Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Campaign OSR Commentary - Dark Albion & Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaign Building

So after the other day's Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea run through of Vault of the Dwarven King  From   Maximum Mayhem Dungeons  
It got me thinking about Dark Albion & DA's Cults of Chaos because of the isolated elements of the campaign. Let me explain, of course Dark Albion's central theme is the War of the Rose and all of the campaign events  revolve around that historical conflict. But that's not the only resources within the game. For a D&D sword & sorcery based campaign with a variety of technological levels there's lots of resources to focus on.

Part of what Dark Albion strengths are is that the books focus on  other nation states 
governments, religions, with a coherent take on magic,peoples, various technologies & warfare as well as adventure locations throughout the world of Albion. These same gaming concepts & ideas mesh very well with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers as well as classic D&D style campaigns such as Greyhawk Its one of the reasons why I love Dark Albion as a tool box for running AD&D modules. The sum is greater then the parts or two great tastes that taste great together.

Another thing I've found that works is that Cults of Chaos represents the slow steady corruption of the Lovecraft mythos nicely. This isn't the PC killing/sanity wear down that Call of Cthulhu represents at all. This is the slow steady slide into the corruption & chaos that the Mythos portrays  in the Lovecraft/Clark Ashton Smith stories. Its also something that I feels comes closer to some of the weirdness that we've seen in the AD&D 1st edition  modules such as Dwellers In The Forbidden City & the like.

'Old Earth' & 'Old Solar System' is my take on the future of a Smith/Lovecraft campaign in which the stars have almost but not quite come right. Mankind has reached the planets and the outer worlds, many conflicts have happened & the continents have shifted. The world has mostly returned to a medieval style world with punctuation of high super science here & there. The Hyperboreans, Atlanteans, and many others have returned to the world. My main system has been Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea and that's what I'm sticking with.
Dark Albion & Cults of Chaos has many sets of tools that allow a DM to make interesting decisions when it comes to cults, the infernal, the weird, and put it in a down to Earth way at the table that makes sense to modern 2017/18 players.

There are several reasons why over all this works for the over all scheme of the campaign:
  1. Settlements are quickly and easily generated with social standing as well as some interesting background details. 
  2. The inclusion of the demons, demonic magick, and guidelines make for an interesting variation.  
  3. The inclusion of the inquisition gives some weight to the paladins & knights of AS&SH. This also means that an inquisition campaign could actually be run in AS&SH by porting over some of Dark Albion's setting details. 
  4. The background information on other countries and lands gives some really nasty turns and surprises to players. 
  5. The DA's take on chaos is far more corrupting and insidious then at first it seems. In action it really takes adventure events in a slightly sideways direction for PC's.
  6. Classic D&D & AD&D modules can be modified with DA to produce newer playing experiences for the most jaded players. 
  7. Parties of explorers from the realms of DA could challenge or even cause all kinds of havoc for PC's. 
  8. The inclusion of some of the magical elements of DA could be used to give 'nature cults' such as druids some actual teeth in a traditional Sword & Sorcery setting. 
  9. Witches really get a boost up in this sort of a mix of game elements with Dark Albion & AS&SH. 
  10. Players might not see this mix coming but Dark Albion & AS&SH work well as one/two punch for really fleshing out certain campaign elements. I've had lots of success mixing the two over the last couple of years.

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