Saturday, January 27, 2018

Ravagers of Saltmarsh - OSR Commentary On U3: "The Final Enemy" (1983) By Dave J. Browne with Don Turnbull

" At last! An opportunity to avert the threat to the little town of Saltmarsh! The real enemies have been identified - evil, cruel creatures, massed in force and viciously organized. Can the brave adventurers thwart this evil and ensure the safety of Saltmarsh?"

So I had this dream last night about U3 The Final Enemy because I was reading through the module before bed. I've been on the move with work for three days running with service calls, errands, etc. which is why I'm a sort of late with this blog entry. Anyhow," U3: "The Final Enemy" (1983), by Dave J. Browne with development by Don Turnbull, is the final adventure in the "U" trilogy and the fourth product overall from TSR UK. It appeared in 1983" And this is more of a thinking man's module based around the fact that there are some very iconic elements, dangerous twists,& an all together large series of underwater adventure elements hence the 'U' letter in the title.

So what happens after the events of the U3 The Final Enemy? I've been thinking about modifying the U series for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition after reading through that game over the last couple of days. Sure I've talked about doing this before.
"The  sahuagin make excellent stand ins for Lovecraft's Deep Ones and they have wide variety of applications outside of this module and can be used to set up a cult within the environs of the Saltmarsh countryside." Let's just throw this idea out & simply fill in the Deep Ones of Lovecraft. I'm going to adapt this module series to some backwater area of my own 'Old Earth' campaign setting.

No this is different because this takes place after the events of U3 end. The Deep One temples  of the area around Saltmarsh are not going to be quiet. There could be very large military backlash that the PC's are not going to be expecting!? We know that there there other colonies of these aquatic bastards all over the map in the seas surrounding Saltmarsh.

If we're using HP Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Innsmouth then there might be a blood relative connection to one of the PC's making events of U3 The Final Enemy a bit complicated!!?
But the worst shock came when my uncle shewed me the Orne jewelery in a downtown safe deposit vault. Some of the items were delicate and inspiring enough, but there was one box of strange old pieces descended from my mysterious great-grandmother which my uncle was almost reluctant to produce. They were, he said, of very grotesque and almost repulsive design, and had never to his knowledge been publicly worn; though my grandmother used to enjoy looking at them. Vague legends of bad luck clustered around them, and my great-grandmother's French governess had said they ought not to be worn in New England, though it would be quite safe to wear them in Europe.
As my uncle began slowly and grudgingly to unwrap the things he urged me not to be shocked by the strangeness and frequent hideousness of the designs. Artists and archaeologists who had seen them pronounced their workmanship superlatively and exotically exquisite, though no one seemed able to define their exact material or assign them to any specific art tradition. There were two armlets, a tiara, and a kind of pectoral; the latter having in high relief certain figures of almost unbearable extravagance.
During this description I had kept a tight rein on my emotions, but my face must have betrayed my mounting fears. My uncle looked concerned, and paused in his unwrapping to study my countenance. I motioned to him to continue, which he did with renewed signs of reluctance. He seemed to expect some demonstration when the first piece—the tiara—became visible, but I doubt if he expected quite what actually happened. I did not expect it, either, for I thought I was thoroughly forewarned regarding what the jewelery would turn out to be. What I did was to faint silently away, just as I had done in that brier choked railway cut a year before.
From that day on my life has been a nightmare of brooding and apprehension nor do I know how much is hideous truth and how much madness. My great-grandmother had been a Marsh of unknown source whose husband lived in Arkham—and did not old Zadok say that the daughter of Obed Marsh by a monstrous mother was married to an Arkham man through a trick? What was it the ancient toper had muttered about the line of my eyes to Captain Obed's? In Arkham, too, the curator had told me I had the true Marsh eyes. Was Obed Marsh my own great-great-grandfather? Who—or what—then, was my great-great-grandmother?"
HP Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Innsmouth

The PC's would most likely have to contend with a small army of Deep Ones coming up upon Saltmarsh or half breed Deep One pirates likely sailing to retake the entire Saltmarsh area!? There is some evidence in the Poseidonis cycle of  Clark Aston Smith that something like this took place. Here people thought of themselves as Atlanteans — "members of an aboriginal race of Atlantis" survived on Poseidonis as slaves ("A Voyage to Sfanomoe", Clark Ashton Smith).
Can the PC's avert the bloodshed & chaos induced turmoil coming their way?! If your interested in using some of the
Poseidonis cycle of  Clark Aston Smith for DMing  here you are.

This whole cycle of branching adventure plots could be moved to Hyperborea where there are wide array of Deep One colonies all along the coasts of the continent. To survive this they're going to have to really pull the resources of the area of Saltmarsh together. 
For the  'Old Earth' setting I might put the whole thing right off
the shores of Spain.  Will the PC's survive the experience?! Only time will tell.

If I turn this entire idea upon its ear then it could easily be worked into a Lion & Dragon rpg game with easy. Here the adventure would be set on the shores of France right in the middle of the Hundred Years War. Here
the Marais salant has been a poor area for centuries avoided because of its legendary status as cursed & the home to the devils of the sea. But with the Hundred Years War wrapping up and the PC's having vanquished back the fish people &  frog demons  back to their ancestral home the danger has ended. Or so they think!
Here's where the vileness of the situation creeps in. The sea is the realm of horror unbound during the Hundred Years War. You can bet that the Church is going to get involved and that there's going to be a ton of executions. But will anyone notice during the turmoil of the Hundred Years War?!

Battle of Sluys from a manuscript of Froissart's Chronicles, Bruge, c.1470

U3 The Final Enemy has a ton of potential to act as a jump off point for a campaign in a wide variety of OSR theaters. There are a lot loose ends that the dungeon master can pick up and run with.

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