Monday, June 11, 2018

Blood, Guts, Gore, & More - OSR Gonzo & Pulp Commentary

For most people my blog has been a non stop thrill ride of giant robots, science fantasy,etc. The truth is far stranger & a bit more backhanded in some respects.Way back in 2011 & 12 I was running a Carcosa campaign that had real world bits & pieces, Iron Age influences, patterns from Appendix N authors, & more. Basically I borrowed a good deal  from William  Hope Hodgeson, Arthur Machen, & some of the more basic themes of Algernon Blackwood.

M.R. James took many of these basic assumptions & used them with great abandon in his ghostly tales but it was his use of atmosphere that really brings home the Weird Tales aspect of his writings.
The theme of lost realities overlapping into our own world & taking bits, & pieces of our home reality into the alien Godless realms of the Outer Darkness's  makes players wet the bed for their PC's. All of these of authors became central to the campaign idea of a former lost island continent that drifted along the borders of reality occasionally claiming some lost vessel or another wreck from other worlds  This method was central to me to running classic TSR adventures like David Cook, & Tom Moldvay's X1 Isle of Dread. If you as the dungeon master want to add in crazy or gonzo elements then twist them.The key seems to be dungeon mastering all  of this with a straight face & tamping the gonzo down into the realm of Pulp adventure instead.

Dave A. Hargrave's three Arduin books take the Pulp themes writ high in Anerson's & Gygax's original Dungeons & Dragons books offering the dungeon master even more ideas & guidelines  to the fantastic. Its up to the dungeon master to temper these when running their own campaign adventures. All of the above is going to depend upon player's reactions & play styles.The older I'm getting the more I'm coming to appreciate the more common sense approach to running classic games.

This isn't to say that 'blood & thunder pulp elements or science fantasy adventure ' doesn't have its place at the table. But the course of the campaign's play is going determine this as the player's PC's explore & move through the game. Once again original Dungeons & Dragon's common sense  design & adventure philosophy shows us the light.

The idea of blood & thunder adventurers going against the forces of darkness makes the central hub of a campaign work on so many levels. "Classic games are classic" for a reason & as time goes on the more I'm really coming to appreciate these ideals as a dungeon master the longer time goes on.

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