Sunday, January 27, 2019

Comets, Wordlets, Appendix N Solar System Settings, & Free Science Fantasy Downloads - OSR Commentary

"Man's conquest of the interplanetary gulfs has been fraught with many tragedies. Vessel after vessel, like venturous motes, disappeared in the infinite — and had not returned. Inevitably, for the most part, the lost explorers have left no record of their fate. Their ships have flared as unknown meteors through the atmosphere of the further planets, to fall like shapeless metal cinders on a never-visited terrain; or have become the dead, frozen satellites of other worlds or moons. A few, perhaps, among the unreturning fliers, have succeeded in landing somewhere, and their crews have perished immediately, or survived for a little while amid the inconceivably hostile environment of a cosmos not designed for men.
In later years, with the progress of exploration, more than one of the early derelicts has been descried, following a solitary orbit; and the wrecks of others have been found on ultraterrene shores. Occasionally — not often — it has been possible to reconstruct the details of the lone, remote disaster. Sometimes, in a fused and twisted hull, a log or record has been preserved intact. Among others, there is the case of the Selenite, the first known rocket ship to dare the zone of the asteroids."

Master of the Asteroid

Clark Ashton Smith

The asteroid belt is home to the remains of several worlds including planet X & Y along with the ruins of its moons. Many ancient & alien civilizations once thrived there but now only dust, comets, & asteroids remain or is there more here?!

Cover of Wonder Stories, October 1932 Artwork is public domain
Download available right here.  

The inner worlds of my OSR  'Old Solar System' setting have been haunting with my weekend game of Troll Lords Castles & Crusades mixed with a healthy dose of Amazing Adventures. So I've been dusting off some of my Old Solar System notes about Leigh Brackett, C.L. Moore, & many other Appendix N authors. What it brings to mind are mini campaign settings that I've used in the past for OSR game adventure nights. Lately I've been missing my 'Old Solar System' OSR setting & I've decided to go back to it.  "The Lake of the Gone-Forever" By Leigh Brackett (Thrilling Wonder Stories, October 1949) is an old favorite tale of mine which is freely available from the Internet Archive here. 

Since I can't seem to get a straight answer from Dungeon Master Steve's players I'm working on a set of mini campaign settings based around some of the ideas that filtered through  'Off On A Comet' By Jules Vernewhich is an old favorite novel of mine. I still loath & hate the Anti Semitic totally unnecessary part of the novel.  But the novel has some incredible ideas for a mini campaign setting including a miniature worldlet being the comet. That bit I think has more then a bit of merit & could be used as a part of a Lovecraftian Sword & Science fantasy backdrop for the asteroid belt for my 2100 Era Earth. 

A Comet by Jules Verne 1964 Ace D 245
Verne's book depicts a chunk of Europe being taken by the comet & a pre World War I style empire building in miniature happening with German, English,etc characters building countries on the banks of this comet worldlet. Besides giving a dungeon master a chance to use early 1900's adventurers in such a setting the book also indicates that there were prior civilizations on the comet that were marooned on its shores. And here's where things get interesting. 

Both C.L. Moore & Leigh Brackett also used comets, asteroids, & meteor style worldlets to preserve the remains of ancient civilizations. But long before them HP Lovecraft mentioned In The Shadow Out of Time that a split of the Great Race had been preserved out in the asteroid field in a inter system colony. Why are they out there & are they watching the miniature colony worlds that they created such as those from  "The Lake of the Gone-Forever" By Leigh Brackett (Thrilling Wonder Stories, October 1949

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There are parts of a comet that are a remnant of Atlantis & Hyperborea. Parts & pieces that have  become a part of a comet as various cultures have been swept up to become a part of this comet worldlet. This includes some very alien cultures from across the scattered multiverse mixed in with a variety of human ones. In fact I'm thinking of miniature human cities perhaps something akin to some of H.G. Wells more advanced humanoid ones from When The Sleeper Wakes. 

The fact is that I'm thinking that one or more of these small jeweled asteroids might be the preserves of ancient Elves, Dwarves or other fantasy races. These races in turn might be sitting on some very dangerous  lesser known demons, gods, alien Lovecraftian entities that have been hinted about in various classic modules. Yes I'm speaking of WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun  written by Gary Gygax and published by TSR in 1982. Set the module on a comet or asteroid world & you have an instantly incredibly weird & dangerous classic dungeon romp! 

In point of fact if the dungeon master wanted to have a campaign cross over point between different OSR or old school settings a comet or asteroid is the perfect adventure staging ground.
Case in point is crossing over Bruce Heard's World of Calidar  with say Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea? Well an asteroid is the perfect point as desperate bands of adventurers try to cope with a hostile & dangerous environment as well as their respective alien cultures! 

Under alien sky these bands of adventurers company may be the least of their worries. The magick of their sky & void ships may be fading fast & they'll have to survive many of the classic or OSR monsters that a dungeon master will dream up! 

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