"Gaunt giant and passionate beauty, they dragged their thirst-crazed way across the endless crimson sands in a terrible test of endurance. For one of them knew where cool life-giving water lapped old stones smooth -- a place of secret horror that it was death to reveal!"
Part of the reason that the war between the forces of light & darkness is heating up is because mankind is stirring up the hidden places at the edge of the maps of the universe. So once again I've been thinking about Mars, I had my Victorious Rpg /Amazing Adventures! Rpg campaign last night. But that's going to be another blog entry I've been thinking about Mars again when I got home. I began thumbing through my player's hand book, thinking about Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leigh Brackett, & Clark Ashton Smith.
I want to make this Mars a bit different from the run of the mill Mars game campaigns that steal heavily from the John Carter of Mars books. So I began to think more in terms of Leigh Brackett's Mars & Sword & Sorcery. Skirmisher Publishing's Shadows of A Dying World has all of the Barsoomian creatures & horrors all under one D20 roof. But I really want to break away from the traditional & so I dug out my copy of Ancient Kingdoms Mesopotamia (SWORD & SORCERY) D20 book instead. This book draws specifically from the mood & themes of some of the great pulp writers, specifically Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft.
Next I dug out my Castles & Crusades Codex Classicum which has a number of classes that will port over to Mars with out a problem. The fact is that gladiator class has some bones on it for use as a part of a Mars gladiatorial style adventure element & feature that I'm thinking of using. Maybe using some of the Greco Roman gods as 'lost' Martian clerical options.
I know that Queen of the Martian Catacombs byLeigh Brackettis definitely going to be a major inspiration for this upcoming campaign. I've been quietly looking at how Brackett's humanoid Martian tribesmen are put together into their low lander dead sea tribes. These are a very barbarian race that seems to draw from the American plains Indians & Celts as much as ERB's red men races. Brackett manages her usual trick of flowing prose filled with beautiful women, blood feuds,weird science, daring do, & some excellent scenery perfect for old school adventure settings. The Eric John Stark stories as well as a bunch of Brackett's other early stuff, seems to fit into the notion that Mars is a both a very old world & a world of many forbidden little areas of insanity just waiting to not only engulf Mars but the whole of the solar system. This same notion we'd see from Lovecraft & Clark Ashton Smith in "The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis".
Even Edgar Rice Burroughs inferred that there were locations of grave peril upon the back waters of Mars. We'll get into those later on.
The Plutonian Drug is one of the cooler early efforts by Clark Ashton Smith & fits right into the Old School Solar system nicely. The connections are there for the other H.P. Lovecraft's circle of writers & the Plutonian drug lays down some very deep connections indeed. The Plutonian Drug, published in Amazing Stories for September, 1934 isn't that well known outside of fans of Lovecraft & CAS.
Not only do we get a quick overview of how dangerous space exploration is but we get a quick nod to a Moon expedition in 1975! "'It is remarkable.' said Dr. Manners, 'how the scope of our pharmacopoeia has been widened by interplanetary exploration. In the past thirty years, hundreds of hitherto unknown substances, employable as drugs or medical agents, have been found in the other worlds of our own system. It will be interesting to see what the Allan Farquar expedition will bring back from the planets of Alpha Centaurt when -- or if — it succeeds in reaching then and returning to earth. I doubt, though, if anything more valuable than selenine will be discovered. Selenine, derived from a fossil lichen found by the first rocket-expedition to the moon in 1975, has, as you know, practically wiped out the old-time curse of cancer. In solution, it forms the base of an infallible serum, equally useful for cure or prevention.'" This might be a homage to HG Wells First Men in the Moon later made into the classic '64 film.
This story outlines not only one of the CAS early efforts but the planet where the Mi Go of HP Lovecraft's Whisperer in the Darkness had a colony. By the time we get to CAS novella 'The Plotonian Drug' the Mi Go & Yuggoth have moved on. There are lots of little details about space exploration & the science of the time that get into the myriad of hazards of the 'Old Solar System'.
Mi Go artwork by Khannea SunTzu
Now I haven't gotten into the artifact that is the Plutonian Drug. Its a drug that unhinges the individuality of a person from their personal time space continuum, it shows them all of their selves along the lattice of existence. If this wasn't enough it also makes the person vulnerable to space & time traveling entities such as the Hounds of Tindalos or Dimensional Shamblers.
"'Plutonium,' explained Manners, 'as its name would indicate, comes from forlom, frozen Pluto, which only one terrestrial expedition has so far visited — the expedition led by the Cornell brothers, John and Augustine, which started in 1990 and did not return to earth till 1996, when nearly everyone had given it up as lost. John, as you may have heard, died during the returning voyage, together with half the personnel of the expedition: and the others reached earth with only one reserve oxygen-tank remaining.
This vial contains about a tenth of the existing supply of plutonium. Augustine Cornell, who is an old schoolfriend of mine gave it to me three years ago, just before he embarked with the Allan Farquar crowd. I count myself pretty lucky to own anything so rare.
'The geologists of the party found the stuff when they began prying beneath the solidified gases that cover the surface of that dim, starlit planet, in an effort to learn a little about its composition and history. They couldn't do much under the circumstances, with limited time and equipment; but they made some curious discoveries — of which plutonium was far from being the least.
'Like selenine, the stuff is a bi-product of vegetable fossilization. Doubtless it is many billion years old, and dates back to the time when Pluto possessed enough internal heat to make possible the development of certain rudimentary plant-forms on its blind surface. It must have had an atmosphere then; though no evidence of former animal-life was found by the Cornells.
'Plutonium, in addition to carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen, contains minute quantities of several unclassified elements. It was discovered in a crystalloid condition, but turned immediately to the fine powder that you see, as soon as it was exposed to air in the rocketship. It is readily soluble in water, forming a permanent colloid, without the least sign of deposit, no matter how long it remains in suspension.'
'You say it is a drug?' queried Balcoth. 'What does it do to you?'
'I'll come to that in a minute — though the effect is pretty hard to describe. The properties of the stuff were discovered by chance: on the return journey from Pluto, a member of the expedition, half delirious with space-fever, got hold of the unmarked jar containing it and took a small dose, imagining that it was bromide of potassium. It served to complicate his delirium for a while — since it gave him some brand-new ideas about space and time.
'Other people have experimented with it since then. The effects are quite brief (the influence never lasts more than half an hour) and they vary considerably with the individual. There is no bad aftermath, either neural, mental, or physical, as far as anyone has been able to determine. I've taken it myself, once or twice, and can testify to that.
'Just what it does to one, I am not sure. Perhaps it merely produces a derangement or metamorphosis of sensations, like hashish; or perhaps it serves to stimulate some rudimentary organ, some dormant sense of the human brain. At any rate there is, as clearly as I can put it, an altering of the perception of time — of actual duration — into a sort of space-perception. One sees the past, and also the future, in relation to one's own physical self, like a landscape stretching away on either hand. You don't see very far, it is true -merely the events of a few hours in each direction; but it's a very curious experience; and it helps to give you a new slant on the mystery of time and space. It is altogether different from the delusions of mnophka.'"
The novella picks up the ball of time travel & twists it in a very personal direction but its what happens when it wears off that the fun begins. This brings up the real potential here for adventurers who are more then likely to try this ancient horror from the past with a whole host of old school adventure complications for a campaign! Were the Mi Go using this drug to cause those trapped within those brass brain cases to travel down their own personal time continuum for some alien purpose? Adventurers are going to face destruction from a wide variety of sanity destroying sources! On the whole the whole affair might be similar to the Fungi From Yuggoth poetry cycle that HP Lovecraft wrote back in '29.
"It is a certain hour of twilight glooms, Mostly in autumn, when the star-wind pours Down hilltop streets, deserted out-of-doors, But shewing early lamplight from snug rooms. The dead leaves rush in strange, fantastic twists, And chimney-smoke whirls round with alien grace, Heeding geometries of outer space, While Fomalhaut peers in through southward mists.
This is the hour when moonstruck poets know What fungi sprout in Yuggoth, and what scents And tints of flowers fill Nithon’s continents, Such as in no poor earthly garden blow. Yet for each dream these winds to us convey, A dozen more of ours they sweep away!" The Fungi From Yuggoth By HP Lovecraft
The Plutonian Drug from Clark Ashton Smith should be used with some restraint within old school campaigns because it can both enhance or wreck a carefully laden pulpy setting easily. Doses of the stuff are easily going to go for 10000 gold pieces each and only obtainable through a qualified scientist or wizard. Dungeon masters should read the original story carefully before using it within a campaign and adventurers who obtain the stuff would be paid about three to four thousand gold pieces themselves. Those who are exposed to it must save vs poison or experience its sanity shattering effects for themselves.
Time is a subjective illusion & we've seen that the Mi Go have been playing with time for eons. But is the drug we've seen in CAS's Mnemoka (1955) Fragment. Might be same time altering substance or belong to the same family as we've seen CAS's The Plutonian Drug. The effects almost entire seem to be based around the subjective nature of time itself. The other Lovecraft race that made war & had conflicts with the Mi Go were the Yithians. The Shadow Out of Time has a fragment about it but HPL's At The Mountains of Madness goes deeper down that rabbit hole. The Mi Go & the Yithians war never stopped & they've been fighting it on multiple fronts for eons. All of this leads back into the idea that perhaps the royal houses of Atlantis and Lemuria had a bit of outside help & left behind servant races to take care of their interests upon Earth after the second Biblical Flood. This gets into the universal cultural constants we see in many lost worlds especially those of A.Merritt. The time drugs are not the only theme that we see used repeatedly. The forces of light & darkness's war is heating up but why!?! Tune in tomorrow & find out!
So today's been one of those days where I've taken a step back & been looking into the frame work of my campaign. Last night I popped a beer & had a phone call with an old friend about my Victorious rpg /Amazing Adventures! Rpg campaign. His recommendations were very interesting to say the least. So out comes Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure & we start going over the ins & outs of some of the monsters contained here in for a Pulp & super heroes campaign. There are some folks who often use Dungeons & Dragons style games for augmenting other genres.
This book can act as an addition to the Amazing Adventures! rpg Manual of Monsters . Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure can be used to augment the implied setting of Amazing Adventures! rpg that is the world of the Pulps & Capes spanning from pre World War one up through the early 70's & 80's of exploitation & action movies. This also goes back down the rabbit hole of Appendix N literature which I love. Speaking of which that includes my favorite racist uncle in the room of the Mythos H.P. Lovecraft.
But really the one that really jumps out at me is A.Merrit's The Metal Monster. The Metal Monster is the perfect lost world & city story for my hybrid campaign. A potential source of weird science mayhem waiting beyond the known limits of the world. But what exactly has the city of the Metal Emperor been waiting for?! So what's with all of the Lovecraft & Howard in the back & foreground?! "This book was a favorite ofH. P. Lovecraft, though he at first avoided the revised version, at the suggestion ofC. M. Eddy, Jr.. According to his March 6, 1934 letter to James F. Morton:
Other recent items on my calendar are ... A. Merritt's old yarn The Metal Monster, which I had never read before because Eddy told me it was dull. The damn'd fool! (nephew — not our late bibliophilick friend) Actually, the book contains the most remarkable presentation of the utterly alien and non-human that I have ever seen. I don't wonder that Merritt calls it his "best and worst" production. The human characters are commonplace and wooden – just pulp hokum – but the scenes and phaenomena... oh, boy!"
The Metal Monster features the return of Dr. Goodwin who first appeared in the "The Moon Pool" (1918) and its sequel, "Conquest of the Moon Pool" (1919) in All-Story Weekly . Both of these have been combined into the complete novel the Moonpool. Could the lost races,worlds, & technologies be left overs from ancient days long before the Pre Biblical Flood? I'm thinking of HP Lovecraft & Zealia Bishop's the Mound here." The Mound is a horror/science fictionnovella by American author H. P. Lovecraft, written by him as a ghostwriter from December 1929 to January 1930 after he was hired by Zealia Bishop to create a story about an Indian mound which is haunted by a headless ghost. "
So what happens if the invasion of the Drow race into these other worlds isn't an accident all but a calling back of ancient servitors to the noble houses of the inner Earth?! What if the royal houses of Atlantis and Lemuria are planning their return to come to rule the upper Earth & the Drow are only doing exactly what they were planned to right from the ancient days?! Could the weird technologies of the A.Merritt's Metal Monster be another part of their diabolical plan?! These strange & deadly alien technologies might be guarding ancient vaults full of relics & treasures hidden deep within the Earth. There might also be monsters of dangerous aspect there which is one of the places where
So what does this have to with Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure ? Quite a bit actually, imagine that dragons, forgotten monsters of mythology, & even Earth's possible future millions of years in the future. This is all tied together with the binding of custodian wizards who have kept the ties of magick in hidden citadels under the Earth dating back to the time of the second Biblical flood. There are ancient relics & treasure hidden across the world as the war between the forces of light & darkness is now heating up! The power of capes & Pulp is going to get caught in the cross fire. What does all of this have to do with the far future of man? Tune in tomorrow!
"There are those among us who are virtual Immortals. They age slowly, and when they die–no matter what the circumstances–they are nearly instantly recreated in a new body. Some of them choose to watch the world go by from the sidelines, recording events and sometimes offering guidance to mere mortals through wisdom that is born from the perspective of someone who has been part of history for many centuries. Others take an active role, fighting for the betterment of the world, or to advance their own selfish desires. One of the Immortals can be the greatest ally a party of player characters have ever had, or the worst enemy. "
In the world of D20 Highlander style immortal PC's have been around forever. But an actual set of guidelines for using them in a D20 style game hasn't. I've been looking to use them in Mutant Future & my Amazing Adventures! rpg campaign. For quite some time now NUELOW Games has put out a Modern Basics OGL product that is surprisingly good. It clocks in at ten pages of well laid out & easy to read text which I really found refreshing. The artwork is solidly done also very surprisingly adapt for the product. The PC template or class is easy to adapt to an OSR game which uses the D20 system as it base. The pool of the immortals take the PC from mortal to immortal well you know the drill. But these are slightly different immortals because this product uses & conveys them traveling the planes & multiverse. This means that there is a solidly made selection of feats for character creation that takes this rules set outta of the normal confines of the Highlander style set up & into the realm of science fantasy.
This lithograph was taken from the frontispiece of 'Afghaunistan' by Lieutenant James Rattray. Two Afghan nobles of the Durrani tribe are depicted, fully armed, with their helmets decorated with peacock feathers. These two warriors would later walk the path of the immortal to be seen fighting the alien forces of the Mi Go on Ceturi IV.
I've written extensively about my obsession with the Castles & Crusades rpg over the years. I've been quietly on the side been using both the Victorious Rpg & Amazing Adventures ! rpg product lines over the last couple of days. I'm thinking of doing a joint game set in an alternative Earth prime material time line. But if only there was a supplement book that had guidelines for combining & straddling the lines of these books?! Well there is! The Castle Keepers Guide (CKG) by Davis Chenault, & Stephen Chenault does an excellent job of clarifying the C&C system while giving enough room for the dungeon master to customize their own campaigns. The mechanics of the Castles Keeper's Guide are so easy to convert that it hardly matters what game you are playing it will work with this system. C&C is stripped down 3.5 AD&D done right.
I'am going to be going back to the pulpy goodness of Amazing Adventures! & Victorious rpgs with the PC's having their hands full of the back alleys & high strangeness of the world of 2100. Where both the Drow menace & costumed villains have begun to show up. The fact is that panic of the machinations of the Drow have settled into the outer edges of the monad cities.
There's been a power vacuum left out in the 'outer worlds' beyond Jupiter after the Mi Go empire left the solar system. The monstrous god beings of Saturn & Jupiter had long since stopped giving the Mi Go adoration, payment, etc. The real question is why had the alien horrors of the Mi Go fled in the first place. There is speculation that they had taken their entire planet of Yuggoth & its satellites of the damned with them far beyond the known places of our solar system; "I knew those fires were brewing monstrous things, And that those birds of space had been Outside - I guessed to what dark planet's crypts they plied, And what they brought from Thog beneath their wings. The others laughed - till struck too mute to speak By what they glimpsed in one bird's evil beak." HP Lovecraft Fungi from Yuggoth (1930s) Mi Go By Khannea SunTzu - Artstation.com/khanneasuntzu
So this leaves Earth in the throws of the after affects of a solar system at the mercy of alien entities & an uncaring universe. Earth cities are crime ridden places at the mercy of fellow travelers from beyond Earth's space time. Not to mention the increasing presence of foreign mercenaries & adventurers from other prime material planes that come to ransack & pillage the fringes of the world. Many times they find themselves drawn into ruins & dungeons that dot the countryside & wilderness the remains doorways & gates into other worlds. These places often spell the demise of these foolish outlaws & criminals from other places.
This is a world in desperate need of heroes, adventurers, & fighters willing to take on some of the the evils that have come to plague this land. The Spirit of 61 is among the onslaught of daring heroes that have come to do battle with the horrors from beyond the ken of mankind. These heroes are often out matched & gunned to try to take on some of the alien horrors that they come to face.
Even among the heroes & mercenaries who have come from across the planes there are rumors of an ancient & evil dark presence that has been watching the Earth from the remote confines of hidden valleys upon the red planet. Adventurers with 'the sight' do not say what it might be but only shudder at its presence. The Aihais nor the Green Men will not say what they might be but there are rumors even now.
I've written extensively about my obsession with HG Well's The Time Machine's Eloi & The Morlocks over the years on this blog. But last night I shut down on social media & began to dig back into my extensive notes about Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. What do the Time Machine & AS&SH have to do with one another? Quite a bit actually, in my mind Hyperborea was a place that was once flourishing had its moments of incredible technology as the Hyperboreans inherited the forbidden ruins, legacies, & technologies of the Great Race of Yith & the Elder Things. They improved upon & refined these l in some respects. They had extensive colonies across the dimensions & planes making war with their former masters & overseers. By the time get to when the oceans drank Atlantis they were well into almost extinction. But these were not true Hyperboreans but hybrids who had settled down into the local respective societies.
"Meanwhile, the first of the Hyborian kingdoms has come onto existence, the rude and barbaric kingdom of Hyperborea, which had its beginnings in a crude fortress of boulders heaped to repel tribal attack. There are few more dramatic events in history than the rise of this fierce kingdom, whose people turned abruptly from nomadic life to rear dwellings of naked stone, surrounded by cyclopean walls." -- Robert E. Howard: "The Hyborian Age"
You get a sense of legendary about Hyperboreans or the mythical ones who lived "beyond the North Wind" This bit struck me from the Wiki entry; "However, it is also possible that Hyperborea had no real physical location at all, for according to the classical Greek poet Pindar"
neither by ship nor on foot would you find
the marvellous road to the assembly of the Hyperboreans.
Pindar also described the otherworldly perfection of the Hyperboreans:
Never the Muse is absent
from their ways: lyres clash and flutes cry
and everywhere maiden choruses whirling.
Neither disease nor bitter old age is mixed
in their sacred blood; far from labor and battle they live"
Scientist philosopher kings who might have been messing with forbidden sciences far from the purview of the gods who began to fade into HP Lovecraft's Dreamlands as time went on. I know that the Hyperboreans must worship Boreas as an important god in their former religion;" Boreas (Βορέας, Boréas; also Βορρᾶς, Borrhás) was the Greek god of the cold north wind and the bringer of winter. Although normally taken as the north wind, the Roman writers Aulus Gellius and Pliny the Elder both took Boreas as a north-east wind, equivalent to the Roman Aquilo. Boreas is depicted as being very strong, with a violent temper to match. He was frequently shown as a winged old man with shaggy hair and beard, holding a conch shell and wearing a billowing cloak.Pausaniaswrote that Boreas had snakes instead of feet, though in art he was usually depicted with winged human feet. Boreas' two sons Calaïs and Zetes, known as Boreads, were in the crew of the Argoas Argonauts."
Wind god Boreas, Hadda, Afghanistan. Musee Guimet. Personal photograph 2005.
They began to fade from the pages of history & the realms of imagination or did the Hyperboreans actually fade because of a far more sinister reason. They had access to the Great Race's secrets & legacies because they were used by the Great Race as experimental fodder & slave labor. This has been implied from the pages of the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Referee Guide. The Great Race is of course is ;"The Great Race of Yith a fictional race of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. Introduced in Lovecraft's short story "The Shadow Out of Time," the Great Race was a prehistoric civilization that populated much of the Earth until their demise in the late Cretaceous era. Their great power derived from their mastery of precognition via time travel." Suppose that the Hyperboreans began to mess the time travel & other dimensional machinery of the Great Race. Suppose that they began to look to other branches of time & alternative worlds of reality beyond The North Wind.
[T]he Great Race ... waxed well-nigh omniscient, and turned to the task of setting up exchanges with the minds of other planets, and of exploring their pasts and futures. It sought likewise to fathom the past years and origin of that black, aeon-dead orb in far space whence its own mental heritage had come – for the mind of the Great Race was older than its bodily form. . . The beings of a dying elder world, wise with the ultimate secrets, had looked ahead for a new world and species wherein they might have long life; and had sent their minds en masse into that future race best adapted to house them – the cone-shaped beings that peopled our earth a billion years ago.
— H. P. Lovecraft, "The Shadow Out of Time"
The Great Race is mostly gone from Hyperborea except for perhaps a few hundred gate keepers & key master scientists who look after the machinery & works. It would be quite easy for the Hyperboreans to overwhelm their former masters & assume control of the machinery. They might have by this time assumed a height of incredible social & technological mastery over time & space; opened up colonies on various worlds and other dimensional locations until they came to Earth with a London of the early 22nd century. This is not our world instead its another world entirely. This is the world of HG Well's "A Story of the Days To Come" & "When the Sleeper Wakes" "A world of early 22nd century is over 30 million people in population, with the lower classes living in subterranean dwellings, and the middle and upper classes living in skyscrapers and largely communal accommodations. Moving walkways interconnect the city, with fast air-travel and superhighways available between cities. The countryside is largely abandoned."
In other words a perfect location for a highly technologically magically advanced people to invade & cause all kinds of havoc by sewing confusion with a war between the East & West. . They released artificially created bio weapons upon this world with each side blaming the other for starting the apocalypse. Resulting in the perfect conditions for others to artificially create the Eloi & The Morlock species respectively.
So what happened to the Hyperboreans? They reaped what they sewed as they had not counted on the ripples across the space time continuum something the Great Race of Yith was well aware of. They never experimented with physical time travel to alternative time lines. Almost overnight the Hyperboreans were engulfed in madness & paradoxical spasms that caused a third of the population to go extinct. Dimensional ripples cut off other worldly colonies, interstellar settlements, and other dimensional locations without mercy. The hyper morlocks are aware of the part that the Hyperboreans played in their timeline's destruction. And there has been racial warfare between the two ever since. Underborea has seen extensive wars between the two races for centuries. Virgil Finley Time Machine artwork copyright & trade mark to their respective holders. Used without permission
The Morlocks made their way to Hyperborea from the still working time tunnels of the Hyperboreans bringing with them their Eloi cattle to settle in isolated parts of the world. From time to time their colonies are are found on isolated island or underworld locations. They receive extensive competition from a wide variety of the Underborean races but have managed to carve out their own niche on Hyperborea. This blog post is for educational and entertainment purposes only, any of the game company's mentioned here are not responsible for any opinions expressed here. This post is not an attempt to violate the trademarks of the holders of the 1960's Time Machine movie. This is the ramblings of a fanatical fan of the film, HG Wells, and old school games. All ideas are copyrighted and trade marked to the author.
Astonishing Swordmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea is trade marked and copyrighted to North Wind Adventures.
"Zor Draxtau is the periodic newsletter of the Usherwood Adventures campaign setting that highlights changes and updates to the campaign setting, OGC content otherwise only available in one of the adventures, etc. "Zor Draxtau is the OSR newsletter & has some really nice monsters in this issue & its perfect for adding in OSR adventure material.
The Zor Draxtau newsletter issue #2 only clocks in at nine pages & contains monsters like; The Giant Frost Frog,The Bone Hound is a nasty construct & The Ice Golem just comes across a bad ass Frankenstein style monster. We get more of these style of monsters in Zor Draxtau newsletter issue#3 ;The Aquatic Troll is an underwater nasty troll, The Giant Marine Iguana is a giant 20 foot lizard, & a bunch of background on Xerksis, the Mage-King from the Bone-Hilt Sword campaign.
The Zor Draxtau newsletter issues are perfect to mix OSR material & some solid monsters for your old school campaign. James D. Kramer does an excellent newsletter & job to present some solid OSR material. All in All you can't go wrong by down loading this newsletter & adding these monsters to your old school campaign adventure.
Its basically an adventurers catalog of interesting & insane gadgets & devices for the Victorious Rpg. The Victorious rpg is a bit different then say Amazing Adventures! rpg in the author's approaches to devices & gadgets. But Victorious: Hunter & Hunter Catalog By Mike Stewart has a lot to recommend it from 19th century armor to all kinds of goodies such as the umbrella shield for the discriminating gentleman or lady adventurer; "Umbrella-shield Coverage: 65% Weight: 4 pounds Armor class: +1 Other: -2 penalty to attack roll if user attacks while also using deployed umbrella-shield. Cost: £3. / $15.00 Availability: 25% Perhaps the most discrete of all Hunter & Hunter, Ltd. defensive products, the umbrella-shield provides maximum protection at a reasonable cost. When opened, the umbrella-shield covers the majority of a human form from the slings and arrows (and bullets) of outrageous fortune. Its patented cloth, made from Duralite™, will insure the safety of its wielder while they make a hasty retreat from attackers! For an extra 1s. / $0.25, a small whistle can be placed inside the handle so that constables can be called at need. Protect yourself from wind, rain, and enemies with the umbrella-shield!"
Even though this is for a different gaming system Victorious: Hunter & Hunter Catalog By Mike Stewart is a very useful book for Amazing Adventures! Rpg because it provides the PC's with even more options to deploy at the table top level. Clocking in 44 pages there are enough devices,weapons, & gadgets to fill any cave or lair of a Victorian hero or phantom with some really cool items. Well is this actually a good book? Well in a word? Yes! If your looking for a book that can give your devices the flavor of the cult classic TV show The Wild Wild West. And still be used to challenge the monsters of D&D & AD&D first edition then this is the book for you!
With a bit of imagination this book could be used to populate your vile villain's lair & provide your adventurers with vital clues towards his or her next caper or adventure. I can already hear the D&D & OSR crowds now. Victorious: Hunter & Hunter Catalog By Mike Stewart will unbalance a campaign! Actually it won't there are pluses & minuses to each device & a clever DM will make full use of the availability factor for each device & weapon. That isn't counting on the costs of such devices & weapons especially fire arms for example;
"Burgess folding shotgun Length: 3 feet (1 1/2 feet folded) Weight: 5 pounds Wield: Two handed damage: 2D6 (5 shots) Inflict: Temporal Other: Can be concealed under a small coat at the waist or in a shoulder holster. cost: £12. / $60.00 Availability: 20% Even among gunsmiths and their admirers, the name of the American gun maker Andrew Burgess is little known. That deplorable situation will soon change thanks to Mister Burgess’s latest invention, the folding shotgun. Unlike other firearms that are designed to be ‘taken down’ for ease of storage and reassembled later, this shotgun is folded merely for insertion in a holster and can, with a flick of the wrist, be levered into full length for firing in a snap of the fingers. This amazing shotgun uses a sliding sleeve on the wrist of the stock as the pump handle to not only fold but to eject spent shells in a similar manner to the Winchester pump shotgun. Yet the venerable Winchester is awkward and bulky compared to the Burgess folding shotgun! When ease of carry and immediate deployment is vital for emergencies, there’s only one folding shotgun that fits the bill, the Burgess!
Comes with tooled leather holster designed to fit the folded shotgun in a snug pouch to the wearer’s side. Please specify whether the holder should be positioned on the left or right when ordering."
As you can see the shotgun while it seems to be primarily the sort of weapon that one might see in the backwaters of Pulp or Steampunk adventure the fact is that these weapons are only going to be available under the right circumstances. Given the fact that the dungeon master is responsible for laying out encounters, stocking the dungeon, using monster encounters to relieve the the PC's of hard one treasure then it stands to reason that 19th century fire arms are not going impact game balance all of that much. The devices, gadgets, weapons here are colorful, clever, & actually useful in the field of adventure. Device stats are given including any bonuses it provides or damage it does (or can take) and the equally important availability (%) and price in British Pounds and American Dollars. This means that the DM can & should not indulge his PC's. The player's PC's are & should be prepared to pay through the noses for these items. All in all I think that Victorious: Hunter & Hunter Catalog By Mike Stewart strikes a nice balance between patented weirdness of the Victorious rpg & the actual bigger universe that the PC's are a part of.
"Tracis Clay lit his "Vander Meer' cigarette & looked out on the face of Manhattan. The city hadn't changed much since he was last here in Nineteen Sixty Nine. But the skyline seemed so different now ever since the all out war between the Black Terror & the Black Bat had wrecked several key city blocks.But it was three years ago when Tracis had left the city after his uncle had been murdered by the Network guilds & the assassins syndicates. There were the usual investigation by his uncle's crowd but the Spider had come closest to nailing the murderers. But the Occult Brotherhood had warned Tracis off of the case. Leaning against his '71 Stanley Steamer Cruiser with its cherry red paint job he could almost picture the bastard's face. But now the Brotherhood had called him back because of weird disappearances down on 42nd street. These disappearances were connected to the cloying fields of darkness that appeared near the victims attacks . It was time to act, there was an aura around the city today."
Introduction The witch queen of the Drow is on the move! The Drow Empire is on the move again their scouts have come into a very world weary Pulp New York city. Here the internal combustion engine never really got off the ground. Steam is king, super powers are real, & magic is still king. The year is Nineteen Seventy One & President Nixon is trying deal with the India and Pakistan conflict. He's already sent in 'capes' & sorcerers into the mix. New York is ruled by the Assassins Syndicates & the Network Guilds. But there have been hundreds of disappearances of American citizens over the past couple of weeks. Its too many the heroes have already begun to notice.
NASA’s Apollo solar system program is much more advanced as the Programs have made colonies on the Moon, Mars, & the interior solar system a reality. But mankind is not prepared for the dire consequences of what they've found out there. The the giant Columbiadspace gun back in 1873 & the expeditions of 1901 & 1907 lead to the discovery of sophisticated extraterrestrialcivilisation of insect-like creatures they call "Selenites". This opened up the solar system for exploration & exploitation by adventurers. Adventurers & super heroes have been around since the 1300's. They've been driving the innovation & technological push of this world. Steam power has been one of mankind's driving forces & WWI pushed the power beyond known limits. The Martian invasion of 1905 ended the conflict of WWI & pushed man to almost near extinction.
But that was centuries ago & in six short years America is planning the Viking Program to liberate the Red Martians! That is if internally the world can hold together as super powered vigilantes & 'Capes' deal with all manner of vile villains in the back alleys of cities like Chicago, Los Angles, Tokyo, & New York. While World War I officially ended during the 'Martian Invasion' its shadow counterpart continues across the world in every back alley & dungeon imaginable. Red China has its agents combing throughout the world for its ancient artifacts & relics of power while its check mated in the pacific by Ricca & other pirate nations. The lich kings having been funded by the British & Americans back in the 1860s. Meanwhile Russia has joint treaties with both America & Alaska where her agents & super have checkmated an almost successful giant invasion backed by the Drow from the Kerouac Wilderness. Night & Giant Trolls in the employ of the Drow Queen made war on several small towns in Russia & Alaska. They were beat back by a joint effort from agents & heroes.
But is it only a matter of time before the Drow force the cross over into this Prime across the dimensional straits of the Burroughs/Bakshi realms? Already the Sorcerer Deluxes & their secret society kings & queens from around the globe gather in New York city to discuss the matter! The Black Terror family is aware of what's happening & they've been meeting at their secret headquarters in New York City.
But President Nixon is afraid of another battle with the Black Bat & the Black Terror which wrecked half of New York! But the Black Bat has been silent for two years now which is very worrying to the Police Force of The United States Intelligence Branch ( a division of the United States Army formed after the Civil War to combat domestic threats).
"Somewhere in the heart of the steaming jungle lies the answer to the whispered tales - rumors of a magnificent city and foul, horrid rituals! Here a brave party might find riches and wonders - or death! Is your party brave enough to face the terrors of the unknown and find the Forbidden City!?" David "Zeb" Cook's I1: "Dwellers of the Forbidden City" (1981) was the first adventure in TSR's new "intermediate" series of adventures. It was unleashed on the world in 1981 & the world of Sword & Sorcery Dungeons & Dragons was never the same! "Somewhere in the heart of the steaming jungle lies the answer to the whispered tales - rumors of a magnificent city and foul, horrid rituals! Here a brave party might find riches and wonders - or death! Is your party brave enough to face the terrors of the unknown and find - the Forbidden City! Information is presented here to reconstruct this exciting tournament and even more has been given to expand play. Here characters may adventure several times in a unique and interesting mini-campaign. Included in this module are background and tournament notes, referee's keys, new monsters, pre- generated characters, and eight different maps." So begins the infamous I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City: An Adventure for Character Levels 4-7 (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons) by David Cook published in 1981.
Now I've talked about I1 "Dwellers of the Forbidden City" but what I haven't spoken of is how this using a mash up article X6/I1 Quagmire/Dwellers of the Forbidden City mash-up by Demos Sachlas article over on the Vaults of Pandius. But this article ties directly into mating up Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique with this for an over arching campaign. Because this is one of the prime modules for Dungeons & Dragons it has one of the best flavors for capturing the weird far future world of Zothique. The planes & lowlands have been flooded by the rising waters of the cycles of the sea. Zothique is perfectly suited for the I1 Quagmire/Dwellers mash up because of its description by CAS himself in a letter to another Lovecraft circle writer;
"Clark Ashton Smith himself described the Zothique cycle in a letter to L. Sprague de Camp, dated November 3, 1953:
Zothique, vaguely suggested by Theosophic theories about past and future continents, is the last inhabited continent of earth. The continents of our present cycle have sunken, perhaps several times. Some have remained submerged; others have re-risen, partially, and re-arranged themselves. Zothique, as I conceive it, comprises Asia Minor, Arabia, Persia, India, parts of northern and eastern Africa, and much of the Indonesian archipelago. A new Australia exists somewhere to the south. To the west, there are only a few known islands, such as Naat, in which the black cannibals survive. To the north, are immense unexplored deserts; to the east, an immense unvoyaged sea. The peoples are mainly of Aryan or Semitic descent; but there is a negro kingdom (Ilcar) in the north-west; and scattered blacks are found throughout the other countries, mainly in palace-harems. In the southern islands survive vestiges of Indonesian or Malayan races. The science and machinery of our present civilization have long been forgotten, together with our present religions. But many gods are worshipped; and sorcery and demonism prevail again as in ancient days. Oars and sails alone are used by mariners. There are no fire-arms—only the bows, arrows, swords, javelins, etc. of antiquity. The chief language spoken (of which I have provided examples in an unpublished drama) is based on Indo-European roots and is highly inflected, like Sanskrit, Greek and Latin."
I1 "Dwellers of the Forbidden City" is one of those modules that drips with pulpy goodness & lacks the stodginess of late Eighties AD&D. "The module was written by game designer David "Zeb" Cook, who partly ascribes his hiring by TSR to his work on this module. In the adventure, the characters are hired to find an object taken to a lost oriental-style city, which has been taken over by a cult of snake-worshipers, the yuan-ti, and their servants, the mongrelmen and tasloi."
Everything within I1 is geared for a South East Asian style adventure with its own unique Lovecraftian style twist. Having visited Thailand I can honestly say that the Yuan-ti can easily traded in for the Serpent of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Mr.Cook pulls a great deal of his monsters from the Fiend Folio making adapting this adventure one of the more easy tricks to pull off and easily adapted for AS&SH.
Have fun with it, I found it to be one of my favorite runs through a published module, lots of open ended potential.
Over the years I've kept thinking about the arrangement of the Forbidden City & its jungle environs as well as the areas around it. There's a certain Heart of Darkness feel to the whole thing or more to the point Robert Howard's Conan story, "The Pool of The Black One" which first appeared in Weird Tales October 1933. The oppressive atmosphere, the jungle motif, & the tone of the story all echo I1 even though Red Nails with its factions and lost city out of time might fit better. 'The Pool of the Black One' has that same sense of the lost in it that one finds in Dwellers of the Forbidden City. In fact the entire plot of the Pool of the Black One could be lifted & I1 could be mated with The Island of Dread to create a completely different take on old school adventure.
Because of its very nature this monster has the potential to really abuse a party of adventurers ala Alien Covenant in ways they're not expecting. Not only does this make the monster memorable but very unique because it can be placed in a wide variety of points in the sandbox nature of ' Dwellers of the Forbidden City' In a similar vein is CAS 's The Demon of the Flower which can unleash all kinds of Hell upon a party and might be grown by the Yu erm serpent men.
There is the potential for a lot of movers & shakers from behind the scenes of the adventure as well including the aboleth who are some the craftiest bastards in AD&D first edition.The importance of these creatures should never be understated. These monsters can truly be some of the most dangerous NPC's a party can face. They're often used with cults and lots of minions in my games.
Used carefully & I1 Dwellers in The Forbidden City is still one of the best old school adventure campaign resources. It has lots old school adventure resource goodness to offer a DM for creating truly memorable campaigns.
+Dyson Logos generously pointed out that he's done a number of maps for various locations throughout I1 Dwellers In The Forbidden City. "I've done some maps to detail some parts of the city when we last played through it."
" And for those planning on running it, here's a cleaned up scan of the main map with all DM notations removed - particularly handy if the party enters via the giant tree access point which gives them a good overview of the city"