Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Indifference of Cosmicism,Undeath, & The Infection of Evil Within OSR Urban Dungeon Ecology

The 1970's through middle period 80's were the the secondary or third tier period of solid haunted house & ghost  pictures. These films had a profound impact on my dungeon mastering urban locations & our dungeon master back then ate these things up with a spoon. There is a tremendous connection between pulp Appendix N literature & classic horror film resources.What does this all have to do with other classic Arthurian literature & material. We'll get right into that.

None more so then the 1973 film 'The Legend of Hell House'," The Legend of Hell House is a 1973 British horror film directed by John Hough and based on the novel Hell House by Richard Matheson, who also wrote the screenplay." Author Richard Matheson was responsible for making the haunted house genre viable staple again for horror movies along with Shirley Jackson. Both authors are pillars & foundation authors of the horror genre. The haunted house is one of the more unsung adventure locations for urban dungeon adventuring and the the Belasco House is a perfect blue print for such an adventure location.
"Physicist Lionel Barrett and his wife lead a team of mediums into the Belasco House, which is supposedly haunted by the victims of its late owner, a six-foot-five serial killer."

Renegade Heroes, Tyrannical Conquerors, & Wasteland Kings  my  turn of the of the century alternative Earth setting & system,an old school OSR hybrid of Adventurer, Conqueror, King's Barbarians of Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu mixed in with Troll Lord Games Amazing Adventures firearms rules, modern equipment & more.  The violence & depravity so long associated with pulp adventuring creates literal dungeon sink holes of evil via Adventurer, Conqueror, Kings appendix rules.
The literal depravity among men creates the perfect supernatural ecological conditions for dungeons to literally take root as the wasteland of Arthurian lore carries the adventure location closer to the occult chaos of Hell itself. This is created as the wasteland grows like a cancer within urban locations & cities literally rot from within with monsters & horrors from within & the Outer Darkness. Ghosts are the sieve indicating this rot on a grander scale.

This goes back into the Arthurian legends  of the Black Knight;"A
supernatural Black Knight is summoned by Sir Calogrenant (Cynon ap Clydno in Welsh mythology) in the tale of Yvain, the Knight of the Lion. The Black Knight bests Calogrenant, but the Black Knight is later killed by Ywain (Owain mab Urien) when he attempts to complete the quest that Calogrenant failed.[2] A black knight is the son of Tom a'Lincoln and Anglitora (the daughter of Prester John) in Richard Johnson's Arthurian romance, Tom a Lincoln. Through Tom, he is a grandson of King Arthur's, though his proper name is never given. He killed his mother after hearing from his father's ghost that she had murdered him. He later joined the Faerie Knight, his half-brother, in adventures"
Ghosts shaped the destiny of the hero leading him further down the path of the knight & adventurer. This is the same sort of a journey that we see several characters in both Greyhawk & Blackmoor take. But these settings often turned such ideas on their heads because of Arneson & Gygax's take on matters of the heroic.

In Shakespeare there are ghosts literally created by  the hand of this protagonists & the British Libarary has an excellent article on the subject;
"The earliest Shakespeare play in which ghosts appear is Richard III. Asleep in his tent before the Battle of Bosworth, Richard is visited by the spirits of his victims, one after another. Each one in turn recalls his or her fate at Richard’s hand, predicts their killer’s defeat in the forthcoming battle, and ends by telling him to ‘Despair and die’ (5.3.126). Each one of them also speaks to the sleeping Earl of Richmond, leader of the army opposing Richard, and tells him to ‘Live and flourish’ (5.3.131). Richard sleeps through all this, and any theatre audience can take it that the ghosts are in his troubled dreams. He wakes to say, ‘I did but dream. / O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me!’ (5.3.178–79)"
All of this ties completely into the setting of Dark Albion & Lion & Dragon's settings themes of 'Death' & 'Chaos' with the Rose War's historical events.

When we look further afield then we come to realize that these cycles of Death & Chaos in the dungeon are the exact wheel house of Clark Ashton Smith. This theme can be perfectly framed with CAS 's The Empire of the Necromancers (1932) Weird Tales, September 1932 LW1.

The problem is that evil attracts greater evil & within the confines of a haunted dungeon or adventure location orcs & demons might be indicators of greater problems still! Clerics, paladins, & fighters of evil might be getting a greater workout as the forces of Hell try to force their way back into the world of the living. The whole of Hyperborea might be riddled with cities & dungeons in which the inhabitants don't even realize that their dead.  There might literally be empires of the undead where the living are plagued by undead conquerors of city states that should be dust.

Renegade Heroes, Tyrannical Conquerors, & Wasteland Kings there are neighborhoods where dead cultists are tearing open holes in reality & minor monsters are good indicators that the powers of the Outer Darkness are knocking down the door of the Earth.
This comes straight out of Adventurer, Conqueror, King's Lairs & Encounters which has several very well done undead barrows & cultist style monster locations within it.

The theme of undeath taken as symptom of total corruption & chaos is found within both Arthur Machen & HP Lovecraft.
"There are sacraments of evil as well as of good about us, and we live and move to my belief in an unknown world, a place where there are caves and shadows and dwellers in twilight. It is possible that man may sometimes return on the track of evolution, and it is my belief that an awful lore is not yet dead."
—Arthur Machen
This is especially true of HP Lovecraft's Horror At Red Hook which is a direct descendant to Edgar Allen Poe's tradition of stories & novels. Such a rend in reality within an urban environment can be easily seen within this story.
The haunted house isn't simply a lair for evil but its abode that attracts more until it festers into a complete dungeon giving all within range of its infestation cause to destroy it.

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