Sunday, June 10, 2018

Dark Albion, HP Lovecraft's Dreamlands, & The Dungeons & Dragons PC Races For Old School Campaigns

"Three times Randolph Carter dreamed of the marvelous city, and three times was he snatched away while still he paused on the high terrace above it. All golden and lovely it blazed in the sunset, with walls, temples, colonnades and arched bridges of veined marble, silver-basined fountains of prismatic spray in broad squares and perfumed gardens, and wide streets marching between delicate trees and blossom-laden urns and ivory statues in gleaming rows; while on steep northward slopes climbed tiers of red roofs and old peaked gables harbouring little lanes of grassy cobbles. It was a fever of the gods, a fanfare of supernal trumpets and a clash of immortal cymbals. Mystery hung about it as clouds about a fabulous unvisited mountain; and as Carter stood breathless and expectant on that balustraded parapet there swept up to him the poignancy and suspense of almost-vanished memory, the pain of lost things and the maddening need to place again what once had been an awesome and momentous place."
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath  (1943)
by H.P. Lovecraft

So I've been dealing with fielding certain questions this past Saturday about using  the Dark Albion setting & Lion & Dragon retroclone rpg with other OSR games. How does one use Dark Albion with other OSR systems especially with Elves being one of the ancient bad guys? Dark Albion is authentic medieval alternative historical Rose War setting book by Rpg Pundit & Lion & Dragon is a retroclone style game that is the actual role playing game for this same setting. Working with Dark Albion we're going to take a very different twist into what happens to the traditional D&D style races in my home campaign setting.

Everything changes in with the "End of Roman Rule" over Britain in 383;
"In 383, the usurper Magnus Maximus withdrew troops from northern and western Britain, probably leaving local warlords in charge. Around 410, the Romano-British expelled the magistrates of the usurper Constantine III, ostensibly in response to his failures to use the Roman garrison he had stripped from Britain to protect the island. Roman Emperor Honorius replied to a request for assistance with the Rescript of Honorius, telling the Roman cities to see to their own defence, a tacit acceptance of temporary British self-government. Honorius was fighting a large-scale war in Italy against the Visigoths under their leader Alaric, with Rome itself under siege. No forces could be spared to protect distant Britain. "
Fairyland was growing less attached to the world of man, all of the traditional slave races of the Dark Albion Elves were retreating from the Earth as it grew less magical. They needed a subrealm of Fairyland to hide in & regroup. D&D Elves in my games are known as huldra ("hidden being") from the  Scandinavian language. They along with other beings were bred from mankind in a wide variety of capacities that were needed for various jobs.
Ragnarok had already taken place & the Dwarves had retreated to the subrealm of Fairyland known as the Dreamlands. They followed the huldra's lead deep into HP Lovecraft's Dreamlands. The Celtic Otherworld was a mere reflection of many of the places of the found within the Fairyland realms. The gnomes & hobbits had already established a beach head at the beginning of the 400's. We won't see a resurrection of these races until the events of Camelot & King Arthur.

The Romans leaving Britain sends a clear & present sign to the Elven races that the Earth is not on the menu. The huldra leave Earth occasionally to return to visit old haunts but have colonies within the Enchanted Wood. They occasionally war with the Zoogs over resources but these are subtle affairs.

"Then one very ancient Zoog recalled a thing unheard-of by the others; and said that in Ulthar, beyond the River Skai, there still lingered the last copy of those inconceivably old Pnakotic Manuscripts made by waking men in forgotten boreal kingdoms and borne into the land of dreams when the hairy cannibal Gnophkehs overcame many-templed Olathoë and slew all the heroes of the land of Lomar. Those manuscripts he said, told much of the gods, and besides, in Ulthar there were men who had seen the signs of the gods, and even one old priest who had scaled a great mountain to behold them dancing by moonlight. He had failed, though his companion had succeeded and perished namelessly."

The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath  (1943)  by H.P. Lovecraft
The Dwarves dwell in a myriad of places mostly hidden places like Mount Ngranek the former home of the Dreamlands gods. They served the gods as they always have making enchanted items, taking on tasks, & being the servants of the gods.
"In Middle High German heroic poetry, most dwarfs are portrayed as having long beards, but some may have a childish appearance.[17] In some stories, the dwarf takes on the attributes of a knight.[18] He is most clearly separated from normal humans by his small size, in some cases only reaching up to the knees.[19] Despite his small size, dwarfs typically have superhuman strength, either by nature or through magical means.[20] Many dwarfs have the ability to make themselves invisible, typically via a "Tarnkappe" (cloak of invisibility), which seems to be a very old attribute of the dwarfs. They also possess other magical objects, and often appear as master smiths.[21] Typically they live inside of hollow mountains, though in some cases they may live above the ground.[22] Depending on the story, they may be hostile or friendly to humans.[23] Male dwarfs are often portrayed as lusting after human women, whereas female dwarfs seek to possess the male hero in the legends"

In the Days of Giants: A Book of Norse Tales, 1902

Gnomes are very rare & dwell on the very edges of the Fantastic Realms described in HP Lovecraft's  "The White Ship". This goes right along with the last mass exit of the Fairy from Earth as the very last of the Picts went extinct or worse.
The ancient Elven gateways are still in operation in England ; " Elveden ("elves' hill", Suffolk); other examples may be Eldon Hill ("Elves' hill", Derbyshire); and Alden Valley ("elves' valley", Lancashire). These seem to associate elves fairly consistently with woods and valleys"
These ancient gateways play large roles in Chaos cults history & battles against the unconquered Sun. The authorities of Albion know that these gateways touch other worlds & they also know how dangerous they are. There have been a number of minor apocalyptic events that mirror the passage in mythology of the Fairy races & invisible wars among their servants.  HPL Dreamlands are chaos incarnate to the real world & when gates between these realms open up then our reality begins to run like hot wax. 'Dream rot' is a very dangerous chaos condition that gives inquisitors nightmares.

The death of Siegfried. Nibelungenlied manuscript

Everything changes with the coming of King Arthur & the establishment of the Church of the Unconquerored Sun. Pagan cults are stamped out, the whole of Europe is united, & the cults of Chaos retreat to the shadows where they belong or so it would seem. Albion's authorities know how dangerous the Dreamlands & the Celtic Otherworld is. They've seen Fairyland wash normal reality away at the very edges of their empire. Note that that this from my personal Dark Albion campaign.

For Labyrinth Lord, Dark Albion has all of the conversions for that retroclone  system & it easily flows into it as a campaign set up. On the whole the Realms of Crawling Chaos book for Labyrinth Lord can enhance the Lovecraft elements of such a Dark Albion campaign. But its going to Dark Albion's Cults of Chaos that really brings home the dark & dangerous aspects of such a campaign when the Old Ones come calling!

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