Thursday, July 12, 2018

Some OSR Thoughts On Using B10 Night's Dark Terror, B2 Keep On The Borderland, & T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil As The Basis For A Campaign In Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Second Edition

Barely one day's march from Kelven, the uncharted tracts of the Dymrak forest conceal horrors enough to freeze the blood of civilized folk. Those who have ventured there tell how death comes quick to the unwary - for the woods at night are far worse than any dungeon.

But you are adventurers, veterans of many battles, and the call of the will is strong. Will you answer the call, or are you afraid of the dark terrors of the night?

I've had one of those days where I speak to a friend & then we have a go around about a favorite module or two. In this case going over the merits of using Night's Dark Terror as a warm up to the T1The Village of Hommlet & Temple of Elemental Evil.
There are a variety of reasons for this for this but it really gives the PC's a chance to get a first hand nip in the hand with some of the humanoids infesting the wilderness around the Temple. This whole affair will take the PC's from first & beyond the ladder. B10 Night's Dark Terror has a weird sort of Slavic/Russian feel to it & with a bit of flavor tweaking it can be made into a killer Clark Ashton  background piece for the low land forests of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Harry the PC's trail & give the PC's no time to think about things too closely just outside of the forests near the ruins of the ruined Hyperborean capital.

The tension between the Old Faith & the new in the village takes on a whole new aspect especially given the position of Druids on Hyperborea. This links up with the humanoid raids happening in the surrounding countryside. Then the adventure events  could shift over to B2 Keep On The Borderlands with the monster generators going full blast.

The country folk having only a bit of an insight as to how far events have gone in the past few months & with the ruins of B10 having come back on line the pulpy weirdness cranks up to eleven. Duality of  the Old Faith (druidical) and the New Faith (St Cuthbert) dialing in on the village & the surroundings speak volumes of the corruption bubbling just over in the Moathouse & the tunnels leading into the  temple itself.

This AS&SH's Hyperborea where the remains & ruins of the old world are always two steps away & the quasi IndoEuropean flavor is going to more then a little implied. This is the far end of the spectrum of Earth's former future here & the flavor is dark, gritty, & pulpy. The implications of the fixed locales & adventure events with a multi-episodic structure of B10 Night's Dark Terror suggests the almost dream like fairy tale quality of the adventure.

This basically means that the PC's are going to be dragged through the back end of the wilderness via the various humanoid menaces of the adventure. They're going to need the base of the Keep of the Borderland or village of Hommlet.
Let's quickly talk about the moat house location outpost of the Temple of Elemental Evil which is only two miles from the temple proper. This is a very dangerous & pulpy dungeon location extension & its purely Gary Gygax dungeon design in & out. The place reeks of the seedy, decayed nature of the temple's base evil & purely pagan religion.
This also gives the PC's an opportunity to be murdered by two of my favorite B/X & AS&SH monsters that seldom get mentioned let alone for players to expect. Vampires & werewolves fit the back bone Russian/Eastern European vibe of the B2/B10/ T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil campaign vibe.

Werewolf artwork from the AS&SH rule book & here.

What about B2 The Keep On The Borderlands? Suddenly everything about the place becomes key to maintaining the security of the backwater kingdoms of Hommlet & the surrounding countryside. Does the temple of Elemental Evil hook into the underworld of Underborea? Sure it does because its very nature demands it. The ancient Hutaakans and the Iron Ring slavers are simply an extension of the factions introduced in the Keep & Village. All together forming a union of Chaos & dark forces decisiveness that could bring the whole capital of Hyperborea to its very knees!

Lareth the Beautiful is serving far more then one demonic spider mistress & he has deeper connections to the various spider gods of Underborea. His mythos connections might be far more deep & abiding then the PC's realize especially if he's recast in AS&SH. Could this NPC be an envoy for the faith of the upstart spider demoness Lolth on the distant shores of Hyperborea?

There are some guidelines to help take the dungeon master along the Hyperborea flavor of this weird Sword & Sorcery combination;
  • Let the fighters have a bit of a wider range of weaponry especially from AS&SH to give it that Hyperborean flavor
  • Give wizards & magic users the widest possible range of minor magics from AD&D 1st edition including cantrips and the like at least till they get to third level then let the patrons begin from AS&SH.
  • Clerics should have their gods at their shoulders because of the evils of the temple. They're going to be reactive, proactive, and frankly on edge because of the stakes of the temple's evil
  • Hirelings & mercenaries should be a mix of  AS&SH  &  Greyhawk types to show the dimensional instabilities and gate effects of the temples 
  • Don't be afraid to use Greyhawk deities as patrons in the classic DCC & ASSH style with lots of weird wrinkles on them. Use DCC magic rules here. Imagine Luz as a patron!? Why would he do that well because he's a dirty double dealing floor flusher of the highest order and he'll turn on his fellow gods in a black cold heart beat.
  • AS&SH witches can come in very handy under certain circumstances and a party should have one. They make excellent additions to an adventuring party. 
  • Feel free to incorporate the various AS&SH second edition  PC types with all of the bells and whistles intact. The adventure of Temple of  Elemental Evil 's elements will indeed set the tone and background as needed. From traps to major NPC's its all their waiting to take PC's up the long ladder from first through their ending levels.
Why would the T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil be involved with the far shores of Hyperborea? In a word, the high stakes occult powers dwelling under the dungeons of the temple & its ley lines of power in Hyperborea. The fact is that many of the factions of Hyperborea both alive & dead are interested in clawing their way back up the long ladder of royal power including the royal dead of the various Hyperborean lines. While their gone they have not forgotten the taste of power or glory.

Something no one ever talks about is the ambitions of the gods of Greyhawk. These are not static deities & powers here & they desire more worshipers & power always. Theses include the dark gods of Greyhawk & I can easily see the various cults taking a hold of & rooting their rotten way into Hyperborea. This can easily be all of the motivation for the PC's to kick them out of the setting once again.

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