Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Death & Darkness In The Zothique Wastelands - Clark Ashton Smith Inspired Zothique Actual Play Session Report Four

We seven players had been playing in my buddy Steve's Zothique game using a variety of OSR resources including the  Zothique D20 Guide hosted on the  The Eldritch Dark website. Bits & pieces of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea & Amazing Adventures! rpg by Troll Lord Games 

But my second time lost  wizard from Alexandria had incurred the wraith of a demon by associating with my current party of adventurers. Our time was literally running out on Zothique as Steve & his family were leaving my home town this week at the end of the holidays. So we were starting to  wrapping up our holiday game. 

Crossing the Desert by Rodney Mathews, this is how Zothique looks in my mind.
The artwork is used without permission & no copyright or trademark infringement was or is intended.

Like arabesques of ebony,

The cypresses, in silhouette,
Fantastically cleave and fret
A moon of yellow ivory.

Like orient lamps the rays illume
A leafy pattern manifold,
And all the field is overscrolled
With curiously figured gloom.

Like arabesques of ebony,
Or like Arabian lattices,
For ever seem the cypresses,
Before a moon of ivory.

Arabesque  (1922) 

Our party settled down in an alternative location & my character reloaded his spells & mediating under the alien sky of Zothique. Something wasn't right at all. The night was too quiet & in the early morning there were strange signs among our hosts that something was very wrong. At the edge of my vision I saw a blur or shape & my dice roll caught me by surprise! A bandit attack & an assassin!? The assassin caught me full in the chest with a poisoned dagger!
But this was no ordinary assassin?! No I heard the voice of the demon that had been plaguing our doomed party the second we had broken into that accursed tomb of the necromancer?!  The demon made some rhyming poem about my death but it was too late. I looked straight into the inhuman eyes of the assassin as the cloying darkness began to spread among camp. Steve was using one of my tricks on my me!?! The rest of the players PC's awoke to the sounds of slaughter as the desert version  Dark Creepers from the Fiend Folio attacked our party

Russ Nicholson Dark Creeper from The Fiend Folio First Edition.

All I could do is slowly watch as three PCs were slaughtered right before my eyes in the middle of the game. The four remaining PC's used a continual light spell to drive back the ab human bastards off of our backs!

These things were not nice to deal with & even with some 'modern' weaponry we had only the core party of adventurers surviving the night with the assistance of  'The Thousand Falcons' tribe. We knew that Chieftain Frad The Wise would swear vengeance upon the Da'rus The Dark Creeper nation. There would be a blood feud for our players to deal with next Christmas & New Years in the sands of Zothique. 

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

We limped back to the capital where the PC's had my poor fool of an adventurer given to the cult of Mordiggian 
But some of us had to make new PC's. The Dark Creeper attack was devastating & we knew it. But were the Creepers in the capital? More then likely. Steve had used the Castles & Crusades version of the Dark Creepers from this blog. 

I know because two years ago I used this same write up to slaughter one of his beloved PC's but such is life at the table. Suck it up & roll up another PC.
 Within about 20 minutes I had another Wizard PC ready to go. One of my assistants became the latest in a small line to take over the laboratories that I had established. Once again I made the Voorish Sign around my laboratory & made sure it was clean before going on. Then I began the task of dealing with a local alchemist for some vital anti demon unguents. But now things have to wake until next week when we get together. My latest PC is making a number of rounds to some NPC's for vital sorcerous supplies.  Things are not boding well for our party of adventurers.

Steve's been drawing deeply from the following Clark Ashton Smith stories for this part of the mini campaign: 

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