Wednesday, March 20, 2019

OSR Campaign Commentary - B6 'The Veiled Society' By David Cook & Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique

"The widow insists there are demons in her house. She hears them at night in her root cellar, and now they call out to her. But she is old and nervous and her mind often plays tricks on her.
Two men, their heads fully sheathed in large, black hoods, dig quickly in the darkness of the cellar. The hole grows deeper as their shovels bite into the earth. "This will teach those meddlers their place," the shorter, slim figure says haltingly. 

"But don't you see the advantage?" snaps the tall man. "They will fear us now. They will fear for their lives."

Grunting, they heave a sailcloth bundle into the hole. As it falls, a woman's hand dangles lifelessly form the folds.
Who is the woman? Why will her death trigger riots and unrest in the city of Specularum? And the assassins: Are they Torenescu, Radu, or Vorloi? Or, curse of curses, the Veiled Society?"
David Cook was on a roll back in '84 & tonight I've had a request to delving further into the deeper rooted urban blight & weirdness that is B6 'The Veiled Society'. More specifically Cowgal '87 wanted to know what my take was on this endearing classic & how I was planning on using it with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition before diving head long back into the swamp lands of the Quagmire mash up that we talked about yesterday. 
"The Veiled Society," by David "Zeb" Cook, was published in 1984 & still remains one of my all time favorite Basic Dungeons & Dragons modules. 

Over the last seven or so years I've used B6 'The Veiled Society' to establish the urban mess  &  decrepit nature of  the City-State of Khromarium. The criminal network of the module is an excellent example of how to run a 'thieves' or 'assassin' guild network with all of the add on's & none of the hassle. I've connected B6 'The Veiled Society' with AS&SH's The Rats In The Walls' adventure “The Brazen Bull”. The seedy buildings, the offer of another form of Lotus, & all of the weird elements meld with the backdrop of B6 to produce something unique. You see David 'Zeb' Cook sets his adventure right in  Specularum, the capitol of the Grand Duchy of Karameikos making the "Veiled Society" immediately became an integral building block for the Known World. But in our case we're taking this classic module to build up the atmosphere & strangeness of the City-State of Khromarium. How?? We're using the module to build the PC's from 1st straight up to fourth level if their lucky enough to survive the mayhem of B6 'The Veiled Society' .  The key piece of reference for the city of 
Specularum, the capitol of the Grand Duchy of Karameikos is Threshold issue #24 which has a fantastic fan created reference gazetteer. A lot of hard work went into this issue.

So what happens if the events of the past couple of modules are only a small part of an over arching plot. What if the affairs of  N1: "Against the Cult of the Reptile God" (1982) are also connected with all of this & the enemies of the Hyperborean crown are looking to all strike at once!? 

When it comes to  B6 'The Veiled Society'  to Zothique the unusual choice is actually CAS's Isle of The Torturers. There are several reasons for this one is the fact here's what happens when one crosses the society. They end up on exactly the sort of location we see in the Isle of the Torturers. There's also the beginning of the 'end of era' that we see later in Zothique & Hyperborea that we see in AS&SH. 
The depravity seen in CAS's Isle of The Torturers is exactly the same sort of thing that we'd see in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Flipping back to the reptile cult from Tomb of the Lizard King is the fact that the Lizard Kings were the royal servants & vassal class of the serpent men. This comes from the fact that the serpent men once ruled the Lizard coast of Hyperborea. Again this is something that we see X6 'Quagmire'.

All of this alien influence flows through the undercurrent of the underworld society of both Hyperborea & Zothique itself. Underborea is rife with the continuing influence of the serpent men within the ruins of what was humanity's last great empire. Those ruins extent far into the Dreamlands Underworld even though the gates are sealed up. 

Various witch cults & secret society's within the City-State of Khromarium have deep & abiding ties to one or more factions of serpent men. The 'Veiled Society' itself might even have ties to the cults of Zargon & have several inner circle cabals connected with the 'Lost City' out in the Diamond Desert.

The rat faction might boast several were rat assassin masters among their ranks who are partially responsible for carrying out the 'Veiled Society's support of the 'Master'. Hule's ascension upon the world stage was no accident but a carefully planned chess move to have a viable enemy & puppet to rally royal support for an enemy that would destabilize the rulers of Hyperborea. Cause as much mayhem as possible & the true scaled rulers of Hyperborea & Zothique could take their rightful place. But B6 'The Veiled Society' would take years to be routed from the corrupt & horrid halls of power in the City-State of Khromarium. But the corruption goes so much more deeper then anyone truly suspects. We'll get into that tomorrow.  

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