Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Manipulations of the Toad God - More OSR Commentary On D&D Supplement II: Blackmoor (1975), by Dave Arneson

"In that secret cave in the bowels of Voormithadreth . . . abides from eldermost eons the god Tsathoggua. You shall know Tsathoggua by his great girth and his batlike furriness and the look of a sleepy black toad which he has eternally. He will rise not from his place, even in the ravening of hunger, but will wait in divine slothfulness for the sacrifice."
—Clark Ashton Smith, "The Seven Geases" (1933)

There has always been a connection between the toad god
Tsathoggua & the Temple of the Frog from classic OD&D. "D&D Supplement II: Blackmoor (1975), by Dave Arneson, is the second of four supplements for the OD&D game. It also gives a deep look into the depravity of St. Stephen & his crew of miscreants at the Temple of the Frog. St.Stephen of the Rock is a master manipulator whose faction has been spreading the cult of the Frog throughout  the multiverse. Mark my words this is a cult that has the means & power to spread its chaos far & wide across the dimensions. Mark my words when it comes to the Temple of the Frog, the cult is one of the most underrated power blocks in original Dungeons & Dragons. I've mentioned how he's been expanding his power base into other universes last week.

Yes this is straight out of the classic Clark Ashton Smith "Captain Volmar" stories but there was mention of another Lovecraftian  toad god called Stodos of the Icy Wates in the Mystara Setting. Is there a connection between the icy deity of Coming of the White Worm, The (1941)? I believe so as the Hyperborea cycle of CAS bares out some of the same disaster laden Lovecraftian or is it Smithian details:
The cycle of the old world ending & the new one being made way for by the very forces of Chaos seems to cycle through all of the Lovecraft circle. This is a similar theme of an almost fairy tale like take on that we find in much of the Arthurian lore. The idea of the old order being toppled & replaced with a newer order of reality one is something we find again & again. Blackmoor has its own pseudo pulp themes as well. There are several frog princes within the literature of Arthur in the Welsh. There seem to have always been shadowy warfare among the powers of Fairyland using Arthur & his knights as stand in forces at times.

In the Lion & Dragon retroclone the frogmen forces don't have as much of a European presence as they do in Dark Albion. They've had defeats, set backs, & are on the wane to some degree. They're still dangerous but the roiling influence of the Elven forces & Pagan gods seems to me much more evident.
The Elves work through evil proxies spreading their corruption through the dark favors of Fairyland. As I said this is a 'shadow war' fought through factions in Europe. This is where St.Stephen & his toad god master have an in.

But don't think that during the Thirty Year War that Tsathoggua wasn't hedging his bets at all.
"Frederick V (German: Friedrich V.; 26 August 1596 – 29 November 1632)[1][2] was the Elector Palatine of the Rhine in the Holy Roman Empire from 1610 to 1623, and served as King of Bohemia from 1619 to 1620. He was forced to abdicate both roles, and the brevity of his reign in Bohemia earned him the derisive nickname of "the Winter King" (Czech: Zimní král; German: Winterkönig)." This is nick name for the Lovecraftian  toad god called Stodos of the Icy Wates in the Mystara Setting.
Another aspect of  Tsathoggua who by the time of the defeat at the Battle of White Mountain on 8 November 1620 – a year and four days after his coronation after his favors with the god had run out. 
"After this battle, the Imperial forces invaded Frederick's Palatine lands and he had to flee to his uncle Prince Maurice, Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic in 1622. An Imperial edict formally deprived him of the Palatinate in 1623. He lived the rest of his life in exile with his wife and family, mostly at The Hague, and died in Mainz in 1632."

Frederick wearing the Crown of Saint Wenceslas, other Bohemian regalia and the collar of the Order of the Garter.
On the table is the Cap representing his separate
office as Elector Palatine. Painted by Gerrit von Honthorst in 1634.
Fredick's fall from favor was a long & bloody one.

Time & again during the events of the Thirty Year War we see this fickleness of the forces of the gods & the interference of adventurers. The favors of Fairyland are easily gotten but keeping them is another thing especially when working through the wiles of a royal patron's wizard advisors  in the background of historical events.

During the Thirty Years War both sides were looking for any advantage & perhaps the temptations of royal favors, titles, family honor, position, & perhaps riches might entice even the most ardent adventurer in to a position of horror. Adventurers during Thirty Year War campaign might be able to turn the tides but the heavens & hells of Fairyland might have other ideas. St. Stephen's roll during the Thirty Year War isn't done yet.

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