Thursday, December 13, 2018

Ill Met In Zothique - Tomb of The Necromancer Clark Ashton Smith Inspired Actual Play Session Report

The world upheld their pillars for awhile:
Now, where imperial On and Carthage stood,
The hot wind sifts across the solitude
The sand that once was wall and peristyle;
Or furrows like the main each tawny mile
Where, ocean-deep above its ancient food
Of cities fame-forgot, the waste is nude,
Traceless as billows of each sunken pile.

Lo! for that wrong shall vengeance come at last,
When the devouring earth, in ruin one
With royal walls and palaces undone,
In dust far-blown from the orbit of the past,
Shall drift, and winds that wrangle through the vast
Immingle it with ashes of the sun.
The Balance  (1912)
by Clark Ashton Smith

Some days the OSR is like collateral damage waiting to happen. Case in point was last night's Amazing Adventures! rpg/ Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea mash up game. I finally got a chance to be a player instead of behind the screen. My buddy Steve & his crew of relative are home for the holidays & he's been itching to put me through my paces with this game. I played a wizard name OOmmish Fzoor (an orphan whose parents were a Norseman wizard & prostitute) from the port city of Alexandria in Egypt who had been warped into Clark Ashton Smith Zothique with a miscalculated summoning spell. Things were not exactly going my PC's way in the far future of Zothique?! I ran afoul of the thieves guild, two miscalculated encounters put me at odds with another wizard, & I had to take out a loan to equip my PC!? A lot of what Steve used in last night's game was from the  Zothique D20 Guide hosted on the  The Eldritch Dark website.

Steve's version of Zothique based on Rodney Mathews fantastic artwork.
Used without permission no breech of trademark or copyright is intended.

Steve based a lot of his adventure's look & vision on the late Seventies & Eighties artwork of Rodney Matthews .\
But the rest was pure Steve where rest of the party of adventurers  caught up with me by  using Professsor Bell's side wise time machine reverse engineered from the Great Race of Yith. Somehow my PC heard about the new strangers in town after getting chased through the market place by an angry mob after I 'borrowed' some material components.

OOmmish Fzoor wizard of the Blue Robe my PC for last night's game.

I ran straight into Dan Daring the party's gun fighter & after a brief but informative conversation in Piaget Greek he paid for the 'misunderstanding' & boom I met the rest of the party! The rest of the adventurers were seeking the tomb of a necromancer who had been cursed by a particularly heinous demon. The demon was called Al'suruith the skull dweller & had amused itself by laying a nasty wasting disease on this party's mentalist Rodu The Magnificent in their home space time  played by Steve's brother Jerry. The demon had the cure at the necromancer's tomb & taunted the party in their dreams.
For twelve days & nights our party's expedition crossed the burning sands that made the Empty Quarter of Earth look like a child's sand box. We were attacked by bandits three times & only made it with highly successful rolls.
Finally we made it too our host's encampment! Frad' Count of a Thousand Falcons was to be our host for the remainder of the expedition. Encampment?! It was more like a fortified royal bandits camp. Our party had made arrangements with a rival bandit tribe of the ones who had attacked our party. Three wizards protected the camp from night demons & my PC was enlisted to help.

Arab horseman with a falcon By Henri Emilien Rousseau the basis for the NPC adventurer's patron
Frad' Count of a Thousand Falcons

In the early morning we set off for the tomb & were escorted by bandits. We strode past vast silent cities, ruins of tyrants statue heads, strange silent ruins of crumbling towers, & deeper into the desert we penetrated.
Finally camping outside a silent dust choked set of ruins all except one tomb that was shone like a white beackon of disaster. The tomb of the necromancer was over seven miles away but there was no mistaking it. The whole affair shone in the alien sun light glinting with unnatural gems from a thousand worlds. How many men & adventurers had this demon plagued place taken over the centuries?!
We camped & stationed guards at every point & yet the hairs on the back of our necks were on edge. The air thick with conflict waiting to spring. We didn't have long to wait, that night desert ghouls attacked us within our encampment from the sands! The ghouls took Byron Le Gus our socialite & killed Link 'The Butcher' Bannon bodyguard/pugilist to Byron.I managed a fire ball spell striking the center of ghouls & scattering them. But I had been saving that spell! The rest of the party managed to kill or drive them away including Father Calihan our priest/cleric.

Ghoul by LadyofHats

The next morning I found two of our retainers dead by our mounts! I made the Voorish Sign but found nothing but the laughter of a demon on the wind. We mounted up & rode to the silent city.  began to take the back entrance into the tomb. Pierre Le Dan our raider guided us through the trap laden silent halls. But the silent skeletons of our future descendants were on us! Twenty four skeletons were trying to harry us along but one well placed chain lightning spell from a wand & it was over.
We paused in a few rooms & then made our way to necromancer's tomb but everything was free from rot & decay via the demon's spell! Upon a throne sat the preserved body of the necomancer & in his hand was the vial we needed! But no way were we going to enter that throne room! Pierre Le Dan our raider spotted the hanging crystal glass globes of acid suspended throughout the room. But it was the damn demon spiders that started to sing that made us leave!
We doubled back & around we I heard that hideous laughter! I saw the foot prints on the floor's dust & once again I made the Voorish Sign! I caught full sight of the demon & went temporarily insane! The thing marked me for death then. But it was Gor The Valiant knight of Nodens who engaged it!

Rodney Matthews Who Disturbs The Tyrant
Used without permission no breech of trademark or copyright is intended.

I ran screaming through what seemed like countless rooms & finally awoke the next day to the menstruation of Father Calihan back in the bandits encampment. The demon was vanquished but the vial was useless! My PC had been clutching a book of esoteric knowledge that has the cure however! But I know that my wizard is a doomed man! For the demon was discorporated but not destroyed. Even as XP was handed out I saw that manic gleam in Steve's eye. My wizard is doomed before New Years folks even as I establish a laboratory back in the capital city with my cut of the treasure. I didn't get home till about four A.M. but it was a blast.

But the irony of Zothique will not be denied. Meanwhile entire cycle of Zothique is right here:

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