Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday Monster Matters - A Swords & Sorcery Monster Cocktail Commentary - Using Classic AD&D Monster Resources In Old School Campaigns

Just putting together some random classic monster thoughts on a Monday. So let's dive in.

So I've been fighting this Flu for the past three weeks & we're now onto week three. Over the weekend I've been concentrating on my 'Old Earth' campaign setting which is my regular Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition game that takes place in  the land of Lomar. My game world is a mess of a place where Hyperborea exited Earth leaving the place in tatters. An invasion from below by the empire of the necromancer tyrants of K'n-yan & the Hyperboreans left most of the world's military in shreds. These two empires ruled for years and in the setting its mostly black powder weapons in or near the human city states. Hyperborea floats in the night sky out near Saturn yet can be seen in the night sky of Earth. My players are in the middle of events out in the Western Wastelands a region of what used to be Alaska and bits of Russia. I know that I'm upsetting more then a few Lovecraft & Clark Ashton Smith purists out there.

So l like to look around for material for my own home setting & one of the things I stumbled across was a tumbler talking about using first edition AD&D resources from the Monster Manual, The Fiend Folio, & The Monster Manual II. Right up my OSR alley right?! Not exactly because they're talking about adapting it to Fifth edition. Look if you play fifth edition then more power too you but for me there are only so many hours in the day. I've got no desire or time to learn yet another incarnation of the systems that I love when I do traditional & retroclone systems. My take away here is to take another hard look at The Monster Manual, The Fiend Folio, & The Monster Manual II for some non traditional foes for my Swords & Sorcery setting.  Sure AS&SH second edition uses a lot of traditional old school monsters but customization is one of the keys of the OSR to me.

First up on my list for the Western Wastelands is going to be "The Peryton" which is one of my favorite creatures from the Monster Manual. The AD&D version was taken from " Jorge Luis Borges in his Book of Imaginary Beings, using a supposedly long-lost medieval manuscript as a source."
Yes I totally stole this from the Wiki entry but here's the interesting bit "According to Borges, Perytons lived in Atlantis until an earthquake destroyed the civilization and the creatures escaped by flight. A Peryton casts the shadow of a man until it kills one during its lifetime, at which time it starts to cast its own shadow. A Sibyl once prophesied that the Perytons would lead to the downfall of Rome."

So these things are out in the wastelands seeking the souls of Hyperboreans, going off to the Dreamlands to breed, and generally making themselves into an apex predator of  mankind.

1987 D&D Adventure Pack and notice the crumbling castle in the background perfectly pitched for AS&SH exploration.

The bad ass coffer corpse is another monster that is totally going in to the Western Wastelands as the remains of humans. For that matter all of the undead from the first edition Fiend Folio are pitch perfect for this.

Soldiers that went up against the forces of 
K'n-yan might have died by the millions but that doesn't mean their necessarily gone entirely. A few of those brave souls battled back from beyond the "Underworld" and came back as Bodak. These things are the bane of necromancers everywhere. Dealing with undead & damned souls is the business of witch doctors, necromancers, & priests everywhere. These things are abominations against many of the warrior ideals of tribes everywhere.

Death Dogs & frost foxes are left over Hyperborean monsters that were used extensively for hunting down slaves & humans for sport by the Hyperboreans. These monsters were beloved pets but are now wandering horrors feeding on adventurers & tribesmen alike.

Yeah so Old Earth is filled with lots of left overs, rejects, and horrors that have been hunting humanity for thousands of years. The fact is that the we've got tons of horrors out in the wastes making life tough for the various barbarian tribes & wizards. How you as the dungeon master use the monsters  is really going to determine the pitch of the campaign slant. The players are really going to be the ones to help define the world. The classic monsters are classic for a reason especially things like rot grubs that just scream magical toxic waste from Hell.

The classic rot grub is one that I've continually used as a byproduct of black magick ceremonies & sacrifices ala when Deep Ones or others have done some foul deeds breaking the dimensional barriers. These along with larva are always fun to throw in especially around doors leading to the Underworld or Undereborea. Adventure locations can make or break a campaign but its the monster's encounters that people will continue to talk about for years to come in my experience.
For now keep em rolling! A bit of Clark Ashton Smith's poetry to keep things moving on a Monday!

The force of suns had waned beyond recall.
Chaos was re-established over all,
Where lifeless atoms through forgetful deeps
Fled unrelated, cold, immusical.

Above the tumult heaven alone endured;
Long since the bursting walls of hell had poured
Demon and damned to peace erstwhile denied,
Within the Abyss God's might had not immured.

(He could but thwart it with creative mace. . . .)
And now it rose about the heavenly Base,
Mordant at pillars rotten through and through
Of Matter's last, most firm abiding-place.

Bastion and minaret began to nod,
Till all the pile, unmindful of His rod,
Dissolved in thunder, and the void Abyss
Caught like a quicksand at the feet of God !
The Abyss Triumphant  (1912)
by Clark Ashton Smith

All artwork is copyrighted & trademarked to their respective holders this blog post is not an attempt to violate these but merely for educational & entertainment purposes. North Wind Adventures nor Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition's authors are any way responsible for the content or opinions of this blog. All opinions & ideas are copyrighted & trademarked to this author & are for educational and entertainment purposes only @darkcorner productions 2018.

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