Friday, September 1, 2017

Clark Ashton Smith's 'Forbidden Planet' Movie Connections To The 'Old Solar System' Campaign Setting

Out on the outer edges of the 'Old Solar System' are the more forbidding worlds of the system. These worlds are ones where mankind is the trespasser or the late comer. This is something that seems to echo through the original  Star Trek series & the cult classic sci fi film Forbidden Planet.

Again this is something that we see in the Clark Ashton Smith "Captain Volmar" sequence with his icy Captain Volmar dishing out his justice to a crew ready to mutiny. There's also a sense to these stories that we are actually seeing a life expectancy of red shirts from Star Trek in these stories.
"I'm going to put you fellows off on the first world of the first planetary system we come to."
The icy deliberation of Captain Volmar's tones was more terrible than any show of anger would have been. His eyes were chill and sharp as the sapphire lights in snow; and there was a fanatic rigor in the tightening of his lips after the curtly spoken words.

There's a sense to the "Captain Volmar" story, "The Amazing Planet", which took the cover of the Summer 1931 issue of Wonder Stories Quarterly.  That mankind is really the late comers to the interstellar stage and these stories taken with his The Plutonian Drug by Clark Ashton Smith reveal that something very weird has happened to the Mi Go. Their not around anymore in the local star system. They've left the solar system lock stock and brain cylinders and its my theory that they moved their whole base ala the Puppeteer planet in Larry Niven's Ring World series. Sure there are few odds, ends, & relics that they've left behind but they've bugged out. Sure there are still the warrior cast, the middle management brain bugs, & a few queens here & there as revealed in the "The Whisperer in Darkness" (1931).

But over all the Mi Go as a whole are no longer around Pluto or the former Yuggothian colonies. They know something big is coming and they've moved on. Because their sacred to Hastur, Nyarlathotep, and other Great Old Ones. But there numerous other void such as colonies of   the star-spawn of Cthulhu, the Great Race of Yith, and the elder things not to mention the 'Martians' from HG Wells War of the Worlds.

So what does this mean for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea? Well actually quite a bit. The implications are that the far future of AS&SH is a very busy place where the Hyperboreans have come back to a mankind whose used to dealing with some of the hellish things from the void. There's also the Martian rebellions that are briefly outlined in CAS's Adventures in Futurity. But that particular story foreshadows the return of the Atlantians, Hyperboreans, etc. as highlighted in H.P.Lovecraft's The Mound. We get a feel for the weirdness of the Saturn in  Clark Ashton Smith's The Door Into Saturn. The alien ecology, odd Lovecraftian entities, & the utter remoteness of Cykranosh."He turned to see what manner of creature had flung the shadow. This being, he perceived, was not easy to classify, with its ludicrously short legs, its exceedingly elongated arms, and its round, sleepy-looking head that was pendulous from a spherical body, as if it were turning a somnambulistic somersault. But after he had studied it a while and had noted its furriness and somnolent expression, he began to see a vague though inverted likeness to the god Zhothaqquah. And remembering how Zhothaqquah had said the form assumed by himself on Earth was not altogether that which he had worn in Cykranosh, Eibon now wondered if this entity was one of Zhothaqquah's relatives.
—Clark Aston Smith, "The Door to Saturn""
Mankind is going to be dealing with such Great Old Ones as Atlach-Nacha , Tsathoggua (Zhothaqquah), and even perhaps Tsathoggua's paternal uncle, Hziulquoigmnzhah.

We get some of our answers in Clark Ashton Smith's Amazing Planet story in

Wonder Stories Quarterly v02n04 (1931 Summer)


Forget the lower tier weaponry, out here your going to need a serviceable blaster that does 2d6+2 points of damage with a range of  60 feet or more. They have charges of 1d20 shots when found and run about 30,000 gold pieces each.

The second most common weapon used by the human colonists is the blaster rifle of the Human Collective. Manufactured by armorers from a hundred colonies these weapons do 3d6+2 points of damage & have a 1d30 shot capacity with a range of 200 foot or better depending upon planetary conditions.
After encountering Elder Things and shoggoths on both their colonies of Neptune & 
the triple star system (with a yellow, red, and blue star) located "between Hydra and Argo Navis"

Elder Thing by  Віщун -

But these were the least of the horrors encountered by mankind who stumbled upon the remains of other weird horrors such as those in   Leigh Brackett's Thralls of the Endless Night & Marooned On Io. Out in the depths of space are the ruins & remains of the Hyperborean empires that have fallen into rot because the interstellar infrastructure has completely disappeared. This is one of the reasons why the life expectancy  of adventurers, outlaws, and others out in the solar system is so high. The Old Solar System is a dangerous place & we get hints of this sort of vibe from the classic Forbidden Planet where crew members of the C-57D fall like a kid's wooden blocks. But this doesn't mean that the Old Solar System isn't a great place to adventure.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind for an old school dungeon master looking at Clark Ashton Smith's novellas & stories :

  1. The hero & his party of adventurers & hirelings go on a few side quests before achieving their goals in many CAS stories.
  2. Scattered all throughout CAS's novels are the remains of the worlds before the gods. This is something that echoes throughout his novels. The feeling that there was 'a world before' We are merely a part of that cycle.
  3. The prison of Old Ones at the edge of the solar system  is a  pure dungeon crawl & has many classic elements of an old school adventure including a guardian monster and much more.
  4. There are other echoes of earlier Lovecraftian  mythological novels  such as Lord Dunsany scattered throughout the CAS material
  5.   Xeethra, a goatherd of Cincoris a perfect pure bard,r NPC & his characteratazion makes an excellent reference for old school DM's from Xeethra by Clark Ashton Smith
  6. The interaction between the gods and humans in the Door Into Saturn  is fickle at best and downright dangerous at worst. This sort of interaction might be typical for human and alien  interactions. 
  7. There is treasure just sitting around several of CAS's adventure locations and this could lead a party of adventurers to follow the trails blazed by various CAS heroes   
  8. Cthulhu  isn't the only monster that the gods have imprisoned. There's a bunch of horrors implied by the CAS novels  but never seen. 
  9. There isn't much back story given to several of CAS's characters. Could a relative of  the PC's have been one of the Great Old Ones victims? This might make for a good side quest. 
  10. The gods make several references to the moves of other humans on their chess boards within the Hyperborea cycles. Could these be the PC's interfering in the plans of the gods?
 This post is not an attempt to violate the trade mark or copy right of the film Forbidden Planet. The contents of this post are for entertainment & educational purposes only all writings are the copyright and trade mark of Dark Corner productions. Photos blaster and blaster rifle photos are used without permission & are for reference only the copy right and trade mark belong to their holders.

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