Sunday, January 14, 2018

'Old Venus' Campaign Setting Redux & Upgrade For A Sunday

So I've been rereading a lot of classic pulp novels & semi Appendix N material, this includes a good dose of Edgar Rice Burroughs but not the usual Tarzan & Barsoom novels. I'm going for some of the really obscure stuff that over the years various "fans" & gamers have dismissed. I'm talking about one of ERB's last book series The Venus or Atmor novels. The Atmor series  isn't in the public domain in the United States but its readily available through any number of used book stores.
The first novel the Pirates of Venus contains most of the action taking place in giant trees very reminiscent of Endor from The Return of the Jedi film. I've often wondered if ERB's Pirates of Venus might have been part of the inspiration for villages of the Ewoks. The enemies are Venusian communists who are some of the more stupid & insipid enemies found in ERB's works Wiki has a pretty good break down of what I'm talking about;
"The novel contains elements of political satire aimed at communism. The novel's villains, the Thorists, start a revolution in the nation of Vepaja for their own good only, cheating the uneducated masses and killing or driving away those doctors and other highly educated that form the foundation of the society. Throughout the book the Thorists remain distant and unreal, and those few that the hero Carson Napier meets are often stupid or incompetent. The Kalkars, villains of Burroughs' other novel The Moon Maid, were also modeled on the Russian Communists.)"
So why are the ERB Venus novels important to an old school D&D or AD&D dungeon master? Because they give context to the 'Old Venus' setting. When you begin to look at the latter three novels in the Atmor series there's a deep & abiding dungeonsque ecology happening on the planet. We get this especially with Escape on Venus when the hero confronts a society of Deep One hybrids who embrace many of the conventions of Venusian life.

This boiling stew pot of ecological cycles of life & death are dependent upon the Great Old One of Clark Ashton Smith's The Immeasurable Horror & A Voyage to SfanomoĆ«. 
There are one or more plant themed Great Old Ones who preserve life on Venus & then go on to continue the cycles of life & death every couple of thousand years. This cycle falls right in line with the Henry Kuttner/ C.L. Moore Clash By Night & its sequel Fury.
All of this lines up quite nicely with C.L. Moore's North West Smith novels & Leigh Brackett's The Enchantress of Venus. Leigh Brackett's Venus is a world where man is the late comer & exploiter. There are lots of ancient ruins, countless dungeons, etc. because all of the mysteries of Venus have been explored or have they?

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition now offers many monsters & resources that make the 'Old Venus' setting far easier to flesh out.
So let me put this who affair into the context of my 'Old Earth' campaign setting. The two Venusian Great Old Ones were asleep at the very beginning of the Hyperborean wars. Soon however they exploded across the surface and the terraforming began. Ancient ruins not seen for 20000 years came to life with frightening vigor & the world became a seething hothouse of horror and weirdness. Today there are a few scattered barbarian colonist tribes trying to scratch out an existence. This is a prehistoric alien world of incredible danger and riches whose products can make or break a trade house with ease. I'm going to flesh this out as time permits but that these days is at a premium.
All of the stories & novels discussed in this blog post are being used for violation of the  trade marks & copy rights of their respective holders. None of the rpg game systems discussed are in anyway responsible for the content of this blog. This blog post is for educational & entertainment purposes only and the contents are the copyright of the author.

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