Friday, June 15, 2018

Set Up, Back Stage, & Lovecraftian Maintenance For Dungeons With Adventurer,Conqueror, King, Arduin, OSR, & Classic Old School Flavors

Its about 2:00 A.M., I've been off line most of the day with work & some of the general necessities of life. As it stands at this moment several of Dark Albion's elements have been re introduced again into my general campaign.  The concept of the kilodungeon has shifted its way back into the consciousness of the OSR with Autarch’s eighth Kickstarter project: The Secrets of the Nethercity. The concept of the kilodungeon goes back further then most folks realize & pops up in places that dungeon master's least expect it. All the way back to T1 The Village of Hommlet By Gary Gygax. Hommlet's moat house is the perfect metaphor or preview of coming attractions for PC's before they get to the main event.

Everything about Hommlet is the perfect PC base that mirrors many of the elements later found in the the rest of the Temple of Elemental Evil. That is once its been cleared of any & all resistance by the player characters. The dive into the moat house is a dive into the evil of the Underworld infecting the rest of the campaign world. That is to say that its a boil on the face of world & its not one to be taken lightly. This is a mini dungeon setting with plenty of 'shoot from the hip encounters'. The second the PC's enter this place is the second that they're taking on Chaos in all of its glory! Chaos in Advanced or Basic Dungeons & Dragons has always been there as soon as the player or dungeon master has read his first monster alignment that says 'Chaotic' or 'Chaotic Evil'.

Oh and if you don't think that the occult forces of Law & Chaos are just as important in OSR games such as Adventurer,Conqueror, King? Well let me let you feast your eyes on the Kickstarter for Secrets of The Undercity;
"The adventure takes place in the Auran Empire campaign setting, the default setting for ACKS. The eponymous Nethercity lies below the city of Cyfaraun, just fifty miles northwest of Türos Tem, making it a perfect sequel to our introductory adventure The Sinister Stone of Sakkara. But if you don't play in the Auran Empire, don't worry - a special appendix in the book offers advice on how to adapt the adventure for use with our Kanahu setting or with your own favorite campaign world. The Nethercity can be placed under any long-inhabited urban settlement that's changed hands between law and chaos over the centuries."
The really important bit here is,
"The Nethercity can be placed under any long-inhabited urban settlement that's changed hands between law and chaos over the centuries."
This is exactly what we see in T1 The Temple of Elemental Evil By Gary Gygax & Frank Mentzer. The moat house of Village of Hommlet is the set up for the bigger & nastier temple which we got a taste of.

The Auran Empire campaign setting,has had its major bush fires with Chaos before & destroyed it outright time & again. But Chaos is a festering disease that breeds in the hearts & minds of the campaign setting. The results can be & are catastrophic for a world. Don't believe me? Just take a look at Barsoom whose Green Martians consumed the entire world of Mars & whose presence is found all over early Dungeons & Dragons adventures encounter tables. Edgar Rice Burroughs creations are some of the most destructive warriors your party is ever likely to encounter. And they are the symptom of a much larger disease. The death of your campaign world should the forces of Chaos get the upper hand.

For world of Dave A Hargrave's Arduin there's one dungeon that consumes the heart of chaos & comes back for more that's Death Heart. This living & breathing chaos magnet lays at the core of a tractless wilderness. The place is pure evil, simple & quick to understand as an adventure location. Its a horrid place that deals in pure chaos and should not be placed too close to a civilized area. There's no warm up dungeon location for Death Heart merely a lone sentinel of evil & choke point for the forces of chaos in Arduin.

 Now I've talked about Lovecraft's Dream cycle & I'm going to again. The Underworld of the Dreamlands represents what happens after the battles have been lost & one. There was an apocalyptic battle in the Dreamlands, the cost was horrid for the gods of Earth. A deal was struck & the role of the gods of Earth was reduced to a mere shadow. Then you might ask where are the forces that fought in this apocalyptic event? Does the Vale of Pnath contain them? Yes it does but these of Chaos forces are right where they were when they were banished! The ghouls & ghasts are some of the most common inhabitants of HP Lovecraft's Underworld. But its in the Gugs of HP Lovecraft's The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926) that we get our answers about this apocalypse.
The Gugs were partially responsible for this apocalyptic event, "The gugs were banished to the underworld by the earth’s gods, the Great Ones, for an unnamed blasphemy. Now they reside in a terrifying, underground city, dwelling in lofty, round, cyclopean towers. Nearby, colossal monoliths mark the cemetery of the gugs."
Whose responsible for what happened during all of these events? Well the answer is writ large all over the events of the background of The Dream-quest of Unknown Kadath & its easily Nyarlathotep.

 He holds the keys & the ruination of mankind. Chaos was given a stale mate  but the cost was terrible to the dreams of mankind. There are more hints about it in the writings of Zothique by Clark Ashton Smith.

 The real question for Secrets of the Nethercity what's the mega dungeon that Secrets is warming the characters up for? After the events of the adventure location for Adventurer, Conqueror, King what comes next. This is only taste of what's to come & we get a similar vein of adventure in T1 Village of Hommlet.
Secrets of the Nethercity's Cyfaraun might be the PC's base of operations for connecting the kilodungeons of the Nethercity with some of the upper levels of ACK's Dwimmmermount
. Many of the hoards described in this product have direct corroborations with Labyrinth Lord's treasure & horde tables.
Chaos never sleeps & sooner or later the PC's are going to be confronting it again. This is where Dark Albion comes in very handy. Cults of Chaos for Dark Albion goes down exactly the same route as Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu . Lovecraft's mythos forces are chaos unbound in all their glory & they're dangerous as Hell itself. 
This is the same treatment that we see of the Mythos from the Arduin books where Lovecraft's creations jump from one civilized world to another destroying wantonly and dangerously again & again.

Most folks don't know that the Arduin books don't have this take in the main rule books but in the adventures themselves as a part of the monsters & NPC forces of the dungeons of Dave A. Hargrave. These forces though are left overs from apocalyptic events of Arduin's campaign setting.
Here are six rules for bringing the pain of the Mythos to your favorite science fantasy game setting: 
  1. Its not always about Cthulhu, there are literally legions of Great Old Ones & Outer Gods to use in adventure settings. 
  2. Alien artifacts & treasure can convey far more then miles of exposition during an adventure leading to rolls to help figure out the item 
  3. Make up stuff on your own, got a Lovecraft scholar among your ranks than create your own Old One or Outer god for fun & profit during adventures. 
  4. Don't get bound by the scale & BS of the Mythos. If you need a god or other thing to be certain way for an adventure then change it. There are so many contradictions in the Weird Tales literature. 
  5. Make the Mythos your own & let it work to enrich & not hinder your campaign world. 
  6. Earn treasure & items as needed during adventures especially with a cult or mythos flavor.

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