Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Deconstructing & Using The Free OSR Adventure 'Wrack & Rune From Faster Monkey Games For Sword & Sorcery OSR Campaign Construction.

"It's a typical job: Go get the thing, bring it to the wizard. Of course, you should keep a few details in mind... like the thing is a three-ton statue... probably broken in pieces... and sunk to the bottom of Eel Bight, a dangerous bay haunted by thick fogs, Reef Devils, and a magic island full of kidnapping fairy-folk. Oh, and this wizard is in a hurry, so the reward drops every day. Other than that, no problem!"

Sometimes you've got to lean back into the classic modules & sometimes you begin looking around for something else. In this case I was talking with a friend of mine who blew into and then out of town this morning. I was wondering what else I might use as a stop gap Winter time module for my Old Earth campaign setting. His answer was inspired & interesting, he suggested Wrack & Rune from Faster Monkey Games.
The adventure by Jeff Sparks has the weirdness & definiteness of old school style writing but how adapabable is it to other settings?
Suddenly lower tier PC's are thrust into an alien environment where the clock is ticking & the DM is facing down some pretty hard pressed PC's. Since this module is set up for a ticking clock it requires a bit of imagination on the part of the DM but its got some solidly done encounters, the writing is tight, and everything centers around a plot that's not unfamiliar to fans of Sword & Sorcery style games.
There's a sense to Wrack & Rune that the whole adventure has room for a bit hook for all kinds of weird monsters, alien encounters, & some very dangerous factions from Clark Aston Smith's stories in this module.Maybe its the poetry aspect of this module or the fact that the adventure plays so well with its own world.

The module  is set in Faster Monkey Games’ Eastern Valnwell campaign setting, but there is nothing to stop the Dungeon master  from dropping it into his own campaign world. And this is one of its strengths. The other is that this one is for lower level PC's & it does a solid job of creating that sense of adventure to a certain extent foreboding. This module could be used to generate an entire campaign path.
This campaign adventure path might include the following classic TSR era as the fate of
the Lady Elaine might cross over into the classic U series, I'm of course speaking about the Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh series. Could the town, its events, horrors, and more all be connected with the evil alchemist of Saltmarsh? I think so even if the DM strings the material together with overlapping NPC's, a few treasures, and more.

'Desolate and abandoned, the evil alchemist's mansion stands alone on the cliff, looking out towards the sea. Mysterious lights and ghostly hauntings have kept away the people of Saltmarsh, despite rumors of fabulous forgotten treasure. What is its sinister secret?'
'The module serves as the introduction to an underwater campaign set in the town of Saltmarsh, which the DM can design from the guidelines provided' This basically means that Sinister Secret becomes linked up with 'Wrack & Rune' can be placed on the 'Old Earth' setting or as an adventure that has certain elements  replaced by the alieness & strangeness of the pulpy flare of Smith's Zothique cycle. This puts the wizard into a desperate & rather dangerous light where the PC's are unsure of his motives as well as the place in his schemes within Wrack & Rune. Certain other elements of the module could be used as 'call back' elements as events overlap with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea's Port Greely. 
Be careful because lower level PC's are going to be slaughtered by certain horrors of Port Greely. Hence taking them through the U series first before attempting to jump aboard the over arching horrors of Port Greely. 

So what does all of this mean? Well it puts the PC's squarely in the center of an underwater campaign setting that can be shifted over to a salvage, piracy, or weird fantasy campaign with little issue. Its this 'Weird Tales' old school aspect that takes the PC's up the ladder of campaign play that places this one firmly into the old school court. The events of the 'U' series have a further twist to it. 'The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh can be played by five to ten characters of 1st–3rd levels.' Five to ten players are the perfect number to set up a salvage, pirate, or exploratory company.
There are ten reasons why this sort of a campaign works:
  1. Ships are a mobile home base and provide the players & the DM with ready made plot hook into itself. 
  2. Sea adventures are cool and can be made to work a jaded group of players in completely different directions of thought and play. 
  3. Dungeons & ruins take on a whole other aspect and the range of monsters increases by order.
  4. All of the upkeep for a ship eats gold like candy giving the DM the perfect treasure siphon. The PC's are broke always looking for adventure. 
  5. There are nasty and dangerous things under the sea, the DM giveth and monsters can taketh the  ship which can become an entire campaign goal arch itself. 
  6. Weird Tales under sea adventure locations 
  7. Under water cave complexes are cool. 
  8. Sea based cults appear again and again across Appendix 'N' literature. They make excellent enemies. 
  9. Many treasures are found underwater leading to more opportunities for more adventure. 
  10. Sea monsters are some of the most dangerous foes a party of adventurers can face.

With a bit of work this style of campaign the PC's could set sail for a upper level campaign in this style of campaign and you want to add in a bit more gonzo then the Battle For The Purple Islands by Venger Satanis Kickstarter is wrapping up soon. But the purple islands have plethora of old school gonzo elements that can warp or add to such a campaign depending on what you want to do.

Approaching Wrack & Rune from a whole other end might mean busting out your old B/X expert copy of Isle of Dread.

There are some really good solid lead ins & weird tales potential cross over ideas for Wrack & Rune. The feel is really well done and works well to sustain both adventures. The PC's are not going to know what's hit them. There's some great crossover potential there to really bring home some of the lost world and pulpy elements of both adventures. Wrack & Rune has a ton of great ideas hidden in its pages.

You Can Download
Wrack & Rune For Free Here!

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