Thursday, April 19, 2018

Sunken Lands, HP Lovecraft, Appendix N Weirdness & Old School Campaigns

"Dazed and frightened, yet not without a certain thrill of the scientist’s or archaeologist’s delight, I examined my surroundings more closely. The moon, now near the zenith, shone weirdly and vividly above the towering steeps that hemmed in the chasm, and revealed the fact that a far-flung body of water flowed at the bottom, winding out of sight in both directions, and almost lapping my feet as I stood on the slope. Across the chasm, the wavelets washed the base of the Cyclopean monolith; on whose surface I could now trace both inscriptions and crude sculptures. The writing was in a system of hieroglyphics unknown to me, and unlike anything I had ever seen in books; consisting for the most part of conventionalised aquatic symbols such as fishes, eels, octopi, crustaceans, molluscs, whales, and the like. Several characters obviously represented marine things which are unknown to the modern world, but whose decomposing forms I had observed on the ocean-risen plain.

It was the pictorial carving, however, that did most to hold me spellbound. Plainly visible across the intervening water on account of their enormous size, were an array of bas-reliefs whose subjects would have excited the envy of Doré. I think that these things were supposed to depict men—at least, a certain sort of men; though the creatures were shewn disporting like fishes in waters of some marine grotto, or paying homage at some monolithic shrine which appeared to be under the waves as well. Of their faces and forms I dare not speak in detail; for the mere remembrance makes me grow faint. Grotesque beyond the imagination of a Poe or a Bulwer, they were damnably human in general outline despite webbed hands and feet, shockingly wide and flabby lips, glassy, bulging eyes, and other features less pleasant to recall. Curiously enough, they seemed to have been chiselled badly out of proportion with their scenic background; for one of the creatures was shewn in the act of killing a whale represented as but little larger than himself. I remarked, as I say, their grotesqueness and strange size, but in a moment decided that they were merely the imaginary gods of some primitive fishing or seafaring tribe; some tribe whose last descendant had perished eras before the first ancestor of the Piltdown or Neanderthal Man was born. Awestruck at this unexpected glimpse into a past beyond the conception of the most daring anthropologist, I stood musing whilst the moon cast queer reflections on the silent channel before me."
Dagon is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft, written in July 1917
I've been doing a lot of thinking about Appendix N authors tonight namely HP Lovecraft & his novella
"The Shadow Over Innsmouth" (1931). The mythological connections between mermaids & Deep Ones hit me as a kid since I read the novel. As clear as day I was looking at paperback of Lovecraft's fiction & straight into a Lang illustration of a mermaid. The connotations were obvious to me as a kid & dungeon master. Since that time period I've always held the Deep Ones having a strong connection with the Black Hag, Green Hags  & Sea Hags of B/X Dungeons & Dragons &  Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition Monster Manual. These these three species live in both swamp & oceans environments respectively.  These three species of hag all have ties with the Le Fey family covens of witches & through them ties with the forces & rites of Chaos from Lion & Dragon.

Now I've talked about the Elves & powers of Fairyland playing merry havoc with Europe since the time of Camelot. But how is easy enough, the hags have been hiding in plain sight this whole time. This goes back to original Dungeons & Dragons origins of the hags;

In the original Dungeons & Dragons, the sea hag first appeared in the Blackmoor supplement by Dave Arneson (1975).[1] The Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set included its own version of the hag. The sea hag and the black hag appeared in the Dungeons & Dragons Master Rules (1985),[2] and the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (1991).[3]

In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition, the sea hag appears in the 1977 Monster Manual,[4] where it is described as inhabiting thickly vegetated shallows, and hates beauty and is so ghastly in appearance that it makes other creatures weak with fright. The night hag also appears in the Monster Manual, where it is described as the ruler of the convoluted planes of Hades. The book states that night hags form larvae (the most selfishly evil of all souls who sink to lower planes after death) from evil persons they slay, and sell them to demons and devils."

There  are deep occult connections between royal houses & mythological sea creatures. The mermaids of legend are in fact the handmaidens of Dagon & Mother Hydra or at least some of them. These are the comely female Deep One hybrids whose connections to Arthurian legend dive into the house of  Sir Lancelot du Lac itself.

"However, one scholar has suggested that Lancelot may be a variant of the name Lancelin.[3] Lancelot or Lancelin may instead have been the hero of an independent folk-tale which had contact with and was ultimately absorbed into the Arthurian tradition.
The theft of an infant by a water-fairy, the appearance of the hero at a tournament on three consecutive days in three different disguises, and the rescue of a queen or princess from an Otherworld prison are all features of a well-known and widespread tale, variants of which are found in almost every land and numerous examples of which have been collected by Theodore Hersart de la Villemarqué in his Barzaz Breiz, by Emmanuel Cosquin in his Contes Lorrains, and by J. F. Campbell in his Tales of the West Highlands."

The Lancelin family has been fighting the forces of Chaos & its cults for centuries. This also ties into the fact that around France & England may of the major sunken cities & countries were sunk at the end of the last Ice Age by the Deep Ones & the forces of Chaos.

These places in Arthurian literature & lore are what sets up events for the invasion & take over of France by the Frogmen who are simply another form in the alien evolutionary path of the Deep Ones ala the Frogmen of the Swamps of France.

There were centuries of resistence to the struggles of the Frogmen trying to assume full ruler ship of France. Especially from Lyonesse in Arthurian literature & its king Tristan.
"Tristan(Latin & BrythonicDrustanus; Welsh: Trystan), also known as Tristram, is a Cornish knight of the Round Table and the hero of the Arthurian Tristan and Iseult story. He is the son of Blancheflor and Rivalen (in later versions Isabelle of Cornwall and Meliodas), and the nephew of King Mark of Cornwall, sent to fetch Iseult back from Ireland to wed the king. However, he and Iseult accidentally consume a love potion while en route and fall helplessly in love; the pair undergo numerous trials that test their secret affair."

Walter de la Mare's "Sunk Lyonesse" (1922) evokes the country as as a lost Lovecraftian world:
"In sea-cold Lyonesse,
When the Sabbath eve shafts down
On the roofs, walls, belfries
Of the foundered town,
The Nereids pluck their lyres
Where the green translucency beats,
And with motionless eyes at gaze
Make ministrely in the streets.

And the ocean water stirs
In salt-worn casement and porch
Plies the blunt-nosed fish
With fire in his skull for torch.
And the ringing wires resound;
And the unearthly lovely weep,
In lament of the music they make
In the sullen courts of sleep:

Whose marble flowers bloom for aye:
And—lapped by the moon-guiled tide—
Mock their carver with heart of stone,
Caged in his stone-ribbed side."

Sunken  Lyonesse is another one of the many legendary kingdoms now lost to sunken realms of Fairyland now a plaything of the Deep Ones & their cousins from Lion & Dragon.
Tristán e Iseo (La vida) by Rogelio de Egusquiza (1912)

We get possible glimpses of the warfare between humanity & the forces of Chaos in Lion & Dragon as well as the literature of Arthurian lore. Many of the struggles between the alliances of the Elves of Dark Albion & Lion & Dragon with the Deep Ones are set forth. What might motivate the worshipers of the cult & covens of witches of Cthulhu might be the promises of alien immortality set forth by HP Lovecraft  in "TheCall of Cthulhu".

"These data, received with suspense and astonishment by the assembled members, proved doubly exciting to Inspector Legrasse; and he began at once to ply his informant with questions. Having noted and copied an oral ritual among the swamp cult-worshippers his men had arrested, he besought the professor to remember as best he might the syllables taken down amongst the diabolist Eskimos. There then followed an exhaustive comparison of details, and a moment of really awed silence when both detective and scientist agreed on the virtual identity of the phrase common to two hellish rituals so many worlds of distance apart. What, in substance, both the Eskimo wizards and the Louisiana swamp-priests had chanted to their kindred idols was something very like this—the word-divisions being guessed at from traditional breaks in the phrase as chanted aloud:
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."
Legrasse had one point in advance of Professor Webb, for several among his mongrel prisoners had repeated to him what older celebrants had told them the words meant. This text, as given, ran something like this:
"In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."
And now, in response to a general and urgent demand, Inspector Legrasse related as fully as possible his experience with the swamp worshippers; telling a story to which I could see my uncle attached profound significance. It savoured of the wildest dreams of myth-maker and theosophist, and disclosed an astonishing degree of cosmic imagination among such half-castes and pariahs as might be least expected to possess it.
On 1 November 1907, there had come to New Orleans police a frantic summons from the swamp and lagoon country to the south. The squatters there, mostly primitive but good-natured descendants of Lafitte's men, were in the grip of stark terror from an unknown thing which had stolen upon them in the night. It was voodoo, apparently, but voodoo of a more terrible sort than they had ever known; and some of their women and children had disappeared since the malevolent tom-tom had begun its incessant beating far within the black haunted woods where no dweller ventured. There were insane shouts and harrowing screams, soul-chilling chants and dancing devil-flames; and, the frightened messenger added, the people could stand it no more.
So a body of twenty police, filling two carriages and an automobile, had set out in the late afternoon with the shivering squatter as a guide. At the end of the passable road they alighted, and for miles splashed on in silence through the terrible cypress woods where day never came. Ugly roots and malignant hanging nooses of Spanish moss beset them, and now and then a pile of dank stones or fragments of a rotting wall intensified by its hint of morbid habitation a depression which every malformed tree and every fungous islet combined to create. At length the squatter settlement, a miserable huddle of huts, hove in sight; and hysterical dwellers ran out to cluster around the group of bobbing lanterns. The muffled beat of tom-toms was now faintly audible far, far ahead; and a curdling shriek came at infrequent intervals when the wind shifted. A reddish glare, too, seemed to filter through the pale undergrowth beyond endless avenues of forest night. Reluctant even to be left alone again, each one of the cowed squatters refused point-blank to advance another inch towards the scene of unholy worship, so Inspector Legrasse and his nineteen colleagues plunged on unguided into black arcades of horror that none of them had ever trod before.
The region now entered by the police was one of traditionally evil repute, substantially unknown and untraversed by white men. There were legends of a hidden lake unglimpsed by mortal sight, in which dwelt a huge, formless white polypus thing with luminous eyes; and squatters whispered that bat-winged devils flew up out of caverns in inner earth to worship it at midnight. They said it had been there before D'Iberville, before La Salle, before the Indians, and before even the wholesome beasts and birds of the woods. It was nightmare itself, and to see it was to die. But it made men dream, and so they knew enough to keep away. The present voodoo orgy was, indeed, on the merest fringe of this abhorred area, but that location was bad enough; hence perhaps the very place of the worship had terrified the squatters more than the shocking sounds and incidents."
These swamp dwelling rites & rituals are also the source for & over seen by the handmaidens of Cthulhu, the swamp hags & worse are created during these cult rituals. These some of the sources of the transition from men into monster hinted about in the works of H.P. Lovecraft & built upon by Clark Ashton Smith.

There could be far more to the background of the cousins of the Deep Ones, the Koa Tua & the Frogmen then even the B/X adventure U1  The Sinister Secret of Salt Marsh hints at?! I've touched at this before but the monster ecology of these cults of Chaos is both complex and very dangerous especially when the legendary creatures hide far more then at first they seem.

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