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.

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