Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thoughts on Thouls,the Throghrin,& Old School Monster Ecology For Your Campaigns

I've been thumbing through the B/X Dungeons & Dragons rule book today on my lunch break; we've been incredibly busy at work today. Hence the late posting on my blog but whist zipping around the monster section I noticed the Thoul. They've been a favorite of mine since I was a kid.

I love using Thouls because their Sword & Sorcery weird feel I began to want to use them for my next up coming Adventurer,Conqueror, King, & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition hybrid adventure. They weren't listed under their usual monster label in either rule book so I went back to Goblinoid games Labyrinth Lord retro clone rule book which is the basis for ACK & on the web. In Goblinoid Games forums I came across the following;
"LL has something eerily similar in the form of the Throghrin, which you'll find on page 98 of the core rules" I looked in the ACK's core book & sure enough there's the Throghrin in all its glory.

But there was something else about the Thoul & its ACK's Throghrin counterpart I noticed today. These monsters are artificially created, a mix of troll, hobgoblin, & ghoul plus their not undead. These are an elite & specialized monster to say the least. But whose creating these hobgoblin hybrid horrors? Its gotta be a wizard or some NPC class far more specialized in the creation of hybrid or chimera species of monsters.

This sort of a chimera monster makes me think of the wizards of both Jack Vance & Clark Ashton Smith. CAS's  all powerful sorcerer Maal Dweb is exactly the sort of wizard who could & would have created  the Throghrin species most likely from Atlantean Pict survivors mixed with a generous helping of troll virus & ghoul DNA. There's probably a demonic pact in the mix someplace but these things breed true with hobgoblins. I started thinking again about the post apocalyptic fantasy wastelands of B/X Dungeons & Dragons when we mixed B/X Dungeons & Dragons with a generous helping of Gamma World back in middle school. Over the last couple of years I've thrown in the Fiend Folio into the mix of Gamma World to pad out some of the edges of the adventure map.

So I'm thinking about many of the humanoid species in the Fiend Folio as being possible chimera or slave race prototypes of humanoids on many of the worlds of the solar system. I can see the Elder Things from HP Lovecraft's 'At The Mountains of Madness' creating five pointed artificial  bio-environments or deep space bio ships with a wide variety of these species on board. Possibly these ships might be guarded by shoggoths or worse.

Elder Thing artwork created by Віщун -

So what does this mean? Perhaps the Elder Things who were masters of biology, magick, and bio technologies far beyond our own created hobgoblins from a mix of an unknown demonic humanoid species plus, Atlantean or Lemurian survivors after the shoggoth rebellion.
This was a disposable race of humanoid servants & perhaps food species with a finite life span & a built in willingness to serve.
These shock troops might have been very susceptible to the Elder Thing telepathic commands. A race with a built in passion for violence & military like tribal structure that might have filled the gap in while the Elder Things fled the surface world. Could they have followed their masters into the inner world of the Earth? With slow wars of creatures such as the Yithians, the spawn of Cthulhu, and others the Elder Things are a race that counts in eons not centuries. Hobgoblins would be a fast breeding, pliable, & yet hardy race in some ways ideally suited for their environment. Thouls would be a subspecies created by latter day wizards or others.

Could the hobgoblins then be one of the species that exits the inner Earth World when the Hyperboreans returned to the surface world of Old Earth sometime in the future? They might have become servants or shock troops for the Hyperboreans longing for another powerful race to serve. There is some evidence that Clark Ashton Smith implied such a race might exist within his Zothique cycle. Unfortunately evidence for this conclusion is scant at best. Hobgoblins within my 'Old Earth' campaign definitely have an Elder Thing origin point. For Dungeons & Dragons & its various retroclones there is very little explanation on the origin or even event for many of the various humanoid races. This suit an innovative & creative dungeon master just fine; old school monster books didn't do all of the heavy lifting for you. You & your players created the world, shaped it through play, and harvested the result as another product of your imagination.

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