Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Deeper Lovecraftian Commentary On The AD&D Adventure Module C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan For Your Old School Campaigns

I've been down for the count with a brutal head cold for several weeks now which I caught from my wife to be coming in from Heathrow. Today I put her on a bus back to New York City and a flight for the U.K. again but we managed to see Alien Covenant.  It reminded me of this post on C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan.

Alien Covenent is an interesting bridge gap between Prometheus & the first Alien film. There were several things that got my old school dungeon master's gears turning about the film. It left more questions then answers. But that's a blog post for another time.

The central character axis  of Alien Covenant is of course David who actually reminds me of HG Wells  
Doctor Moreau from the classic H.G.Wells novel The Island of Doctor Moreau. In fact Alien Covenant reminds me of Wells comments on his own novel;" Wells described the novel as "an exercise in youthful blasphemy"" In fact the novel The Island of Doctor Moreau has many of the same themes as Alien Covenant;"The novel deals with a number of philosophical themes, including pain and cruelty, moral responsibility, human identity, and human interference with nature."

So what does all of this have to do with the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan?  Not only are there parallels between both the film & H.G. Wells novel but there is also a twist with this old school competition adventure. "The player characters explore a stepped pyramid deep in the heart of a tropical jungle—the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan.[4] The characters must penetrate this Mayan-style temple, which is full of tricks and traps.[2] Some of the traps include cursed items, firebombs, and triggered statues." This hidden pyramid complex in the jungle is a prime example of survival of the fittist in miniature maintained by the Olman people. ""Shrine" introduces the ancient Olman people of Greyhawk, based on the Aztec, Mayan, and Toltec peoples of Earth. This was probably the first meaningful expansion of Greyhawk by anyone other than Gary Gygax or Rob Kuntz.
There's also a peculiar connection in C1 to a later Greyhawk adventure. Room 19 of "Shrine" contains a figurine of a spaceship called the "II-Nedraw." Since the ship that crashed in S3: "Expedition to Barrier Peaks" (1980) was based on the Warden from Metamorphosis Alpha (1976), this could suggest a connection between that spaceship and the Tamoachan ruins. But it's probably just a fun easter egg."
Yeah probably just a fun Easter egg umm no I don't think so because this pyramid temple introduces on of the most dangerous Lovecraftian monsters ever the Shoggoth. ERrmm  I mean the Gibbering Mouther or do I?
I've stated before about how the  Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan is a perfect ancient lab facility for PC's to stumble into but who really set it up? Could this be one of the hidden sinks of evil that Adventurer, Conqueror, King talks about? I not only thinks so but I think that the Olman people were not the originators of the Hidden Shrine.  Just as the Engineers are not the creators of humanity or the Aliens
The question becomes whose actually behind the operation of the Hidden Shrine today?

The Oldmans are actually the caretakers of the holy knowledge of the shrine and instead inside it possibly in some hidden room or headquarter location is the owners of the shrine - The Elder Things.  The Oldmans have been refining, experimenting, & creating variations of Shoggoths for centuries playing Vivamancer
They've been emulating the 'holy work' of their progenitors for so many centuries that now they've created a PC class shoggoth for some alien purpose.   What does this all mean? Well there is far more going on below the surface then the simple grab the treasure & explore the ruin narrative here.

Not only is the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan a dangerous module for PC's but its an engine of monster creation & campaign axis point for Lovecraftian mythos weirdness in a campaign. Because those who survive the trials of the 'gods' are worthy to become a blessed Gibbering Mouther PC or NPC class to add another wrinkle to layer cake that is C1.The reasons for this are built right into the ACK's rules where wizardly cross breeding ala OD&D is the norm & rule. This brings the question into focus whose 'David' in C1 the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan & whose benefiting from the operations of the temple? Whose getting that sweet divine nectar from the continued operation of the pyramid complex? If the Shrine is on Hyperborea then are the Elder Things still in charge & how many years have they been using the Olman people as cultists & operative?

Ten Lovecraftian Old School Tie Ins for C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
  1. As an adventure location its a nasty & legendary place that can be used again and again to challenge the higher level fools erm adventurers for treasure and fame. There should be a dangerous and sanity blasting under current to the place. 
  2. The legendary status of the Shrine should be used to tease everything dark and dangerous about the cults of the Olmans. This could be used as a motivator for artifacts or treasure within a game setting. 
  3. C1 could be its own engine of horror churning out forbidden artifacts or treasure as an engine of Lovecraftian mythos divinity.
  4. Hyperborea needs several such locations as stop gaps for the kinds of horror that these monsters & cults offer. 
  5. There is a wide variety of horror that C1 can be used for and its a perfect Raiders of the Lost Artifacts adventure setting.
  6. Sword & Sorcery needs more hidden pulpy temples & shrines this adventure makes a perfect location for horrid cult of the Olmans. 
  7. Several Lovecraft connections can be made to other AD&D settings using C1. This means that lures, adventure hooks, and more can be interwoven between old school campaign settings. 
  8. The world always needs more Shoggoths 
  9. Several of the Olman artifacts can be used to tie into the world of Adventurer, Conqueror, King 
  10. C1 could be operating for hundreds of years causing all kinds of Lovecraftian cult mayhem in your campaign causing an expedition to this horrid jungle location.

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