Thursday, June 1, 2017

Appendix N Essential Reading : Clark Ashton Smith Reading Material For Your Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaigns

I've had a wicked head cold over the last day or so but I've taken the time to do a bit of delving into the more estoreric nature of the background of the mythology of Clark Ashton Smith's Hyperborea. This cycle of Smith's directly ties in with the Lovecraftian mythos.
"In a letter to August Derleth dated 26 July 1944, Smith wrote: "In common with other weird tales writers, I have ... made a few passing references (often under slightly altered names, such as Iog-Sotot for Yog-Sothoth and Kthulhut for Cthulhu) to some of the Lovecraftian deities. My Hyperborean tales, it seems to me, with their primordial, prehuman and sometimes premundane background and figures, are the closest to the Cthulhu Mythos, but most of them are written in a vein of grotesque humor that differentiates them vastly. However, such a tale as "The Coming of the White Worm" might be regarded as a direct contribution to the Mythos.""

There are vast differences between the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea & Clark Ashton Smith's Hyperborea for reasons of copyright & trademark. The game takes makes the Iron Age setting into actual gamable & viable campaign setting.  The paradoxically the stories of the Hyperborean cycle by Clark Ashton Smith are essential for running AS&SH. 
The following short stories are considered part of Smith's Hyperborean cycle:
Yet I've used all of CAS's works at one time or another to run a wide variety of settings with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea because the game system's deeper D&D roots are simply that flexible for old school games. Everything from sword & planet to deep Lovecraftian horror at one time or another has crossed my gaming table. His Poseidonis cycle is really a lynch pin to understanding the origins of the Atlantis & Lovecraft's Deep Ones in AS&SH.
Because of the far future dying Earth aspect of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Zothique is one of the other settings that I see many OSR dungeon masters drawing from. Setting in an alternative far future of Earth Zothique is a bleak, sardonic, & somewhat terrifying future dying Earth. As a setting it has a lot to offer an old school dungeon master. "The "Zothique Cycle" consists of sixteen completed short stories, a one-act play, and assorted incomplete story-fragments and story-sketches. The Tales of Zothique was also referenced in other mythos stories such as Derleth's Dwellers in Darkness and in Ramsey Campbell's The Tomb-Herd (an early version of The Church in High Street {published in Crypt of Cthulhu#43} )."
Clark Ashton Smith himself described the Zothique cycle in a letter to L. Sprague de Camp, dated November 3, 1953:

Zothique, vaguely suggested by Theosophic theories about past and future continents, is the last inhabited continent of earth. The continents of our present cycle have sunken, perhaps several times. Some have remained submerged; others have re-risen, partially, and re-arranged themselves. Zothique, as I conceive it, comprises Asia Minor, Arabia, Persia, India, parts of northern and eastern Africa, and much of the Indonesian archipelago. A new Australia exists somewhere to the south. To the west, there are only a few known islands, such as Naat, in which the black cannibals survive. To the north, are immense unexplored deserts; to the east, an immense unvoyaged sea. The peoples are mainly of Aryan or Semitic descent; but there is a negro kingdom (Ilcar) in the north-west; and scattered blacks are found throughout the other countries, mainly in palace-harems. In the southern islands survive vestiges of Indonesian or Malayan races. The science and machinery of our present civilization have long been forgotten, together with our present religions. But many gods are worshipped; and sorcery and demonism prevail again as in ancient days. Oars and sails alone are used by mariners. There are no fire-arms—only the bows, arrows, swords, javelins, etc. of antiquity. The chief language spoken (of which I have provided examples in an unpublished drama) is based on Indo-European roots and is highly inflected, like Sanskrit, Greek and Latin.
After reading through most of the appendix N material below for Zothique I've come to the conclusion many of these tales were wrought from Smith's own material pulled from deep within his dark & highly creative imagination. In fact even more so then H.P. Lovecraft as I get older I've come to appreciate the writings of Clark Ashton Smith even more.
  1. "Empire of the Necromancers" (Weird Tales, September 1932)
  2.  "The Isle of the Torturers" (Weird Tales, March 1933) — IT
  3.  "The Isle of the Torturers" (Weird Tales, March 1933) — IT
  4. "The Dark Eidolon" (Weird Tales, January 1935) — DE
  5.  "The Voyage of King Euvoran" (The Double Shadow and Other Fantasies, 1933; Weird Tales, September 1947 (abridged) as "The Quest of the Gazolba") — VE
  6.  "The Weaver in the Vault" (Weird Tales, January 1934) — WV
  7.  "The Tomb Spawn" (Weird Tales, May 1934) — TS
  8. "The Witchcraft of Ulua" (Weird Tales, February 1934) — WU
  9.  "Xeethra" (Weird Tales, December 1934) — X
  10.  "The Last Hieroglyph" (Weird Tales, April 1935) — LH
  11.  "Necromancy in Naat" (Weird Tales, July 1936) — NN
  12.  "The Black Abbot of Puthuum" (Weird Tales, March 1936)
  13.  "The Death of Ilalotha" (Weird Tales, September 1937) — DI
  14.  "The Garden of Adompha" (Weird Tales, April 1938) — GA
  15.  "The Master of the Crabs" (Weird Tales, March 1948) — MC
  16.  "Morthylla" (Weird Tales, May 1953) — M

    One of the most essential sources for Zothique is
    "The introduction to Tales of Zothique" by Clark Ashton Smith, edited by Will Murray and Steve Behrends, and published by Necronomicon Press. This piece dovetails nicely with the published D20 by  George Hager

All of this boils down to essential reading for both the Clark Ashton Smith fan & the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea dungeon master. Stay tuned because we've got more to come! For now I hope you make your saves and I'll try to get over this head cold. Cheers from Casa De Fabiaschi

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