Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Christmas Appendix N Campaign Commentary - Algernon Henry Blackwood & The OSR Campaign Apocalyse

Adventurers are made not born into the life that we often find PC's & with the Christmas holidays approaching Algernon Henry Blackwood has been on my mind. Blackwood's is a world where one steps out the door into nature & you risk stepping into an alien world not of this Earth. The world of a fundamentally different reality whose rules are not those we know or can easily understand.


For me Blackwood is one of the premiere weird tales writers because he embodies his own fiction so much;
"Throughout his adult life, he was an occasional essayist for various periodicals. In his late thirties, he moved back to England and started to write stories of the supernatural. He was successful, writing at least ten original collections of short stories and later telling them on radio and television. He also wrote fourteen novels, several children's books, and a number of plays, most of which were produced but not published. He was an avid lover of nature and the outdoors, and many of his stories reflect this. To satisfy his interest in the supernatural, he joined The Ghost Club. He never married; according to his friends he was a loner but also cheerful company.[6]
Jack Sullivan stated that "Blackwood's life parallels his work more neatly than perhaps that of any other ghost story writer. Like his lonely but fundamentally optimistic protagonists, he was a combination of mystic and outdoorsman; when he wasn't steeping himself in occultism, including Rosicrucianism and Buddhism, he was likely to be skiing or mountain climbing."[5] Blackwood was a member of one of the factions of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn,[7] as was his contemporary Arthur Machen.[8] Cabalistic themes influence his novel The Human Chord.[9]
His two best known stories are probably "The Willows" and "The Wendigo". He would also often write stories for newspapers at short notice, with the result that he was unsure exactly how many short stories he had written and there is no sure total. Though Blackwood wrote a number of horror stories, his most typical work seeks less to frighten than to induce a sense of awe. Good examples are the novels The Centaur, which climaxes with a traveler's sight of a herd of the mythical creatures; and Julius LeVallon and its sequel The Bright Messenger, which deal with reincarnation and the possibility of a new, mystical evolution of human consciousness."

For me the four horror pieces  of his that parallel Arthur Machen's deadly lost tribe of forbidden Fey are  "The Willows","The Human Chord", "The Wendigo",  & "The Centaur".
But what are these strange other worldly tribes of  Algernon Henry Blackwood? There is a very dangerous alien quality to Blackwood's supernatural world & one of a dangerous chaotic unnatural order. Some of his work seems to draw very deeply from the well of European mythological lore & his own experiences. It almost seems that used correctly the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Fiend Folio might make an excellent source for Blackwood & Arthur Machans material.

The humanoid races of the Fiend Folio are the unsanitized Fey races that the others don't talk about. These are the remains of perhaps another older reality that was replaced when mankind started walking upright. The Xvart & many of the dangerous humanoid horrors such as the Mites could be the very last tribes to leave Earth or Greyhawk. Ancient occult rites bring their alien reality over to such worlds. They cause all kinds of  untold misery & horror. But is there more to it? Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum by Brian Young goes into the Celtic mythological deeply & dips its pen into the druids. I mentioned the Voor in the Machen entry. Perhaps the druids are the last of a human cult that remembers most of the devastating wars of extinction that banished these tribes of alien Fey?! But are they really gone? Reading through Algernon Henry Blackwood
has me convinced otherwise. The worlds of his fiction belong to the older & more dangerous alien occult order.

"Le Satyre", Jules Fontanez

But is
Algernon Henry Blackwood alien nature & its monsters the past or perhaps an alien reality or far future time line overlapping our own? "Clark Ashton Smith's story "Genius Loci" (1933) was inspired by Blackwood's story "The Transfer"" & many of Smith's contemporaries including H.P. Lovecraft were inspired by Blackwood. So it stands to reason that perhaps thousands or millions of years in the future Blackwood's alien Fey perhaps are among the occult or alien forces that take back the Earth.

We know that at a certain point in mythology Ragnarok happens or happened. The Norse gods among many others were killed perhaps along with millions after Hyperborea left Earth . This kicks off the Zothique cycle of the Earth much later on & perhaps the world of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.In the centuries after Ragnarok but before the Zothique era these were the eons of the Hyperborean empire. They sailed the stars, conquered Death, & build vast works on alien shores, moved realities, & seemed all powerful but everything has its cycles.

AS&SH art by Mike Tenebrae

But time is circular & while the skyships of Hyperborea were seen trading in the ports of Mystara, Calidar, & Greyhawk along with Arduin. The energies released by Ragnarok worked their way across time & space causing untold devastation.

All of the events of Ragnarok are gone into by Troll Lord Games The Codex Germania & The Codex Nordica.
But these are only reflections & aspects of some of the events of the end mankind. The events of the actual  end of the gods are much worse. These echo off into the planes.

And you can bet on Mystara that the Immortals watched the events of this closely & did everything in their respective power to stave off any such events from happening on their world. The very fabric of their religions on Mystara is keyed to preventing such world shattering events. 

Algernon Henry Blackwood 
stories & novels are ones of horrific alien beauty & singularity. They speak volumes of an infinitely more alien & horrific reality that lurks just outside of our & our adventurers door. But these are merely the beach head into what's coming. We'll get into that next time. For now keep em rolling!  

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