Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Lovecraftian Gods,Gorillas, & Classic Monsters In The Underworld - OSR Monster Commentary

So I've been looking looking to classic mythological sources again for some classic OSR action. For most folks this would the latest releases but for me I tend to fade back into the earlier adventure & resource  influences of the OSR. I've been looking into a few the earlier releases from several pioneer publishers including Goblinoid Games & Brave Halfling Publishing for some of my Lovecraftian itches.
I started doing a bit of reading through of Realms of Crawling Chaos tonight for dealing with some of ecology of Underborea of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition.

My version of Underborea is a wasteland of damned souls,the ever decaying remains of dead Lovecraftian  gods, & plethora of weird monster races straight out Lovecraft & Clark Ashton Smith. But right away I started to notice something that I wasn't expecting the sheer number of underworld Lovecraftian ape monsters in Realms of Crawling Chaos. You've got the Devil Ape, the Cave Beast, The White Ape & half White Ape PC races, & the Subhuman PC races not to mention the Voormis & several other animalistic Great Old Ones.
All of these are ripe to add to my 'Old Earth' setting after the events of the Ragnarök most of the major gods have passed away! The gods Odin, Thor, Týr, Freyr, Heimdallr, and Loki are all dead but not gone suffering away below in Underborea held within a timeless decaying death where the act out the events of the war. They eternally decay but are still in an undead state. Yes there is more then a passing resemblance to concepts by Jack Kirby. Down below the surface of the world are the ruins of hundreds of ancient cities & temples.
This gets into one of my favorite modules that seems to have time passed it by I'm talking about People of the Pit by Alphonso Warden. Alphonso Warden weaves a pitch perfect module that draws from A.Merritt's pulp novella The People of the Pit without ripping it off.

"Several millennia back, the peoples of the mighty Kingdom of Merritt entered into all-out war with their long-time nemesis, the People of the Pit, a nefarious race of slug-like creatures hailing from a vast subterranean city lying on their northern border. Though the battle was hard fought, with both sides initially incurring heavy losses, the Merrittians in due course gained the upper hand, almost wholly exterminating their foe. Even the very god of the People of Pit was banished to the lower planes by a cabal of Merrittian magic-users and clerics, or so they thought. Recently, the evil within the city of the People of the Pit has surged yet again, and it is up to you to see that it doesn't spill out into the surrounding lands."  The original story draws heavily on a Northern location perhaps Alaska which is one of the locations for the invasion points for my Old Earth setting. The Paper Knife blog has a really good overview of the original A.Merritt story. 

Needless to say that the module is a classic of the OSR and evokes the sort of weirdness that one expects from the OSR. There's lots of potential in People of the Pit to mine and even to a certain extent to expand upon for old school campaign use. Another Lovecraft adventure by
Alphonso Warden through Mythmere Games  is The Namless City which is perfectly suited to be adapted for an AS&SH second edition campaign. Originally for Swords & Wizardry The Namless City also has another version closer to many of the OSR retroclone systems. "The module is available for both Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox and Swords & Wizardry Complete Rules and Freestyle (Core) Rules. If you're going to use it with another old-school system, it's obviously going to be compatible, but use the Complete/Freestyle version for this: the hit dice and other information will be closer to other systems than WhiteBox."


" In the world there are ancient, degenerated remnants still living, survivals from unimaginable antiquity. What happens when the adventurers stumble across one of these deadly places? There must be treasure untold for those willing to brave the long-forgotten perils of ... The Nameless City. "Both of these modules are perfect for evoking entrances to a Lovecraftian underworld realm that hooks up with the dangers & adventure locations of Underborea.  I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that many of the degenerative races of both AS&SH, Realms of Crawling Chaos, & these modules reminds me of many of the proto humanoid races of the first edition Fiend Folio. The Grimlock, and many other humanoid races of the Fiend Folio have the perfect left over servant or weaponized racial feel that would serve serpent men or other ancient Lovecraftian races. Yes I'm thinking of the Great Race of Yith or The Elder Things.


I could definitely see these guys guarding an ancient Elder Thing underground garden preserve waiting generations for trespassers to try & take some of the biological wonders of their ancient masters.

I think there are a lot of overlooked OSR gems on the market that need to have a second look taken at them to get their full potential realized in a campaign setting such as Hyperborea or your own old school setting.

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