Friday, March 16, 2018

Forbidden Underworld Themes In Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Second Edition Campaigns

Today I've spent a good deal of time delving in & out of Robert Howard's Conan story "The Man-Eaters of Zamboula" (or, as it was renamed, "Shadows in Zamboula") as well as Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition.
This is mostly due to the upcoming Kickstarter launch for Corey Walden's AS&SH adventure "The Anthropophagi of Xambaala" this is an adventure with lots of extended campaign adventure play. Corey is well known among the OSR crowd & has done a number of OSR projects over the years. "Shadows in Zamboula" is pure Appendix N Weird Tales material & most likely this adventure will follow closely in the stories foot steps with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea's own twist.

The cover artwork for  "The Anthropophagi of Xambaala" reminds me of an adventure  events continuation of B4 The Lost City classic adventure  by Tom Moldvay. If you haven't seen the 48-page "B4 campaign source book", a collection of mostly new material celebrating Tom Moldvay's "The Lost City" by Demos Sachlas.

The sourcebook contains some of the free amazing  following material : 
Retrospective: The Lost City
Memories of Tom Moldvay
About the Artist, from “The Art of Jim Holloway”
Printing History, with notes from the Acaeum
Origins of the Lost City
Worship of the Ancient Gods
The Cynidicean Mosaics
Holmes and the Lost City
Notes on the Underground City
Expanding the Adventure
New Monsters
The Emirates of Ylaruam
The DM’s Guide to Cynidicea
Review: “Mystara: Return to the Lost City”
Review: “Masque of Dreams” (including some previously unpublished artwork by Michael Kaluta!)
Review: “Elder Evils”
2013 Gen Con Championship

B4 The Lost City is a B/X Sword & Sorcery classic adventure and this source book only adds a bit more old school shine to it.

"Shadows in Zamboula"has its own merits with story events seemingly happening around Conan as well as too him. Much of this also happens to take place with adventuring parties within campaigns. Baal-pteor, the Strangler of Yajur is just the sort of an NPC character that a party of adventurers might run into if they're not careful in the seedy side of this incredibly dangerous  desert city. But something about Zamboula itself reminds me of the far future tales of Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique.

 Maybe its the emptiness of the Empire of the Necromancers, The (1932) story or the deadly weirdness of Charnel God, The (1934). But something about AS&SH's adventures have always held a bit of the old school Weird Tales darkness about them.

Cover of Weird Tales (November 1935): The feature story is Robert E. Howard's "Shadows in Zamboula".

These desert regions in pulps often guarded entrances to the Underworld of mythology. Often the rivers of the dead were featured in many pulp stories certainly there are echoes of this in CAS's Zothique & echoes of it in Jeffrey Talanian AS&SH' s Underborea. Is there such a region in this underworld location? I think so. Especially given some of the hints we've seen in the campaign world &  monster section of the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition game.
"In Greek and Indic mythology the waters of this river were thought to wash away sins or memories whereas Celtic and Germanic myths feature wisdom-imparting waters, suggesting that while the memories of the deceased are washed away a drinker of the waters would gain inspiration.[3] The wayfarer will commonly encounter a dog either in the capacity of a guardian of the Otherworld or as the wanderer's guide.[3] Examples of this are the Greek Cerberus, the three-headed hound of Hades, and the Indic सर्वरा "sarvarā, one of the hounds of Yama, whose names may derive from an Indo-European *ḱerberos meaning "spotted".[3] In Indo-European mythologies the Otherworld is depicted in many ways, including peaceful meadows, islands and buildings making it hard to determine how the original Proto-Indo-European Otherworld was viewed.[3] However the ruler of the dead was possibly Yemo, the divine twin of Manu the first man."

There may be darker hints to the fate of 'Old Earth' in AS&SH's underworld then first thought. Many of the most alien aspects of the game echo distant eons of the past as well as the future of Earth. Time is a very fluid concept to the gods & horrors of Hyperborea especially seen in CAS's Ubbo-Sathla (1933) &
Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqquan, The (1932).  Most likely "The Anthropophagi of Xambaala" is going to double down on these concepts and keep up the tradition of AS&SH modules. I look forward to the results of today's kickstarter.
You Can Back The Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Second Edition Beasts & Cannibals Kickstarter Right Here

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