mountain. They told Evagh nothing of the nature or properties of Rlim Shaikorth; and concerning their own service to this being they avowed only that it consisted of such worship as is given to a god, together with the repudiation of all bonds that had linked them heretofore to mankind. And they told Evagh that he was to go with them before Rlim Shaikorth, and perform the due rite of obeisance, and accept the bond of final alienage."
This mirrors the coming of the Ashen Worm in AS&SH which might reflect the rise of the cult of
Tharizdun itself. 

I'm half convinced that these two modules could be used to create a nasty & very high level section of Underborea. The feeling of this material will have the weight of both a sword & sorcery setting as well as the irony of Clark Aston Smith's sardonic wit to it. The god Tharizdun is pure evil, simple clean & utterly alien in its malevolence.

Eons before Man walked the Earth, Tharizdun was chained and his name struck forever out for history; his crime unspeakable. By interconnecting the underworlds of The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, with The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth & then back tacking it into the dungeons of B4 The Lost City Adventure it links up a network of Underborea for the Temple of Elemental Evil show down.

There are several reasons why this sort of a sword & sorcery campaign would work with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea: 

  1. Levels the PC's can start out with Keep on The Borderlands and then climb up very quickly or die trying.

  2. Sword & Sorcery connection this sort of a mega campaign could have cosmic connections taking the PC's from the depths of the dungeon into the realms of the gods or their remains. 

  3. Science fantasy weirdness given the material in Expedition To The Barrier Peaks this sort of a campaign could help to explain the weird science fantasy 'in' of that adventure. 

  4. This could take years, looking over this sort of a campaign your probably looking at twenty five or more years. 

  5. World Spanning or ending threat given the nature of Tharizdun & the gods behind the Elemental Evil this could have happened to many worlds in the multiverse or solar system. So its not a far stretch to see where this could lead, perhaps the asteroid belt of the Sol system had this happen. 

  6. Little beginnings - Starting with both Keep on The Borderlands & In search of the Unknown there could be a natural progression across many modules. 

  7.  Generational threat - By using the time line of AS&SH its possible to create entire families whose PC's have been fighting this sort of evil upon the face of Hyperborea for a very long time indeed. 

  8. Living to Spend It - Given the levels of AS&SH its very possible that during this sort of campaign several PC's might have complete careers in adventuring and retire if they live that long. 

  9. Earlier I mentioned this being a threat that might stretch across the planes & this could see PC's journeying to other classic era TSR  systems such Gamma World or Boot Hill. 

  10. Treasures between worlds - There could be one or more treasures or relics that have deep connections to bringing this sort of a campaign to a head. These should be focal points and very dangerous to both NPC's & PC's alike something we see time and again in Marvel classic Seventies & Eighties Conan. 




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