Monday, March 4, 2019

OSR Campaign Commentary The Many Heads of Horror of Demogorgon & David Cook's Dwellers of the Forbidden City.

The force of suns had waned beyond recall.
Chaos was re-established over all,
Where lifeless atoms through forgetful deeps
Fled unrelated, cold, immusical.

Above the tumult heaven alone endured;
Long since the bursting walls of hell had poured
Demon and damned to peace erstwhile denied,
Within the Abyss God's might had not immured.

(He could but thwart it with creative mace. . . .)
And now it rose about the heavenly Base,
Mordant at pillars rotten through and through
Of Matter's last, most firm abiding-place.

Bastion and minaret began to nod,
Till all the pile, unmindful of His rod,
Dissolved in thunder, and the void Abyss
Caught like a quicksand at the feet of God !
The Abyss Triumphant  (1912) 
by Clark Ashton Smith

Demogorgon the name conjures up the image of a two headed demonic monster from the depths of  the Abyss & some dark wizard's fevered conjunctions of the arcane. But this prince of demons is so much more then at first he seems. He first appeared in  Eldritch Wizardry (1976)  & many of the major powers of the demon prince were already in place.

His rivalry with Orcus is well established & he's already at the high end of the Abyssal power structure & ruling class if there is such a thing in the chaotic morass of the Abyss. Its abilities to alter reality & magical abilities are all present. So is the fact that he or it holds its position & title of 'Prince of demons' through sheer occult & physical power.

A year later in the Monster Manual in '77 we'd see the main stay stats of Demogorgon for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition. Many an adventuring party has quaked in their boots even at the mere suggestion of this demonic  horror's influence in a game session.

Demons & Devils in Dungeons & Dragons have an epic history going all of the way back to the very foundations of original Dungeons & Dragons. But going into Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2nd edition? They've got a bit more  of a functionality change from the norm Advance Dungeons & Dragons demonic rabble.

The demons of Astonishing are those who have survived the ravaging events of Ragnarok & the lifting of Hyperborea into space. Their in charge of the far future mini Abysses & Hells of Underborea filled to capacity with Hyperborean souls, the Ancients, & those fools who summon them to the surface world. These are demons who have seen it all & done it all. And where does Demogorgon fall into this? The Wiki entry on him reveals something very interesting; 
"His title as Prince of Demons is contested and somewhat misleading in that in the chaos of the Abyss there are no official titles and positions. He holds this title through sheer power and the fact no other demon has been able to prove themselves his superior and wrest the name from him. Demogorgon is also known as Lord of All That Swims in Darkness.
The hatred between Orcus and Demogorgon is legendary. He is also a dedicated foe of both Graz'zt and Fraz-Urb'luu. Some of his allies include the Succubus Queen Malcanthet; the currently imprisoned Shami-Amourae was his former consort. In Gary Gygax's Gord the Rogue series, he is the brother of another demon lord called "Mandrillagon". He is served by the minor demon lord Abraxas that controls the 17th layer (Death's Reward) and was allied with the demon lord Ilsidahur who controls the 90th layer, near Demogorgon's realm."

Surely there's no place on Hyperborea for the cult of Demogorgon?! His cult might be comparatively small compared to other more active ones such as Tsathoggua. But his cult is far more active, dangerous, & has ties to assassins, black wizard, & thieves guilds;

" Demogorgon's cult is small compared to those of "true" deities, but much larger than those of most fiends. He is worshiped not only by evil humans, but also by the intelligent rays known as ixitxachitl. Cultists of Demogorgon who are not already demons are often among the most mentally disturbed members of their races.
The following beings are some of Demogorgon's most infamous servants:
  • Belcheresk, a potent balor and Demogorgon's right hand
  • Major Enderan, a demon in command of a company of stone giant juju zombies
  • Ghorvash, a glabrezu demon who serves Demogorgon as a spymaster
  • War Secretary-General Gromsfed the Drowned, a huge klurichir 4th warchief who is the chief tactician of Demogorgon
  • Saint Kargoth the Betrayer, the first death knight and one of Demogorgon's top generals
  • Kazuul, the exarch of Demogorgon
  • Archpriest Nulonga, an ancient worshiper of Demogorgon
  • Rozvankee, a female lich pirate and one of the best monster creators in the service of Demogorgon
  • Severik, a potent balor who commands the elite mariliths of Demogorgon's bodyguard squad
  • Tharak, an ettin clone of Demogorgon and one of his best monster creations
  • Ulu-Thurg, a bar-igura demon chief assassin of Demogorgon
  • Bagromar and Tetradarian, twin generals of Demogorgon who are clones of the demon lord: Bagromar, clone of the Hethradiah head and Tetradarian clone of the Aameul head"

    Both  the ixitxachitl & the serpent men are highly active on Hyperborea as well as Zothique. This is because Demogorgon has been involved in a three sided war for some time. Not only is he actively involved in his Ying/Yang war with Orcus the master & prince of the Undead but with Yig The Father of Serpents.

Lovecraft - Yig, the Father of Serpents II by KingOvRats ..

This rivalry stretches back to the beginning of the empire of the serpent people of Yoth; "Yig and his then-mate Coatlicue ruled the crimson cavern of Yoth beneath the subterranean land of K'n-yan, where the two were worshiped as gods by the denizens of Yoth, the Serpent Men. This arrangement came to an end when the Serpent Men transferred their veneration to Tsathoggua, and mighty Yig placed his curse upon them." Demogorgon was venerated by a splinter faction of these serpent people & later by certain cults of K'n-yan. Their empire in Valusia was legendary but their power really comes alive in David Cook's 1981 adventure, Dwellers of the Forbidden City.

I1 Dwellers Of The Forbidden City module By David 'Zeb' Cook  is a world unto itself & the factions here are completely & utterly inspired by Robert Howard's Red Nails story. The 
yuan-ti, the tasloi, and the bullywugs are perfect fodder to spread out into the lands of Hyperborea or some hidden part of Zothique to spread the word of Demogorgon. His rival gods blindsided by the 'Prince of Demons' as death knights acting as his generals take command of his rabble cults. 
"In the World of Greyhawk campaign setting, Demogorgon sometimes goes by the ancient name "Ahmon-Ibor", or "the Sibilant Beast". He is responsible for corrupting the paladin Sir Kargoth and transforming him and thirteen of his fellow Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom into Oerth's first death knights." 
That's right Demogorgon is responsible for the creation of some of the most dangerous forces of undeath  that PC's can come across.

By using some of the adventure seeds provided by 
 Cook which includes -- the under-city warrens filled with ghouls and demons, the vampire orchid-men, the Black Brotherhood, and time travel to the days when the City was at its decadent height the dungeon master suddenly has the perfect module to add to Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. 

But if you think that's the only thing that can be done with Demogorgon's cults & I1 Dwellers Of The Forbidden City module By David 'Zeb' Cook. Then let's put the city as part of its own demi plane & have it mold itself to Zothique, Hyperborea, Greyhawk, & Mystara. This gives the jungle ruins a planar edge & it makes the cults just that more dangerous. Mystara's version of Demogorgon is female & male souls trapped within the same demonic horror show of a body. She is the patron god of witches, necromancy, & all kinds of nastiness on Mystara. Why?! Because of the fact that the demon lord itself spawns all kinds of horrors especially on Mystara.

Demogorgon & his fiends from  "
The Official Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Coloring Book - Illustrated by Greg Irons (1979)"

Make no mistake that Demogorgon & his ilk have been infeltrating & creating cults across the planes. There is evidence that some of the chaotic horrors seen in Bruce Heard's 
Calidar in Stranger Skies could in fact be the Demon Prince. PC's from Calidar running across the works of this demonic prince should report these chaotic activities to the proper authorities immediately. 

Demogorgon's cults could make their way across the planes & perfectly infiltrate the secret occult societies of London,New York, & across the modern world. These cities are perfect occult hot houses for such a chaotic horror & its demonic spawn. The Amazing Adventures! rpg Companion & the Book of Powers is key here for creating memorable cultists of Demogorgon  from the Pulp Era .  The death knights of Demogorgon would be menaces capable of taking down even the most experienced heroes & adventurers. Their horrors the likes of which most players would not be expecting in this era. Demogorgon was a taboo name to  Christian scholars as a being whose very name is taboo. "A creature named Demogorgon is featured in John Milton's Paradise LostLudovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, Spenser's The Faerie Queene and Percy Bysshe Shelley's Prometheus Unbound, although the D&D Demogorgon's appearance and history may not be based on any of these sources." This makes the demon prince at once contemporary & yet unique as a
horror of popculture & classic reference.

Same as any of the works of the 'Great Old Ones' the works of the demon prince Demogorgon are going to be very chaotic in the extreme. They will reek of the corruption & horror of the Abyss. Any appearance upon Albion of these signs will lead to a full blown inquisition. Dark Albion & Cults of Chaos players should expect the worst of mutation & corruption when encountering any of the demon prince's works! 

The planes reek with the corruption & horror of the 'prince of the maw' where he has trodden. There is far more Demogorgon then meets the eye. He & his works should never be taken for granted. His power & influence are great even to this day! Adventurers must be aware of the danger from this monster lord of influence & power corrupt itself. 

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