Monday, December 25, 2017

Black Sorcery Most Foul Behind The Barbarian Warlords of Greyhawk Setting - More OSR Side Setting Commentary Part Six

What foul forces have been unleashed upon Greyhawk from a source of evil fouler then the imaginations of man? Where does the corruption of chaos & depravity come from? Whose let loose  foul secrets that man was not mean to know come from? Today we'll take a look in this quick interlude!

Alright I got an email asking me what could possibly shatter the time/space continuum of Greyhawk to such an extent that nearby dimensional gates & time slips might be the possible order of the day in the city state ruins of
Well there are certainly are weapons of mass destruction capable of releasing time shattering effects & these are royal level weapons scattered throughout the Barbarian Warlords of Greyhawk's setting. These are called artifacts and there's an entire section on them in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition Dungeon Master's Guides. These are the items that entire governments go to war over in Sword & Sorcery Greyhawk. Artifacts such as

Machine of Lum the Mad. And many others are more then capable of altering the cosmic fabric of  the central Flanaess.

T1 The Temple of Elemental Evil is unto itself another such artifact but instead of it being merely an adventure location this is a sink of pure chaos & magical evil. Its spell of corruption weaving its way across the landscape for thousands of years. Artifacts such as the
Staff of Fraz-Urb'luu & others are magical & psychic keys capable of unlocking the full devastating potential of these adventure locations. And there's one group of learned idiots who keep messing with such powers again & again as any reader of Swords & Sorcery fantasy can tell you about, its almost always the various dark wizards & foolish magi.

Nobiran Wizard, Charles Myers

One of the things that 
The Heroic Fantasy Handbook play test document 
goes into is this sort of highly charged black magick wizardry and adds it in spades into Adventurer, Conqueror, King but also adds it onto the Sword & Sorcery battle field. This is stated right up front on the Kickstarter; "  Magic in heroic fantasy is more subtle and nuanced than in contemporary fantasy. It works with what is, rather than creating what is not. A magician cannot teleport straight to his friend’s distant castle, though his whispered dreams might reach his friend across the black gulfs of space. A magician will not fling magic missiles, but he might call down lightning from a storm, or capsize a boat with a wave. Working magic might require lengthy ceremonies, terrible sacrifices, or the power of primeval places. And those who use magic risk corruption. Even the wisest can lose their mind, body, and soul if they tamper with dark magic. "

Combined this with the sort of artifacts in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition Dungeon Master's Guide you've got the potential for a recipe for disasters that leave kingdoms devastated, weird magical radiations pouring into Greyhawk, & alternative dimensions bleeding into the landscape.
The demoness Zuggtmoy 
is representative of the types of horrors that have been let loose on Greyhawk for thousands of years to wage war.  Wizards have been summoning these horrors to do their bidding since mankind crawled from the caves.

Zaharan Sorcerer, Alexander Macris

Tribes of wandering barbarian warriors have come from the devastation left in the wake of the destruction of the city state of Verbobonc. A lost people who remember a gold age in song's of their bards & the legends told around the camp fires of sword wielding warriors & wanderers. Druid groves gather to try & heal the land but the weird radiations spawn horrors from beyond the pale of the Outer Darkness. Cults of chaos are going to be a huge problem in this style of campaign because people will gather for simple survive & power against the massive influx of humanoids from the Temple of Elemental Evil.
This is the perfect opportunity to trot out the First edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Fiend Folio for those random wilderness encounters. Tons of cool & downright cold blooded raiders to throw at jaded players.  With desperation comes opportunities for rewards of all kinds including the opportunities to carve out kingdoms & petty tyrant holds.

Conquest attracts the parasites & hangers on from across the cosmos. This means that PC's could be facing down very dangerous critters & humanoid mercenaries from across time & space. Clark Ashton Smith often had one off & cast off monsters littering his stories.  The power of the demoness Zuggtmoy 's influence is the perfect excuse to unleash mutant & twisted chaos horrors upon your players.

An ogrillon, from the first edition AD&D's Fiend Folio is a great style of mutant horror to fill out the ranks of roving bands of mutants & worse in a Barbarian Warlords of Greyhawk campaign.

Wizards & various cabals are going to be an incredible hazard to contend with especially if cells of these these human vermin serve
the demoness Zuggtmoy. 
Cold steel & violence might not be enough to deal with the circumstances that the players are going to face down. Perhaps they may need to seek the add of other warriors & barbarians who deal with such things during their day to day struggle for survival. Here's where Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition might come in handy yet again. Crossing the Boreas winds might give the PC's the extra edge needed in their struggles against the darkness of the Temple of Elemental Evil. 
Cover artwork by Charles Lang.

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