Thursday, October 5, 2017

Hidden Lovecraftian Connections Within C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan By Harold Johnson & Jeff R. Leason

So last night I was watching John Carpenter's The Thing with my dad for the thirteenth billionth time. I'm a 'Thing head' one of those fans obsessed by the film in all of its aspects. But especially its connection with The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. Say what?! Which was the reaction of a friend of mine on the phone when we were talking about the adventure. 

"The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan was originally printed for the 1979 Origins International Game Expo,[2] the module was made available to the general public in 1980. The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan is an adventure module for the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy role-playing game, set in the World of Greyhawk campaign setting for use with the 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules. It is the first in the C-series of modules, a set of unrelated adventures originally designed for competitive play, with the C representing the first letter in the word competition"  It was originally written by Harold Johnson&  Jeff R. Leason. 
The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan is one of those module that I've used in the past with great effect, it introduced the ancient Olman people of Greyhawk, based on the Aztec, Mayan, and Toltec peoples of Earth. Yeah except I didn't place module on Greyhawk at all. Last year I ran the module for Steve & his players with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea first edition on Mars or more specifically my version of 'Old Mars' as part of a hidden jungle oasis near the poles. Why? Because the hidden shrine and its contents are a part of a space craft that crashed on Mars a hundred thousand years ago. There's a room within the adventure that explains this, the following commentary comes from the official Wizards of the Coast entry;"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." Remember just a few days ago I talked about Dave Arneson's City of the Gods & Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.

'The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan' also was the first appearance of the gibbering mouther & just this morning I was looking through my table top copy of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea and look what I read on their version of the gibbering mouther. Its now a degenerate form of shoggoth. Yeah that doesn't prove jack?!

Well the shoggoths were created by HP Lovecraft in his only science fiction novella At The Mountains of Madness. Well stealy eyed editor and sci fi guru John W. Campbell created not only the Thing From Another World with its shape shifting alien but predecessor story called 'The Brain Stealers from Mars.'
“The Brain-Stealers of Mars” (1936) by science fiction editor John W. Campbell Jr. &  illustrated by pulp artist Alex Schomburg.I became aware of the story in its reprinted form from the 1952 issue of Wonder Story Annual magazine. I begged my adopted uncle for a copy of it & on my 14th birthday I got it.So after the adventurers  in 'the Brain stealers of Mars' finish off their proto shaggoth enemies & recover the technologies left behind by the Stealers creators.  By placing the shrine on Mars the three angle connection between Earth,Mars, & the Mountains of Madness made things very interesting. The players immediately started talking about Aztec style dimensional gate ways & quoting John Carpenter's Thing.

There's more connections when we bring in Clark Ashton Smith whose god Ubbo-Sathla was used by the Elder Things as the basis for all life on Earth either as a joke or as mere fodder.

'There, in the grey beginning of Earth, the formless mass that was Ubbo-Sathla reposed amid the slime and the vapors. Headless, without organs or members, it sloughed from its oozy sides, in a slow, ceaseless wave, the amoebic forms that were the archetypes of earthly life. Horrible it was, if there had been aught to apprehend the horror; and loathsome, if there had been any to feel loathing. About it, prone or tilted in the mire, there lay the mighty tablets of star-quarried stone that were writ with the inconceivable wisdom of the pre-mundane gods.
Clark Ashton Smith, Ubbo-Sathla'
The connections don't stop there. The adventurers noted a map from the city
Igarth from Mar's old  quarter & a statue of the alien Martian Old One Vulthoom within the temple complex. All of this connects back to 'Old Earth' where the Hyperboreans & Mount Voormithadreth once again looms on the horizon of the old planet. Could the same thing be happening below the red sands where the dweller lying in wait on Mars in the underground city of Ravormos is only bidding its time.  There could be far more menaces waiting in the various hidden rooms of 
'The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan' to be fleshed out by the dungeon master then the players have a clue of!

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