Monday, October 30, 2017

New OSR Monster - Giant Alien Skeleton Warriors For Your Old School Campaigns

" "Did you hear that?", The city guard captain spoke quietly to his fellow guardsmen
"Hear what?", the second guard had only seen something out of the corner of his eye for a moment.
'I don't know it sounded like wings or something',the captain was skeptical at best.
That's when the first skull faced freak mounted the wall & blew a cloud of candy coloured gas into the city guard's face!
The guard never had a chance to scream as the gas hardened into a glass like candy consistence on the pool fool's face!
That's when the city guard  heard a series of ram's horns blasts & then the screaming started!
The city itself only had but moments to live as the invasion had begun!
In the distance another ram's horn sounded!"

Photo shamelessly stolen from They might be Gazebos blog!
Each year they awaken at the edges of reality, giant alien skeletons of a long forgotten race by gone age entombed with enchanted weapons. These horrors hunger for violence & murder of the living. They come back to reign pumpkin spiced laced violence down upon the heads of adventurers! Lead by a winged skeleton champion these strange skeleton warriors are often found in dungeons guarding treasures or carrying out the instructions of necromancers of the Dread Pumpkin order!

Giant Alien Skeleton Warriors 

Frequency: Rare 
No Appearing 1d6 
Armor Class: 7 
Movement: 12 " 
Hit Dice:4 
% in Lair: 80% 
Treasure Type:B 
No Attacks: 2 
Damage/Attack: 1-6 or by weapon 
Special Attacks: Breath Weapon 
Spell Defenses: Can Only Be Hit By Enchanted Weapons
Stinking Pumpkin Cloud 
Magic Resistance: Standard 
Intelligence: Low but evilly cunning 
Alignment: Chaotic Evil 
Size: L 
Psionic Ability: Nil 
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil 
Level & XP Value: 11/36 per hit point
Where these foul alien undead come from is not certain but necromancers of the Dread Pumpkin order each year summon these foul undead spawn from the deepest corners of the negative material plane or the plane of Shadow each year.These foul beings are three times the size of normal undead but have all of the usual immunities.
Giant Alien Skeleton Warriors are always led by a winged skeleton champion & its aide a being who always carries a horn of summoning. These two beings are always double hit points & the winged champion can fly ( the champion is always a class 'C' flyer at best).
Giant Alien Skeleton Warriors will release a stinking cloud of pumpkin spice before going into battle or during as a defense mechanism. The cloud has a twenty foot radius causing all who breath it to save vs poison or spend the next 1d4 hours gagging & coughing. This attack can be used three times per day. 

The Giant Alien Skeletons also can twice per day breath out within a ten foot radius a sugar coated cloud of candy crystal. The target mus save vs poison or be covered in a fine coating of hot sugary goodness. This is often done in the eyes or mouth of the victims acting with the same effects as a  'silence' spell in addition to acting as a choking hazard!

But this isn't all in addition to carrying an enchanted weapon able to hit victims not effected by normal weapons. These skeleton warriors who take more then six points damage from ordinary weapons will seemingly fall to the ground. It will rise up on the next round to continue the melee! Those who see this with the undead horror must save vs fear or flee in panic.

Giant Alien Skeleton Warriors are often found guarding ancient hoards of treasure that they were summoned to centuries ago. The spells & enchantments bind them to their duties. Other times necromatic cults belonging to the order of the Dread Pumpkin summons hoards of these monsters to raid cities and other areas. There are rumors of them being found with the wrecks of certain alien space craft.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

1d7 Random Scared Martian Treasures of Vultoom Table For Your Old School Campaigns

"Beneath the shifting red sands the ancient life stirs once again.The birth of an alien world right in Earth's back yard was both unexpected & horrific! Brand new life forms not seen in a thousand years once again roamed the red sands of ancient Mars! What treasures & horrors were unleashed? A new 'gold rush' has broken upon the fertile sands of Mars but this is no unguarded world. Old horrors & terrors have creeped back into the light of the red bloated sun of Earth! "

"At a time when your ancestors were still the blood-brothers of the ape, I fled from my own world to this intercosmic exile, banished by implacable foes. The Martians say that I fell from heaven like a fiery meteor; and the myth interprets the descent of my ether-ship. I found a matured civilization, immensely inferior, however, to that from which I came.
"The kings and hierarchs of the planet would have driven me away; but I gathered a few adherents, arming them with weapons superior to those of Martian science; and after a great war, I established myself firmly and gained other followers. I did not care to conquer Mars, but withdrew to this cavern-world in which I have dwelt ever since with my adherents. On these, for their faithfulness, I conferred a longevity that is almost equal to my own. To ensure this longevity, I have also given them the gift of a slumber corresponding to mine. They sleep and wake with me.
"We have maintained this order of existence for many ages. Seldom have I meddled in the doings of the surface-dwellers. They, however, have converted me into an evil god or spirit; though evil, to me, is a word without meaning.
"I am the possessor of many senses and faculties unknown to you or to the Martians. My perceptions, at will, can be extended over large areas of space, or even time. Thus I learned your predicament; and I have called you here with the hope of obtaining your consent to a certain plan. To be brief, I have grown weary of Mars, a senile world that draws near to death; and I wish to establish myself in a younger planet. The Earth would serve my purpose well. Even now, my followers are building the new ether-ship in which I propose to make the voyage."
The ancient war has started again, Vultoom has awoken and sent his treasures out into the solar system. Those who spread his 'word' scatter 'his' artifacts throughout the dimensions spreading his presence as they go. Scattered Martian priests & clerics have also awoken at the same time treading their way across the 'Old Solar' system warning of his coming armies. Outlaws & adventurers fools that they be pick up, use, spread, and convert to the ways of the ancient alien Martian 'god'. Here are only a sampling of some of the sacred & dangerous wares of the old god.

1d20 Random Scared Martian Treasures of Vultoom
  1.  Shaped bark Paste  of the Loops Trees - This strange half fossilized bark can be broken down & ground into a paste of alchemical properties. The bark heals 1d8 points of damage & can restore 1d20 years of youth to a user. Worth 67,000 gold pieces 
  2.  Amulet of Vultoom - A lead like metal amulet that glows with the scared life giving energies of the 'Old One' it will cause plants & animals to grow to three or four times their normal size. Worth 70,000 gold pieces. 
  3. Seeds of the Ancient Ones - Grows 1d20 lost alien Martian species of plants with weird properties. Often used to mark the bounds of the cult of the Old Ones of Mars. These plants have the property of threading & creating neural networks through the minds of those that inhale their spores. Victims become followers of Vultoom and carry his word & gospel to the masses. These seeds can also yield 1d8 life bearing fruits that will restore 1d7 hit points to their users. 
  4. Wrist bracer weapons of Vultoom - A living Martian plant cross bow like weapon system worn on the wrist that does 2d6 points of damage as it projects a ball of plasma within a 30 foot radius of the user. The thing has only five shot a day and anyone wearing them is identified as belonging to the plant god thing. 
  5. Dog Seeds - These seeds will sprout 1d6 six legged dog things of Vultoom within sixty minutes. AC 5 Hit Points 7 Damage 1d6 +3 which are under the command of the owner for 1d6 months. These seeds are often found in the desert temples of Vultoom. Worth 60,000 gold pieces for one of these pieces
  6.  Vases of Valus The Wise - These vases contain the distilled essence of one of the greatest of Vultooms Martian teachers Valus The Wise. They are sought out by druids & the like for they add 3 points of wisdom to the minds of those who inhale the 'sacred spores' gaining a portion of the alien mind of the ancient wise man in all matters of gardening, herbalism, and botany. 
  7. Runner Shelters - These strange alien plant like biomechanical structures are contained in a weird plant like base that sprouts into a temporary shelter with 1d8 pieces of 'food', running water, & the place will protect the owner from adverse conditions, the elements, and provide 1d8 beds. Within 1d8 months after activation the 'Runner shelter' will grow into a fully formed temple of Vultoom. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

OSR Adventure Commentary On The Undead Horrors Of CM2 Death's Ride B/X Basic By Garry Spiegle

"A King's Commission leads to danger!
All communication with the barony of Twolakes Vale has ceased. King Ericall, worried about the security of his border and angered at the loss of tax revenues, has commissioned you, a delegation of powerful adventurers, to investigate. This is not a petty problem to by solved by the armies of local nobility. Indeed, the king's forces are desperately needed elsewhere. Twolakes Vale is, after all, only a small barony on the far frontier of Ericall's domain.
And yet? The cloud is there, its nature and cause unknown. None have returned for the barony for weeks. Furthermore, the cloud is spreading, and vague reports of unrest and mysterious disappearances are starting to trickle in from nearby baronies.

Can you discover the secret of Two Lakes Vale?"So I was at the local shooting range target shooting today with Steve after which we went to a local brew house to talk about his Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition campaign & my modifications to Garry Spiegle  high level B/X adventure CM2 Death's Ride for characters levels 15-20.
"Death's Ride (ISBN 978-0-88038-117-8) is a 1984 adventure module for the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. Its associated code is CM2. The module was designed by Garry Spiegle, with cover and interior art by Jeff Easley."

Its been a long dark ride since two thousand & fifteen folks, two years have passed & there's a lot of blood under the bridge so to speak. Its been a long while since I've cracked this bad boy open & began to modify it out. Sword & Sorcery is a tricky beast at best & one of the tricks is keeping the players interested when they get to higher levels. This is a weird beast of a B/X module & it requires a bit of a light touch to DM. But it requires a heavy hand to run. For my part I'm going to be running this using two resources one is the Adventurer, Conqueror, King Rpg system & mixing it up with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Second edition as the campaign setting. ACK's is going to actually be powering this CM2 Death's Ride for a few reasons. One ACK's handles CM2's wargaming aspects better then AS&SH, two the there are several monsters, spells, etc. which are readily available in ACK's, & three CM2 is a perfect Halloween adventure. Death's Ride has an extensive area to D&D DYI in & it's one of the adventures that really allows the necromancer class to become 'the Swiss Army Knife villain' they were meant to be.

Since the barony is cut off from the rest of Hyperborea its possible to run this as if a mist from the Outer Darkness has infected the land. Steve was telling me about using the plane of Shadow as a sort of planar shadow cast by the sphere of Entropy. This was something that we had talked about doing about nine months ago. He also brought me a present in the form of ACK's Encounters & Lairs but that's blog entry for another time. CM2 Death's Ride features lots of 'new' for the time necromantic monsters & situations. Because of the layout and ideas in CM2 its possible that the  The Barony of Two Lakes Vale might have been the sight of some of the nastiest fighting between the Hyperboreans & the humans of the area.
"Mmatmuor and Sodosma were necromancers who came from the dark isle of Naat, to practise their baleful arts in Tinarath, beyond the shrunken seas. But they did not prosper in Tinarath: for death was deemed a holy thing by the people of that gray country; and the nothingness of the tomb was not lightly to be desecrated; and the raising up of the dead by necromancy was held in abomination."

So why I'm I saying this because the stench of undeath reeks throughout the entire module. The cloud, the zombies, 'the Death Portal' are all things that are going to require the DM to scale the adventure to the PC's levels & abilities. Done correctly and this module could be used as a across point between PC's & post apocalyptic game making this a perfect module to marry up with 'a  Night of the Living Dead ' movie style mini adventure.
Now wait before you tar & feather me to ride me out of town on a D20. B/X dungeons & Dragons which ACK's is based on easily crosses over with the damage thresholds of both Gamma World first & second edition as well as Mutant Future.

When you start to look at the possibilities of what might have happened within 'The Barony of Two Lakes Vale' its easy to see that a crossover with 'Old Earth' is possible. The entire region might be infected with 'ghoul plague' or the weird radiations possibly left over from the war machines of the Hyperboreas. Ulslime, Wazor and Korbundar are taking advantage of this fact & exploiting the Hell out of it. This whole region might have sinks of evil & ruins that serve as necromantic cult cell holdings. PC's taking over these areas are going to have to deal with repeat infections & the horrors of the undead as long their rulers here.

To pull this style of Halloween game off there's several things that are going to weight heavily on the dungeon master. He's going to have to put in the time to modify out the module to his or her specifications. Don't be afraid to spread in some science fantasy artifacts, there should be hints of other dungeons & ruins, wizards from across the planes might become a problem. Add in and expand upon the alien nature of the adventure. Think of this adventure as another stepping stone of getting the PC's to have some fun with this.

Portals, planes, a bit of dimension hopping can add into the unpredictability of running CM2 Death's Ride as part horror adventure, war gaming, & part dungeon/wilderness crawl. This is going to give CM2 a very unpredictable edge to its handling of a possible campaign mini adventure run.  Its also possible to flip this whole idea on its ear and then have the
'The Barony of Two Lakes Vale' be someplace that crosses over with the Shadow plane with its undead menaces almost but not quite being a Stranger Things style series of encounters. Just because the PC's stop the Death Portal doesn't mean that the undead horror goes away. They might be encountering them for ages to come as different necrotic cult cells try to open the doorway for more weirdness.
And here's where events, necrotic cults, & more can be tied into Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique series as a setting or Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerer's Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes where the
in the depths of Diamond Desert lie the skeletal remains of Ymir’s Serpent, a legendary Viking longship.

Sometimes claiming the domain isn't as simple as defeating an enemy, sometimes undying enemies have a way of turning up again & again. We'll get into how next time folks!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Brand New OSR Monster - The Rip Floater For Your Old School Campaigns

The party crawled along the cold, dead grey hallways of the alien tomb. Sullen Moc Ta 'the Decedent One' watched the warriors with concern. 'Fascinating' was all his parchment like thick lips whispered looking at the Neshligeer carvings that covered every inch of the giant alien tomb.
'Would please stop saying that?' Volo Draxen the warrior from Cor asked. You'll alert every damn thing within a hundred yards of here. The sound carries in these old tombs old friend.
And that's when the screaming started in back of them from Rus The Executor's position.
'Seems as if he was executed', was all the wizard managed before the second of the Rip Floaters came down.
Then on Que the screaming & electrical sparks started!

Rip Floater(Neshligeer)
Frequency: Rare
No Appearing:1d4
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 4+1
% in Lair:10%
Treasure Type: G
No of Attacks:2
Damage: 1-4 & 1d12 (special)
Special Attacks: Gaze of Confusion, Decapitation Attack, Chain Lightning, Planeshift (Ethereal/Astral)
Special Defenses: Immune to all electrical type attacks
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Animal to Very (See below)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Size Large: 12 foot sphere but capable of shrinking down to a 6 inch fleshy ball.
Psionic Abilities: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes:Nil
Level/XP Value: 4/830

Rip Floaters (Neshligeer) are a notoriously malevolent species created over twelve thousand years ago by a long dead alien intelligence from human genetic material & cuttle fish genes. They resemble a gas filled bag of alien organs partially encased within a segmented carapace. Their inner, highly-magnetic nervous tissues use the magnetic planes & poles of planets to float or hover, as well as to manipulate levers, push buttons, and even operate complex machinery when their intelligence will allow it.

The intelligence of a Rip Floater waxes and wanes over the course of 1d6 months, ranging from insanely hostile beasts who attack without thinking, to hyper-intellectual beings with a fondness for alien poetry, forbidden mythology, and passion for learning. This will fade after 1d6 months by which time the rip floater must find more victims or its intelligence will begin to fade back down to a savage animal like state. It is for this reason that Rip Floaters seek out suitable victims to take their brains either to stave off their seeming inevitable intellectual decline or to regain their mental greatness.

Rip Floaters possess the innate ability to cast a Confusion spell up to three times per day upon any being within a twenty foot radius. The victim must make a save vs spells saving throw or be subject to a jarring and cosmic revelation; a massive influx of sanity-rending revelations of the true nature of the universe of their place within the cosmic landscape. On a failed Save the victim can do nothing but stand frozen to the spot as the cosmic revelations pour into their minds and souls. The Rip Floater will then hover over the victim and extrude a mouth-appendage equipped with hundreds of sharp teeth and attempt to decapitate its victim, striking for 1d12 points of acidic damage. Once they have latched onto a victim, the Rip Floater continues to roll to hit—anything below a natural 18 yields normal damage, while a roll of 18 or 19 results in double damage and a natural 20 means that they have successfully decapitated their victim. Should the victim’s head be absorbed, the flesh is stripped away by these powerful acids and the brain absorbed into the creature, rendering the victim impossible to revive or recover except through Regeneration, Divine Intervention or a Wish spell.

Anyone attempting to attack the Rip Floater during the decapitation process will be subject to painful nerve-rending electrical attacks. When it has absorbed more than two human or near-human heads the monster will begin to use Chain Lighting attacks up to four times per day, within a 40 foot radius.

Rip Floaters are capable of shrinking their body down to fleshy balls roughly six inches in diameter, allowing them to maneuver through tight spaces when so desired.

They also have the innate ability to go out of phase by entering the ethereal or astral plane up to three times per day, but prefer to reserve such excursions for reproduction liaisons or sorcerous training which most only engage in six to eight times in their lives.

Rip Floaters have been encountered within various alien ruins and weird dungeons on harsh desert worlds and the frozen moons of high-yield energy gas giants. They also show up disturbingly often around wrecked space ships. They seem utterly fascinated by abandoned space hulks, ruined habitats, and crashed starcraft in particular.

The Nelashtil believe the Rip Floaters to be a decadent off-shoot of their species, but there are those who hold that the Nelashtil are actually mutants descended from the Rip Floaters, possibly as the result of even more gene-meddling by one or more of the Greater Powers.

These creatures have been known to trade victims for forbidden pieces of sorcerous lore or alien poetry of the highest caliber. They are particularly fond of absorbing the heads of bards, priests, and wizardly scoundrels who have broken the taboos of their societies.

Rip Floaters love to blend into wizard guilds and various clerical institutions through florid letter writing and extensive social camouflage with the use of correspondence. They have also been known to use victims whose minds are reprogrammed through delicate magnetic surgery to act as the floater's agents in such places.

It has been speculated among certain alien necromancers and necrotic wizards that Rip Floaters have had their souls trapped inside their eternally living flesh as a sort of living Hell by some long dead race. This may be behind the rumor that these things cannot be resurrected by any of the normal methods.

There are rumors of Rip Floaters keeping twenty or more librarians prisoner in order to use them as living computers after the monsters have reprogrammed their victim's minds to serve them. The poor fools become storage units for alien poetry, forbidden texts, odd sexual & biological texts, and anything else the Rip Floater finds “interesting.”

1d6 Rip Floaters Rumors Table
  1. The Rip Floaters have an organ that is able to grant a cosmic awareness to those who consume it. 
  2. Rip Floaters are actually the true children of the Gods & favored by those gods who would bless their children and worshipers sacred knowledge. 
  3. They are the true children of Hell and damnation, all trace of them must be oblierated from the universe lest the demon god's knowledge escape into the universe. 
  4. Rip Floater brains contain the secret to thousands of vaults of lost knowledge. 
  5. There are seven arch Rip Floaters whose power is equal to the cosmic gods of knowledge. 
  6. Rip Floaters loath humans & seek out places of treasure to consume more of the knowledge of the race to better understand their enemies!

'Art copyright 2017 Garrisonjames. Used by permission..'
Rip Floater@ copyright & trade mark Dark Corner Productions 2017

OSR Commentary On The Bat Wings of I6 Ravenloft By Tracy & Laura Hickman For Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition & Your Old School Campaigns

"Under raging stormclouds, a lone figure stands silhouetted against the ancient walls of castle Ravenloft. Count Strahd von Zarovich stares down a sheer cliff at the village below. A cold, bitter wind spins dead leaves around him, billowing his cape in the darkness. Lightning splits the clouds overhead, casting stark white light across him. Strahd turns to the sky, revealing the angular muscles of his face and hands. He has a look of power - and of madness. His once-handsome face is contorted by a tragedy darker than the night itself.

Rumbling thunder pounds the castle spires. The wind's howling increases as Strahd turns his gaze back to the village. Far below, yet not beyond his keen eyesight, a party of adventurers has just entered his domain. Strahd's face forms a twisted smile as his dark plan unfolds. He knew they were coming, and he knows why they came - all according to his plan. He, the master of Ravenloft, will attend to them.

Another lightning flash rips through the darkness, its thunder echoing through the castle's towers. But Strahd is gone. Only the howling of the wind - or perhaps a lone wolf - fills the midnight air. The master of Ravenloft is having guests for dinner. And you are invited."

I've been doing another thought excercise today about I6 Ravenloft module, this is one of my all time favorites. "I6: "Ravenloft," by Tracy and Laura Hickman, is the sixth module in the long-running Intermediate series of adventures for AD&D. It was released in October 1983." Alright so I've seen the module described as an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons fantasy adventure with the trappings of a Gothic horror novel. So right off this isn't going to suit my purposes at all if I was running this adventure with a Swords & Sorcery retroclone like Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Second edition. The answer for this might surprise you.

Instead of merely relying on the huge glut of Gothic horror that exists in support of the Ravenloft setting we're going to strip this adventure down into its components & parts. When you start looking at I6 in its structure & at its heart your left with one vampire at its center 
Count Strahd von Zarovich. Everything revolves around him & at his earliest he's the spoke around which everything revolves him & his murder of his brother. Not to mention the forbidden object of his misbegotten insanity & love Tatyana.

Barovia is supposedly a stand in for Transylvania from a million horror films & the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. But if we look into the more modern pulpy Sword & Sorcery titles of yesteryear we see that same dark reflection of Stoker's Dracula's female facsimile staring back from the black pit of Hell. In Robert Howard's Conan series novel 'Hour of the Dragon' we've got Akivasha a Stygian princess from more than 10000 years before Conan's time.
"I am Akivasha! I am the woman who never died, who never grew old! Who fools say was lifted from the earth by the gods, in the full bloom of her youth and beauty, to queen it forever in some celestial clime! Nay, it is in the shadows that mortals find immortality! Ten thousand years ago I died to live for ever! Give me your lips, strong man!"
So does this mean that we change Strahd von Zarovich? Not at all instead we place Barovia, seamlessly onto an island continent of Poseidonis. Already I can hear the hisses,boos, and myriad cat spitting of the Ravenloft setting fans & Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st & 2nd edition dungeon masters. Hear me out before you stake me out for the Sun. "Poseidonis" is an imagined last remnant of the lost continent of Atlantis, mentioned by Algernon Blackwood in his short story, Sand (published in 1912), in his story collection, Four Weird Tales, and is also detailed in a series of short stories by Clark Ashton Smith. " Numerous vampires,werewolves, witches,etc. all appeared in the Lovecraft circle of writers stories, novellas, pulps,etc. many of which were connected with Atlantis. Not to mention that the classic era Marvel of the 70's gave their vampires an origin connected with the Necro ermm Darkhold & Atlantis. Poseidonis is also the setting for numerous tales of necromancy, black magick, & weirdness of Clark Ashton Smith.
How does this all relate to AS&SH second edition? Many of the monsters featured in I6 such as the rust monsters, baby red dragons,werewolves, etc. all have their own analogies in AS&SH already. But its the Huntsmen a PC class specializing in hunting werewolves that really brings it home for me. Not only do you have a campaign setting where you've got a class who hunts werewolves but a world where the bloated red sun doesn't shine for six months!

Suppose that "Poseidonis"'s  Barovia  is a doomed & cursed land with its very tragic events unfolding around a dim & dire sinking land. The mists draw the Boreas wind crossed PC's into the fold & things go weirdly as the numerous agendas and motives of Strahd play out.
Strahd von Zarovich is an unhinged evil of the highest order that has to be put down lest his infection of vampirism spread. But does that end the evil plaguing the land? Not at all, there are still strange monsters, challenges, & the fact that Strahd von Zarovich will be back! In fact I've played in a game where Strahd is dead but we explored the castle without him. In the best Hammer tradition there were others taking his place! A cult had arise around his almost god like undead reputation.

With the "Fortunes of Ravenloft." bit  a "gypsy card reading" that determines where several things are located in Castle Ravenloft the DM could in fact influence the motives for other stand in villains as well as the count himself. This is done in the best Hammer & Universal Pictures tradition.
So why put I6 on "Poseidonis? Because once the adventure plays out then its evil can sink under the waves never to be heard from again. Or it can become a place that once in a while the PC's might visit if the mists of the adventure allow them. The real question becomes what other menaces might make the journey across time & space to the shores of Hyperborea to truly menace the PC's after they've killed the count & ended his evil? Don't forget that I mentioned that Hyperborea has a cycle of months without sunlight? The perfect time for vampires and undead to be active for twenty four hours or more.

1d7 Random Forbidden Treasures of Atlantis Table For Your Old School Campaigns

The seas eons ago claimed the spires, buildings, cities of Atlantis but the Outer Void remembers her glories. Along the hidden winds & borea gulfs there are occult artifacts & relics tossed about on the waves of reality. These treasures sometimes surface in the world in dungeons & ruins for fools & adventurers to find. Their evil continues on in the realm of men to create mayhem on whatever world they surface.

Above its domes the gulfs accumulate.
Far up, the sea-gales blare their bitter screed:
But here the buried waters take no heed—
Deaf, and with welded lips pressed down by weight
Of the upper ocean. Dim, interminate,
In cities over-webbed with somber weed,
Where galleons crumble and the krakens breed,
The slow tide coils through sunken court and gate.
From out the ocean's phosphor-starry dome,
A ghostly light is dubitably shed
On altars of a goddess garlanded
With blossoms of some weird and hueless vine;
And, wing├ęd, fleet, through skies beneath the foam,
Like silent birds the sea-things dart and shine.
Atlantis By Clark Ashton Smith

1d7 Random Forbidden
Treasures of Atlantis Table
  1. The Blind Eye of the Kraken - This fist size whitish blue bauble contains the essence of a mad king wrapped up and warped by the magicks of a half forgotten sea demon. The 'jewel' resembles the curled up demonic remains of humanoid fish being with its features warped & wracked in pain. The thing allows one to cast contact Deep One three times per day and protects its owner from the magicks of the blessed of Dagon & Mother Hydra. The owner may breath under water as if on land and is immune to the pressures of the water so long as he holds the eye. The eye may also once per week cast a flesh to stone spell. But the eye also has a sinister side as the owner slowly changes into a demonic fish like caricature of themselves. They dream deeply of the 'song of Cthulhu' & the poems of Dagon as their flesh changes. Only a remove curse might work. 
  2. The Cross of Chonsuro - This strange warped coral cross is made from the limbs of a statue warped by the magicks of the land. The cross glows when an undead is within a 20 foot radius & it can rebuke undead three times per day. The cross is more of an  'X' and will be recognized as the mark for an incredibly powerful relic. 
  3. The Red Ball of Bail -This incricate ball of brass contains over 50 incantations & weird revelations. Once per week the ball with the owner's help the ball & owner could be carried into the spirit worlds. The ball enables the owner to survive in hard vacuum & other adverse conditions. The ball also whispers dire spells and incantation to the owner when they sleep.
  4.  The Ring of Raza - This ring once belonged to the witch queen Raza and enables its owner to pass for a witch for as long as they hold it. They gain utravision and dark vision as their eyes begin to see in the same spectrum as ghouls. The ring enables the owner to call 1d8 ghouls and speak with them. The owner can also polymorph into a ghoul once per week. These magick could make the owner into a ghoul of lesser standing by these necrotic energies. The owner may also once per week speak with the dead but there is a 5 percent chance that it might be a demon who answers the call. 
  5. Vessel of Cu - This vase is from Venus & enables its owner to commune with insects and lesser demons from that planet. The vase will telepathically allow one to take on the appearance of a demonic insect monster for 1d6 hours. They will have supernatural insight into the comings and goings of ancient insect ascended masters. 
  6. The Helm of The Blind Angel - This helm enables its owner to peer into nearby forbidden dimensions within a forty foot radius. These monsters will respect but try to kill the owner.
  7. A Mask of Hermes - This mask is formed from the bone of a Mastodon & the intricate carving model shows  the true place of humans in the real world . The mask reveals the true nature of people who gaze too far into The Outer Void. Once per week they can summon a Night Gaunt for occult advise.

Monday, October 23, 2017

OSR Commentary On The Assasin's Webs Of 'B6 The Veiled Society' By David 'Zeb' Cook For Your Old School Campaigns

"The widow insists there are demons in her house. She hears them at night in her root cellar, and now they call out to her. But she is old and nervous and her mind often plays tricks on her.
Two men, their heads fully sheathed in large, black hoods, dig quickly in the darkness of the cellar. The hole grows deeper as their shovels bite into the earth. "This will teach those meddlers their place," the shorter, slim figure says haltingly.

"But don't you see the advantage?" snaps the tall man. "They will fear us now. They will fear for their lives."
Grunting, they heave a sailcloth bundle into the hole. As it falls, a woman's hand dangles lifelessly form the folds.
Who is the woman? Why will her death trigger riots and unrest in the city of Specularum? And the assassins: Are they Torenescu, Radu, or Vorloi? Or, curse of curses, the Veiled Society?"

I've been thinking today about B6 'The Veiled Society' By David 'Zeb' Cook & its  placement within a Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Second edition Hyperborean campaign. Yeah I know its supposedly only going to fit in Hyperborea when its set in Specularum, the capitol of the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. So what if we gut the module & turn the city of Specularum into Khormarium. The PC's are going to find themselves in a three sided triangle war with the the Veiled Society. The adventure is a bit rail roadie & somewhat melodramatic in places but this is truly an urban adventure. Everything in B6 The Veil Society needs to be punched up for a Swords & Sorcery adventure. Because B6 is an event driven adventure it needs a bit more action to act as glue between events. I've run The Veiled Society as an assassin driven adventure & made the  Vorloi, Radu, and Torenescu families Atlantian royal survival families in
Khormarium & played out several assassination plots twisted around these families of infamous kings, rogues and black wizards playing amid the ruins of once great nations. I would take B6 in a more Clark Ashton Smith direction making Khormarium the playground of assassins & thieves guilds. Take one part Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet & mix liberally with Sword & Sorcery elements. But there's a bit of extra seasoning to add. 

I was watching the original film production of The Phantom of the Opera from 1925; part of the focus on the film was the urban, and underworld aspect of the film that reminded me of B6. The pulpy elements of the film are a bit melodramatic but its the mysterious nature of the Veiled Society that has plenty of room for DYI elements. In fact a rather interesting bit was suggested by a friend of mine last night. Could a mysterious lich like being actually be behind the events of B6? Someone with a similar origin point to 'Phantom'? It was this bit from Wiki that got me thinking; "he is an escapee from Devil's Island and an expert in "the Black Arts". Could the Phantom be molded into a Sword & Sorcery lich operating, manipulating, and playing everyone in the module?
Who better to head up the  assassin's guilds & be manipulating the families of the 'Veiled Society'  from the shadows.

Khormarium's population would be closer to 60,000 then the usual 5,000 from the original module. This is more in keeping with the Bruce Heard TSR Gazetteer products estimates & makes far more sense for an urban pulp Sword & Sorcery tale. The underworld of
Khormarium would be a massive and rather ruinous affair with the original city being built on top of by the humans who took over the capital. At the heart of the adventure is the
a struggle between the city's three major families (the Vorloi, Radu, and Torenescu) each of which is using the dungeons, ruins, etc. under the city to further their own ends. This brings up the 1943 Claude Rains Phantom of the Opera  poster which really brought this idea home last night.

B6 could be used to create killers & assassins murdering each other in the ruins of a crumbling empire while a fiend manipulates the whole affair from the shadows in a sick game of chess with real people. The
Veiled Society has spies everywhere so this becomes a three tiered game of spy vs spy with adventurers caught in the war unaware of their position. Their decisions have dire consequences & real costs.

Khormarium could be like Rome in the 6th century with parts of it abandoned & hundreds of tombs, vaults, etc. all holding treasures, demons, etc. that these families have been fighting over. There has to be more modivation for the PC's to become involved in the events of B6. This is an adventure that could lead to a far more extended campaign if used correctly. With a bit of work on the DM's part B6 The Veiled Society could be molded into a pulpy urban Sword & Sorcery adventure with some real edge to it. Just more Halloween fodder for your old school games.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

1d7 Random Dangerous Alien & Weird Damned Souls Table For Your Old School Campaigns

There are echoes of ancient lost souls & civilizations that exist on the fringes of the world, places that no man can or should visit but adventurers & outlaws frequently trespass. These are alien places left over from from things & beings who have passed beyond the turn of the wheel. These beings have lost themselves to the darkness of time. Those who dally with such sites risk the anger of ancient gods & alien soul guardians
"Now as the twilight's doubtful interval
Closes with night's accomplished certainty,
A wizard wind goes crying eerily,
And on the wold misshapen shadows crawl,
Miming the trees, whose voices climb and fall,
Imploring, in Sabbatic ecstacy,
The sky where vapor-mounted phantoms flee
From the scythed moon impendent over all.

Twin veils of covering cloud and silence, thrown
Across the movement and the sound of things,
Make blank the night, till in the broken west
The moon's ensanguined blade awhile is shown....
The night grows whole again....The shadows rest,
Gathered beneath a greater shadow's wings."

The Eldritch Dark  (1912)  by Clark Ashton Smith

Those who dare to cross in to the bounds of such places risk not only life & limb but their very existence & souls. Things from across space & time feel on the foolish, the unwary, and the stupid. Those adventurers who die in places caught between life, death, & the Outer Darkness become worse monsters. Beings whose very existence is one of damnation & unending horror.

Anyone coming into contact with undead monsters such as these risk a curse of highly dangerous circumstance. Often this curse can take the form of an unending looping hell of repeating time in which the victim repeats their own actions that lead to their demise. The undead spirits and demonic entities that create such circumstances place their victims in these weird looping limbos to feed off of the very soul stuffs of their victims. Some victims can escape with a save vs death to realize the cold hell they find themselves in.

These cold dead Hells are near the Outer Darkness where thousands of souls are trapped within 'weird time', this strange time exists outside of the normal flow of time crossing into the boundries of the 'real' at certain key points. Undead and alien ghosts often make their homes here feeding off the strange occult energies that such places produce. There are often strange & wily treasures in such places worth from 30,000 to 60,000 gold pieces to the right collectors of such occult & esoteric wares. But beware for many of these items are cursed and very dangerous.

Where mandrakes, crying from the moonless fen,
Told how a witch, with eyes of owl or bat,
Found, and each root maleficently fat
Pulled for her waiting cauldron, on my ken
Upstole, escaping to the world of men,
A vapor as of some infernal vat;
Across the stars it clomb, and caught thereat
As if their bright regard to veil again.

Despite the web, methought they knew, appalled,
The stealthier weft in which all sound was still. . . .
Then sprang, as if the night found breath anew
A wind whereby the stars were disenthralled. . . .
Far off, I heard the cry of frustrate ill,
A witch that wailed above her curdled brew.
Averted Malefice  (1912)  by Clark Ashton Smith

Here then are seven damned souls of horrid and dangerously cursed aspect caught in the cold limbos and weird circumstances outside of the normal & the weird. These spirits are often level drainers who feed on the souls of those who blunder into such fringe areas.

1d7 Random Dangerous Alien & Weird Damned Souls Table 

  1. An ancient Amazon adventress that once crossed the bounds between her god's temple & Hell. She was caught in the wrath of her goddess for loving one of the temple priests. Now 10,000 years later she is a phantom that haunts the ancient temple grounds seeking revenge on the living. 
  2. An ancient wizard of high power was turned into a wraith of incredible power by his Lovecraftian god for murdering the god's son. The wraith is called 'Old Red Eyes' and sits outside of time hunting the souls of those who die by its power that has cursed the area. It has a treasure worth 70,000 gold pieces. 
  3. An ancient mariner from a lost world was wrecked upon the grounds of this place thousands of years ago. Now he's back as a time lost ghost able to level drain the youth and vitality of anyone who blunders into its turf. The monster has a treasure of sizable wealth and incredible aspect worth 80,000 gold pieces. 
  4. This ancient horror that was a man has forgotten its original purpose and identity. The thing is now nothing but an ancient damned soul that takes the form of ancient ghost that will eat the souls of the young. The thing has a diamond worth 50,000 gold pieces to lure in the living. 
  5. An ancient astral parasite that has taken on aspects of ancient Amazon princess that lived a thousand years ago. The thing sucks the will to live from the living. 
  6. This ancient power seeks the key part of itself lost for over seven thousand years. It was once a powerful lich but now its a mere shadow of itself. Its power is restored when it drains the soul of one pure of heart. This horror often seeks heroes and mad men as victims, its treasure is worth 50,000 gold pieces. 
  7. An ancient echo of a former god now fallen down to the lowest point as demonic ghost that drains souls of all vital energies. This thing now has the form of an ancient warrior princess & her memories but the thing is so alien that it often shape shifts after feeding or performing powerful black magick ceremonies.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Osr Commentary - Rumbles From The Caves of Chaos - B2 The Keep On The Borderlands As Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaign

" The PC's are based at a keep & investigate a nearby series of caves that are filled with a variety of  Chaos  monsters.The Cult of Chaos has been on the move! ""The Keep on the Borderlands is a Dungeons & Dragons module by Gary Gygax, first printed in December 1979. In it, player characters are based at a keep and investigate a nearby series of caves that are filled with a variety of monsters. It was designed to be used with the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set, and was included in the 1979–1982 editions of the Basic Set. It was designed for people new to Dungeons & Dragons."

This is the classic D&D module!  The wide open full "sandbox" nature of the setting makes it suitable to drop into almost any campaign and especially Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerer of Hyperborea second edition. The keep is a perfect venue for PC's  for characters to base themselves in before setting out to explore the Caves of Chaos!


" (H]e described a sort of pool with a margin of mud that was marled with obscene offal; and in the pool a grayish, horrid mass that nearly choked it from rim to rim... Here, it seemed, was the ultimate source of all miscreation and abomination. For the gray mass quobbed and quivered, and swelled perpetually; and from it, in manifold fission, were spawned the anatomies that crept away on every side through the grotto. There were things like bodiless legs or arms that flailed in the slime, or heads that rolled, or floundering bellies with fishes' fins; and all manner of things malformed and monstrous, that grew in size as they departed from the neighborhood of Abhoth. And those that swam not swiftly ashore when they fell into the pool from Abhoth, were devoured by mouths that gaped in the parent bulk.
Clark Ashton Smith, The Seven Geases"

Forget little villages of humanoids, these forces are fully formed and birthed out into the world ready to take down Hyperborea at a moment's notice. The cult of the elemental evil religion is insidious because of the way that it spreads its power from village to village through the lowest ranks. The spreading of it has enabled the consolidation of power. This rise of power centers around the humanoids of B2. I think that there might be demonic influence from behind the scenes.

B1 can be the jump off point to really excel a campaign into legendary status where heroes are being hunted by the forces of darkness leading back into the adventure arch of the Temple of Elemental Evil. The forces are beginning to swell again as rank after rank is filled by vast numbers of humanoids. The caves of Chaos is the key to really bringing home the fact that the whole area is rife with agents and fifth columnists.

All in all this set up and adventure arch is perfectly timed to bring even the strongest players to their knees. Betrayal, background maneuvering, double dealing, assassinations, etc. are all a part of B2 Keep on the Borderlands. The adventure that you cut your teeth on is now a puzzle piece in an ever expanding Sword & Sorcery campaign waiting to happen!